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Posts Tagged ‘Adult Indulgences wickedly delicious custom spices’

Do not, and I mean DO NOT believe people when they tell you oil and water do not mix.  Yes, they do.  Under the perfect set of circumstances they can produce a beautiful, viscus sauce that coats your mouth with flavor and never leaves a slimy, clingy after coating on your tongue.  In simple language an emulsion is a combination of oil and water along with additions that create the unique flavor of whatever emulsion you are creating. 

Most of you know that to thicken a sauce the most common technique is to add a starch (flour, cornstarch, arrowroot) and let the liquid surrounding it swell the molecules, thus increasing the viscosity of the fluid.  When you make an emulsification, you don’t use starch but instead you bond little droplets of oil and water molecules.  This “bonding” process makes it difficult for the water to move away from the oil and, thus, a thick, creamy consistency results.  The most fun emulsification I like to make is a combination of Balsamic Vinegar, Honey, Jack Daniels Honey Dijon Mustard, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I beat my ingredients to death with a whisk and all of a sudden the mixture begins to cling to itself and thicken.  Within 3 to 5 minutes I have a spectacular emulsified salad dressing that is sweet, sour, salty and above all else creamy and thick. 

The key to mixing an emulsification until well bonded is technically known as shearing.  In my case, I often use a whisk.  This takes a lot of “sheer” muscle power and time, but works great.  Modern cooks are lucky to have mixers that do the work for them.  For those of you who make your own mayo you know how handy a metal bowl with whisk mixer can be!!  You may wonder why having an electric whisking device is better than hand whisking an emulsification.  The answer is simple enough:  shear power.  With greater shearing power the better the bond you are creating between the molecules and the less chance you will have of your emulsification separating.

Finally, always remember that shearing power isn’t the end all beat all to a great emulsification….oh  no, you need a great emulsifier to get a stable emulsification.  Emulsifiers are those “bonding” agents that allow oil and water to mix properly.  Soy bean sauces, cream, and egg yolks are all great emulsifiers.  In the big world of chef’s emulsifiers will always include food grade gums such as Xanthan.  I’ve never used the stuff and have no idea how to.  This should make a good study for those of you curious about emulsification with Xanthan.

There we go…..Emulsification 101. 

 

Photo of  Home Made Mayonnaise Courtesy of:  http://whatscookingamerica.net/Sauces_Condiments/Mayonnaise.jpg 

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You know, there are just some things that are so weird they are funny.  Know what I mean.  Well, I just had to post on the last couple of “incidents” I have experienced.  I had a whole list of places I had to phone today for business, life, etc.  I had just finished dialing a number and was buttering my toast when a voice came over the phone.  “Can I help you?”  I froze in the middle of buttering my overly brown toast.  I’d forgotten I was even holding the phone with my shoulder.  “Hello?”  the voice said in my ear, “Is anyone there?”  I paused.  “Yes, I’m here.”  The voice that responded sounded suspicious.  “Well, what can I help you with.”  Another pause.  I finally laughed out loud and said, “Yes you can help.  Who did I call?”  The woman on the other end hung up.  I laughed hysterically.  I had no idea who I had called.  Lord, am I getting old or what?

Two days ago I was using my cell to phone what I thought was my friend.  As my cell was ringing to their number, our home phone began to ring.  Lord, I thought, and picked it up and said hello.  At the same time a woman said hello in my ear.  Great, I thought two people on the phone.  I said to my cell, “hang on Melissa, I’ll be right with you.”  Odd, the voice on the home phone said the same thing in my ear.  Took me a second to realize I had dialed my own home number with my cell.  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.  Just haul me off to the padded room. 

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.meetthegeeks.org/files/uploads/aston/aston4/StraightJacket.jpg

Just had to share that with you so that you know what a nut you are keeping up with!

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Photo Courtesy of:   www.paradiseinfiji.com/blog/tag/fiji/

Good morning spice mix enthusiasts!  Yes, a Fijian spice blend that you can store and use in your favorite recipe.  What you say?  You don’t know of any Fijian recipes?  Well, not to worry once you have this spice mix made I’ll be posting a wonderful and simple Fiji Chicken Curry dish.  In fact, this spice mix recipe is so aromatic and delicious you’ll want to use it as a body rub. 

Most of the ingredients will be available at any larger grocery store.  If you can’t find a spice, the internet spice market is HUGE and you should have no problem finding the ingredients.  If something can be left out I will indicate so in the mix recipe.  Ummmmmmm.  Let’s get going!  Oh, if you want more than one batch just double or triple the ingredients so you can make more than one dish before having to mix another batch.

Fijian Indian Curry Powder Spice Mix Recipe

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cummin seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 small cinnamon stick

5 cloves

4 whole cardamom

6 dried curry leaves

1/4 tsp coriander

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili

 1 tsp amchoor powder  – Remember Amchoor powder is powdered mango that hasn’t ripened yet.  It has a tart flavor a lot like lime.

3 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Take all ingredients and place in large skillet on medium heat.  Dry roast the ingredients until they become aromatic.  DO NOT BURN or OVER ROAST!  Place all ingredients in coffee bean grinder or spice grinder and pulse grinder until spices are a fine powder.  Put blend in a glass jar and cap tightly.  As with all spice blends, but in a dry, cool  place away from sunlight. 

Hey, that was easy, huh?  Now all you have to do is get a great recipe, use your Fijian Curry Spice Blend, and invite great friends and family.   I know, you’re thinking how am I going to find that recipe?  Don’t worry, as I mentioned above, I’ll soon be posting a Fijian Curry Chicken Recipe.  Hang in there and you, your food and your new spice blend will soon be united and become fast friends!

Happy spice mixing!

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Ah, yes.  This is a quote from The Truman Show (1998).  No doubt you are wondering what the heck this has to do with my blog.  Well, not much–or a lot–depending on how your brain works.  Mine works on a wide plain of abstractions and strange zig zags of connections, so it makes perfect sense to use this quote as a segway into my new post on Fijian Cuisine.  Yes, we’re still near the ocean for this post.  Not the roiling, surging, dark and frightening ocean some of us live near, but the soft, blue-green, warm, foaming, see till the end of the earth Ocean of the Fijian Islands. 

 

If this picture from the Fijian Tourist Bureau doesn’t grab you, then nothing will.  Ah, Fiji.  Just a grouping of about 300 islands laying in a beautiful nest of liquid pleasure.  Do we ever hear of Fiji.  Not really.  But it has had two military coups, believe it or not.  And, there are some relatively famous folks from Fiji.  Who you ask, your head turning sideways as you look at your computer screen in doubt.    Vija Singh for one.  Who?  Vija Singh, the world-class golfer.  Any other guesses?  No, well there is Jimmy Snuka a.k.a. “Superfly” the former WWF wrestler.  And, lest you think there are only two famous folks from Fiji, what about Anand Satyanand?  Umm humm.  The Governor General of New Zealand is from Fiji.  Sigh.  Just think of the minutia you have learned from reading this simple spice and herb blog!

The cuisine and spices of Fiji, which is really our topic today, is a melting pot of various cultures that have infiltrated the Islands.  Fijian cooking has been influenced by Polynesians, Indians, Chinese, Dutch and other Europeans, Africans, and even Melanesians.  Fijian cuisine is a lovely mixture of many different cultures all adapted to fit local tastes and Island living.  As such, it takes a deft hand to create the subtle tastes  of modern Fijian cuisine. 

The Fijian Islands provide ample perfect weather and growing conditions for many spices and herbs.  Some are indigenous to Fiji and others were brought to Fiji and cultivated.  But, the list is so varied and beautiful that what else but subtle perfection can be expected of Fijian dishes.  So, let’s begin by listing the most common spices used in Fijian cooking.

1.  Vanilla

2.  Pepper

3.  Nutmeg

4.  Cinnamon

5.  Tumeric

6.  Ginger

7.  Cardamom

8.  Coriander

9.  Cumin

10.  Chilies

11.  Fenugreek

12.  Sea Salt

From this list, it is easy to see the outside influences on Fijian cuisine.  Imagine the magical dance of these spices combined with seafood, pork, chicken, goat (yes, they eat goat in Fiji), breadfruit, yam, cassava, taro root, limes, lemons, guava, mango, bananas, pineapple and the ever present and abundantly used coconut milk and flakes.  Can’t you just feel the burst of flavor on your tongue?  Feel the salivation start?   Hang onto your hats kids, and with the next post we will explore some common Fijian dishes that will leave you and your guests yearning for sun, waves, color and relaxation. 

For now, goodnight fine friends and I leave you with this…………………………………

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.paulsmedia.co.nz/images/gallery/fiji_sunset_02.jpg

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Hey herb (no, not that type of herb), spice and cooking fans.  How many of you wish you could pull off a great tasting Paella for friends and family.  Hey, how about a Paella party where everyone brings a different Spanish wine to share.  LOVE IT!   If you live near a beach, make it a beach party.  YEAH.  Imagine.

  Photo complements of:  http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/top_11_computer_generated_landscapes/9.jpg

Well, hold onto your horse as you race along that beach because here is the simple spice mix recipe for use with Paella.  Some of you may think I am putting the cart before the horse, and perhaps I am — as I often do — but the mix will come before the actual Paella recipe.  By the time I post my Paella recipe you will be drooling all over the keys on your computer and the spice mix will be ready to go!

PAELLA SPICE BLEND MIX

1 tsp crushed Rosemary

3  tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp Sweet Spanish Paprika

1 tsp ground garlic

2 tsp raw cane sugar

2 tsp Spanish Saffron

Really, reader, the most important ingredient here is the Saffron!  Make sure it is Spanish and fresh.  By the way, the same should be said for your men! 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in a tight jar.  I recommend you use this mix immediately on the Paella recipe that I will soon be posting.  You will need to use all the spice mix with the recipe.  So, it is just a one time use blend.  But, well worth it if you like the real thing!  And, as with most cooking around the world, there are many, many different recipes for Paella and many different amounts of spices used in each recipe.  I find this one meets my needs best.  I hope you enjoy it as much as you will the Paella recipe that will follow shortly (a couple of days).  In the meantime, let me leave you with this:

 

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Alright!  Alright!  This is going to hurt!  Tonight I will be coughing up my favorite stay at home movie night snack recipe.  Please give my Dougray Scott Movie Night Cheese Stick recipe a look on my recipe page.  I admit it is rough to give this beauty away, but after 25 years of secrecy its time.  I hope you and your family’s will enjoy the recipe as much as we have!  Ouch!

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Evening all.  This beautiful night, cold but precious, we are discussing the fourth category of spice flavors–SPICY.  Spicy for me is a great Dougray Scott movie, some home-made hot garlic and cheese sticks, a warm blanket, a dark room, and a big screen T.V. (so that Dougray’s luscious lip are larger than life).  Well, at least the hot garlic cheese sticks are spicy!

Dishes with a hot zip are spicy dishes and they leave a warm to searing sensation on our palate.  Sometimes the heat hits right away, all over your mouth–in a sometimes unpleasant and frantic way.  At other times a dish has subtle heat and you really feel nothing but an after-lingering heat on the back of the tongue.  Of course, there is a range of experiences between the two.  Honestly, hot spices are one of the most well-known.

Some samples of hot spices would be:

1.  Hot Peppers.  The heat of peppers is measured on a scale.  Peppers range from mild to awful!  The kind of awful that you should be wearing a respirator.  When I grind fresh dried peppers of the medium to hot varieties I do wear goggles, gloves, a respirator, and overalls.  I try to do my grinding out-of-doors so avoid running the family out of the house for a few days.

2.  Hot Garlic.  Almost all of us are aware of the usual types of garlic we find in the grocery store.  Pungent, yes.  But, some garlic is hot.  Personally, I love hot garlic.  I get the great taste of garlic with its zippy flair and the heat of a mild pepper.  Nice.

3.  Mustard.  As we all know, mustards, powdered or wet, can be mild to hot.  There is nothing better than a hot mustard, avocado, honey-ham, tomato, and Havarti dill cheese sandwich.  Try one!

4.  Pepper.  Pepper is such a widely used spice it’s like salt–people don’t even think about its use and flavor.  Peppercorns originated in southern India and they now come in a host of varieties.

5.  Horseradish.  This spicy root was grown by my father no matter where we lived.  He loved fresh ground horseradish root on meat, potatoes, as a dipping sauce–just about everything!  I appreciate its many uses, but my favorite is in a great home-made cocktail sauce!

Well, those are my examples of the hot spice category.  Be ready for our final category in Episode VI:  Amalgamating. What?  I tell you what, you won’t find a more exciting cooking site on the entire web.  ; )  Keep an eye on my etsy page and take a look at the new promotions there.  A special gift of beauty and class awaits you all!  Also, don’t forget to glance at the recipes every so often.  My next one will be my secret (not any  more, Linda) recipe for making my Dougray Scott, Evening at Home, Spicy Cheese Sticks!

Eat on, my friends.  Eat on!

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