Posts Tagged ‘Adult Indulgences wickedly deliciuos custom spice blends’

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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Loved vacation.  A boost to my heart and soul.  You will find the new artists on my page, “Etsy Sellers You Must See.”  These are true treasures to view.  Hats off to artists of every kind–you make the world a much better place.

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Yes, Haggis and Scotland.  Lord, that last pic says it all.  Scotland is a rugged and beautiful place, but it is as a result of its ruggedness that its early residents had little in the way of wealth  or trade.  As a result, spice use in cooking was minimal and tended towards salt, turnips and onions.  Sugar and brown sugar use came a bit later as did the addition of lavender as a flavoring agent.  Using Haggis as an example of a well-known Scottish dish, we know that it is a lovely mixture of oatmeal, meat (windpipe, heart, liver and lungs of sheep) and whatever spices were available, all placed in the sewn up stomach of a sheep (dead sheep we might add) and then boiled and roasted.  It is of critical note at this point that the best spice used in Scotland is Scotch Whiskey.  Yes, no surprise there!  Just ask Craig Ferguson and his Scottish lads below.  Ummmm.  Haggis and whiskey look fun to me.  Maybe they have to be drunk to eat the Haggis.

Photo complements of:  http://www.videosat.org/scotsman/


Early and traditional Scottish cooking relied on sheep for meat, potatoes, turnips, onions, leeks, carrots, honey, salt, butter, dairy products and occasional rice.  As other ingredients became available to the residents of Scotland, the use of ginger, almonds, cinnamon, and raisins became more common .  Oats, of course, were considered the “backbone of many a sturdy Scotsman,” as it was said for many years.  It really wasn’t until more modern times that olive oil, lemons and other more common cooking elements were added to Scottish cooking.  In the Late Middle Ages the Scotts allied with the French in what was known as the “Auld Alliance.”  This led to the introduction of new herbs and spices, especially among the class that could afford them.   

Many experts today agree that Scottish cooking still has a heavy reliance on fat, which contributes to a high rate of heart disease and obesity in the country.  Drink as well has taken its toll on the Scotsman health.  Haggis is extremely high in fat and having it fried is a common meal in Scotland.  Also, fish and chip shops, introduced by the British, have led to further consumption of high fat foods.  But, in recent years influences from other countries has begun to lead to restaurants feeding healthier fair.  Perhaps someday, Scotland will be the gold standard of culinary invention and delight.  However, don’t hold your breath (unless you’re eating Haggis) waiting for Scotland to become a world leader in spice and herb flavored cooking. 

But, if you want a good Scotch, Scotland is for you.  And, if you want to taste a true Scotsman, Scotland is your only option.  BYOS (Bring Your Own Spices).    

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I just had to do it–the idea for the title to this post was too tempting to pass up.  Yes, we are going to talk about Turkey, but not the famous bird we all think of as representing Thanksgiving, bloating, belching, and tight pants.  We are going to talk about the spices/herbs used in the cooking of the country of Turkey.  Gotcha there, huh! 

I find the spices/herbs of Turkish cooking to be as complex as Moroccan and Indian and most Middle Eastern cooking.  They are aromatic, strong, lingering, sensual and delicious.  If  Dougray Scott was a Turkish spice mix I would rub him all over my body and never bath again.  Ikes, where did that come from.  I am so sick when it comes to Dougray Scott that I can’t mention his name without conjuring visions of that wonderful voice and those sexy lips.  The rest of him–nah.  But, those two parts–quite the hook for this fish!

Back to topic, hard as it is.  Turkish spice blends are as varied as the households in Turkey itself.  Like most Eastern cooking, each and every home has their favorite spices that they use.  This makes it easy to create your own recipe.  But, before you are able to do that you need to know the basic cooking spices used in Turkish cooking.  Many of the spices I will mention will be familiar to you from our other lessons.  For those spices that are new (and there aren’t many) I will leave a brief description.  What is really cool is that within the next few days I will list a simple recipe for a great beginners Turkish spice blend.  O.K. here we go!

The most used spices/herbs in Turkish cooking are:

1.  Allspice

2.  Bay Leaf

3.  Black Pepper

4.  Nutmeg

5.  Hot Red Pepper Flakes

6.  Rosemary

7.  Cardamom

8.  Anise

9.  Basil

10.  Ginger

11.  Fennel

12.  Marjoram

13.  Parsley

14.  Pine Nuts

15.  Sage

16.  Saffron

17.  Tarragon

18.  Turmeric

19.  Thyme

20.  White Pepper

21.  Cinnamon

22.  Cumin

23.  Cardamom

24.  Fenugreek

25.  Juniper

26.  Mint.  Ah, here is a new one.  Mint is an often used herb in Turkish cooking.  It is used with mutton, lamb and salads.

27.  Poppy Seeds

28.  Sesame.  Yes, another new one.  Sesame is a crushed oily seed of a small bush that grows in Sudan and China.  It is often used to make Tahini.  Ummmm.  Another great body rub!

29.  Cloves.  Have we seen this one before?  If not cloves are a dried flower that are often ground and used in cakes and cream sauces.  Cloves are also used whole to flavor soups and stews.

30.  Coriander

31.  Curry Powder

32.  Mustard Seeds.  Here is another new one.  Seeds are ground and used in spice blends and even the greens are used in salads.  It has a bit of a bitter flavor and should be used sparingly.

Well, now you can see why Turkish cooking is so complex and so wonderful.  There is a treasure chest of spices/herbs to choose from in making a Turkish spice mix.  But, not to worry I soon will be listing a Turkish spice blend recipe that you all can make and enjoy!  Well, I must be off  (literally and figuratively).  Goodnight all and be ready to tread the spice trails of Turkish cooking!

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