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Posts Tagged ‘gourmet spice blends’

I’m here, but for how long I’m not sure.  First craft fair of the season and it was slowwwwwww.  Ah, but there are more to come!  It always looks up the closer to Christmas we get.  I just love this time of year.  Enough of this for now, let’s head to my favorite sauce–Bechamel!  Oh, excuse you!

Start by making a White Roux.  Now, this is not book learning you will be getting from me, but experience.  I DO use butter as my fat source–REAL BUTTER folks.  I take a pan, put in about 4-5 tablespoons of butter and heat it up on medium high heat.  When fat thins I add 6-7 tablespoons of flour and whisk briskly until the mixture begins to thin and bubble.  I then turn the heat to low and reduce the amount of whisking I do until I smell a toasty aroma arising from the roux. I usually let it cook for about 1-2 minutes more (don’t let it brown) and then remove it and set it aside.  For what follows you will need 4-6 tablespoons of this roux.

In a separate pot, heat up about one quart of milk (I use whole milk to get the smoothest blend) until it is SIMMERING.  Add the roux to the milk and whisk until the two come together smoothly, simmering while doing so.  Add salt to taste and two pinches of nutmeg.  I don’t like to taste the nutmeg as an “ingredient,” I just use it to add depth of flavor.  I also add a pinch of powdered white pepper and 1/4 of a yellow onion, peeled and sliced (not to small–what you want is the flavor).  I will sometimes also add a bay leaf and bit of vanilla bean, etc, depending on what I’m using the sauce for.  For now, just add the onion and one bay leaf (along with the nutmeg).  Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding more whole milk if the sauce thickens to quickly.  When done pour through a sieve and viola–BECHAMEL!  

Although this is a very BASIC Bechamel Sauce, you can do a lot with it. 

1.  You can throw in some Parmesan, Romano or both (grated please, 6-8 oz. please) into the sauce, melt it and pour it over some pasta.  Delicious. 

2.  You can make it into a heavy cream sauce by adding about 4-8 ounces of heated, heavy cream along with your favorite spices from Adult Indulgences, Wickedly Delicious Custom Spice Blends (http://www.adultindulgences.etsy.com), such as Tuscan Sun, Sicilian Prince, or even Oh India!  Again, great on pasta, baked chicken, etc.

3.  You can stir in 4 ounces of Gruyère (an incredible cheese indeed) and 2 oz. of Parmesan (grated) until melted.  Then remove from heat and add in 2 oz. of butter.  Stir well.  Again, this goes well with pasta, chicken, etc.  This is known in the field as a Mornay Sauce.

4.  And, you can make my husband’s favorite….Cheddar Cheese Sauce.  Add 8-9 oz. of cheddar cheese (grated please), 1/2 tsp of dry mustard, and two tbls of Worcestershire sauce.  Place all ingredients into warm Bechamel and heat until melted.  Pour over pasta and just die!

Really, you can put just about anything into a Bechamel sauce.  That is what makes it so very cool.  An easy way to make a fantastic sauce that you can use for virtually everything!  It can be dainty or robust.  You choose!  But, I make my Bechamel Sauces just how I like my men….robust and naughty!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00284/Mr_January__Peter_L_284932t.jpg

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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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I know, I deserve a spanking.  Speaking of which, where is Dougray Scott when you need the little bugger.  Of course, I could be punished even more…………….. 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://stars.hitflip.de/Dougray_Scott_HF_L_2_58493_24101.gif

A special treat for those of you who didn’t know who Dougray Scott was.  I know, I should wish for a lot more than a spanking.  It’s those darn lips I tell you.  What was God thinking when he made them!  Didn’t he know women would swoon and dream of being locked in their deep embrace for days on end?  I’m sure he did.  Just one more part of our torture of living a mortal life.   I have to admit, I’m not one for a lot of temptation (I’m just not tempted by much but great spices, herbs and food), but I will say, to all the world, I’d give it up to have a go at Dougray Scott.  Sigh.  Must pull myself away from the photo and get on with my apology.

Where was I.  Oh Yes.  I am sorry for not posting for some time but life is still very busy.  As a means of apology I am offering a great Khmer recipe for Coconut Sauce.  I use it as often as I can and I love it.  Khmer cooking doesn’t shy away from Coconut sauces at all, in fact this is a commonly used sauce in deserts as well as main dishes.  All I can say is that it is simple, delicious, and well, I could do a lot with it if Dougray Scott were in the room with me now.  ; )

Khmer Coconut Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups coconut milk (fresh is best, but canned is fine as well)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  Heat and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.  It’s ready to go!  Hot or Cold.  Day or Night.  I love this on vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, and it is wonderful on rice, fish, light chicken dishes, etc.  Just let your imagination roll along with this one!!!

Well, my apology should allow you to have many wonderful and flavorful meals.  Oh, and the picture of Dougray Scott should allow you many a delightful fantasy.  Eat well my friends!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.ruggedelegantliving.com/a/images/Dougray.Scott.Pro.BWImage.jpg

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Photo courtesy of:  http://www.paradiseinfiji.com/blogimages/Activities/Culture_Warrior005.jpg

 

Everyone was so pleased with my posts of Fiji, that I thought I would post another Fijian recipe that is as easy as they come and as delicious as can be.  If you like ceviche you will love this slightly spicy white fish dish.  Let’s hit it, folks!

Kokoda

Ingredients:

4 White Fish fillets (I use Halibut, but for more authenticity use Mahi-Mahi)

Juice of 3 large limes or 4 small limes

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and diced in small cubes

1 very small green chili (Serrano works fine) minced very, very fine.  Remember, always remove seeds, stems and veins  (use less for less heat)

1 medium onion, minced

1 orange bell pepper, seeds, veins and stems removed and minced

1 cup coconut cream  (NOT coconut milk, but coconut CREAM)

Preparation:

Cut the fish fillets into bite size pieces and put them in a GLASS bowl with the lime juice and salt.  Do NOT put the lime juice in a metal bowl or it WILL react with the metal and ruin the flavor of your dish.  Mix the fish, lime and salt well and then cover and refrigerate overnight for no less than 12 hours. 

Remove from fridge and add coconut cream and minced onion. Stir well.  Serve immediately and sprinkle tomato and diced orange bell pepper over top.  I love serving this dish on a fresh bed of huge lettuce leaves.  I have even had folks roll the Kokoda in a lettuce leaf and eat it like a taco.  If you are really adventuresome, invite some dancers over to give a show to your family and guests.  Or, better yet, have a beach party where less clothing is more fun!  Yum is all I can say. 

 

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Good afternoon fellow spice and herb lovers.  Let us unite today, under grey or blue skies, and make our home a little brighter, lighter and homier with the wonderful aromas created by Chicken Curry, Fijian Indian Style.  Oh yes, let us gather our friends and loved ones and set out tables with bright cloths and drinks of greens, reds and yellows.  Amen.  Let us celebrate life, love and family and friends as we feast and unite over the fresh, delightful cuisine of Fiji!  Take my cyberspace hand and we shall walk through the simple path of cooking this delightful dish.  Don’t forget that the spice mix you will need for this recipe was posted a few days ago.  Just head backwards in my posts, make the blend and you are ready, my friends, to partake of  Chicken Curry.

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.matavuvale.com/profiles/profile/show?id=joji_Fiji_Living

Chicken Curry Fijian Style

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken cut into bite size pieces

5 small cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, finely minced

Chicken Stock as needed

1 large tomato, chopped

2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp curry paste

2 tbsp Fijian Curry Spice Blend (see earlier post)

Salt

Preparation:

Add two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a medium-sized, deep skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons Fijian Spice Blend and stir for about two minutes.  DO NOT BURN, as spices and oil will become very bitter.   Add 2 tablespoons curry paste ((I recommend a mild curry paste for beginners) and stir well for another minute or so.  Add chicken and salt to taste.  Stir and let cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring to keep chicken from sticking.  If chicken begins to stick I always add a bit of chicken broth to this recipe to keep things simmering along and not burning.  Add chopped tomatoes at end of cooking, stir,  and serve immediately.  My favorite way to finish this dish is with a side of turmeric and saffron steamed rice.  Ummmmmmmmmmmm.  DELICIOUS.  

So simple, but yet so Fijian Indian style.  You will love this recipe and your heart will forever yearn to visit Fiji and wonder at the currents of culture that flow through the Islands and make them what they are today!

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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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This image complements of:  http://www.banlieusardises.com/wp/media/img/fines_herbes_agneau.jpg 

 

Sorry, I know the title is corny.  But, as promised, here is a special recipe for your own Fines Herbes French spice blend.  Fines Herbes was a blend developed and used most often in egg dishes.  Now, however, it has broader uses.  And, as with most other common blends each user can have his/her own special recipe.   Granted, Gilles Marini won’t be in your kitchen or dining with you over a delicious omelet sprinkled with Fines Herbes, but we can dream.  Ah, yes we can.

Fines Herbes Spice Blend Recipe

1 tbsp. dried Tarragon

1 tbsp. dried Parsley

1 tbsp. dried Chives

1 tbsp. dried Chervil

1 tbsp. dried Basil

2 tsp. dried Sweet Marjoram

As always, place all ingredients in a spice of coffee bean blender and blend until powdered.  Place in glass jar with lid tightly sealed.  Keep away from heat, light, and moisture.  Now, you are ready to enjoy an incredible egg dish.  See my recipe page for a suggested omelet made with Fines Herbes.  Oh, don’t forget to visit my Etsy Sellers You Must See page to get a look at my wonderful new etsy photographers.  Talk about taking your breath away!  Almost as good as Gilles Marini in my kitchen, cooking, ……naked. 🙂

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