Posts Tagged ‘gourmet spices’

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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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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Good very early morning blog fans and passers-by.  I know you are waiting, breath held, for my Herbes De Provence spice mix recipe.  This recipe contains culinary Lavender.  It is said by the French and many American chefs that the American palate doesn’t like the light floral bitterness that Lavender provides.  However, a true Herbes De Provence recipe will include Lavender.  If you prefer to not add the Lavender it is up to you.  Hold on to your beret because here it comes.

Herbes De Provence Spice Mix Recipe

3 tbsp dried marjoram

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1 1/2 tsp culinary lavender buds

1/2 tsp dried, powdered Lemon peel (no white of the skin allowed)

1/2 tsp dried sage

3 tbsp dried summer savory

Place all ingredients in a spice or coffee bean blender and pulse until powdered.  Place in glass container and seal tightly.  Keep away from heat, light and moisture.  All you need now is a delicious recipe, which I will be posting soon on my recipe page.  If you’re not careful with all this French spice and herb schooling you might end up talking in a French accent–now wouldn’t that be an ugly moment.  Adieu.

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Hi my fellow blog travelers.  I am back from surgery and a bit under the weather.  Tonight, however, we will be learning the basic spice blends used in French cooking.  As I mentioned in my first post on French cooking, spices and herbs tend to be used in groupings and food is flavored from the sauces made from the combined herbs and spices.  And, as with most blends every maker has his/her own recipe and proportions.  So, let’s get started, shall we?

Bouquet Garni.  Bouquet Garni is a lovely blend of herbs and spices that are often found in beef stew and chicken soup.  Bouquet Garni is made from basil, marjoram, rosemary, summer savory, Greek oregano, tarragon, dill week, Dalmatian sage, and thyme. 

Choucroute Garni.  Believe it or not, Julia Childs is the one credited for the development of this lovely blend that is most often found in chops, roasts and sausages.  Choucroute Garni is composed of a mix of white pepper, bay leaves, cloves, mace, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, allspice, savory, and cinnamon.

Fines Herbs.  Fines Herbs is a delicate balance of chervil, parsley, chives and tarragon.  It is most often used in egg dishes.

Herbes De Provence.  This all around delicious French blend can be used in nearly every dish you choose.  It is composed of culinary lavender, rosemary, thyme, basil, tarragon, summer savory, fennel and marjoram.  In my etsy shop (http://www.adultindulgences.etsy.com) I have a wonderful Herbs De Provence spice blend that will rock your socks.  So don’t forget to stop by and shop!

Pot Herbs.  Pot Herbs are just as described.  They are usually bundled together and thrown into the pot to season a sauce, meat, chicken, or lamb dish.  Pot Herbs are a special blend of parsley, chives, chervil, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaves.

There we have it spice lovers–the five very basic French spice blends.  I know they aren’t as delicious as Gilles Marini, but they will substitute when you don’t have Gilles in hand.  Don’t forget that tomorrow I will be posting a lovely and simple Herbs De Provence spice mix recipe.  You won’t want to miss it!

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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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