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Cooking: Herbs and Spices

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was talking food in my spotlight post, about adventerous cooking and such.
Alot of what inhibits me cooking is my lack of knowledge of different spices/herbs.

My staples are:

Garlic: pretty easy to know what that can go into
Chili powder: aside from the usual, I use it in eggs, and other dishes.
Italian Seasoning: its a blend of different spices, which I mainly use in my meatloaf and soups.
Chives: I just discovered them last year. Great for eggs.
Onion powder: in case I don't have onions.
Dill: only use it with my fish, I don't know anything else to use it on.
Cayenne Pepper

I also have on hand spices I bought for a soup stock recipe and don't know what else to use them for:

Whole cloves
Peppercorns (I know I can grind them up, but I do not know what other foods they would be good to flavor, aside from soups and stews)

Other spices that I have:

Oregano
Parsley
Sweet Basil

I really have limited experience with herbs and spices, so I guess my questions are:

1. What standard cooking spices do you keep? (and if you don't mind, can you tell me what kind of dishes they go into?)

2. Do you know any good websites that will give me more info about what spices are recommended for what dishes....anything learning more about spices would be great.

Thanks
post #2 of 20
I have a cookbook about spices and where they're from what to use them in etc.
I did a quick google for "how to use cooking spices" and these look like some pretty interesting sites!
http://www.culinarycafe.com/Spices_Herbs/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A505513

My staples...(I have three spice racks and a cabinet with bulk spices so Im not sure where to start!)
Garlic (for everything )
Dill- is really good in eggs
Curry powder- I've never really used it in anything except a curry but I have to have it on hand at all times!
Cumin- When Im feeling like something with a slightly south western taste I'll use cumin in eggs or to spice up ground meat (among other things)
Rosemary- I love rosemary, it's sooo good on pork & chicken
Salt and pepper of course, I like whole pepper corns so I can grind them myself

Those are probably what I use most often, a lot of my other spices are more for specific dishes (like smoked paprika, ginger, cinnamon etc)
post #3 of 20
One thing you should be aware of - spices should NEVER be stored in a cupboard near your stove as the heat will deteriorate the potency of the herbs too quickly. Herbs and spices are really best if used within 3 months. Anything longer than that and they lose a lot of their flavour. I buy in small quantities and refresh my herbs and spices more frequently.

I also have started buying the frozen ones like dill since I don't use dill often and it's nice to have it in the freezer. I also like the tubes of basil/oregano which are kept in the refrigerator and handy.
post #4 of 20
I use a lot of fresh basil and rosemary. Rosemary is great with pork
post #5 of 20
Buy fresh, put through food processor and freeze in ice cube trays.


I use pretty much everything except rosemary (tastes like pine trees to me!) and lavender (tastes moldy).

Once you get really good at experimentation, you can tell pretty much by the smell which herb/spice combos go well in what dishes.

Onion and garlic though goes in EVERYTHING
post #6 of 20
I've thought about making a thread like this for a while, but figured no one would be very interested.

The one spice I really use the most is paprika. I have three different types of it - smoked, regular/sweet, and hot. I also really want to try planting some of the peppers this year because while store bought is ok, it's not that great of quality. I use it on any meal that has meat in it, some veggies, and of course Hungarian cooking calls for a lot of it.
I can't tolerate spicier ground peppers, so this is one way I make more mild meals.


The rest of the spices and herbs I use are the typical ones you'll see on everyones list. I'll be planting various herbs this year as well.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
I have a cookbook about spices and where they're from what to use them in etc.
I did a quick google for "how to use cooking spices" and these look like some pretty interesting sites!
http://www.culinarycafe.com/Spices_Herbs/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A505513

My staples...(I have three spice racks and a cabinet with bulk spices so Im not sure where to start!)
Garlic (for everything )
Dill- is really good in eggs
Curry powder- I've never really used it in anything except a curry but I have to have it on hand at all times!
Cumin- When Im feeling like something with a slightly south western taste I'll use cumin in eggs or to spice up ground meat (among other things)
Rosemary- I love rosemary, it's sooo good on pork & chicken
Salt and pepper of course, I like whole pepper corns so I can grind them myself

Those are probably what I use most often, a lot of my other spices are more for specific dishes (like smoked paprika, ginger, cinnamon etc)
Great post Thanks.

I will have to try the dill in eggs.

I grew my own italian parsley, lemon basil and chives this year. Unfortunately due to the hand issue, I never got them in before they went bad

The fresh lemon basil was great on chicken.

Oh, another one of my spices although not a spice. Italian salad dressing. It is GREAT for seasoning/marinating/cooking chicken in.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snake_Lady View Post
Oh, another one of my spices although not a spice. Italian salad dressing. It is GREAT for seasoning/marinating/cooking chicken in.
Also great for pork.
post #9 of 20
I'm not that knowledgable about spices and normally just stick to what my mom taught me to cook with. Mainly Parsley, Oregano and thyme (good Italian woman, can't you tell? ) DH uses a lot of minced garlic and garlic salt so I've gotten a taste for that. Fresh ground pepper, lemon and pepper (for fish), Whole bay leaves in soup. Ummmm....I have a TON of spices I inherited from mom (complete with matching spice wrack) but I don't use half of them.

I didn't realize you couldn't store spices for a long time. I guess I figured they were dried already so getting a little drier wouldn't hurt. Thanks for the tip.

Oh, I LOVE curry but only make one receipe that uses it (curry chicken). In fact, I make it so rarely I normally can't find my curry in the back of the cupboard and buy another bottle, so I think I have 3 bottles now! Anyone need any curry???
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snake_Lady View Post
Oh, another one of my spices although not a spice. Italian salad dressing. It is GREAT for seasoning/marinating/cooking chicken in.
I used to marinate steak tips in Italian dressing...haven't done it in years, but now I'll have to try it with chicken!

I love spices. My pantry is crowded with spice jars, and I also use fresh herbs whenever I can. Two of my recent favorites:

fresh tarragon- add to potatoes au gratin...mmm.
garam masala (indian spice mixture)- blend with plain yogurt, fresh lemon/lime juice, touch of salt..i use this to marinate chicken.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snake_Lady View Post
Oh, another one of my spices although not a spice. Italian salad dressing. It is GREAT for seasoning/marinating/cooking chicken in.
Oh, Italian dressing for chicken or steak is awesome and So easy! I normally don't even marinate when I make chicken breasts...just pour some over them and turn the skittle on low heat with a lid and every time you turn the breasts, pour a little bit more on. No other seasoning is required (I've even made them still frozen...on VERY low heat for a while), and in the end they are actually being boiled in the dressing and completely fall apart. Yummmm...DH actually BEGS me to make this some weekends. Warning, the way I do it I use a full bottle of dressing for 4-5 breasts. I also do the same with barbeque sauce. Very easy and tasty!
post #12 of 20
I use a lot of oregano, parsley, thyme, Mrs. Dash, and basil, especially when I make Italian bread wedges/crazy bread/pizza.
post #13 of 20
I have hanging baskets of fresh herbs on my back porch: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (Ok, how could I not put them in that order?) oregano, mint, chives, garlic chives, tarragon, basil. I usually dry some of them for winter use, and I have also dill in dried form. For spices I keep cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger (also love fresh ginger), mustard, curry, cumin, corriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed. And of course garlic.

Obviously some get heavier traffic than others, but here are some basic thoughts:

Parsley goes with pretty much all savories.
Sage is great with pork and poultry; tomatoes, potatoes, especially with cheese, and for a change in scambled eggs -- not a lot.
Rosemary is great with pork, lamb, poultry; potatoes, green beans, roasted root veg.
Thyme is great with pretty much any meat; soups and stews; mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, roasted roots; cheese, egg.
Oregano for Greek and Italian dishes. Greek salad is incomplete without. Great with tomatoes, potatoes, cheese. Also with prawns.
Basil with many meats, tomatoes, cheese. Basil pesto is wonderful on pasta or nugget potatoes.
Mint with lamb, also with buttered nugget potatoes.
Tarragon with most meats, beef and veal in particular for me, also with cheese, and with tomatoes.
Dill is great with fish, tomatoes, carrots, eggs. Egg salad is ho-hum until the dill arrives. So, for that matter, is potato salad.
Chives and garlic chives go anywhere onion and garlic go.

The sweet spices [cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger] are mostly for sweets or for spicing coffee, but I like some nutmeg in my Alfredo sauce; allspice in my Shepherd's Pie; anise is wonderful with fish; ginger in any Asian dishes. One caution: use a light hand with cloves, because they can really take over.

The savory spices [mustard, curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed] are mostly for savories, for instance...

Peppercorns are first and foremost for the pepper mill, so that when you use pepper, you can always use freshly ground pepper -- it makes all the difference. A use you might not have run into that is awesome is for dipping fresh strawberries -- I kid you not, it's out of this world. But a few peppercorns generally go into any pot with a broth base that's going to talk to itself for a while, and are a must for pickling and often used in a court bouillon.

Mustard. The uses are endless, and mostly invisible. Any time you use cheese in a dish, a teaspoon of mustard will really spark the cheese flavour. Sprinkle it on the grated cheese before you add it to the dish.

Cayenne also for sparking a dish, in much the same way as mustard, but in much smaller quantities -- a pinch or two as opposed to a teaspoon.

Curry goes with most meats and seafood.

Chili powder I use mostly for Chili and in a couple of other quasi-Mexican things.

Cumin I use mostly in curries and chili.

Paprika certainly for Hungarian dishes, of which I don't do a lot, but it also goes with egg and potato salads and helps to pretty up the top of a dish.

Whole cloves for decorating a ham, or in some pickling.

And garlic in most savouries, either ground garlic or fresh (chopped or pressed).

OK, that's off the top of my head.
post #14 of 20
I have a gazillion different spices. Some I use regularly, others only occasionally. I keep them fresh by keeping them in 1/2 cup glass jars with sealed lids.

When I make a roast chicken, I love to stuff the cavity with heads of garlic that have been cut in 1/2 crosswise, fresh Thyme and lemons that have been cut in half.

Thyme has a nice mild lemon flavour, so pairing it with lemon and garlic really works nice.

Garlic goes well with most anything. You can add it with a wide variety of other spices too.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47 View Post
I have hanging baskets of fresh herbs on my back porch: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (Ok, how could I not put them in that order?) oregano, mint, chives, garlic chives, tarragon, basil. I usually dry some of them for winter use, and I have also dill in dried form. For spices I keep cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger (also love fresh ginger), mustard, curry, cumin, corriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed. And of course garlic.

Obviously some get heavier traffic than others, but here are some basic thoughts:

Parsley goes with pretty much all savories.
Sage is great with pork and poultry; tomatoes, potatoes, especially with cheese, and for a change in scambled eggs -- not a lot.
Rosemary is great with pork, lamb, poultry; potatoes, green beans, roasted root veg.
Thyme is great with pretty much any meat; soups and stews; mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, roasted roots; cheese, egg.
Oregano for Greek and Italian dishes. Greek salad is incomplete without. Great with tomatoes, potatoes, cheese. Also with prawns.
Basil with many meats, tomatoes, cheese. Basil pesto is wonderful on pasta or nugget potatoes.
Mint with lamb, also with buttered nugget potatoes.
Tarragon with most meats, beef and veal in particular for me, also with cheese, and with tomatoes.
Dill is great with fish, tomatoes, carrots, eggs. Egg salad is ho-hum until the dill arrives. So, for that matter, is potato salad.
Chives and garlic chives go anywhere onion and garlic go.

The sweet spices [cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger] are mostly for sweets or for spicing coffee, but I like some nutmeg in my Alfredo sauce; allspice in my Shepherd's Pie; anise is wonderful with fish; ginger in any Asian dishes. One caution: use a light hand with cloves, because they can really take over.

The savory spices [mustard, curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed] are mostly for savories, for instance...

Peppercorns are first and foremost for the pepper mill, so that when you use pepper, you can always use freshly ground pepper -- it makes all the difference. A use you might not have run into that is awesome is for dipping fresh strawberries -- I kid you not, it's out of this world. But a few peppercorns generally go into any pot with a broth base that's going to talk to itself for a while, and are a must for pickling and often used in a court bouillon.

Mustard. The uses are endless, and mostly invisible. Any time you use cheese in a dish, a teaspoon of mustard will really spark the cheese flavour. Sprinkle it on the grated cheese before you add it to the dish.

Cayenne also for sparking a dish, in much the same way as mustard, but in much smaller quantities -- a pinch or two as opposed to a teaspoon.

Curry goes with most meats and seafood.

Chili powder I use mostly for Chili and in a couple of other quasi-Mexican things.

Cumin I use mostly in curries and chili.

Paprika certainly for Hungarian dishes, of which I don't do a lot, but it also goes with egg and potato salads and helps to pretty up the top of a dish.

Whole cloves for decorating a ham, or in some pickling.

And garlic in most savouries, either ground garlic or fresh (chopped or pressed).

OK, that's off the top of my head.
This lady is an awesome cook so I expected a post like this. I'd love to live close enough to come to dinner at her house.

Whenever I think of you Fran, I think of the Barefoot Contessa for some reason.

Linda, even keeping your herbs/spices in sealed jars won't keep them fresh forever and ever. That's one of the first things Bonnie Stern taught us in her cooking classes. Refresh your spices/herbs on a regular basis and if one cooks a lot this is not an issue as you'll have to refresh them anyway.
post #16 of 20
You flatter me, Linda, because it's evident you're no slouch yourself. Any time you find yourself on the coast, there's a place at the table.
post #17 of 20
You can store dried spices in the freezer to keep them fresher longer. They're still good after a long time (just in the cupboard) they just lose flavor after a while.
post #18 of 20
We have lots in the cupboard, but my most used ones are chives, parsley, dill (for omelettes, soups and baked potatos)

I also use alot of sweet paprika and garlic. And we have this nice one called 'mountain spice' with bush pepper in it, i use it in EVERYTHING! lol

I find it important to use herbs and spices, especially if you're on a diet, or you don't have alot to work with and need to make it taste better than it looks
post #19 of 20
I use lemon pepper for chicken, fish, potatoes and eggs - I grew up eating Lemon Pepper and it's a habit I just can't kick but it's SO good.

Smoked paprika is awesome in pumpkin soup - gives it a little extra kick!

Rosemary is perfect with Lamb and also on top of bread (home made) done in the oven.

I also don't think a kitchen is complete without sea salt.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47 View Post
I have hanging baskets of fresh herbs on my back porch: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (Ok, how could I not put them in that order?) oregano, mint, chives, garlic chives, tarragon, basil. I usually dry some of them for winter use, and I have also dill in dried form. For spices I keep cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger (also love fresh ginger), mustard, curry, cumin, corriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed. And of course garlic.

Obviously some get heavier traffic than others, but here are some basic thoughts:

Parsley goes with pretty much all savories.
Sage is great with pork and poultry; tomatoes, potatoes, especially with cheese, and for a change in scambled eggs -- not a lot.
Rosemary is great with pork, lamb, poultry; potatoes, green beans, roasted root veg.
Thyme is great with pretty much any meat; soups and stews; mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, roasted roots; cheese, egg.
Oregano for Greek and Italian dishes. Greek salad is incomplete without. Great with tomatoes, potatoes, cheese. Also with prawns.
Basil with many meats, tomatoes, cheese. Basil pesto is wonderful on pasta or nugget potatoes.
Mint with lamb, also with buttered nugget potatoes.
Tarragon with most meats, beef and veal in particular for me, also with cheese, and with tomatoes.
Dill is great with fish, tomatoes, carrots, eggs. Egg salad is ho-hum until the dill arrives. So, for that matter, is potato salad.
Chives and garlic chives go anywhere onion and garlic go.

The sweet spices [cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, anise, ground cloves, ginger] are mostly for sweets or for spicing coffee, but I like some nutmeg in my Alfredo sauce; allspice in my Shepherd's Pie; anise is wonderful with fish; ginger in any Asian dishes. One caution: use a light hand with cloves, because they can really take over.

The savory spices [mustard, curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, peppercorns, whole cloves, dried chili flakes, mustard seed] are mostly for savories, for instance...

Peppercorns are first and foremost for the pepper mill, so that when you use pepper, you can always use freshly ground pepper -- it makes all the difference. A use you might not have run into that is awesome is for dipping fresh strawberries -- I kid you not, it's out of this world. But a few peppercorns generally go into any pot with a broth base that's going to talk to itself for a while, and are a must for pickling and often used in a court bouillon.

Mustard. The uses are endless, and mostly invisible. Any time you use cheese in a dish, a teaspoon of mustard will really spark the cheese flavour. Sprinkle it on the grated cheese before you add it to the dish.

Cayenne also for sparking a dish, in much the same way as mustard, but in much smaller quantities -- a pinch or two as opposed to a teaspoon.

Curry goes with most meats and seafood.

Chili powder I use mostly for Chili and in a couple of other quasi-Mexican things.

Cumin I use mostly in curries and chili.

Paprika certainly for Hungarian dishes, of which I don't do a lot, but it also goes with egg and potato salads and helps to pretty up the top of a dish.

Whole cloves for decorating a ham, or in some pickling.

And garlic in most savouries, either ground garlic or fresh (chopped or pressed).

OK, that's off the top of my head.


awesome post. Thank you so much. Lots of info to print out for sure. Thx.
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