Your Herbs & Spices Cheat Sheet
Herbs and spices add interesting flavor to so many different foods, and I recommend using them liberally. You can sometimes substitute dried for fresh or fresh for dried herbs, but fresh and dried herbs have very different flavors, so keep that in mind. Generally, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs equals about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs.
But how do you know what herbs and spices to use? First, know what you like. The only way to discover this is by smelling and tasting. If you don’t think you have herbal preferences, start expanding your palate by trying different fresh and dried herbs on something that highlights their flavors. You could sprinkle different herbs on a few thin slices of French baguette, add a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toast them in the oven. Try each one and really pay attention to the flavor. This will help you become more adept and seasoning your foods.
Herbs and spices (and other flavoring components) can add ethnic personality to any dish. Here’s how:
– For Italian flavor: oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic
– For Latin flavor: cilantro, cumin, lime, chili, cinnamon
– For Indian flavor: turmeric, curry, ginger, saffron, cardamom, anise, cloves, cumin
– For Caribbean flavor: garlic, ginger, lime, allspice, cilantro, hot red peppers, Scotch bonnet peppers, coconut milk
– For Chinese flavor: ginger, sesame seeds and oil, soy sauce, basil, garlic, five-spice powder (a spice mix), black bean sauce, hoisin sauce
– For Japanese flavor: miso, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, wasabi
– For Thai flavor: Thai basil, Thai chili, curry, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime, tamarind, turmeric
– For French flavor: garlic, parsley, lemon zest, tarragon, capers, herbes de Provence (a classic French herb mix containing such things as thyme, marjoram, fennel, basil, rosemary, and lavender)
– For Middle Eastern flavor: cumin, nutmeg, sumac, turmeric, za’atar (an herb mix containing things such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame, and sumac)
– For Moroccan flavor: cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, paprika, dried fruits such as raisins and apricots
This is an excerpt from The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel, available on Amazon.com.
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