Tag: spices

Za’atar — The Next Best Thing You Never Ate

by in News, January 14th, 2014

Za'atar - The Next Best Thing You Never Ateby Jacob Schiffman

When I lived in Israel my junior year abroad in college, I started noticing that a lot of my favorite foods had a nutty, floral flavor I hadn’t seen before. I found out it was a Middle Eastern spice blend made of woody herbs (usually thyme and oregano, but traditionally hyssop), sumac and sesame seeds. There I saw it mostly on hummus or on flatbreads, but now I love putting it on roasted vegetables or fish (with a bit of honey), grilled chicken or baked eggs at breakfast. There are regional varieties of za’atar (Jordanian has more sumac and Israeli sometimes includes dill); I like the Israeli style, probably because that’s the first one I tried. Whichever one you prefer, let me know what you like to eat it on.

Find it: Look for it in most good grocery stores and any specialty spice shop.

Rethink Your Spices

by in Food Network Magazine, December 10th, 2013

Rethink Your SpicesSpices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg have been used for centuries in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking to bring out rich, meaty flavors in savory dishes. Try adding a pinch or two of your favorite baking spice to a rub for meat, or drop a cinnamon stick into simmering tomato sauce. Just remember: A little goes a long way.

All About Spices: When to Toss, When to Keep and How To Maximize Flavor

by in How-to, January 4th, 2013

bottled spicesIf you’re wondering why your chili doesn’t taste as good as you remember, it might be the chili powder that’s off. You might not have realized it, but spices can actually lose their freshness and flavor over time. That’s why it’s a good idea to check them periodically to see if they’re still any good. What better time to do so than New Year’s? You might as well check it off your to-do list right after you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Spices are some of the most important ingredients when it comes to flavoring food. Just imagine an apple pie without cinnamon or an Indian curry without curry powder. Those recipes wouldn’t be the same without those spices. It’s easy to take spices for granted when you use them so often, but they need some attention, especially when it comes to storing them.

Ground vs. whole spices

Stocking Your Pantry for the Holidays

by in Holidays, November 28th, 2012

Stocking Your Pantry for the HolidaysYou have all the spices, dried fruits and nuts you’ll need for the perfect holiday bakeathon. But are your coveted jars of ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg from years gone by? Are the lids perhaps partially unscrewed or maybe even missing in action? That box of raisins you opened for your neighbor’s “welcome to the neighborhood” oatmeal raisin cookies may need to go, and the walnuts you are squirreling away have perhaps seen better days.

Yes, everything has a shelf life. If you bake with ingredients past their prime, they may not send you to the hospital, but they may taste like hospital food.

If you cannot remember when you purchased that box of baking soda, chances are it needs to go in the garbage along with that old fruitcake in the freezer that your Aunt Franny baked pre-Food Network days.

If you’re still not convinced that you need to purge your spices, do the smell test: If it has zero scent, ditch it. Spices, especially cinnamon, have oils that lose their character when exposed to heat, light and age.

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Five-Spice Powder — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, February 9th, 2012

roast beef tenderloin
It’s all about harmony and yin-yang.

Which sounds tritely New Age-y, but really is the key to Chinese cuisine.

Because as with so much of Asian cooking, the blend of seasonings known as five-spice powder is intended to trigger a sense of balance in the mouth and nose.

How? A careful selection of spices that simultaneously hit notes of warm and cool, sweet and bitter, savory and searing.

Because that’s what you get with five-spice powder, a mix of fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns.

Like spice blends around the world, the proportions of those ingredients vary by region in China, but some variant of it is used throughout the country.

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Garam Masala — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, December 1st, 2011

smashed and roasted garam masala potatoes
First lesson of Indian cooking: Not all brown powders are curry powder.

Second lesson: Don’t confuse heat and warmth, especially in Indian cuisine, as they are wildly different concepts.

Third lesson: Indian cooking is a deliciously inexact science. Embrace its freewheeling approach and all of your cooking, Indian and otherwise, will be better.

And all of that is why I want to introduce you to garam masala, a widely available yet little used (in the U.S.) seasoning blend from northern India. Like so many Indian spice blends, there is no set recipe for garam masala. The ingredients can vary tremendously by region and cook. But in general, it usually contains a mix of spices that are at once sweet and warming — coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and black pepper.

Get the recipe for Smashed Garam Masala Potatoes »

20 Questions for the New Spice Girl

by in View All Posts, April 23rd, 2010
Janet Johnston cooks spiced-up dishes on her new show, Spice & Easy

Janet Johnston’s road to Food Network started two years ago, when Pat and Gina Neely headed to Denver for an episode of Road Tasted with the Neelys. They stopped in at Savory Spice Shop, which Janet owns with her husband, Mike.

The Johnstons and the Neelys hit it off right away, and since then Janet and Mike have guest-cheffed on episodes of Down Home with the Neelys and Paula’s Best Dishes. It soon became clear that Janet’s delicious spice-inspired food deserved a show of its own, and the idea for Spice & Easy was born. The new show premieres tomorrow morning at 9:30am/8:30c.

The Colorado shop owner and home cook films in her home kitchen as well as in the nearby Denver outpost of Savory Spice Shop. Janet couldn’t be more excited to share her love of spices and cooking with Food Network fans: “We’re having a little viewing party with our employees…It was my husband’s excuse to buy a 55-inch TV!”

To get to know FN’s newest star, read our 20 Questions for Janet Johnston.

1. What are five spices everyone needs in their pantry?

Can we eliminate salt and pepper? That just has to be a given; they are such important ingredients! Okay, then I’d start with a really good fresh ground cinnamon. I don’t know if this is cheating, but seasonings and blends are really important—I’d do an Italian herb blend and a paprika-based barbecue blend. A really good vanilla extract. Lastly, a good seafood blend like some kind of a citrus pepper or garlic pepper—a pepper-based blend. Those are some great basics that will get you there. I carry almost 500 products so this is really hard for me!

2. What did you have for dinner last night?

I made leftovers with my carrot risotto. Wow, I’m glad I made a good dinner last night…if that was my frozen pizza night I would have been embarrassed! I made the risotto two nights ago for dinner, so with the leftovers I made patties that I folded around mozzarella cheese. I floured and panko-breaded them and gave them a light fry. Mike had three of them and they were the size of burgers!

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You Asked and Aida Answered!

by in View All Posts, November 19th, 2008

Thanks to everyone who wrote in their burning questions for Aida! As mentioned on a post last week, we just shot a behind-the-scenes piece with Aida on her second season of Ask Aida (for an upcoming FN Dish video) . Because we love our dedicated FN Dish readers so much, we thought it would be fun to give immediate gratification to you guys… that is, use our access to have Aida answer your questions directly!

Now, sadly I only had time to spit out 4 of the 6 questions to Aida during her lunch break (hey, a girl’s gotta eat)…but Eddie and Lyndsay, I promise I’ll waltz, or at least walk, upstairs to our culinary department and get an answer to your knife sharpening and chocolate questions, as well. OR, if Aida is still on your brain, you can go the longer route, and email the show directly. Maybe they’ll pick your question to be answered next season! Email: AskAida@foodnetwork.com.

Without further babbling, here are your questions re-posted with answers straight from the horse’s mouth (not that Aida is a horse):

QUESTION FROM JEFF: I recently got a grill pan that covers two burners. I want to grill steak or chicken but I tried it once and it set off my fire alarm — small apartment. How can I reduce smoke from an indoor grilling pan?
AIDA’S ANSWER: So, you’ve got the grilling indoors going on too? I do this all the time! I use a grill pan, a nice heavy, cast iron, grill pan..and so my roommate doesn’t get mad at the smell and so my fire alarm doesn’t go off, I make sure EVERY window is open, turn my ventilator on, and keep ANY extra fans going on as well…. Its all about getting any smoke out of there ASAP and having cross ventilation.

QUESTION FROM WD: How do you know what herb or spice to use with which meat or dish? Is there a book or anything that has suggestions? So I have an idea where to start and what not to use other trying a tasting, possibly ruin a good piece of meat.
AIDA’S ANSWER: So lets see, you want to know specific herbs and spices for specifics meats… a really good book to turn to is, Field Guide. It’s called, Field Guide to Herbs and Spices and Aliza Green wrote it…before you know it, after you read this thing, you’ll be a total pro when you walk through your grocery store.

QUESTION FROM NICKIE: Can I make homemade bread and bake it the next day?
AIDA’S ANSWER: So if you’ve already made your bread dough, I’d recommend just throwing it in the fridge and then what happens is the yeast that’s in there actually ages and you kind of get a more complex bread flavor. For most dough, it’ll last 12 – 24 hours in the fridge before you bake it off, just make sure you let it come to room temperature first. As far as freezing, you can totally freeze bread dough, just shape it into the shape you want before freezing, but probably not best to do that if you’re going to make it the next day. If you want to make it to bake the next week, just cover your dough with some plastic wrap, and you’re good to go before you decide to bake it off!

QUESTION FROM LINDA: For those of us who’ve seen the light and given up table salt for kosher salt when cooking (or sea salt, or fleur de sel, or whatever) what uses *are* there for table salt?
AIDA’S ANSWER: I get this question all the time! And there are still a lot of good uses for table salt because table salt, for one, is a lot cheaper than other salts, and since it’s so small, it dissolves beautifully. So especially when you’re baking, and doing any kind of sweets, turn to table salt.

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Rachael Knudsen
Associate Producer, The FN Dish