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Mad About Spices

  • Unbeatable Beets Bring Color, Flavor, Health Benefits

    Ruby red, golden orange or striped, always topped with deep green leaves, beets — or beetroot, as this vegetable is known in other parts of the English-speaking world — are among the most colorful members of the superfood crowd.

    Beets' rich hues signal not only fresh flavor but a bonanza of health benefits from antioxidants, phytonutrients and carotenoids. Studies suggest beets also contain anti-inflammatory molecules that could have cancer-fighting properties. Continue reading

  • Piment dEspelette: Basque Pepper Adds Complex Warmth to Foods

    Its a controlled substance you can buy without a prescription: The red peppers of Espelette, in the Basque region of southwestern France, produce the only spice that can legally be called piment d'Espelette,Espelette pepper or in the Basque language Ezpeletako biperra.

    A French law with its roots in the middle ages protects the Espelette pepper, along with more than 500 wines and other agricultural products including lavender and honey, by specifying exactly where in France the food can be produced in order to be labeled with a place of origin. Continue reading

  • Falafel: Baked or Fried

    Falafel! Its easy to say, easy to eat and surprisingly easy to prepare at home. These savory, cumin-scented chickpea fritters, packed with protein and fiber, are a common street food across the Middle East and Mediterranean, and can now be found in most American cities as well.

    Falafel sandwiches typically are wrapped in pita or another flatbread, but the fritters can also be served on a plate, as an appetizer or main course with hummus and vegetables. Continue reading

  • Mexican Mole Sauce in 15 Minutes

    One of Mexico's first and greatest gifts to international cuisine is mole, a family of complex, chili-based simmering sauces that can be red, green, brown or nearly black in color.

    Often said to have been invented by poor nuns at a colonial convent in Puebla where the celebrated Cinco de Mayo victory was to take place in 1862 mole takes its name from the indigenous Nahuatl word for mix or sauce. Continue reading

  • From Cacao to Chocolate to Cake

    Oh, do we love our chocolate. Its long been called Americas favorite flavor (though when the topic is ice cream, vanilla is the winner in some surveys).

    Of course, Americans are not the only ones with a sweet tooth for chocolate. Increasing demand for the delicacy in China, South America and Africa, among other markets, has sparked a series of news reports with alarming headlines such as Cocoa Shortage Worries Chocolate Lovers and World's biggest chocolate manufacturer backs warnings of cocoa shortage. Continue reading

  • Apples, Spices and Hot Mulled Cider

    Where would we be without apples? These crisp, rosy fruits and believe it or not, they are a member of the rose family provide sweet, juicy eating when fresh, thirst-quenching beverages when pressed and mouthwatering flavors when preserved.

    They are also one of the original health foods: Though the old phrase an apple a day keeps the doctor away may not literally be true, apples do contain dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Continue reading

  • Roasted Bell Peppers Brighten Many Dishes

    You might not think of bell peppers as a spice, but they can be roasted and dried to preserve their sweet flavor and bright colors. Diced or powdered, roasted bell peppers give a lift to all kinds of recipes, from omelets to entrees.

    You can use roasted red bell pepper powder in place of paprika in almost any dish or sprinkle it over a cheese plate. Pair it with the stronger-flavored roasted green bell pepper in soups, stews, chilis and sauces like Ronit's recipe below; add a dash of each to dips, dressings and marinades. Continue reading

  • Turkey with a Twist!

    It is countdown time to the big T-Day, and if you are hosting this years Thanksgiving feast, we would like to offer you some wonderful ideas on how to season your main dish the turkey.

    For starters the traditional way of seasoning turkey is always a hit with aromatic herbs and spices of thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, paprika and garlic. Just combine these ingredients in a small bowl mix them with a little olive oil, add a dash of lemon zest and rub the marinade over the turkey and its ready for roasting.
    Continue reading

  • Kashmiri Chili: Bright Color, Mild Heat

    If you haven't tried Kashmiri chili, make room in your spice cupboard for this vibrantly red pepper that brings more color than heat to the dishes it flavors.

    Grown in India, Kashmiri chili is hotter than paprika and milder than cayenne; some cooks mix the two if they can't get the more colorful Kashmiri chili. It's equally at home as a substitute for hotter peppers, if you don't want a fiery dish, or for paprika if you do prefer more heat.

    With the deep red hue it imparts to foods, Kashmiri chili is called for in many dishes from the Indian subcontinent. It's also good in Mexican hot chocolate, chili-chocolate cookies and this vegan freezer fudge recipe from the My Heart Beets blog. In fact, you can use Kashmiri chili in any dish calling for chili pepper. Continue reading

  • Warm Up with Chicken and Stuffing Two Ways

    Cool autumn days and long winter nights call for comfort cooking — savory, satisfying dishes that fill the kitchen with glorious aromas. Roast chicken is one of our family favorites, especially with stuffing to soak up the juices.

    This roast chicken dinner can be prepared with either rice or bread stuffing; all you'll need to complement it is a side vegetable and/or a simple salad. If you have a large group to feed, or just want leftovers, you can double the recipe and cook two chickens. Continue reading

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