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Mad About Spices

  • What a Mint!

    Who hasn't enjoyed the fresh taste of mint in yummy Peppermint Patty, or chewing gum, breath-mints, mint tea, and in those crazy delicious mint juleps? I, for one, will always be in love with the familiar taste of mint in Moroccan tea that I became accustomed to drinking when I was a young child.

    Mint is believed to have had its origins in Asia and the Mediterranean region. In many ancient cultures, serving mint tea was a symbolic gesture as a sign of hospitality when friends and guests would visit. And it is still the tradition in the Middle East for mint tea to be served to guests on their arrival. Continue reading

  • The Magic of Spaghetti Aglio E Olio Peperoncino

    Its mid-summer and the weather is living proof that it is still a great time for outdoor bbqs. But what about those days when you dont feel like grilling? Im talking about those days when you just want good old-fashioned tummy filling, palate pleasing food. Well I have just the right suggestion during those momentary mood-food swings -- Spaghetti aglio e oliopeperoncino (translation: Spaghetti with garlic and oil and red-chile flakes). This traditional Italian pasta dish is believed to have its origins from the region of Abruzzo. But Id go further to say that Spaghetti aglio e olio is probably one of the most common and popular dishes that is eaten on a regular basis all across Italy; and Im sure that most Italians would agree with me.
    Continue reading

  • Thai Curries

    Judging by the number of amazing dishes out there in the world, I would guess that Thai food has to be right up there as one of the most popular global cuisines. It is believed that the Thais secret in creating delicious food is simply in the balance of combining the four fundamental flavors: sourness, sweetness, saltiness and spiciness with heat sitting at the top of the four flavors. Continue reading

  • King of Mushrooms

    Porcini mushrooms are at the top of the list for being one of my favorite fungi. Not only because they impart a rich, earthy flavor to any variety of dishes, but because they are very easy to cook with its that simple. I mean you can add dried or fresh porcini's to anything from pasta to soups to eggs or to jazz up burgers. I, for one, am crazy about these born to be wild mushrooms and with a scientific name like Boletus edulis (say that 3 times fast) who can blame me? Continue reading

  • Coriander - Herb or Spice?

    Coriandrum sativum, better known as coriander, is a bright green, shining plant with pinnate leaves and is a member of the parsley family. It has been extensively used in various cuisines from all over the world to enrich the flavor of sauces, salsas and soups sauces like curries and Mexican chile salsas, to name a few. Continue reading

  • The Many Sides To Korean Food

    When it comes to snazzy food, Korean cuisineis right at the top of my list. For a traditional home-cooked meal, which is referred to as "Hanjoungshik the Koreans will prepare various side-dishes like broiled or grilled fish or beef, a cup of bean paste soup, some steamed vegetables, and their awesome kimchi (pronounced kim-chee).

    What I like most about Korean food is the creative way they balance their spices. They incorporate sweet & salty, sour and spicy flavors using basic seasonings of chilies, soy-sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame, mustard, sugar, vinegar & sometimes wine. Continue reading

  • 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

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