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Author Archives: admin

  • Kid Friendly Spices

    Whenever I am preparing snacks or meals for my children I always consider the types of seasoning I will use in the recipe. For I know all too well that their young palates and stomachs are not the same as grown-ups. And, lets face it -- kids are picky when it comes to eating their food. So I choose herbs and spices that are good for them as well as amping up the flavor.

    Cooking with herbs and spices not only makes the food taste better, it also creates a fabulous aroma that will hopefully entice your young ones to eat what you have cooked. More importantly, herbs and spices contain beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants that help keep the body strong. In the ensuing issues of Romancing the Spice, we will highlight more about some of the amazing herbs and spices to use for making kid friendly meals. However, there is one rule of thumb you should follow: refrain from giving any herbs and spices to babies under eight months old. Continue reading

  • Chillin with Chipotle

    Lately, Ive had a lot to say about the summer weather and about seasonal spices and herbs. Well, I am still into the weather and eager to talk more about some of the great spices that are perfect for making crazy delicious dips and salsas for all your get-togethers and summer outdoor grilling.

    Some of the most sizzling dips and salsas are made with specific chile peppers in mind. For example, chiles come in many varieties, colors and sizes, and a scale of heat and flavor. Colors vary from pale green to dark green, red to dark brown, and yellow to bright orange. They can be as short as 1/4 inch or as long as 12 inches. Continue reading

  • Delicate and Delightful Chives

    Some of the most amazing herb gardens are ones that include chives along with other staple herbs. Chives are those long thin hollow green leaves that are usually packaged and sold in produce sections. It is the smallest member of the onion family with a delicate onion-like flavor. When the leaves remain untouched, they can grow lavender flowers that are edible, although chives are usually grown and sold for their hollow green leaves. There's also the flat-leafed Chinese variety that are sold at specialty markets, but tastes more like garlic and are sometimes topped with white edible flowers.

    Chives can be sold fresh or freeze-dried. The freeze-dried variety offers the best color and flavor, and can be added into cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise or yoghurt when making flavorful dips, dressings or sauces. If you are cooking with the dried version then it is best to add them toward the end of the cooking process. You can use fresh chives in much the same way as the dried herb by chopping them into small pieces or snipping them with a pair of scissors and then adding them to the recipe. I bet most people are familiar with chives as a topping for baked potatoes. I love them mixed in with scrambled eggs or fluffy omelets. Continue reading

  • Amazing Bay Leaf

    Who would have ever thought that a dried leaf could become a popular flavoring ingredient? I guess I'm not surprised because nature has given us so many wonderful herbs and spices to create the most marvelous dishes. I'm talking about the bay leaf also known as bay laurel, which is of an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region.

    The two most common bay leaves used in cooking are the Turkish bay, and the other is the Californian bay (not referring to the Bay area folks). Both may look similar and smell the same but they have very distinct flavors. The slender Californian is 2 to 3 inches long, and has a prominent menthol fragrance, whereas the oval-shaped Turkish bay has a more subtle flavor and is 1 to 2 inches long. Due to the strength of the California bay, it can dominate other ingredients so it is best to use it in recipes that do not require a long cooking process, like in marinades. Continue reading

  • The Joy of Naan

    Last week some of you may have thought that I was a wee bit mad (crazy) for suggesting to barbecue pizza instead of, a) ordering it to go or, b) baking it in the oven like most normal folks. But I'm here to tell you Ive got another great idea for your outdoor BBQing. Yes, that's right I'm still hot-on-the-grill-gone-wild. This time I'm wondering if you can take a leap of faith and try making and grilling delicious naan bread.

    Traditionally, naan bread is baked in a clay oven called a tandoor. But what if you don't own or have a clay oven? So, you might ask, why not just go out and buy naan? Or why would I want to grill it when I can use a conventional oven? And these are good questions, but have some fun in life by venturing out of your comfort zone. So think baking on the grill rather than barbecuing on the grill. But for those of you who have never tasted naan bread, well there's a first time for everything. And, you might be missing out on enjoying one of the most delicious, chewy and soft, flavorful breads in the world. Continue reading

  • Pizza on the Grill

    As the days become hotter and the sunlight lasts longer, we make it a point to do most of our cooking outside on the grill. And I have to say that one of our favorite things to grill is pizza. Now you might wonder why I would ever want to grill pizza on a barbecue pit, and I would tell you because it tastes great and you don't have to use a hot oven to make pizza. Besides, who wants all of that heat inside the kitchen when you can keep it outside where it belongs? And no, the pizza dough will not fall through the grates. Continue reading

  • The Perfect Pita

    My fascination with pita bread comes naturally as Ive been eating it all my life. Of course my mother used to make pita or flatbread in a wood-fired oven, and would add simple herbs or spices to impart different flavors. These days, pita bread is sold in just about every supermarket, corner market and even at convenience stores. But you can make your own perfect pita or flatbread at home, all it takes is a non-stick pan and a little ingenuity to create a variety of great tasting pita or flatbread. Continue reading

  • Gourmet Meat Rubs

    Good weather can suggest many things, but for me it means getting the grill ready for some delicious barbecuing, and what better way to get started than by preparing the meat before-hand. One way to do that is with meat rubs. Meat rubs have garnered much popularity with professional chefs and BBQ foodies alike, and understandably so meat rubs are an easy way to amp up the taste of your food.

    For those of you who have not yet discovered the world of rubs there are two ways they are used: Dry rubs that are made with specific spices, seasonings and herbs; and wet rubs that are made with moist ingredients. I prefer dry rubs, as they wont burn and you can cook meat such as ribs and briskets much longer. All you have to do is apply a liberal amount of the rub directly onto the meat before grilling or roasting. Dry rubs can also be used as an ingredient in marinades. Marinades and rubs can turn tough cuts of meat into juicy and tender dishes, spike up the taste of bland vegetables, and dazzle even the most basic meal. Continue reading

  • Lavender with attitude!

    No doubt about it, spring is here, and with spring comes the bursts of colorful wildflowers, blossoms and plenty of intoxicating fragrance filling the air; its enough to make you want to spend the whole day outdoors.

    In fact, spring is my favorite time of year, when there is such an abundance of herbs and flowers to look at, and I cant help but be mesmerized by the beauty and fragrance of the lavender. This incredibly versatile herb not only looks good, but also adds great flavor and color to just about any culinary dish. In fact, most upscale restaurants use fresh, edible flowers to enhance the appearance and taste in their cuisine. Continue reading

  • Flax Seed in all its glory!

    Flax seed is one of humanity's oldest grains dating as far back as 4,000 years ago; it has been a long-held staple of the human diet in Africa, Asia and Europe. Much later in history, flax seed has garnered much attention in North America for its many nutritional benefits in fighting against life-threatening diseases.

    Flax seeds might be tiny but they are loaded with goodness through and through. They contain high levels of dietary fiber and an abundance of micro-nutrients and are a rich source of lignans, which has plant estrogen as well as antioxidants. Studies have revealed that flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, and may lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.And as far as Omega-3 plant foods go, flax seed stands high above all the others. Continue reading

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