Category Archives: spice mix

Spice Mix: Cajun or Creole?

Cajun or Creole? by Don R

bowl of jambalaya

Jambalaya is basic to Cajun and Creole cuisine. There are many variations but the spices are fairly standard.

Is there a difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine? The short answer is YES if you are familiar with  Louisiana cooking or culture. Culturally, the Cajun ancestors migrated to Louisiana from  Eastern Canada during the French and English war. Creole describes people who migrated to the New Orleans area from Spain, France and the Caribbean Islands. Just as their history differs, their food uses different flavors. Continue reading

Spice Mix or Not: Italian

Italian Spice Mix,  or not

Grow your own basil so it is fresh for Italian recipes.

Grow your own basil so it is fresh for Italian recipes.

Long ago I was told “Italians take pride in their food, wine and opera. Bad tenors and boring  sauces get the loudest whistles (boos) yet they’ll still drink the wine.” Fresh herbs and spices are the rule around the northern Mediterranean seaboard mostly because many herbs grow naturally in the area. Since Italian cuisine relies upon simplicity, the use of mixes and garlic is frowned upon.  Actually more than frowned upon; there is an anti-garlic revolt going on now in Italy. Garlic and potent mixes could overpower the flavor and hide a chef’s shortcomings. Continue reading

Spice Mix: Herb Bouquet

Herb Bouquet

spice mix

Make this herb & spice mix and use in soup and vegetable recipes.

Want to liven up your soup or vegetables? Add a teaspoon of herb bouquet with your recipe and simmer a bit to release the flavors. I’ve mixed this up and given it as gifts, used it at home and in our classes. You can change the mixture to make it hotter; you also can eliminate the salt or add less or more sweetener to appease your taste buds. Continue reading

Spice Mix: Indian Cuisine

Indian Cuisine

Chicken with green curry sauce

Chicken with green curry sauce

India is a large area divided into many regions;  each influenced by British, Portuguese and Mongolian occupation. Expect a wide variety of spicy tastes  and traditions.

The staples of Indian cuisine are rice, atta (whole wheat flour), and legumes like lentils, peas, and beans. Each is split or kept whole to offer a  wide variety of colors, textures, tastes. With such a variety of foods, it is almost impossible to make one spice mix that complements every dish. Finding authentic recipes is also difficult because many have been “secretly” passed down only to family members for generations and are still closely guarded. Continue reading

Spice Mix: Make Your Own

Spice Mix:  Make Your Own                                                    by Don R 

picture of bowls with spices.

Use our recipes and make your own spice mixes.

Making your own spice combination is a good way to save money. We will share simple recipes that are not only easy on your budget, they will replace many of the 30 or so spice jars taking up space on your shelves. But there are other reasons for devoting a little time and energy to assemble your own. Continue reading

Substitute spices and herbs

cilantro

cilantro

Is it OK to substitute Parsley for Cilantro? Or put another way, do we need to follow a recipe exactly as written? A good chef or wine steward will taste and adjust as they finish their creation.

parsley

parsley

They know that spices and herbs vary in their intensity and flavor because of different growing conditions, storage method and age. And, while  cooking, flavors can overpower others so recipes invariably need to be adjusted to pass your taste test.

I know that’s an answer you did not want to hear. Busy cooks want to set it and forget so let me give you an example to clarify this idea. I watched Paul, one of our FMP instructors, create cranberry sauce last week for the community meal and he kept adding orange zest to the simmering cranberries . He would add more, taste, add more, taste…you get the idea? If asked “How much orange zest is needed?” his answer would be,”About that much.”

So the answer to the parsley/cilantro question depends on the taste you are trying to achieve. Keep that in mind, as you reach for the generally accepted substitutes listed below. Continue reading