Spice Road Spices
Artisan Spice Merchants
The Art of Flavour
Salt Free - Spices - Flavour. Simple enough for all those looking for a Salt Free diet. So let's cut to the chase on this. You need to start with a recipe of course and there are plenty of excellent Salt Free recipes about, each with one common denominator. They rely on Spices to replace the salt flavour and then add their own flavour character to the recipe.
And this brings us to the problem. Many of the spices available in Australia are either diminished by age, well into their 3 month life span by sitting on store shelves or simply produced from inferior growers.
For Home Chefs there is no escape. Think of the stunning Greek style, lamb shoulder bake and you will find an essential. Citrus.
And Citrus continues. Look to your favourite Risotto or a Salad Dressing. Perhaps a prized sauce that you have developed in the privacy of your home kitchen. Or your favourite (very secret) BBQ marinade. Maybe a vegetable Capanata from Spain or Italy. Even a two hour Bolognaise stew from Italy and there it will be again. Citrus.
Herbs and Spices. I suppose it's fairly predictable that I would start this way. Quite simply, your favourite dish should start with the best Herbs and Spices. Not your artificially flavoured, salt laden and preservative added mixtures on supermarket shelves but plain, pure and natural Herbs and Spices that have been delivering flavour to us for over 3000 years.
All good but before you think I'm getting a bit carried away with this Spice flavour thing, I accept the obvious that the dish must first start with the ingredients.
Slice the Ancho Peppers down the centre, open the skin and remove the seeds and the top stem.
Break the skin into smaller pieces then place in a bowl with very hot tap water. Cover the skins completely - use a small plate to press down if the skins float to the surface - and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
Leaving aside the quite extraordinary health benefits of Fenugreek, this Spice, originally from the Mediterranean and in use for over 4000 years, will add an almost secret flavour dimension to your favourite recipe, especially recipes that are a little bit zippy by design.
A Spice very much worth adding to your flavour armoury. You will find dried Fenugreek, if used carefully, will add a Maple Syrup aroma, with just a slight, burnt sugar sharpness to your dish.
The first thing you will notice once started on your brief journey for Roasted Garlic is the smell. Soft, warm, slightly sweet and very inviting. Caramelised pretty much covers it.
We did a brief piece on Roasted Garlic some time ago and since then more and more recipes are noting this amazingly simple flavour essential
A note from Jasmine W. Geelong, Victoria gives a nice suggestion that after you have finished poaching a chicken (usual thing, whole chicken, onions, carrot, celery and Spices) with the meat falling from the bones, set aside the meat and return the bones to the pot. Continue on a low heat to reduce the liquid and enrich the broth.
When the broth has reduced to your liking, allow to cool and refrigerate for, ideally, 24 hours to allow all the flavours to blend. Then reheat, reduce a little more then strain through a colander and finally the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine sieve. You will now have an amazing (and very economical) chicken stock for your stews and sauces.
The learned Foodie, Adam Florance mentioned using Parsley Stems in his excellent recipe for Moroccan Lamb Riblets ( refer Recipes ).
Adam would not advise the addition of Parsley Stems as opposed to Parsley Leaves without good reason and given that Parsley is an essential in so many recipes, we decided to look into this Parsley business further.
Having devoted a considerable amount of time arranging new friends for Goats Cheese (refer previous Epicurean Posts) we wondered if other Herbs and Spices might be interested in sharing their partners for special recipes.
Looking further into this and as every good Foodie would have noticed, the stand out Spice pairing in many classic recipes is Coriander and Cumin.
And neither are all Herbs and Spices!
For many of the very special Foodies across Australia the differences in Cinnamon are common knowledge. However, for general interest and starting out Foodies we should note that there are two types of Cinnamon available but only one genuine Cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon from Sri Lanka.
The other Cinnamon is the one you will find in most supermarkets. Cassia or fake Cinnamon. Generally from Indonesia, China or Vietnam, the bark is harvested from the Cassia tree and while it is a good deal cheaper than Ceylon Cinnamon it has a very poor flavour imitation of real Cinnamon and a slightly bitter after taste.
All this came to mind when we received our latest delivery of true Ceylon Cinnamon. Looking at the Cinnamon differences, we reflected that the same quality differences are evident with pretty much all Herbs and Spices.
Predictably, we would say that our Spices are the purest and the freshest of course but more importantly, we care about how the Herbs and Spices are grown and harvested.