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38

In general, it is a good idea to go light on spices when trying a new recipe, if you're not intimately familiar with the flavor and spice combinations in question. It's a great deal easier to add spice later than it is to mask it once you've added too much. Assuming you are reading this because you didn't do that, and have now ended up with a sauce that's ...


21

Garam masala is a catch-all term for an Indian spice blend. It has no fixed recipe but is likely to contain a combination of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay, black pepper, star anise, dried chillies, coriander, cumin and maybe more or less. Blends vary according to family tradition and region. Spices are then dried out and possibly roasted, before being ...


19

I've seen a lot of different curry recipes with varying levels of authenticity, but the most common ingredients I see in curries that might impart that colour are: Garam masala (brown) Chili powder (red) Cumin (brown) Paprika (red) Tandoori powder (usually a mix of masala, cumin, ground red pepper, fenugreek, and others - very red) Saffron (red) Still, ...


18

It's not a "cheat sheet", and is rather too big to stick to your fridge, but I highly recommend the book The Flavor Bible, which is an encyclopedia of exactly these associations. What ingredients does any particular ingredient go with? How do you cook it? Absolutely terrific book!


18

You can't really substitute cayenne pepper for black pepper. They're completely different, not even in the same botanical order. Cayenne pepper is a powdered chile. Black pepper is tiny drupe. The heat in cayenne pepper comes from capsaisin, and the pepperyness in black pepper from piperine. Closer substitutes would be white peppercorns (in moderation!), ...


18

It seems to be an edible lichen. It looks very like one described online as (black) stone flower in English and dagad phool in Hindi, which seems to be a not uncommon ingredient in various spice mixes; e.g. on the left in this photo from an Indian food blog: [Edit: photo removed as I’ve just realised the author of that blog specifically requests not ...


18

I am going to slightly disagree with the other two answers. First, here is an excerpt summarizing Alton Brown's opinion: The first step in learning how to cook with spices is learning where to find spices. Now here in America, we do have some indigenous spices: allspice, vanilla, chili peppers, all from here. But by and large, most of your culinary ...


17

Having taken a look around some recipe sites and taken the intersection of what most of them consider the "core" spices (and leaving out the ones that showed up on too many 'variations' lists), it looks like the canonical ones are: basil marjoram oregano rosemary thyme


17

This doesn't answer your question directly, but spices are only a small part of the picture. Below are some techniques to get more flavor in your soup. Longer Cooking Depending on the type of soup you're making, you may just need more time. Some flavors just need more time to get out. This is especially true of meat and bones. It's possible to make a ham ...


15

Try to remember where you read that. And then don't read them anymore. If you find your nutmeg and cinnamon tasting at all similar, they've both turned to dust and should be discarded. And next time, buy whole nutmeg - it tastes much better freshly-grated, and keeps much longer without turning into vaguely-spicy-bitter dust.


15

Dried herbs really do only last around six months, certainly no longer than a year. They're generally easy to get in small quantities, though. Spices are trickier. They'll generally last rather longer, but the time will vary. If the spice is used for the colour and/or heat (e.g. turmeric, chilli) it will generally last much, much longer than one used for ...


15

Cream usually takes the edge off of spiciness, but it depends on the type of spice, and obviously on whether you can add anything creamy to the dish. For Thai food (for example) if you request that the curry be mild, they'll just dump in some more coconut milk.


15

As others have said, there are few spices with umami. However, if you're looking for something that you can use in the same way as a spice, then I suggest simply blitzing dried porcini (cep) mushrooms in a blender or grinder into a fine powder and using that. It has a deep umami flavour - try rubbing it on a steak before cooking and you'll be blown away.


14

The closest thing is to combine equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.


14

Since pure peas don't have a strong aroma, they are a perfect "substrate" for strong, characteristic herbs. It is something of a personal taste, but in this case, I wouldn't use a bouquet of herbs (which mask each other somewhat, leaving only the strongest notes discernible), but would seize the occasion to showcase all the nuances of a single herb, and not ...


14

When you cook a vegetable, such as a cut-up onion, it will release water. The water initially will create an emulsion with the oil in the pan, so you won't see them as clearly separated elements, but it will also be evaporating. When enough (perhaps all) of the water has dissapated, the emulsion breaks and you see the oil separate from the rest of the ...


13

I don't know about brands, but there are six different types. Hot, Hungarian, Plain, Smoked, Spanish, Sweet. Paprika releases its flavor with heat, but burns easily. So mix it in with liquid, and make sure it gets hot. Sprinkled onto a cold dish (like deviled eggs), it remains quite bland. Add it to browned hamburger meat, and you're halfway to taco ...


13

Same plant for both. Black pepper is unripe fruit (green), picked and sun dried til it turns black. White pepper is the fully ripe seed stripped of its outer husk. Here's the first link that google gave me to verify. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_pepper#White_pepper Also, Harold McGee has a couple of pages in "On Food and Cooking" for further detail. ...


13

Prices are determined not by the cost of the raw materials of anything, but by what the consumer is willing to pay. Anything that must be sold at a loss because of this is simply not sold/manufactured. In my experience, the specialty Asian stores (in the UK), or the spice shops and market stalls in other parts of the world usually have better tasting (and ...


12

First, trust your nose. Smell the food you're cooking. Open the spice and sniff above it (but not too close, and don't sneeze!). If they smell good together, they usually taste good together. If you're working with products you can't taste test (like raw meat), either wait until the food is cooked to season, or be very conservative in your early experiments. ...


12

I've noticed that salty food has somewhat of an addictive quality; people who eat a lot of it (i.e. fast food or other processed food) tend to bury their meals under a mountain of salt, whereas people such as myself who do a lot of home cooking hardly use (or want) any. "Season to taste" means pretty much what it sounds like; add however much salt (and ...


12

They don't taste identical at all, and even more important, they don't smell the same. White pepper has a distinct "barnyard" odor. People do indeed use them when black flecks might be unpleasant, but in most cases I'd rather go pepperless or just live with the color.


12

You know, I don't think you need to overthink this too much. If you look at a typical Indian curry recipe, it might have 10 spices in it. Just leave out the cumin, and maybe bump up the other spices a little to compensate. It won't be exactly the same, but it will still be delicious. You are correct that you'll have to be careful to avoid pre-packaged spice ...


12

For hard, chemical-resistant surfaces such as marble, bleach or peroxide cleaners will help. On things like counters, pots and pans, a Magic Eraser will often take off the stain. Sometimes a harsher abrasive like Comet or Barkeep's Friend will be needed. Softer or porous materials, including cloth and many plastics often CANNOT BE UNSTAINED. In my ...


12

The reason it tastes sweet is the presence of sugar, ie because it is sweet. Cinnamon is thin tree bark, and it is not uncommon for tree bark, or the layer near the bark to be sweet because of sap. Birch is another example of a tree that is sweet, you can suck on a peeled birch branch for the same reasons as stated in your question.


11

Salting food has a predictable trajectory. Think of it like a roller-coaster. /\ At first it's not great, then it's great, then it's not great again. Food with no salt will taste one-dimensional and flat. The flavors will not "pop". Add a little salt and the taste of a dish will start to both integrate and become more complex. With the perfect ...


11

It is basically the anethole (a phenol) of the star anise that react with the sulfur in the onion to create sulfur-phenolic aromatics. In Chinese cuisine the same family of reactions is used with duck and pork. The sulfur-phenols are also produced during the Maillard reaction, the reaction that gives grilled meat its characteristic flavor, so adding star ...


11

Salt is added at the beginning, because it takes long time to dissolve. Also, it's maybe less important for bolognese, but you want your veggies to get infused with salty water, the taste is different from bland vegetables swimming in water salted late. Last but not least, salt's chemical properties are important for the cooking of some dishes. The stuff ...


11

Cayenne pepper. I'm actually serious. I haven't tried it in carrot cake but a little capsaicin actually works well with a little sweet to offset it. Chile powder also works well in sweet things. Cardamom is my wife's favorite and so it goes into many baked goods I make. It would work and be interesting but not spicy. You can always put in a good extra ...


11

It sounds like you're assuming that recipes are scientific creations carefully engineered to achieve a precise result. But most "recipes" are an attempt to relay a rather imprecise series of steps based on available ingredients, familiarity, superstition, and habit in a way that is approximately reproducible by someone else. Even within the bounds of ...



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