Dried (or fresh) spices and herbs-your favorites
What dried spices and herbs are in your pantry? Which are your favorites? How do you combine them? What dish might you typically use them for? East or west, let the twain meet--looking for inspiration. Fresh herbs ok too.
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I really love adding a small percentage of Sichuan peppercorns into my pepper mill. Without making things "hot," it adds a dimension I find appealing.
My go-to "secret ingredient" for many dishes is dried herbes de Provence. I especially like the blend sold at Polcari's Coffee Shop on the corner of Salem and Parmenter in the North End of Boston. Yes, they send it to me! ;)
My favorite fresh herb is marjoram. Since it's not always available in reasonable quantities in stores, I grow my own.
Love also to play with different salts. Been doing that since 2004, when I first enjoyed Michael Laiskonis' Egg filled with Chocolate Mousse and topped with Maldon Sea Salt. The pink salt from the Murray River in Australia has an amazing affinity for ripe heirloom tomatoes!
Also every summer I buy chilis at the Farmer's Market and dehydrate and grind them so I always have wonderful chili spices. And yes to everything that has already been said.
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cumin, coriander, annatto, garlic and citrus/ wine vinegars
and I have been loving cumin, ginger and garlic together and tweeking with little things with it like citrus, chiles, dried fruits, nuts, cilantro, mint, and basils
I love dried chiles in all forms: whole, crushed flakes, and powdered. Here is a recipe for Coffee-Baked Sweet Potatoes sprinkled with a cinnamon-chile mix
Or a Moroccan Carrot and Olive Salad with chile and black sesame
I toss whole (lightly crushed) cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick into breakfast preparations of grains like couscous and quinoa
I also use fennel seeds often to lend their anise flavor to pasta sauces with tomato or soups. Saffron is a favorite too- in rice, soup, or I've even baked saffron bread rolls.