Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spice up your life!

12 Essential Spices for your Kitchen

Spices - they are like the little accessories to the whole designer outfit. Tiny they might be, but they are definitely the pocket Herculous, small yet powerful, for all your cooking needs. Many of these spices boast amazing health benefits too. Use them to flavor your dishes instead of unhealthy stuff like sugar and butter. These little guys are going to add more dimensions and depth to your cooking than you ever imagined!

There is definitely life outside of salt and ground black pepper. All the confusing names, smells, tastes and choices might seem a little daunting at first. But fear not, read on to find out the essential spices you need just to get you started.

For someone starting a pantry, this list of 12 spices will give you a great start and allow you limitless flavors in your dishes. Some of you might ask "Why 12?" Well, very simple. Spice jars usually come either in sets of 3, 4 or 6. Whichever way you multiply them, one usually ends up getting about 12 jars!

1. Sea salt
Obtained by evapourating sea water, not everyone can taste the subtle difference between sea salt and table salt, which is pure sodium chloride. The texture is much coarser.

2. Ground black pepper
Mildly spice, black pepper can be considered the most flavourful of all types of pepper.

3. Ground cumin
A member of the parsley family, cumin is often described to have a distinctive flavor which is penetrating and peppery with slight citrus overtones. It can taste slightly bitter but its ability to draw out the natural sweetness of other ingredients makes it a handy spice to have on your spice rack.

4. Ground coriander
Not to be confused with parsley, coriander have a fragrant citrus flavor that is similar to a blend of lemon and sage. The taste is also somewhat spicy and nutty, but not overpowering.

5. Ground cinnamon
Ground cinnamon has a mild sweet yet spicy flavor with warm aroma.

6. Ground nutmeg
Well known for its special fresh woody flavor, nutmeg carries with it a peppery overtone and adds a unique flavor to bland dishes.

7. Onion powder
A convenient alternative to chopping up an onion, onion powder adds a sweet yet mildly spicy onion flavors to your dishes.

8. Chili powder / flakes
The well known spice to give you the burning hot sensation!

9. Mixed italian herbs
To create a herby flavor to your dishes, add in a few pinches of mixed italian herbs to!

10. Dried sweet basil
Belonging to the same family as mint, basil is often paired with tomatoes and loved for it's bright and distinctive sweet taste that is unique to the taste buds.

11. Dried thyme
Thyme has a penetrating fragrance that adds a tinge of flavor that do not overshine your main ingredients.

12. Bay leaves
When dried, bay leaves can be kept a long time without losing its flavor. Bay leaves taste very mildly sweet and is often used to flavor liquids such as soups and stews. It is used for flavouring and is not to be eaten.

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