While every cook is different, there is one thing that stays the same in every kitchen, SPICES! Whether you are an experienced chef, a busy mom on the go or new to the kitchen, spices are a must. Here is our Top Ten List of Spices Every Kitchen Should Have!
USES: Mostly used in Italian or Mediterranean dishes. Best used with chicken, eggs, fish and tomato based dishes such as tomato sauces, marinaras, and pizza sauces. Pairs well with oregano.
TIP: To freeze fresh basil, purée basil leaves with a little water and put into ice-cube trays. When frozen, the cubes can be stored in the freezer in plastic bag.
FUN FACT: Ancient herbalists believed placing basil leaves on the bites or stings of insects would draw out the poison. Today’s herbalists recommend its use as a digestive and anti-gas aid. Some herbalists recommend it for easing anxiety and headaches because of the basil tea’s sedative properties. Use it for stomach cramps. It has been proven to ease constipation.
USES: Soups, stocks and sauces. Also roasts and stews. Vegetable dishes. Pickling.
TIP: Remove bay leaf before serving. If eaten whole, they have a sharp, bitter taste.
FUN FACT: The bay tree is a part of Greek mythology. It is said that the Greek nymph, Daphne, was transformed into bay tree by her father, the river god Peneus. He transformed her into the bay tree so that Daphne could avoid the romantic advances of the Greek god Apollo. However, Apollo never stopped loving Daphne and wore a wreath of bay leaves to show his love for her.
USES: Salsa, guacamole, fajitas, tacos. Mexican omelets, stews, soups, tomato based sauces.
TIP: Try using in a fruit salsa such as Watermelon Salsa!
FUN FACTS: Cilantro was one of the plants growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon more than 2,500 years ago!
USES: Used in both sweet and savory dishes. Fruit dishes (most commonly apples). Add to oatmeal or granola. Wonderful addition to meat dishes, chili, stews and sauces. Add to carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes.
FUN FACTS: The word cinnamon is derived from the Greek word that means "sweet wood". Cinnamon is actually technically a wood, as it is derived from an evergreen tree called the Cinnamon tree. The inner bark is peeled from the cinnamon tree and then rolled into scrolls, which is turned into sticks, or ground into a powder.
USES: Bean and rice dishes. Important ingredient in many curry dishes. Is a nice addition to plain rice and bean dishes. Essential ingredient in spicy Mexican foods. Also used in chili and soups.
TIP: Mix cumin and crushed garlic to season all types of meats that will be grilled. You can also add wine and olive oil to the marinade.
FUN FACT: In the Middle ages it was believed that cumin kept chickens and lovers from running away! It was also said that if cumin was carried during a wedding happiness would follow
USES: Used in many Indian dishes. Most commonly used with beef, chicken, lamb, shrimp and vegetables in making curries. Also, used in fruit compotes, stuffed eggs, soup and dips.
TIP: Contrary to common western belief, curries are not always “hot”; they can be mild, medium and hot. To make a “hot” curry mild, all one must do is add coconut milk.
FUN FACT: Indian food now surpasses Chinese food in popularity, with Indian restaurants outnumbering Chinese restaurants by two to one.
USES: Italian and Mexican recipes. Tomato based dishes (tomato sauces, marinaras, and pizza sauce), eggplant and any meat. Also try on scrambled eggs. Pairs well with basil.
TIP: When using dried oregano, crush it in the palm of your hand before adding to the food. This helps release essential oils and revive flavor.
FUN FACT: According to Aristotle, tortoises who swallowed a snake would immediately eat oregano to prevent death. Oregano is also believed to calm nerves and is use to cure sea sickness.
USES: Paprika can range from mild to hot. It is a popular addition to many rubs, marinades and sauces. Paprika is principally used to season and color rice, stews, and soups such as goulash. It is a key ingredient for sausage preparation and many Spanish dishes. Can also be sprinkle on eggs, potatoes or fish.
TIP: After the container is opened paprika should be kept in the refrigerator.
FUN FACT: It's so famous in Hungary that there is even a Paprika Museum in the town of Kaloscsa, which apparently is the 3rd most important place to visit if you're ever in Kalosca!
USES: Fish, poultry, soups, potatoes
TIP: Rosemary stems, stripped of their leaves, can also be used as skewers for kabobs.
FUN FACT: In the 16th century, Rosemary was often burned in sickrooms as disinfectant to kill germs.
USES: Fish, meats, poultry, soups, vegetables, potatoes.
TIP: When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid.
FUN FACT: In the Middle Ages, people placed it under their pillows to prevent nightmares and aid sleep.