Essential Herbs and spices for every kitchen #1

08/09/2012 17:43

Herbs and spices that every kitchen needs… I’m not going to bore you with a long introduction on how important these are for cooking and how they improve our meals; everyone is aware of that. This article is aimed for those who are setting up a new kitchen, for beginners who need a basic list of herbs and spices for their shopping list.

Words: Marilou Pantaki
Creative Work: Lunik.Lab
Translation from Greek: Kiki Fotopoulos

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My advice to you, is to purchase your spices from a qualified herb and spice shop. Do not shop the prepackaged ones sold in supermarkets, as they have most likely lost most of their aromas. Of course, you must be very careful as to where your herbs and spices are stored so they can remain fresh and flavourful ( relevant article here ).

Peppercorns

Please, toss out that awful, prepackaged, grey, ground pepper from your spice rack! Go out and buy a  good pepper mill and fill it up with black peppercorns, or with a mixture of colourful ones, black, green, white and red!  Pepper that has been ground months before, adds absolutely nothing to your food, just perhaps a slight touch of hot flavour. Nothing else.  Besides using freshly ground pepper you can also use the whole pepper corn in sauces, soups and food you put in the oven! Just make sure you remove them after cooking. It’s not pleasant biting into one of these little guys.

Sweet paprika

Sweet, mild, hot or smoked paprika is a favourite. From dark red to bright orange or yellow, paprika goes well with almost all other spices while it adds colour and flavour to your foods. Always purchase good quality brands from Spain or Hungary and always buy small quantities, since this is the first spice that will go bad, if not consumed soon. Give smoked paprika a try, you’ll love it!  Just be careful with how much you use in your food because it has such a strong flavour,  it may mask all the rest.

Bay leaves

With their strong and bitter flavour, bay leaves should be used with caution in order for them to enhance your food with their unique, soft aroma. Use it in soups and sauces and add flavour to your veggies and fish. If you give it a good rub with your hands, it will let out an even stronger taste and smell.

Winter savory & Oregano

2 herbs herbs that are better used fresh and when in season. They compliment the flavour of tomatoes when used in sauces, and they go perfectly with meats in the oven. You can make a small jar of wintery savory and oregano mixed together, for an even more Mediterranean touch to your food.

Thyme & Lemonthyme

Why have dried thyme when you can have it grown, fresh,  all year round on your balcony? Every home should have some thyme for fish and meat dishes, for sauces and salads and for broths and soups. This stuff goes almost everywhere! Add some thyme to your bottle of olive oil, and give it a soft twist of thyme flavour.  Lemon thyme has a lemony scent, hence its name, and is just superb with oven cooked chicken!

Curry

To give your food an ethnic zest, curry is the way to go. You can find mild curry that’s just for adding colour, and even hard core spicey for the daring. It goes perfectly with exotic rice, with shellfish and poultry. Dare to try it in Mediterranean dishes as well, for something out of the ordinary.

Stay tuned to Madame Ginger for part 2 and get more spice in your life!

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Madame Ginger

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