Basil also known as St. Joseph's Wort and Sweet Basil. Originally native to tropical Asia. It grows to between 8 to 24 inches tall, with opposite, light green, silky leaves. The flowers are quite big, white in color Basil is very sensitive to cold, with best growth in hot, dry conditions. While most common varieties are treated as annuals, some are perennial, including African Blue and Holy Thai basil.
Basil is still considered the "king of herbs" by many cookery authors. There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown
Basil is surprisingly easy to grow. It is easily grown from seed regardless of whether it is started indoors or broadcast outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Basil is very tender and sensitive to frost injury. For indoor culture, sow seeds in a flat, and cover them with a moistened, sterile mix to a depth not more than twice the size of the seed. Space seeds 3/8 to 1/2 inch apart in the flat. Maintain a soil temperature of approximately 70 degrees F. Once germination begins, at 5 to 7 days, the plantlets must be kept warm at 70 degrees F or above and the soil must be kept moist. When seedlings have at least 2 pairs of true leaves, transplant them to 2 inch pots.
Basils grow best in a sunny location and need a well-drained, rich soil. Plants started indoors and hardened off in May can be planted outside to their permanent location and spaced about 12 inches apart.
The ideal time to harvest basil and other herbs that are to be dried, is on a sunny morning immediately after the dew has evaporated and before the day becomes too warm. When harvesting basil, cut it back to about 1/4 inch above a node. Leave enough foliage on the plant so it can continue growing healthy.
There are several methods you can use to dry basil; all methods are relatively simple. In addition to the drying methods , you can also preserve basil by freezing it in ice cubes (nearest to fresh taste when added to cooked foods), putting fresh leaves in vinegar or oil (most useful in salad dressing), and blending it with oil, cheese, and pine nuts, (walnuts or sunflower seeds) to make pesto. Pesto freezes well for six months. Be sure to "seal" your pesto with a layer of olive oil. Dark opal basil makes a beautiful, tangy purple vinegar.
The best flavor is found in fresh leaves, but frozen and dried leaves are worth the effort also. The leaves can be used cooked or raw. Crush, chip or mince the leaves and add to recipes, or add whole leaves to salads. Sprigs of basil make a wonderfully aromatic garnish. The flowers are beautiful, edible, and also make a unique garnish.
Basil is traditional in Italian, Mediterranean and Thai cookery. It is superb with veal, lamb, fish, poultry, white beans, pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese and eggs. It blends well with garlic, thyme and lemon. Basil is also one of the ingredients in the liqueur chartreuse.
Sweet basil, with it's wonderful aroma and flavor, is one of the most popular and widely grown herbs in the world. We associate basil with Italian cooking, so you may be surprised to find that basil originated in the far eastern countries of India, Pakistan and Thailand.
There are so many uses for basil that every herb gardener will want to have a plant or two. It is an attractive plant that works well in vegetable, herb and flower gardens. Basil also makes a great kitchen windowsill plant and looks great in hanging baskets either alone or in combination with flowers.
Basil has a warm, resinous, clove-like flavor and fragrance. The flowers and leaves are best used fresh and added only during the last few minutes of cooking. Basil works well in combination with tomatoes. Finely chopped basil stirred into mayonnaise makes a good sauce for fish. Use as a garnish for vegetables, chicken and egg dishes. Large lettuce-leaf basil can be stuffed as you would a grape leaf.
Basil doesn't retain its flavor well when dried. Instead, layer basil between sheets of waxed paper and freeze. The leaves will darken when frozen this way, but you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well it will retain aroma and flavor. You can also fill ice cube trays with chopped basil, and then cover with water and freeze. Basil ice cubes are great for soups and stews.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a flowering plant native from the east Mediterranean to East India.
It are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a oval shaped, containing one seed. Cumin seeds are like fennel seeds, but are smaller and darker in color.
Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in North African, Middle Eastern, western Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisine.
Today, cumin is identified with Indian cuisine and Mexican cuisine. It is used as an ingredient of many curry powders. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses like Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France.
Cumin can be used to season many dishes, as it draws out their natural sweetness. It is traditionally added to curries, enchiladas, tacos, and other Middle-eastern, Indian, Cuban and Mexican-style foods. It can also be added to salsa to give it extra
flavor. Cumin has also been used on meat in addition to other common seasonings. The spice is a familiar taste in Tex-Mex dishes Cumin was also used heavily in Ancient Roman cuisine.
Cumin is drought tolerant, and is mostly grown in Mediterranean climates. It is grown from seed sown in spring, and needs a fertile, well-drained soil
Cumin is used mainly where highly spiced foods are preferred. It is an ingredient of
savory spice mixtures, and is used in stews, grills - especially lamb - and chicken dishes. It is great with rice, and beans and cakes. Cumin is essential in spicy Mexican foods such as chile con carne, casseroled pork and enchiladas with chili sauce. In Europe, cumin
flavors certain Portuguese sausages, and is used to spice cheese, especially Dutch Leyden and German Munster, and burned with woods to smoke cheeses and meats. It is a pickling ingredient for cabbage and Sauerkraut, and is used in chutneys. In the Middle East, it is a familiar spice for fish dishes, grills and stews and
flavors couscous - semolina steamed over meat and vegetables, the national dish of Morocco. Cumin together with caraway
flavors Kummel, the famous German liqueur.
For a change of pace, try ground Cumin added to tangy lime or lemon based marinades for chicken, turkey, lamb, and pork. Or, add Cumin to chili, spicy meat stews, barbecue marinades, and sauces. Stir toasted Cumin into corn muffin batter to create an easy
south of the border accent. Heat Cumin and garlic in olive oil and drizzle over cooked vegetables or potatoes. Ground Cumin is stronger than whole seeds. The Cumin flavor is enhanced when toasted.
Dill is a short-lived annual herb, native to southwest and central Asia.
It grows with slender stems and alternate, finely divided, softly delicate leaves.
Dill has long been cultivated as a herb throughout Europe and north Africa as well as in its native Asia.
The name dill is thought to have originated from a Norse or Anglo-Saxon word 'dylle' meaning to soothe or lull, the plant having the carminative property of relieving gas.
Its fernlike leaves are aromatic, and are used to flavor many foods, such as gravlax (pickled salmon), borscht and other soups and pickles. The seeds are also used to
flavor pickles. Dill are best when used fresh, as they lose their flavor rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves preserve their
flavor relatively well for a few months. Even so, it is better to grow a supply of plants rather than store the leaves.
Dill oil can be extracted from the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant.
The seed is harvested by cutting the flower heads off the stalks when the seed is beginning to ripen. The seed heads are placed upside down in a paper bag and left in a warm dry place for a week. The seeds then separate from the stems easily for storage in an airtight container.
Dill is one of those herbs that in effect has two different seasons. In early spring it is used for its leaves and then later in fall for its seeds. Each part of the plant has its own characteristics and properties. With its crisp grassy taste, dill leaves, or "dill weed" as it is called, is a natural to be paired with fish, mild cheeses, egg dishes, vegetable dishes, cream sauces, and it is especially good on potatoes. Cucumbers are another food that partners well with dill, either in salads, chilled soups or on tea sandwiches. Dill has a simple, clean taste. When using dill leaves, it is best to use it fresh rather than dried to get the most flavor. If using dill in a hot dish such as a stew or a sauce, be sure to add it just before serving, as it loses its flavor in the heat.
The seeds have a much more potent flavor. These can be used in breads, stews, rices, root vegetable dishes and most notably, the making of pickles. These seed heads, when combined with vinegars, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper produce the dilled pickles that have wonderful quality.
Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family
The name rosemary has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name
rosmarinus, which is presumed to mean "dew of the sea", though some think this too may be derived from an earlier name.
Rosemary is often commonly associated with memory and/or remembrance of the past.
The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine as an herb; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements oily foods, such as lamb and fatty fish.
Rosemary has been found to be a stimulant and mild analgesic, and has been used to treat headaches, poor circulation, and many ailments for which stimulants are prescribed.
For a tonic against headaches put some sprigs into a teapot, add hot water, strain, and serve.
Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (as in worn during weddings, war commemorations and funerals) in Europe, probably as a result of this reputation. Students in ancient Greece are reported to have worn sprigs of rosemary in their hair while studying for exams to improve their memory, and mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance".
Rosemary is an attractive evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. It's trusses of blue flowers last through spring and summer in a warm, humid environment. It will grow to a height of between 3 and 5 feet.
Tradition says that rosemary will grow for thirty-three years, until it reaches the height of Christ when he was crucified, then it will die. Sprigs of rosemary were placed under pillows at night to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The wood was used to make lutes and other musical instruments.
We continue to use rosemary in many of the same ways that our ancestors did: in potpourris to freshen the air, and in cosmetics, disinfectants and shampoos.
The nutmeg tree is unusual in that it produces a fruit, the pericarp of which encloses two distinct spices: nutmeg from the seed itself and mace from the aril covering the seed. By the way, the "mace" used in crowd control and aerosols to deter would-be attackers is a chemical and has nothing to do with this plant.
Origins and History
Their first specific place of origin was in the Banda Islands, Indonesia. Dutch explorers, in particular Van den Broeke and Jan Pieterscoon Coen took away the first batch of nutmegs from there in 1608. Their spread and popularity in Europe was meteoric.
The trees are currently cultivated principally in the Moluccas and the West Indies and elsewhere with varying success.
These splendid evergreen “fruit” trees are big, reaching a height of about 65 feet. They start bearing fruit 8 years after sowing, and continue to bear for 60 years or longer. When the fruit fully matures, it splits in two, exposing a crimson- coloured aril, the mace, surrounding a single brown seed, the nutmeg.
In the processing of mace, the crimson-coloured aril is removed from the nutmeg, flattened out and dried for 10 to 14 days. During this time its colour changes to pale yellow, orange, or tan. Whole dry mace consist of flat pieces which are smooth, horny, and brittle which about 1.5 inches long (blades).
The remaining fruit are also dried gradually in the sun and turned twice daily over a period of six to eight weeks. Once dried, the shell is then broken and the nutmegs removed. These are
greyish-brown ovals with furrowed surfaces and measure about 1-1/4 inches long with a diameter of 1 inch.
The flavour of mace is similar to nutmeg, however it’s lighter and a little more delicate. Blades of mace are used for soups and sauces, and are often found in wine mulling mixtures. Powdered mace is a good addition in very small quantities to various sweet and savoury dishes such as pound cake, Swedish meatballs,
stuffings, sweet potato pie, and it may surprise you to know that most American hot-dogs contain ground mace.
Store Ground or Blade mace in an air tight container as it quickly loses its
Nutmeg has a more robust flavour and is also used in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes such as confections, puddings, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog.
Whilst Ground Nutmeg is widely available and very convenient, it does lose its aromatic properties more quickly than “fresh” nutmeg.
You can substitute each of them for each other in any recipe so don’t worry too much if a recipe calls for Mace but you only have Nutmeg. Bear in mind however, that you will probably need a little less nutmeg than mace.
In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used almost exclusively in sweets. It is known as jaiphal in most parts of India. It is also used in small quantities in garam
In other European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces and baked goods.
Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient.
Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog.
Connecticut gets its nickname ("the Nutmeg State", "Nutmegger") from the legend that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle "nutmeg" out of wood, creating a "wooden nutmeg" (a term which came to mean any fraud) .
In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response. Large doses of 30 grams or more are dangerous, potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain. In amounts of 5-20 g it is a mild to medium hallucinogen, producing visual distortions and a mild euphoria. It is a common misconception that nutmeg contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors
(MAOIs). This is untrue; nutmeg should not be taken in combination with MAOIs but it does not contain them . A test was carried out on the substance which showed that, when ingested in large amounts, nutmeg takes on a similar chemical make-up to MDMA (ecstasy). However, use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic. A user will not experience a peak until approximately six hours after ingestion, and effects can linger for up to three days afterwards. Any unpleasant side-effects would persist throughout this period.
Soy sauce (US) or soya sauce is a fermented sauce made from soybeans
(soya beans), roasted grain, water and salt. The sauce, originating in China, is commonly used in East and Southeast Asian cuisine and appears in some Western cuisine dishes, especially as an ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
Authentic soy sauces are fermented with koji and other related microorganisms. Authentic soy sauces are made from whole soybeans, but many cheaper brands are made from hydrolized soy protein instead. These soy sauces do not have the natural color of authentic soy sauces and are typically colored with caramel coloring.
Virtually all soy sauce has some alcohol added during bottling, which acts as a preservative to protect against spoilage. Accordingly, soy sauce should always be kept refrigerated and out of direct light. An opened bottle of soy sauce that has been left unrefrigerated could become slightly bitter.
Soy sauce is made from soy beans.Soy sauce originated in ancient China and has since been integrated into the traditional cuisines of many East Asian and South East Asian cultures. Soy sauce is widely used a particularly important flavoring in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine. However, it is important to note that despite its rather similar appearance, soy sauces produced in different cultures and regions are very different in taste,
consistancy, and fragrance. As such, it may not be appropriate to substitute soy sauces of one culture or region for the other.
Hawaiian soy sauce
A unique type of soy sauce produced by Aloha Shoyu Company since 1946 is a special blend of soy beans, wheat and salt, historically common amongst local Hawaii residents.
Japanese soy sauce
Koyo organic tamari sauceJapanese soy sauce, or sho-yu is traditionally divided into 5 main categories, depending on differences in their ingredients and method of production. Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, and this tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts; they also have a somewhat alcoholic, sherry-like flavor. Japanese and Chinese soy sauce are not really interchangeable in recipes; Chinese dark soy sauce comes closer to the Japanese one in overall flavor, but not in the intensity of the flavor or the texture.
A study by National University of Singapore shows that Chinese dark soy sauce contains amounts of antioxidant 10 times that of red wine.
Soy sauce does not contain the beneficial isoflavones associated with other soy products such as tofu or
edamame. Soy sauce contains a small amount of naturally occurring monosodium glutamate (MSG). It can also be very salty, so it may not be a suitable condiment for people on a low salt diet. Low-salt soy sauces are produced, but it is impossible to make soy sauce without using some quantity of salt.
In 2001 the UK Food Standards Agency found in tests of various soy sauces (those made from hydrolized soy protein, rather than being naturally fermented) that some 22% of samples contained a chemical called 3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,3-diol) at levels considerably higher than those deemed safe by the
EU. About two-thirds of these samples also contained a second chemical called 1,3-DCP (1,3-dichloropropane-2-ol) which experts advise should not be present at any levels in food. Both chemicals have the potential to cause cancer and the Agency recommended that the affected products be withdrawn from shelves and avoided.
Soy sauce is a staple condiment and ingredient throughout all of Asia. Produced for thousands of years, soy sauce is a salty, brown liquid made from fermented soy beans mixed with some type of roasted grain (wheat, barley, or rice are common), injected with a special yeast mold, and liberally flavored with salt. After being left to age for several months, the mixture is strained and bottled. The sauce's consistency can range from very thin to very thick. Flavors, too, vary by type and have very subtle differences. Light soy sauce from Japan has a thinner consistency and a saltier flavor than the darker varieties. It is preferred when a darker sauce will ruin the appearance of a dish, or when a lighter flavor is sought, especially when serving seafood. Dark soy sauce is used throughout Asia and is a bit richer and thicker than the lighter varieties. It tends to have a chocolate brown color, and a pungent, rather than overly salty, flavor. Mushroom soy sauce is a dark soy sauce from China which adds straw mushroom essence to the sauce's brew. It has a deep, rich flavor and can be used in place of other types of soy sauce in most recipes. It is especially nice as a table condiment where its unusual flavor can come through. Tamari is a deeply colored Japanese soy sauce which has a rich texture and intense flavor. It can be used anywhere regular soy sauce is called for, and is especially good to use as a table condiment and dipping sauce. Wheat-free varieties of soy sauce are available in some markets.
Anise bears a strong family resemblance to the members of the carrot family, that includes dill, fennel, coriander, cumin and caraway. Many of these relatives have been described as having a licorice
flavor, to some extent, but anise is the true taste of licorice— its oils are distilled into the
flavoring for licorice candy. Anise is native to the eastern Mediterranean region.
The seeds quickly lose flavor, so buy seeds whole and grind as required, and keep out of light in an airtight container.
Not to be confused with star anise, which is generally used in Chinese dishes, anise is primarily associated with cakes, biscuits and confectionery, as well as rye breads. It is used in much the same way as fennel to
flavor fish, poultry, soups and root vegetable dishes. Numerous alcoholic drinks and cordials are
flavored with aniseed, particularly French pastis, Pernod and Ricard, Greek ouzo, Spanish ojen, Turkish raki, Italian anesone, Arab arrak and Egyptian kibib.
Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both hunting and fishing. Anise smells similar to
liquorices and is put on fishing lures to attract fish.
Aniseed is used to make the British confectionary Aniseed balls and the old fashioned New Zealand confectionary, Aniseed wheels. Anise oil is used to make Italian cookies called pizzelles, and used in the frosting of yellow Italian cake-like cookies called "Drops" or "Anise Drops".
Anise leaves are used to treat digestive problems, to relieve toothache
Sweet and very aromatic. Anise contains liquorices like components.
The flavor profile of young, green berries is dominated by pinene; as they mature this piney, resinous backdrop is joined by what McGee describes as "green-fresh" and citrus notes. The outer scales of the berries are relatively
flavorless, so the berries are almost always at least lightly crushed before being used as a spice. They are used both fresh and dried, but their
flavor and odor is at their strongest immediately after harvest and decline during drying and storage.
Mature purple and younger green juniper berries can be seen growing alongside one another on the same
plant. Juniper berries are used in northern European and particularly Scandinavian cuisine to "impart a sharp, clear
flavor" to meat dishes, especially wild birds and game meats They also season pork, cabbage, and sauerkraut dishes.
Juniper berries, still attached to a branch, are actually modified conifer cones. A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus
communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing
All juniper species grow berries, but some are considered too bitter to eat.
Gin was developed in the 17th century in the Netherlands. It was first intended as a medication; juniper berries are a diuretic and were also thought to be an appetite stimulant and a remedy for rheumatism and arthritis. The name gin itself is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch
jenever, which both mean "juniper".
A few North American juniper species produce a seed cone with a sweeter, less resinous
flavor than those typically used as a spice. For example, one field guide describes the flesh of the berries of Juniperus californica as "dry, mealy, and fibrous but sweet and without resin cells".
Juniper berries have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The latter is not known to grow in Egypt, The berries imported into Egypt may have come from Greece; the Greeks record using juniper berries as a medicine long before mentioning their use in food. The Romans used juniper berries as a cheap domestically-produced substitute for the expensive black pepper.
Tumeric also called kunyit in some Asian countries, is a spice commonly used in curries and other South Asian cuisine. Its active ingredient is
curcumin. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders. Turmeric is also used to give a yellow color to some prepared mustards, canned chicken broth, and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).
Tumeric,is a member of the ginger family.
It is popular as a tea in Okinawa, Japan. It is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer's disease, cancer and liver disorders.
Turmeric has found application in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurts, yellow cakes, biscuits, popcorn-color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces,
gelatines, direct compression tablets, etc.
In combination with Annatto (E160b) it has been used to colour cheeses, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine.
Consuming large doses is not recommended in cases of gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic and toxic liver disorders.
A recent study involving mice has shown that turmeric slows the spread of breast cancer into lungs and other body parts. Turmeric also enhances the effect of taxol in reducing metastasis of breast cancer.
In the November 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a study was published that showed the effectiveness of turmeric in the reduction of joint inflammation, and recommended clinical trials as a possible treatment for the alleviation of arthritis symptoms.
Turmeric is a necessary ingredient of curry powder. It is used extensively in Indian dishes, including lentil and meat dishes, and in Southeast Asian cooking. Turmeric is routinely added to mustard blends and relishes. It also is used in place of saffron to provide color and flavor.
Turmeric is mildly aromatic and has scents of orange or ginger. It has a pungent, bitter flavor.
Zest is the outer, colorful skin of citrus fruit and is often used to add strong flavor to foods, such as lemon meringue pie, sorbets and salads.
Zest has become a synonym for spice, strong flavor or interesting taste.
To remove the zest, a zester, vegetable peeler, or paring knife is used to scrape the colored part of the peel off. The white membrane under the zest (pith or
exocarp) is unpleasantly bitter and generally avoided by limiting the peeling depth. The aromatic oils in the citrus zest are what adds so much flavor to food. Use in cooked and raw foods.
Using A Zester Press firmly as you draw the zester down along the skin of the fruit. For continuous strips of zest, begin at one end of the fruit, and cut in a spiral around and down.
If you do not have a zester, use a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp knife. You will also note that many recipes call for grated zest or peel. In this case, use a cheese grater to remove the peel.
Mint has a strong refreshing flavor which adds an extra dimension to both sweet and
Mint complements - lamb, veal, rabbit, new potatoes, peas, vegetables, salads, tomatoes, soups, jelly, fresh fruits.
Whilst traditionally used in the UK as a summer herb for flavoring lamb, new potatoes and peas, Mint is used in many dishes from the Middle East. It is one of the ingredients in Tunisian hot
chili sauce, often used as a table sauce, or as an ingredient in meat and vegetable stews.
Dried Mint should have a good green color and a strong Mint flavor. If kept well sealed and away from sunlight it will not lose these properties.
Mints are generally vigorous, spreading plants that tolerate a wide range of conditions, but thrive where there's abundance of water. They can be highly invasive plants, so caution should be taken in cultivation or it can take over an entire garden.
The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Menthe × piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and (more recently) pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens). The dark green leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint essential oils are used to flavor food, candy, teas, breath fresheners, antiseptic mouth rinses, and toothpaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, and ice creams.
Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in drinks, chewing gum and desserts/candies; see mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and
menthol: the main aroma of Spearmint, Peppermint, and Japanese Peppermint (a major commercial source).
pulegone: in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint.
Mint leaves are often used by many campers to repel mosquitoes. It is also said that extracts from mint leaves have a particular mosquito killing capability.
Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Lemon grass is a perennial, which means once you plant it, the grass comes back year after year. Depending on the area you live in the plant will go dormant in the winter. In harsh climates the plant will need to be potted and wintered indoors. This aromatic herb is used in Caribbean and many types of Asian cooking and has become very popular in the United States. Most of the commercial crops for the United States are grown in California and Florida. Lemon grass is also used for medicinal purposes.
This is a very pungent herb and is normally used in small amounts. The entire stalk of the grass can be used. The grass blade can be sliced very fine and added to soups. The bulb can be bruised and minced for use in a variety of recipes.
The light lemon flavor of this grass blends well with garlic, chilies, and cilantro. The herb is frequently used in curries as well as in seafood soups. It is also used to make tea.
Until recently, lemon grass, or Takrai as it is known in Thailand, was primarily grown in India, Indonesia, and South East Asia. But as the popularity of Thai cuisine grows around the world, the demand for it has increased. It is now grown in Florida and California as well.
Lemon grass can be used either fresh, dried or powdered. The fresh stalks can be found in Asian markets and now in many health food markets. Be sure to buy ones that have plump bases and long, blade-like green leaves: these will be the freshest ones. When using it fresh, strip off the tough outer leaves and cut off the bottom root portion. Slice the bulbous end into rings about 1/4" in size on a diagonal. Cut into longer strips if you are not going to strain your dish so you can remove these course pieces before serving. Bruise the pieces before adding to release the flavors. Lemon grass freezes well which is a good thing, since it is usually sold in large bundles, far more than I can use at once. It can be stored whole in the refrigerator in plastic for up to two weeks, but usually I'll just go ahead and prep it at the moment and place it in a plastic bag in the freezer. It holds well for up to five months. If using dried lemon grass, soak in hot water to reconstitute. The powder, called sejeh, is mostly added to curry pastes and used in beverages.
When buying lemon grass fresh, be sure to check the bases to see if there are any vestiges of roots. If so, you have a bonus -- you can take this stalk and start your own lemon grass plant. Place the root end in water with a bit of plant food and wait until the roots develop. Plant in an area that gets full sun but is protected from the wind. Being a native of the tropics, lemon grass prefers a sandy soil and plenty of moisture. It is a member of the grass family (Gramineae) and is considered a tender perennial. Outside of the tropics it is treated as an annual, since it is sensitive to frost.
The mango is a tropical fruit of the mango tree. Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera which consists of about 30 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family
Anacardiaceae. No one knows the exact origins of the mango but most believe that it is native to the Southern and Southeast Asian continent including India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh after fossil records were found there dating back 25 to 30 million years. Reference to mangos as the "food of the gods" can be found in the Hindu Vedas.
Mango flowersMangoes are large trees. The leaves are evergreen; when young they are orange-pink, rapidly changing to a dark glossy red, then dark green as they mature. The flowers are produced in terminal panicles; each flower is small and white with five petals, with a mild sweet odor suggestive of lily of the valley. After the flowers finish, the fruit takes from three to six months to ripen.
The mango fruit is a drupe; when mature, it hangs from the tree on long stems. The ripe fruit is variably colored yellow, orange and red, reddest on the side facing the sun and yellow where shaded; green usually indicates that the fruit is not yet ripe. In the center of the fruit is a single flat, oblong seed (as big as a large stone) that can be fibrous or hairless on the surface, depending on type of mango.
The mango is now widely cultivated as a fruit tree in frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates throughout the Indian subcontinent, Southern Pakistan, North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, south and central Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia. It is easily cultivated and there are now more than 1,000 cultivars, ranging from the turpentine mango (from the strong taste of turpentine, which according to the Oxford Companion to Food some varieties actually contain) to the huevos de toro ("bull's balls", from the shape and size). The mango is reputed to be the most commonly eaten fresh fruit worldwide. Mangos also readily naturalize in tropical climates. Some lowland forests in the Hawaiian Islands are dominated by introduced mangos and it is a common backyard fruit tree in South Florida where it has also escaped from cultivation.
The fruit flesh of a ripe mango contains about 15% sugar, up to 1% protein, and significant amounts of vitamins A, B and C. The taste of the fruit is very sweet, with some cultivars having a slight acidic tang. The texture of the flesh varies markedly between different cultivars; some have quite a soft and pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum, while others have a firmer flesh much like that of a cantaloupe or avocado, and in some cultivars the flesh can contain fibrous material. Mangoes are very juicy; the sweet taste and high water content make them refreshing to eat, though somewhat messy.
Mangoes are widely used in chutney, which in the West is often very sweet, but in the Indian subcontinent is usually sharpened with hot chilis or limes.
Mango is also used to make juices, both in ripe and unripe form. Pieces of fruit can be mashed and used in ice cream; they can be substituted for peaches in a peach (now mango) pie; or put in a blender with milk, a little sugar, and crushed ice for a refreshing beverage. A more traditional Indian drink is mango
lassi, which is similar, but uses a mixture of yogurt and milk as the base, and is sometimes flavoured with salt or cardamom. In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavoured with coconut then served with sliced mango on top as a dessert.
"Mango Shake" or "Mangoshake" is a refreshing Punjabi (Indian/Pakistani) summer drink. It is traditionally made of mango pulp, whole milk, sugar and ice cubes. However there are various other ingredients which are sometimes added, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce and other sauces, along with whipped cream. It is very similar to a milkshake which can be consumed with a spoon.
A Caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a biennial spiny shrub that bears rounded, rather fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits.
Pickled Capers in a jarThe pickled and salted caper bud (also called caper) is often used as a seasoning or garnish. Capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. The grown fruit of the caper shrub is also used, and prepared similarly to the buds to be used as caper berries.
The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a kernel of corn. They are picked, then pickled in a vinegar or vinegar and salt solution.
Capers are often enjoyed in cold smoked salmon or cured salmon dishes, salad, pizza, pasta and sauces. Capers are also sometimes substituted for olives to garnish a martini.
Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable:
Non-pareil (0-7 mm), surfines (7-8 mm), capucines (8-9 mm), capotes (9-11 mm), fines (11-13 mm), and grusas (14+ mm).
Caper berries can be substituted with unripe nasturtium seeds, which have a very similar texture and flavour when pickled.
The caper-berry is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes as "avionah" according to modern interpretation of the word.
Buds, to be harvested in the morning time immediately before flowering; they are never dried but pickled in oil, brine or vinegar. Less often, capers are preserved by packing in coarse salt. These must be rinsed before usage.
Smaller buds (nonpareilles and surfines, both with less than one centimeter diameter) are considered more valuable than the larger capucines and communes (more than 1.5?cm diameter).
The fragrance is spicy and a little bit sour (because of the pickling), the taste is slightly astringent and pungent. Caper berries have a stronger, more dominant but otherwise similar
A scallion, also commonly known as green onion or spring onion, is associated with various members of the genus Allium that lack a fully-developed bulb. They tend to be milder tasting than other onions and are typically used raw in salads in western cookery. Diced scallions are often used in soup, noodle, seafood, and sauce in eastern dishes.
The species most commonly associated with the name is the Welsh onion, Allium
fistulosum. Scallion is sometimes used for Allium ascalonicum, better known as the shallot.
Scallions are also sometimes known as green onions in the United States and Canada. Confusingly, the term green onion can also be used for immature specimens of the ordinary onion
(Allium cepa). In Great Britain and some Commonwealth countries, scallions are called spring onions. In Wales, they may also be referred to as gibbons. In parts of Australia they are known as either
eschallots, shallots, or spring onions depending on the region. In parts of Scotland, they may be referred to as cibies or
syboes. However, in Ireland the term scallions is used.
Escallion is a common and much prized ingredient in authentic Jamaican cuisine, in combination with thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic, pimento and allspice. Recipes calling for escallion sometimes suggest the use of leek as a substitute, though in salads, scallions would be more appropriate; neither is seen by Jamaicans as truly adequate. Jamaican dried spice mixtures that include escallion are available commercially. Fresh escallion is difficult to find and expensive outside Jamaica itself.
Green onions are young shoots of bulb onions, and are milder tasting than large bulb onions. They have a small, not fully developed white bulb end with long green stalks. Both parts are edible. Scallions are considered younger than a green onion because they should not have a bulb, while green onions should have a miniature bulb.
The fruit is a drupe known as a date. They are oval-cylindrical, and when unripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in
colour, depending on variety. Dates contain a single seed. Three main Cultivar Groups of date exist; soft (e.g.
'Barhee', 'Halawy', 'Khadrawy', 'Medjool'), semi-dry (e.g. 'Dayri', 'Deglet Noor',
'Zahidi'), and dry (e.g. 'Thoory'). The type of fruit depends on the glucose, fructose and sucrose content.
Dates are naturally wind pollinated but in the traditional oasis horticulture or in the modern commercial horticulture they are entirely pollinated manually. Natural pollination requires about an equal number of male and female plants. However, with assistance, one male can pollenize up to 100 females. Since the males are of value only as
pollenizers, this allows the growers to use their resources for many more fruit producing female plants. Some growers do not even maintain any male plants as male flowers become available at local markets at pollination time. Manual pollination is done by skilled laborers on ladders or less often the pollen may be blown onto the female flowers by wind machine.
The date is an erect palm to 100 or 120 ft, the trunk clothed from the ground up with upward-pointing, overlapping, persistent, woody leaf bases. After the first 6 to 16 years, numerous suckers will arise around its base.
Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be seeded and stuffed, or chopped and used in a great variety of ways: on cereal, in pudding, bread, cakes, cookies, ice cream, or candy bars. The pitting may be done in factories either by crushing and sieving the fruits or, with more sophistication, by piercing the seed out, leaving the fruit whole. The calyces may be mechanically removed also. Surplus dates are made into cubes, paste, spread, powder (date sugar), jam, jelly, juice,
syrup, vinegar or alcohol. De-colored and filtered date juice yields a clear invert sugar solution. Libya is the leading producer of date
syrup and alcohol.
Cull fruits are dehydrated, ground and mixed with grain to form a very nutritious
stock feed. Dried dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara desert. In northern Nigeria, dates and peppers added to the native beer are believed to make it less intoxicating.
In North Africa, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, date palms are tapped for the sweet sap which is converted into palm sugar, molasses or alcoholic beverages, but each palm should not be tapped more than 2 or 3 times. Tapping the edible date palm interferes with fruit production and it is wiser to tap P.
sylvestris, which is not valued for its fruit, or some other of the 20 well-known palm species exploited for sugar. When the terminal bud is cut out for eating, the cavity fills with a thick, sweet fluid (called lagbi in India) that is drunk for refreshment but is slightly purgative. It ferments in a few hours and is highly intoxicating. Fresh
spathes, by distillation, yield an aromatic fluid enjoyed by the Arabian people.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana, Lamiaceae) is a cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. It is also called Sweet Marjoram or Knotted Marjoram.
Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and
Hardy Marjoram or Italian marjoram is a cross of marjoram with oregano that is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet.
Marjoram is the dried leaves and floral parts of the herb Origanium hortensis. Most scientists consider Marjoram to be a species of Oregano. The light grayish-green leaves of Marjoram have a sweeter and more delicate flavor than Oregano.
Marjoram may be used in sausages, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, fish, tomato dishes,
stuffings, breads, salad dressings, and chowders. Marjoram is used in Italian, French, North African, Middle Eastern, and American cuisines and spice blends such as bouquet
garni, fines herbes, and sausage and pickle blends.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes are vine-ripened Tomatoes that are picked and dried. Use in any recipe that calls for Tomatoes.
To make your own:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, and slice them about 1/4 inch thick. You don't even have to peel them. Lay the slices out on the baking sheet, making sure not to touch sides. Place in the oven, and WAIT! This can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, but baking them faster will ruin the consistency and the flavor. Periodically check the tomatoes, as sometimes the tomatoes around the edges of the baking sheet will bake faster than the ones in the center of the baking sheet. Rotate positions, if necessary, to keep appearances uniform.
The Cayenne is a hot red fruit used to flavor dishes; its name comes from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. It is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers,
jalapeños, and others. All are related species of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powder, Cayenne pepper.
Cayenne is used in cooking spicy hot dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Szechuan cuisine). It is generally rated at 40,000 to 90,000 Scoville Units. It is also used as an herbal supplement.
A hot, pungent powder made from various tropical chiles. The cayenne chile is a bright red chile that ranges from 2-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cayenne chiles are generally sold dried and used in soups and sauces. The majority of cayenne chiles are used to make cayenne pepper. Used both in cooking and medicine, it owes its hot flavor to a chemical called capsaicin, which comprises about 12% of the
chile. The word cayenne seems to come from kian, the name of a pepper among the Tupi Indians in what is now French Guiana.
The rutabaga, swede or (yellow) turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the white turnip—see the turnip disambiguation page. Its leaves may also be eaten as a leaf vegetable.
"Rutabaga" is the common American term for the plant, while "swede" (< Swede) is the preferred term used in much of England, Wales, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In the U.S., it is also known as "Swedish turnip" or "yellow turnip", while in Atlantic Canada, where turnips are relatively unknown, it is called turnip. This is also true in Scotland, where it is commonly referred to as
"neep", and the turnip instead is called a "swede" or "white turnip". Prior to pumpkins being readily available in Scotland, turnips were hollowed out and carved with faces to make lanterns for Halloween. Often called Jack O'lanterns they were the ancient symbol of a damned soul.
Some claim the vegetable is native to Sweden, but others think it was introduced to Sweden, possibly from Siberia, in the early 17th century. From Sweden, it reached Scotland, and from there it spread to the rest of Britain and to North America. In continental Europe, it acquired a bad reputation during World War I, when it became a food of last resort. In the German Steckrübenwinter
(swede/rutabaga winter) of 1916–17, large parts of the population were kept alive on a diet consisting of rutabagas and little else. After the war, most people were so tired of rutabagas that they gained a reputation as a "famine food," which reputation they have retained to the present day. As a consequence, they are rarely planted in Germany.
Excessive consumption of rutabaga (as well as cassava, maize, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, and lima beans) can be associated with hypothyroidism. These
cyanoglucoside-containing foods release cyanide, which is subsequently detoxified into
thiocyanate. Thiocyanate inhibits thyroid iodide transport and, at high doses, competes with iodide in the organification process within thyroid tissue. Goiters may develop when there is a dietary imbalance of
thiocyanate-containing food in excess of iodine consumption.
Description - The rutabaga is very similar to the turnip except that it generally has yellowish flesh, a more dense root with more side shoots and they are usually harvested at a larger size. Unlike the turnip, the rutabaga has smooth, waxy leaves.
Availability - Rutabagas can be found the year round in Texas, although they are not common in most retail outlets due to low demand. Locally grown rutabaga should be on the market from April through July and from October through December.
Selection - Mature rutabaga roots should be four to six inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes. Commercially grown roots are often waxed for storage purposes. Rutabagas are seldom sold with tops.
Storage - If stored between 32 to 35 degrees. F. and at a humidity near 90 percent rutabagas will keep for four to six months. Waxed roots will keep under refrigerator conditions for one to two months.
Cilantro is the dried leaves of the herb, Coriandrum sativum, an annual herb of the parsley family. Also known as Chinese parsley, Cilantro has a distinctive green, waxy flavor. Cilantro is the usual name for the leaf of the plant that is otherwise identified as Coriander, and from which Coriander Seed is obtained.
Used in salsas, chutneys, salads, dips, beans, and soups. Cilantro is used in Asian, Mexican, Indian, Tex
Mex, Caribbean, and North African cuisines, and is used in seasoning blends such as
masala, curry, salsa, and recados.
Cilantro is believed to have been one of the earliest plantings in North America, where the cilantro leaves, rather than the seed, became more popular. Today, it is cultivated in the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, Mexico and the U.S.
The shoots are usually boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Tall asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef, also wrapped in bacon. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over charcoal or hardwood embers.
Asparagus is low in calories, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is very low in sodium. It is good source of folic acid, potassium, fiber, and
rutin. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound. [verification needed]
Some of the constituents of asparagus are metabolised and excreted in the urine, giving it a distinctive, pungent odor. The odor is due to various sulfur-containing degradation products (e.g. thiols and
thioesters). The odorous components may be produced only in some people. If present, the odor will only be detectable by the noses of some people. Recent studies suggest that every individual produces the odorous compounds, but that only about 40% of individuals have the genes required to smell the odor.  The speed of onset of urine smell is rapid, and has been estimated to occur within 15-30 minutes from ingestion.
Asparagus officinalis was entered cultivated more than 2000 years ago in the Mediterranean region , where Greeks and Romans used it for food and medicine. They ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter.
White asparagus is cultivated by denying the plants light and increasing the amount of ultraviolet light exposed to the plants while they are being grown. Purple asparagus differs from its green and white counterparts, having high sugar and low fibre levels. Purple asparagus was originally developed in Italy and commercialised under the variety name Violetto
d'Albenga. Since then, breeding work has continued in countries such as the United States and New Zealand.
White asparagus, known as spargel, is very popular in Germany where 57,000 tons (61% of consumer demands) are produced annually
The United States' production for 2005 was on 54,000 acres and yielded 90,200 tons, making it the world's largest producer and consumer when import quantities are factored in. Production was concentrated in California, Michigan, and Washington
Mustard Seeds are the proverbially small seeds of the various mustard plants. The seeds are about 1 mm in diameter, and may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are important spices in many regional cuisines. The seeds can come from three different plants: black mustard (B.
nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), and white or yellow mustard (B. hirta/Sinapis alba).
In the Indian subcontinent they are often used whole, and are quickly fried in oil until they pop to impart a flavor to the oil.
The French have used mustard seeds as a spice since 800 AD, and it was amongst spices taken by the Spanish on explorations throughout the 1400s. Pope John XXII was particularly fond of mustard, and created a new position in the Vatican, 'grand moutardier du
pape', or 'mustard maker to the pope'.
Mustard seeds generally take 4-10 days to germinate if placed under the proper conditions, which include a cold atmosphere and relatively moist soil.
Mustard grows well in temperate regions. Major producers of mustard seeds include Hungary, Great Britain, India, Canada (36%) and the United States. Brown and black mustard seeds return higher yields than their yellow counterparts.
Mustard oil can be extracted from the seeds. The seeds, particularly the white ones, can also be ground into a flour, and mixed to a thick paste with a little water to make the condiment mustard. The ground mustard powder is usually mixed with ordinary flour to reduce the strength of the resulting condiment.
Other ingredients can be used to mix mustard, for example, sugar, honey, vinegar, wine, or milk.
When initially mixed the sauce is mild in flavor, but it develops in time. Strong mustard has a very powerful (and painful) effect on the nasal membranes if eaten carelessly.
The whole seeds can be soaked in liquid before grinding to create whole grain mustard.
It is possible to buy prepared mustard in many places.
In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed. Although having some of the smallest seeds, the mustard plant grows to a large size, providing shelter for birds: Matthew 13:31-32. The story has been interpreted to mean that grand things can grow from tiny actions.
Inspired by this parable, aristocrat Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf founded the Order of the Mustard Seed in Germany in 1715. The aims of the order were to be true to Christ, kind to all people and to spread news of the Gospel to the world.
Buddha also told the story of the grieving mother and the mustard seed. When a mother loses her only son, she takes his body to the Buddha to find a cure. The Buddha asks her to bring a handful of mustard seeds from a family that has never lost a child, husband, parent or friend. When the mother is unable to find such a house in her village, she
realizes that death is common to all, and she cannot be selfish in her grief.
The consumption of isothiocyanates, found in mustard seeds, has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells in animal studies.
Roquefort blue cheese
Roquefort is a type of blue cheese that is renowned throughout the world as the 'King of Cheeses, Cheese of Kings'. Named after the village of Roquefort in
Aveyron, in the south of France, this blue cheese is especially infamous for its pungent smell and characteristic blue veins of mold. Equally fascinating is its unique production process. In fact, Roquefort falls under the 'protected designation of origin'
(PDO) provided by the European Union Law.
The PDO defines that Roquefort must be produced following certain regulations, such as the use of milk from a particular breed of sheep, the location in which the cheese is matured, and the type of bacteria used for the maturation process. Hence, to guarantee the quality and purity of Roquefort, only milk from the Lacaune ewe is processed and cultured with a bacteria called Penicillium roqueforti and left to naturally mature in the Combalou caves in Roquefort village.
The production of Roquefort blue cheese involves a series of processes, beginning with the delivery of Lacaune ewe milk to the dairy. Once there, the milk goes through some chemical and bacteriological tests to ensure that only the highest quality milk is used to make Roquefort. After these tests, the milk is heated to between 82.4°F and 93.2°F (28°C and 34°C) and placed into large vats.
Spores of the bacteria Penicillium roqueforti are then added to these vats, allowing the milk to ferment into curds. Once the curds are ready, they are cut into cubes and transferred into cheese molds, where they are drained and salted into cheese loaves. The cheese loaves remain at the dairy for another ten days before being relocated to the Combalou caves for natural ripening.
Before entering the damp caves, the cheese loaves are pierced through about 40 times. These small holes allow air in and encourage the growth of the bacteria. The cheese loaves are left exposed for two to three weeks to ensure that enough bacteria has grown into the cheese. Once there is sufficient Penicillium roqueforti in the cheese, the loaves are wrapped up and left to mature under lower temperatures. Three to ten months later, the cheese loaves leave the caves as Roquefort blue cheese.
Roquefort blue cheese is an acquired taste. Many are thrown off by its strong smell and do not attempt to taste it. This is a pity, since the Roquefort's moist and creamy texture is indeed a delectable experience not to be missed.
Horseradish is a member of the mustard family (sharing lineage with its gentler cousins, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and the common radish) and is cultivated for its thick, fleshy white roots.
The bite and aroma of the horseradish root are almost absent until it is grated or ground. During this process, as the root cells are crushed, volatile oils known as isothiocyanate are released. Vinegar stops this reaction and stabilizes the flavor. For milder horseradish, vinegar is added immediately.
To relish the full flavor of processed horseradish, it must be fresh and of high quality. Color varies from white to creamy beige. As processed horseradish ages, it browns and loses potency. Replace with a fresh jar for full flavor enjoyment.
The American bottoms, a Mississippi river basin area adjacent to St. Louis. Carved-out by the glaciers from the ice age, the soil is rich in potash, a nutrient on which the horseradish thrives. The area grows 60 percent of the world’s supply. German immigrants to the area began growing horseradish in the late 1800s and passed their growing methods from generation to generation. The area’s cold winters provide the required root dormancy and the long summers provide excellent growing conditions.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), sometimes called garden chervil, is a delicate annual herb, usually used to season mild-flavoured foods such as poultry, some seafoods, and young vegetables. It is a constituent of the French herb mixture fines herbes. Some cooks refer to chervil as "gourmet's parsley." Chervil is sometimes used as a trap crop by gardeners to protect vegetable plants from slugs.
Chervil had various traditional uses. Pregnant women bathed in an infusion of it; a lotion of it was used as a skin cleanser; and it was used medicinally as a blood purifier.
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, is a small low-growing annual of the carrot family. It derives its name from the Latin chaerophyllum which means "festive herb" or "herb of joy." Its lacy, fern like foliage is dried and ground for seasoning. Even though it is a member of the Parsley family, it is much more aromatic.
Used in poultry, seafood, vegetables, vinegar, and soups. Chervil is used in French and European cuisine and the spice blends of bouquet garni and fines herbes.
Chervil is native to eastern Europe and western Asia. It was introduced to France and England by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.
Bits of chervil should be snipped from the outside edge of the plant with scissors and used fresh. The leaves will quickly loose their flavor and should be added to a dish just before serving. Finely chopped chervil enhances the flavor of chicken, fish, herb butter, vegetables, cottage cheese, salads and egg dishes. The whole leaves can be added to creamy soups as an aromatic garnish. This herb adds a nice flavor to white wine vinegar.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus L.) is a perennial herb in the family Asteraceae related to wormwood. Corresponding to its species name, a common term for the plant is "dragon herb." It is native to a wide area of the Northern Hemisphere from easternmost Europe across central and eastern Asia to western North America, and south to northern India and Mexico. The North American populations may however be naturalised from early human introduction.
Close-up of the foliageTarragon grows to 20-150 cm tall, with slender, branched stems. The leaves are
lanceolate, 2-8 cm long and 2-10 mm broad, glossy green, with an entire margin. The flowers are produced in small capitulae 2-4 mm diameter, each capitulum containing up to 40 yellow or greenish-yellow florets.
Tarragon has an aromatic property reminiscent of anise, due to the presence of
estragole. French tarragon is the variety generally considered best for the kitchen, but cannot be grown from seed. Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides L.) can be grown from seed but is much weaker in
However, Russian tarragon is a far more hardy and vigorous plant, spreading at the roots and growing over a meter tall. This tarragon actually prefers poor soils and happily tolerates drought and neglect. It is not as strongly aromatic and flavoursome as its French cousin, but it produces many more leaves from early spring onwards that are mild and good in salads and cooked food. The young stems in early spring can be cooked as a tasty asparagus substitute. Grow indoors from seed and plant out in the summer. Spreading plant can be divided easily.
Tarragon is one of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and particularly suitable for chicken, fish and egg dishes. Tarragon is one of the main components of Bearnaise sauce.
Wasabia japonica, Cochlearia wasabi, or Eutrema japonica) is a member of the cabbage family. Known as Japanese horseradish, its root is used as a spice and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is more akin to that of a hot mustard than the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapors that irritate the nasal passages more than the tongue. The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan. There are also other species used, such as W.
koreana, and W. tetsuigi. The two main cultivars in the marketplace are W. japonica var. Duruma and
Mazuma, but there are many others.
Wasabi is generally sold either in the form of a root, which must be very finely grated before use, or as a ready-to-use paste, usually in tubes approximately the size and shape of travel toothpaste tubes. Once the paste is prepared it should remain covered until served to protect the flavor from evaporation. For this reason, sushi chefs usually put the wasabi between the fish and the rice.
Fresh leaves of wasabi can also be eaten and have some of the hot flavor of wasabi roots. They can be eaten as wasabi salad by pickling overnight with a salt and vinegar based dressing, or by quickly boiling them with a little soy sauce. Additionally, the leaves can be battered and deep-fried into chips.
Fortunately for those who mistakenly consume too much of this condiment, the burning sensations it can induce are short-lived compared to the effects of chili peppers, especially when water is used to dissipate the flavor. Wasabi paste bears a superficial visual resemblance to guacamole, a popular staple of Mexican-style cuisine, a similarity which can lead to an unpleasant surprise for those unfamiliar with Japanese food.
Wasabi is often served with sushi or sashimi, usually accompanied with soy sauce. The two are sometimes mixed to form a single dipping sauce known as
Wasabi-joyu. Legumes may be roasted or fried, then coated with a wasabi-like mixture (usually an imitation); these are then eaten as an eye-watering "in the hand" snack.
Almost all sushi bars in America, and some cheap ones in Japan, serve imitation
(seiyo) wasabi because authentic wasabi is relatively more expensive. Although harder to find, real wasabi powder (from Wasabia japonica plant) is a convenient way to experience true wasabi's remarkable flavor, but most commercially available
"wasabi" powders contain no true wasabi at all. Most utilize a powdered imitation made from horseradish, mustard seed, and green food coloring (sometimes
Spirulina). Whether real or imitation the powder is mixed with an equal amount of water to make a paste.
To distinguish between the true variety of wasabi and the imitation product, real wasabi is known in Japan as hon-wasabi , meaning original, or true
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible cup fungi. They produce highly porous
ascocarps, prized by gourmet cooks, particularly for French cuisine. Commercial value aside, morels are hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt. Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include
"merkels" or "miracles," based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating
morels, and Dryland fish, due to their similarity in taste to fish.
The morel grows abundantly in the two and sometimes three years immediately following a forest fire, but where fire suppression is practiced, may grow regularly though in small amount in the same spot year after year. Commercial pickers and buyers in North America will follow forest fires to gather morels. The Finnish name,
huhtasieni, refers to huhta, area cleared for agriculture by slash and burn method. These spots may be jealously guarded by mushroom pickers, as the mushrooms are a delicacy and sometimes a cash crop. Although no symbiotic relationships have been proven between morels and certain tree species, experienced morel hunters swear by these relationships. Trees commonly associated with morels include ash, sycamore, yellow-poplar, fallen elms, and old apple trees (remnants of orchards). Morels have not yet been successfully farmed on a large scale, and the commercial morel industry is based on harvest of wild mushrooms.
The best known morel is the Morchella deliciosa, which is commonly known as simply "morel." Other common names for morels include Merkel, and Sponge Mushroom. When gathering morels, care must be taken to distinguish them from the poisonous false morel
(Gyromitra esculenta and others). However, morels are fairly distinctive in appearance. Mushroom hunters will commonly refer to them by their color, i.e., gray, yellow, black, etc., as the species are very similar in appearance and vary considerably within species and age of individual mushroom.
Gouda is a yellowish Dutch cheese named after the city of Gouda. The cheese is made from cow's milk that is cultured and heated until the curd is separate from the whey. About ten percent of the mixture is curds which are pressed into circular moulds for several hours. These molds are the essential reason behind its traditional, characteristic shape. The cheese is then soaked in a brine solution which gives the cheese its rind and distinctive taste. The cheese is then dried for a couple of days before being coated to prevent it from drying out, then it is aged for a number of weeks before it is ready to be eaten. The term "Gouda" is now a generic name, and not restricted to cheese of Dutch origin. The term
"Noord-Hollandse Gouda" is registered in the EU as a Protected Designation of Origin. Strangely the cheese itself was originally developed in Gouda which is in the Dutch province
Zuid-Holland, hence its registered name seems incorrect.
Exported Gouda is usually the young variety (aged between 1 and 6 months, rich yellow in colour and with a red or yellow paraffin wax coating). This cheese is easily sliced on bread with a cheese
slicer. Exported Gouda has a pungent underlying bitterness, yet is still considerably creamier than other common cheeses, such as cheddar cheese or Edam cheese. Locally, old Gouda (aged between 12 and 18 months, orange-yellow in colour and sometimes discernible by a black paraffin wax coating) can be obtained. This strong tasting cheese is hard and often too brittle to cut using a
slicer, but it can be sliced by knife or served cut in cubes, with drinks. Smoked Gouda is also a popular variation.
Chipotles chilies [chee-POT-tleh] peppers are smoked jalapeno chili peppers and are also known as chili ahumado. These chilies are usually a dull tan to coffee color and measure approximately 2 to 4 inches in length and about an inch wide. As much as one fifth of the Mexican jalapeno crop is processed into chipotles.
Chipotles date back to region that is now northern Mexico City, prior to the Aztec civilization. It is conjectured that the Aztecs smoked the chilies because the thick, fleshy, jalapeno was difficult to dry and prone to rot. The Aztecs used the same "smoke drying" process for the chilies as they used for drying meats. This smoking allowed the chilies to be stored for a substantial period of time.
There are hundreds of varieties of jalapeños, which vary in size and heat. In Mexico, the jalapeño is also known as the cuaresmeño and gordo.
Typically, a grower will pass through a jalapeño field multiple times, picking the best green jalapeños for market. At the end of the growing season, jalapeños naturally begin to turn red. There is an extensive fresh market for red jalapeños in both Mexico and the United States. Many U.S. growers disk the red jalapeños into the ground. In Mexico, the red jalapeños are saved and sold in markets for premium prices. They are kept on the vine as long as possible. When the jalapeños are deep red and have lost much of their moisture, they are selected to be made into chipotles.
The red jalapeños are moved to a closed smoking chamber where they are spread out on metal grills. Wood is placed into a firebox and the smoke enters the sealed chamber. Every few hours, a person enters the smoking chamber and stirs the jalapeños to allow for the penetration of the smoke. The chiles are smoked for several days until most of the moisture is removed. At the end of the process, the chipotles are dried up in a manner akin to prunes or raisins. The underlying heat of the jalapeños is combined with the taste of smoke. Typically, it takes ten pounds of jalapeños to make one pound of chipotle.
In recent years, growers have started to use large gas dryers. Some processors have even started to use liquid smoke. These commercial techniques produce what most culinary experts believe to be an inferior chipotle chile.
A cabbage is a plant of the Family Brassicaceae. It is herbaceous, biennial, and a dicotyledonous flowering plant with leaves forming a characteristic compact cluster. Cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are denominated
A cabbage is derived from a leafy wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region. It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that "it is first of all the vegetables". The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche ("head"). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length. The dense core of the cabbage is called the
babchka. It is related to the turnip.
The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. The so-called 'cabbage head' is widely consumed — raw, cooked, or preserved — in a great variety of dishes. Cabbage is a leaf vegetable.
Raw cabbage is usually sliced into thin strips or shredded for use in salads, such as coleslaw.
Cabbage is often added to soups or stews. Cabbage soup is popular in Central Europe and Eastern Europe, and cabbage is an ingredient in some kinds of borscht. Cabbage is also used in many popular dish in India. Boiling tenderizes the leaves and releases sugars, which leads to the characteristic "cabbage" aroma. Boiled cabbage has become stigmatized in North America because of its strong cooking odor and the belief that it causes flatulence. Boiled cabbage as an accompaniment to meats and other dishes can be an opportune source of vitamins and dietary fiber. Stuffed cabbage is an East European delicacy. The leaves are softened by parboiling or placing the whole head of cabbage in the freezer, and then filled with chopped meat and/or rice.
Cabbage is the basis for the German sauerkraut and Korean kimchi. To pickle cabbage it is placed in a jar, covered with water and salt, and left in a warm place for several days to ferment. Sauerkraut was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables. Korean kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chilies and shiso is
The tomatillo is a small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit surrounded by a paper-like husk formed from the calyx. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk and can split it open by harvest. The husk turns brown, and the fruit can be any of a number of colors when ripe, including yellow, red, green, or even purple. Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces. The freshness and greenness of the husk is a quality criterion. Fruit should be firm and bright green as the green colour and tart flavour are the main culinary contributions of the fruit.
The tomatillo is also known as the husk tomato, jamberry, husk cherry, mexican tomato, or ground cherry, although these names can also refer to other species in the Physalis genus. In Spanish it is called tomate de cáscara, tomate de
fresadilla, tomate milpero, tomate verde ("green tomato"), tomatillo (Mexico [this term means "little tomato" elsewhere]), miltomate (Mexico, Guatemala), or simply tomate (in which case the tomato is called
jitomate). Even though tomatillos are sometimes called "green tomatoes", they should not be confused with green, unripe tomatoes. Other parts of the tomatillo plant also contain toxins, and should not be eaten.
Fresh ripe tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. They will keep even longer if the husks are removed and the fruits are placed in sealed plastic bags stored in the refrigerator. They may also be frozen whole or sliced.
Botanical name: Physalis philadelphica. A relative of the tomato and member of the nightshade
(Solanaceae) family tomatillos provide that tart flavor in a host of Mexican green sauces. In Mexico the fruit is called tomates
verdes, tomates de cascara as well as fresadillas.
Havarti is semi-soft Danish cow's milk cheese named after the experimental farm on which it was first made in the mid 1800s.
Havarti is an interior-ripened cheese that is rindless, smooth and slightly bright-surfaced with a cream to yellow color depending on type. It has very small and irregular openings distributed in the mass. The texture depending on type can be supple and flexible.
Havarti has a buttery aroma and can be somewhat sharp in the stronger varieties, much like Swiss cheese. The taste is buttery, and from somewhat sweet to very sweet, and it is slightly acidic. It is typically aged about three months, though when the cheese is older it becomes more salty and tastes like hazelnut. When left at room temperature the cheese tends to soften quickly.
Flavored variants of Havarti are also available, such as cranberry, garlic, caraway, dill, and
Havarti is a versatile table cheese that works well sliced, grilled, and melted. It is an excellent choice for sandwiches and snacks.
Havarti is a traditional, creamery and semi-soft. It is a simple, washed-rind cheese with irregular holes throughout. There is an enriched version, with added cream which is softer and feels more luxurious in the mouth.
Scallops are the family Pectinidae of bivalve molluscs. They are a cosmopolitan species, found throughout much of the world's oceans. Like the true oysters (family
Ostreidae), they have a central adductor muscle, and thus their shells have a characteristic central scar marking its point of attachment. However, the adductor muscle of scallops is larger and more developed than that of oysters because they are active swimmers and the sole migratory bivalve. Their shell shape tends to be highly regular, recalling the archetypal form of a seashell.
Scallops may be attached to a substrate by a structure called a byssus, or cemented to their substrate (e.g. Hinnites
spp.). They can also be free living. A scallop can swim by rapidly opening and closing its shell. This method of rapidly opening and closing its shell is also a defense technique, protecting it from threats. There is an audible whistling sound upon propulsion that the scallops make.
Scallops were traditionally caught by dragging the seabed, but now in British seas there is a trade in scuba diving to catch scallops. Dived scallops tend to fetch better prices than dredged scallops because they are out of the water for less time. Meaning, they get to the consumers' plate quicker. When Scallops are dredged, they may spend up to 2 weeks on a vessel before they get to market. Like any seafood, the meat will start to break down in time.
Scallops on display in a seafood marketScallops are a popular type of shellfish in both Eastern and Western cooking. They are characterised by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called "scallop" which is white and meaty, and the roe, called "coral", which is red or white and soft.
In western cuisine, scallops are commonly sautéed in butter, or else breaded and deep fried. Scallops are commonly paired with light semi-dry white wines. Generally speaking in the U.S., when a scallop is prepared, only the adductor muscle is used; the other parts of the scallop surrounding the muscle are ordinarily discarded. Sometimes markets in the U.S. sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S., the scallop is often sold whole. Scallops that are without any additives are called "dry packed" while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate
(STP) are called "wet packed". STP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about 2 days.
Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell
(Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.
The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of Saint James the Greater and is popular with pilgrims on the Way of St James to the apostle's shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their hats or clothes. The pilgrim also carried a scallop shell with him and would present himself at churches, castles, abbeys etc. where he could expect to be given as much sustenance as he could pick up with one scoop. Probably he would be given oats, barley, and perhaps beer or wine. Thus even the poorest household could give charity without being overburdened. The association of Saint James with the scallop can most likely be traced to the legend that the apostle once rescued a knight covered in scallops.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae, native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem.
When cooked, the volume of spinach is decreased by three quarters.
In popular folklore, spinach is a rich source of iron. In reality, a 60 gram serving of boiled spinach contains around 1.9 mg of iron (slightly more when eaten raw). A good many green vegetables contain less than 1 mg of iron for an equivalent serving. Hence spinach does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable, but its consumption does not have special health connotations as folklore might suggest.
The myth about spinach and its high iron content may have first been propagated by Dr. E. von Wolf in 1870, because a misplaced decimal point in his publication led to an iron-content figure that was ten times too high. In 1937, German chemists reinvestigated this "miracle vegetable" and corrected the mistake. It was described by
T.J. Hamblin in British Medical Journal, December 1981.
Spinach also has a high calcium content. However, the oxalate content in spinach binds with calcium decreasing its absorption. By way of comparison, the body can absorb about half of the calcium present in broccoli, yet only around 5% of the calcium in spinach.
Spinach still has a large nutritional value, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, and several vital antioxidants. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach. It is a source of folic acid, and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can halve the level of
A distinction can be made between older varieties of spinach and more modern varieties. Older varieties tend to bolt too early in warm conditions. Newer varieties tend to grow more rapidly but have less of an inclination to run up to seed. The older varieties have narrower leaves and tend to have a stronger and more bitter taste. Most newer varieties have broader leaves and round seeds.
There are 3 basic types of Spinach:
Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in most supermarkets.
Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad smooth leaves that are easier to clean than
savoy. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as
savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh market and processing.
Kumquats have been called "the little gold gems of the citrus family". The kumquat has a thin, sweet peel and a zesty, somewhat tart center. The kumquat tastes best if it is gently rolled between the fingers before being eaten, as this releases the essential oils in the rind. Eat kumquats as you would eat grapes (with the peel).
The kumquat's unique flavor lends itself as a pleasant addition to many food dishes, deserts, and salads. The kumquat can be candied or kabobed with other fruits or vegetables with meats, such as poultry, duck, pork or lamb. It is also a favorite for jelly, marmalade and chutney.
Kumquats are small, oval citrus fruits. They are usually between one to two inches long and have leathery orange or yellow skin. The fruit has a sweet outer skin and a tart inner flesh. The fruit can be eaten whole or some people prefer eating only the skin.
The kumquats or cumquats are a group of small fruit-bearing trees in the subgenus Fortunella of the genus Citrus in the flowering plant family
Rutaceae, often segregated as a separate genus Fortunella. The edible fruit (which is also called kumquat) closely resembles that of other Citrus but is smaller.
They are slow-growing, evergreen shrubs or small trees, from 2.5–4.5 m tall, with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns. The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers pure white, similar to citrus flowers, borne singly or clustered in the leaf-axils.
Kumquats originated in China (they are noted in literature dating to the 12th century), and have long been cultivated there and in Japan. They were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, collector for the London Horticultural Society, and shortly thereafter into North America.
The Portobello also called portabella is really simply a brown crimini mushroom in disguise. Evidently the usage of the two words
"portobello vs. portabella" is simply an issue of a marketing brand. Once the little brown crimini grows up to be about 4" - 6" in diameter he is deemed to be a
Portabella. A larger relative of criminis, Portabellas have tan or brown caps and measure up to 6 inches in diameter.
Flavor. They have a deep, meat-like texture and flavor.
Preparation. Portabellas can be grilled, broiled or roasted and served as appetizers, entrees or side dishes.
The term mussel is used for several families of bivalve molluscs inhabiting lakes, rivers, and creeks, as well as intertidal areas along coastlines worldwide. The freshwater mussels (several allied families, the largest being the
Unionidae) and saltwater mussels (family Mytilidae) are not closely related, and are grouped in different subclasses, despite some similarities in appearance. The freshwater Zebra mussels and their relatives (family
Dreissenidae) live attached to rocks in a manner similar to marine mussels, but are classified with the
Heterodonta, the taxonomic group including most bivalves referred to as "clams".
The mussel's external shell is composed of two halves that protect it from predators and desiccation. Protruding from a valve is an enlarged structure called the
umbo, which indicates the dorsal surface of the mussel.
Bivalve shells carry out a variety of functions including support for soft tissues, protection from predators, locomotion (in scallops) and boring (shipworms). The shell is made of three layers: the nacreous layer, an inner iridescent layer of nacre (mother-of-pearl) composed of calcium carbonate that is continuously secreted by the mantle; the prismatic layer, a middle layer of chalky white crystals of calcium carbonate in a protein matrix; and the
periostracum, an outer pigmented layer composed of a protein called conchin that protects the prismatic layer from abrasion and dissolution by acids (especially important in freshwater forms where decay of leaf materials produce acids).
Like most bivalves, mussels have a large organ referred to as a foot. In freshwater mussels the foot is large, muscular, and generally hatchet-shaped. It is used to pull the animal through the substrate (typically sand, gravel, or silt) in which it lies partially buried. It does this by repeatedly advancing the foot through the substrate, expanding the end so it serves as an anchor, and then pulling the rest of the animal with its shell forward. It also serves as a fleshy anchor when the animal is not moving.
The carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) is a root vegetable, usually orange or white, or pink in
colour, with a crisp texture when fresh. The edible part of a carrot is a taproot. It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot Daucus
carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia. It has been bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot, but is still the same species.
It is a biennial plant which grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot, which stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year. The flowering stem grows to about 1 m tall, with an umbel of white flowers.
Carrots can be eaten raw, whole, chopped, grated, or added to salads for colour or texture. They are also often chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as fine baby foods and select pet foods. A well known dish is carrots julienne. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings, an old English dish thought to have originated in the early 1800s. The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are rarely eaten by humans. Together with onion and celery, carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix to make various broths.
Ever since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets. Carrot juice is also widely marketed.
The carrot gets its characteristic orange colour from ß-carotene, which on consumption by humans is metabolised into vitamin A. Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause
hypercarotenemia, a condition in which the skin turns orange (although this is superior to overdose effects of vitamin A, which can cause liver damage). Carrots are also rich in dietary
fibre, antioxidants, and minerals.
Lack of Vitamin A can cause poor vision, and better vision can be restored by adding Vitamin A back into the diet. A common urban legend in part based on this is that carrots aid a human being's night vision. It is believed that disinformation introduced in 1940 by John "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham during the Battle of Britain was an attempt to cover up the discovery and use of radar technologies . It reinforced existing German folklore and helped to encourage children to eat the vegetable.
Couscous called maftoul in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories) is a food from Maghreb of Berber origin. Couscous consists of spherical granules which are made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. The finished grains are about 1 mm or 1/26th inch in diameter (after cooking). Traditional couscous requires considerable preparation time and is usually steamed. In many places, a more processed quick-cook couscous is available and is particularly valued for its short preparation time.
The dish is the primary staple food throughout the Maghreb; in much of Algeria, eastern Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. It is also popular in the West African Sahel, in France, Madeira island, in western Sicily's Trapani province, and parts of the Middle East. It is also very popular among Jews of North African descent. It is eaten in many other parts of the world as well.
Couscous is traditionally served under a meat or vegetable stew. It can also be eaten alone flavoured or plain, warm or cold, as a dessert or a side dish.
Rice noodles are noodles that are made from rice. Their principal ingredients are rice flour and water. However, sometimes other ingredients such as tapioca or corn starch are also added in order to improve the transparency or increase the gelatinous and chewy texture of the noodle.
Rice noodles are most commonly used in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia, and are available fresh, frozen, or dried, in various shapes and thicknesses.
Sesame oil (sometimes gingelly oil and til oil) is an organic oil derived from sesames, noted to have the distinctive aroma and taste of its parent seed. It is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine as a flavor enhancer, e.g. adding it to instant noodles.
Asian sesame oil derives its dark color and flavor from toasted hulled sesame seeds. It is commonly used in Chinese and Korean cuisine, usually added at the end of cooking as a
flavor highlight and not used as a cooking medium (as is, for example, peanut oil). There are many variations in the
color of sesame oil: cold-pressed sesame oil is almost colorless, while Indian sesame oil is golden and Chinese sesame oil is commonly a dark brown
Cold pressed sesame oil has less flavor than the Chinese, since it is produced directly from raw, rather than toasted seeds.
Sesame oil is traded in any of the forms described above: Refined sesame oil is very common in Europe and the USA; most margarine is made
there from. Cold-pressed sesame oil is available in Western health shops. In most Asian countries, different kinds of hot-pressed sesame oil are
Catfish (order Siluriformes) are a very diverse group of bony fish. Named for their prominent
barbels, which give the image of cat-like whiskers, catfish range in size and behavior from the heaviest, the Mekong giant catfish in Southeast Asia and the longest, the wels catfish of Eurasia, to detritivores (species that eat dead material on the bottom), and even to a tiny parasitic species commonly called the
candiru, Vandellia cirrhosa. There are armour-plated types and also naked types, neither having scales. Despite their common name, not all catfish have prominent
barbels; what defines a fish as being in the order Siluriformes are in fact certain features of the skull and
swimbladder. Catfish are of considerable commercial importance; many of the larger species are farmed or fished for food, and some are exploited for sport fishing, including a kind known as
noodling. Many of the smaller species, particularly the genus Corydoras, are important in the aquarium hobby.
A mirepoix is a mixture of diced vegetables, carrots, onions and celery (sometimes with ham or bacon), usually sauted in butter. It is said to have been created in the 18th century by the chef of the Duc de
Levis-Mirepoix in France. Mirepoix is used to flavor stews, soups, stocks, etc. The usual mixture is 50% onions, and 25% each carrots and celery.
Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots and celery (either common Pascal celery or celeriac).
Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. Mirepoix is known as the holy trinity of French cooking.
These three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics. Similar such combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers,
chiles, and ginger. For the combination mirepoix au gras, or a Matignon, ham and/or pork belly are used as additional ingredients.
They may be used in various combinations, as dictated by the cuisine and the dish itself.
Traditionally, the ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots. The ratio for bones to mirepoix for stock is 10:1. When making a white stock, or fond blanc, parsnips are used instead of carrots to maintain the pale color.
Mirepoix derives its name, as many other elements of French cuisine do, from the patron of the chef who established it, in this case one of the house of
Lévis, seigneurs of Mirepoix since the eleventh century, a famous name in Languedoc. The particular member of the house of Lévis whose chef is credited by the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française with giving a name to an old technique is Charles-Pierre-Gaston François de
Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix (1699-1757), maréchal de France and ambassador of Louis XV.
The holy trinity of cuisine are the three ingredients key to a particular cuisine. Because these three ingredients are so common in a recipes of a specific cuisine they are almost indivisible and end up being treated as a single ingredient. They also provide the distinctive flavoring of specific cuisines.
The name is an allusion to the Holy Trinity of the Christian faith.
Common holy trinities in cuisine are:
the Indian "wet" trinity of garlic, ginger and onion
the Chinese trinity of scallions, ginger and garlic
the Szechuan trinity of green garlic, ginger and chili peppers
the Thai trinity of galangal, kaffir lime and lemon grass
the French Mirepoix trinity of celery, onion and carrot
the Lebanese trinity of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil
the Italian Soffritto trinity of tomato, garlic and basil
the Spanish Sofrito trinity of garlic, onion and tomato cooked in olive oil
the Louisiana Creole or Cajun trinity of chopped celery, bell peppers, and onions
Provolone is an Italian cheese that originated in southern Italy, where it is still produced in various shapes as in 10 to 15 cm long pear shapes, sausage shape or cone shape. The most important Provolone production region is currently Northern Italy.
The term Provolone (meaning large Provola) appeared around the end of the 19th Century when it started to be manufactured in the Northern regions of Italy, and this cheese assumed its current large size.
Provolone is today a whole-milk cow cheese with a smooth skin produced mainly in the Po River Valley regions of Lombardia and Veneto. It is produced in different forms: shaped like large salami up to 30 cm in diameter and 90 cm long; in a watermelon shape; in a truncated bottle shape; or also in a large pear shape with the characteristic round knob for hanging. The average weight is 5 kg.
Provolone is a semi-hard cheese with taste varying greatly from Provolone Piccante (piquant), aged minimum 4 months and with a very sharp taste, to Provolone Dolce (sweet) with a very mild taste. In Provolone Piccante, the distinctive piquant taste is produced with lipase originating from goat. The Dolce version uses calf's lipase instead.
The Provolone Val Padana has received from the European Community the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) seal.
In Argentina and Uruguay, small discs of locally-produced "Provolone" of 10 to 15 cm in diameter and 1 to 2 cm in height are generally consumed before eating grilled meat. The Provolone is either placed directly on the grill, on small stones or inside a foil plate and cooked until melted. The provoleta is seasoned with "chimichurri", a mixture of oils and spices, and usually eaten communally.
Arrowroot, or obedience plant, (Maranta arundinacea) is a large perennial herb of genus Maranta found in rainforest habitats. Arrowroot is also the name for the easy-to-digest starch from the rhizomes (rootstock) of West Indian arrowroot. This plant should not be confused with Sagittaria species sometimes called "arrowhead" and used as a root vegetable nor
arrowweed, which also has edible roots.
The plant is naturalized in Florida, but it is chiefly cultivated in the West Indies (Jamaica and St. Vincent), Australia, Southeast Asia, and South and East Africa. Because of this, Napoleon supposedly said the real reason for the British love of arrowroot was to support their colonies.
Arrowroot is used as an article of diet in the form of biscuits, puddings, jellies, cakes, hot sauces etc., and also with beef tea, milk or veal broth, noodles in Korean cuisine, or boiled with a little flavoring added, as an easily digestible food for children and people with dietary restrictions. The lack of gluten in arrowroot flour makes it ideal as a replacement for wheat flour in baking. Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream. It can also be used as a thickener for acidic foods, such as oriental sweet and sour sauce.
Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than does flour or cornstarch. It is recommended to mix Arrowroot with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot's thickening property. Substitute two teaspoons of arrowroot for one tablespoon of cornstarch, or one teaspoon of arrowroot for one tablespoon of wheat flour
The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm.
The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropical world, for decoration as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some human use.
The white, fleshy part of the seed is edible and used fresh or dried in cooking.
The cavity is filled with coconut water which contains sugar, fibre, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Coconut water provides an isotonic electrolyte balance, and is a highly nutritious food source. It is used as a refreshing drink throughout the humid tropics and is also used in isotonic sports drinks. It can also be used to make the gelatinous dessert nata de coco. Mature fruits have significantly less liquid than young immature coconuts; barring spoilage, coconut water is sterile until opened. It is also used in many tropical drinks, such as Piña Colada.
Coconut milk is made by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds. It should not be confused with the coconut water discussed above, and has a fat content of approximately 17%. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate out the milk.
The leftover fibre from coconut milk production is used as livestock feed.
The sap derived from incising the flower clusters of the coconut is fermented to produce palm wine, also known as "toddy" or, in the Philippines, tuba. The sap can also be reduced by boiling to create a sweet syrup or candy.
Black Berkshire Pork
This amazing breed of pig is one of the oldest breeds known to exist. Its origins trace back to Reading in England and Berkshire became the favoured breed of the English royalty. The royal family at Windsor Castle maintained a large herd of Black Berkshire, (smart people those royals) and the strains of the breed now found in Japan, trace back to a gift from the English royals.
Indeed no breed of pig has been more influential in the development of modern breeds than the Berkshire. In fact, our clever scientists and breeders have done a remarkable job in the development of the modern pig by incorporating the many great attributes of the Berkshire. There has been one slight oversight however; they forgot about the Taste!! And the one thing that the Berkshire was most famous for was its taste, which is quite unlike that of modern pork.
It is difficult to describe the taste of Black Berkshire. The combination of a sweet, rich
flavour, its delicate texture and an unbelievable level of juiciness will really have you scratching your head to convince yourself that it is pork.
Butter is made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. Butter is used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications such as baking, sauce making, and frying. Butter consists of butterfat surrounding minuscule droplets consisting mostly of water and milk proteins. The most common form of butter is made from cows' milk, but it can also be made from the milk of other mammals, including sheep, goats, buffalo, and yaks. Salt, flavorings, or preservatives are sometimes added to butter. Rendering butter produces clarified butter or ghee, which is almost entirely butterfat. When refrigerated, butter remains a solid, but softens to a spreadable consistency at room temperature, and melts to a thin liquid consistency at 90–95 °F
Brie is a soft, cows' cheese named after Brie, the French province in which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in colour with a slight greyish tinge under crusty white mould; very soft and savoury with a hint of ammonia. The white mouldy rind is moderately tasteful and edible, and is not intended to be separated from the cheese during consumption.
There are now many varieties of Brie made all over the world, including plain Brie, herbed varieties, double and triple Brie and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Brie is perhaps the most well-known French cheese, and is popular throughout the world. Despite the variety of
Bries, the French atlantic government officially certifies only two types of Brie to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux (shown to the right) and Brie de
The Brie de Meaux, manufactured outside of Paris since the 8th century, was originally known as the "King's Cheese" (later, following the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses") and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) status in 1980, and is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.
Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk. The curd is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating it to a maximum temperature of 37 °C. The cheese is then cast into molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a
"pelle à brie". The 20 cm mold is filled with several thin layers of cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mould
(Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti and/or Brevibacterium linens) and aged in a cellar for at least four weeks.
If left to mature for longer, typically several months to a year, the cheese becomes stronger in
flavour, the pâte drier and darker, and the rind also darker and crumbly, and is called Brie Noir (Fr: Black Brie) Around the Île-de-France, where brie is made, the people enjoy soaking this in their Café au lait and eating it for breakfast.
The region in France that gave its name to this cheese (Brie) is, in the French language, feminine: La Brie, but French products take the gender of their general category; in this case Cheese (Le
fromage) is masculine, and so the cheese is also masculine, Le Brie.
According to the legends, during the 8th century, Charlemagne had his first taste of Brie cheese, and immediately fell in love with it.
Broccoli is a plant of the Cabbage family, Brassicaceae. Broccoli possesses abundant fleshy flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The large mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species, but broccoli is green rather than white. In the United States, the term refers exclusively to the form with a single large head. This form is called "Calabrese" in the United Kingdom, where sprouting (non-heading) types and those with underdeveloped flower buds are also sold as broccoli.
Tahini and sesame paste are ground sesame seeds used in cooking. The Middle Eastern tahini is made of hulled, lightly roasted seeds; the East Asian sesame paste is made of unhulled seeds.
Tahini is a major ingredient in hummus bi tahini and other Middle Eastern foods. It is sold fresh or dehydrated.
Sesame paste is an ingredient in Chinese dishes; it is a key ingredient of the Szechuan dish Dan dan noodles.
Because East Asian sesame paste is made from unhulled seeds, it is more bitter than
tahini, and higher in some nutrients. Paste made from black sesame seeds is said to have higher nutritional value than the brown variety
Tahini paste is used in a variety of dishes. Tahini-based sauces are common in Arab and Israeli restaurants as a side dish or as a garnish, usually including lemon juice, salt and garlic, and thinned with water. Tahini sauce is a popular condiment for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is also a main ingredient in soups. As a spread, tahini can replace peanut butter on bread, though the flavor and texture are quite different.
Peanut butter (also known as peanut paste) is a food paste made primarily from ground roasted peanuts, with or without added oil.
Types of peanut butter made without added fats or other stabilizers will separate into peanut oil and peanut solids unless they are refrigerated.
Similar peanut pastes are popular in various cultures. In South Indian cooking, additional chillies are used to make a spicy variant of peanut paste. In Andhra cooking, peanut paste has been quite popular for centuries where peanuts are ground along with other ingredients.
The Water Chestnut, also called the Chinese water chestnut or the water caltrop, is a tuber vegetable that resembles a chestnut in color and shape. Although it is most commonly associated with Chinese cooking, it is now gaining in popularity as a cooking ingredient in many different ethnic meals. Originating in Southeast Asia, water chestnuts are the roots of an aquatic plant that grows in freshwater ponds, marshes and lakes, and in slow-moving rivers and streams. Currently, water chestnuts are grown in Japan, Taiwan, China and Thailand as well as in Australia. When harvesting water chestnuts, much labor is involved. Because of this, water chestnuts are fairly expensive to purchase, especially in a processed or canned form. However, processed and canned water chestnuts are the most common form used for producing and mass-marketing water chestnuts to consumers. You can easily purchase these products in most supermarkets and grocery stores.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai, family
Cucurbitaceae) refers to both fruit and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa and one of the most common types of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a
pepo, which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the
Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus
Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green and yellow) and a juicy, sweet, usually red or yellow, but sometimes orange, interior flesh. The flesh consists of highly developed placental tissue within the fruit.
Common sorrel, also known as spinach dock and either ambada bhaji or gongoora in Indian cuisine, is a perennial herb that is cultivated as a leaf vegetable.
Sorrel is a slender plant about 60 cm high, with roots that run deep into the ground, as well as juicy stems and edible, oblong leaves. The lower leaves are 7 to 15 cm in length, slightly arrow-shaped at the base, with very long petioles. The upper ones are sessile, and frequently become crimson. The leaves are eaten by the larvae of several species of Lepidoptera including blood-vein.
It has whorled spikes of reddish-green flowers, which bloom in June and July, becoming purplish. The stamens and pistils are on different plants; the ripe seeds are brown and shining.
Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salads and
shav; they have a flavor that is similar to kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries. The plant's sharp taste is due to oxalic acid, and so may be contraindicated in people with rheumatic-type complaints, kidney or bladder stones. Sorrel is also a laxative.
In the Caribbean, sorrel typically refers to Jamaican Red Sorrel or Roselle. It is also commonly known as hibiscus. A popular dark red sorrel beverage has a sweet, spiced flavor. Roselle is also used in tarts and jellies, and the fiber is used by craftspeople.
Cream of Tartar
Cream of Tartar is derived from argol, the crude tartar sediment deposited on the sides of casks during winemaking. Cream of Tartar is also used as the acid ingredient in some baking powders. Cream of Tartar has an indefinite shelf life if kept tightly closed and stored away from heat. Cream of tartar is also used to give a creamier texture to sugary things like candy and frosting and to stabilize and increase the volume of beaten egg whites.
Its fruit, the carambola, more popularly known as Star fruit, but also coromandel gooseberry,
kamranga, or five finger, is a golden-yellow to green berry. When cut across it shows a 5-pointed (sometimes 6-pointed or 7-pointed) star shape, hence the name, "star fruit." Star fruits are crunchy, and have a slightly tart, acidic, sweet taste, reminiscent of pineapples, apples, and sometimes kiwi fruit. The fruits are a good source of vitamin C. Its seeds are small and brown. They consist of a tough outer skin and a tangy white inside.
There are two varieties of star fruit - acidulate and sweet. The tart varieties can often be identified by their narrowly spaced ribs. The sweet varieties usually have thick fleshy ribs.
The fruit starts out green, and goes to yellow as it ripens, though it can be eaten in both stages.
The nuts of the Pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor. They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, particularly in sweet desserts but also in some savory dishes. One of the most common desserts with the pecan as a central ingredient is the pecan pie, a traditional southern U.S. recipe. Pecans are also a major ingredient in praline candy, most often associated with New Orleans.
In addition to the pecan nut, the wood is also used in making furniture, in hardwood flooring, as well as flavoring fuel for smoking meats.
Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops. Although wild pecans were well-known among the colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s.
The Pistachio is a small tree up to 10 m tall, native to mountainous regions of Iran, Turkmenistan and western Afghanistan.
When the fruit ripens, the husk changes from green to an autumnal yellow/red and the shells split partially open. This is known as dehiscence, and happens with an audible pop.
The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava.
On the Greek island of Chios, the husk or flesh of the pistachio fruit surrounding the shell is cooked and preserved in syrup, a spoonful of which would traditionally be offered as a sweet delicacy to guests.
The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige colour, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally the dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. However most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained, making dyeing unnecessary (except that some consumers have been led to expect coloured pistachios). Roasted pistachio nuts turn naturally red if they are marinated prior to roasting in a salt and strawberry marinade, or salt and citrus salts.
Pistachio nuts are highly flammable when stored in large quantities, and are prone to self heating and spontaneous
Cod can be preserved by salting, drying, or both. Salted and dried cod is usually called salt cod; cod which has been dried without the addition of salt is called stockfish.
Salt cod is produced in Canada, Iceland, and Norway. It is sold whole or in portions, with or without bones.
The production of salt cod dates back at least 500 years, to the time of the European discoveries of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. It formed a vital item of international commerce between the New World and the Old, and formed one leg of the so-called triangular trade. Thus it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient not only in Northern European cuisine, but also in Mediterranean, West African, Caribbean, and Brazilian cuisines. The ingredient and the dishes made from it are known under names related to these cultures, for example baccalà (Italian), bacalhau (Portuguese), bacalao (Spanish), bacallà (Catalan), morue (French),
klippfisk/clipfish (Scandinavian), and saltfiskur (Icelandic)
Traditionally, salt cod was dried only by the wind and the sun, hanging on wooden scaffolding near the seaside.
Grenadine is traditionally a red syrup. It is used as an ingredient in cocktails, both for its flavor and to give a pink tinge to mixed drinks. "Grenadines" are also made by mixing the syrup with cold water in a glass or pitcher, sometimes with ice.
The name "grenadine" comes from the French word grenade meaning pomegranate, as grenadine was originally prepared from pomegranate juice and sugar. However, "grenadine" is also a common name mistakenly applied to syrups and beverages consisting of other fruit juices (e.g. raspberry, redcurrant, blackberry) and sugar syrup. The characteristic flavor can be obtained from a mixture of blackcurrant juice and other fruit juices with the blackcurrant flavor dominating.
Irish smoked salmon
Salmon has been smoked in Ireland using time-honoured techniques which capture and enhance the flavour and texture of this great Atlantic fish. Irish salmon has a firm, lean flesh which gives this king of fish its distinctive and greatly sought after texture. Traditionally smoked over oak, smoked Irish salmon acquires inimitable dark orange colour and subtle
The fruits of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking spirals, eight spirals in one direction, thirteen in the other; each being a Fibonacci number. This is one of many examples of Fibonacci numbers appearing in nature.
The natural (or most common) pollinator of the pineapple is the hummingbird. Pollination is required for seed formation; the presence of seeds negatively affects the quality of the fruit. In Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated on an agricultural scale, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason.
At one time, most canned and fresh pineapples came from the cultivar 'Smooth Cayenne'. Since about 2000, the most common fresh pineapple fruit found in U.S. and European supermarkets is a low-acid hybrid that was developed in Hawaii in the early 1970s. Pineapple is commonly used in desserts and other types of fruit dishes, or served on its own. Fresh pineapple is often somewhat expensive as the tropical fruit is delicate and difficult to ship. Pineapples can ripen after harvest, but require certain temperatures for this process to occur. The ripening of pineapples can be rather difficult as they will not ripen for some time and in a day or two become over-ripe, therefore, pineapples are most widely available canned.
The recipe was brought to the New World by the French colonists of Louisiana, and Cajun andouille is the best-known variety in the United States. The spiciest of all the variants, Cajun andouille is made of butt or shank meat and fat, seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic, and smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane for up to seven or eight hours at approximately 175°F
. The resulting sausage is used in a wide range of Louisiana dishes, such as gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and étouffée.
Bay leaf, Greek Daphni, Romanian Foi de Dafin; is the aromatic leaf of several species of the Laurel family
(Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance.
If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. The flavor of the California bay leaf is a bit more intense and bitter than the Turkish variety. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable in cooked foods than the taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme.
Myrcene, an essential oil used in perfumery can be extracted from the bay leaf. The flavor and aroma of bay leaves owes in large part to the essential oil
Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet
garni), and removed before serving. In Indian cuisine, bay leaves are often used in biryani and many salads.
Bay leaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.
Pure Vanilla Extract
There are about 150 varieties of vanilla, though only two are used commercially--Bourbon and Tahitian. Vanilla extract is made by percolating or macerating chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water. The process is usually kept as cool as possible to keep flavor loss to a minimum, though some manufacturers feel that there must be heat to create the best extraction. Most companies use a consistent blend of beans, sometimes from several regions, to create their signature flavor. The extraction process takes about 48 hours after which the extracts will mellow in the tanks with the beans from days to weeks, depending on the processor, before being filtered into a holding tank where the amber-colored liquid extract remains until being bottled.
Banana leaf is the leaf of the Banana plant. It is used as a decorative element for auspicious ceremonies in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It is also used as a plate to serve food in countries like India. Banana leaves though commonly thrown away contain large amounts of
polyphenols, including EGCG, similar to green tea.
is usually served in Banana leaf. Some South Indian and Khmer recipes use banana leaves as a wrapper for frying, later removed to retain flavor. In Vietnamese cuisine, banana leaves are used to wrap foods such as
Usually a plum is dried until it reaches 21-23% humidity.Try biting into one and you will have a very happy dentist! To make them edible, they need to be rehydrated with water (to which preservatives are often added) until they reach 35% humidity. They will have a strong caramel-like taste and dark colored flesh as the intensive drying will have caramelized the sugar in the fruit.
For a semi-dried prune, the drying process is stopped directly when the humidity level reaches 35%. No rehydration is necessary. The flesh remains honey-colored because the sugar does not caramelize. The moisture in the prune is 100% natural as no water is added after the drying. The taste is fresh and sweet, half-way between the fresh and dried fruit. And, most importantly, no preservatives are used. Until the fruits are packaged, they are stored in cold rooms. The sugar level in the fruit is so high that it never freezes and hardens: you can eat a "frozen" semi-dried prune immediately.
Tomato paste is a thick paste made from ripened tomatoes with skin and seeds removed. Depending on its manufacturing conditions, it can be used to make either ketchup or reconstituted tomato juice. Its most common culinary usage is as a pizza sauce base, but it is also used in small quantities to enrich the flavour of sauces, particularly tomato sauce. It is most commonly available in tin cans and squeeze tubes.
* Hot break: heated to about 100°C; pectin is preserved -> thicker -> ketchup.
* Cold break: heated to about 66°C; colour and flavour is preserved -> juice
Molasses or treacle is a thick syrup by-product from the processing of the sugarcane or sugar beet into sugar. (In some parts of the US, molasses also refers to sorghum syrup.) The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which comes from
mel, the Portuguese word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or beet, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction.
Sulfured molasses is made from young green sugar cane and is treated with sulfur dioxide, which acts as a preservative, during the sugar extraction process. Unsulfured molasses is made from mature sugar cane and does not require treatment with sulfur during the extraction process. There are three grades of molasses, Mild or first molasses, Dark or second molasses, and Black strap. These grades may be sulfured or
To make molasses, which is pure sugar cane juice, the sugar cane plant is harvested and stripped of its leaves. Its juice is extracted from the canes, usually by crushing or mashing. The juice is boiled to concentrate and promote the crystallization of the sugar. The results of this first boiling and removal of sugar crystal is first molasses, which has the highest sugar content because comparatively little sugar has been extracted from the juice. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter tinge to its taste.
The third boiling of the sugar syrup gives black strap molasses. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized but black strap molasses is still mostly sugar by calories; however, unlike refined sugars, it contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. Black strap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. One tablespoon provides up to 20 percent of the daily value of each of those nutrients. Black strap is often sold as a health supplement, as well as being used in the manufacture of cattle feed, and for other industrial uses. Those who enjoy the taste of molasses on its own often enjoy black strap molasses the
Sugar beet molasses
Molasses that comes from the sugar beet is different from cane molasses. Only the syrup left from the final crystallization stage is called molasses; intermediate syrups are referred to as high green and low green and these are recycled within the crystallization plant to maximize extraction. Beet molasses is about 50% sugar by dry weight, predominantly sucrose but also containing significant amounts of glucose and fructose. Beet molasses is limited in biotin (Vitamin H or B7) for cell growth, hence it may need to be supplemented with a biotin source. The non-sugar content includes many salts such as calcium, potassium, oxalate and chloride. These are either as a result of concentration from the original plant material or as a result of chemicals used in the processing. As such, it is unpalatable and is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called
"molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.
It is possible to extract additional sugar from beet molasses through a process known as molasses
desugarisation. This technique exploits industrial scale chromatography to separate sucrose from non-sugar components. The technique is economically viable in trade protected areas where the price of sugar is supported above the world market price. As such it is practiced in the US and parts of Europe. Molasses is used for yeast production.
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising in a close relative of tobacco.
The most widely grown cultivated varieties (cultivars) in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 4 1/2 to 9 in 2 to 4 in with a dark purple skin. A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a 2 pounds grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars with white striping also exist. Chinese eggplants are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and sometimes were called Japanese eggplants in North America.
Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned cultivars include: 'Harris Special
Hibush', 'Burpee Hybrid', 'Black Magic', 'Classic', 'Dusky', and 'Black Beauty'. Long, slim cultivars with purple-black skin include: 'Little Fingers', 'Ichiban',
'Pingtung Long', and 'Tycoon'; with green skin: 'Louisiana Long Green' and 'Thai (Long) Green'; with white skin:
'Dourga'. Traditional, white-skinned, oval-shaped cultivars include 'Casper' and 'Easter Egg'. Bicolored cultivars with color gradient include: 'Rosa
Bianca', and 'Violetta di Firenze'. Bicolored cultivars with striping include: 'Listada de
Gandia' and 'Udumalapet'. In some parts of India, miniature varieties of eggplants (most commonly called
Vengan) are very popular.
The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced eggplant (known as
"degorging") can soften and remove much of the bitterness. Some modern varieties do not need this treatment, as they are less bitter. The eggplant is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so that the eggplant need not be peeled.
The eggplant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian melanzane alla
parmigiana, the Greek moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so that the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients such as lemon,
tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish melitzanosalata or the Indian dishes of Baigan Bhartha or
Gojju. It can be sliced, battered, and deep-fried, then served with various sauces which may be based on
yoghurt, tahini, or tamarind. Grilled and mashed eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, and spices makes the Indian dish baingan ka
bhartha. The eggplant can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani
An aromatic rice from Thailand that has a flavor and fragrance comparable to the expensive basmati rice from India, at a fraction of the cost.
In culinary terminology, squab is the meat from a young domestic pigeon; formerly adult birds from several species were called by the same name. Squab for the table are roughly a month old; they have reached adult size but have not yet flown. Consumed throughout much of recorded history, squab is not usually a staple food where it is a part of modern cuisine, and it may be considered peculiar or exotic.
delicacy, squab is tender, moist and richer in taste than many commonly-consumed poultry meats, but there is relatively little meat per bird. Today, squab is eaten in many countries, including France, America, Italy, the
Maghreb, and several Asian countries. Typical dishes include: breast of squab (sometimes as the French
salmis), Egyptian mahshi (stuffed with rice and herbs), and the Moroccan dish
In some parts of America, squab meat is thought of as exotic or distasteful by many consumers, often as a result of the image of the feral pigeon as an unsanitary urban
The Red Cabbage is a sort of cabbage, also known as Red Kraut or Blue Kraut after preparation. Its leaves are coloured dark red/purple. However, the plant changes its colour according to the pH value of the soil, due to a pigment called
anthocyanin. On acidic soils, the leaves grow more reddish while an alkaline soil will produce rather greenish-yellow coloured cabbages. This explains the fact that the very same plant is known by different colours in various regions. Furthermore, the juice of red cabbage can be used as a home-made pH indicator, turning red in acid and blue in basic solutions; it is for this reason that
some[who?] have claimed that red cabbage is perhaps[weasel words] the vegetable most responsible for many scientific advances and the technology that we enjoy today.
On cooking, red cabbage will normally turn blue. To retain the red colour it is necessary to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.
Red Cabbage needs well fertilized soil and sufficient humidity to grow. It is a seasonal plant which is seeded in spring and harvested in late fall. Red Cabbage is a better keeper than its "white" relatives and does not need to be converted to sauerkraut to last the winter.
A Vidalia onion is a sweet onion of certain varieties, grown in a production area defined by law in Georgia and by the United States Code of Federal Regulations
(CFR). The varieties include the hybrid yellow granex, varieties of granex parentage, or other similar varieties recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
The onions were first grown near Vidalia, Georgia, in the early 1930s. It is an unusually sweet variety of onion, due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown. Moses Coleman is considered the person that discovered the sweet Vidalia Onion variety in 1931.
Georgia's state legislature passed the "Vidalia Onion Act of 1986" which authorized a trademark for "Vidalia Onions" and limits the production area to Georgia or any subset as defined by the state's Commissioner of Agriculture.
Grains of Paradise
Grains of Paradise come from West Africa, where they grow on a leafy plant and are easily harvested. The name comes from Medieval spice traders looking for a way to inflate the price - it was claimed that these peppery seeds grew only in Eden, and had to be collected as they floated down the rivers out of paradise. Although Grains of Paradise are now rare and expensive, they used to be used as a cheaper substitute for black pepper. They have a zesty flavor reminiscent of pepper, with hints of flowers, coriander and cardamom.
Chilean sea bass is a deep-water species also known as toothfish, caught in southern ocean waters near and around Antarctica. The Chileans were the first to market toothfish commercially in the United States, earning it the name Chilean sea bass, although it is really not a bass and it is not always caught in Chilean waters. It is a different species type than the sea bass caught in U.S. waters. Because of its white meat appeal, Chilean sea bass usually fetches premium prices in specialty markets and high-end restaurants. It is a deep-water fish that can live up to 50 years and grow to weigh over 200 pounds. Is Chilean sea bass an endangered species? No. But large, unreported catches from illegal fishing of this valuable fish has made effective management difficult. In 2000, more than 16,000 tons of Chilean sea bass were legally harvested in the Antarctic management area. Estimates vary, but there may be up to twice that amount taken illegally. Some Chilean sea bass fisheries are managed in a responsible man but there are some areas where the species has been and continues to be
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada, where it is often referred to by the shortform perch. Yellow perch look similar to the European perch but are paler and more yellowish, with less red in the fins. They have 6-8 dark vertical bars on their sides. The yellow perch is in the same family as the walleye and
sauger, but in a different family from the white perch.
Yellow perch size can vary greatly between bodies of water, but adults are usually between 4-10 inches in length and weigh about 5.29 oz (150 g) on average. The perch can live for up to 11 years, and older perch are often much larger than average; the maximum recorded length is 21.0 inches and the largest recorded weight is 4.2 lb. Large yellow perch are often called "jumbo perch."
The perch reach sexual maturity at one to three years of age for males and two to three years of age for females. Spawning occurs at the end of April or beginning of May, depositing 5,000 to 100,000 eggs upon weeds, or the branches of trees or shrubs that have become immersed in the water. After fertilization the eggs hatch in 11 to 27 days depending on temperature and other weather conditions.