This post is part of an ongoing series of posts called “In My Kitchen” hosted by the wonderful Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. The posts are a fascinating glimpse into kitchens around the world. Please take the time to check out posts from Australia, South Africa, Asia, Sweden, the U.S., and the U.K. (to mention a few).
The months are flying by, April already! How did that happen? It’s been a busy month and I am excited about many new things in my kitchen. Now I need to find time to use them. I went a little crazy at the Oaktown Spice Shop, they had so many new things I hadn’t seen before. Just walking into that small shop puts me in heaven, the smells…oh my!
I understand that asafoetida powder is most often used in Indian vegetarian cooking, it’s also known as Hing. Derived from a species of giant fennel, asafoetida has a unique smell and flavor. It is called for often in Indian cooking, primarily with legumes and dishes featuring vegetables such as cauliflower. I’ll be on the search for recipes, any suggestions? The spice shop mentioned that it can be used as a replacement for garlic for people who cannot tolerate it. Since that’s true for my neighbor and friend, I wanted to try it.
Aframomum melegueta is a species in the ginger family, and comes from West Africa. This spice is commonly known as grains of paradise, Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains, fom wisa, or Guinea pepper, and is obtained from the ground seeds; it imparts a pungent, peppery flavour with hints of citrus, flowers, coriander, and cardamom.
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. They were used as a cheaper substitute for black pepper.
A New York Times article written by Amanda Hesser has popularized grains of paradise. She wrote, “I put a few between my teeth and crunched. They cracked like coriander releasing a billowing aroma, and then a slowly intensifying heat, like pepper at the back of my mouth. The taste changes in a second. The heat lingered. But the spice flavor was pleasantly tempered, ripe with flavors reminiscent of jasmine, hazelnut, butter and citrus, and with the kind of oiliness you get from nuts. They were entirely different from black peppercorns and in my mind, incomparably better.”
Have you tried them? If so, how did you use them?
Research on-line suggested grinding them with peppercorns and using as a rub for steak. Since I had just purchased some wonderful grass-fed, humanely raised, beef steaks (these are sirloin) at the butcher’s, the timing was perfect.
Wow! Wonderful. I served slices of the steak with a spoonful of pickled mustard seeds.
I was intrigued by a recipe in the cookbook “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories” for tomatoes with olive oil and vanilla bean salt. It was recommended to use the salt with the summer’s best acidic tomatoes. Once we have great beefsteak tomatoes at the farmer’s market, I will make good use of it.
About a month ago, a post about “Aussie Olive Salt” on the blog Please Pass the Recipe caught my eye. Sandra is a talented cook and writes a wonderful blog. She ran across this salt at the restaurant “Ethos” and recreated the recipe. Olives have a good deal of umami and a salt made with them would add quite a flavor punch. As with the vanilla salt, it was recommended for use with a tomato salad. I pinned her recipe for future reference and thought these semi-dried olives would be a good start.
I found the olives at a stand at the farmer’s market. A few nights ago I added a handful to a green salad, oh my! They were wonderful. The “Aussie Olive Salt” is next on my list.
I’m on my second jar of this Calabrian hot pepper paste. I use it when a pinch of red pepper is called for add a few dabs to the top of a pizza. It’s one of those items which sits beside the stove, there are so many uses when you need a punch of heat and spiciness.
The caper powder was on the shelf below. Can you tell I am in search of new flavors? I wonder how the powder would be in a pasta sauce…what do you think?
I purchased this bowl from a potter at the local farmer’s market. The grooves are for grating garlic, you then use the bowl to prepare your salad dressing or other sauce. I’m thinking it would be a wonderful bowl to use for a caesar dressing.
And lastly, I saw these spring colored bowls at Crate and Barrel, I love the colors and will use them in spring table settings. They are big enough for a generous serving of pasta or soup.
That’s what’s happening in my kitchen this month, what about your own?