Everyone knows how much good herbs and spices can add to your dishes. But which ones are the best and most popular in American kitchens? The five below are the ones that you really cannot afford to do without as you cook your next meal. Remember, herbs and spices are always best when they are freshly ground or chopped. Most dried herbs and spices on the shelf in the grocery store lost their potency long ago. Buy small, fresh quantities of these great herbs and spices and grind them up yourself:
Fresh garlic is a great all spice for your kitchen. Did you know that one raw garlic clove, when it is minced or chopped, releases more flavor than when you cook a dozen whole cloves? Keep this in mind when you want to add a lot of kick to a salad or a hot dish.
When you cook a garlic clove, the flavor tends to mellow out into a sweeter, sort of nutty flavor that is not nearly as pungent as raw garlic. This nuttier flavor can make a very nice add to desserts , such as brownies and ice cream.
When you are sautéing your garlic, you should be careful not to burn it. This will cause the garlic to get very bitter.
Note that if you have a good garlic press, you don’t even need to peel the cloves. Just stick the unpeeled cloves in your press and go at it! You can just take the skins out when you are done.
Pepper is the third most common ingredient, after water and salt. When you are using pepper for your regular recipes, you should avoid adding it until the end of your cooking so the flavor does not lose its potency.
When you are doing a recipe with a lot of pepper on high heat, you should know that smoke from the pepper can irritate your eyes, so have good ventilation.
If you are making a dish that is lighter in color, the black pepper specks might detract from the final product. This is when you should call in the white pepper. Both types of pepper can be used interchangeably.
If you do not have a pepper mill, you should stop what you are doing and go buy one! The flavor difference with fresh ground pepper is huge.
Oregano, like pepper, is one of those herbs/spices that you really need to have fresh. Take the leaves off the stem and toss the stem out. Chop up the leaves for some really tasty oregano!
Some people find that oregano can be rather strong and even overpowering and bitter if you use too much in your food. So, take it easy as you are cooking with it.
Oregano goes well with almost any tomato-based dish. It also goes well with meats and vegetables. It works well with chili, pizza, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, cauliflower and lamb.
Oregano can be used very effectively with garlic, onion, thyme, basil, parsley and olive oil.
Basil is a perfect complement to tomatoes, and it also goes great with garlic, onions and olives. Basil works to stimulate our appetites, and it also helps to stop gas. This is probably one of the reasons that it works well with garlic. It is said that basil tea helps a lot with nausea, stomach distress and dysentery.
The leaves are the part of the plant you want the most. Small stems are fine, but larger stems should be tossed out.
Oregano pairs very well with basil, and does not overpower its flavor and aroma.