Spices

Spices are one of the best ways to add variety, flavor, and color to dishes. But spices can also be very intimidating and overwhelming. In order to help simplify spices and how to best use them check out this great infographic. It helps guide you through which spices pair best with what foods.

Source: Cooksmarts

Homemade Spice Paste

This easy to make spice paste is a great way to add a lot of flavor to dishes!

Ingredients:
300 g of celery
300 g of carrots
2 onions 
1 fennel
1 clove of garlic 
Ground cloves
5 ground fennel seeds
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh basil
3 fresh sage leaves 
2 stalks of fresh rosemary
10 stalks of parsley leaves
100 grams sea salt
1 teaspoon of fresh pepper 

Preparation:
Add everything to a blender and then puree until smooth. Transfer the paste into a jar and store in the refrigerator. Due to the increased salt content, the paste will keep fresh in the refrigerator for a very long time. If you are allowed to use oil in your plan, then add 10 tablespoons of good olive oil. Simply add 1 teaspoon of the paste to your food and enjoy.

Chilies

If you like it spicy, then there is no way of avoiding chilies!

Worldwide there are hundreds of different varieties that vary in degrees of spiciness. Some are dried or processed into powder, while others are used fresh. Chilies contain capsaicin which is the chemical compound that makes them spicy and is usually found in the seeds and white piths. The higher the capsaicin content in the chili, the hotter it is. Most often the spiciness of a chili is measured on the Scoville scale which ranges from 0 to 16 million. A bell pepper has a value of 0 while a habanero ranges between 100,000-350,000.

While not only flavorful and delicious, chilies are also very healthy. Among other things, they strengthen the immune system, keep the circulation going, contain vitamins B1, B6 and minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.

Regardless of how spicy you like your food, a little bit of chili can go a long way!

Jazzy Ginger

In the world of health and nutrition, ginger is one of the absolute superstars!

As an aromatic spice, it goes well with poultry, lamb, fish and seafood, adding a unique warm and spicy flavor. The root isn’t only a culinary star, it also has so much to offer from a medical point of view. Ginger’s active ingredient, which is a viscous balsam, consists of essential oils and pungent substances which have a digestive and warming effect. They neutralize and destroy unwanted bacteria and fungi in the intestine. It also protects the liver, has an anti-oxidative properties, and is an anti-inflammatory. In total, ginger is said to have at least 22 pharmacological properties! Ginger tea, prepared from fresh ginger, is delicious and helps against cough, hoarseness and gastrointestinal problems. It is super easy to make: Simply pour boiling water over a few pieces of chopped ginger, allow to infuse for 6 – 8 minutes and enjoy! If you are looking for something to ease into ginger, try adding a small piece to other types of tea such as green tea!

Pro tip: Consider buying whole ginger root and storing it in the freezer. Then whenever you need ginger, take it out, use a spoon to scrape off the skin, and use a sharp knife to cut off a small piece.

Exotic Vegetable Stir Fry

This vegetable stir fry is a perfect dish for spring and is suitable for phase 2 with oil.

Ingredients:
1 serving vegetables (we like cauliflower and carrots)
1 serving yogurt
1 serving chopped fruit
1 TBsp freshly chopped chives
cumin
turmeric
coriander
pepper
cinnamon
salt
coconut oil for frying

Preparation:
Clean the cauliflower and cut into florets. Peel carrots and cut them into fine strips. Cook the cauliflower in a little salted water with turmeric for about 7 minutes, then remove and drain. Heat the coconut oil in a pan, fry the cauliflower and carrots, and keep warm. Add the cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon to the frying oil and add the chopped fruit. Let the mixture cool down briefly, stir in the yogurt, and season to taste. Sprinkle with chives and enjoy!

Cardamom – a Precious Spice!

Its fragrance is without doubt a wonderful addition during the Holiday Season. Let us give you a few facts on this fabulous spice!

Green cardamom belongs to the ginger family and it originates from South India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The plant is a reed-like shrub that can grow up to three metes (9′) high and it forms greenish-yellow seed pods on its branches. The pods have three compartments, with each one containing four to eight seeds that simply smell delicious. In the Middle Ages cardamom was known as a genuine treasure and today it is still one of the most expensive spices in the world after saffron and vanilla. The cardamom seeds are a popular coffee spice in Arabia and they also give curry and Asian dishes a special touch. You can either lightly squish the cardamom capsules and let them naturally enhance your dish or you can crush the pods to release the seeds, which can be ground into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Which ever way you add them though, you can be sure of a delicious dish.

MB 12-23 - Cardamon

What’s to Know About Pepper

Do you love pepper? We definitely do!

The peppercorns that we use as spice in our meals are from the Piperaceae family which has at least 700 different species! The pepper plant originally comes from the forests of southern India but is now cultivated in the tropics throughout the world. Black peppercorns with their thin, wrinkly skin are harvested and dried before they fully ripen. Nutritionally, black pepper is rich in piperine, which gives pepper its intense sharp taste. White pepper is made from fully ripe red pepper fruits, which are allowed to ferment. If the pulp is rubbed off after three days, the greyish-white, milder tasting round seeds appear. Green pepper is the unripe fruit that is placed in brine. No matter which one you use – (fresh) ground pepper is an excellent healthy addition in many aspects. Hot spices in general can support digestion and even kill pathogens. Of course those with a sensitive stomach or gastritis, should use peppery spices sparingly.

MB 12-18 - Muehle mit Pfeffer

Interesting Facts about Vanilla!

Vanilla is such an essential (and wonderful) ingredient in the Holiday Season, that it’s hard to imagine baking without it! Did you know that vanilla pods are the fruit of a climbing orchid? When they are freshly harvested, they actually look like green beans. The vanilla spice plant itself, originates from the rain-forests of Mexico and Guatemala and evidence shows that the Aztecs knew the secret of the vanilla pods! Only when they are fermented vanilla pods develop their distinctive aroma and taste. The complete drying process by the way, can take up to four weeks. Vanilla – either the scraped out seeds or the whole pod – is the classic spice for many desserts, egg dishes, creams, cakes, cookies and compotes. It’s known to harmonize perfectly with chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon, saffron and cloves. It also brings an interesting taste to fish, meat, poultry and vegetable dishes. 

One excellent use for the empty vanilla pod is to add it to sugar or salt. Simply put the pod into a glass jar with sugar or salt and close it tightly. After one week you will have an aromatic treat of vanilla sugar or vanilla salt. 

MB 12-14 - vanille

Vegetable Bruschetta with Egg(s)

Have you ever tried mushroom bruschetta with fried egg? So simple and delicious. An excellent go to quick metabolic balance meal! 

What you need:
1 serving egg (usually 1-2 eggs)
1 serving mushrooms (vegetable)
onions
vegetable broth
sourdough rye bread
Spices: paprika, caraway seeds, pepper, garlic

What to do
Stir fry mushrooms and onions until nicely cooked and soft, deglaze with some vegetable stock, season; simmer till the liquid is reduced to half. Top rye bread with ghee, spice with garlic, spices to taste and roast in the oven. Fry the egg(s). Serve by placing mushrooms on the toasted bread and the eggs on top. Season to taste. Enjoy!

Tip: Instead of mushrooms, you can also use other vegetables, e.g., zucchini, tomatoes, or bell pepper.

12-09 mushrooms-2341466_1920 - Image by suzleigh

Image by suzleigh from Pixabay

What is saffron …?

… and what do I use it for?

MB-saffron (2019-06-13)

Saffron originally comes from the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. Saffron is extracted from the stigmas of a crocus species – the bulbous plant with the name autumn crocus (because it blooms in the northern hemisphere in autumn) – in a very laborious way and then has to be processed.  That is why real saffron is almost unaffordable and has been falsified in many ways for 500 years. Today it comes mainly from Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece, Pakistan and Valais (Switzerland). Saffron contains saffron bitter picrococin (this substance has a toxic effect in large quantities).

It has a beneficial effect on digestion and acts as a cardio stimulant.
Saffron goes well in rice dishes, whether sweet or salty, and fits well for the preparation of sauces.