Herbs and spice
Herbs and spice and all things nice is a page all about adding flavours to food and jazzing up an average tasting meal.
From speaking with a lot of people I have realised that some good folk out there are afraid of using herbs and spice
in their cooking. Just a few years ago I was the exact same, had I seen a dish in a menu that used a herb or spice in the title I would have avoided it at all costs with one thing in mind... 'herbs and spices means hot food'. Now since then i have 'manned-up' and opened my mind and palate to these wonderful little extras in my cooking and by god they make all the difference to a lot of dishes!
Most of them aren't hot, they are just flavoursome and comforting. Also a lot of people have said how they would like to try them in their cooking just to give certain dishes 'a twist', so I have decided to create this page to explain all the herbs and spices I use, their uses and what they go well with. Also, you can grow all these herbs yourself!
Basil: Add at the last minute of cooking, great in salads and as a garnish. Goes really well with Mediterranean vegetables. Pairs well with: Cheese, courgettes, eggs, garlic, lemon, olives, peas, pine nuts, pizza, potatoes, raspberries, rice and sweetcorn.
Bay leaf: Add into soups, stews and sauces. Also for marinades and pickles and roasting dishes (always remove before serving, not for eating) Pairs well with: Meat, poultry, game, fish, citrus, rice, lentils, tomatoes, root vegetables and onions.
Chervil: Best used as a garnish due to its mild flavour, sprinkle over soups and salads or used in omelettes. Pairs well with: Asparagus, beans, beetroot, carrots, cream cheese, eggs, fennel, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, seafood and poultry.
Chives: If adding chives to your cooking, always add them add the end as their flavour will fizzle out if cooked too much. They can be eaten raw in salads, sauces and in soups as a garnish. They are part of the onion family so have a delicate onion flavour. Pairs well with: Avocados, courgettes, cream cheese, eggs, fish, potatoes, root vegetables and seafood.
Coriander: Cooked in curries,stir-fries, soups, pesto, salads and chutneys. Also used for garnishing. Pairs well with: Avocados, chillies, cucumber, coconut, fish, meat, onions, poultry, rice, root vegetables, seafood and squashes.
Dill: Add dill at the end of cooking and as a garnish to salads or fish dishes.rrots, celeriac, cucumber Pairs well with: Beetroot, beans, ca, eggs, fish, potatoes, seafood and spinach.
Fennel: Gives a liquorise flavour to soups, chowders, roast meats and fish dishes. Pairs well with: Beetroot, beans, cabbage, duck, fish, leeks, pork, potatoes, rice, seafood and tomatoes.
Marjoram: Not unlike Oregano but milder and sweeter. use leaves in salads, cream sauces, scrambled egg or omelettes and in fish dishes. Pairs well with: Eggs, fish, mushrooms and squashes.
Mint: Used in sweet and savoury dishes and also in drinks, for flavour and for garnishing. Pairs well with: Carrots, chocolate, cucumber, curries, duck, lamb, lime, potatoes and yogurt.
Oregano: Great for flavouring fish dishes, vegetable dishes, pizzas and lasagnes. Pairs well with: Beef, coriander, cheeses, chicken, chillies, cumin, garlic, lamb, pork and squashes.
Parsley: Flat leaf parsley for garnishing and add chopped to sauces. Curly leaf parsley for soups and stews, stalks and all. Pairs well with: Chicken, eggs, fish, garlic, lemon, lentils, onions, rice, seafood and tomatoes.
Rosemary: Eaten finely chopped in soups, stews, casseroles, meat and poultry dishes, roast vegetable dishes, with fish and in marinades. put in whole for flavouring meat and poultry dishes, fish dishes, vegetables dishes. The woody sprigs can be used as flavoursome skewers for kebabs. Pairs well with: Beef, cabbage, chicken, chillies, courgettes, eggs, fish, game, garlic, lamb, lemons, lentils, onions, peppers, pork, poultry, potatoes, rabbit, squashes and veal.
Sage: Quite a strong herb, so use sparingly to avoid over-powering. Great for roasted dishes and used a lot in stuffings and marinades. Pairs well with: Apple, beans, bay leaf, celery, chicken, duck, game, garlic, liver, onions, pork and tomatoes.
Tarragon: Again use sparingly it is quite strong. great for flavouring fish dishes, chicken and game. Pairs well with: Asparagus, cheese, chicken, courgettes, eggs, fish, game, mushrooms, potatoes, seafood and tomatoes.
Thyme: Use in stews, casseroles, marinades, terrines. Great in roast dishes like chicken, beef, game and vegetables. Pairs well with: Carrots, chicken, duck, lamb, mushrooms (wild), onions, potatoes, rabbit, sweetcorn, tomatoes and turkey.
All Spice: All spice has been used for preserving meats and fish. A good general spice to lift any dish, great in curries for an extra flavour. Pairs well with: Onion, root vegetables, squashes, tomatoes, white cabbage and most fruits.
Caraway Seeds: These little beauties are flavouring in Rye bread. They go wonderful in stews and with beef and vegetable dishes. Pairs well with: Apples, beef, bread, cabbage, duck, goose, pork, potatoes, root vegetables and tomatoes.
Cardamom Pods: Lightly bruise and fry, split whole pods and add directly to rice, or grind the seeds and add to pastries, puddings,breads etc. Pairs well with: Apples, cinnamon, cloves, oranges, pears, potatoes (sweet), pulses and star anise.
Cayenne Pepper: Sharp, warm and fiery... less is more in this case to prevent over powering, this is basically chilli flakes ground very finely. Pairs well with: Chicken, eggs, fish, and potatoes.
Chilli Flakes: Add dried chilli flakes to add heat to any dish. Pairs well with: Most savoury ingredients, herbs and spices.... and chocolate if feeling adventurous.
Cinnamon: A great all round spice used in sweet and savoury dishes, also in drinks like coffee, hot chocolate, mulled wine and tea. Pairs well with: Almonds, apples, apricots, banana, chocolate, coffee, lamb, pears, poultry, red cabbage and rice.
Cloves: Mostly used ground with rich meats, also used in pies and cakes, syrups and preserves. Pairs well with: Beetroot, carrots, chocolate, cinnamon, duck, fruits, ham, onions, oranges and venison
Coriander Seeds: Use in vegetable dishes, stews and curries. Also used in marinades and pickles. Pairs well with: Chicken, citrus, cumin, fish, ham, mushrooms, onions, pork and potatoes.
Cumin Seeds: Use seeds or ground cumin in soups, stews, casseroles and curries. Dry toast the seeds in a frying pan to release more aroma before crushing in a pestle and mortar. Pairs well with: Coriander seeds, cheese, chilli, meats, oregano, poultry and vegetables.
Curry Leaves: Use in ling simmering curries to extract their flavour then remove before serving. Pairs well with: cardamom seeds, chilli, coconut, coriander, cumin, fish, garlic, lamb, rice, seafood and vegetables.
Ginger: A firm favourite with me and contains good digestive properties. Use grated or finely diced in stir fries, soups, sauces, marinades. Also in chutneys, relishes,and rice dishes. Use ground ginger for baking in cakes, biscuits and in desserts. Pairs well with: Chilli, citrus, coconut, fish, garlic, meat, most vegetables, orchard fruits, poultry, rhubarb, seafood and soy sauce.
Nutmeg: A wonderful spice used in both sweet and savoury dishes from mashed potatoes, stews and casseroles to milk puddings and fruit desserts. It is best to buy whole nutmeg and grate it fresh rather than buying it ground. Pairs well with: Cardamom, cheese, chicken, couscous, eggs, lamb, milk, onions, potatoes, root vegetables, spinach and squashes.
Onion Seeds: Also known as Nigella seed. Add to curries and pickles or sprinkle seeds on breads and savoury pastries before baking. Pairs well with: All spice, coriander, cumin, potatoes, rice, root vegetables and star anise.
Paprika: Sweet, hot or smoked. Use sweet or hot in soups, tagines and as a garnish. Use smoked as a rub. Pairs well with: Sweet and hot- most meats and vegetables. Smoked- Eggs, fish, onions, pork and sausages.
Peppercorns: Black peppercorns- use whole to flavour liquids like stocks and marinades or freshly ground for everything else. White peppercorns- in clear or pale sauces. Pairs well with: Fish, game, herbs, oils, meats, salt, seafood, spices and strawberries.
Saffron: Used in fish soups and stews, also in risottos, paellas and in baking. Infuse the strands and add in early to enrich the colour or later for a stronger flavour. (This stuff is more expensive by the gram than gold). Pairs well with: Asparagus, chicken, eggs, fish, game, leeks, mayonnaise, mushrooms, seafood, spinach and squashes.
Star Anise: Used in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking, also good for fish and seafood dishes and with poaching fruit and mulled wine. Pairs well with: Chicken, cinnamon, chilli, coriander, fennel, figs, fish, garlic, ginger, leeks, meat, pears, root vegetables, seafood and tropical fruits.
Vanilla Pods: Use whole and split to flavour poached fruit, sugar, milk and desserts. Scrape out seeds for creams, custards and ice cream. Also use pure vanilla extract (liquid) or vanilla paste in baking. Pairs well with: apples, chocolate, cream, milk, rhubarb, seafood, strawberries and sugar.
*Images from Google images of all herbs and spice