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A To Z of Spices (Part 1)


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ALLSPICE: These small dark, reddish-brown berries are so called because their aroma and flavor resemble a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Use berries whole in marinades; for boiling and pot roasting meats and poultry; in fish dishes, pickles and chutneys. Also available ground and excellent for flavoring soups, sauces and desserts.
 
ANISE: Commonly called asniseed, these small, brown oval seeds have the sweet, pungent flavor of licorice. Also available ground. Use seeds in stews and vegetable dishes, or sprinkle over loaves and rolls before baking. Try ground anise for flavoring fish dishes and pastries for fruit pies.
 
CARAWAY: Small brown, crescent-shaped seeds with a strong liquorice flavor and especially delicious as a flavoring in braised cabbage and sauerkraut recipes, breads (particularly rye), cakes and cheeses.
 
CARDAMOM: Small, triangular-shaped pods containing numerous small black seeds which have a warm, highly aeromatic flavor. You can buy green or black cardamoms although the smaller green type is more widely available.
 
CAYENNE: Orangey-red in color, this ground pepper is extremely hot and pungent. Not to be confused with paprika which, although related, is mild flavored.
 
CHILI POWDER: Made from dried red chilies. This red powder varies in flavor and hotness, from mild to hot. A less fiery type is found in chili seasoning.
 
CINNAMON & CASSIA: Shavings of bark from the cinnamon tree are processed and curled to form cinnamon sticks. Also available in ground form. Spicy, fragrant and sweet, it is used widely in savory and sweet dishes. Cassia (from the dried bark of the cassia tree) is similar to cinnamon, but less delicate in flavor with a slight pungent 'bite'.
 
CLOVES: These dried, unopened flower buds give a warm aroma and pungency to foods, but should be used with care as the flavor can become overpowering. Available in ground form. Cloves are added to soups, sauces, mulled drinks, stewed fruits and apple pies.
 
CORIANDER: Available in seed and ground form. These tiny, pale brown seeds have a mild, spicy flavor with a slight orange peel fragrance. An essential spice in curry dishes, but also extremely good in many cake and cookie recipes.
 
CUMIN: Sold in seed or ground. Cumin has a warm, pungent aromatic flavor and is used extensively in flavor curries and many Middle Eastern and Mexican dishes. Popular in Germany for flavoring sauerkraut and pork dishes. Use ground or whole in meat dishes and stuffed vegetables.
 
All spices should be stored in small airtight jars in a cool, dark place, as heat, moisture and sunlight reduce their flavor.
 
From Gemini's MASSIVE MealMaster collection at www.synapse.com/~gemini