Spices can take food from ordinary to extraordinary. They definitely can perk up dishes and give them flair. When you cook foods with the right blend that complement a dish, the question that is always asked by family and friends is "What did you use?"
I'm sure you've noticed when dining in certain restaurants, most likely you will see detailed information telling you of the how they are incorporated into a dish. For a lot of people who like their food prepared this way, it is a deciding factor on which dish they will choose.
There is a misconceived notion that this particular kind of food is hot. In my opinion, I think this is only partially true. I believe there are different degrees of spiciness when it comes to the heat factor. For some people, the hotter, the better. And for some, a little heat is all they need. It really is about well-seasoned food with lots of FLAVOR.
In the world of seasonings, there is a vast variety to be had. Most can be bought at your local supermarket. For more uncommon spices, you may have to take a trip to a store, which have these hard to find items. The Internet of course, makes it even more convenient to find them.
From time to time, I personally use a company called Penzey Spices for a supply to keep on hand in the kitchen. Their products are a lot better than what you would receive at your local supermarket. They have everything from dried shallots to cilantro. You can browse online at their website or request a catalog.
When cooking with herbs, most people use dried because of the convenience and because they are readily available. I use mostly dried for everyday meals. But, on occasion, when I am preparing certain dishes, nothing beats the flavor of fresh herbs. Be aware if a recipes calls for fresh and all you have is dried on hand, remember to use only half of what is called for because dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor.
A spice is an aromatic part of a plant with lots of flavor. Herbs on the other hand are leaves of plants, which are used to flavor food. To those of you who are new to cooking with spices, learn to be creative in the kitchen by using them in some of your meals.
To add spice to your food, take something as simple as a roasted chicken. Brush the whole chicken with a light coating of butter. Secondly, add salt and pepper. Lastly, sprinkle the chicken with fresh or dried rosemary. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil before roasting in the oven. Want it spicier? Try adding a Cajun seasoning instead of the salt and pepper.
In my introduction, I will explain to you, some of the common ones used in the ethnic cuisines of Jamaica, Mexico, Spain, Cajun Creole and African American Soul Food.
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