Herbs and Spices - Fenugreek to Marjoram

FENUGREEK (Herb):  Fenugreek has three culinary uses: as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), as a spice (seeds), and as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). The distinctive cuboid yellow to amber coloured fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. The seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes, such as panch phoron and sambar powder. Fenugreek seeds are used both whole and in powdered form and are are often roasted to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavor. Dried fenugreek leaves, called kasuri methi (or kasoori methi or qasuri methi) in North India and Pakistan, after the region of Kasur (Qasur) in Punjab, Pakistan province, where fenugreek grows abundantly, are used as an herb in a wide variety of dishes and breads. The dried leaves have a somewhat bitter taste and a characteristically strong but pleasant fragrance. Fenugreek is also used as a vegetable. Fresh fenugreek leaves are a main ingredient in many Indian curries. The sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads. When harvested as microgreens, fenugreek is known as Samudra Methi in Maharashtra, especially in and around Mumbai, where it is often grown near the sea in the sandy tracts, hence the name (Samudra means "ocean" in Sanskrit).

FINES HERBES (Blend):  A French term for fine herbs. These are combinations of several herbs which are used in stews, soups, fish sauces, fish and meat stuffings, and other recipes. The herbs are mixed, finely chopped, and added to food just before serving. For example, in pork dishes 1 tablespoon each of sage, basil, and savory are sometimes used this way.

GARLIC (Spice):  Bulbous root of lily family plant, strong, pungent. Sold as fresh bulbs of cloves, powdered, minced, and juiced. A clove a day keeps the doctor away. So 'tis said.

Uses: Sauces, soups, dips, marinades, salad dressings, garlic bread, and garlic butter.

GARLIC SALT (Condiment):  Ground garlic cloves mixed with salt. Gives famous French and Italian dishes their distinction.

Uses: It's a convenient way to get the tangy garlic flavor and aroma. Use it in addition to or in place of plain salt in many dishes. Add it to tomato juice, salad dressings, salads, meat, vegetable, spaghetti dishes, and on steaks-just before broiling.

GINGER (Spice):  This is the pungent-flavored root (rhizome) of a plant grown in Jamaica, China, Japan. Spicy, sweet, hot, savory. Sold as roots, crystallized, candied or ground. Rhizomes vs. ground are entirely different flavors.

Uses: Preserved in syrup or candied, ginger is a pepper-upper of many a sauce and pudding. Gingerbread, ginger cookies, and like baked products make use of the ground dried spice. Try chopped candied ginger in sauce for ham or chicken, or add it to a meringue or whipped cream topping for pumpkin pie. Add a pinch of powdered ginger to hot cider or wine.

JUNIPER (Spice):  Fruit of the juniper bush, slightly bitter. Sold as berries. The flavor of gin.

Uses: Game meats, poultry and pâtés.

MACE (Spice):  Fleshy orange-red skin covering nutmeg, the fruit of an evergreen tree. Native to Molucca (Spice) Islands. Has a softer flavor than nutmeg itself. Sold as whole (blades) or ground. Said to improve mental powers and intellect.

Uses: Ground, gives pound cake golden color and exotic flavor. Makes cherry pie a gourmet dish. Good in sauces, meat stuffings. Add a teaspoonful to 1 pint whipped cream to increase delicacy. The whole mace (called blade mace) is used most often in pickling and sauces. Try a chopped blade in stewed cherries or gingerbread batter.

MARJORAM (Herb):  Dried leaf of grey-green herb of mint family. Imported from France, South America. Aromatic with slightly bitter aftertaste. Sold whole or ground. Greek symbol of happiness. Rubs for sprains.

Uses: It has a thousand uses - stews, gravies, roasts, fish, omelets, poultry seasonings, in the manufacture of sausage. May be used as a herb salad. Sprinkle dried marjoram leaves into lamb dishes; use powdered marjoram on lima beans, peas, green beans. When used discreetly, the mint relationship of marjoram can be capitalized upon for fruit salads. Most packers use quantities of marjoram for their many loaves, liverwurst, bologna, etc.

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