Spice

  • Time Travel Chicken (1/4/2016)

    ChickenPorcini

    A brush of snow on the ground, heater running full blast, sweaters, slippers, a hot beverage… Yes, Winter has arrived and it’s time to get on that ‘Culinary Bus’ and head to the kitchen to create something that zings with flavors of warmer places and seasons!

    Porcini Mushrooms speak of Spring and hope for warmth!  Chefs and Foodies quiver with delight as these morsels hit the market every year.  So, being January, I delved into my stash of dried Porcini to create this dish!

    How to season this particular bird… A rub of ground Porcini will give it a rich earthy aroma and hints of the reawakening forest floor, but more is needed to convince my palate that, indeed, it will be Spring again!  Taking my nose through the spice jars led to Sri Lankan Curry!curry_sri_lankan_wholeThis beautiful blend of Indian Coriander Seed, Cumin Seed, Cinnamon, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Cardamom Seed, Japones, Black and Tellicherry Peppercorn, and Cloves from Seattle’s World Spice Market added exactly the right amount of Zing, Pow, Bam needed to make this a highly memorable dish!

    After roasting the bird, use the drippings and a few more chopped porcini to make a risotto.  Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Mi Masa Su Masa (4/20/2015)

    masa fish n plantains
    So many gluten free flour blends are heavy with rice flour.  These tend to magnify my waistline…  A perusal of my pantry turned up a lovely bag of masa harina; corn that has been soaked in lime, then ground into a flour.  This made a spectacular light coating for the long-line rockfish I picked up at Town & Country’s Central Market in Shoreline today.

    Cut your fish into serving size pieces, salt each side and dust lightly with the masa.  Brown on each side in hot olive oil.  Top with a mixture of fresh mango and minced jalapeno.  Pop into a preheated 400 degree oven.  You want to cook rockfish fully.  It will be flaky, white throughout and no longer opaque.

    To complete my theme I served the delicate fish with Abenaki’s Corn Polenta.  I picked up this beautiful multi-hued polenta from the people that grow the corn, grind it with utmost care and then sell it at the Eugene, Oregon farmer’s market a few weeks ago.  This is some of the best polenta I have encountered, to date. I cooked it with fresh stock and a squeeze of lime to bring out the lovely corn flavor. Check out their website www.lonesomewhistlefarm.com

    For some fun texture I made my own version of tostones; double fried green plantain.  Simply score the plantain down each side, snip the ends and pop into the microwave until soft and the skin is dark brown/black.  One large plantain took about three and a half minutes in my microwave.  Once the fruit is soft, let it cool just enough to handle and remove the skin.  Cut into 12-14 rounds.  The recipes I’ve seen call for all manner of methods to ‘smash’ the rounds, but being a chef with ‘cast-iron’ hands (who needs fingerprints, anyway!) I placed them between two pieces of wax paper and smooshed them fairly flat with the heel of my hand.  You could use a glass, a plate, a pan, whatever is handy.  Now fry them on one side in olive oil in a cast iron pan.  Turn them over in the oil and place the pan into your 400 degree oven with the fish, until they are done.  I made mine fairly crisp, but do them how ever you prefer.  They can even be cooked extra crisp and served with a dip for a fun appetizer.

    Some zucchini sauteed with World Spice’s Caribbean Curry and a bit of fresh minced cilantro to finish!  It was VERY quiet around the dinner table at my house!
    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Fishing For Sunshine (1/20/2015)

    caribbeanFishjpg
    I have a large desire to find myself surrounded by jungles, sand, soft breezes and the lulling sound of Caribbean water lapping the shore… Yeah, I know, not happening, but I can fool my taste buds, for a little while, anyway…

    Pretty cod, pan seared with Gluten Free flour, sits atop sweet potato, dusted with a blend of Turmeric, Allspice Berry, Indonesian Cassia, Cumin Seed, Indian Coriander Seed, Ginger Powder, Cardamom Seed, Tellicherry Black Peppercorn, Nutmeg, and Habanero, is then roasted with coconut, jalapeno and lime zest.  Fresh lime makes a side of escarole sing sultry tunes.  Cilantro lingers for a pungent reminder:  The Sun is always shining somewhere in the World!

    Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

    caribbean

  • In Search of Romance (1/19/2015)

    MoroccanPork
    Morocco, a land of romance, camels, sand, and history.  A past that colors the food of it’s present with flavors hailing from France, Spain and North Africa. tagineBraised dishes are very popular in Moroccan cuisine.  They are typically prepared in an earthenware pot called a tajine or tagine which is also the name of the dish when complete.  The pot can be found painted or glazed.  The domed lid traps the rising moisture and directs it back into the food below.

    The tagine is so pretty and fun, it makes me want to create!  But, if you don’t have one, don’t fret, you can obtain the same results with any good braising pot or dutch oven.

    Make your braise the same way you normally would.  You are merely adding some different ingredients and spices to recreate the flavors of this exotic destination.

    The pictured dish above was a quick version.  Using left over roasted pork shoulder, I put this tempting creation together in a little over an hour.  Most of that time was spent in the oven!

    To create mine, saute minced onion with julienne sweet pepper and a hot chili.  Add bite sized pieces of pork, or other roasted protein, chopped pitted dates, dried apricots, raisins, pine nuts, lemon jest & juice and stock.  Now season with salt, pepper and ras al hanout.  This is a North African spice blend.  The name is Arabic for “the best of the shop”.  Each shop has their own blend and guards their recipe jealously.  You can anticipate the flavors of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, clove, nutmeg, dry ginger, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, mace, alspice, fenugreek, chili pepper and dried turmeric.  Depending on where the blend hails from, it might also include ingredients like:  ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, fennel seed or aniseed, galangal and/or long pepper.  Fun!!

    A typical Moroccan tagine is served over cous cous.  For a gluten free side, try using quinoa.

    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Belly Dancer’s Spice? (1/16/2015)

    fenugreek The scent of Fenugreek seeds tend to make me think of Belly Dancers, for whatever reason.  It’s beautiful, exotic essence perfumes the very air; transporting me to a place dark with romance and secrets.

    Fenugreek is used in many varied cuisines:  India, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, as well as an ingredient in traditional Yemenite Jewish New Year dishes.

    You have probably encountered this spice in curries.  Fenugreek’s fresh or dried leaves are used as an herb and the fresh leaves, sprouts and micro-greens are a delightful addition to your vegetable choices. Fenugreek’s distinctive sweet smell is from the chemical component, Sotolon.

    The smell of the seeds is reminiscent of so many things, that it can be a challenge to one’s nose to identify exactly what has your attention so thoroughly.  It’s pungent sweet, yet bitter aromas may make you think of burnt sugar, caramel, maple syrup, chocolate, coffee, or even, celery.  Actually, it is an ingredient in artificial maple syrup.

    Such a broad spectrum makes it a favorite in my spice cabinet.  Besides it’s natural affinity to all the ingredients from that exotic side of our globe, it is fun to add in unexpected places.  Why not?  It’s beautiful with cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.  Try using a titch of toasted, ground seeds in an omelet.  Add the same to plain yogurt, with herbs, to create a spectacular sauce for chicken, fish or maybe a lentil soup!  Fenugreek also works well with tomatoes, so imagine a sauce featuring toasted ground seeds, garlic, chilies and fresh herbs.  Try this sauce with pasta or as a base to roast chicken breasts.

    It’s time for me to stop tormenting you with these ideas!  Get in the kitchen and cook!  Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

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