Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Accessories

Spices are like accessories to your food wardrobe.  Sometimes you want that blouse (or zucchini) to sing it's own song, unhindered by the most delicate necklace (or oregano).  And sometimes accessories bring out the best (or hide the worst) in your clothes.  When I moved to Israel I had to start from scratch with my edible wardrobe.  I've had the opportunity to try new things, but I've also shied away from things I  rarely used in America.  There were some spices I counted on to be there for me, even though they didn't often make it past my nose, into my food.

I know you're supposed to throw out your spices every six months to three years (depending on who you ask).  But, is my mom the only one with the same container of paprika the entire time I lived at home?  FYI, if you have anything in a McCormick tin, it's at least 15 years old.  Let it go!  (Mom, how old is that jar of bay leaves?  I think I saw it in my baby pictures.)  I sent my mom some fresh sweet paprika and smoked paprika and I bought myself some fresh cumin.  Boy does it make a difference.  Spices you thought you never liked sing a different song when they haven't been sitting on your counter for a couple years.

After my authentic Israeli friends, Michal and Tzippy, said my hummus tasted too American, I decided to employ their help to add some new flavors to my repertoire.  Below are a few of the things I bought outside the shuk recently that you may or may not see show up in my cooking.  Next time I'm going to buy a couple bay leaves (I've never used them, but cooking with bay leaves seems like a very adult thing to do) and see if they have "Herbs de Provence" (great on everything that grows on or under ground).

Black eyed peas - Hannah said these are tasty and can be cooked in the microwave (which I don't have.)  Here is a guide to bean cook times.
Flax seed - when I bought these I just knew they were very healthy but I didn't know how I planned to use them.  I might try to incorporate them into my pretzel project today.
Loozina - candy made of quince and covered in coconut. 
Mix for rice - includes dried onions, bell pepper, carrot, dill and other herbs and spices.  I used it for this rice.
Black lentils - these tiny lentils have a wonderful mouth feel.  I made them with curry powder, olive oil, and sea salt.  Next time I want to try pesto and sun dried tomatoes blended smooth. 
Quinoa - I will try this with the rice mixes or make quinoa tabouleh
Cinnamon sticks
Split chick peas - hoping for an extra creamy hummus
Another mix for rice - this one has pistachios and different spices.  The store I went to makes their own mixes and had a lot of different fresh mixes with cranberried, almonds, and more.
Dried Apricots (mish-mish)
Cashews - snacking and chinese stir fry
Dried cherries

Rose water (one drop per kilogram of confection), chrystalized garlic (to top potatoes, etc), Silan- pure date syrup (I use this in everything from teryaki salmon, pasta salad, coleslaw, and confections, it tastes a lot like molasses), miso, ground coriander, Indian Curry (Michal says this is good in tehina dip), dill, sea salt.

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