Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Spice University - Rose

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel with an additional contribution from my friend Philomena Ashdown


O, my love's like a red, red rose - Robert Burns A Red, Red Rose

You just can't talk about a rose without invoking the spirit of love and romance. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love referred to as Aphrodite and Venus. Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses (including Isis and Aphrodite), and is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Roses are so important that the word means pink or red in a variety of languages (such as the Romance languages, Greek, and Polish).

In Ancient Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where secret or confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or "under the rose", means to keep a secret — derived from this ancient Roman practice.

Grown for thousands of years, roses were cultivated as much for their culinary and medicinal uses as for their beauty and fragrance. I could go on and on about roses, as growing them is one of my favorite hobbies, but I won’t. Rose hips are eaten because of their high vitamin C content. Rose hips are used for making vinegar, syrups, preserves, herbal tea, and wines. Flower petals are added to salads and desserts, crystallized, made into jellies, jams, and conserves. Distilled rose water is used to flavor confectionery and desserts, especially in Middle Eastern dishes. This would indicate that they are mainly used in sweets, but rose petals are also found in the savory Moroccan spice mix, ras el hanout, and in North African sausages.

Culinary rose essence can be found in Asian or Indian grocery and spice stores. In China, native rose species (e.g., R. rugosa) have long been used as a source for floral scents in perfumery and for producing rose-flavored black tea.

For centuries, the divine fragrance of rose has been captured and preserved in the form of rose water by the simple process of steam distillation of fresh rose petals with water. It is an ancient method that can be traced back to biblical times in the Middle East, and later to the Indian sub-continent. Rose oil and rose concrete are produced in larger quantities than rose water. The world production of these was estimated to be fifteen to twenty ton in 1986 (the most recent figures I can find), with Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, France, and Italy being the largest producers.

This months guest chef is Philomena Ashdown. She is actually an attorney, but is a great cook.

Colonel De and I befriended each other through our common love for spices and cooking and then found out that we also had another common business connection. He asked that I share recipes with his blog using the rose flavor. So here I am, a transplant to Cincinnati from Madras nka Chenna, India, with my ethnic roots from Mangalore.

Long before Nestle invented strawberry syrups and other flavorings, Indian cuisine had “Rose Essence”, used mostly for desserts and drinks. The delicate rose flavor has a more sharp yet delicate aroma than saffron but because it is less expensive, it is used commonly in desserts sold by the ubiquitous road-side “Mithai walla” (Mithai- means “sweet” – sweets vendor). In India, “sweetmeat” or “sweets” refers to desserts.
The “Mithais” sold by the roadside are also identified by their vibrant colors- almost neon-like pinks and greens, so much so that even fabric colors are also described as “mithai pink or mithai orange ” as opposed to the “peacock blue”, “parrot green “ or “sunflower yellow”.

Since rose essence is colorless, recipes call for adding a touch of red food coloring to make the dish slightly pink, so as to enhance the “rose” connection. You can pick up rose essence at any Indian grocery store.

The most common recipe using rose essence is the drink called “Falooda”. As with most Indian recipes, there can be numerous variations of the same dish, so here is my personal adaptation of this drink recipe.



Kheer (Rice Pudding)from Philomena Saldanha Ashdown
Spinach Salad w/ Walnuts & Feta w/ Rose Petals
Sharbat Gulab from Philomena Saldanha Ashdown
Soji Halwa (Cream of Wheat Bars from Philomena Saldanha Ashdown

Colonel De Stewart

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it might be a good time to revisit one of my favorite topics, brining. It is hard to find a better flavor than a properly brined chicken or turkey. I have attached one of my articles about brining. Learn what it is, how to do it, what ingredients you will need, as well as other usful tips.

Click for everything you ever wanted to know about brining, and more.

Thank you for your participation in Spice University.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Spice University - Curry Powder

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Curry Powder, Curry Leaves Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii

Curry Powder, Curry Leaves and the British Empire

I think it is probably time to talk about on of the more pervasive and at the same time confusing blends. There are some blends that are so popular that you need to include them in any list of regular herbs and spices. One of these is a blend called curry powder. Packaged curry powder was probably a British invention. Hoping to export to England the flavors they had enjoyed in India, the British likely took back with them one of the southern spice mixtures - perhaps a kari podi (curry powder) or a sambar podi (sambar powder). This blend was added to Western style flour bound stews that were then dubbed curries. Indian cooks do not use a single spice mixture to flavor their cooking. Rather each dish is flavored individually with a combination of spices, called a masala, that may be simple or complex and that varies with the individual cook, the dish, and the region.

Along with tea, curry powder is a true Pan Asian ingredient. It is popular and heavily used in Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Thai, and other South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines, though curry has been adopted into all of the mainstream cuisines of the Asia-Pacific region. Dishes that are often classified as curries in Europe and America are rarely considered curries in their native countries. This is because we have a tendency to just add curry powder to a dish we already know and think that it is then a curry dish. Curry dishes from the Asian-Pacific region require a lot of preparation and a lot of cooking. We also do not use hot chilis as often in our curry dishes as they are used in Pan Asian dishes.

Curry powder should not be confused with curry leaves. In India the leaves of this shrub are called curry patta. They have long been used in Southern India and Sri Lanka. Curry powder is a blend of many spices, curry leaves being only one of many spices used. In addition to being used in curries, fresh curry leaves are also used in chutneys. So what the heck is chutney, I hear some of you asking. Culinarily speaking, a chutney (and there are several hundred different ones) is a thick sauce of Indian origin that contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is used as a condiment.

Curry leaves are as important to Asian food as bay leaves are to European food, but you would never substitute one for the other. A word of caution, when added to hot oil, fresh curry leaves will spatter, so stand back and have your spatter screen ready. Curry leaves will also burn easily, so steady as she goes. If fresh curry leaves are pulverized in a blender, they make a great contribution in a chutney. Chopped tender leaves are delicious in an omelet or scrambled eggs.

Get to know Indian and Asian cuisines; they have a lot of different flavors to offer and they are usually much healthier than our typical Western fare.

This months guest chef is Marilyn Harris.


Curried Scallops
Lentils with Goat Cheese & Wilted Spinach on Sautéed Portabella Mushroom
Coconut Chutney
Spinach Salad w/ Berries & Curry Dressing
Curried Rice Salad

Colonel De Stewart

Monday, October 05, 2009

Spice University - Nigella

A Little Spice of Life
From the Colonel

Nigella sativa

There is a lot of confusion about the name of this spice. Nigella seeds are also known as kalonji, black cumin, black caraway or black onion seeds. They are the tiny, tear-drop shaped seeds of a small plant whose beautiful flowers have been known for a long time as Love-In-A-Mist. To make matters worse the seeds are sometimes confused with black sesame seeds which have a similar size and color. In an effort to clear up some of the confusion, let me point out that there really is a black cumin seed (kala jeera) and some onion seeds are very similar, but they are not nigella seeds and would not taste the same in a dish. True onion seeds tend to have little, if any, flavor and the flavor that they do have tends to be rather unpleasant.

Nigella’s main application area is Turkey, Lebanon and Iran. From Iran, nigella usage spread to Northern India, particularly Punjab and Bengal, where the spice is mostly used for vegetable dishes. Their dusty jet black color and earthy, distinct onion flavor is an essential part of Panch Phoran (Indian Five Spice), a Bengali spice mixture.

The black seeds taste oniony yet some say they taste like oregano crossed with pepper. Most people use it as a "pepper" in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads and poultry. Because of nigella seeds crunchy texture, it is sprinkled over soft tandoor-baked breads, such as naan, as is done in Northern India. While the seeds are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, in the Balkan region it is sometimes used with or instead of peppercorns in a pepper mill.


Bengali Fish Curry
Potatoes With Crushed Nigella Seeds
Naan with Nigella Seeds

Colonel De Stewart

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Spice University - Vegetable Powders

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Carrot powder? What do I do with that?

Most of us are familiar with herb and spice powders, for example, allspice, cumin, basil, mustard, and rosemary are available in powder form to name a few. We use these when we are trying not to introduce a coarse or chewy ingredient into a particular dish. The powder will tend to blend in and not be noticed for its texture, but just for its taste and flavor. But, what about vegetable powders? I’m going to ignore the two most common vegetable powders, onion and garlic, since most of us have used them at least once. There are some who would argue whether they are vegetables or not. Beside, there are others lurking in the shadows of our cookery just waiting to be discovered and used.

What are they and how do I use them? I would like to cover three with you. The first is beet root powder. I happen to be one of those strange individuals that really like beets. It has even been suggested to me, by my eye doctor, that I should try to eat even more beets. Turns out beets are rich in beta carotene. This is the stuff that is very good for your eyes. It has been my experience, that I do not belong to a very big club. A lot of folks just don’t care for them. Let’s get back to beet powder. Beets are actually very sweet. A lot, I would say most, of the sugar that we eat today doesn’t come from sugar cane, as we would rightly assume, but the sugar actually comes from beets. How they get the beets from red to white is a whole other class. Let’s just say that they do that transformation everyday. This information should give you a hint as to how you might use beet powder. Since it is very red, you may use it to dye or add red color to almost any dish. Some anti-chemical folks will use it to dye Easter eggs. But besides the color, what we are really after here is the sweetness. In the winter and early spring it is hard to get good fresh local vegetables. The ones we can get can turn a little bitter as you cook them. Simple solution, add beet powder. It won’t give the food a beet flavor, you don’t use that much. It simply sweetens the dish without having to resort to processed sugar.

If the red color is really bothersome to you, there is another powder that can be used in exactly the same way and doesn’t turn everything red. Meet carrot powder. Carrot powder has a very slight orange cast, but won’t turn food orange when used. Like beets, carrots are also very sweet, so the addition of carrot powder is another way of turning bitter dishes sweet without going to our old friend processed sugar. Check with your doctor, but most of the time even those with sugar problems can use beet and carrot powder without adversely affecting their sugar levels. You can also use these powders to sweeten drinks like tea and fruit drinks.

The final vegetable powder brings us full circle. Let’s say that we have a dish we are making and all of a sudden it goes very sweet. What can we do? It is tomato powder to the rescue. Since it is also red, it can be a bit tricky, but if you are careful you can add just enough tomato powder so that the acidic nature of tomatoes tames the sweetness. Tomato powder is also good when you want to enrich a dish that already has tomatoes in it, but the flavor is still somewhat flat. Like I mentioned before, during the winter and early spring tomatoes seem to lack in flavor. An easy remedy is to add a little tomato powder. Adding it to tomato soup is like giving your soup a wonderful tomato infusion. Give it a try.


Since these powders are used to enhance a dish and therefore are not an integral ingredient in the dish, I am going to turn the recipe portion over to you. Once you have experimented with these powders, drop off or send your recipes to me by e-mail and I will publish some of the best.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Calendar of Upcoming Events for September

September is another very busy month. If you are local to the Greater Cincinnati area, I hope that you will try to attend some of these pretty cool events.

September 20th is Lunch on the Land. This event features 10 chefs from the Greater Cincinnati area combined into 5 teams of 2 each. Each team is in charge of a different course of a 5 course meal. The proceeds from this event will go to Findlay Market Foundation. The participating chefs are: Julie Francis chef/owner Nectar, Victor Brown chef Molly Malone, Jody Miller chef/owner Bouchards, Luke Radkey sous chef University Club, Joanne Drilling chef Slims, Jean Robert deCavel chef in residence Summit at Midwest Culinary Institute, Debbie Spangler chef/owner Yummy~issimo!, Colonel De Stewart chef/owner Herbs & Spice and Everything Nice, Matt Madison owner Madisono's Gelato, Summer Gimetti Pastry Chef Palace at the Cincinnatian Hotel, and Josh Campbell chef/owner World Food Bar. Unfortunately the event has sold out, but a waiting list has been started. To be put on the waiting list, please call Karen Kahle at the Corporation for Findlay Market at 513-665-4839. You can still enter to win a pair of tickets to the event. Just click Donate/Reason for Payment/Raffle. Tickets are $10 each for a chance to win a pair of tickets valued at $250. Who knows, you could be the lucky winner joining local food enthusiasts and chefs at this unique food event.

September 21st Salt Presentation for the American Culinary Federation at the Millennium Hotel. This event is closed to the general public.

September 22nd Class on Salt cooking, salt curing, and salts in general with Chef Joanne Drilling and Chef Colonel De Stewart.

September 24 Come Together Culinary Event Join us as we welcome Chef Nick Tolbert the Midnight Gourmet, Rita Heikenfeld herbist extrodinare, and Chef Colonel De Stewart and sample some of their favorite recipes and feed your passion for gourmet cooking while showing your support for the Freestore Foodbank.

Ticket price is $15.

Please RSVP at 513-247-6411 and

*All proceeds from the event will benefit the the Freestore Foodbank . Ticket transaction will be completed at Macy's prior to the start of the event. Cash or Check only. Please make checks payable to the the Freestore Foodbank.Macy's KenwoodLower Level Thursday, September 24th 6pm

Community Foundation’s Key Event to be held September 26th
The North Ridge Realty Group’s 16th Annual Key Event will be held on Saturday, September 26th. Presented by Clark-Theders Insurance Agency, Inc., the Key Event draws more than 450 people, while raising more than $100,000 for the communities of West Chester and Liberty Townships. All proceeds from the event benefit The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty and the Community Grant Fund. The event begins at the Cincinnati Marriott North with a cocktail party that includes a live and silent auction. Upon arrival guests randomly pick a key that will reveal their dining location in one of the 25 homes in our community that have invited guests to enjoy an evening in their home. Each home will feature a premier chef from the area who will prepare a wonderful meal for all attendees. The evening concludes with an after party at the home of Dick and Patti Alderson.
All members of the West Chester and Liberty Township community are invited to the event.
Prior to the event, guests are encouraged to visit the Foundation’s website to preview the 12 baskets that will be featured in the basket raffle. Each basket features a different theme and can be viewed by clicking here Community members that are unable to attend the event, can pre-purchase raffle tickets for their chance to win one of the fabulous baskets.For more information about the event, please contact Melissa Benedict at 513-874-5450 or by email More Information

September 28th College of Mount St. Joseph Life Learn Program Legends and Forgotten Herbs

Three families of plants give us an abundance of herbs that we use today in our kitchens and one even gooes so far as to give us spices too. That makes these three families the Legends of Herbs and Spices. Is there a handful of herbs that we've forgotten to bring into the kitchen for a very long time? Let's see if we can bring them back again. 12:30 to 2:00pm Wellness Center, Mt. St. Joseph. Mailin registration only to LifeLearn Program, 5701 Delhi Road, Cincinnati, OH, 45233-1670.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spice University - Thyme

A Little Spice of Life
From the Colonel

Thymus vulgaris

One of the more popular herbs in the American cuisine is thyme. There are many varieties of thyme. The most common are garden thyme and wild thyme. Garden thyme is sometimes referred to as English thyme or common thyme. Wild thyme is preferred in French cuisine, where it is a widely used herb. Another variety, lemon thyme, is an exquisite blend of the earthiness of thyme and the pure freshness of lemon. Lemon thyme is achieved by crossing common thyme with wild thyme.

There are very few poultry, meat, or vegetable dishes that can't be improved with the use of thyme. Thyme is also used for soups, fish, and eggs. Thyme is one of the ingredients in Bouquet Garni (typically parsley, thyme, and bay). It is also one of the ingredients in Herbs de Provence (usually chervil, tarragon, savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, lavender and sometimes fennel). The only caution in using thyme is that, in general, you should use less than you think will be needed. Remember, it is much easier to add more should the flavor be too flat.

Thyme’s popularity is nearly global. It is a common herb in Britain second only to mint in popularity. In addition to the myriad uses in American cuisine, thyme is also used in Cajun and Creole cooking. Thyme is a key herb in several Asian cuisines, as well as, being found in Jamaican dishes and Central American foods.

When you can't find thyme (no pun intended), you could try young sage leaves and flowers.

This months guest chef is Marilyn Harris.


French Chicken in Red Wine
Pasta Salad w/Broccoli & Artichokes
Simple Savory Roasted Chicken
Italian Sausage Soup

Colonel De Stewart

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Spice University - Bay

A Little Spice of Life
From the Colonel

Bay laurel Laurus nobilis and California Bay laurel Umbellularia californica

Bay is the Herb of the Year for 2009 as selected by the International Herb Association. Each year this group chooses a different herb to reign as Herb of the Year creating greater awareness for each herb chosen.

This ancient herb, bay laurel, also known as true laurel, sweet bay, Grecian laurel, comes from a Mediterranean evergreen. It has long, narrow, pointed, dark, and leathery leaves. The flavor is between eucalyptus, mint, lemon and fresh cut grass and has been described as smoky & spicy. Don't confuse this with California bay which is what is usually sold here as bay leaves. The leaves have a similar shape, but the California bay leaf feels softer by comparison. The flavor is pungent, sweet, lemony, and spicy, with a hint of cloves and bizarrely, turpentine.

It is the source of the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, and then later the expression of "resting on one's laurels". In the Bible, the sweet-bay is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. It is also the source of the word baccalaureate (laurel berry), and of poet laureate.

We are always cautioned not to eat bay leaves. Why is that? The reason is rather simple. bay leaves are very tough and when broken or chewed display very sharp edges. Our systems have a difficult time breaking these leaves down and making them soft. So, as they move through our bodies, they become like small razors tracking through our systems. The swallowed leaves can cause serious injury to your esophagus, stomach and more. Always remove the bay leaves from whatever dish you have prepared.

If you are out of bay leaves you may substitute thyme.


Hearty Beef Stew
Paté Maison
Rabbit Stew
Urad Dhal

Colonel De Stewart

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Spice University - Lemon Balm

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Lemon balm Melissa officinalis

A great lemon flavor that, well, isn’t from the lemon. The mildest of the lemon group of herbs

A member of the mint family, lemon balm is used as a calmative. It was used in the Middle Ages to reduce anxiety and stress. As a native of Southern Europe, it is still very popular and widely available in Europe. In Central Europe, lemon balm is sometimes used to flavor sweet drinks.

Lemon balm has lemon scented mint like leaves that are most often used to make an aromatic tea called Tisane. Its slightly tart flavor is used in salads and with poultry and meat dishes. Lemon balm is often used as a flavoring in ice cream and herbal teas, both hot and iced.

Most of the time, lemon balm is used in combination with other herbs such as spearmint. It has a great affinity with fruit, especially apples and is also frequently paired with fruit dishes or candies. Lemon balm can be used to add zest to sweet or tangy dishes. Besides spearmint mentioned earlier, it works well with allspice, bay leaves, mint, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Lemon balm is also great in fruit salads, green salads, herb butters, fruit drinks, and sorbets.

It can be used in egg dishes, custards, soups and casseroles. It is a delicious complement in stuffing for poultry, lamb or pork. Its subtle lemon flavor is perfect for sauces and marinades for fish. Lemon balm and chervil are also a good combination. Use lemon balm leaves for any dish containing lemon juice to get a more intense lemon aroma. If you are a pesto fan, like I am, try substituting lemon balm for basil in a batch of pesto. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

As balm, this herb is mentioned in the Bible. If there is no lemon balm to be had try lemon grass or lemon verbena.


Smoked Salmon with Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm Syrup
Honey & Lemon Balm Tea Cookies
Lemon Balm Liqueur

Colonel De Stewart

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spice University - Dill

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Dill Anethum graveolens

Dill means pickling and so much more

Dill weed has been around for thousands of years. Romans in the first century were convinced that dill brought good luck. The name dill, probably came from the Saxon word dillan, to lull, for its ability to soothe colicky babies and for the Greek tradition of covering the head with dill leaves to induce sleep.

Dill leaves have a flavor that is pungent and slightly tangy, almost caraway tasting. Dill is one of the best complements for many foods not to mention their importance to dill pickles. Fresh leaves loose their flavor quickly when being cooked. For this reason it is always best to add them as near the end of the cooking cycle as possible. The herb is sold as both fresh and dried. There is quite a difference between the flavor of fresh and dried dill weed. While heat is the enemy of fresh and dried dill leaves, it brings out the flavor of the seeds. Dill seed, actually the fruit of the herb, are more strong and pungent than their counterpart, leaves. Dill seeds are the part of the dill plant used most often in its namesake dill pickles.

The characteristic, sweet taste of dill is popular all over Europe, Western, Central and Southern Asia. In Europe, it is mostly used for bread, vegetable (especially cucumber), pickles, and fish; for the last application, the leaves are preferred. It is also indispensable for herb flavored vinegars.

In North Eastern Europe and Russia, dill is popular for pickled vegetables, which are produced in great variety, usually by pickling in vinegar. Fresh dill sprigs are mandatory in most recipes of that kind. In these regions with long, cold winters, preserved vegetables are an important source of vitamins and fresh flavor for the otherwise dull winter diet. Dill is also one of the few herbs used in the cooking of the Baltic states, where chopped dill is a frequent decoration on various foods (e.g., boiled potatoes), similar to the use of parsley and chives in other European countries.

Fresh dill leaves (dill weed) is a kind of “national spice” in Scandinavian countries, where fish or shellfish dishes are usually either directly flavored with dill or served together with sauces containing dill. German cooks also tend to use dill mostly for fish soups and stews. Dill reached the Northern latitudes probably via medieval monasteries, where it was grown as a medicinal herb.

Dill has, however, retained its popularity in its original homeland, Asia. Dried dill shows up in Georgia's (Russian Georgia not the US Georgia) famous spice mixture, khmeli-suneli and is also quite popular in Iran, where dill weed is usually employed for bean dishes, e.g., rice with boiled lima beans, baghali polo.

In India, however, dried dill fruits are occasionally used to flavor the lentil and bean dishes known as dal.


Dill Lemon Cod or Salmon
Carrot Sticks and Dill
Marinated Vegetable Salad

Colonel De Stewart

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spice University - Nutmeg

A Little Spice of Life
From the Colonel

Nutmeg - Myristica fragrans

As far as I know, (and I am counting on you out there to set me straight), there are only three rather common plants that give us two very different spices from each plant. Eventually we will cover them all, but let’s start with, nutmeg and mace. I’ll give mace its due in a future article, but mace is the somewhat lacy cover of the nut that we call nutmeg. There is one more plant that does this but in our European based cuisine we rarely use either one. I'm talking about fenugreek seeds and fenugreek leaves. Never the less, we will cover these as well, some time later.

When Columbus sailed off and found a continent we all know and love, one of the spices he was looking for was nutmeg. Native to the Spice Islands, the seed of the nutmeg tree (a tropical evergreen) was very popular throughout the world from the 15th to the 19th century. In Colonial times in America, if you were invited to a fancy meal, even if it were being hosted by President George the First, you were expected to bring your own nutmeg, which you would grind onto the meat dish. You brought your own because it was too expensive for your host to provide. You used it on the meat of the feast in an effort to cover up the bad flavor of the usually partially rotted meat. Remember, no refrigeration back then.

Nutmeg can be used on savory things, as in the example of the meat above. It is still good used on meat, though these days the meat is usually not as rotten. But, we also love nutmeg in sweet dishes. In the Southern tradition a fruit pie just isn’t quite ready to be cooked if there isn’t some nutmeg in it. During the Holiday Season, I won’t drink my Egg Nog if there isn’t a good brisk brushing of nutmeg on top.

Nutmeg is best freshly grated. The flavor is delicately warm, spicy, and sweet.

If you don't have nutmeg, try using mace, but be gentle as mace is much stronger.

This first recipe was accidentally left off of last month's list of recipes for chives. It is by my very dear friend Rita Heikenfeld. This is a "must try" recipe.

Shaker Herb Soup

These recipes are for this month's spice, nutmeg.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Bread
Melon Soup
Scalloped Oysters 2

Colonel De Stewart

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Calendar of Upcoming Events for April

April is a very busy month. First, is a wonderful class at Mt. St. Joe, here in Cincinnati on Trivia, Myths and Legends of Spices. This event is on Tuesday the 7th of April.

For the third year in a row Herbs & Spice and Everything Nice will be a part of the Fine Food Show which occurs during the first weekend of the very popular Cincinnati Flower Show. Please stop by and say hello. The details are below. Click on the image below for more information.

Next event is 1 Night 12 Kitchens at Midwest Culinary Institute. It is on April 26th. I will be doing a salt tasting in one of the kitchens. This event provides for the scholarship fund. It is a very worthwhile event, if you can join me, please do. I would love to see you. Click on the image below for more information.

Colonel De Stewart

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spice University - Chives

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Chives Allium schoenoprasum

Chives, a bold flavor from the smallest of the onion family.

Chives are diminutive tubular versions of scallion leaves (from the Latin ascalonia meaning onion from Ascalon). FYI, Ascalon (then spelled Ashkelon) was the oldest and largest sea port in ancient Israel. The Battle of Ascalon in 1099 is often considered the last action of the First Crusade.

Chives are the smallest member of the onion family. I used to wonder why they were always referred to in the plural. I never saw anything that referred to a chive. The answer is that they grow in clumps and not as individual flowers, so they are quite rightly, chives. When Columbus and others came to the new world there were very few plants and especially herbs that were familiar to them. They did know chives. It is one of the few herbs native to both the Old World and the New World.

Chives are used often in French cuisine. It is one of the four herbs found in fine (pronounced feen) herbs along with tarragon, chervil, and parsley. Fine herbs are also referred to as French sweet herbs. Given the fame and notoriety of French cooking, it is not surprising to find chives as a part of the cooking scene. What is a little surprising is that chives are also a major player in the Swedish cuisine. The reason for this is probably that they are one of the few herbs that can grow in a very cool climate.

When used in dishes, add the snipped chives close to the end of cooking to preserve their flavor and crispness. Both chives and their edible pink and lavender colored flowers are a tasty and colorful addition to salads. These flowers are also excellent when used to make flavored vinegars especially when using white wine vinegar as the base. Chives give a hint of onion flavor to egg dishes, cheese soufflés, salads, soups, cream cheese sandwiches, and sour cream dressing for baked potatoes. Chive butter is great with grilled chops and steak.

A member of the lily family, many of its cousins also appear in this collection. They include; onions, garlic chives, Welsh onion and garlic.

When chives are unavailable green onion tips may be substituted.


Chives Halibut Stew
Chives Roasted Vegetables

Colonel De Stewart

Monday, February 23, 2009

Store takes Mardi Gras Prize

The store took first prize as the Best Mardi Gras Krew at Findlay Market for 2009. As you can see from the picture below the store really got its Krew on. Thaks to everyone that stopped by to enjoy the fun. I want to give a special thanks to our employees, who did a great job of making our stand and each other look fantastic. Well done!

The Colonel

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spice University - Paprika

A Little Spice of Life
From the Colonel

Paprika Capsicum annum

Paprika is made from certain very finely ground red pepper pods. The color can vary from light bright orange red to dark deep red. The flavor varies from sweet and mild to pungent and hot. Mild paprika can be found in any well stocked supermarket, while ethnic stores or specialty spice vendors will be necessary for a hotter more robust paprika.

Different varieties of bell peppers have been cultivated in America long before the arrival of the Europeans, so their native countries cannot be determined. South American origin is, however, established for all species of the genus Capsicum, which emerged probably in the area bordering Southern Brazil and Bolivia. The species started moving to the North by birds dropping seeds. Since paprika plants tolerate nearly every type of climate, the fruits are produced all over the world. But most of what is produced commercially comes from Spain, South America, California, and Hungary. Indeed paprika has long been more of a staple in Hungary than just a spice. In Hungary, they have elevated growing these peppers to an art, they have six classes or types of paprika ranging from delicate to hot.

When someone comes to the store and asks for paprika, we always smile and say, “Great, what kind would you like?” There are currently five different varieties available. Most of us know one or perhaps two different kinds, but at the supermarket it is difficult to find any but the mildest sweet variety. One of the varieties that has become increasingly popular is smoked paprika. Some vendors sell a smoked paprika that has had chemical smoke added to it, but the very best has been smoked in the traditional way of smoking peppers, with the smoke from a fire of burning wood. The most popular type seems to be an oak smoked paprika.

The Hungarian cuisine uses paprika in dishes such as chicken paprikash and goulash. It is used in many spiced meat products like Spanish chorizos. Many Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish recipes use paprika for soups, stews and casseroles. In India it is sometimes used in tandoori chicken to give it the red color. It is often used as a garnish for salads, appetizers and eggs. In Spain paprika is used to flavor shell fish dishes, rice, and to season tomato and green pepper salads.

An important thing to remember when using paprika in sauces is that it has a high sugar content and burns easily. Add it only when liquid ingredients are present and do not cook it over high heat for too long. Surprisingly to some, this is the same variety of pepper that we see stuffed ubiquitously in olives. Yep, this is the same pepper that gives us pimento.

If you are out of Paprika you might try ground red pepper, but just an eighth of the amount, as it is far hotter and not as sweet.

The guest chef's for this month are Rita Heikenfeld and Debbie Spangler.


Rita's Simple Grilled Chicken
Easy Grilled Asparagus
Paprika Salad Dressing
Paprika Moroccan Chicken
Paprika Pork Roast
Chicken Paprikash

Colonel De Stewart

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spice University - Adobo Seasoning

Catch the Colonel Sunday morning January 18th on Q102 FM with Amy Tobin on Amy's Table.

Welcome to Spice University

This is the first installment of what will be a full course on herbs and spices. It is my intent to share with you my knowledge and the knowledge of my staff here at Herbs & Spice and Everything Nice. Several of the chefs and restaurants that we supply have said that they will participate as well. To them I say, thank you. Be sure and give us your feedback on our efforts. I would like for this to be fun as well as educational. Thanks for taking this journey with us.

A Lttle Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Adobo a seasoning, a sauce, and a popular dish.

There are three completely different things that are referred to as adobo. There is adobo seasoning, adobo sauce and adobo (a dish renowned in the Philippines). This has caused a bit of confusion among American cooks. While I am most familiar with the seasoning, let’s take a look at all three of them and try to clear up the mystery of which is what.

Adobo seasoning is a Latino spice mixture used in various countries including Mexico. There can be several different combinations of spices that make up adobo seasoning. But, most will contain salt, garlic, Mexican oregano, and black pepper. Some other ingredients that might be found are onion, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Adobo seasoning is flavorful and can be mild or hot. Add 1/2 teaspoon per pound for chicken, beef, pork chops, ribs or cutlets, burritos, or to spice up a bland salsa. If you make your own guacamole, adobo will take it to a new level! Some of the many other uses for adobo are as a rub on meats prior to grilling or frying or in taco meat mixtures. These spices are also the perfect seasoning for all your poultry and fish dishes, as well as, bean dishes.

Adobo sauce is a tart and rather sour sauce made of ground chilis, herbs, and vinegar. Most recipes that call for adobo sauce ask for it with chipotles as the chili pepper. Just to add to the confusion, adobo sauce is Latino as well. It is also used fairly extensively in the Southwest as a marinade for meat dishes.

Adobo is a specialty dish from the Philippines that is made with chicken or pork simmered in a mixture of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Inside the Philippines the most common meat is pork.

Some in the culinary world think that perhaps adobo made its way in many forms in Mexico, the Caribbean, and, with the same name but different flavors, in the Philippines.

So the next time you hear someone mention adobo you can ask them which variation they are talking about. You will be the expert. I would suggest you try them all. They are each very good.


Crusted Tilapia with Adobo Seasoning
Chicken Adobo
Filipino Pork Adobo

Colonel De Stewart