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.