June 30, 2013

John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice – Tips for Home Cooks

Spices are crucial for the home cook. That’s why John Beaver, spice expert and owner of Oaktown Spice Shop shares with you his top 5 tips for choosing and using spices. First, in most (but not all!) cases, whole spices which you grind at home are better. Second he provides tips on grinding. Third, he gives tips on keeping spices as fresh as possible. Fourth, there are also tips for cooking with spices. And don’t miss the final piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Read the full article here:
John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice Tips for Home Cooks — Expert Essentials



June 27, 2013

Keeping Fresh Herbs Fresh

Italian parsley is the most used fresh herb in my kitchen that gives me quite as much trouble. Buying a bunch of fresh parsley usually get me two or three uses out of it before it reverts to dirt. Sage, thyme, and rosemary last a couple of weeks. Since I’m growing my own, I’ve found a way to enjoy green freshness on demand without being so wasteful.

Basil will live perfectly happily on a cool counter and may even sprout new roots). Cilantro and parsley (and other “soft” herbs…tarragon, sage) prefer to be covered loosely with a plastic bag and put into the fridge. They’ll last this way for at least a week.


Keeping Fresh Herbs Fresh

Loosely wrap herbs in a damp paper towel, then seal in a plastic bag filled with air. Refrigerate for up to five days. Check herbs daily, as some of them lose their flavor after a couple of days.

Store herbs bouquet style. Cut tips off the ends of the stem, about 1 cm or so, then place bunches of herbs, stems down in a glass of water covering 1 inch of the stem ends. Change water every other day and herbs should keep for up to a week. Snip off stalks as you need them.

To revive limb herbs, trim off ½ inch of the stems and place in ice water for a couple of hours.


The best herbs are fresh, so have some of your favorite herb planes nearby – either in pot or in your garden. Then when you need them, snip off what you need. The plant will continue to grow providing fresh herbs for weeks or months. In most cases, heat reduces the flavor of fresh herbs, so add then to your dished as a last step and as a garnish when served.

Parsley and cilantro are delicate herbs. Trim their stems as soon as you get them home, and stick them in a small glass full of water. Spritz them with water, cover them loosely with a plastic ziplock bag, and put them in the fridge. Every couple days, change out the water and give the stems another small trim to keep them fresh.

Rosemary, thyme, and oregano, are considered hardier herbs which will brown and mold if kept in water. Wrap them loosely in damp paper towels and then in plastic wrap, and keep them in the crisper or in your fridge door — the warmest spot in the fridge is ideal. Swap out the paper towels for fresh ones every couple days.


June 24, 2013

Portobello Summer Soup

Allow this recipe for creamy Portobello Summer Soup without cream to stir your taste buds . The body of the soup comes from potatoes added to the base of carrots and celery. Karen’s ramblings show in the hint of pan-Asian flavors. She adds Sake instead of wine and turmeric for color (and because it’s good for you, she says). Fresh garden herbs and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar bring yet another layer of complexity.

Read the full article here:
Portobello Summer Soup



June 15, 2013

Everything’s Coming Up Green

“There is always something to be done in the garden” is one of the more crucial sentences in this short story. Besides radish, three varieties of lettuces (Arugula, Buttercrunch, and a Loose Leaf), carrots, broccoli, were experimented. The smallest but useful of all is a beautiful parsley plant that survived the winter and came back for a new year.

Read the full article here:
Everything’s Coming Up Green



April 28, 2013

Spice-Rubbed Smoked Ribs with Maple Horseradish Baste

This is a Rib Recipe from Chef Bobby Flay. He shares the secret to making perfect smoked ribs. For everyone’s information, Bobby Flay’s recipes are delicious. The only thing I did differently was to add an extra brown sugar. Now I’m told to always keep it on hand. The sauce is amazing and you will have extra which is fine for making leftovers in the slow cooker during the week. The map sauce was also very good.


Serves 8

Maple-Horseradish Glaze:

2 cups pure maple syrup
1/2 cup prepared horseradish, drained
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1/3 cup Spanish paprika
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
3 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 cups wood chips (hickory, mesquite, or applewood)\
racks pork ribs (3 pounds each)

Serves 4


Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir spices together in a medium bowl.

About 1/2 hour before cooking time, soak hickory chips in enough water to cover. Drain chips. In a covered grill, place slow burning charcoal in both sides of a drip pan. Sprinkle coals with wood chips. Bring temperature to 220 degrees F.

Rub top side of each rack of ribs with about 3 tablespoons of the rub. Place ribs, bone side down, on grill. Close cover or place cover on the smoker. Grill about 4 hours, adding chips every 20 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of grilling, brush liberally with the Maple-Horseradish Glaze.

The alternate cooking method for these ribs is to use the Stovetop Cooker from Cameron’s. Prepare everything the same to start but instead of soaking chips and starting the grill, add applewood or cherry chips to the Stovetop Smoker and place in a 275 degree oven for 4 hours. Do not open the smoker during cooking. After removing from the oven, test to be sure the internal temperature has reached 210 to 220 degrees. Then brush liberally with the glaze. Some like to finish the ribs with the glaze by placing under the broiler for a couple of minutes.


April 26, 2013

Combinations of Vegetables, Herbs and Spices that Work Well Together

Mixing various vegetables together provides an interesting medley of colors and food flavors. Some recipes also add chopped nuts, peppers and tomatoes along with herbs. By adding other foods you will not only add more flavors, but will make your vegetable dishes more interesting and nutritious too. Did you know that sweet Potatoes go flavorful with nutmeg or cinnamon? or potatoes with garlic and basil, mint and sage? What about orange squash with thyme, basil and rosemary?

Making gourmet tasting meals can be just that easy. Your family and guests will be wonderfully delighted how you have exerted effort to make the best dishes. Using herbs and spices will turn your meals into an extraordinary health food experience that is as rich in vitamins and nutrients as it is in color and flavor.
Click here for combinations of that work well together.

herbs and spices


April 16, 2013

Spicy Taco Seasoning Recipes

Adding “unmistakeable” spiciness in spring dishes is like getting treats for all seasons. Rather than the extra salty or overly seasoned meals, substitute with spices that are available, either trying new tastes or revisiting old combinations, is an opportunity of creating wonderful blend from many configurations that will get your point across.

Sure, there’s really is no single taco seasoning recipe needed for making your own tacos. It’s all a matter of personal taste and preference. However, it’s true that most taco seasoning recipes use an almost identical list of base ingredients. So to make a difference, make sure to have a few options on hand.



April 12, 2013

World’s Healthiest Spices You Should Be Eating

Modern science is beginning to uncover the ultimate power of spices and herbs, as weapons against illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Like fruits and vegetables, spices work pose rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial compounds, but are more concentrated in small amounts. Used regularly, these culinary herbs can help reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, aid digestion and circulation, lower blood sugar, and boost immunity.

Dietitians and nutritionists believe that herbs and spices do more than simply add flavor to food. These nature foods let you cut down on some less-healthy ingredients, such as salt, added sugars and saturated fat, and some have inherent health benefits. It’s easy to grow your own leafy green herbs. Aside from basil, you might be interested to know 8 of the world’s healthiest spices & herbs you should be eating.



Discover the Five Secrets to Making Perfect Pesto

It says that in the kingdom of herbs, basil rules all. Matched only by parsley in its culinary versatility, basil can transform a pizza slice, brighten a tomato sauce, and punch up a summer cocktail… and, during this time of year, it can serve as the anchor to awesome pesto. So then why do so many people screw it up?

If you were to first blend everything together you would lose the color and end up with a muddled final product; or because the olive oil used has overpowered the rest of the flavors. According to Miss Robins, executive chef of A Voce, a modern Italian restaurant in New York City, “Pesto is one of those recipes that people often over-think. So that you can make the best pesto, the following five simple secrets are everything you need to know.”



Green Seasoning Paste Instead of Pesto

What if you don’t like pesto? I know of a friend who loves the taste of pesto but is getting stomach upset after meals. If you love pesto, you are in luck. What if you don’t? It says that you can use any herb and different nuts to make your own version of the classic pesto. Therefore, we can also make another green seasoning as an alternative.

caribbean pot

One inspiration to add healthier flavor to food is a tropical touch. Even if you can’t take a trip to the tropics right now, you can set sail in your kitchen to a world of exotic flavors and aromas, the Caribbean way. This traditional-rich cuisine heavily relies on rice, beans, and seafood; pasta, tomato-based sauces, and dairy foods are not common. Red meat seemed hard to find on the islands. Do you know one secret to flavor without fat? It’s the Caribbean spices.

So for a Caribbean touch on a seasoning, the one key ingredient when it comes to cooking any meat or fish dish is the green seasoning mix that’s used in the marinating process. The difference of this seasoning from pesto is the oil; this Caribbean green seasoning paste does not use oil but water. It’s easy to liquify the blend to the consistency of pesto or even a bit more liquid, although its up to you if you want to make things a bit more chunky-like.


I’ve learned that when Caribbean islanders say “seasoning” they are referring to what is called “Green Seasoning” an herb mixture that is unique to the Caribbean and which differs slightly from island to island. In Trinidad, for example, it’s distinguished by the use of cilantro, known in the Caribbean as shadon beni or bhandania, and seasoning peppers. This mix like classic pesto, is also famous for marinating fish, meat and poultry, as well as for flavoring soups, stews, casseroles.

The herbs thyme, oregano, Cuban oregano or celery are mostly used, you can make a small batch with just a sprig of any of the herbs, then add the liquid later to get the correct “paste” consistency. You can also substitute other herbs like lemon or holy basil, lemon balm, mint, dill, a few leaves of sage, stalk of lemongrass etc. When using peppers, de-seed peppers and coarsely chop herbs. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, adding a small amount of water or wine if needed, and puree.

There is nothing like fresh green seasoning on a well made dish. Besides acting as a decoration and improving the aesthetic value, it enhances the nutritional value of the prepared dish as well. I think this is a wonderful choice for non-pesto lovers. It’s all healthy in greens, easy to prepare in just a few pulse actions. So if you don’t enjoy pesto, find this Caribbean-style green seasoning your pesto-like experience. Here’s how to make it.