Spices for beginners
July 16, 2012 in Cooking with Woolies
Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables; I think it’s because it’s so versatile. Most of us associate it with cheese sauce, but it’s also delicious roasted in a simple Italian tomato sauce with lots of crushed garlic, black olives, chopped parsley and chilli. I also love it puréed hot with a splash of cream and a knob of butter, seasoned with smoked sea salt, and served with gorgeous lemon-and-sage pork chops.
Recently I decided to try roasting a few florets in a spice mix of my own and serving them with a mint dipping sauce. To do this, you need a few spices in your grocery cupboard so that you can play around a bit and create your own flavour combinations. All my friends confessed to not really knowing all that much about spices, so here are a few hints and tips on how to store and prepare spices so you can start your very own spice rack at home.
STORE whole spices in small jars and bottles so you can use them up while they’re still fresh and full of flavour. It‘s a good idea to buy them in small quantities so you can refill them when they run out instead of allowing them to go stale.
BUY whole spices so you can grind them yourself using a spice grinder, coffee mill or pestle and mortar for more intense aromas and flavours. Whole spices also last longer than ground spices.
DRY-FRY spices in a pan over a low heat for a few seconds until they’re lightly coloured to release and enhance their flavours. However, be sure to remove them from the hot pan so they don’t continue cooking when off the heat.
PREPARE spices with care. If they burn they will lose their delicate flavours and become bitter.
COOK spices by adding them to a saucepan with gently heated olive oil, butter or ghee. This will impart their flavours into the liquid, which will, in turn, flavour every other component of the dish.
SEASONING food using spices instead of too much salt and pepper is a good way to lower your salt intake.
- 2 cauliflower heads
- 1 T coriander seeds, toasted
- 2 t cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 t dried chilli flakes
- 2 T garam masala
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 2 fresh chillies
- 1-2 lemons, juiced
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Break the cauliflower heads into florets and toss with the toasted spices, chilli flakes, garam masala and 1 T olive oil.
- Spread onto a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, or until tender.
- Blend together the mint, one chilli, remaining olive oil and the lemon juice.
- Divide the cauliflower between 4 bowls and pour over the mint dressing.
- Slice the remaining chilli and use to garnish.
- Cook’s note: Dust the cauliflower with spiced flour and fry for a slightly crispier result.
Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Remember to visit Woolworths The Pantry for more ideas and recipes.
Consultant Food Editor, Woolworths TASTE