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The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices Hardcover – October 20, 2009
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About the Author
Sara Engram is the cofounder of The Seasoned Palate, Inc., based in Baltimore. The Seasoned Palate specializes in packaging organic spices in one-teaspoon packets for convenience and freshness. The company's tsp spices line is sold in more than 300 retail stores in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and the Smart Spice brand is sold in supermarkets throughout the United States.
Top customer reviews
But I think what most impressed me this book was that it made me think of spices in different ways. What I mean is it broadened my mind as to what dishes I might want to try different spices or add spices to a dish that I never thought would work. An easy example is adding cinnamon to yogurt or whipped cream to make it punchier. Or adding in a dish a spice that I would normally add to a `salty dish' to a `sweet dish.' For example, they suggest adding to corn bread mild chili or thyme. I am so used to having the sweet honey cornbread that it was a nice switch. It really made me realize that you can really change a dish by adding such a simple ingredient! And I loved how this small addition can make your mouth feel so alive!.
This book inspired me to try new spices and use `old' ones in fun ways. I really got to me how important it is to eat: responsibly, healthy and organically. I only wish there were more spices in the book!
As stated in the title it's for spicing up 'everyday cooking'. Seven chapters cover the following: spice basics, breakfast foods, salads, soups, sandwiches, appetizers, snacks, entrees, side dishes, desserts and sweets. Metric conversions and equivalents are covered and the lengthy introduction touches on the history of spices and elaborates on some.
The photos in this hardcover book are lovely, and while not plentiful, they illustrate both dishes and spices well. I found myself wanting to eat! The publishers also use a graphic image similar to the cover on non-photo or recipe pages to add 'tips' like "Toasting Pecans or Walnuts" on page 32. I did think a few of the comments like "Sage can be used as an insect repellent..." on page 61 seemed a bit out of place in a cookbook, but it did make me think 'Hmmm...nice to know.'
While the title includes 'organic spices' which seems like an oxymoron to me; spices ARE organic, I like the book. It does have both spices AND herbs, but again, not a big deal.
With its clean format, easy to follow recipes with not too many steps or ingredients, I think this would be a great gift to give to a newlywed couple along with a spice rack containing spices mentioned in the book. Or a book that you could give to a bachelor so he could perfect a few recipes to 'wow' his dates.
Old favorites like Chicken Potpie are reworked into new classics like 'Tarragon Chicken Potpie', which will make any old cook come out looking like a chef!
Starting off with an introduction that examines the role of spices throughout history in all realms: food, politics, and religion among them, the book is then broken up into seven chapters including a guide to the most well-known spices, followed by chapters with recipes for breakfast, appetizers, entrées, sides and desserts. Sprinkled throughout the book are 'fun facts,' side bar tips, and brief historical tidbits that offer more information about all things spice. For anyone who cooks it's a fascinating look at something most cooks may take for granted. In reading through the book one is reminded how very different our food would be without the spices we use. One of the more interesting points made is that most spices are grown in equatorial countries and as a result the flavors are more pronounced, and deeper, than spices grown in cooler climates which brings that mantra point back, "eat locally but season globally." Living a local life is an ideal, one that we should all attempt but it's an imperfect science as is pointed out by this cookbook. Engram and Luber make a valuable suggestion to use dry spices and herbs in concert with fresh to give the at-home, or locally grown spices and herbs an equatorial punch. The authors also make the valid point that organic spices over commercial are the better choice. Many commercial spice mixtures have added fillers, anti-caking agents, and other additives. Zests end up with pesticides from non-organic fruit. These extras also dilute flavor.
The Spice Kitchen is easy to use, full of interesting information and a great primer for any cook, or armchair foodie who wants to learn more about spices. This writer cooked several recipes from the book -- all worked beautifully, and all were big hits with those invited to taste test them. The recipes are presented in an easy-to-read fashion with many offering ingredient substitution and alternatives. Shopping for the spices and herbs ended up being a delightful outing to a local Indian shop (India Sweets & Spices, Atwater Village area of Los Angeles) that sells not only every spice, herb and zest under the sun but also every Bollywood movie ever made. Standout recipes included 'Spiced Granola with Coconut and Almonds,' 'Carrot Soup with Coriander,' 'Rib Rub,' 'Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs,' and 'Baked Sweet Potato Steak Fries.' The Baked Sweet Potato Steak Fries ended up at a Memorial Day picnic where three of the guests requested the recipe. The recipes in The Spice Kitchen are healthy, tasty and a joy to prepare.
Sara Engram and Katie Luber own The Seasoned Palate, or TSP, a company that specializes in organic spices, herbs and zests. Their line of spices is sold in 300 retail outlets in the United States, Canada and Europe, as well as by mail order. They recently added a line of spices called Smart Spice -- four 1 teaspoon organic spice combos sold in flavor-saving packets now being sold in Whole Foods stores. They are experts in their field as is evidenced by The Spice Kitchen. If you like to cook, and want to know more about spices, herbs and zests, and cooking with them pick up this book. You won't be disappointed.
Most recent customer reviews
Or at least I thought I did, until I read the introduction to this book.Read more