Spices and Seeds
ALLSPICE: The berry of the West Indian allspice tree; sold whole or ground. Tastes like a mixture of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Use in desserts. The berry is some- times used in certain meat dishes. ANISE SEED: A pungent seed with a flavor resembling licorice. If you like the taste, use it in sauerkraut, coleslaw, creamed cabbage, cauliflower and beets, and in cookies and cakes. CARAWAY SEED: Pungent. Popular in some European breads. Also used frequently with cabbage and in coleslaw, sour cream sauces, cabbage soup, cheese dishes and goulash. CAYENNE: A pungent red pepper, ground. Use sparingly. Popular in cheese dishes, highly seasoned sauces such as barbecue sauces or devil sauces, and in highly seasoned meat dishes. CELERY SEED: Seed of the celery plant; highly concentrated celery flavor. Used in some soups, stuffings, stews, barbecue sauce and boiled dressing, and in potato salad. CHILI POWDER: The ground pulp of various chilies (Mexican peppers) sometimes combined with other spices. Used in Mexican chili dishes. Sometimes added to hot sauces, such as barbecue sauces. CHILIES (DRIED): Small red Mexican peppers. Very hot. Use sparingly. For Mexican dishes and hot sauces. CINNAMON: Inner bark from a tree in the East Indies; sold in pieces or ground. Very useful in desserts, fruit sauces, cakes, coffee cakes and sweet rolls; also used in some meat dishes. CLOVE: Spicy dried buds sold whole or ground. Has wide use in cooking. Use spar- ingly in stocks, broths and certain meat dishes, with ham, in fruit desserts, pud- dings, cakes, sweet rolls and mince and pumpkin pies. CORIANDER: Sold in seed form or ground. Totally different in flavor from fresh co- riander and commonly used as one of the ingredients in curries. CUMIN: A ground seasoning important in Mexican dishes. Used in chili dishes, stews, meat loaf, soups, cheese appetizers, cheese sauces and some barbecue sauces. CURRY: A mixture of several spices with a touch of herbs. There are many blends of curry powder: some are mild, some hot, some pungent. Used in oriental dishes and marinades, in East Indian curries and in some sauces and salads. GINGER: A pungent root. Comes dried in pieces, ground, candied or in syrup. Can be bought fresh in most markets. Used in certain fish dishes and soups, in some meat dishes, in cakes, cookies and puddings, with poached fruits and fruit com- potes, and in oriental dishes and marinades. MACE: The outer coating of the nutmeg. Comes ground. Flavor similar to nutmeg. Used in some stews, seafood dishes and meat dishes, and in cakes, cookies and desserts. MUSTARD (DRIED): The ground seeds of the mustard plant. Very hot. Used in meat
dishes, fish dishes, sauces, appetizers and salad dressings. Mixed with a little water or white wine as a condiment for meats. NUTMEG: The kernel of an apricot from Indonesia. Sold whole or ground. Buy it whole and grate it; the flavor is better. Used in some meat dishes, soups, puddings and desserts, and to top sweet milk drinks. PAPRIKA: A sweet and pungent red pepper, ground. Used in Hungarian dishes. Hungarian paprika has the most flavor. Use in soups, stews, sauces and sour cream sauces, and with veal or chicken. PEPPER: Sold whole (peppercorns), white, black or pink, coarsely cracked or ground. Buy whole and grind it yourself in a pepper grinder for general use. Coarsely cracked pepper is excellent for special recipes, such as Steak au Poivre. Whole peppercorns are used in making stocks and broths and for flavoring some meat dishes. Green peppercorns are unripe pepper berries, usually packed in brine, and very pungent in flavor. Used in sauces with fish, meat and poultry dishes. POPPY SEED: Dried seeds of the poppy, most commonly used on breads and rolls, also in fish and meat dishes, with noodles and in cookies, cakes and pastries. SAFFRON: The dried stigma of the saffron flower, a species of crocus. Very expen- sive. Very pungent. Use carefully or it will have a medicinal taste; only a pinch is needed. Colors food yellow. Used in Spanish dishes, rice, some fish and fish sauces, with veal and chicken and in some buns, cakes and frostings.
SESAME SEED: Crisp seeds with a nut-like flavor. Used on breads and rolls and on barbecued fish, for coating chicken before broiling and as a topping for various soups and vegetable dishes. Also used in candy.
APPETIZERS The French phrase hors d’oeuvre is an idiomatic expression that means something unusual—out of the general pattern. As a culinary term it means a side dish, gener- ally served as an appetizer. To be genuinely appetizing, hors d’oeuvre should be unusual and tempting. A bowl of peanuts, pretzels or potato chips will not do. In this chapter you will find suggestions that call for no more work than opening a bag of salted nuts but that give much more satisfying results. You will find enough variety to arrange a large and hearty spread for a big cocktail party. If you are serving hors d’oeuvre to be followed by dinner, keep your dinner menu in mind. If you are having a rich, heavy dinner, don’t serve a rich, filling appetizer. Select, instead, something crisp and fresh, such as raw vegetables with a sour cream sauce. If you are having a light meal, say a sautéed chicken, start with hearty hors d’oeuvre, such as tiny hot biscuits stuffed with foie gras. If you are having a fish dinner, don’t serve fish appetizers. Serve something made with vegetables, meat or cheese. Whatever you select, keep hot hors d’oeuvre hot and cold hors d’oeuvre nicely chilled. Put the hot dip sauce over an alcohol flame or electric plate. Serve hot stuffed biscuits folded in a napkin. Arrange shrimp or crisp greens on a bed of crushed ice. There is nothing appetizing about lukewarm celery or cold chili dip with fat congealing on top.
Appetizers with Sauces
One of the most popular and easiest of appetizers is a flavorful sauce and food to dip into it. For suggestions on sauces, see the following pages. There you will find a variety, both hot and cold. Surprisingly enough, cold, crisp foods, such as raw vegetables, are not only good with cold sauces but also tasty dunked into a hot oil dip, a hot curry dip or a hot chili dip. And hot meats and sausages combine amazingly well with a cold sauce, such as a highly seasoned sour cream. Here is a list of suggested foods to use with the sauces:
RAW, CRISP VEGETABLES (CRUDITÉS)
Green pepper strips
Tiny raw artichokes
Quartered Belgian endive
Tiny clusters of watercress
MEATS, HOT AND COLD
Small fingers of cold baked ham
Thin slices of cooked Virginia ham, rolled and fastened with toothpicks
Thin slices of highly seasoned salami, rolled and fastened with
Thin slices of tongue, rolled and fastened with toothpicks
Peeled slices of hot knockwurst on toothpicks (simmer knockwurst in hot water
for 15 minutes; then peel and slice)
Tiny hot sausages on toothpicks
Chunks of cooked lobster meat on toothpicks
Cold poached scallops on toothpicks
Potato chips heated and crisped