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Spice: A Cook's Companion

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The recipes build on bringing your spices alive – whether that’s creating blends to easily enhance your food when short of time on a weekday evening, or in infusing and blooming spices to bring out the very best of these treasured ingredients. The reader will become familiar with the differences in flavour intensity and provenance and discover how, through the use of spice, we can applaud and appreciate cuisines from around the globe. In his previous book Herb: A Cook’s Companion, Mark Diacono wove together detailed advice on growing your own herbs (and handling store bought), with a selection of recipes that show off those herbs beautifully. In Spice: A Cook’s Companion he provides advice on how to source and blend spices well, and how to make the best of them in your kitchen. Lebkuchen (German spiced honey biscuits) are a seasonal favourite for us in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and these homemade ones didn’t disappoint. We used this Hungarian spice mix instead of German lebkuchen gewürz – both are very similar gingerbread spice mixes – and it was just right. Caraway is an ingredient we’d hardly used until we first made Middle Eastern Courgettes Baked in a Cheese Sauce from Ghillie Başan’s The Lebanese Cookbook. The caraway was such a revelation in Basan’s dish that we were immediately drawn to Mark’s Bacon and Caraway Tart as the first recipe to make from Spice. Caraway seeds are used in both the pastry and the tart filling, alongside mustard and fresh parsley, but it’s in the pastry that the spice really shines. A delicious tart, served hot, warm or cold. I love Mark’s note in his Introduction that “ the brilliance of spices [is that] they are – like music, painting and poetry – almost entirely unnecessary and yet utterly essential. As with herbs, spices transform the life-giving act of feeding into the life-enhancing pleasure of eating.”

Spice: Recipes and Techniques to Transform Your Mastering Spice: Recipes and Techniques to Transform Your

Mark Diacono… has such a friendly, self-deprecating and comfortable voice you want to follow him into the kitchen." - Diana Henry’s Autumn 2022 Best Cookbooks, The Telegraph Wonderful review as always, Kavey! I’ve got Herb, and Spice sounds every bit as beautiful and accomplished. Reply Spice is a vibrant exploration of flavour, fragrance and heat that majors on the kitchen, with a celebration of over 50 spices that will fill your kitchen with a wealth of heady aromas and tastes. Of forty-two spices, there are only a few I’ve not heard of before, but many I’ve never tasted. I’ve come across references and recipes featuring achiote (aka annato), anise seeds (not the same thing as star anise), cinnamon berries, grains of paradise, kokum, tonka beans, and wattleseed before but never cooked with them. Only four spices in the book were wholly new to me – anardana (pomegranate seeds used as a spice rather than as a fruit), Ethiopian passion berries, mahleb (a type of cherry), and verbena berries. These are covered alongside familiar spices that I know and use regularly but still appreciate learning more about. For each spice Mark gives an introduction, a guide to using it, which spice blends it features in, and a list of ingredients that the spice has an affinity with.

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Under spice blends (of which there are thirty-nine), there are several I’ve never made before: advieh, Cape Malay spice blend, sweet dukkah, gunpowder mix, hawaij, khmeli-suneli, niter kibbeh, qualat daqqa, svanuri marili, timur ko chop, and tempero baiano. For each blend Mark tells us about the origins of the blend, how it’s used, and lists out recipe ingredients (with amounts). With a few (such as harissa) there are specific instructions on how to make the recipe; for the rest Mark provides basic instructions and advice in the chapter introduction. Mark points out that the book is “ high on ideas, blends and recipes” but low on “ the historic movement of spices around the world, the wars fought and what might or might not have been rammed up Rameses II’s nose before he was laid to rest” – it’s turns of phrases like this one that always delight me in Mark’s writing – heavy on accurate and useful information, yet light and often humorous in touch. Incidentally, if you are interested in the historic movement of spices around the world, please allow me to recommend one of my very favourite cookbooks from last year, The Nutmeg Trail: A Culinary Journey Along The Ancient Spice Routes by Eleanor Ford.

Spice by Mark Diacono | Hardie Grant Publishing

Focusing on the familiars including cumin, turmeric, vanilla, pepper and cinnamon, Spice will also open the door to some lesser-known spices. The recipes build on bringing your spices alive – whether that's creating blends to easily enhance your food when short of time on a weekday evening, or in infusing and blooming spices to bring out the very best of these treasured ingredients. The reader will become familiar with the differences in flavor intensity, provenance, nutritional benefits and more. Before ‘The Spice Cabinet’ and the ‘Blends and Pastes’ chapters, Mark shares some advice on ‘Sourcing and Using’ spices, and how best to store them. In terms of equipment, he recommends an electric spice grinder over a mortar and pestle for most recipes (though not all). I agree with the pleasure he finds in using a suribachi and surikogi (Japanese grinding bowl and pestle).As with Herb, Mark has not attempted to create an encyclopaedic reference tome in Spice. Rather he has created a very personal collection of “ forty-odd spices and a similar number of spice blends” to share. To that end he notes that whilst many of the ingredients showcased in the book are seeds and dried fruits, there are roots such as ginger and turmeric that he includes in their ground form but not in their fresh, and even some berries, such as juniper, make it in when many do not. I love that his selection is about joy and delight, not consistency and logic! This is a lovely book for any home cook interested in learning more about spices and spice blends, and how to make the best use of them. The recipes Mark includes are not only appealing to eat, but also provide plenty of inspiration for using spices more creatively in the kitchen. Recipes from Spice: A Cook’s Companion

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Kavey Eats Posted by Kavita Favelle on August 20, 2023 Category: Eat In ( Cookery Book) Tag: quadrille Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Recipes from Spice: A Cook’s Companion

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