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Here's A Cooking Secret You're Going To Love...

Here's A Cooking Secret You're Going To Love...

Thursday 1st June 2017

Today I would like to share a little secret recipe that I LOVE and use often. It's a helping hand you're going to appreciate and make you feel and look like a pro when it comes to dishing up something tasty from scratch.

Dried herbs are a brilliant staple to introduce some easy, cheap and quick flavour to your cooking. But what to use? And how to use it? They haven't had the best rap over the years, especially as we have all probably got out of date jars hidden somewhere in a cupboard, long forgotten and uninspiring. Comedian Michael McIntyre's monologue about them (which I could relate to so much...once) probably hasn't helped the Dried Herbs and Spices Cause - you know the one, 5 Spice!

I remember the days when I would eat something in a restaurant that had a token sprinkle of some unknown origin, dried herb, crispy, a bit burnt and it would stick in my throat like I'd eaten a mouthful of grit! I can't say that has been a great inspiration for me creating some wonderful dishes with them. However, when I attended Leith's in London, I was blown away by the amount of herbs, both dried and fresh that were available and used in lessons. They were used properly and they created the most wonderful aromas and tastes in the kitchens!

We can all achieve this with minimal effort so I want to share with you a secret recipe that you WILL use! It's easy to put together and stores well, so you can reach for this for many dishes, for some time. It enables you to use less salt, less fat and oils and you will be amazed how it can transform cheap and basic ingredients.

Here you go...don't tell everyone!

Moroccan Spice Jar

  • 3 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp sumac
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

(optional if you want to create a more "smokey" flavour variation, add 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika)

Mix the ingredients together and store in a glass jar or air tight container - away from the heat and light (as with any dried herb). Whatever you do with dried herbs, buy good quality and the flavours you are drawn to (for example, oregano and basil are lovely if you have a love for Italian dishes)

I have added this to many dishes and as a way to get you started -

Mix 2 tbsp of the mix with a tablespoon of oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp tahini or pumpkin seed butter and 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses and add this paste to warm, just cooked rice. Let it sit in the steam for a while to soften up and for the flavours to develop in to the rice - you don't need to eat plain rice ever again!

Use the same paste above to add to a salad as a dressing.

How about 1 tablespoon of Moroccan Spice Jar and 1 tablespoon of whatever good quality oil you have and leave to infuse and soften for 20 minutes, then -
1) Toast slices of baguette or sourdough and when it is still warm, drizzle on top. You could leave it like that, or add some roasted pepper.

2) You could also use the oil mix above and coat feta cheese cubes and olives - no need to buy expensive pre-made deli counter ones. Just use the jar or tinned ones, mix and then leave in the fridge for a few days, ready to put out in a pretty dish at any time.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of this dried mix directly to lamb mince and red onions and let it cook for at least 20 minutes to let the spices soften. Add some pine nuts, feta cubes and spread on to a flat bread with rocket leaves.

How about 1 tsp left to soak in a whisked eggs for 20 minutes and then scramble, or make in to am omelette? Both egg dishes look really pretty speckled with the herbs and adds a lovely saltiness.

No crisps? Soften 2 tbsp of the mix with water or oil and spread over a flour tortilla. Cut in to wedges and bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes for some homemade and healthy crisps!

I could go on but I don't want to swamp you with ideas - have a play with them, take half a teaspoon and put it on your tongue - what flavours spring to mind? What could you do with it?

Any comments or suggestions always welcome xx