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Old 09-10-2011, 11:26 PM   #1
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Question Spice novice

Hello. I was wondering if somebody was able to give me the low-down on some of the following spices. I.E how they are used best, or what additions they provide to a dish.

Bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc..

Thanks bunches!

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Old 09-11-2011, 12:18 AM   #2
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There are countless ways these herbs can be used, but here are a few ways:

Bay leaves - Soup and stews
Rosemary - Chicken, lamb, roasted potatoes
Thyme - Chicken, salmon, shellfish
Oregano - Pasta, salad dressings
Parsley - Practically everything
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:38 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Lisanic View Post
Hello. I was wondering if somebody was able to give me the low-down on some of the following spices. I.E how they are used best, or what additions they provide to a dish.

Bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc..

Thanks bunches!
Bay leaves - Soups, stews, chili, tomato based sauces. A lot of people add the leaves whole and remove them before serving. I've also seen it included in some curries.
Rosemary - Beef roasts, tomato sauces, poultry, soups, stews. It goes well with oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, black pepper. Experiment a little by smelling it with other spices to see what seems appealing. It has sort of a dusty/dry sweet flavor (as contrasted to basil which has a sort of sweet tingly, more chlorophyll like flavor).
Thyme - Pork, stuffing, poultry, mushrooms, soups, stews, casseroles. It goes well with oregano, rosemary, sage, black pepper. Another one to experiment with. It has a dry/dusty pungent flavor. No tartness or sweetness really. Its very neutral in that sense.
Oregano - Beef, tomato sauces, cream sauces, salad dressing, cheese (especially mild creamy cheeses or italian hard cheeses), seasoned butter for bread or pasta, pasta salads, vegetable salads (especially ones with vinegar). Pungent, sweet, chlorophyll flavor.
Parsley - Just about any savory dish. Haven't tried it in deserts but it is good in some fruit salads. Very strong chlorophyll with a hint of sweetness and lots of water flavor. Adds depth without making things taste heavier and can lighten the flavor of stronger spices (i.e. oregano). Complementary with most other spices/herbs.

That's my experience. I'm sure there are lots of things I haven't tried these in that are really good.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:54 AM   #4
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What considerations should be given as to if and when to substitute a 'fresh' spice versus the same in ground & bottled variety?
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:18 AM   #5
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What considerations should be given as to if and when to substitute a 'fresh' spice versus the same in ground & bottled variety?
Usually when people talk about fresh spices they actually mean fresh herbs. Herbs are the leafy aromatics such as basil, parsley and thyme. Spices are seeds and are usually, but not always, dried. Examples would be coriander, cloves, nutmeg. You can find some spices fresh. I don't really have any experience with that though.

I don't know if things like ginger, cinnamon, and chili powder are actually spices since they aren't really the seeds of the plant.

If it's something you're going to be cooking for an extended time you're going to want the dried variety. Fresh herbs are great when raw or cooked for only a short time. They are highly aromatic and loose their flavor quickly if cooked too long (it all floats away in the steam). If you want to use fresh herbs and/or spices but want the flavor blended better then cover the dish and remove from the heat after you've added the herbs. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. This gives the flavors a chance to blend without loosing the flavor. Or make ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Usually if I use fresh herbs only it's for something quickly cooked like sauteed vegetables. Or I'll toss them into rice or pasta after it's cooked.

For soups, stews, sauces or anything cooked for an extended time I'll often use both dried and fresh. I add the dried toward the beginning so the flavor blends all the way through everything and then add the fresh toward the end. Fresh herbs, spices, etc. usually have flavor components that are missing from the dried versions, but the dried versions are often more concentrated in their flavor. I find using both together adds nice depth.

You can also use fresh sprigs of spices to stuff into birds that are being baked or in the middle of rolled meat. Anything that's going to trap the steam from the spices so it enters the food instead of the air. You can add dried spices too but I usually wet them a little with water first. It seems to move the flavor better.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:47 AM   #6
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So generally, a spice is made from plant seeds whereas an herb can be any other part of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, etc...). That is a helpful distinction.

ps...All you gotta do is put your mind to it. Knuckle down. Buckle down. Do it. Do it. Do it.
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:03 AM   #7
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just a couple of thoughts:
parsley is often added to a dish if there's garlic to help counteract stinky garlic breath.

bay leaves are great in a lot of dishes as a background flaviur, especially in soups and marinades.

rosemary is a very strong herb and should only be added to anything in moderation, or less.

thyme is a fairly gentle herb that gives you room for error. great in compound butters. same goes for dill weed.

basil's taste only lasts a short time, so add it shortly before serving.

fennel seed adds a nice licorice-ish flavour, but unless you love it, use in moderation. it's taste lasts a long time.
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanaCook View Post
So generally, a spice is made from plant seeds whereas an herb can be any other part of a plant (roots, stems, leaves, etc...). That is a helpful distinction.

ps...All you gotta do is put your mind to it. Knuckle down. Buckle down. Do it. Do it. Do it.

Not exactly:

Herbs are the leaves and stems of plants. It doesn't matter if they are fresh or dried.

All other plant parts are spices.

For example, cinnamon, which is the bark of a tree, is categorized as a spice. Nutmeg, which is a nut, is a spice.
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by purple.alien.giraffe View Post
Bay leaves - Soups, stews, chili, tomato based sauces. A lot of people add the leaves whole and remove them before serving. I've also seen it included in some curries.
Rosemary - Beef roasts, tomato sauces, poultry, soups, stews. It goes well with oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, black pepper. Experiment a little by smelling it with other spices to see what seems appealing. It has sort of a dusty/dry sweet flavor (as contrasted to basil which has a sort of sweet tingly, more chlorophyll like flavor).
Thyme - Pork, stuffing, poultry, mushrooms, soups, stews, casseroles. It goes well with oregano, rosemary, sage, black pepper. Another one to experiment with. It has a dry/dusty pungent flavor. No tartness or sweetness really. Its very neutral in that sense.
Oregano - Beef, tomato sauces, cream sauces, salad dressing, cheese (especially mild creamy cheeses or italian hard cheeses), seasoned butter for bread or pasta, pasta salads, vegetable salads (especially ones with vinegar). Pungent, sweet, chlorophyll flavor.
Parsley - Just about any savory dish. Haven't tried it in deserts but it is good in some fruit salads. Very strong chlorophyll with a hint of sweetness and lots of water flavor. Adds depth without making things taste heavier and can lighten the flavor of stronger spices (i.e. oregano). Complementary with most other spices/herbs.

That's my experience. I'm sure there are lots of things I haven't tried these in that are really good.
^^This is really helpful, thank you
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:05 PM   #10
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To emphasize what Bucky said, when I was a little girl, many moons ago, in the U.S., a branch of parsley on your plate in a restaurant was "just" a garnish and don't remember anyone actually eating. Then we lived in Europe (and since I've known and dined with many Europeans), and that little bit of parsley is always picked up and eaten at the end of the meal as a breath freshener.

In the Indian restaurants (in the U.S. and in Hong Kong, again, many moons ago) a plate heaped with a licorice flavored seed was presented after the meal or at the cash register for much the same purpose -- freshen the breath after a spicy meal, and in this case I believe our host said it also aided in digestion. I think it was anise seed, but wouldn't swear to it, there are so many licorice flavored herbs and spices. You'd take a pinch and munch it, much as you would a mint after dinner at a U.S. restaurant.
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