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Old 01-08-2011, 10:17 AM   #11
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The go to book I have is called " The Flavor Bible " it not only tells you which spices but which veggies, which fruits, which wines, etc... It is invaluable in my kitchen, and it's a great read... Go to your local bookstore and look through it to see if it might interest you... Happy cooking!!!

A woman is like a tea bag, you never no how strong she is until you put her in hot water...
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:38 AM   #12
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Chemistry comes into play a lot more with baking than with cooking. Cooking is mostly about taste/flavor. Savory recipes always come in different versions because people change them to suit their tastes.

A recipe calls for rosemary and you hate rosemary but the recipe sounds good otherwise - you omit the rosemary and use thyme in its place. Not a problem. The recipe tastes different but, to your taste, better.

I was looking for a recipe for pasta e fagioli the other day. I looked at a dozen or so from different sites and every one was different. Different meats, different beans, different herbs and spices. People change recipes all the time based on what they like and what's in the pantry.

Bottom line. It has to taste good to you if you are going to cook and eat it.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by custard View Post
Hi everyone,

I just joined the forum because I've become much more interested in cooking lately and this seemed like a good place to bounce my questions off others.

I've decided to try to learn cooking from a ground-up type method - instead of just following recipes mechanically like I've done for years without actually learning anything or understanding what I'm doing, I really want to understand the relationship between foods and flavours. Why some things taste amazing while others taste horrible, and why certain flavours mix with certain foods.

I'll start off with my title question: How do you know what herbs and spices go with what foods? What do you base it on??

I know a little bit about this.. I know that for example herbs like basil and oregano go well with tomato sauces, and that things like cumin and cardamom go very nicely in a curry. But I don't know much, so please teach me!

Also, I had a more specific question. Because I'm going with a ground-up approach, I've been trying various foods with only one or two spices instead of combos, because I really want to get a sense of how individual spices taste with different foods, and then how they taste if I add one or two and begin to layer.

I tried this very simple chicken dish the other night, "chicken paprika." I fried some onions and butter, threw in a couple tbsps of paprika, some chicken broth, and then cooked the chicken in it. It was delicious! Soon after, I tried the exact same recipe but with beef instead. And it was pretty bad.

These are the kind of things I want to figure out. Why did the paprika make the chicken so delicious yet did very little to the beef if not worsened its flavour? What are the differences between various meats and how they should be treated in terms of sauces, herbs, spices?

I will stop with the questions now. Any tips, advice, wisdom - greatly appreciated!
Just another quick hint - check out spice sites such as Spices at Penzeys Spices Spices Herbs and Seasonings A-E for descriptions and uses.
"The kitchen is a country in which there are always discoveries to be made."
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:41 PM   #14
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I don't think there are any "do's" and "don'ts" when you're cooking. Aside from the obvious ones that would probably make anyone keel over and want to puke - you should just experiment on your own and have fun - that's what it's all about! I love mixing spices and just experimenting for myself.
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:49 PM   #15
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I would use a hot or smokey paprika with beef (or both) rather than the sweet you might use with chicken. To my taste, the meat has more flavor, hence the seasonings need more. I use a lot of paprika when I make cabbage rolls, and cabbage/smoked sausage soups. Cabbage has a strong flavor, so I used hot or smoked, sweet will just disappear.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:14 PM   #16
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Some favorite combos for me:

Thyme and Sage: I love these with poultry and pork
Rosemary: Lamb and game -- to my taste it is strong, so strong flavored meats
Cinnamon, clove, allspice -- good in sweets, but also Greek and Med savory dishes
Oregano goes from Mexican to Italian quite easily
Parsley, chives -- anything at all; I can't think of anything that wouldn't be improved by a sprinkle at the end
Cilantro -- Mex and Asian dishes, especially for fresh flavor with citrus and raw dishes
Cumin -- lots of dishes, but if you're making Mexican food and don't want it to be too hot for your guests, this gives it that distinctive flavor without the heat.
Dill -- especially good in fish dishes and cucumber salads
There are many herbs and spices that have a "licorice" type flavor: Anise, fennel, tarragon, chervil, etc. This is a by the taste thing (all are really, but this is a flavor people hate or love, not much in between).
Mint -- sweet dishes, but also that fresh taste in southeast Asian dishes.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:44 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by balloon View Post
I don't think there are any "do's" and "don'ts" when you're cooking. Aside from the obvious ones that would probably make anyone keel over and want to puke - you should just experiment on your own and have fun - that's what it's all about! I love mixing spices and just experimenting for myself.
I agree. Your mistakes teach you too. Now you know that paprika is good on chicken and not good on beef.

If you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:12 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by balloon View Post
I don't think there are any "do's" and "don'ts" when you're cooking. Aside from the obvious ones that would probably make anyone keel over and want to puke - you should just experiment on your own and have fun - that's what it's all about! I love mixing spices and just experimenting for myself.
I agree with this too. If you are going to take the recipes and do them exactly without putting your touch, then you will not discover new things. I always try to add 1 or 2 herbs or spices according to my taste and it could end up good or bad. But at the end I feel happy because I experienced a new thing.
"What's For Dinner Tonight?" is my everyday question that I ask for myself.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:49 AM   #19
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Welcome to the forum.

I have no clue where I got this from but it may help. But it is a pretty good guide. I haven't used all these spices. But it is a place to start. HTH


beef stews and soups, braises, breads, cakes, carrots, cookies, eggnog, fish, fresh and cooked fruit, fruit preserves, mince pie, pea soup, pickles, pot roast, potato soup, puddings, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, relishes, spice cakes, spice cookies, spinach, tomato soup, turnips, yellow squash

breads, cakes, cookies, fruit, fruit pies, liqueurs, pork dishes, sweet rolls

cold soups, salads, sauces

baked and broiled fish, barbecue sauce, bean soup, chicken dishes, chicken salad, eggplant, gazpacho, German potato salad, green beans, herbed breads, lamb chops, mozzarella cheese, pasta sauces, peas, pesto, potatoes, poultry stuffing, rabbit, rice dishes, salad dressings, seafood dishes, shellfish, spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, summer squash, tomato dishes, tomato sauces, tossed salads, veal stew

beef marinades, beef stew, black beans, boiled beef, braises, casseroles, chicken stock, chowder, fish stock, game, jambalaya, lamb stew, lentils, marinades, meat stocks, pasta sauces, poached fish, pot roast, poultry, red beans and rice, soups, tomato sauces, stews, stocks, veal roast

beets, boiled cabbage, borscht, breads, Brussels sprouts, cabbage rolls, carrots, cauliflower, cole slaw, cottage cheese, cucumber salad, cream cheese, egg dishes, green beans, pork dishes, rye bread, sauerbraten, sauerkraut, tuna salad

breads, cakes, cookies, fruit dishes, jellies, pastries, pickling, pies, pumpkin, sweet potatoes

Cajun & creole? dishes, curries, Mexican food, seafood, soups

bean salad, beef, egg salad, lamb, marinades, meat loaf, pickles, relishes, salad dressings, soups, tomatoes, vegetable soups and stews

Bearnaise sauce, beef dishes, carrots, cheese dishes, egg salad, egg dishes, fish, garnishes, green salads, guacamole, peas, roasted meat and poultry, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, tartar sauce, tomato soup, veal roast, vegetables, vichyssoise

barbecue sauce, chili, cocktail sauce, croutons, curries, dips, egg dishes, meatballs, meat loaf, vegetarian chili

asparagus, baked potatoes, beef, calves liver, cauliflower, cottage cheese, dips, eggs, fish, goat cheese, Green Goddess Dressing, garnish, green salads, herb butters, herb vinegars, hot and sour soup, lamb, omelets, pork, remoulade sauces, tomatoes, veal, vegetable dishes, vichyssoise

black bean soup, guacamole, marinades, pork sausage, salsas

applesauce, apple pie, baked apples, baked beans, baked/glazed ham, Bananas Foster, bean dishes, braises, butternut squash, cakes, cappuccino, carrots, cherry pie, coffee, cooked fruit, cookies, curries, dessert toppings, eggnog, French toast, fruit, hot spiced drinks, Indian pudding, moussaka, pastitsio, pastries, pies, preserves, puddings, sauerbraten, spice cakes, spice cookies, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, yellow vegetables

baked beans, baked/glazed ham, beef marinades, beets, braises, cakes, carrots, cooked fruit, corned beef, curries, fruit, fruit cake, hot spiced drinks, marinades for beef, pickles, pies, puddings, pumpkin pie, sauces, spice cakes, spice cookies, stocks, sweet potatoes, yams

bean salad, beef soups and stews, beets, boiled potatoes, chili, chutney, cooked fruit, cucumbers, cucumber yogurt salad, curries, game dishes, garam masala, gingerbread, green beans, ground beef, ground lamb, lamb stew, lentil soup, marinades, pea soup, pickles, pilafs, polenta, pork, relishes, rice dishes, rice pudding, sausage, shellfish, stews, stir fries, tomato salads

baked beans, baked chicken, beans and rice, black beans, black bean soup, cabbage, chick peas , chicken salad, chili, curries, deviled eggs, enchiladas, guacamole, kidney beans, meatballs, meat loaf, pinto beans, potato casseroles, rice dishes, roasted chicken, salsas, sauteed chicken, Spanish rice, vegetarian chili

carrot salad, chicken dishes, chili, chutneys, cream sauces, cream soups, curries, Edam cheese, eggs, fish dishes, fruits, garam masala, pickled vegetables, poultry, roasted goat, sauerkraut, sausages

boiled beef, boiled potatoes, borscht, broiled fish, cabbage, carrots, cheese dips, chow chow, chowder, cole slaw, cottage cheese, cream sauces, cucumber salads, dips with sour cream or mayonnaise bases, eggs, fish, green beans, herbed breads, lamb, peas, pickles, potatoes, potato salad, potato soup, poultry, relishes, salads, salad dressings, sauerkraut, seafood, tartar sauce, tomatoes, tomato soup, vegetable soup, zucchini

baked apples, carrots, cabbage, duck, fish, flavored mayonnaises, herb vinegars, Italian sausage, lamb, minestrone, mixed green salads, pizza, potatoes, seafood, shellfish, spaghetti sauce

almond cookies, beets, borscht, bouillabaisse, bouquets garnis, breads, breadsticks, cabbage, cakes, carrots, chutney, curries, fish, goulash, marinades, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, roast pork, rolls, sausages, seafood , pasta sauce, pastries, pizza sauce, tomatoes

chutney, curries, poultry

beef, cream cheese, cucumber, fish, lamb, liver, pasta sauce, pesto, pickles, pizza sauce, pork, poultry, salad dressings, salads, soups, stews, stir fry, tomato sauces, tomato soups, vegetable dishes

braises, broiled fish, carrots, cakes, chutney, cooked fruit, cookies, curries, gingerbread, grilled meats, Indian pudding, mincemeat, pies, poultry, pumpkin pie, salad dressings, sauerbraten, spice cakes, spice cookies, stir fries, yams, yellow vegetables

baked and broiled fish, beets, boiled beef, cocktail sauce, egg salad, ham, potatoes, prime rib, salad dressings, sausage, smoked fish, sour cream dips

cookies, cheese dishes, custards, fish, fish sauces, fruit desserts, jellies, pickles, pork, poultry dishes, pound cake, spinach, vegetable dishes, yellow vegetables

baked fish, beef stew, bread, chicken salad, egg salad, eggplant, fish, fowl, green beans, green vegetables, lamb, lima beans, mushrooms, pork sausage, potato soup, potatoes, poultry, rice dishes, salads, seafood, spaghetti sauce, spinach, stuffings, tomatoes, tomato sauces, tomato soups, turkey, turnips, veal, veal sausage, yams, zucchini

boiled potatoes, carrots, chutney, cucumbers, curries, eggplant, fruit salads, garnish, gazpacho, herb vinegars, iced tea, jellies, lamb, mint juleps, peas, pork dishes, potatoes, rabbit, roast lamb, spring rolls, salmon, salsa, shish kabobs, tabouli, tomato salads, veal Mustard

applesauce, bean soups, beef soups, beef stews, breads, broccoli, cakes, carrots, cauliflower, cookies, custards, cream soups, creamed vegetables, eggnog, fish chowder, French toast, fruit desserts, green beans, hot cider, mushrooms, onions, pies, puddings, poultry, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, quiches, rice pudding, sauces, spinach, squash, stewed fruit, Swedish meatballs, sweet potatoes, yams, yellow vegetables, vichyssoise

beef, bell peppers, chicken cacciatore, corn, dolmades , dried bean, eggs, eggplant, fresh tomatoes, fish chowder, game, green vegetables, gyros, lasagna, marinades, meat loaf, minestrone, mixed green salad, moussaka, mushrooms, onions, onion soup, pasta sauces, pizza, poultry, posole, potatoes, roast pork, roast turkey, salad dressings, sausages, seafood, seafood salad, stewed beef, stewed tomatoes, summer squash, three bean salad, tomato juice, tomato sauces, tomato soup, veal chops, vegetable soup, zucchini

braises, fish dishes, goulashes, poultry, potato dishes, stews

beef, bell peppers, chicken cacciatore, corn, dolmades , dried bean, eggs, eggplant, fresh tomatoes, fish chowder, game, green vegetables, gyros, lasagna, marinades, meat loaf, minestrone, mixed green salad, moussaka, mushrooms, onions, onion soup, pasta sauces, pizza, poultry, posole, potatoes, roast pork, roast turkey, salad dressings, sausages, seafood, seafood salad, stewed beef, stewed tomatoes, summer squash, three bean salad, tomato juice, tomato sauces, tomato soup, veal chops, vegetable soup, zucchini

breads, cakes, cookies, cottage cheese, pastries, piroshki, rolls, salad dressings

artichokes, bean soups, beef roasts, beets, boiled potatoes, broiled swordfish, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cheese dishes, chowders, corn, cornbread, eggs, game, gravies, green beans, green peas, grilled fish, grilled meats, herbed breads, lima beans, liver, marinades, mixed green salads, mushrooms, pork roasts, potatoes, poultry, roast chicken, roast lamb, seafood, spinach, summer squash, stuffings, tomatoes, tomato sauces, turnips, veal, vegetable soup, yeast breads, zucchini

bouillabaisse, cioppino, cream sauces, curries, paella, pilafs, rice dishes, risotto, seafood

artichokes, bean soups, beef dishes, biscuits, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cheese dishes, cheese omelets, cheese sandwiches, chicken salad, consomm?, cornbread, corn soup, eggplant, fish, game, green beans, herbed breads, lamb, lentils, lima beans, liver, meat and poultry stuffings, onions, pates, peas, pork dishes, pork sausage, pork stews, potatoes, roast pork, sausage, sauteed chicken, souffl?s, soups, squash, squash soup, stuffed fish, stuffings, tomato soup, tomatoes, tuna salad, turkey salad, turkey soup, veal, vegetable soup

artichokes, bean salad, beans, beets, cabbage, chicken or meat pies, egg dishes, eggplant, fish chowder, green beans, herb butter, herb vinegar, herbed breads, lamb, lentils, lentil soup, meat loaf, mixed green salads, omelets, peas, poultry, rice, roast pork, sausages, seafood, soups, stewed beef, stuffings, summer squash, tomatoes, veal

bagels, breads, cheese spreads, chicken, cookies, fish batters, fruit salads, greens, hummus, mustard, noodles, rolls, salads, salad garnish, stir fries, tomatoes, vegetable salads

artichokes, beef with bearnaise sauce, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup, chowders, creamed fish, cream sauces, egg dishes, fish, Green Goddess dressing, grilled meats, herb butter, herb vinegars, leeks, tomato soup, lima beans, marinades, mixed green salad, mushrooms, mushroom soup, omelets, onions, oysters rockefeller, peas, poultry dishes, roasted chicken, salads, salad dressings, sauces, seafood, seafood salad, shellfish, pasta sauces, spinach, stews, tartar sauce, tomato juice, tomatoes, veal, vinegars, vinaigrettes, wine sauces

artichokes, asparagus, beef, bouquets garni, broccoli, broiled fish, broiled rabbit, carrots, chicken soup, chicken stock, chowder, cornbread, court bouillon, crawfish bisques, Creole sauce, duck, egg dishes, eggplant, etouff?e, fish stock, goat cheese, green beans, grilled lamb, gumbo, herb butter, herb vinegars, herbed breads, lamb, leeks, lentil soup, mixed green salad, mushrooms, onions, onion soup, pickled vegetables, pork, potatoes, poultry, poultry stuffing, red beans and rice, roast goose, salads, seafood, shellfish, shish kebab, souvlakia, spinach, stewed beef, stuffings, tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomatoes, turtle soup, vegetables, vegetable soup

chicken, curries, curry powder, egg dishes, fish, mustards, pickles, relishes, rice dishes, salad dressings, sauces, vegetables

Cobb salad, cottage cheese, cucumbers, egg dishes, fruit cocktails, garnishes, gorgonzola cheese, salads, sliced pears, soups, souvlakia, wild rice
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:42 AM   #20
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Location: Prescott
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Spork, great insight! My favorite herbs are: basil, which goes well with tomatoes, eggplant, thai and vietnamese soups, and salads. Fresh cilantro, also goes great with tomatoes, chilies, I like using it with fish and lemon. mmm, thyme is really good, I love it in chicken or fish recipes. french soups, and spring salads. I also like paprika with chicken or potatoe, and dried red chile with beef. ancho is good. ancho is also good with pork, as well as achiote is with pork. rosemary, great with potatoes tossed in garlic and olive oil and baked...I love rosemary with chicken too. hope this can help in any way!

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