If I mentioned the words herbs and spices, most of us would envision adding them to our favorite recipes. I recall my grandmother being a genius when it came to using herbs and spices for a variety of reasons, including illness. I wish I had paid more attention and learned how to incorporate them into my meals. Thankfully there is a generous amount of books on the market that can educate us on their properties and uses. I received two such books from DK Books. Both have opened my eyes widely to the enormous varieties of herbs and spices available and how I can get adventurous and blend them into my meals.
Spice Science & New Blends
The Spice book is more of a detailed compendium that shares all the attributes, features and specifics of all the spices within its pages. It explains the science behind how each spice works, plus you will also discover not only new flavor compounds but also exciting flavor groups. Best of all you learn how to create meals inspired by the flavors of these delicious spices.
Included in this fragrant book is a list of spices from various parts of the world — Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, The Americas and Europe. You’ll learn about the 12 unique spice profiles and then dive right into mouthwatering recipes.
This book starts you off with Spices and their Flavor Compounds. It includes a full description of the 12 different flavor groups and their specific characteristics. A Periodic Table of Spices with a key that harmonizes with the 12 groups is found on the following page. You can immediately spot which flavor profile a spice offers and learn how to make your own blends.
Each spice shares a lot of information, its region of cultivation, appearance -fresh, powder or flakes, history, flavor taste, what flavors it can be blended with, food partners, how to release the flavors, and so much more. This guidance will allow you much more freedom when brainstorming creative meals. The included recipes have colorful images that will inspire you to try new flavors. It would definitely be a huge advantage to have this Spice book as a culinary companion.
Herbs & Spices
Herbs & Spices is a treasure trove of information for all who love to cook and create tasty meals. It’s a compilation of over 200 herbs and spices, along with numerous recipes that you’ll be eager to try. The book is divided into two sections, Herbs and Spices. There is also a small section on the different kinds of salt and their uses. I had no idea there was seaweed salt and several others mentioned.
The Herb section is divided into several categories, Fresh & Mild Herbs, Sweet Herbs, Citrus or Tart Herbs, Licorice or Anise Herbs, Minty Herbs, Oniony Herbs, Bitter or Astringent Herbs and Pungent or Spicy Herbs. Plus there is a section on preparing herbs by stripping, chopping, pounding, drying and rubbing. Perusing through this section, I was astounded by the different types of basil available. There are thirteen, in fact, each with its own flavor profile.
The Spice section is also divided into specific categories, Nutty Spices, Sweet Spices, Citrus Spices, Licorice or Anise Spices, Warm & Earthy Spices, Bitter or Astringent Spices, and Pungent Spices. There is also a section of preparing spices by bruising, grating, slicing, shredding, dry-roasting, frying and so much more.
The Recipe section covers Blending Herbs and Spices where you learn about herb mixtures, spice mixtures, sauces, condiments and marinades.
Each herb and spice is highlighted with a wealth of invaluable information. It includes full-color vivid images, a little history, how to buy and store it, how to grow it, which parts are used, flavor pairing, harvesting, tasting notes and its culinary uses. Incidentally, it’s nice to see both the herbs and spices in their raw form before they are made into other products for cooking.
I’ve never been good at blending any herbs or spices, so I was eager to read the recipe section. Recipes are provided for herb mixtures for specific foods. Other recipes are made from blended herbs that represent global locations like Mediterranean herbs, Trinidad seasoning, Jamaican jerk seasoning, Iranian herb mixture and many more. Spice mixtures include blends from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Africa, the Americas and so much more. There are also recipes for chutneys, relishes, sauces, pastes, baharats, marinades, soups, salads, and several meat dishes.
This culinary book offers a lot of useful tips, techniques, and information. Putting it to use will prevent a lot of kitchen disasters. Knowledge is power and knowing how to add various herbs and spices to make meals flavorful will encourage us to broaden our family taste buds.
Disclaimer: I received product to facilitate a review. All opinions are my own, yours may differ.