13.5.11

Adding Flavour to your Food with Spices and Herbs


Blogging can be so frustating.  I published this on Wednesday and soon thereafter Blogger went down.  Hence, all the comments I received have been lost.  Oh well, let's try again.

Cooking is my passion.  And if you have not thought about it, we do not choose our passions.   My dream is to spend my life cooking and exploring foods and food preparation.  I talk about food ad nauseum.  To channel this energy, I am creating a little cooking school out of my home kitchen.  Either this plan will be a relief to my friends because I have another venue to discuss cooking or, heaven help them, it will fuel my passion to the point I talk about nothing else.  Time will bring the answer.

I have been nervous and at the same time anxiously awaiting to present my first class.  My cooking class career could potentially begin and end in one evening.  In a small city where the status quo is the most comfortable place, you often have only one chance to prove yourself as a newcomer.  "The Secrets of Adding Flavour to Your Food with Spices, Herbs and Other Ingredients" has been deemed a success!  Phew!


My approach to this subject was to create flavour families.  The easiest way to cook without a recipe is to understand which flavours form pleasing combinations.  You can achieve this by using traditional pairings but if you want to spice it up, excuse the pun, then you need to know which spices and herbs will complement each other.

The program began with a Blind Spice Test.  I did not actually blindfold everyone.  But if you had a group of seasoned (there I go again!) cooks or chefs, I would definitely increase the challenge by blindfolding the participants.  I put a teaspoon of a spice or herb in a little tin and they could see and smell, but not taste, the product to guess its identity.

I discussed the qualities of spices and herbs and how to use them.  We also talked about how to make our own spice mixtures.  We learned how to toast them, how to grind them and how to store them.

No discussion on flavouring food is complete until you also learn about salt.  This could be a class unto itself. 

Finding good quality spices and herbs is not always easy if you live in a smaller centre.  This is where the Internet is an invaluable resource and I provided information on some of my favourite online sources.


The remainder of the evening was spent tasting a variety of foods made with spices and herbs that were new to the participants.  They took notes and completed the exercise on flavour families.  All in all, I learned a lot and very much enjoyed preparing for this class.  The group was absolutely fantastic.  They opened their minds to trying some new flavours and had a lot of fun, too.

8 comments:

  1. Congrats on what I will suspect is the first of many, many successful classes!

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  2. It sounds like a fun night, Sarah! Congrats!

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  3. Your class sounds like a lot of fun and filled with great information! Best wishes for much continued success in your cooking school Sarah!

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  4. Sounds like fun. I am very excited to read more about Blind Spice Test Sessions, they sound really interesting! Congrats!
    Cheers,

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  5. Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you!

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  6. Oh my goodness, that look really fancy, and I am drooling :)

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  7. Good on you Sarah. Well done. Cooking classes are a test aren't they? But you learn an enormous amount - setting the mise en place before, understanding the nature of your audience....and just learning new things from the group dynamics. Well done and keep pushing....passions are ever so rewarding!

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  8. Way to go Sarah! I've often dreamed of having cooking classes too, but I never seem to get it going. So proud of you to follow your passion!

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