Sunday Seven - Herbs/Spices/Flavors

I’ve been sitting on this post for several months – just to see if my preferences changed or if these really were my favorite herbs/spices/flavors to work with. I am pretty certain they are. I’m going to work in 2015 to expand my flavor horizons and play with some new spices and herbs…I’m even going to plant a small herb garden and will try a few new things in there as well.

So…here is my Sunday Seven – of the culinary bent.

Basil – I think this is my #1 go to herb for almost everything- especially in the summer months. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to Basil and I only want it fresh. I enjoy having caprese salads for lunch, so this is easily my most used herb as well.

Dill – So…I am pretty certain this adoration began as a child. I loved dill pickles. I mean L-O-V-E-D them. I would eat them morning, noon and night if my parent would have let me. Alas, they knew I needed a much more balanced diet that one consisting solely of cucumbers fermented in vinegar and spices! I use dill on most of the fish that we have as well as in chicken salad that I make (with grapes, dried cranberries, pecans and sour cream in place of ½ of the mayo). Dill is one of the herbs I will take both dry and fresh…but fresh is always the preference.

Cinnamon – I’m not a big sweet/savory combination girl. I don’t think my taste buds will ever truly get used to the mingling of sweet & sour or sweet and spicy. However, if there was ever a spice that was going to assist with this conversion, it would be cinnamon.  For me, the stronger the cinnamon the better…I like the ‘kick’. In almost all of the baking recipes I have that call for cinnamon I will double the amount asked for.

Garlic – Does this really need any explanation? Garlic makes almost every dish yummier! I also want to plant this one and see what happens.

Vanilla Bean – This was not on my favorite list until last year. I think because I felt like the actual beans were too much to deal with. In fact, they are quite easy to use and I really enjoy the intense flavor. As a matter of fact, vanilla is another ingredient that I will double in the recipes.

Chives – Such a happy little herb PACKED with flavor. This is another one that I like to add to salads and sauces. It is a nice garnish as well and I think is a perfect addition to turkey or Cornish game hens as they roast the last 30 minutes.

Mint – Alight, I confess, I don’t really cook with this in dishes. I do, however, put it in my water almost daily and I adore putting it in hot water with lemon and honey…even when I’m not sick! Of course, this means that it must be fresh. I understand that it is an herb that will grow like a weed and take over a garden…so, I’m growing to start a container with only mint growing in it.

We shall see how cooking in 2015 will expand my herb/spice/flavor preferences!