First of all, I know I haven’t been putting up my daily paintings lately, even though this week’s plan is nothing BUT painting (all in all I think I owe you four). But you’ll see what I’m doing later. It’s a secret.
Also, I DO owe a book review (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”), which I forgot due to the paintings, so I’ll do that tomorrow.
For now: WWW! 🙂
This week was a bit simpler, but for the sake of extolling the virtues of simplicity. [Disclaimer: Not wholly true. Also because of painting.]
I made roast chicken, a fresh vegetable mix and, although I’ll be making some rice pudding later on in the week, for today I gave him a cookie and his usual morning bananas, squash and coffee.
Now, please give me a few minutes to praise three marvelous, yet underrated spices.
1: Smoked Paprika.
Paprika, using the Western European definition*, is a powder made from ground dried peppers. Sweet paprika is made from bell peppers. Spicy paprika is either made from chili peppers or from a combination or bell peppers and chili peppers. Paprika is usually red, but you could make paprika from green peppers if you wished to. [*In some Eastern European languages, like Polish, “papryka” is a bell pepper, so that’s why I mention it!]
Many people are familiar with the taste of normal paprika, as it’s commonly used in a variety of traditional European, American, African and Middle-Eastern cuisine and used globally in some form or another. In fact, it’s been incorporated into the traditional cuisines of most countries, even in recipes where it didn’t initially exist. It adds a sweet, slightly piquant flavour to most food. Sweet paprika is often used when a bit of spice is desired, but without the heat or burn of fully chilies. Spicy paprika is used where heat is called for, and it carries the flavour more evenly through a broth, gravy, stew or paste than fresh or dried chilies can. Both also offer the advantage of keeping longer than even dried chilies.
However, smoked paprika adds another dimension entirely. It is usually made out of bell peppers and, on top of the sweetness and slight spiciness, there is a smokey, barbequey flavour. It’s hard to describe beyond that, but it’s marvelous (if I haven’t said so already).
Smoked paprika is best used on:
-all red and white meats
-fried protein dishes
-making sausages, pates, meatloaves or burgers (meat and veggie)
-anything involving cheese
2: Powdered Onion and Onion Salt.
Dried onion that has been powdered and maybe mixed with salt.
This is also brilliant. Basically, depending on how much you put in it will add the flavour of French onion soup or the je-ne-sais-quoi of junk Chinese food (besides the MSG). That is pretty much all you need to know.
Powdered onion is best used on:
-savory dishes where you would ordinarily use onion
-anything baked or roasted
-combining with breadcrumbs and savory batter
-most fried things
3: Ground Cloves.
It seems everyone but bakers and ham-makers underestimates the power of the mighty clove. It has an acrid taste, like concentrated real ales with a touch of earthy or nuttiness. Something to be used in very small quantities, usually to impart flavour before being discarded. Cloves are the other thing you find in an Indian dish (alongside cardamoms and bay leaves) that you bite into and have to spit out, confused that this strange piece of wood was intentionally put into your meal. But cloves are brilliant. They can intensify spicy or savoury flavours, contrast with sweet ones and take the edge off salty ones.
Ground cloves are to be used very sparingly. But they are preferable over whole cloves in two aspects:
1, Whole cloves stay whole in your food, and that’s just gross.
2, Ground cloves don’t take as long for their flavour to impart. Being a powder, it just dissolves into the fluid or paste you’re making.
Ground cloves are best used on:
-pepper crusts for meat
-in curries and rich stews
-in jams and preserves
Now, that out of the way, you will now understand why the main recipes were so simple. When you use ingredients and spices artfully, the tastes do all the talking.
Recipe 1: Spiced Roast Chicken.
-1 chicken thigh
-1/2tsp smoked paprika
-1/4tsp onion powder
-1/16tsp ground cloves
-knife for slicing
1: Coat your chicken, over and under the skin, in the spices.
2: Cook in an oven at 160C for 45min.
3: Slice and serve.
Recipe 2: Seasoned Vegetables.
-5 large carrots
-2tbsp onion powder
-1tbsp smoked paprika
-chopping board and knife
-large pot, stirring spoon
1: Slice the celeriac, potato and carrots and put on to boil for about 15min.
2: Slice the courgette. Add alongside the seasonings.
3: Simmer for 1.5h. Top up water as needed.
4: Serve with some form of flavoured fat stirred in (gammon lard, goat’s butter, salted coconut oil, etc).
And that’s what I served Jon today. What did he think of the seasoning? 4/5, but could have been a 4.5/5 if I’d put more of the stock in with the veg. Live and learn. 🙂