Thursday, November 10, 2005

Seeds and Pods

Ten years ago, had you told me I’d some day not only use fennel seeds on regular basis, but actually order them in bulk, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I HATED fennel as a kid. I’d pick the seeds individually out of sausages on pizza, and hunt for them in pasta sauce, picking up on the slightest hint of licorice flavor. Now I can’t get enough. Last week, we made an amazing pork roast, rubbed in fennel salt 1 day ahead of time (recipe here) Since then—the leftover ground salt-fennel mix has been going in everything.

Fennel is not the only spice I love these days—fresh sage leaves, marjoram and mint are finding their way into many meals. Also, can’t get enough of the “pumpkin pie” spices—nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Lately, we’ve been simmering a small pot of cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and star anise on the stove to make the house smell divinely fall-like.

Therefore, I was of course thrilled when my first-ever order from Penzey’s Spices arrived on my doorstep today. I had ordered fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garam masala, Chinese cinnamon, and cardamom pods. Having a horrible sense for weights/sizes, the 4 oz. I ordered of each will keep me stocked for many months to come!


meles said...

wow. this is 100 percent impressive. what a chef you are! teach me the ways of the seeds!

Jessica said...

I share your experience on both counts! I always hated fennel and licorice (sp? ugh, I'm just too tired right now) yet I seem to be changing. I love fennel thinly sliced (like with my mandoline) or braised. More the texture than flavor, tho. I had some in a salad in NYC this weekend that was the best fennel dish ever!

Why the sea change? Different body chemistry perhaps? Who knows.

Anyway, my friends in Pittburgh sent me a huge gorgeous Penzey's box for a wedding gift. I'd never heard of the place! Nor do I use many dried spices and herbs but lo and behold, I was cooking the other week and used like, four of the things in the extensive kit. Glad to have it, very good quality stuff. Plus I have more bay leaves than I ever thought possible. Very exciting...