It’s a familiar fixture in any kitchen. Often forgotten, relegated to a inconspicuous dark corner of counter space or pantry shelf.
Most of your spices just sit there, forgotten. Depending on your level of experimentation, a few may emerge. But if you’re like most people, by the time you finally reach for the oregano, thyme or marjoram, it tastes like old, dusty cardboard.
Solution? Forget buying an entire spice rack at your local gourmet food store or an overpriced glass jar of sage at your local supermarket. Purchase only the spices you need at Penzey’s (www.penzeys.com) in small quantities.
Experiment with one spice at a time (their fabulous catalog includes a bunch of recipes) before stocking your entire pantry. Their spices are much cheaper than those you would find at the supermarket and you can often find a variety of spices. Case in point, they sell four different kinds of cinnamon! Penzeys also offers spice sets that make perfect gifts for the home cook.
In case you need some inspiration to whip up a spicy dish, here’s a delicious soup adapted from Martha Stewart’s Healthy Quick Cook. When I first made the recipe, I found it a little watery, so I added a few veggies to make it a little more hearty. Serve with crusty white bread.
Curried Tomato Seafood Bouillabaisse
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups water
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
2 whole cloves
1 1-inch stick cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons medium spicy curry powder
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. assorted white fish, mussels, clams (Trader Joe’s has a perfect frozen seafood mix for this), fresh (or, if frozen, thawed)
1 cup edamame
1 cup chopped bok choy
salt and pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
1. In a large pot, combine the tomatoes, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper, curry powder and lemongrass with the stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.
2. Add the fish to the broth and cook about 10 minutes.
3. Add the edamame and bok choy (feel free to experiment with other veggies).
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Ladle into soup bowls and top with the parsley.