Thursday, March 27, 2008

Exotic spices

A couple of our friends recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, and brought back spices to share with us. They look intriguing and smell wonderful, but I'm not quite sure what to do with them and welcome your suggestions.

Clockwise, starting left top: star anise, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves. I've never even seen those first 3 in whole form, and the only time I've used whole cloves was to make pomanders as a child.


Brie said...

Those spices look wonderful...I can smell their aroma. Nutmeg is a wonderful addition to cream based sauces or bitter greens (i.e. spinach, broccoli rabe, etc.). I use a microplaner to grate mine. I prefer doing it this way over the already ground version. According to Rachel Ray, nutmeg is that addition that make people go "hmm".

Anonymous said...

anise, I believe, is the basis for black licorice. I've never used it in cooking.

Cloves are excellent with ham. I score the top of the top diagonally both ways. in the crosses, I put in a clove. Brown sugar and orange juice make an excellent glaze to pour over and to baste with while baking the ham. I also use the cloves to hold the pineapple slices to the ham so the juice flavors the ham while cooking.

Stephanie said...

I just popped over comment on what to do with the nutmeg, but I see Brie beat me to it!

I make a holiday wassail (hot drink, nonalcoholic for us) that calls for whole cloves. I usually only have the ground type on hand so I make do with that.

All of those spices are nice and aromatic--not only great for cooking and baking, but for making potpourri as well. I like to boil water with citrus peels & spices like these for a homey scent.

Carrie said...

Cardamom - I'd never heard of that one until recently.

My mother in law had this raw blueberry/banana dessert which ahd a graham cracker base with about 1/4 a tsp. of cardamom mixed with the cracker. If you want, I'll e-mail you the recipe. It's the best summertime dessert I've EVER had (although it does require an enormous amount of blueberries). We have tons of blueberries here in Oregon in July. Not sure about where you are.

BTW - side note in our lives - we're adopting from Korea!

Let me know if you'd like that recipe!

A, B & C said...

I'll ask my husband, since he loves rare spices. His favorite store, and quarterly catalog are from a local spice shop near my Mom. Maybe try their website for recipe ideas at or search online. Let us know what you find!

Sarah said...

I cut cardamon pods in half and simmer them with milk, water, tea leaves, etc. for a chai tea. There are many recipes available online.

Anonymous said...

These exotic spices are a fun gift! I know cardamom is a seasoning for chai, but the only one of these that I've ever seen in whole form is cloves. I'll be interested to hear how you use them! (I missed this post yesterday!) Love you, Mom

mer said...

Yep...cardamon is a flavorful ingredient in chai. I've also seen it used in a sweet bread, but I don't have a recipe for that. I'm wondering if you could substitute it for cinnamon?

I use ground cloves in my oatmeal raisin cookies. I need to send you that recipe...along with my one for pancakes that I never mailed. My company left earlier this morning, so now that I'm not so distracted, I'll get them sent to you (soon!).