Know Your Herbs – Spices & How To Cook With Them

Know Your Herbs – Spices & How To Cook With Them

This article will cover the basics of knowing your herbs and spices and how to cook with them.

Herbs and spices are a treasure chest of zesty, sweet, savory and spicy flavors. These flavors fresh or dried impart flavor to any cooked dish or baked good they are used in.

One of the best qualities of herbs and spices is the variety of flavors you can add to foods without adding salt.

Some of these flavors include turmeric (a blend of spices), cayenne pepper, ginger, paprika, garlic, lemon juice or zest, black pepper, dill, Rosemary, coriander, cilantro, Sage, tarragon, and cinnamon.

Examples of fresh or dried herbs used in recipes include among others: basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, sage and dill weed.

Note that for each of these plants, the herb is the green leafy part.

Herbs Used To Flavor Food

As for spices they include any other part of the plant, but not including the leaf.

Spices include dried bark (cinnamon), seeds (cardamom), flower buds (cloves), the roots (ginger), dried berries (allspice) and twigs or just about any part of the plant, but again, not including the leaf.

Take note that spices are used in dried form while herbs can be used either fresh or dried.

How To Cook With Herbs & Spices

When a recipe calls for a type of herb, be sure to use it in the form it is called for. Either fresh or dried.

Dried herbs and spices which are particularly resistant to heat and prolonged cooking are typically used in roasting and baking.

Dried herbs are typically add at the beginning of the cooking process so as to impart flavor while cooking.

On the other hand, when herbs are fresh, they are typically added just as the cooking has been completed.

Fresh herbs are more vulnerable to heat. To much exposure to heat will kill the flavors.

Fresh herbs bring brightness and fresh flavor to a recipe. They are used more typically were no cooking or use of heat is involved.

Fresh herbs can be used in salads, to make sauces, like pesto sauce, and dressings or vinaigrette’s.

Melon Berry Fruit Salad with a Mint-Lime Dressing
Melon Berry Fruit Salad with a Mint-Lime Dressing

The most common dried herbs used include: oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg among others.

Cinnamon is a common spice used in both cooked and baked dishes.

Like these recipes.


Read More Here About – Cooking With Cinnamon


Where as the most common fresh herbs used are: basil, mint, cilantro, parsley and dill weed.

Garnishing With Herbs & Spices

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 
Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice

Other recipes may ask for a teaspoon or two of chopped parsley, cilantro, mint or basil to be sprinkled over the food at the end of cooking to bring some fresh flavor to the dish.

Dried spices can also be used as a garnish such as cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika.

This information is basic, but the idea is herbs and spices (dried or fresh) will significantly elevate the flavor of your dish.

Read more here about How To Spice Things Up When Cooking.


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Banana Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese was invented in the U.S. in the 1870s by a New York dairyman named William Lawrence.

Cream cheese frosting became popular in the 1960s, due to increasing availability of packaged cream cheese in supermarkets.

The frosting is a traditional choice for red velvet cakes, carrot cakes, spice cakes, and banana cakes.

Frostings have existed for well over 350 years with the first documentation occurring in 1655, and included sugar, eggs and rose water (Source: Rise Bake Shoppe).

Can Cream Cheese Frosting Be Left Out At Room Temperature

Banana Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting can sit at a cool room temperature in a bowl or spread on a baked good for up to 8 hours before it should be refrigerated.

The frosting after being made can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Are Confectioners’ Sugar & Powdered Sugar The Same

This is important to know when making a choice between these two refined sugar products to make a cream cheese frosting.

The terms in the culinary world are often used interchangeably, but technically these two types of processed sugars are different.

Powdered sugar is simply granulated sugar that has been ground to a very fine powder.

Where as, confectioners’ sugar also called icing sugar, is powdered sugar with starch added, to prevent it from caking as it sits or is being stored.

Confectioners’ sugar contains a starch and depending on the brand you purchase, the starch could be corn, potato or tapioca starch.

By adding the starch this helps keep the confectioners’ sugar from melting into cakes, cookies, and other sweets when sprinkled on after baking.

The starch also helps to absorb moisture, prevent clumping, and improve flow.

Because of anticaking agents, confectioners’ sugar is not a good substitute for granulated sugar.

Also, the frosting holds its shape better at room temperature with confectioner’s sugar than with powdered sugar.


Get The Know On How to Make Really Moist Banana Bread


Banana Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 stick (4 tbsps.) butter, unsalted, room temperature

2 teaspoons coconut, finely shredded

3 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 medium banana, not over ripe, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese and butter. Mix by hand or with a hand held electric mixer.

When we’ll combined, add the coconut, walnuts, mashed banana, vanilla and mix in.

Next mix half of the confectioners’ sugar until combined. Then add the other half and mix in well.

After your baked good has cooled, spread cream cheese frosting evenly over cake, cupcakes or cookies.


Try These Deliciously Yummy Recipes Made With Bananas


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Using Citrus Zest When Cooking & Baking

Using Citrus Zest When Cooking & Baking

When a recipe calls for “zest” of a citrus fruit, it’s referring to the colorful outer part of the skin, not the inner white part, which is known as the pith.

You can use the zest of oranges, lemons, and limes, among many other citrus fruits, to bake and cook with.

The zest of citrus fruits contains all of the aromatic citrus oils and provides a hint of citrus tang to the recipe.

A simple method of obtaining a fine zest is by rubbing the fruit against the smallest holes of a cheese grater.


Besides Zest, Lemons Have Many Other UsesThe Many Uses Of A Lemon


The Solution To Having Zest On Hand When You Need It

After squeezing or juicing lemons or oranges do not toss the peels.

Freeze the peels or rinds in a freezer bag and whenever you need zest of a lemon or orange, you can grate it from the frozen peels.

grating lemon zest
Zesting Frozen Citrus Peelings

The flavor is just the same as if the peel were fresh.

It will save a trip to the store just to buy a citrus fruit for a small amount of zest.

Besides freezing the citrus peelings, here are some other ideas as to what you can do to save zest for baking and cooking.


Read More Here About The Benefits Of The Orange Peel


Blanch The Zest

Immerse peels in cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain the zest. This technique allows to remove their bitterness.

Make Zest Powder

Set zest ribbons to dry for 2 days. Next, place zest in a preheated oven (250-300 degrees) for 5-10 minutes.

Let cool and grind them into a powder using a mortar or a grinder. Ideal to finely season any recipe calling for zest.

Try some of our favorite recipes using zest.


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What Apple To Use For Cooking & Baking

Apples

When using apples for cooking and baking does it matter the apples you choose to use? It does matter. As all apple varieties have their own flavor and texture.

All apples are made to eat fresh. But to use an apple to make apple pie, apple sauce and even apple juice, the apple you choose matters.

As noted, each variety of apple has its own flavor and texture. And each of those varieties react differently to heat.

In the United States alone, there are 2,500 different varieties of apples. And for that reason it can be challenging to know which apple to use for what kind of recipe.

What Apple To Use For Cooking & Baking

The following are some of the more popular apples available to buy at the market.

Braeburn

These apples have a sweet-tart flavor. The texture remains firm when it’s baked. Braeburn is an all-purpose apple, as if bakes well in pies and tarts where you don’t want the filling to be overly juicy.

Empire

This apple is a cross between McIntosh and the Red Delicious. It has a firm texture and a sweet-tart flavor. The Empire is a fine all-purpose apple good for juicing, making apple sauce, baking, salads, eating fresh, and drying.

Fuji

The Fuji apple is firm, crisp, and juicy. It’s the most popular apple for eating fresh and for baking as they hold their shape when they cook.

Gala

The Gala is a mildly sweet apple. It’s among one of the best apples to use for making applesauce, juicing, adding to salads, and eating fresh

Golden Delicious

This apple is mildly sweet, and is a good all-around cooking apple that maintains its shape when baking.

Granny Smith

The Granny Smith is a crisp sour or tart apple. It’s an all-purpose cooking apple, and the apples flavor is enhanced when paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and tarts.

Honeycrispy

Honeycrisp apples deliciously yummy eating apples. As the name would indicate, they are crisp and juicy, with a honey-sweet tart flavor. They are good for baking and making applesauce.

Ida Red

Ida Reds have a tinted rosy pink flesh that has a tangy flavor. These apples are good for making applesauce and they keep their shape during baking and are also excellent in salads and for freezing.

Jonathan

Jonathans are very tart, and they have a slightly spicy flavor. They hold their shape well when baked. They are also good in salads and for making applesauce.

McIntosh

These apples are crisp and juicy. They tend to break down when cooked so are great for making apple sauce. The are delicious eaten fresh and are best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples in pies and other baked goods.

Different kinds of apples are better suited for certain kinds of recipes than others, but you don’t have to limit yourself to using just one variety of apple when cooking or baking.

Many experienced cooks like to use a mixture of apples to get more complex flavors and textures.

Here are some deliciously yummy recipes using apples.


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4 Ingredients You Can’t Do Without In Cooking & Baking

4 Ingredients You Can’t Do Without In Cooking & Baking

You will find through a Google search lists of all the necessary ingredients you need in your pantry to cook and bake.

There are though, four ingredients that are the most important, and you cannot do without them.

Each of the 4 most important cooking and baking ingredients serves a particular function, reacting with each other and other ingredients to create the structure, flavor and texture of the finished cooked dish or baked good.

These include:

Salt

Salt is one of the most important ingredient in everything we cook and bake.

Salt is unique and the only mineral we use in cooking and baking.

It primes our palates to identify and enjoy flavors and textures. Salt works to amplify and balance what we taste.

Different types of salts have varying textures and levels of salinity.

There are different types of salt.

Salt crystals differ in shape and size and the various types will melt at differing rates.

Choose a lighter, smaller crystal like table salt for baked goods and larger grains or flakes as a finishing salt.

Whichever type of salt is used, it directly influences flavor in a surprisingly complex way.

Adding a hint of salt to batter won’t give the cake a salty flavor. Rather, salt reduces bitterness and allows sweetness to come forward, producing a more well-rounded flavor.

Salt is not only a flavor enhancer, but also affects the tenderness of a baked good.

Ultimately, salt is used as a seasoning to enhance the taste of food. It makes bland foods such as carbohydrates, like bread or pasta palatable and it helps to bring out the natural flavors in food.


– Read and Know More About – What You Should Know When Cooking With Salt


Vinegar

Few ingredients have the versatility, range, and potency of vinegar when it comes to cooking.

There are different types of vinegars as well.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – pickling vegetables – flaky pie crusts – salad dressing & vinaigrettes
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – Japanese sauces & condiments
  • Sherry Vinegar – glazing vegetables – pan sauces
  • Balsamic Vinegar – Meat, Salads & Desserts

– Try This Deliciously Yummy Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus


Citric Acid

Citric acid is used in preparing foods for preservation and adding flavor. The sour flavor to be exact.

Like those sweet and sour candies. Yes, their sweetness is from sugar and the sour flavor is from the use of citric acid, among other naturally occurring acids.

Citric acid is also used in pickling fruits and vegetables to making jams and jellies.

Zest of lemons as well as oranges contain citric acid and can be used as an agent for enhancing flavor in cooking and baking.

Lemon zest is a popular flavoring for baked goods and desserts as well as in savory dishes, such as meats and sauces.


Some Lemon Zesty Recipes


Lemon juice can replace or compliment vinegar in salad dressings, or to marinate and tenderize meat, poultry or fish.


Try These Salad Dressings And See How Vinegar Is The Star In These Vinaigrette’s To Complete Your Salad


Sugar

In addition to imparting sweetness, sugar is added to food to contribute not only to flavor (sweetness), but most importantly to color. Such as the browning of baked goods and meats.


Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum SauceSugar Helped Not Only With Browning Of The Baked Good – But Also With The Carmel Color & Flavor Of The Sauce

Sugar interacts with other food ingredients, enhancing the flavor profile.

Here is some to remember about sugar in your baked goods.

Sugar is hygroscopic, which means that it both attracts water and holds onto it, leading to a moist cake.

If you reduce the necessary amount of sugar in a recipe, you’re also decreasing the cake’s ability to retain moisture.

You can replace the reduction of every 1/4 cup sugar with: 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup. Keep in mind the flavor of each replacement as regards the one you choose.

Sugar acts synergistically to increase the aroma of a flavor or balancing bitterness, such as with dark chocolate.


Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint CupcakesMade With Bitter Cacao & Balanced With The Sweetness Of Sugar

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Coconut Pecan Sugar Cookies

Originally, cookies had one purpose in the kitchen as bakers used them to test the oven by baking small amounts of cake batter before baking an entire cake.

Since then, these “small cakes” have evolved and now hundreds of recipes for cookies are available today – which includes the Sugar Cookie.

The Sugar Cookie made its debut in the 1700’s by German settlers to Pennsylvania (USA) and the cookies were an instant success.

Since that time, sugar cookies have become popular at Christmas and Halloween time and including Arbor Day and Groundhog Day in the U.S.

GROUNDHOG DAY COOKIES – Photo Credit: Fork and Beans

Sugar cookie dough is easy to work with (usually just 3 or 4 ingredients) as the dough holds its shape during the baking process. It is also a great cookie recipe to work with because it contains no baking soda.

Although they are frequently eaten straight from the oven, the sugar cookie can be frosted, sprinkled, and cut into any shape for added eating fun.

Though sugar cookies are about 2 to 3 round, you can also make them bite sized.

And that is what we did with this recipe, Coconut Pecan Sugar Cookies – sandwich style. They are topped with pecan bits and powdered sugar. And between the two cookies are shredded coconut, Heath bar bits and sweet milk.

Making Coconut Pecan Sugar Cookies

You will need:

1 (17 ½ oz.) sugar cookie mix
1 cup shredded coconut 1/4 cup Heath bar bites
1/2 cup pecan halves, finely chopped
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

In a large bowl add the cookie mix, butter and egg. Mix until dough thickens.

On a floured surface with a roller spread dough to ¼ inch thick.

Cut out cookies with a cookie mold – about 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Place cookies on non-stick cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Next mix coconut and Heath bar bites with sweet milk and set aside.

Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool one minute on cookie sheet then remove to a wire rack until they cool completely.

To assemble the sandwiches smear 1 tsp. of coconut – sweet milk mix onto 12 cookies. On the other 12 cookies dab a little sweet milk, and then put cookies together forming a sandwich.

Top cookies with chopped pecan pieces and top that with powdered sugar. Store cookies in an air tight container.

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How To Flavor With Vanilla

basket of vanilla beans - How To Flavor With Vanilla

Vanilla is a flavoring that is extracted from orchids, primarily from the flat-leaved vanilla Mexican species.

The first endeavors to propagate or grow the vanilla orchid outside of Mexico had shown to be in vain as this particular orchid has a synergetic alliance with its natural pollinator, the Melipona bee.

At least 40 species of this bee are known, and thrive in Mexico, as well as Argentina.

Melipona bee pollinating a vanilla orchard

A Melipona Bee Pollinating An Vanilla Orchid

Other areas were the vanilla orchid is now successfully produced, such as in Tahiti and Madagascar among other places, is entirely dependent on artificial pollination.

The magazine – “Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution” states that the vanilla orchid is one of very few crops whose production depends entirely on artificial pollination.

How To Pollinate The Vanilla Orchid

This video provides details how to successfully pollinate the vanilla orchid that produces vanilla beans! This presentation was appropriated by the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden.

Using Vanilla In Baking

When it comes to baking, vanilla is a very important ingredient, and there are 3 ways to use it…

  1. Vanilla Bean
  2. Vanilla Extract
  3. Vanilla Paste

Let’s examine the differences between these three and how to best use them in your baking.

Vanilla Beans

 Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Whole Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans themselves provide wonderful flavor to any recipe that calls for it. The bean can cost between $7 to $13  for a small jar of two or three beans. They are a little time consuming to work with, but you will find the flavor they produce to be well worth the time.

You want to find vanilla beans that are plump and smooth with a slight shine and that are highly fragrant. Avoid overly dried beans.

Using the vanilla in dessert recipes that call for it, gives the finished baked good an intense vanilla flavor that you might never want to go back to using another form of vanilla.

Be warned though, the bean can leave specks of brown throughout the baked good. To some this is great, but if you are baking a white cake, then employing the vanilla bean for such recipes may not work. That brings us to another form: vanilla extract.

Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is the common form used in baking.

To acquire the extract, the bean is mashed, and it is infused with a mixture of alcohol, a clear drinking alcohol is used, like Vodka.

Vanilla extract readily available, not only as pure, but also artificially made. The extract is simple to measure out and use in your baking.

Vanilla Paste

Pure Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Vanilla paste, though spendy (between $12 to $16 for a 4 ounce jar), is the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing between vanilla beans and vanilla extract.

Vanilla paste is the flesh of the pod scooped-out, and make available at market in small jars. So you are getting all of the flavor of the bean without all of the hassle. It will still provide those flecks of color in your baking like the actual bean does.

For vanilla paste, consult the jar to see how much to use in your recipes. It usually shows the conversions between vanilla extract and the paste.

When in doubt, gradually add to your baking, tasting after each addition to help you determine the right amount of vanilla flavor.

Your sure to enjoy these desserts that use vanilla:

Alternative Ingredients For Making Pie Crusts

Hand, apron, flour - Alternative Ingredients For Making Crusts

A recipe that requires a crust, has an important function, as it is the foundation to countless culinary and pastry dishes.

The crust is a crucial structural aspect of the particular recipe you are preparing. Crusts impart texture, either crispy, crunchy, or flaky depending on how you prepare the crust.

chicken pot pieCan you imagine making a tart, shortbread, pie, quiche, or pot pie devoid of a crust? And how would you eat a pizza without a crust? We can’t imagine.

Crusts are important to a tart, shortbread, pie, quiche, pot pie, or pizza.

What are some alternative ingredients to making these crusts?

We know that using cold butter in a pie crust when done right, can make for a flaky crust.

Did you know that coconut oil be an alternative to butter, doing the same thing? It is still a saturated fat like butter, but a shorter chain amino fatty acid, and has some extra nutrients over butter, like minerals, and has antibacterial substances.

Coconut Oil Pie Crust

This crust using coconut oil makes a delicious, flaky pastry just as well as butter.

3/4 cup solid coconut oil

2 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 – 4 tablespoons ice cold water

Cut the coconut oil into the flour (the same you would do with cold cubed butter) and salt with pastry blender or two knives. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix well.

Roll out on floured board. Pastry is very tender and may be partially rolled around rolling pin for ease of picking up to place in pie pan (recipe from: Coconut Recipes).

How about this alternative for a quiche, rice crust.

Rice Crust

A rice crust is a great way to use up leftover rice, explains Erin McDowell at Food52. She says it’s an excellent option for savory pies, and this crust works especially well for quiches.

a woman making a rice crust in a pie dish

Image Credit: Food52

Erin explains to make a rice crust you simply mix cooled leftover steamed rice with egg whites and grated cheese, and press the mixture into a pie plate.

Par-bake the crust to help it set before filling and baking it. Watch your crust carefully to see how it browns, as you may need to lower the temperature from 425 degrees to 375 degrees if it browns too much in the early stages of baking.

How about this alternative for a pizza crust. It’s gluten-free and uses no yeast. The recipe idea is from – She Knows.

At She Knows, they say that in this recipe they used both almond and coconut flours, and the result was anything but boring. The pizza crust turned out soft, fluffy and delicious.

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

pizza on a table with a pizza cutter

Image credit: She Knows

1/2 cup tapioca flour (plus more for rolling the dough)

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup almond milk (warmed plain, or other nondairy milk)

2 whole large eggs (organic)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To a large mixing bowl, add the almond flour, coconut flour, tapicoca flour, garlic powder and salt.

To the flour mixture, add the olive oil, the warmed nondairy milk and the eggs. Mix very well until the dough is soft and fluffy.

Turn the dough out onto a large surface lightly dusted with extra tapioca flour.

Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and can be rolled out.

Roll the dough out into the desired thickness but being careful to not make it too thin (or it will break).

Bake the pizza dough for about 15 minutes, until it’s firm and slightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and set aside until ready to prepare your pizza.

A pizza crust traditionally is dough, but since the food revaluation started, people like yourself are looking for healthy alternatives to pizza crust.

The pizza crust replacement (made from flour) is vegetable crusts, which are becoming more popular, and eating a pizza like this is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

How about this wonderful and tasty alternative for a shortbread or tart crust.

Peach and Cardamom Bakwell Tart

For the almond shortcrust pastry

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Peach and Cardamom Tart - Food Network uk

                                           Image credit: Food Network U.K.

1/4 cup almond flour

1/3 salted butter, frozen and grated

1 tbsp sugar

2 drops almond essence

1/4 teapoon organic cornflour

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

1-2 tablespoons ice-cold water

Extra flour to roll the pastry

For the peach jam filling

1 ripe peach

1/2 cup sugar

For the almond cake filling

1/4 cup self-raising flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup almond flour

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup milk, full fat

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1-2 drops almond essence

1-2 ripe peaches, sliced to decorate

For the cardamom mascarpone cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons icing sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

Tips For a Great Pie Crust

These are some reminders to making a great pie crust.

Chilling the dough after preparing it makes it easier to roll out and much less likely to stick.

It also resolidifies the shortening, butter or coconut oil to ensure flakiness.

parchment and dried beans placed over crust

When rolling out the chilled dough, roll from the center to the outside edge. Use just enough flour on the rolling surface and rolling pin to keep the dough form sticking.

To bake a “blind” a raw dough crust, first chill it for 20 minutes and then fit a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on the inside surface.

Prick both the crust and the foil or paper, to allow steam to escape and keep the crust from developing a bubble.

Fill the foil with baker weights, or dried beans to help the crust keep its shape while it blind bakes (view our post here: Blind Baking).

For those of you who bake pies a lot, why not make several pie shells at a time and freeze them in airtight plastic bags. They’ll keep for 6 to 8 months.


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Spanish Flan

Slice Of Spanish Flan seen ovcer head on a white dessert plateThe Romans are said to have invented the culinary dish they called Flan. After hundreds of years being enjoyed by many cultures, Spain popularized flan as a sweet custard dessert made with caramelized sugar, and the Moors added

Orange and Almond Flan by Patis Mexican Table

Orange and Almond Flan by Patis Mexican Table

citrus and almonds to the Flan. The Moors were Muslim inhabitants of Maghreb, the Iberian PeninsulaSicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages.

When Christopher Columbus the Spanish explorer found America, flan had soon after that made its way throughout Mexico, central and South America.

Though flan today is especially associated with Mexico where it prepared in the kitchens of most all the inhabitants of Mexico.

Flan is a favorite desert at our house. Once you get the hang of it, flan is easy and simple to make. Here is what you will need to make Splendid Recipe and More’s version of Spanish Flan…

½ cup sugar
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, add sugar, stirring constantly (can also vigorously move sauce pan back and forth over burner with one hand while stir with the other) until the sugar becomes liquid and golden.

caramelized sugar for Spanish Flan in a 9-inch metal pie panPour into a 9-inch round metal baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides if possible. We found that a metal pan works’s the best for making flan. Also after pour the hot golden liquid sugar into the pan, use gloves as you move the pan about coating it, as it will become hot to the touch. Set aside.

three images preparing Spanish Flan

In a food processor, or a large boil with a hand beater, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Mix in condensed and evaporated milks and vanilla until smooth. Strain egg mixture while pouring into the caramel coated pan.

Spanish Flan in a roasting pan - filled with hot waterPlace pan into a roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the metal baking dish.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until flan is just set (does not wobble). place the flan on a wire rack. First loosen the sides with a knife and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spanish Flan inverted onto a platter seen over head Next invert carefully on a rimmed serving platter. Be careful as the liquid caramel will flow out over flan and down the sides. Place platter in the refrigerator and chill 3 hours up to 24 hours.

Spanish Flan with a picture incert of a slice on a dessert plate When chilled, and you are ready for dessert, remove flan from refrigerator, plate and serve.

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Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet po...

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato, commonly referred to as a yam in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? In some parts of North America, including Canada, the yam and sweet potato are enter twinded or in other words people think they are same.

The fact is, they are not. They both are tubers, and that is as far as it goes to being similar.

The yam are monocots related to lilies and grasses. Were as sweet potatoes are related to or we should say the unrelated morning glory family (Wikipedia ).

Yam in a market

Yam in a market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to About Foods, yams are mostly sold in chunks sealed in plastic wrap, as they can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 150 pounds. (Home Cooking – About Food).

Better Homes and Garden (BHG) suggests storing yams in a cool dry place. Much like you would do with potatos.

BHG says do not store yams in the refrigerator as they will dry out (BHG).

Before we get on with our featured recipe, here is a link to a pdf file from the University of California on yams and sweet potatoes: LINK HERE.

Our featured recipe is: Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice, and here is what you will need.

2 medium yams, washed and diced with skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons dried cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

diced yams with olive oil in a large bowel Add the oil, cumin, and salt to a large mixing bowel. Mix together, then add died yams and toss to coat.

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice  - close upSpoon yams onto a baking sheet spread out evenly. Place baking sheet into a preheated 425 degree oven, and roast the diced yams for 30 to 40 minutes or until a fork can pierce them, turning once during the roasting process.

Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Add yams to a serving bowel along with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Mix gently to coat roasted yams.

Eat the dish as is or as a side dish with your favorite meat.

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