is there a general guide of how to combine fresh herbs and spices with certain meats and veggies?
i added freshly grated lemon to a pound cake and then ginger to a vegetable dish and both were incredible. i have other spices but i don't know how to mix them. how else can i use ginger? (cumin, lemon, etc.)
Like most folks, I use ginger in lots of baked goods. It's even useful in breads. I use it in rice dishes, as an ingredient with pork, chicken, fish, salads, etc. Cumin adds a nice touch to corn bread, cottage cheese/tomato salads, many vegetables, shell fish, egg dishes, meat dishes, salads, etc. Lemon simply goes with just about anything. I use cinnamon in stews (especially lamb stew) and with nutmeg on tapioca puddings, cakes, cookies and all the typical baked goods.
Often, old cookbooks have a chart showing herbs and spices, and common pairings...
Here's just a few ideas to get you started for other herbs, but please don't limit yourself to these uses!
Basil - use with tomato based sauces, fresh tomatos, veggies
Bay leaf - use whole leaf to flavor soups, stews, stock
Cilantro - use fresh in Mexican or Asian dishes
Cumin - Mexican dishes, beans
Marjoram - fish, poultry, omlettes, tomato dishes
Mint - fresh fruit, peas, carrots, lamb
Paprika - meat or vegetable dishes; as a garnish; try smoked paprika for a hint of smoky flavor in soups, veggies, lamb steaks
Rosemary - lamb, poultry, dressing, potatoes
Sage - winter squash, pasta, poultry, dressing
Tarragon - sauces and salads, fish, poultry, tomato dishes, eggs, veggies (great in chicken salad for sandwiches)
Thyme - poultry, veggies, fish, great with anything lemony
Nutmeg - cream sauces, desserts, fruit
Cinnamon - desserts, fruit dishes, Morrocan lamb or chicken
Oregano - Mexican, Italian dishes,
My favorite combos:
cumin + oregano for Mexi dishes
Smoked paprika + lemon for poultry and lamb
Ginger + garlic for stir fry
Basil + garlic for pasta, pizza, and fresh tomatoes
Rosemary + Thyme + smoked paprika for roasted potatoes and veggies
Bay leaf + Summer Savory + Thyme for bouquet garni (season soups and stews)
I have several lists that list the herbs/spices and then the foods that go with them....as well as the reverse. They're taped inside my spice cabinet.
Here are a couple of charts for printing out: