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I've Got It...Now What Do I Do With It?

We've all done it...bought some food item on a whim, and then had to figure out how best to use it. Could have come from an ethnic store, a catalog, or from a Web site. Or maybe you received something as a gift.

My most recent purchase was Bhutanese Red Rice I saw on a Web site.. (A separate post.)

So 'fess up Hounds. What have you bought/received, where did you get it from, why did you buy it, and, most importantly, what did you ultimately do with it?

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  1. Lime pickle, which is a blazing-hot, salted curry condiment - I bought it at a local Indian store because the jar was just beautiful, made of thick blue glass. I realized by the potency that it could never be anything but an addenda to food, but I used teaspoonfuls for acid in concoctions that needed it, and my go-to for a cold, to this day, is to put a Tbs. in hot chicken broth. This stuff is FIRE, folks...it will add piquancy and depth. I also like it on scrambled eggs, and I now use a milder version of mango pickle in chutneys, dressings, and "experiments". Unfortunately, the brand in the gorgeous bottle can't be found anywhere, at least not by me, but I did discover other decent brands. If anyone knows how to obtain Bedaker's Lime Pickle, please let me know!

    3 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      I bought a jar of Bedakar's Lime Pickle because it was mentioned in an article by the late Laurie Colwin. It is a taste I'm glad I acquired. I haven't tried the broth application yet, but will as soon as the weather turns colder!

      1. re: mamachef

        I can get Bedaker's Pickles where I'm at, but I'm not sure I can get them in a blue jar. The jars I get are clear, and have a yellow label. I wonder if you had something like a Bedaker's premium? I'll def be on the lookout now. I have garlic, and chili. I have yet to try them, but I think I just might crack a jar right now.

        1. re: gordeaux

          I think it was premium now that you mention it. Good looking out; thank you. And do open the jars; they make such amazing condiments and flavor boosters. One more thing to do with any of the flavors is to mix 1/2 to 1 tsp. in deviled egg filling; another is to melt butter, add a T. or so of any pickle, and roll steamed asparagus around in it. Outrageous!

      2. A big box of those pretty asian fungi that look like the cosmetic sea sponges. I'm not sure what t o do with them or even look them up online because there was no English on the box.

        2 Replies
        1. re: EWSflash

          Do they look like this? http://www.foodsnherbs.com/new_page_2...

          They're called "snow ear" mushrooms. In CHinese cooking they're usually used in sweet or savory soups.

          1. re: harukiri

            We use them to re-create a salad that we had at a Thai restaurant. Lots of fish sauce and lime, red onion, shredded cabbage, chili.

        2. guava paste - I made some cream cheese and guava pastry things and they were nothing special. the rest of the stuff is still in my fridge and needs throwing out.

          8 Replies
          1. re: smartie

            Black salt powder, product of India. No ingredient list, but I'm betting there's asafoetida in there.

            smartie, have you tried the guava paste with a nice sharp cheese... just a thought.

            1. re: grayelf

              it's probably been sitting a good few months in a ziplock. Time to trash it.

              1. re: grayelf

                I don't think it's asafetida you're sensing, just the sulphur compounds that give black salt its...sulphurous...smell.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kala_Namak

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Cool thanks -- now I just have to figure out what to do with it :-).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    It's used to make chaat masala, and it's supposed to aid digestion if you take a pinch.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Use it when making chaat of any kind, or when making chana masala (aka chhole).

                      Some people add a pint to certain tofu dishes to get a sulfurous eggy smell.

                2. re: smartie

                  guava paste can last a long time unrefrigerated even after opening. One of my favorite things to do with guava paste is to puree it with a can or two of chipotle in adobo. You can hardly notice the guava in the heat of the chipotle but it gives it a subtle sweetness and it's very versatile

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Oh nice! I bought guava paste last night to pair with some cheese, but now I have a couple of ideas for what to do with the rest.

                3. Not an outlandish ingredient, but.... fennel seeds. I don't make my own sausage, but I just thought they'd be great to have around. You know, for .... steaming mussels. Is all I've done with them so far. Maybe toasting them and adding them to a rub for lamb?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood

                    I always add a little fennel seed to my Bolognese.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      I add a little ground fennel seed to pork meatballs, for a simpler version of Italian sausage. Or why not try making a very basic chorizo with it? Easier than it sounds - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a good recipe (about halfway down the page)
                      http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                      1. re: linguafood

                        i like them combined with bay leaf, shallots and garlic roasted with chickpeas.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          - pickled vegetables (or gravlax!)
                          - roasted potatoes
                          - crust for pork, lamb or hearty fish like swordfish or salmon
                          - fennel seed cookies
                          - fennel seed tea
                          - candied fennel seeds

                          one of my favorite quick & easy carrot dishes is similar to this:
                          http://www.independent.co.uk/life-sty...

                          or this chicken dish from Cooking Light, which i haven't made in ages but i recall really liking:
                          http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

                          1. re: linguafood

                            You can pass it on to a mother-to-be who plans to breastfeed. They are supposed to help, and I hope this is not OT.

                            Also, I once had a stash of fennel seeds too that I feel was going stale, and I ended up toasting and covering with caramelized sugar. They were quite nice to chew on, especially after a heavy meal.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              Oooh, how about mixing it into some ground pork, along with some sage, for homemade loose sausage? I also sprinkled some onto roasted veggies tonight.

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                Lots of great ideas. T-1 till I can use my fennel seeds!!!! Home kitchen, here I come.....

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  I throw some into vegan/vegetarian spaghetti sauces. It gives a nice flavor that I miss when I cook without sausage in those sauces.

                              2. re: linguafood

                                Make a fennel spice rub...1 cup fennel seeds, 3 tsp. coriander seeds, 2 T. white peppercorns, 3 T. kosher salt....mix in a grinder and use on pork or lamb.

                                I also add a few Tablespoons to my homemade spaghetti sauce.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  I use fennel seeds in porchetta. Delicious!!

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    Make masala chai. REAL masala chai.

                                    2 c water
                                    1 T fennel seeds
                                    1 1/2 tsp cardamom seed
                                    4 to 6 whole cloves

                                    boil for 3 minutes, add 2 C whole milk, bring to a slow boil again

                                    add 1/4 c mamri style (CTC) tea, you can buy this at an Indian grocery, it's loose tea that looks sort of like gunpowder. You can use 4 to 6 cheap unflavored tea bags if you can't find the CTC stuff, thought it won't be quite as good. Heat at barely boiling for no more than 2 to 3 minutes.

                                    Strain, serve, sweeten to taste.

                                    Google "authentic indian railroad tea" for the exact recipe and full explanation, also you can find a list of sources for Indian foods online there at the bottom of that post, or to find Indian markets in your area.

                                  2. Off the top of my head: mustard oil, a gigantic bad of tumeric and sumac powder. I'm scared of the mustard oil since after I bought it I heard some consider it to be toxic. I use a little tumeric now and then, but 8oz? Who knows, maybe I'll dye stuff with it. Sumac powder I make "lemonade" with.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: corneygirl

                                      I use tumeric alot. I heat up a cast iron skillet, add oil along with yellow mustard seeds, tumeric, curry powder, and paprika or cayenne pepper. Fry until very fragrant, then add thick slices of tomato or boiled potatoes or even a couple of eggs. Instant indian flavors.

                                      However, I do have some sumac powder that is unopened. How do you make lemonade from it?

                                      1. re: tcamp

                                        I just stir it into cool water. It doesn't really dissolve, but it settles to the bottom eventually and leaves a lemony flavor. It would probably be really good on fish or roast chicken.

                                      2. re: corneygirl

                                        One woman's turmeric is another's garam masala. I bought a jar, but did not like it as well as the mixture I'd had previously. I bought another, and it was better. I started mixing my own, and that made me want to do that *all* of the time (I resolved to use the ones on hand, but with a few tweaks, so as not to waste them). A friend, remembering my off-hand comment about the first garam masala, thought she would be helpful and bring me a very large bag of the stuff from a market in the city. Maybe I should start doing garam masala Mondays. And Tuesdays.

                                        1. re: corneygirl

                                          i'm going to try that lemonade thing! i just bought some, and made rice with pine nuts and sumac mixed in. yummm.

                                          1. re: corneygirl

                                            Mustard oil is pretty powerful stuff, and in any but very small amounts can leave you gasping for air as your nostrils and lungs burn from the intense fumes.
                                            I use very small amounts in the Korean cold noodle dish Naengmyeon, in dipping sauces (soy sauce, brown sugar, chopped green onion, and a drop or two of the mustard oil), mustard sauce, etc.
                                            Just be careful with the amounts used.

                                            1. re: hannaone

                                              Is it pungent like mustard seeds or cabbagey? The noodle dish sounds good! I think it is like the "spicy cold buckwheat noodles" at the Korean place I like to get lunch at.

                                              1. re: corneygirl

                                                Think wasabi or horseradish with a kick

                                          2. Greetings, everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster here.

                                            My latest obsession involves lentils. I now have about twenty different kinds I purchased online after reading about them in the booklet, "Know Your Dals and Pulses," by Tarla Dalal.

                                            I just moved from Oklahoma to Colorado so I have not had a chance to cook with them as of yet. I would like to find some recipes utilizing lentils besides making dhal.

                                            I also ordered some asian lime leaf powder but I have no idea what to do with it.

                                            My husband accuses me of stocking my pantry for the sole purpose of preserving food for future historians to study, but I will eventually use every single item in there, I promise!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: del_boca_vista

                                              If you've got black/Puy lentils, make lentil burgers. Puree 3 cups cooked lentils with 4 beaten eggs, chopped dill, a little lemon zest and a pinch of salt until it looks like chunky hummus, then stir in 1 cup breadcrumbs and a chopped onion. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then shape into burgers and fry. Serve with a chopped tomato and cucumber salad, and maybe some tzatziki.

                                              1. re: babybat

                                                Puy or similar lentils make wonderful meal salads. Try combining with walnuts (or another soft nut you like) and roquefort or another good blue cheese.

                                                Lentils and rice are a strangely delicious and dirt cheap Middle Eastern staple. Brown lentils are ideal.

                                                1. re: babybat

                                                  If I had Puy lentils, I'd use a Marco Pierre White recipe with them. They're so good that I don't like having many other flavours in there. Basically you simmer them in water (covered by about 1 inch, and topping up if needed until cooked) with garlic bay leaves, thyme, and pepper (but NO SALT - never salt with legumes until after they are cooked soft). Then you saute carrot, shallot (or onion) and celery (I hate celery, so I sometimes use leeks or I just leave them out) and garlic. Season, then add the cooked lentils. Add some more thyme and/or whatever herbs you like. If it's pretty dry, add a little bit of olive oil. Delicious.

                                                  However, I like the burger and salad ideas for non-Puy lentils. :-)

                                                2. re: del_boca_vista

                                                  Although it's as hot as blazes today, I just made a small pot of lentil soup because I was craving it.

                                                3. Dried fruit. I have blueberries, cranberries, and raisins, mostly from TJs. I had some baking project in mind that never materialized. Would love savory applications.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                    Any of those are good in lentil or couscous or grain salads (rice, quinoa, etc.), along with fresh herbs, red or green onions, and perhaps some goat cheese or feta, along with whatever chopped veggies you like.

                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                      I buy unflavored yogurt and the night before I plan to eat some I place a portion of the dried fruit in a container, spoon in the portion of yogurt, they flavor and rehydrate making for a yummy next day snack (I also place flax seeds in as well)
                                                      Drink tea? Drop a berry or two in the pot. Same with some stews you make.

                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                        I grew up eating raisins in my taco meat. It's really good -- it's got that sweet spicy thing going on.

                                                        1. re: Vetter

                                                          To Vetter: Of course. That would be like picadillo (ground beef, onions, RAISINS, tomato sauce, comino) or empanada filling (same thing only with olives also---at least that's the way they make it in Argentina). Raisins are great with meat.

                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                            Querencia, I love that picadillo, especially in those little Argentine empanadas. Yum.

                                                            Have you posted a recipe in Home Cooking?

                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                              Yes, rasins are great with meat. If you like that combination, also try black currants instead of raisins. And for a Middle Easter or Turkish touch, toss in a handful of pine nuts along with them. I love using currants in pilavs as well as in ground meat. I think the flavor is more intense and sweeter than raisins, but in a very small package.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                Yes, I love currants. And I don't usually like sweet things, but they have an intense, intriguing flavour in savoury dishes. Lots of Middle Eastern (and North African) food influences here in Montréal.

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  I have black currants on hand for my breakfast oatmeal, and I also have pine nuts leftover from making pesto -- so I'll try that suggestion. You're right about the intense flavor of those tiny dried currants. I'll bet a kir royale would go well with this kind of picadillo.

                                                                  I also like candied fruits with ground meat, as in my favorite stuffing for chiles en nogada (pasillas stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and pork, dried fruits, walnuts, and candied cactus, covered in a pecan cream sauce, and topped with pomegranate seeds). I order it almost every time I go to La Casita Mexicana in Bell, CA, a Los Angeles suburb. al b. darned, when I buy candied cactus (I actually did once), it's not on a whim!

                                                                  1. re: Harry Niletti

                                                                    Candied catcus is not on the radar in Montréal! Argentines would drink red wine with that picadillo, as with most things except perhaps fish.

                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                      I meant the cassis in the kir royale might pair intriguingly with mom and pop -- the black currants in the picadillo. (I'll jump at any opportunity to have a kir royale made with decent champagne.)

                                                                      1. re: Harry Niletti

                                                                        The fresh black currants used to make creme de cassis aren't related to dried currants, though. Fresh currants are a relative of the gooseberry, and dried currants are made from Zante grapes. Confusing nomenclature, to be sure, but there you go.

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          I never knew the English name of those wee berries or bays - they grow here (Québec), the Zante grapes don't.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            I checked with Henry's Market, where I bought them, and they are Zante currants, although not labeled as such. The customer-service person wrote that "Zante look like very small raisins, where black currants look like dried blueberries."

                                                                            Thanks for bringing this up -- I didn't know the distinction. Incidentally, the Zante currants don't seem to hydrate quickly in cooked food and aren't as pleasant in a breakfast dish like oatmeal as dried cherries.

                                                              2. re: tcamp

                                                                try the cranberries in chicken salad with mayo, celery, pecans/almonds, a dash of honey and poppyseeds.

                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                  Dried cranberries in almost any salad, sprinkled on ice cream, chopped fine with fresh lime juice and sprinkled on pencil thin fresh asparagus just blanched or steamed for 2 minutes.....
                                                                  I could have danced all night.....

                                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                                    These dried berries have unlimited uses! To help curtail my gout tendencies and my wife’s arthritis I have learned, for example, to toss a small handful of dried cherries into everything I cook: beef Stroganoff; turkey stuffing, chili, spaghetti sauce, potato salad, lasagna, meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, beef-a-roni, soups, any stir-fry recipe, fried rice, Spanish chicken, gallo pinto, cereals, pancakes, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, etc. etc. – not to mention the more obvious uses for desserts. You get the idea.
                                                                    Cranberries are about as flexible as the cherries. Blueberries and raisons make wonderful additions to cereals and pancakes
                                                                    Several of the uses may require a bit of pre-soaking in the liquid that is being used.
                                                                    Enjoy.

                                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                                      Cranberries are great in wild rice.

                                                                    2. I bought my first pound of quinoa yesterday. I'm thinking! I'm thinking!

                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                        been there, tried it, hated it, threw it out

                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                          It does smell rather "grassy" in the bag. I wish I had a pet goat!

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            It *has* to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking. I mean rinse, soak for a few minutes, rinse again. There is a coating on it which makes it bitter.

                                                                            In the summer, I use it chilled as a protein in lettuce with fruit salads. I had it on a salad served with grilled shrimp and mango at Nieman Marcus and that was divine (and only 460 calories) which was my inspiration for many of my meals last and this summer.

                                                                            In cooler months, I use it as a side dish with dried fruit.

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Also we usually kind of toast the grains in the pan before cooking them.

                                                                              1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                Yes, yes, yes. Rinse. Toast. Try different brands. I notice a big difference sometimes.

                                                                                I used a LOT of quinoa lately - snuck it into a beautiful gratin of all kinds of nightshades and onions and spicy italian sausage. It worked beautifully, maintained its nice texture, and had no off-putting flavor in that context. Millet is also nice that way.

                                                                            1. re: skippy66

                                                                              Thanks! Looks interesting. This is the first recipe I've read that calls for vigorous rinsing before cooking. Or maybe I didn't read the other recipes beyond their ingredients lists?

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                Do rinse it. I worked at a cafe that served quinoa (we used it as a base for some dishes, instead of rice), and we *always* rinsed it, per the careful instruction of the hippie chick who fought for its place on the menu.

                                                                                I thought it was a boring addition to our menu, but others really liked it.

                                                                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                  Just wondering, is there any reason why quinoa must be rinsed, apart from the obvious ones (dirt, sand, chemicals etc.)? I always rinse my grains but when I plan to toast, which is almost always so for quinoa, I tend to cut corners and skip the rinsing. It sounds like much more work toasting them wet instead of dry.

                                                                                  By the way, I tend to use organic, red quinoa when I can, the organic part in hope of making up for the lack of rinsing. To me, it is a more interesting and nutritious alternative to rice and couscous, and the toddler and other people I cooked for seemed to like it.

                                                                                  1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                                                    It's not about added chemicals. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that is quite bitter. More and more, it is prerinsed before sale, especially that sold in boxes. The kinds you buy probably have been, or you might have noticed a less-than-pleasant bitterness when you cooked it unrinsed.

                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                      Oh, I see. I guess I can get away without rinsing with the brands I get then, for the time being. Thanks both of you!

                                                                                    2. re: tarteaucitron

                                                                                      Yes, exactly what Caitlin said. When you rinse quinoa, you are very likely to see the same types of suds you see when rinsing the preservatives from canned beans. But sometimes the rinsing at the facility isn't as thorough as it should be, and some of the resin (the saponin) can be left behind. But if no one has complained, then I think you're fine not rinsing, right?

                                                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                        Some brands (and many mainstream brands sold in the U.S.) are already rinsed and there's no need. However, the quinoa I got in Germany always had to be rinsed repeatedly. And even then, I still thought it had an aftertaste. Soaking is not a bad idea.

                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                          Once, at the cafe, we had run out of our usual enormous bulk bag of the stuff and ran out to the grocery and bought some in a box that said 'pre-rinsed'. We skipped rinsing it, but a co-worker complained that it tasted 'weird' (everyone else thought it was fine). After that, we just went through the process no matter what the packaging said, figuring it was better to just be thorough than risk a customer complaint.

                                                                                2. re: skippy66

                                                                                  Great Salad! I made it again last night.

                                                                                3. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  Come to think of it, I have a box of quinoa in the back of the cupboard. Been there for YEARS!! Still haven't tried it yet.

                                                                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                    Hey, if you can get it to sprout you can grow some fresh! '-)

                                                                                4. Lychee liqueur is nice but so super-sweet you can only use a little to mix in. It is not a main ingredient. If you try to drink it straight, it will easily become yuckee.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                    I have that too!!! It sounded so yummy because I love the fruit but haven't researched what I can use it in...yet.

                                                                                    1. re: kemi5

                                                                                      I got sick of it trying to finish off the bottle. I'd say a good use is at a party if you are making a few big batches of marguarittas; add a couple ounces to each batch.

                                                                                  2. I'd like to change the title to "Things I've had in my cupboard for over two years". That is the natural progression for food that matches the OP's title.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                      which then morphs into 'What's the Oldest thing in your cupboard?' :)

                                                                                    2. Some of the more interesting foodstuff I have received as a gift:

                                                                                      Gumbo file powder. It was a small jar but I found that even a little bit contributes a lot to thickening a soup. I have experimented a few times but it did not do much for me, even though I did not mind the slimy texture. I recall it having a slightly bitter taste that is hard to fit with, or pointless including into, my regular repertoire of dishes. Sadly, it had to go to the trash after enough years have gone by.

                                                                                      Air-dried Japanese sea salt. This was in the form of an extremely fine, white powder, made possible through the process of drying fine mists of sea water (according to the package). At that time I already had a few different kinds of salt, but then I discovered that this one was perfect for dusting onto popcorn and toasted rice! I think I used up the whole package pretty much that way, and I wish I could still find some now, because no other kind of salt works as well.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                                                        I received a gift of Jamaican curry powder, which I like, but just don't make curry often enough to use it up. So, yah, two years or more by now.

                                                                                        1. re: tarteaucitron

                                                                                          tarteaucitron - try to find roasted sea salt (usually coming out of China but the Vietnamese markets have ones coming out of Vietnam, where you'll have to watch for additions of MSG [assuming you care about that kind of thing] if you get versions that have black pepper, chilli pepper, or whatnot mixed in). My late grandmother used to make pounds and pounds of this stuff for us, and the texture is how you describe it, extremely fine to the point of being powdery. The flavour is slightly different from the roasting, but if you're after texture, roasted salt is your best bet if you can't find the Japanese air-dried salt.

                                                                                        2. A block of Malaysian Belacan (shrimp paste). I'll make that eggplant dish one day when I can throw open all of the doors and windows to take away the smelliness. Also bottles of brined green peppercorns, hearts of palm, and truffle oils! If I go out of my way to hunt down an ingredient I always buy more then I need for next time, or "just in case". Guilty but I can't help myself :)

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: kemi5

                                                                                            belacan paste is not that bad. make Malay and Nyonya food with it. a little goes a long way. i think it smells less pungent once cooked. boil some water with vinegar in a small saucepan for a while after you're done with cooking belacan. i always eat fresh Thai green peppercorns, very nice with stir-fried squid or prawns. have never touched brined green Thai peppercorns. i've eaten hearts of palm in mixed salads many times in Argentina. just drain and add to salads. truffle oil is versatile, just don't cook with it, ever.

                                                                                            bom apetit ;)

                                                                                            1. re: Pata_Negra

                                                                                              Pata, thanks for your input. My problem with cooking the belacan is that my hood fan is really wimpy. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE and am used to pungent flavors :) The peppercorns I'll save for the holidays and do a beef tenderloin fillet w/ peppercorn sauce. I am a chef by trade and do the majority of cooking at home so I tend to purchase things that I like but not necessarily favorites of the family. That's the case for hearts of palm, and truffle oil. My future dinner guests will benefit. Note to self to make a batch of duck confit with the fat sitting in my fridge. It never ends.....Bon appetit!

                                                                                            2. re: kemi5

                                                                                              Various little jars of sambal paste bought in Amsterdam (either made in Indonesia or made by Indonesian Dutch in the Netherlands). One I remember is sambal trassi (think it includes dried shrimp?

                                                                                              Have to look up recipes I can incorporate them into.

                                                                                              1. re: kemi5

                                                                                                Love hearts of palm. If I buy a can, I'll just eat them straight. I've never had them survive long enough from my snacking to actually make their way into a recipe.

                                                                                              2. I bought dried potatoes from a Peruvian store. Seemed like it would be the easiest thing in the world to use. Turns out that reconstituting those is a pretty elaborate process...and I'm vegetarian and most recipes using those involve meat. The good news - they wont go bad anytime soon

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                                                                  ipsit, I basically soaked them and cooked them. Very tasty with some spices and onions. I have friends who always took them canoe camping.

                                                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                    that sounds pretty easy! will give it a go - at this point, i have nothing to lose!
                                                                                                    Thanks for the tip

                                                                                                2. - Jaggery: Never took it out of the wrapper until I ran out of granulated sugar and tried to use it as a substitute when preparing spiced dates. It was... surprising. Does that stuff go bad?

                                                                                                  - Red Bean Paste: Have a can that's been a fixture on my kitchen shelf for a couple years now

                                                                                                  - Salsify: Found it on happy accident while out and about on a couple occasions, but it went limp and presumably bad before I could decide how to use it

                                                                                                  - Licorice jam: Received as a gift. Love licorice, but it's a little strange and I can't figure how best to use it.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Scriever

                                                                                                    Jaggery doesnt really go bad, though it may harden or turn brown. Its used pretty commonly in Indian cooking, especially Gujarati.

                                                                                                    1. re: Scriever

                                                                                                      I'm no fan of licorice, but it sounds like you could make a fig newton type cookie with it.

                                                                                                      1. re: Scriever

                                                                                                        Jaggery shouldn't go bad, but it has a molasses-y flavour (for want of a better description). Maybe you weren't expecting it or were unfamiliar with it?

                                                                                                        The taste should go really well with spiced dates. What was the recipe for the dates?

                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                          That's exactly it: Went in totally unfamiliar. I wasn't expecting the added punch of flavor and probably used too much.

                                                                                                          I'm open to trying again. Off the top, I generally combine the juice of 1 mediumlemon with cardamom, cumin, grains of paradise and cloves plus 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar (vs granulated) over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then toss in maybe a dozen halved/pitted medjools and cook just long enough to soak up the flavor.

                                                                                                      2. When I travel, I often buy things because I love the packaging/design. Sometimes I have no idea what it is (label in Thai or another obscure language; photo not helping). I have had a jar of mystery paste in the larder for a while. Might open it someday and investigate.

                                                                                                        I bought a great deal of fennel pollen on an Italy visit (bloody expensive); had some trouble finding a use initially, but I am now tossing it over pretty much everything. Love it best on pork and fish, but it makes a great finish for tomato sauce too.