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What ingredient would you like to use more of this year?

I thought this was an interesting question posed over at TheKitchn http://www.thekitchn.com/what-ingredi.... I'm still pondering my answer. What say you?

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  1. I guess I'd like to be a bit more adventuresome with Asian flavors. I have containers of garam masala, cardamom, black sesame seeds, star anise and a dozen others in my freezer (where I keep all of my herbs and spices) that I rarely use. I'll have to get out the Charmaine Solomon book and get inspired.
    CP

    1. Fresh fish. Veggie side dishes. Anything healthy. And organic whenever possible and affordable.

      1. I'd definitely like to start cooking more fish - DH hasn't been a huge fan in the past, so I've never wanted to spend the money on it. He seems to be warming up to certain fish, though (things like cod and salmon, NOT shellfish!), so I'll start there and hopefully branch out.

        1. Schmaltz! We just got Michael Ruhlman's book on it and now we have the fever.

          1. Vanilla beans. I was recently given a pound of them and I'd hate to lose them.

            10 Replies
            1. re: mike0989

              A pound? Lucky you!

              Put a few in a Mason jar of sugar for vanilla infused sugar. Also a couple in white wine vinegar for an interesting salad dressing base and a few in frozen vodka. Keep the rest vacuum-sealed in your deep freeze until you figure out what else..
              CP

              1. re: mike0989

                Mike, you know you can freeze them, triple wrapped in plastic and then foil and in a freezer bag,

                Make vanilla sugar by cutting a bean in half and length-wise . One bean can scent a large amount of white sugar, like 2 pounds or more. Just shake the jar around occasionally. Great for baking, in coffee, custards, little packets for gifting to friends.

                Make your own vanilla extract. Google a recipe. Rum or vodka, your choice.

                1. re: nemo

                  Thanks for the freezer tip. I'll defiantely try that.

                  I'm also looking for savory ideas. I was at a Wine Maker diner once that was done by Jimmy Schmidt. The first course was lobster with a vaniila bean sauce that tasted like it had a million calories. He let on afterwards that despite the richeness, he used no dairy. I wish I knew how he did it.

                  1. re: mike0989

                    Mike

                    Just one of many Google recipes. Find one that might replicate your memory.

                    http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/4962/r...

                    Edited

                    Okay, some butter in this link, which is dairy, but I expect you could sub with olive or coconut oil.

                2. re: mike0989

                  Za'atar and sumac. Bought on a whim, used each on chicken and oiled flatbread, but now I'm stumped. Anyone have an idea of how to use in a savory bread perhaps?

                  May try in lentil soup or a stuffing for zucchini, but each has a distinctive flavor so I'm treading softly. Help.

                  1. re: nemo

                    I love sumac and have just been introduced to zataar. Persian food uses lots of sumac. I just made a great turkey and zucchini burger with a yogurt sauce containing sumac. Look at the cookbooks Spice by Ana Sortun and any by Yotam Ottolenghi for other ideas.

                    1. re: nemo

                      Sumac I use when roasting vegetables, in pasta or rice salads. Also for pickling cukes.

                      1. re: nemo

                        Thanks, melpy and jadec

                        Will check out Sortun and Ottolenghi. Also, duh, roasted vegetables! Love this site!

                        1. re: nemo

                          Lots of their recipes are available online.