Decluttering the Spice Shelf – mmm, tasty!

_MG_5830 

Over the last few weeks I have worked my way through my fridge, freezer and store cupboards, figuring out what I have and putting together a plan each week to use up some of the things that have been in store for the longest. It’s working well and I’m saving lots of money (at least in the short term) – and trying out some new ideas.

Next, I approached the spice and herb shelf. Oh dear, it is groaning. I have over 50 jars! 

_MG_5831

An article by Marie Kondo, Japanese tidiness expert, led me to approach my spice shelf with a new perspective. See 10 steps to make you more tidy now.

Each jar was looked at – do I love it? Does it bring me joy?

Out went anything that was really old, flavourless or unappealing, including some dried rosemary – I have fresh growing in the garden, all year round, so why bother?

Of the remaining spices, mixes and herbs, there were only two that I wasn’t sure about, juniper and fenugreek seeds.

The juniper must have been bought for something specific, but I have forgotten what. I tried using some at Christmas with cranberries, but the flavour was far too strong.

The fenugreek seeds are something that I occasionally use for sprouting; they have a bitterness and a distinct curry aroma, that can make an interesting addition to a salad or as a garnish.

I got some wonderful suggestions from the lovely members of the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Recipes from Around the World group (a real mouthful in more ways than one!)

  • Juniper as a partner for game, such as venison or wild boar.
  • mmmmmmm a chopped shallot soup with thyme, juniper, garlic and bay leaf…
  • a rub for pork, using salt, dried rosemary and juniper (damn! retrieve the dried rosemary 🙂 )
  • Juniper berries for braised red cabbage

and I found some interesting recipes on line:

I am encouraged to try growing my own, as fenugreek, also known as ‘methi’, is used widely as a herb in Indian recipes. An interesting addition to my micro leaves selection!

So, with spices in mind, what am I cooking this week?

I bought a whole free range chicken, which I jointed. I made the breasts into Butter Chicken, following a Rick Stein recipe, which was succulent and absolutely delicious. The joints are marinading in spices and yogurt. I will dry bake them in a hot oven for our fast day dinner, with leftovers for lunch another day. 

Having thrown out my old garam masala, I had no alternative but to make my own. In a hot dry pan, I roasted some cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds with cinnamon bark. I added peppercorns, fenugreek, salt and chilli powder and pounded all together in my pestle and mortar. Mmmm, wonderful aromas! This became an ingredient in the sauce for the Butter Chicken as well as a garnish for the dhal. It should keep well for at least a month.

The chicken carcass has made a lovely asian-flavoured stock, with star anise, chillies, peppercorns and lime leaves, and the tops of some fresh leeks – I have retrieved a surprising amount of meat from the bones, and with the stock this will make a wonderful soup, with the addition of some finely sliced mushrooms.

Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup

My ‘treat’ purchases this week – a small whole camembert: bake until melted, then dip into with toasted pita bread; and a basket of small pears.

Sat lunch: Pizza and Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Butter Chicken with Naan and Red Lentil Dhal; Ice Cream

Sun lunch: leftover Pizza with Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Roast Rib of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, Carrots and Peas; Cinnamon-spiced Cherries topped with an Oat Crumble with chopped Hazelnuts

Mon Fast Day: Spicy Chicken and Mushroom Broth; Tandoori Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and Dhal; sliced Oranges with Dates and Pistachios

Tue lunch: Thai Style Roast Beef Salad with roasted Peanuts and a vietnamese dressing; fresh fruit
Dinner: Toulouse Sausages with Potato and Celeriac Bake; Fig Frangipani tart with custard

Wed lunch: French Onion Soup; Coronation Chicken Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Black Bean and Sausage Burritos; leftover Fig Frangipani tart with yogurt

_MG_3080

Thurs, fast day: Morrocan Cauliflower Soup; Salmon Teriyaki with Leeks and Mushrooms; Spiced Poached Cherries with Yogurt

Teriyaki Salmon

Fri lunch: Egg Mayonnaise Salad; fresh fruit
dinner: Baked Camembert with Pitta crisps;  Red Mullet with Coconut-Lime sauce, spiced puy lentil salad, Pears with Chocolate Meringue topping

Pear with Chocolate Meringue   

 Plenty of lovely meals to look forward to, and a spice cupboard in which I can almost find what I am looking for… still over-crowded, but at least I know what’s in there.

Anyone got any ideas for using dried rosebuds?