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Archive for March 6, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Herb Pots

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It won’t fit on the windowsill, but a French
herb pot from WhiteflowerFarm.com
organizes five different herbs.

If you don’t have a window herb box (or pots of herbs), it’s time! Once you start snipping fresh herbs, everything you serve will taste better.

We fill flowerpots with basil, chives, rosemary, thyme and tarragon. The plants are beautiful, fragrant and easy-to-grow (rosemary is hardy and can grow into quite a large household plant, and spawn cuttings for all of your friends). We snip fresh herbs into eggs, salads, on pizzas and sandwiches, use the fresh leaves as garnishes for everything—even sorbet.

You can grow your own herb pots from seed, or invest more and buy small pots of herbs that will quickly grow to meet your cooking needs.

This is the beginning of a week of fresh herb ideas. For more flavor ideas, click here to visit our Salts & Seasonings Section.

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RECIPE: Shepherd’s Pie With Cumin & Smashed Chickpeas

The seventh of McCormick’s 2010 food trends has an international flair: roast cumin and chickpeas (garbanzo beans). But you’ll see how this dymanic duo can enhance the most traditional English and American standards, as in this new take on Shepherd’s Pie.

  • Cumin is a seed that is often confused with caraway (which is actually a fruit). The two spices do look quite similar, but cumin tastes hotter, is lighter in color and larger than caraway seeds. It is one of the most popular spices in the world, and is a highlight in the cuisines of Brazil, Cuba, India, the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Chickpeas are a common foodstuff in many of the same regions as cumin. They make frequent appearances in curries and vegetarian dishes. They’re the base of the popular dip, hummos. Chickpeas also make an excellent snack. They are a most nutritious food, thanks to their high levels of dietary fiber and protein and their low level of fat, most of which is polyunsaturated. (They do have lots of carbs.)

 

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Cumin and chickpeas add a new spin to
Shepherd’s Pie. Photo courtesy McCormick.

Recipe: Roasted cumin and chickpeas are a duet that delivers warm, earthy flavor harmonies. Try them in this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with Cumin & Smashed Chickpeas.

Add a bit of cumin in your next batch of hummos, too. (Sprinkle some on store-bought hummos.)

And try this recipe for Chickpea Fries. Switch it up and add cumin to the seasoning.

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GOURMET TRAVEL: Napa Valley Mustard Festival

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A prior year’s winner in the phototgraphy
competition, by Sally Wood.

We wish we had gotten advance notice of the 17th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival, to be held next weekend, March 12 -14 in Napa, California.

If you can get there, you’re in for a treat. The vineyards, blooming with wild mustard, are breathtaking. There are an impressive number of fine mustards from around the world to be tasted, along with food from the best Napa Valley restaurants and caterers, consumed with great Napa Valley wines.

Makers of the best-judged mustards will receive awards, as will photographers who take the best photos of the mustard fields.

The Napa Valley Mustard Festival is a non-profit community service organization. For information and tickets visit MustardFestival.org.

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