January: Aleppo Pepper

Recipe:

Turkish Fries

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet)

  • 1 Large Sweet Onion (Sliced)

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Olive Oil

  • 1 Tablespoon Aleppo Pepper

  • ½ Cup Canola Oil

  • 2 Green Onions (Sliced thin)

  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin

  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Peel potatoes and using a mandolin, or a knife, cut into French fry shape. Then, soak potatoes in salted water for at least 30 minutes. While the potatoes soak, slice the sweet onion and sauté in oil or butter with 1 Tablespoon of Aleppo Pepper. Cook until onion is caramelized (15 – 20 min.) In a heavy skillet, add ½ cup of canola oil. Heat oil to 325° F. Pat potatoes dry and then place them within the oil, fry until golden brown. Drain potatoes on a paper towel and place them in a serving bowl. Using tongs, toss potatoes with caramelized onion and Aleppo pepper mixture, sliced green onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 Teaspoon of Cumin, and serve.

 

History:

Ranking at about 10,000 on the Scoville Scale, the Aleppo Pepper is associated with having a medium level of heat. The chilies originated in South America and the West Indies, and were among the “New World” crops brought to Europe in the 15th century by explorers like Christopher Columbus. Soon, they would spread across Europe to Syria, Turkey, and parts of the Ottoman Empire. The pepper is named after the city from which it originates within Syria. It was grown by Christian and Muslim Arab farmers, and traded along the Silk Road.

 

The process of making ground Aleppo pepper takes longer than other dried and crushed chilies. The pepper is cleaned by pieces of white cloth and then cut lengthwise on a single side to remove the seeds. The pepper is then placed on a rooftop to dry in the sun before it is finally processed. While some larger companies rely on thousands of families to produce the spice, most Aleppo Pepper production is done on the small-scale with family members and neighbors gathering to prepare the peppers.

 

In Arabic, the Aleppo red pepper is called ‘Baladi,’ meaning it “Belongs to my country.”

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Additional Recipes

February: Sumac

 

Recipe: Sumac Chicken Skewers

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

  • ¼ cup Lemon Juice

  • 1 tbsp. Sumac

  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil

  • 1.5 – 2 lbs. Chicken breast trimmed and cubed

  • Wooden Skewers (soaked to prevent burning) or Metal Skewers

Combine garlic, lemon juice, sumac, and oil in a large glass or ceramic bowl Add cubed chicken and mix to coat each piece with sumac sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Thread chicken onto skewers. Use a grill, or grill pan on the stove to cook. Grill chicken for ten minutes turning the chicken after about five minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Allow the chicken to rest at least five minutes before serving.

History
Sumac, or Sumach, is any of the 35 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus; it is also related to the cashew family. The plant grows in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, including East Asia, Africa, and The Mediterranean. Some species can be found in North America. The word Sumac traces its origins back to Old French (13th Century, Sumac), Medieval Latin (Sumach), Arabic (Summāq), and Syriac (Summāqa.) All of these terms translate to what we refer to today as the color red. Sumacs can be found on shrubs and small trees and can reach a height of up to ten meters. 


Uses
Sumac comes from the berries of certain decorative bushes and trees known as Staghorn Sumac that grow wild in the Middle East (as well as other locations.) The plant yields tangy red berries that can be used fresh or dried and ground into a powder.

In ancient Greece and Rome, sumac had multiple purposes. The plant contains a chemical, which assists in the softening of leather and used as a tanning agent. When sumac is ground and wet, it is used as dye for wool. The plant was used in alternative medicine for its believed antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Today, the spice is still used as an alternative medicine to help settle the stomach and relieve digestive issues. Sumac was used in cooking as a way of adding a citrus-like quality to food. For a long time, it was used in Europe to add tartness to dishes until Europeans gained access to lemons.

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Additional Recipes

March: Urfa Biber Pepper

 

Recipe: Turkish Urfa Kebab

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Ground meat (Lamb / Beef)

  • ½ Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper (finely chopped)

  • 1 large tomato (finely chopped) 

  • 2 tbsp. Parsley (finely chopped)

  • 2 Cups yogurt (plain)

  • 2 Cloves of garlic (grated)

  • 1 Lemon

  • 1 tsp. Salt

  • ½ - 1 tsp Urfa Biber Pepper flakes

  • 1 tsp Oil for cooking + more for pan

  • Skewers (If wood, soak for 30 min prior to cooking)

Instructions

Mix yogurt with 1-2 tbsps. Lemon juice, 1 tsp of Olive Oil, and a pinch of salt. In a large bowl, mix bell pepper, tomato, parsley, garlic, Urfa biber, and salt. Do not use a food processor for this part, you do not want a paste. Add meat and mix well for 5-10 minutes. Take about 2-3 tbsp. of meat, and wrap it around each skewer. In a pan, heat 2 tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Fry each kebab until crisp and cooked through (4-5 minutes per side.) Top with yogurt sauce. If you want, serve the kebab in bread (pita / lavash) or with rice.

History
Urfa Biber (commonly known as Urfa Pepper), is a Turkish chili pepper that is known for its dark brownish / red color, irregularly sized flakes, and salty-sweet-smoky flavor. The pepper comes from the Urfa region of Turkey. The peppers go through a two-part process in order to be properly harvested; they are dried in the sun during the day and wrapped up tightly at night. This process is called “sweating,” and works to infuse the dried flesh with the remaining moisture in the pepper. The Urfa pepper has a bit of kick to it. Coming in at 7,500 SHU on the Scoville scale (about the same heat as a Jalapeño pepper) while it grows, the pepper becomes spicier as it dries landing around 30,000 SHU on the scale (or about as hot as a Cayenne pepper).


Uses
The spice can be used in any dish where you would normally use black pepper. Most Turkish and Kurdish cuisines use chili peppers instead of black pepper.  You will most likely see Urfa Biber on meats, roasted vegetables, rice, and chickpeas. You can also sprinkle it over baba ghanoush or hummus for an extra-added kick. Not only is the spice used in main dishes, it can also be found in desserts. Urfa pairs nicely with chocolate desserts like brownies, hot chocolate, or even ice cream.

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Additional Recipes

April: Fenugreek

 

Recipe: Brown Rice Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice

  • 3 Cups Milk

  • 2 Tablespoons Raisins

  • ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • ½ tsp. each: Ground Nutmeg, Ground Cinnamon, and Ground Fenugreek Powder

Instructions

Combine the cooked rice, milk, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat until creamy and thick and the milk is almost absorbed. This process should take 15 – 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. Once cooked, turn off the heat. Mix in the ground nutmeg, fenugreek powder, and butter. Mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm, or chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours and serve the dish chilled.

History

Historians believe that Fenugreek has been used for over 6,000 years due to remains of the herb being found in Tell Halal, Iraq. It was considered to be a medicinal drug and was used by the Ancient Egyptians. They thought it could treat burns and help induce childbirth. It was also used by the Romans as a soothing agent and to help cure infections such as fevers, respiratory issues, and intestinal issues. Also, during the first Jewish-Roman war, fenugreek was mixed with boiling oil to keep invaders from entering the city. You will often find fenugreek in dishes served at Rosh Hashanah due to the belief that it is symbolic for helping increase one’s blessings for the coming year.

 

Today you will see Fenugreek commonly used in food. The spice is very common in Indian dishes. The seeds of the plant are used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders, and pastes. You can find it used in chutneys, stews, spice rubs, and flatbreads. It is also an ingredient used in many Indian and Middle Eastern desserts. Fenugreek has a distinctive aroma that allows it to be used as a substitute for maple syrup or vanilla.

 

India is currently the world’s leading producer of Fenugreek, followed by Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Mediterranean, and Argentina.

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Additional Recipes

May: Turmeric

 

Recipe: Grilled Turmeric & Lime Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • ½ teaspoon chile powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or crushed dried rosemary leaves

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

  • Salt & pepper to taste if desired

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

Preheat your grill or the broiler of your stove. Pour the oil into a mixing bowl. Add lime juice, chile powder, turmeric, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to blend well. Add the chicken to the marinade and coat each piece evenly. Place bowl to the side. (Note: if you wish to marinate the chicken longer, place back into the refrigerator until ready to cook.

 

Place the chicken on the grill or on the rack underneath the broiler. Cover grill / close broiler door. Cook about 6 -7 minutes and then turn the chicken over. Continue cooking until done, this should take an additional 3 - 5 minutes, possibly longer under the broiler depending on heat output. Take off the grill / out of the broiler and brush the tops with melted butter. Eat & Enjoy!

History

The use of turmeric dates back almost 4,000 years to the Vedic culture in India. There, it was used as a culinary spice and had additional religious significance as well. Historians estimate that it arrived in China by 700 AD, East Africa by 800 AD, West Africa by 1200 AD, and Jamaica / United States by the 18th century.

The botanical name is Curcuma longa. The plant reaches about three feet in height and produces both flowers and rhizomes (the golden yellow root you grind / eat.) While found throughout the tropics, the main producer is India.

 

Industries like medicine, cosmetics, and culinary find great use in Turmeric. In food, it is a main ingredient in curry powders, giving the dish its distinctive yellow color. Foods like cheese, butter, popcorn, and even yellow cakes use Turmeric as natural food dye. People will also rub Turmeric into the skin as a cosmetic application. Turmeric is used to help reduce the growth in facial hair, reduce acne, and improve the complexion of the skin. Curcuminoids also have potential in cosmeceuticals as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin lightening agents. Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments. It is also used in digestive disorders; reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, colic, abdominal pain, and distension.

 

Note: We do not endorse the use of turmeric as an alternative to traditional medical advice.

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Additional Recipes

June: Rainbow Peppercorn

 

Recipe: Rainbow Peppercorn Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP – Olive Oil

  • 1 TBSP – Salted Butter

  • 1 Shallot, finely diced

  • 1 Cup Beef or Vegetable Stock

  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream

  • 2-3 TBSP Peppercorns Roughly Crushed

Instructions

Heat a medium sized pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add in the chopped shallot. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add the stock and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil. Once the stock has reduced by ½, lower the heat and add the cream and crushed peppercorns. Stir to combine. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes making sure to stir every few minutes until it has thickened to a desired consistency. If the sauce is too thick, you may add a few more tablespoons of cream to thin it out. Remove from the heat once done and serve right away. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This sauce is great when served with steak, chicken, hamburgers and more!

History

Three of the peppercorns you see come from the same plant. The green, black, and white peppercorns come from the Piper nigrum plant. Normally peppercorns are picked when they are green, these can be dried, pickled, canned, or frozen. If you briefly boil and dry the peppercorns, you get the common black peppercorn. If you then remove the husk from the black peppercorn, you get a white peppercorn.

The flavor of black peppercorns comes from the husk. White peppercorns are milder in flavor and have less heat. Green peppercorns are going to be the mildest and will have a more vegetal taste. These work best for steak sauces. Pink peppercorns come from a different plant. These berries are pink with a sweeter more floral taste and not nearly as hot as black pepper. You can use these colorful peppercorns in compound butters, vinaigrettes, and even frozen custard!

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Additional Recipes

July: Kaffir Lime

 

Recipe: Kaffir Lime Leaf Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Water

  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar

  • 6 Kaffir Lime Leaves

Instructions

In a small saucepan, add water, sugar, and lime leaves. Slowly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let it cool to infuse properly (about 4 hours.) Strain into a glass bottle and store in the fridge until ready to use. This will keep fresh up to 10 days.

History

Kaffir lime, or, Makrut lime, is a citrus fruit native to tropical Southeast Asia. It's fruit and leaves are used in Southeast Asian cuisine and in essential oils used in perfumery. It's rind and crushed leaves release an intense citrus fragrance that will delight the senses.

 

Kaffir lime leaves are an aromatic Asian leaf most often used in Thai, Indonesian, and Cambodian recipes. They have a spiced-citrus flavor which is a lot lighter and zestier than a bay leaf or curry leaf. It is perfect for lifting a coconut-based broth or fragrant a fish curry.

 

The most likely etymology is through the Kaffirs, an ethnic group in Sri Lanka partly descended through Bantu slaves. The earliest known reference to Kaffir, previously known as “Caffre,” comes from an 1888 book titled, The Cultivated Oranges, Lemons, Etc. of India and Ceylon by Emanuel Bonavia.

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Additional Recipes

August: Lavender

 

Lavender Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of lavender buds

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (can substitute coconut sugar)

  • 1 cup water

Instructions

In a saucepan, combine the lavender buds and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then add the sugar. Lower the heat so it maintains a gentle boil, and continue to stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the lavender buds to steep as the mixture cools. Taste the syrup after 15 minutes. If there is not enough flavor, allow the mixture to steep a little longer or until you reach your desired taste. Strain the liquid into a container and store in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks.  

 

Common Name: Lavender
Scientific Name: Lavandula officinalis
Other Names: Common Lavender, True Lavender, Garden Lavender, Lavanda, Lavandula, Spikenard, Lavandula Angustifolia.

History

Lavender is an evergreen, perennial shrub that can grow 1 – 3 feet in height. It falls under the flowering plants of the mint family. The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia, is the one that is often referred to as lavender. The name comes from the color of the flowers, which are a violet-blue in color, or lavender. Lavender is appreciated for its sweet fragrance and beauty. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India and has been used at least 2,500 years. The word lavender comes from the Latin word for “lavare,” meaning, “to wash.” Many ancient cultures used this herb in baths, beds, clothes, on their bodies, and in their hair. 

 

The ancient Egyptians used lavender during mummification. The Romans used lavender oils for bathing and cooking. The flower’s soothing characteristics, as well as the insect-repellent effects of the fragrance added to the value of the herb at the time. In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the washing women were known as “lavenders.” They used lavender to scent drawers and dried the laundry on lavender bushes. 

 

There are many medical uses for lavender as well. The plant is grown for extraction of its oil from its flowers. The oil is gathered through a distillation process. The oil is used as a disinfectant, an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory, and for aromatherapy. Lavender oil is said to soothe headaches, migraines, and motion sickness when applied to the temples. Lavender can be used as a sleep aid and to help induce relaxation. 

 

Lavender is a common ingredient in Herbs de Provence, an herb combination that captures the flavors of the south of France. Lavender will offer a wonderful, sweet flavor to salads, soups, and meat dishes. It is also a nice addition to certain sweet desserts and baked goods. Lavender can be used as a substitution for rosemary in most recipes.

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Additional Recipes