Ask the #Spicegeek: Turmeric, Finishing Salt, Pheasants, and Herb Drying

Published on September 10, 2015 in Main Dishes, Spice Geek.

With hundreds of herbs and spices there are millions of spice and herb blend possibilities.  While my professional title may be “Spice Master”, I prefer to call myself “Spice Geek” since there is always more to learn.

And that’s why I love fielding questions from flavor enthusiasts like you. It helps direct my research. Today, I’ve got answers for a few questions I’ve received lately.

fresh thyme

thyme with flowers

Nate asks, “Chef, what is the best way to dry my fresh herbs at home and still retain the oils and flavor.?”

My answer: The traditional way is the best. Tie the herbs in bunches and hang in your kitchen. Or, hang them in a garden room, or mud room or other suitable shelter. Ideally, you want to protect them from heat, light and moisture.

Dawn asks, “since I don’t want Alzheimer’s, do you have any recipes for Turmeric?” 

My answer: Turmeric is an intensely yellow rhizome related to the ginger plant. It is brightly colored and wonderfully popular in trendy kitchens. There’s only one problem: it is seldom ever used as a single spice. Most of us know that Turmeric is used extensively in India, Malaysian and South Asian Cuisines. I think Turmeric combines especially well with yogurt in Tandoori. Here is a relatively simple Curry Chicken recipe I recommend.

Also, you can get the Madras Curry I blend from either Tony’s Market or Mondo Market Denver or Valente’s Deli Bakery & Italian Market.

finishing salt guideLuis asks, “I know that salt is not a spice, but a friend just hooked me up with a sample box of Falksalt: Wild Garlic, Chipotle, Wild Mushroom. How would you use this?”

My answer:  I’ve actually seen and used these salts. I use them as finishing salts. Added at the very end of the preparation for a finish flavor. I use other salts – usually Maldon or Sel de Guerande as ingredient salt.  By the way, have you seen my new SALT print?

Jon asks, “I recently acquired some pheasants. For cooking them, I’m thinking buttermilk and Salt overnight, and on the smoker during the
day, probably wrapped in bacon for a little extra moisture. What sort of spices would you recommend for a rub under the bacon?”

My answer: When’s dinner? It sounds to me as if you have a great start. I like mushrooms and game together. Both, wild, outdoors, earthy flavors. So, I would saute mushrooms, season them with Black Pepper, Onion, Garlic, maybe some finely diced bell peppers, Salt of course. Then add some 1/2 and 1/2 or cream and let simmer. Than pour mushroom mixture over the top of the bacon wrapped pheasant. If you don’t want that complexity use the Black Pepper, Garlic, Onion and bells to garnish and then cook the bacon wrapped birds. Oh, and use Nueske’s Bacon if you can.


#spicegeekDo you have a flavor question? This spice geek is all ears. In fact, ask me on social media using the #spicegeek hashtag and I’ll reply!

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