Herbs and Spices Cookery - Sesame to Vanilla

SESAME (Spice):  Small honey-colored seed of sesame plant native to Asia. Pleasant nut-like flavor. Sold as whole, paste (tahini) or as oil. Said to have magical powers of good luck:"open sesame".

Uses: Used on cookies, rolls, bread, crumpets, scones, biscuits, in candy. Also known as "benne" seed. An old time Jewish confection, "halvah," is made from it.

TERRAGON (Herb):  Dried leaves and tops of perennial herb of aster-like flower. Very aromatic, mildly licorice, anise-type flavor. Sold fresh or flaked. Suggested as antidote for snakebites.

Uses: Flavoring for tarragon vinegar (Tarragon flavored vinegar is available commercially or may be prepared at home by steeping the dried leaves in vinegar.), sauces, tomato dishes. Sprinkle on broiled chicken. Try it in tomato juice cocktail, any salad made with tomatoes, with green beans. Sprinkle over steaks or chops. Use tarragon vinegar in sauces for fish and shellfish, especially lobster. Use it to flavor mayonnaise for any fish salad.

THYME (Herb):  Leaves and stems of widely grown mint family plant. Strong, distinctive flavor, warm, slightly pungent. Also "lemon" thyme. Sold fresh, ground or flaked. Used as a cough medicine.

Uses: Stews, soups, meats, poultry, seafood, sauces, casseroles, tomato and cheese dishes, stuffings are better for that "pinch of thyme." Italians use it in some of their special dishes.

TURMERIC (Spice):  Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family. It is native to tropical South Asia. Commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.

Uses: For turmeric pickles, chow chow, relishes. Used in curry powder. Often used to replace saffron ascoloring agent.

Vanilla (Spice):  Fruit (bean) of the orchid plant. Sweet, rich. Sold as whole bean or liquid extract. Use only pure extract or Natural Essence.

Uses: Desserts, drinks, fruits, candies and French toast.