spice infusion

Spice Infusion: Steeping and Poaching


Spice infusion can take the flavor of home cooking up beaucoup notches. When used properly, you may forget you are dining at home and think a chef made dinner for you. Now if only someone would arrive and magically take the dirty dishes away.

There is good news. Infusion techniques are nearly effortless. It boils down to knowing how to steep and poach. Lets take a closer look.


Steeping

Steeping involves spices, liquid, cook time and rest time. Both dry and fresh spices are acceptable for use.  Examples of steeping liquids include: broth, coconut milk, cream, milk, olive oil, simple syrup, vegetable oil, vinegar, and water.

directions
  1. Place spices and liquid in a saucepan.
  2. Heat at a medium-low setting until the liquid bubbles gently.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Steep spices in the hot liquid for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how strong a flavor is desired.
  5. Optional. Pass liquid through a strainer to discard spices.
  6. Use immediately per recipe instructions or store in a clean container for future use.
Examples

six cloves garlic, smashed + one cup olive oil = garlic oil {try me with saute vegetables}

two teaspoons curry powder + one cup olive oil = curry oil {try me in pastes}

zest from a lime + fresh ginger, two-inch piece peeled and sliced + rice wine vinegar = ginger lime vinegar {try me in salad dressings}

split vanilla bean + one cup sugar + one cup water = vanilla simple syrup {try me in cocktails}

special notes

Vinegar infusion does not require the element of heat. Simply place spices and liquid in a clean container. Cover and steep for two weeks in a cool, dark location. Shake the container from time to time. To prevent molding, ensure that spices are completely submerged in the vinegar.

The shelf life for infused oils is 2 weeks or keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.


poaching

Poaching involves spices, a liquid, a flavor recipient and cook time. Both dry and fresh spices are acceptable for use.  Examples of poaching liquids include: broth, coconut milk, cream, milk and water. Common flavor recipients are chicken, fish, fruit, grains and vegetables.

directions
  1. Places spices, flavor recipient and liquid in a saucepan.
  2. Heat at a medium-low setting until the liquid bubbles gently.
  3. Simmer the flavor recipient with spices in the hot liquid 30 minutes or less.
  4. When respectably cooked, remove the flavor recipient from the poaching liquid and serve.
EXAMPLES

one tablespoon fresh ginger, minced + one cinnamon stick + diced sweet potatoes in boiling water = spiced sweet potato mash

lime zest + chopped cilantro + brown rice in boiling water = cilantro lime rice

lemon zest + one cinnamon stick + cardamom pods + riesling + sugar + whole pears in boiling water = poached pears {a la mode, if you prefer…and who doesn’t}

 

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