It can be tricky to fully immerse yourself in your work (no matter how much you love it) when the cicadas are chirping in the trees spelling long indulgent hammock reading sessions, the kids are competing for your undivided attention(flattering of course) AND on top of that, it seems like simply EVERYONE ELSE is skiing in a foreign country or frolicking in far off waters. One leg is still in full holiday swing and the other is limping slowly towards the starting block that is the new working year.
If like me you follow the foodie blogs and posts, you'll know by now that they are riddled with articles on 2015 food trends. There are many varied predictions on the rise and fall of rising ingredients and hip cuisine. Some made me laugh (the number of authors predicting the demise of kale) and others sing (Nose to tail fish eating, yep if you’re in you’ll be dining out on fishy livers & the like.) So the list thing has been done already.
I have been trying really hard to get a newsletter out… I’ve journeyed from Cabramatta to Alexandria, from Bowral to Thredbo in search of inspiration.
And finally I found it, right under my nose, in my very own spice drawer. I love cooking with spices. Their flavour can transform the most mundane ingredients into a rumba on your taste buds. Nutritionally speaking they can also really add some magic to your dish
Spices have been used for millennia for numerous purposes from enhancing taste and disguising spoiled food to stabilising blood sugar levels, staving off sugar cravings, upping the anti-oxidant content of your dish to providing seriously powerful medicinal remedies.
A simply fabulous summer spice is SUMAC. Sumac, a traditional Middle Eastern spice is a deep purplish red, with a tart, sour, citrus taste. The main spice in zataar, also delish on salads, lush on fish and chicken, can be used in place of lemon and lime, steeped with cinnamon in tea, used as a condiment with eggs, curries, quinoa etc.
But why eat Sumac? Well because it tastes really good AND it’s high in antioxidant phenolic acids and flavonoid and B and C vitamins. It’s unique properties mean that it is anti-inflammatory and helps fight free radical damage which may help reduce the risk of some cancers. Sumac has antimicrobial properties. Sumac also has anti hyperglycaemic properties meaning it can help balance blood sugar levels to avoid those sugar highs and lows. It may also assist in improving blood lipid profiles (think cholesterol and triglycerides.) AND remember it tastes good. In Traditional Iranian Medicine, it has been used to treat peptic ulcers.
Sumac berries are picked ripe, then dried and ground into powder or stored whole. You can buy Sumac at Middle Eastern and Indian food storers and many good green grocers (possibly even is supermarkets although you won't get a good sized bag there.)
So this year, the classes will be full of spices and spicy titbits on why you would be doing yourself a favour by adding them to your food. If you would like to learn more about the magical powers of spices and other whole foods, book into a cooking class and we’ll talk turkey.
Happy spicy cooking. Sumac chicken. I'll pop some more recipes up soon.