Madame Saisons: Spice It Up
by Sarah Ugazio
Making the most of abundant seasonal produce has never been more timely (excuse the pun).
While 53% of us are cooking more often, we’re also shopping less frequently with a budget conscious and ‘shop local’ mindset (May 2020 Survey, Eat Well Tasmania). Buying in season is not only cheaper, it generally ensures optimal freshness (and thus nutrition), support for local producers, with an added bonus of helping our little planet by virtue of low food miles.
However, by this last winter month, inspiration may feel a little lacking in the kitchen. A high rotation of root vegetables can rapidly curb creativity. There is a limit to how much one can ponder pumpkin, potatoes and parsnips. While considering the carrots and cauliflower chilling in your fridge, you may have found your cooking playbook exhausted with no new moves up your sleeve. Fear not. Your cupboards are likely already filled with endless possibilities to pack some punch into routine recipes. Let me re-introduce you to your trusty, often neglected, humble herb and spice rack.
Surprisingly they’re not just there to keep your salt and pepper company; and can be worth every penny of the kitchen real estate they occupy. Dried herbs and spices often only see the light of day when the odd recipe calls for an exacting amount, or are used sparingly on their own, lest an over zealous sprinkle overpower and ruin a dish. However, dry rubbed on meats, sprinkled over vegetables, infused in cooking oils and mixed through butters, blended seasonings have the power to easily transform dishes into culinary journeys with complex layers of flavour. With international travel currently banned, consider coriander seed, ginger and galangal to take us to Thailand; a Ras-el-Hanout blend to North Africa; and rosemary, oregano and basil undoubtedly transport our tastebuds to Italy. Have some confidence to create your own.
Mixing your own blends enables avouradjustment and balance according to your palate, while also avoiding additives regularly included in commercial blends. Think outside the jar and consider anything that’s dry, or can be dried, such as toasted citrus peel, nuts or seeds – even seaweed. Pantry perfect to make ahead simply blend, taste test, and store in a tightly sealed jar. Life after lockdown may have left us longing for a little excitement, a release from the rut of routine and variation to the ‘new normal’. Now is the time to inject some inspiration into the everyday, so why not spice it up?
Follow Sarah on Insta @madamesaisons
Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Dry rub on chicken or fish, or sprinkle over smashed avo toast
4 Tbs Organic Lemon zest (or any citrus peel you fancy)
3 Tbs Cracked Peppercorns (black or multi-coloured)
1 Tbs Tasman Sea Salt (or other sea salt flakes)
1 Tsp Dehydrated garlic granules or garlic powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Rice Flour
Preheat oven to 100°C or lower if possible. Zest lemons evenly over a baking paper lined baking tray. Bake zest for 25 – 30 mins or until dry. Don’t let the zest peel brown and cool in oven with door ajar. Add dried zest and remaining ingredients to a food processor or coffee grinder. Blend until evenly combined and to desired coarseness. Store in an airtight jar for up to one month. Note, you can adjust the ingredient amounts to your preference.