Adding Herbs and Spices to Food
With a few exceptions, use herbs and spices sparingly, to enhance and accent other flavors rather than dominate them. For starters, try 1/2 teaspoon of spice for a dish that serves four to six. (For herbs, use 1/2 teaspoon powdered, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried, chopped, or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped.) Because oils are concentrated in the drying process, it takes about half the quantity of dried herbs as fresh. To release the flavor of dried herbs, crumble them in your hand before adding them to your dish
Add whole spices during cooking to allow their flavours to permeate the food. When you use whole, dried spices in cooking, tie them in a cheesecloth or metal tea strainer for easy removal. Add ground or cut herbs and spices midway or towards the end of your cooking time, so their flavors won’t dissipate. For uncooked foods, such as salad dressings, fruits or juices, add spices and herbs several hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. For salad dressings, add the spices to the vinegar and allow to stand before adding the oil. Allow for the buildup of intensity with red pepper or spice blends containing red pepper. First taste tests often seem mild.
Whole spices can be ground in a small coffee grinder, small food processor, pepper grinder, or mortar and pestle. To clean coffee grinder after use, add small amount of sugar or uncooked rice and process.
Toasting or Dry Roasting
This process can accentuate the taste and aroma of spices such as cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. To toast, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add spice(s); toast 2 to 5 minutes or until spices are fragrant and lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat.