Leave the Peel on When You Use a Garlic Press

Not peeling garlic takes this gadget from unnecessary to unparalleled.

A good cook is an open-minded, curious cook. But when I saw my friend take out his garlic press, my face puckered into a judgemental scowl. [Read more…]

8 Herbs And Spices You Should Add To Your Smoothies

Yes, green smoothies are filled with nutrient-loaded fruits and vegetables, but adding an extra boost via herbs and spices means your daily drinks will be working double-time. [Read more…]

8 Herbs And Spices You Should Add To Your Smoothies

Yes, green smoothies are filled with nutrient-loaded fruits and vegetables, but adding an extra boost via herbs and spices means your daily drinks will be working double-time. Herbs are flavorful, [Read more…]

Six varieties of summer’s favorite herb

Put away the parsley. Set aside that oregano. We’re in peak basil season.

Whether you’re growing it in your backyard or picking up a few bunches at your farmers’ market, there is nothing like sweet basil in the summer. [Read more…]

The Magical Saffron Harvest Of Kashmir

A visit to a war-torn land with a special purpose

As we continue Fantasy Travel Week we bring you a dispatch from chef and cookbook author Jody Eddy, who traveled deep into the heart of Kashmir to learn about the sacred saffron harvest. [Read more…]

Could Swearing at Your Basil Plant Make it Grow?

Angry? Stressed? Try yelling at some basil. It could be beneficial to both you and the plant.

According to the ancient Greeks and Romans, there were three steps to successfully growing basil. Step one: dig the holes. Step two: plant the [Read more…]

On the Spice Trail: Ginger

With myriad of uses, both culinary and medicinal, ginger is one of the world’s most versatile spices: check out ginger origin, benefits and uses in the kitchen. [Read more…]

The Only Eight Spices You Need

Maybe you’re just starting to cook. Or maybe you’ve been cooking too long. Either way, if your spice collection needs help, it needs the Epi Essential Eight.

Peek into my spice drawers and you’ll find over 75 spices, everything from Aleppo pepper to za’atar, all of it labeled with the date they were opened.

They’re definitely the drawers of a spice addict.

But here’s a confession: A lot of those spices are good for just one dish. Some are good for only two or three. And the reality is that nine times out of ten, I reach for the same few spices and use them over and over.

Those are the spices I curated into the Epi Essential Eight, a collection of spices that make up a complete, streamlined spice rack, good for beginners and recovering addicts alike.

1. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

You know you need salt (and you’re seasoning every step of the way, right?) but what kind of salt do you need? If I had to pick just one out of the three kinds of salt we keep in Epi’s test kitchen, it’d be Diamond Crystal kosher. It’s cheap, has a clean salinity, has a nice texture between your fingers, and provides good crunch for finishing dishes.

2. Whole Black Tellicherry Peppercorns

Black pepper is another no-brainer, but not just any pepper will do. Don’t go for the pre-ground stuff—it goes stale quickly and gives you all of the sneeze-inducing burn with none of the complex fruity aromas you get from freshly ground peppercorns like Tellicherrys. Make sure you have a good-quality, adjustable grinder that can yield coarsely-cracked peppercorns for steak au poivre as well as finely ground pepper for soups and sauces.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne is made from dried and ground red chile peppers. It adds a fiery heat to dishes with a touch of sweetness and plays well with almost any cuisine.

4. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is my pick for most versatile sweet spice. But while it’s best known for the spicy warmth it brings to desserts, it also plays well in savory dishes.

5. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crush red pepper is another way to add punch to dinner. This heat is less concentrated than cayenne pepper, though, and is rounded out by raisiny notes. Try it on pastas or sautéed greens.

6. Smoked Paprika

A smoky sweetness + a gorgeous red hue = a spice that’s perfect for hearty stews and roasted chicken.

7. Cumin

Known for its nutty earthiness, cumin is a cornerstone spice in countless cuisines: Southwestern, Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern, just to name a few.

8. Dried Oregano

Yes, technically this is a dried herb, not a spice. But I put it in the Essential Eight because it infuses dishes with a bold, lemony flavor you can’t get anywhere else.

Already stocked with the Essential Eight? Great—now you can start mixing. Cayenne plus cumin is a great start for many Southwestern or Mexican dishes. Throw in some cinnamon and you’re on your way to an Indian curry. Combine red pepper flakes and dried oregano to season an Italian dish, or smoked paprika and cayenne for richly-spiced roasted vegetables (especially potatoes). Or get really crazy and combine all eight for a powerful rub or—if you whisk in a little oil and vinegar—a marinade.

The Only Eight Spices You Need

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This Tool Will Change How You Prep Fresh Herbs

Anyone who has ever had to chop huge amounts of fresh herbs knows it can be a tricky task. Thyme leaves are tiny. Oregano and tarragon leaves aren’t that much bigger. [Read more…]

This Tool Will Change How You Prep Fresh Herbs

Anyone who has ever had to chop huge amounts of fresh herbs knows it can be a tricky task. Thyme leaves are tiny. Oregano and tarragon leaves aren’t that much bigger. [Read more…]