A blend of my own devising, the Five Pillars of Greatness are like the Army in my war on the Allium menace; first in and last out. I use it in some form in over half of the main dishes I prepare. I don't keep it as a blend, I just reserve a section of the spice cabinet for the unground components, and mix and grind them on demand. I vary the relative quantities, but here is a general starting point: Cardamon: 1 part (brightness and good cheer) Pink peppercorns: 4 parts (central aroma and top note) Cumin 4 parts (richness and breadth) Cubeb: 2 parts (depth and complexity) Pequin peppers: 4 parts (fire and brimstone) One recipe I'll post here because it is both simple and extremely specialized. This one is only good for Taco Bell tacos or similar fast food. Add 1 tbsp of Five Pillars to three packets of Taco Bell fire packets. The resulting napalm is tasty enough on tacos to make sure those grons never come back!
These cheerful little dried berries are the red things you see in all those multi colored pepper blends. As far as I'm concerned, those blends were put together by someone who noticed that they were all called pepper and looked pretty next to each other. There is no way I would have come up with that blend for flavor purposes. Pink peppercorns are an awesome spice, and the soul of my Five Pillars of Greatness blend. They have a thin bright red shell over what looks like a little peppercorn, but there the resemblance ends. their flavor is somewhere between juniper and the sweet part of pomegranate. Their flavor comes through, but it is hard to overpower a dish with them, so use them liberally. buy them unground, and add them late in the cooking process for full potency.
Tags: Cardamon, Five Pillars of Greatness, Spices
This is one of my favorite spices. Cardamon always brings to mind thoughts of my grandmothers Finnish pulla bread, and holidays spent inside near a crackling fire with good company. It is the sweet good cheer in my Five Pillars of Greatness blend, and used sparingly in a lot of my cooking. It is versatile enough to be used in anything from serious meaty dishes to light deserts, with a flavor reminiscent of true cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, but with with none of the bite. I use the green, but I find the pods to be more trouble than they are worth for most applications. The ground product loses flavor fast. Buy it in seed form and grind on demand.
Tags: Cumin, Five Pillars of Greatness, Spices
You know how sometimes you are eating and you come across a little burst of flavor and you wonder what spice it was? Chances are good it was cumin. The little seed is quite a chameleon, with a flavor that is both strong and iconic, yet blends with the flavor of a dish in such a way that a new flavor is born that is greater than the sum of its parts. You can find it in massive quantity along with peppers and garlic powder in that cheapo curry powder that forms the base of so much commercial Americanized Mexican food. I use cumin myself as a brute force flavor for taco meat, but it also has a great deal of complexity to add to a variety of classier dishes. Its raw flavor is a strong and a bit on the green side. If you toast it the force of the flavor subsides into a lighter, more complex spice suitable for less potent fare, but over toasting it will leave you with something bitter and undesirable. It is a strong spice, but I always find myself adding more as I cook. Make sure you label it well in whatever spice ...
These are one of my favorite sources of heat, and single handedly provide the fiery bite of my Five Pillars of Greatness blend. They are tiny dried red peppers with a smoky, short lived, but potent heat. They are small enough that you can often use them whole in soups and sauces which makes them much more convenient than most peppers, which often require de-stemming, de-seeding, baking, peeling, chopping, etc. I've tried just about every pepper out there, and this is one of only a few I keep on hand at all times. If you don't have pequins and have to substitute, I'd use De Arbol, which are available in most stores. You can buy Pequin peppers here on amazon in a the quantity of your choice.
Tags: Cubeb, Five Pillars of Greatness, Spices
rel="nofollow" This is one of my favorite spices, and a cornerstone of my Five Pillars of Greatness blend. These berries from Java look like black peppercorns, but with a little tail. Their flavor is somewhere between black pepper and Juniper. Picture what a peppercorn would taste like if it grew on a pine tree, or were soaked in gin. I've found they are a nice addition to the pepper grinder because they seem to enhance the pepper flavor and add a little extra interest. They are less hard than black pepper, although I rarely add them whole, and chewing on one produces a cooling sensation, followed by a sudden bitterness in the center; a flavor which does not come through when they are used in a dish. I buy them in bulk on amazon and I go through them quickly. A highly recommended spice. If you find yourself needing to substitute for Cubeb in one of my recipes, Use black pepper and a splash of Gin or a pinch of bay.