Cooking with Cloves
Cloves are one of the worlds oldest and most popular spices and it is no wonder because their aromatic and spicy smell and taste make a great compliment to many dishes. This spice originated in Indonesia and is grown in many places today. Perhaps the most widely recognized spice, a clove is actually a dried flower bud. It resembles small brown nail which makes it perfect for studding hams, which is where most people first become familiar with it. It is also familiar to many as one of the eight flavors, along with cinnamon, in a Necco roll.
But studding a ham is not the only use for cloves in the kitchen and different cultures have different favorite uses for this aromatic spice. In France, they put a clove into an onion for use in chicken stock. In England it is ground up and mixed with apples. In India cloves are eaten with betel nuts. There are many uses for cloves and they can actually go with most anything and make a very interesting garnish as well.
Cloves can be used in their whole form or in a ground up form. They can be used in dishes that include poultry or meat and you can add a pinch to most any meal. Cloves are essential in recipes such as pumpkin pie and mulled wine. While a whole clove might be a bit much to handle in a casserole, dessert or stew, the ground version can add a bit of aromatic zip without interfering with the texture.
Cloves are also a key ingredient in many spice mixtures made for use in the kitchen. In fact, the popular Chinese Five Spices has cloves as one of its ingredients. Cloves are also an ingredient of curry powder, widely used in Indian cooking. It is also a key ingredient in Moroccan ras el hanout, Garam Masala and even the French have a use for it in their quatre Úpices. You can even find cloves in unexpected places such as Worcestershire sauce.
Cloves are very popular in Indian cuisine and North Indian cooking uses cloves in almost every side dish or sauce that they make. Typically, you will find them used ground along with other spices. Cloves are also commonly found in various tea blends.
Cloves are useful in the kitchen and can add a new dimension to some of your old dishes. However, be careful, these little flower buds pack a big punch. When using cloves in cooking, it is best to be cautious. Use them sparingly.