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Herbs And Spices [Hardcover]

Jill Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 22 2002
The first illustrated guide to cover the whole spectrum of herbs and spices for culinary use.

Herbs & Spices is an indispensable reference that shows how to prepare fresh and dried herbs, how to use herbs and spices in cooking, and details everything that other books on the subject leave out. Containing a unique collection of recipes, from herb and spice mixes to rubs, pastes, salsas, and marinades, these authentic formulas will encourage cooks to think creatively and experiment on their own. Grouped by aroma and taste, with step-by-step preparation techniques and beautiful full-color photography, this book describes 60 herbs and the benefits of using them fresh or dried, and focuses on 60 spices from around the world, with a look at the early spice trade and how cross-cultural fusion has impacted on contemporary cooking.

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Product Description

From Booklist

More and more herbs and spices appear in American kitchens daily, encouraged by television chefs and promoted through new ethnic cuisines entering the mainstream. Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices comes at exactly the right moment to guide readers through the tangle of leaves, seeds, and berries. Norman thoughtfully organizes herbs into major classifications by their predominant bouquets. This approach immediately assists the cook looking for substitutions. Norman's tasting notes, borrowing a vocabulary identical to that used for wine, establish a standard language for characterizing each item's salient aromas and flavors. Full-color, close-up pictures aid in identification. Text outlines culinary uses and purchasing and storing data and gives information on growing one's own herbs. A short recipe section offers examples of how specific herbs and spices are used in cooking. A directory of mail-order sources further assists those who lack local access. Norman has made a vital contribution to reference collections for quick identification of species and for the use of herbs and spices in cooking. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Jill Norman is the author of DK's The Complete Book of Spices and has an extensive knowledge of food and cooking styles from around the world.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference Jan. 26 2004
By A Customer
This herb and spice book is fun to read! It is well organized and provides a great library addition to the Oxford Companion of Food. Of all the herb and spice books I reviewed, this one was the book most suited for a curious novice cook. In addition, the photography is outstanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars top notch Aug. 7 2003
Great book. Well though-out and produced. Fully illustrated and with lots of notes. This will be invaluable for food service professionals as well as us normal cooks. And there is a little info that kitchen gardener will find very helpful. Well worth the 30 bucks sticker price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for home and work alike Jan. 31 2003
I am a professional chef who is always interested in finding new and exotic ingredients and this book has a large number of herbs and spices that we have trouble getting in asia.
I thank the author for a clear and concise narrative on this subject, it has been most enlightening
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  132 reviews
217 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only book you need on herbs and spices Nov. 15 2005
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
`herbs & spices, the cook's reference' is the latest of eight different books on either herbs or spices by noted culinary editor and author, Jill Norman, one of the more influential disciples of the great English culinary writer, Elizabeth David, who contributed two books of her own to this subject.

I chose this book to review since I had a backlog of herb and spice books to review, and I wanted to start with one I could assume to be a standard against which all other books can be measured. The problem with starting with the standard is I'm assuming this role purely on the basis of the author's reputation in the field. I am happy to say that I find virtually nothing in this book to invalidate my holding it up as a standard against which other books on the subject may be judged.

For starters, Ms. Norman convinces us at the outset that the difference between an herb and a spice is vague enough around the world to require that we treat the two together, thereby eliminating any chance of leaving something out because it was not thought to be a spice or an herb. Part of this ambiguity is her statement that in the United States, a dried herb is considered a spice. Since Ms. Norman is an expert on the subject, I must assume that there is a faction in America that believes this. She states this to make it clear that her basis for distinguishing herbs from spices is based on the current British thinking on the subject. But, since she is covering both, the issue is academic in this book.

Much more interesting is Ms. Norman's separation of the various herbs and spices into a large number of categories based on flavor. Herbs are divided into `Fresh and mild herbs' featuring parsley, `Sweet Herbs' featuring lavender, `Citrus or tart herbs' featuring lemon balm, `Licorice or anise herbs' featuring dill and fennel, `Minty herbs' featuring mint, `Onion herbs' featuring garlic, `Bitter or astringent herbs' featuring celery, `Pungent and spicy herbs' featuring sage, thyme, and cilantro. This division alone is a great service, as it gives us a sound basis for substituting one herb for the other, as when we may need borage, and see that it's in the same class as parsley.

A deeper look at this lineup of herbs shows that Ms. Norman is covering a far broader range of species and varieties within species than most other books or sections of books on herbs. Most of us know of two or three varieties of basil. Ms. Norman shows us fourteen, divided between three groups, Genoese and purple basil (Ocimum basilicum), `other basils', and Asian basils. The inclusion of the scientific name is essential in a work like this. The most important need is when you wish to buy seeds to grow these plants, the scientific name is the only way you have to guarantee getting the species or variety you want. If you happen to see seeds for `Asian Basil', know that this could be any one of seven different species or varieties! Within sections such as those for the Asian basils, the pictures in this book really shine, as the pictures of these seven varieties are all on the same page, including stems and flowers in many cases, as many of the leaves from two different varieties are almost identical in appearance.

We are especially happy that Ms. Norman has drawn outside the lines in her including several plant species which border on what we think as teas (such as sassafras), salad greens (such as sorrel and celery), or root vegetable (such as horseradish and wasabi). The only lapse I can find in all the material on herbs is that the distinction between the Mediterranean bay is not clearly made from the New World plants often called `bay'.

Spices get an equally thorough treatment, being divided between `Nutty spices' such as sesame, `Sweet spices' such as vanilla, `Acidic and fruity spices' such as tamarind, `Citrus spices' such as lemon grass, `Licorice or anise spices' such as anise, `Warm and earthy spices such as saffron, `Bitter or astringent spices such as capers, `Pungent spices' such as chiles, ginger, mustard, and pepper. One of my fondest discoveries in this book is that not only are ginger and galangal shown to belong to two different biological genus, they are categorized as in two different taste classes. These two are commonly mistakenly lumped together.

The sections on chilis (genus capsicum) are as vividly colorful as all the others, with a surprise in that the heat in a chili species is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 rather than the better known (in the U.S. at least) Scoville scale.

The chapter in this book which makes it the only book you should need on herbs and spices is the one on recipes, featuring combinations for all the world famous herb and spice mixes, and lots you may never have heard of. The very best aspect of this section is that it provides not one recipe for things such as bouquet garni, but seven, for beef, pork, lamb, poultry, game, fish, and vegetables.

The very last chapter on general recipes could have easily been left out, as what comes before is more than enough to justify this as the only book you will need on herb and spice usage. One thing some readers may miss and the one thing that may justify a second book in you library dedicated to herbs and spices is one that deals with the history and geography of herb and spice origins. This book will not satisfy your curiosity over how New World Tomatoes joined up with their soul mates, Mediterranean basil.

An excellent book and a `must have' for a foodie library.
153 of 157 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a MUST HAVE if you love making your own recipes July 18 2005
By Chris Baker - Published on Amazon.com
I am a backyard BBQ fanatic who has started competing at local BBQ competitions. Outside of heat, smoke and meat, the most important part of making good BBQ is in your seasonings. Whether it is making a rub, a baste, or sauce, it is important to balance the flavors and recognize what flavors are needed to take your recipe to the next level. This book has all of the information I need to do exactly that. This book gets a LOT of use and abuse in my house, and I have used it as a reference to help me blend/enhance flavors for SO many recipes. I can not recommend this book highly enough. If you want to know about the flavors, uses and pairings of spices, this book will take care of you. The thing I like most about this book is how for each spice it mentions what other spices are typically used with it. This is very helpful when trying to narrow the search for another flavor to add to your recipes.
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate spice dictionary and reference Aug. 31 2007
By Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is organized to make using it a dream. It is divided into three sections Herbs, Spices and Recipes.

The first two sections are organized identically; an introduction, categories/groupings of herbs or spices and a section on preparing herbs or spices. Herb groupings are Fresh and mild herbs, Sweet herbs Citrus or tart herbs, Licorice or anise herbs, Minty herbs, Oniony herbs, Bitter or astringent herbs, Pungent and spicy herbs. Spice groupings are Nutty spices, Sweet spices, Acidic and fruity spices, Citrus spices, Licorice or anise spices, Warm and earthy spices, Bitter or astringent spices, pungent spices.

Each individual herb or spice has a page that includes pictures, history, notes on flavor use how it is harvested, culinary uses, other spices/herbs it combines with. The pictures and information combine to make this a top notch reference.

Recipes section is divided into two main sub-sections Blending herbs and spices and Cooking with herbs and spices. There is also a bibliography, sources and an index.

The Recipes for herb blends is shorter than expected but nice and represent other cultures. The spice blends are from around the globe and a longer more comprehensive list there are also recipies for sauces and marinades. Both herb and spice blend Recipes include suggestions and notes on how to use them and the best food pairings.

Cooking with herbs and spices has a good range of Recipes and the author packs a lot into this small section; soups and light dishes, fish, meat (includes three chicken recipes), vegetables, pasta noodles & grains, desserts and drinks ( including ice cream, Pineapple ginger cooler, Mojito).

The bibliography gives a detailed and exhaustive list of sources should you need to do further research. The source section gives contact information on places to purchase herbs and spices it is also a long and detailed contact information many including, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and web sites, and e-mail if available.

If you are a beginner and want to learn more about how to use herbs and spices or if you are an experienced cook and want to expand your flavor palate this is a great reference for you.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars from a canned-soup cook Nov. 7 2004
By Lee - Published on Amazon.com
OK, I'll admit it -- I was a terrible cook. My meals were nutritious, sure -- but spices eluded me -- and so the food was only suitable for monks who have taken a vow of pleasurelessness.

This book changed my cooking forever. Not only is the book pregnant with spectacular images of spices from their natural to processed state, but very thoughtful information is provided on complimentary herbs and spices that would inspire any on-the-fly cooking adventurer! You will guard this book like it was your tax information once it's on your shelf. But it won't sit on your shelf very much -- Mine is on my coffee table. The book is impressive in it's scope and aesthetics. Get it!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put some spice into your life, buy this book! Feb. 2 2009
By D. McKeel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wish that "Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference" by Jill Norman had been the first book (on this subject) that I had purchased. I have several other books on herbs and spices which are now gathering dust on my bookshelf. I am going to donate them to my local library as I find Ms. Norman's book is the one that I turn to whenever I want to know more about a specific herb or spice. The book is well organized and beautifully illustrated.
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