Normandie Kitchen

Shared food in a share house

Category: Ingredients


Although it’s most (in)famous in sandwich form, Vegemite is one of the most useful ingredients you can have in your pantry. Pure umami, it adds depth to meat, mushroom dishes, and soups — it’s also wonderful with cheese. It’s particularly useful when you’re cooking for vegetarians, and want to add richness to a dish without a lot of the nasty off-flavours of vegetable stocks, that often include celery, garlic, and onion powder. It can hang out in the background (as in cheddar-onion pie) or take center stage (cheesey-mite bread!)

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Allspice (the dried berry of Pimenta dioica) is sometimes known as pimento, or pimenton, or pimienta dulce (in Spanish). It’s one of the constellation of “sweet spices” — like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves — that people in North America typically associate with dessert. But it’s more often used with meat, and other savory food elsewhere. Allspice is native to Central America and the Caribbean, and so it’s common in foods like Jamaican jerk (which is meant to be grilled over a fire of allspice wood).
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Habanero chilis are typically green to orange, with a sharp, fruity smell and an intense heat. They are the typical chili in Caribbean and Yucatanian cuisine, as well as Nigerian and Camaroonian. They work very well with tropical and fruity flavours, such as pineapple, lime, and bitter orange. Because they are so intensely spicy, however, you must exercise extra caution when working with them.
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Achiote is a condiment used in Southern Mexico, around the Caribbean, and through South America. It has an earthy, slightly spicy aroma but is mainly used for its brilliant red color — often now substituting for the historically common carmine, or cochineal, which people sometimes don’t like because it’s made with squished insects. Achiote is made from the seed of the annatto tree (Bixa orrellana). The seeds, and the prepared paste, are pretty readily available in Latin markets. It’s an essential ingredient in dishes such as al pastor, anticuchos, and cochinita pibil.
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Bitter oranges

Bitter, or Seville oranges are too sour and bitter to eat as a fruit. But they’re important ingredients in many foods. Traditional marmalade is made with these oranges, as is orange blossom water. The rind has a cleaner, more intense aroma than sweet oranges, so it’s traditionally been used for liqueurs, such as Grand Marnier and Triple Sec; as well as for sweets. You can substitute regular orange rind, but use the Seville zest when you can. In Iran and southern Mexico, they use fresh bitter orange juice in the same way as you would use lemon or lime juice.bitter_oranges

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