Wussten Sie schon? …das ist er, der König der Pfeffer: Tellicherry. Viele denken meist, der Name läge an seiner Farbe oder daran dass er so spät gepflückt würde. Cherry = Kirsche, passt ja auch eigentlich. Aber tatsächlich ist der Name nur der verzweifelte Versuch die indische Stadt Thalassery auf English auszusprechen (übrigens, hier die Koordinaten: 11.774435,75.498562). Aus der Region kommt er und so ist er auch zu seinem Namen gekommen. Das mit der Kirsche, na, aber irgendwie ist da auch was dran…

Tonight’s special ar the #saloon #Aholaloha #Pork ~ Gingerly marinated in fresh pineapple juice with a hint of garlic and chili this charcoal roasted tenderloin contains more grade “AAAAA” #Canuckian pork than a #McRib. Served with or without sweet chili sauce. #Montreal #steak #spice, #Spanish #onions, #soy #sauce, #basmati #rice, #tellicherry #black #peppercorns #sea #salt #open #sesame #oil #French #beans #broccoli #ohwhatawonderfulworld

Pepper the Dependable Workhorse in the Kitchen

I feel pepper is the workhorse, plodding along, doing its job, dependably. But is it really doing its job? If you are using pre ground pepper, you truly do not know what you are missing.  It tastes nothing like freshly ground pepper, even if using low quality peppercorns. Freshly ground pepper has a bouquet all its own, and a flavor that puts the pre ground commercial variety to shame. Using high quality Tellicherry or Malabar peppercorns is a revelation. The flavor and bouquet are exquisitely floral with pungency and bite. Once I tried these, I could never go back.

Peppercorns

Black pepper comes from the piper nigrum plant.  The pepper berries from that plant are used in varying ways to produce black, white and green peppercorns. If the berries are allowed to ripen before picking, the quality of the pepper goes up. Black peppercorns get larger as they ripen, and Malabar are the next to best in size and quality. The top of the line peppercorns are Tellicherry, the ripest and largest with the fullest flavor. Some scoff that pepper is just hot. While there is pungency and bite, truly high quality pepper has enough flavor to make one sit up and take note.

Green peppercorns are just that.  They are the green berries of the same plant, picked before maturity and allowed to dry. They also have a lighter, yet distinct pepper flavor and aroma. Some green peppercorns are pickled in brine, and are a wonderful addition to a dish. Creamy dishes seem to benefit with brined green peppercorns. They give a lovely burst of heat that is just piquant enough to give interest to a dish.

White peppercorns are also from the same plant, and are nothing more than black peppercorns that have been soaked in water until the outer black shell can be rubbed off. The flavor of white pepper is very obvious as pepper, but more subtle.  The main benefit in white peppercorns is the ability to add to creamed dishes, such as Chicken and Dumplings, where black pepper would mar the look of the finished product.  In more recent years a new variety of white peppercorns has arisen.  Sarawak white peppercorns are kept under running water until the skins peel off.  The finished product is whiter and cleaner and often larger in size than traditional white peppercorns.

Invest in at least one good peppermill, or more, if possible. Grind your pepper when it is needed, and not before.  I have many peppermills.  One is for grinding black pepper very fine.  One is specifically a coarse grind for the table.  One mill is filled with only white peppercorns, for special dishes. One is filled with a mixture of white, green and pink peppercorns, which is a great combination on lighter meats like chicken, pork and fish.  What about pink peppercorns? These are not pepper at all, but the berries of a different plant, schinus molle. Because they look like pepper berries and have a peppery flavor, they have become a colorful addition to gourmet pepper mixtures. 

There are other species of pepper that are sadly underused. Long Pepper, piper longum, with fruit over an inch long, is hotter than black pepper with a hint of cinnamon. These are wonderful left whole in stews for long cooking.  Cubeb Pepper, piper cubeba, is a cross between pepper and allspice in flavor.  It is also called tailed pepper because of its little stem left attached.

Whichever variety of pepper you choose, make sure the peppercorns are whole, and grind them just before use. Taste the different varieties separately and find out the subtle differences. Invest in a really high quality peppermill, such as an Atlas brass mill, which was originally meant for grinding coffee.  Make the workhorse into a thoroughbred to be appreciated.

My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.

My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Sign up for my Newsletter to follow all of our events.

Visit my Web site A Harmony of Flavors  my Blog A Harmony of Flavors Blog my Marketplace Site  on Facebook or on Twitter

Yesterday, I went to visit my childhood home. It’s a huge 200 year old house that sits by itself on top of a hill, surrounded by nothing except giant, ancient trees. Pretty magical, I know. The following are a few pictures that I took in and around the house.

Pepper the Cinderella of the Cupboard

Pepper is an unappreciated spice.  It is always there.  It is called for in nearly every savory recipe, and some sweets (think Pfeffernusse).  “Freshly ground pepper” is called for everywhere in recipes, rather like “Cinderella, Cinderella!”  It is expected to be in its place, doing what it does best, but completely under appreciated.  How many of you really taste pepper?  Can you identify the different types and varieties?  How many kinds of pepper can you name?  Are they all pepper?

Pepper can be very exciting, and the nuances of the different types can make huge differences in the outcome of a dish.  Very high quality Tellicherry peppercorns have a distinctly floral flavor with pungency and “bite”.  Store bought ground pepper tastes noting at all like a freshly ground high quality Malabar or Tellicherry.  But what are these names, you ask?

Black pepper comes from the plant “Piper nigrum”.  The highest quality black pepper is Tellicherry.  Because the berries have been allowed to ripen on the plant before picking, it ensures the most flavor and the largest berries.  The berries ferment in the sun for a few days as they dry.  “Malabar” peppercorns are just slightly less ripe when picked, have very full flavor also, and are slightly smaller.  White and green peppercorns are the same berries.  Green peppercorns are picked before they ripen and dried.  Sometimes they are packed in brine, and when added to a dish, give a delicious burst of peppery goodness and gentle heat.  These are lovely in creamed sauces.  Green peppercorns have a distinct flavor, but lighter.  White peppercorns are just black peppercorns soaked in water until their outer shell can be rubbed off, and then allowed to dry.  The flavor of pepper is obvious, but more delicately subtle.  As it is white, it is the perfect addition to dishes like Chicken and Dumplings, where the black pepper would mar the look of the finished product. It is also good for dishes where the flavor of pepper is desirable, but could easily overpower if using the black peppercorns.  In recent years another method for processing white peppercorns has arisen.  “Sarawak” white peppercorns are kept under running water until the skins peel off and the final product is a cleaner, whiter peppercorn.

Pre-ground pepper, the ugly step-sister, bears no resemblance to good peppercorns.  As with all spices, pepper should be kept whole until needed, and ground just for the recipe.  I have not had pre-ground pepper in my kitchen for more than 25 years.  Once I discovered the differences in flavor, I could never go back.  Over time, I have invested in various peppermills.  One (a Turkish brass coffee grinder) grinds pepper very fine.  I use this for grinding into a dish being cooked.  Another mill is set to grind coarsely, and used for cracking pepper over food at the table.  Another mill holds only white peppercorns.  Yet another holds a mixture of white, green and pink, which is an excellent combination for chicken, pork or fish.

But wait, you ask, “What about pink peppercorns?”  These are not pepper at all, but come from a shrub; “Schinus molle”.  Because they look like pepper berries, and have a peppery flavor, they are added to gourmet pepper mixtures.  They are aromatic, rather than pungent.  Other species of pepper, such as Long Pepper (piper longum) and Cubeb Pepper (piper cubeba), have differing nuances of flavor.  Long pepper is hotter than black peppercorns, with a tiny hint of cinnamon; it is wonderful left whole in stews for long cooking.  Cubeb pepper, also called Tailed Pepper, is almost a cross between pepper and allspice in flavor.

Bring Cinderella to the ball, at last.  Find high quality peppercorns and grind them yourself.  You won’t be sorry.

My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.

My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Sign up for my Newsletter to follow all of our events.

Visit my Web site A Harmony of Flavors  my Blog A Harmony of Flavors Blog my Marketplace Site  on Facebook or on Twitter

Tuna Tartare (In Homage to Morton's Steakhouse!

I decided on making Tuna Tartare for lunch today! My homage to the Morton’s presentation. Added cilantro bed, and Sriracha. I like a little heat! Sashimi-Grade Yellowfin Tuna, Avocado, Roma tomato, Tellicherry black peppercorns, cilantro, sea salt, red pepper flakes, Sriracha. — posted by Marcinho Savant

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