It’s here! The much-anticipated cookbook: La Cuisine et le Gout des Épices! At a time when there are so many useless, fluffy cookbooks out there with pretty pictures, yet little content, there comes along a cookbook you can really sink your teeth into from Philippe de Vienne, local spice guru, chef extraordinaire, and my old boss. (Click here to see the insane menu from the last party we did together)
This cookbook gives you more than just something to nibble on, it’s like sitting down to a full five-course meal. It’s a literal spice bible that features much more then original recipes from the four corners of the world, but also a beautiful photo glossary of spices, an insightful look into the role spices play in the kitchen, and a few amusing anecdotes tucked here and there from the de Vienne’s extensive travels.
I am so excited to get my hand on so many of these recipes that I remember eating and serving when I catered for the de Viennes. Recipes such as Cari de noix de cajou (Cashew Curry), Tarte de figues au laurier (Fig Tart with Bay Leaves), Hummus chaud (Hot Hummus) and Poulet roti au berbere (Berbere Chicken).
The first recipe I chose to make was the amazing Beignets de mais et de crevettes that Philippe created after a trip to Bali. We used to serve them as bite size canapés for cocktails we catered, but Danny and I enjoyed them shaped slightly larger and served with a big salad for our dinner. With fresh pineapple spears for dessert, who needs to travel to Indonesia?!
There is a lovely blend of spices that go into these fritters, making them go from ho-hum to sensational and isn't that the beauty of spices? So much flavor for so little effort.
Here they are pictured below, clockwise from the nutmeg:
Thai Chili, Coriander, Cardamom, White Pepper, Cumin and a whole Nutmeg.
It is always best to buy your spices whole and then grind them yourself. I use an old Braun coffee grinder and that works well.
There is a note in the cookbook that says this blend of spices is wonderful with other corn dishes, such as a soufflé, soup or gratin. I am getting some good ideas already!
Shrimp and Corn Beignets
4 dried Thai peppers or Cayenne peppers
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground
¼ nutmeg seed, grated
Place corn, green onions, basil, coriander, shrimp, salt and egg in a bowl. Add spices and mix well. Add one cup of flour, mix well. Slowly add more flour to the mix until the batter reaches a consistency of muffin batter. Heat a large pot with 1/8th inch of oil in the bottom. When the oil is hot, put a large spoonful of batter in the pot. With the help of the spoon, form a galette of ½-inch thick and 3-4 inches in diameter. Form other galettes. Cook over medium heat just until the bottoms are well colored (4-5minutes). Turn and cook the other side until golden. Repeat with the rest of the batter, and add, if needed, more oil in the pot. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes about 24 beignets
Ed Note: If you are interested in purchasing this cookbook, I believe it is available at Librairie Gourmand at the Jean Talon Market, or you can find it online here. For more information on Philippe and Ethné de Vienne or their products, visit their website.