Natasha MacAller is the ballerina-turned chef and author of VANILLA TABLE: THE ESSENCE OF EXQUISITE COOKING FROM THE WORLD’S BEST CHEFS, click through to read my review of this delightful book. Natasha has always had a vested interest in health and a passionate interest in spices. ‘For me’ says Natasha ‘spices are the flavour of life and may be the source of wellbeing for life too. I want SPICE HEALTH HEROES to inspire people to add more spices to their everyday cooking, as spices may show surprising benefits in helping to off-set certain diseases or poor health issues. Ultimately this is a book which celebrates the wonder of spices in all their forms and how we can use them to enhance our cooking and lives.’
In SPICE HEALTH HEROES, Natasha explores the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of more than 30 spices found in your kitchen cupboard, from the everyday to the more exotic. She takes each of her spice heroes, groups them into six chapters; from immune and cleansing, to energy and warming, to restorative and calming and details the flair of flavour and the wealth of medicinal benefits each spice contains, supported by quotes from an expert team of 8 international medical doctors and nutritional experts. Practical advice on the storage, preparation and uses of all the featured spices is also given.
Together with Natasha’s recipes there are recipes contributed from some 22 internationally acclaimed chefs, including Jose Andres, Lidia Bastianich, April Bloomfield, Suzanne Goin, Peter Gordon, Mette Helbak, Judy Joo, Michael Kempf, Christine Manfield, Anne-Sophie Pic and Cyrus Todiwala, whose spice stories and recipes began from their very first taste of a spice then developing over years of cooking, creating and tasting into their own individual spice signature.
At a time when culinary medicine, the exciting link between food and medicine (and food as medicine), has become one of the hottest health topics, SPICE HEALTH HEROES will stimulate all your senses and show you how to create dishes that not only taste fantastic but may help you feel fantastic too.
Cocoa butter roasted veggie salad with cocoa nib vinaigrette
- 1 sweet potato cut into small wedges
- 10 baby carrots halved
- 20 pearl onions peeled
- 1 turnip cut into small wedges
- 1 parsnip sliced diagonally 1cm (½ in.) thick
- 1 large potato cut into small wedges
- 1 butternut squash peeled and cut into 2.5cm (1in.) cubes
- 1 fennel bulb cut into small wedges
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 tbsp cocoa butter melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 55 g fresh rocket (arugula), to serve
For the cocoa nib vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp cocoa butter
- 2 tbsp cocoa nibs
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F/gas mark 6). Spread out all the vegetables on a foil-lined baking tray.
- Put the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds in small pan and heat over medium heat for 2 minutes, shaking occasionally. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder.
- Add the melted cocoa butter, spice mixture and salt to the veggies and toss well to coat thoroughly. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the veggies are tender and caramelized.
- Make the cocoa nib vinaigrette. In a small pan over medium–high heat, melt the cocoa butter, add the nibs and sizzle for 30–45 seconds. Add the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt and take off the heat.
- Serve the roast veggies on bed of rocket, drizzled with the cocoa nib vinaigrette.
Pros: The photographs in Spice Health Heroes are absolutely stunning and really tempt you to make the recipes. What I particularly enjoyed was the information about all the different spices and their properties. Each recipe also has a good introduction from the chef adding to the understanding of the recipe and the experience of reading the book.
Cons: One or two of the recipes contain ingredients I would find it difficult to source e.g. fresh turmeric root, quince, but then I do live in a very rural area. *Note from the author via Instagram: fresh turmeric is available at high end whole foods stores or Asian shops, however you can rehydrate dried turmeric root in water and fresh can be frozen, they way you would store fresh ginger. You can also substitute firm non-baking apples for quince in the recipe.
The Verdict: Spice Health Heroes is a feast for the eyes and the palate. I particularly loved the pages outlining different spice blends, so much better than the blends you buy. I can thoroughly recommend this book. It would make a lovely gift, add it to your list!
Spice Health Heroes
Featuring recipes from Jose Andres, April Bloomfield, Peter Gordon, Judy Joo and Lidia Bastianich.
By Natasha MacAller
Published by Jacqui Small
RRP £25.00 (Hardback)
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