The 5 Winter Spices Your Holiday Cooking Needs
5 Essential Winter Spices
Why cloves? These peppery-sweet spices, the dried buds of a native Indonesian tree, have some of the same floral-and-anise flavor notes as basil, a beloved tomato partner. Try cloves in Clove-Scented Tomato Soup. Just a few whole cloves are all you need to scent this soup and let the tomatoes sing. "I roasted and peeled a red bell pepper, then just tossed it in to simmer with everything else.” — D NELSON
Why nutmeg? You might think of it primarily for baking, but nutmeg also has an affinity for cream, cheese, and eggs. Its warm, spicy notes work well with many high-fat foods. It also adds a subtle sweetness that helps balance bitter foods such as spinach. Nutmeg makes all the difference in Spinach Pie. "Use this easy recipe as a guide and throw in what you have on hand. I added 1/4 cup crumbled bacon, 1 bunch diced green onions, and a chopped yellow onion. I used a mix of cheeses, too." – BIG BOY
Why vanilla? You probably already know that the floral musk and tropical spice notes of vanilla do wonders for sweet, buttery desserts. Vanilla works a similar magic on scallops, which are naturally sweet and buttery. Shallots in the sauce and sharp celery leaves on top help balance the dish. Try Scallops with Oranges and Vanilla Beurre Blanc.
Beurre what? French for "white butter," beurre blanc is a luscious sauce typically made with white wine, shallots, and butter.
Why cardamom? Spicy, minty, citrusy, and herbal all at once, fragrant cardamom goes a very long way. Undiluted or uncooked, it can have a harsh, medicinal quality. But as part of a spice rub that gets rinsed off before roasting, it’s the perfect cure for pork roast, as demonstrated in Cardamom-Cured Pork Loin. "Since the spice rub has cardamom, I served the pork with Sautéed Apples to complement the sweetness. It was a great combination!" – NOELLER67
Why ginger? Sweet, tart, and peppery, ginger can be a bit much on its own. But it’s a perky partner for quieter flavors, as you'll see in these Pumpkin-Ginger Cupcakes. "I didn’t have any butterscotch pudding, so I used vanilla. I frosted them with Cream Cheese Frosting II. Everybody loved them!" – WRYBREAD
Check out our collection of Winter Recipes.
This article originally appeared in the December/January 2019 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.