For an introduction to the world of spices, look no further than Lior Lev Sercarz’s new cookbook of sorts.
“The Spice Companion” ($40, out Nov. 1) by the chef and owner of the 10-year-old Hell’s Kitchen spice shop La Boîte is a definitive guide to 102 spices, with information on their history, origin, and use, plus spice blend recipes.
In addition to dressing up anything from chicken broth to chocolate chip cookies, spices can play a wellness role. Sercarz shares how:
Celery seeds and cumin: Using spices like these can help reduce the amount of salt in a recipe, he says.
Pepper and ginger: These spices “create a numbness sensation which allows you to reduce the sugar in a recipe or get rid of it completely,” such as in beverages.
Fenugreek: This spice can be “great as a hot or cold infusion for drinking,” and is calming and good for digestion.
Cinnamon and nutmeg: Using these spices “tricks your brain and palate to think that the dish is sweet despite the fact that there is no sugar.” And, like all spices, they add flavor but not calories.