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Traveling Spice Kit

July 1, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Traveling Spice Kit

Summer is the time to travel and whether you travel within the state, hit the wide open highways of America or fly abroad, you're going to want to eat.  Of course, dining out is a big part of the fun of travel, but you might want to do a little home cooking too.

If you love going to Maryland's Farmers Markets, you'll love trying them out in the other states, or abroad, too.  And one of the things that you will find most tempting is the produce.  For the record, Maryland's Farmers Markets can stand up to just about anybody's.  In terms of fruit, vegetables and regional products, we match up very well.

Farmers Markets encourage us to improvise, and to help you we recommend that you put together a traveling spice kit that will support most of your impromptu efforts.  (By the way, save some old plastic pill bottles, which are the perfect size for this.  Label them if there is any ambiguity.)

In your rental kitchen, assume that salt and pepper are available.  But you will want to buy small amounts of olive oil and vegetable oil, plus your favorite vinegar once you get there.  Beyond that, there's little that you can count on, so you should bring your own.

Things like stews, stir-fries, curries, soups and salads are naturally set up for improvisation.  But to make them work you'll need help.  Here are some of Al's must-have's:  cayenne pepper, herbs de provence or fines herbes, cumin, rosemary, garam marsala, packets of Goya powdered chicken, beef and vegetable broth, and stir-fry sauce and barbecue sauce.  

Great vacation recipes would include:  stir fried vegetables plus pieces of protein; curries that also start with the stir-fried veggies but take the seasoning in a different direction; a frittata with market veggies and local sausages; roasted potatoes, seasoned with herbes de Provence, which go with anything; omelets with local cheese and ham; soups based on your portable broths; pastas plus tomato sauce featuring local produce.  Use your leftovers creatively:  we had a nice pork roast one night, then used the left over bone with its scraps of meat as the basis for a killer pea soup.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.