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Cooking with the Spice Smuggler-Jeffrey Saad

November 9, 2009

This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Jeffrey Saad, the runner up on Season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. Jeffrey currently hosts a series of webisodes called the “Spice Smuggler” on foodnetwork.com and is working on a book, Cooking without Borders: The Spice Smuggler. Each webisode features a different spice that home cooks can easily integrate into their everyday cooking, along with making quick, budget-friendly meals using pantry staples. In addition to being the National Spokesperson for the American Egg Board, Jeffrey is also a recipe consultant and motivational speaker. This charismatic and fun-loving chef will get you excited about food in ways you never thought possible. Check out my interview below!

How do you incorporate exotic spices into everyday cooking?

In my book I’m working on right now, Cooking without Borders, The Spice Smuggler, I want to create holy trios of spices for each county. For example, when you use cumin, oregano and lime, you immediately sense Mexico. These three spices can be the foundation of any recipe and that you can use on any kind of poultry. Another part of the book is going to feature the top 10 spices you walk by in a grocery store and how to incorporate them into home cooking. Spices are dormant and just waiting for you to use them. They aren’t like fresh herbs which can expire and go bad.

What are your top 3 spices you always have in your kitchen?
5 spice because it is very user friendly and all the spices are ground up into one. Anise seed to add texture and it also has a cleansing acidity. Smoked paprika which immediately takes a dish into a Spanish realm

Do you have some quick meals for a busy weeknight that you like to make?

I love cooking with eggs and making Pho with poached eggs. You just take a can of coup, add some spices and drop in an egg. I also like to use fennel seeds for a quick sauté of Chinese green beans with garlic, chili arboles, hoisin sauce and soy sauce. There’s a sweet and salty contrast and the fennel seeds brings a subtle licorice flavor and texture

Any advice for home cooks who want to sharpen up their culinary skills?
Try to start mind tasting. Think of things that make sense together, whether it’s from a book or restaurant. Play around with it and use that as a basis. Let go of the recipe. Expand your horizons and use spices to help. It’s amazing how much spices can wake up a dish and take it to a whole another level.

What are some favorite fall ingredients you like to cook with?
Butternut squash, pumpkin and hearty greens. You can cube the butternut squash into small pieces and roast them into a butternut squash risotto or purée them into a soup. Hearty greens like kale are easy to grill and finish with a touch of walnut oil.

Favorite restaurant in Los Angeles?

Church and State, hands down.

Jeffrey Saad Passion for Food
Food Network: The Spice Smuggler

For the full Examiner article, click here.

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5 Spice Butternut Squash Soup

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Spice rack

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 9, 2009 5:22 am

    There’s latte art, then there’s cream art. Cool! Don’t have cable, don’t know this gentleman, but.. there is no such thing as a “quick” pho meal. Unless simmering bone stock for dozens of hours is quick?

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