French Four Spice (Quatre Épices)

As you all know by now I'm off enjoying a two week vacation to Paris with my husband. We're staying in the arrondissement des Gobelins, or 13th arrondissement. This out of the way section of the city isn't as popular with tourists, but the quiet residential area appeals to me and our hotel is located within meters of a metro stop giving us easy access to the rest of the city. It's also within walking distance of the largest Chinatown in Europe, which I can't wait to explore. This trip is sure to be an amazing adventure full of new people, new tastes, beautiful architecture, and museums I never dreamed of seeing. I'll make sure to give you all an update once I return.

Since discovering that I was going to be taking a trip to France I've done all I can to read up on their cuisine. Much like the different regions of the U.S. each region of France has it's own distinct style of cooking. Île-de-France the district where Paris is located is somewhat of a melting pot when it comes to food. You can expect to find the latest in haute cuisine as well as more traditional dishes from other regions. During my reading I was surprised to discover how simple, yet flavorful many of the regional dishes were. I think due to the reputation the French have with elevating food to a whole new level many people wrongfully assume that it is difficult to prepare. As I've discovered that isn't the case with many regional dishes, which are very unlike the haute cuisine of Paris that typically comes to mind when many people think of French cooking. While I'm off on my trip I'll be sharing several recipes with you that even the most inexperienced cook will be able to prepare at home with little difficulty.

I'll be starting off with a blend of spices called French Four Spice, or quatre épices. Even if you don't commonly cook French cuisine it's a great spice blend to have on hand. In traditional French cooking it is commonly used to add depth to charcuterie (prepared meats such as sausage or ham) as well as soups, stews, and desserts. When I first discovered it I was surprised by how much it resembled the combination of spices I use to make gingerbread; all the blend lacked was all-spice, which I later found is sometimes added to the blend in place of ginger. At first it seemed like an odd combination to use with savory dishes, but when combined with a little kosher salt it quickly became one of my favorite spice rubs to use with pork roast. I hope you enjoy experimenting with it as much as I have.

French Four Spice
makes 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons white pepper, ground
2 Tablespoons nutmeg, ground
2 Tablespoons ginger, ground
1 Tablespoon cloves, ground

Directions

  • Combine white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Mix well and store in an airtight container.