The Culinary Alphabet with a twist…The letter C(aromatiC)

Welcome to my new series…food-related of course…I was challenged way back at the beginning of this year by Pete…who suggested that maybe I should use ingredients and cooking methods where the letter used, for example, was the last letter i.e Pizza(A)…

On reflection, I think it was a good idea although how I will fare when I get to some letters I am not sure if it will be doable, but, I will give it a good go… I am not one to back off if challenged…hehe

Today it starts with Aromatic(C)

Aromatic:- There is nothing quite like walking into a kitchen and smelling an aromatic smell which gets those taste buds zinging like bacon, coffee or bread baking or walking along the street and passing a house or a cafe and those delicious smells come wafting past your nose…it can be combinations of vegetables and herbs (and sometimes even meats) that are heated in some fat – like butter, oil, or coconut milk – at the beginning of a dish. The heated fat helps these ingredients release addictive aromas and impart deep flavours into the dish that’s being cooked.


I think apart from bread and bacon my favourite smells are spices…cinnamon,  cloves, nutmeg, star anise so many beautiful aromatic spices…

Armagnac or Cognac: What is your preference? Do you know the difference between these two brandies? I should have as my father loved a glass of brandy his favourite being Cognac…

The major difference between Cognac and Armagnac is the distillation. While Cognac is twice distilled using a pot still, Armagnac undergoes column distillation… column stills are 15 plates or less,” says Leonardo Comercio, sales manager for PM Spirits, an importer that specializes in brandy. “They are not there to strip and transfer raw material into a neutral distillate. They cleanse it and give it a high aromatic tone that would still be a flavourful distillate before it even goes into the barrel.”


Cognac is a brandy specifically made from wine in the Cognac region of France. The primary grape used to make Cognac is Ugni Blanc, though smaller amounts of Folle Blanche (also called Picpoul) and Colombard are allowed.

Armagnac is more rustic in production, which results in a full-flavoured brandy that importer Charles Neal, of Charles Neal Selections, calls “a bit more…forward and punchy.” The brandy used to produce Armagnac was made historically by roving distillers. Stills in tow, they would travel to farms in the hinterlands, allowing the farmers to make brandy from their wine without having to buy equipment of their own…How cool is that?

Ascorbic(acid):- or as it is better known Vitamin C…the sunshine vitamin found in all the colourful fruits and vegetables and generally in quite high amounts ..Bell Peppers, Oranges, Pineapples, Limes, Lemons, Tomatoes, Broccoli…so many lovely coloured fruits and veggies to choose from so you get your quota of Vitamin C…

Aspic- A savoury jelly usually made from meat stock and sometimes meat, fish or eggs are added…it is then set into a mould to set and once set sliced…Aspic is a type of stock which is high in gelatin, and which sets into jelly when cooled. Unflavored gelatin will have basically the same mechanical properties as aspic, as long as the gelatin concentration is roughly the same (1/2 tbsp of dry gelatin will set about a cup of liquid.

I remember my mum and my nan making this years ago for high days and holidays…my dad and nan loved it us kids not so much..I am guessing now that gelatin may be used more often than not…My mum used to make something called brawn which was set in aspic jelly.

Balsamic:- or Balsamic vinegar which some say goes right back to Roman times…I love a good balsamic with oil and some beautiful bread and olives…That’s me sorted…

That beautiful thick vinegar takes any dish up a notch…Balsamic is not made from a wine like most kinds of vinegar but from grapes which are boiled down to concentrate the sugars this is called a grape must…this grape must is then divided into different tubs and a heated tile is put into each one…after one year this becomes vinegar and then goes through a process of being transferred through casks made of different woods while it is maturing..which can take several years…primarily from the Modena and Reggio Emilia regions in Italy…It wasn’t until the late 70’s when it became a global phenomenon and used by chefs and home cooks around the world…I am sure the production of it now has changed vastly but if you are able to get a properly matured balsamic… treat it with reverence…it is a wonderful thing…

Celeriac:- Not the prettiest vegetable in the rack is it? But what a wonderful vegetable it is …one of my favourites which unfortunately I can’t buy here but my visitors always sneak one or two in their cases we love it!


Belonging to the celery family it was cultivated for its edible stem or hypocotyl, and shoots. Celeriac can be peeled, cut and boiled then mashed like potatoes or baked whole…It makes a lovely soup or married with parsnips and baked au gratin it is a beautiful side dish. Raw it is a delicious slaw ingredient such a versatile vegetable it goes well with meat or fish.

Citric(acid):- Citric acid is a widely used preservative in the food and beverage industry. Citric acid was discovered by Karls Scheels in England in 1874 in lemon juice. Citric acid is found in almost all plants and in many microorganisms and animal tissues and fluids. Citric acid is a sour principle of citrus fruits such as orange and lemon and exhibits a mild and refreshing sour taste. It is widely used to add an acidic (sour) taste to soft drinks, jams, candies, and so on. It is also used as a natural preservative.

Garlic:- Garlic is also a lovely thing infused in Olive oil and is a base for many dishes, lovely garlic aioli or roasted garlic puree alleviates a dish to new heights. It is such a versatile little bulb as well as being packed with health benefits.

Baked garlic and shallots with sherry.

This to me is perfection…. Lovely young garlic cloves and beautiful banana shallots… Serve on grilled bread, with a spoonful or two of goat’s curd, or as an accompaniment to a simple roast chicken. Serves 4


  • 4 garlic bulbs
  • 8 banana shallots
  • 5 lemon thyme sprigs (or ordinary thyme)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 600 ml fresh chicken stock
  • 180 ml sherry
  • 50g unsalted butter, in pieces
  • 50g parmesan, freshly grated
  • Salt and black pepper

Let’s Cook

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Slice the garlic bulbs in half horizontally and place in a roasting tray. Halve the shallots, slip off their outer skins and add to the garlic. Season, with salt and pepper, and then scatter the lemon thyme and bay leaves over the garlic and shallots…

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a small pan; pour over the garlic and shallots. Drizzle over the sherry.

Cover the tray tightly with foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, until the shallots and garlic are golden brown and the stock has reduced down and thickened. Add the butter and parmesan and stir to combine. Taste, adjust the seasoning and then serve.

Gac (fruit):- Gac fruit is not a common fruit and quite a treat when it is found on the local markets in Southern Thailand or grown on land and in gardens as are many of the less commercial fruits.

Gac fruit

With its prickly outer shell which is NOT edible this fruit grows on climbing vines. Going from green to a dark orange when it is ripe this fruit has a short season of only 2 months from December to January. It is quite a rare fruit but it can be found on local markets in Southern Thailand. It is the soft pulp surrounding the edible seeds which you eat. The seeds are not only edible but used in traditional Chinese medicines.

It is used to treat eye conditions, burns, skin problems and wounds.

The juice makes a healthy drink which is said to be good for the eyes, immunity, skin and heart health. The taste is a cross between a tomato and ripe papaya it is also commonly called the Gac fruit. Its other names are  Chanbada Fruit or spiny bitter gourd.

Today the Gac fruit extracts are used in very popular skincare supplements around the world. Rich in antioxidants and beta-carotene it is said to contain 70 times more than in tomatoes or zeaxanthin.

It has the highest concentration of beta-carotene than any other known fruit or vegetable as much as 10 times more than the carrot.

Once in the body, it converts to Vitamin A and is said to have a variety of protective properties.

Due to the fruits magnificent orange hue, it is often grown as an ornamental plant.

It is also used to make a delicious deep-fried sweet cooked in coconut batter. You will only find this sweet in the south of Thailand as the fruit is quite rare which also makes it expensive. It also tends to be found in local gardens and not really grown commercially.

Its brilliant orange colour is very attractive and it is also cooked in  Khao Soi( Sticky Rice) flavoured with cinnamon and served at New Year Celebrations and weddings.

Mollusc:- have soft bodies and don’t have legs, though some have flexible tentacles for sensing their environment or grabbing things. Mainly marine they include clams, scallops, oysters, and mussels. 

Sumac:- I hadn’t heard of sumac until a few years ago and it seems to have become increasingly more popular lately and is appearing in more recipes.

A wine-coloured ground spice is one of the most useful but still least known and most underappreciated. Made from dried berries, it has an appealing lemon-lime tartness that can be widely used. In Iran, they use it as a condiment, putting it onto the table with salt and pepper.

Using sumac instead of lemon juice or zest immediately enhances dishes, giving a fascinating and exotic twist. Fish, poultry and vegetable dishes all spring to life in a new way. Simply sprinkle over yoghurt as a dip, too. Try some you will be glad you have 🙂

Turmeric:- commonly used in Asian food. You probably know turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavour or colour curry powders, mustards, butter, and cheeses.

It grows freely here and is part of the ginger family the leaves are very, very similar it is only when you pull some up that the difference in the tubers is obvious. I grow both in my garden and keep them separate to avoid hubby getting confused when I ask him to get me some…

That’s all for this week see you in two weeks for the letter D (squiD)

Please stay safe as it seems in some places lockdowns are being introduced again…not good xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…Then, I will be happy!

Please stay safe and well and follow your governments safety guidelines remember we are all in this together xxx


34 thoughts on “The Culinary Alphabet with a twist…The letter C(aromatiC)

  1. Pingback: CarolCooks2…weekly roundup 2nd August -8th August 2020…The Story of Plastic, Recipes, Health, Whimsy, and Sharks… | Retired? No one told me!

  2. petespringerauthor

    What goofball suggested this game? The problem is now I feel like I’m obligated to play. You’ve hit the good ones. The ones I thought of are kind of a stretch (but I guess if aromatic works then these can too—acerbic or acidic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I don’t know but it was a great suggestion… I add to my lists every day it keeps me on the ball…I left acidic out as I sort of covered in the post but Acerbic well done I didn’t get that one quite archaic but means sour/bitter..C was quite hard and samey lots of similarities but enjoyable and I learnt something which is always good…Thank you, Pete a great suggestion x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Jim.. It is certainly stretching the old grey matter but then it wouldn’t be a challenge.. I haven’t heard of poison sumac.. Off to check that one out.. Thanx Jim…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      They sound fabulous, Dorothy… I know I so love the variety here… everyone around me knows how I love it and always bring me fruits and veg if they come across them and think I may wish to try them.. Yesterday we were gifted longhan fruit and custard apples both which are common here but so lovely of them to share with us…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      My pleasure, Marian.. I am learning much it is a great challenge from Pete… Stretching me.. Thank for leaving a valued comment 🙏


  3. koolkosherkitchen

    Ah, would I love a drop of Cognac after dinner! Unfortunately, kosher cognacs are not easy to find here and very expensive. We usually bring a bottle from New York.
    I use sumac all the time, Carol, especially in ground meat (or fake ground meat) fillings, but also in garnishing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. koolkosherkitchen

        Dear Carol, I live in the hottest spot of the hot spot and I have reliable information from reliable sources. I have not stepped outside the gate since March because it’s not safe out there. I might be a covidiot, but I am not about to travel.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.