Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s – Culinary A – Z Rewind – ‘F’ for Figs, Finger limes, Flambe, Fenugreek, Fruit Pectin, Fugu

Welcome to a repeat of the series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful Culinary A – Z and a reminder, not only of the amazing variety of food we have available to us today from around the world, but delicious recipes to showcase them. Carol also introduces to cooking methods and kitchen equipment that assist in creating meals for all occasions.

Welcome once again to Carols Cooking Column and today in my culinary trawl we have the Letter F. I am loving this series as I am discovering foods and cooking terms I didn’t know or didn’t think I knew so I hope you are too.

‘F’ for me was not as easy as some and not so many terms beginning with F although as I was writing I did think of some more it takes me a while sometimes…getting old…lol
Let’s kick off with this Culinary journey…


A deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food that most likely originated in Egypt. Usually served in a pitta bread, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as taboon; Falafel balls may also be eaten alone, as a snack or served as part of an assortment of appetizers.

Fenugreek …

I use this spice in my Indian cooking so that was easy. But for centuries, fenugreek has been used by many for its health benefits as fenugreek is not only nutritious but can provide us with numerous health benefits.

Five-spice powder is also another spice familiar to me and one which I use in my kitchen.

Five-spice powder is a spice mixture of five or more spices which is used predominantly in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine and to a lesser degree in Asian and Arabic cookery. If you can’t buy 5 spice powder then it easy to make.


• 3 tbsp. cinnamon powder
• 6-star anise
• 1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns or black peppercorns
• 3/4 tsp. ground cloves.

Let’s Cook!

Dry roast all the ingredients ( optional) I do as it intensifies the flavour. Then blitz to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or small blender. It will store in an airtight container for 2 months.

Focaccia is one of my favourite loaves of bread. Focaccia is a flat, oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza dough. Popular throughout Italy it is usually just seasoned with olive oil and salt although tomatoes or olives can be used.


Is a cut of meat from a domestic pig. It consists of the layer of subcutaneous fat under the skin of the pigs back. Fatback is hard fat and may be rendered to make high-quality lard and is one source of salt pork.

Finely diced or coarsely ground fatback is an important ingredient in sausage making.

Fatback is also an important element of traditional charcuterie and in some European cultures is used to make speciality bacon.

At one time fatback was Italy’s basic cooking fat, especially in regions where olive trees are sparse or absent, but health concerns have reduced its popularity. However, it provides a rich, authentic flavour for the classic battuto – sautéed vegetables, herbs, and flavourings – that forms the basis of many traditional dishes. Today, pancetta is often used instead.

Finger Limes…

Are native to Australian and often referred to as Caviar fruit. have a slightly sour, slightly sweet flavour that makes for an extremely versatile citrus. Often referred to as vegan caviar or finger limes, each lime is filled with citrus pearls similar in appearance and texture to fish roe. There’s nothing fishy about the flavour. These pearls have a unique lime taste distinct in its sweetness that adds a pop of fun.


Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb which somehow just seems to be a natural fit with its surroundings. Fennel has a pale bulb and long green stalks. It can be grown almost anywhere. All parts of the fennel plant, including the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds, are edible.

They add flavour to other foods and go especially well with fish.

A relative of the humble carrot it belongs to the Umbelliferae family. A lovely white or very pale green bulb which is crunchy, slightly sweet with an aniseedy/Liquorice flavour it is often associated with Italian cuisine.

I myself use fennel seeds a lot in my cooking but I do underuse the bulb and use it infrequently and not as often as I should.

Fish Sauce

I think it is a bit like marmite you either love it or hate it… I love it and use it in many of my dishes it has that sweet, salty, fishy, funky flavour made from fermented fish. small fish like anchovies are used to make fish sauce they are coated in salt and packed in barrels fermented for a couple of months to a few years… It is used all over Asia in many dishes and gives them that unique umani flavour.


Is a Japanese delicacy expensive and highly poisonous? Only licensed Fugo chefs are allowed to prepare this fish. they undergo 2/3 years of training as this fish is amongst the top 10 most dangerous foods and is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide… Why would you?


Is a cooking procedure where alcohol is added to a hot pan and causes a flame it always looks spectacular on cooking shows and in restaurants where something is cooked at your table.

Fruit Pectin: Found naturally in fruits with some fruits having higher levels than others. It can also be purchased in powder or liquid form. It makes jellies gel and jams to set and also gives them their spreading consistency.

Strawberry Jam.

• 1 kilo hulled strawberries
• 750g jam sugar
• juice 1 lemon
• small knob of butter (optional)

Let’s Cook!

  • Prepare the strawberries by wiping them with a piece of damp kitchen paper. (Wiping the strawberries rather than washing them ensures the fruit doesn’t absorb lots of water – too much water and the jam won’t set easily.)
  • To hull, the fruit, use a knife to cut a cone shape into the strawberry and remove the stem. Cut any large berries in half. Put the strawberries in a bowl and gently toss through the sugar.
  • Leave uncovered at room temperature for 12 hrs or overnight.
  • This process helps the sugar to dissolve, ensures the fruit doesn’t disintegrate too much and helps to keep its vibrant colour.
  • Before starting the jam, put 2 saucers in the freezer.
  • Tip the strawberry mixture into a preserving pan with the lemon juice.
  • Set over a low heat and cook very gently. If any sugar remains on the sides of the pan, dip a pastry brush in hot water and brush the sugar away.
  • When you can no longer feel any grains of sugar remaining, turn up the heat to start bubbling the jam and bringing it to the boil. (The sugar must be completely dissolved before increasing the heat, otherwise, it will be difficult for the jam to set, and it may contain crystallized lumps of sugar.)
  • Boil hard for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C on a preserving or digital thermometer, then turn off the heat.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, spoon a little jam onto one of the cold saucers. Leave for 30 secs, then push with your finger; if the jam wrinkles and doesn’t flood to fill the gap, it is ready
  • If not, turn the heat back on and boil for 2 mins more, then turn off the heat and do the wrinkle test again. Repeat until ready.
  • Use a spoon to skim any scum that has risen to the surface and discard this. Do this only once at the end, rather than constantly during the boiling stage, to reduce wastage. Add a knob of butter, if you like, to the finished jam, and stir in to melt.
  • This will help to dissolve any remaining scum that you haven’t managed to spoon off the top.
  • Leave the jam to settle for 15 mins – this will ensure that the fruit stays suspended in the mixture and doesn’t all float to the top of the jam jar.
  • Meanwhile, sterilize your jars.
  • Ladle into warm jars, filling to just below the rim.
  • Place a wax disc on top of the jam (this prevents mildew forming), then cover with a lid or a cellophane circle and elastic band. Pop on a label (include the date), plus a pretty fabric top, if you like. The jam can be stored for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place. Refrigerate after opening.


There is nothing quite like the taste of a fresh fig…dried they are totally different, sweet with a chewy flesh and crunchy edible seeds. The fig tree has no blossom on its branches the blossoms are inside the fig. Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy edible seeds which give figs their unique texture.

They are sweet with a chewy flesh, smooth skin, and those crunchy seeds.

Did you know? Fig puree can replace the fat in baked goods? Well neither did I until quite recentl

Thank you for reading I hope you have enjoyed this little trip through the Culinary alphabet…Until next time when it will be the letter G.

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 vegetables 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 have to improve our health and wellbeing.

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!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor


My thanks to Carol for creating this wonderful series and we hope that you have enjoyed. As always we are delighted to receive your feedback and if you could share that would be great.. thanks Sally.