Quick Recipes and Easy

Amazing Mace

Mace is a spice. What’s the difference between an herb and a spice? Well, it is generally agreed that an herb is from the leaves, flowers or stem, or soft part of a plant that has medicinal and/or culinary uses. A spice is from the seed, bark or root or hard part of a plant and its use is primarily culinary and secondarily medicinal.

Mace
is the aril, or covering, of the nutmeg seed. The nutmeg tree is an evergreen,
growing to 12 metres (40 feet). It has fragrant leaves and tufts of small
yellow flowers. The tree is native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia (the
Spice Islands), so forget about trying to cultivate one in your back yard.

The
word mace is from the Ancient French maci, which
in turn is derived from the Latin macir,
meaning “suitable for an ointment.” Medicinally, mace is a carminative (that
means it makes you burp and ….), stimulant and tonic and aids digestion. Some
people take mace as a toddy for insomnia, but it is now acknowledged that
prolonged use can really cause addiction. Mace has an even higher
concentration of myristicin, one of its volatile oils, than nutmeg and large
doses of this can cause hallucination and epileptoid fits, although it would
nearly impossible to consume toxic levels in a culinary application. Ointments,
called nutmeg butter, made from the fixed oil (containing myristine and
butyrin), are used topically for rheumatic complaints. They have a
counterirritant effect, stimulating blood flow to the area.

Mace
is excellent sprinkled on broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage. It enhances the
flavour of fish and shellfish, especially shrimp. If necessary, nutmeg may be
substituted for mace, but the latter has a much more refined flavour. It is
also more expensive.

File
this pumpkin soup recipe for next Halloween. It can be cooked in the pumpkin or
a pan:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 small pumpkin
2 medium onions, chopped
Sea salt to taste
1 Tbsp. long grain white rice
½ tsp. ground mace
½
tsp. ground cinnamon
¼
tsp. ground cumin
3
cups vegetable stock
1oz.
salted dried shrimp (optional)
2
tsp. lemon juice (optional)

Cut a lid from the top of the pumpkin and reserve.
Discard the seeds and stringy tissue, then scoop out most of the pumpkin flesh,
leaving a honestly thick coating around the sides and bottom. Chop the flesh. Rub
the inside of the pumpkin with a small salt and place it in a snug-fitting
oven- proof dish. Place the pumpkin flesh, onions, rice and spices in the pumpkin
cavity. Fill the cavity to three-quarters with boiling chicken stock and close
it with its own lid. Cook at 325F for 2 hours. If using dried shrimp, soak them
in a small water to soften for 5-10 minutes. Then pound them to a paste with
the water and lemon juice. Stir the paste into the soup for the last 20 minutes
of cooking time. To serve, lift the pumpkin into a warmed serving bowl.

Mace
is also fantastic in desserts and cakes. Try this:

Mace Lemon Soufflé Pie

4
eggs, separated
¾
cup of brown sugar
½
tsp. ground mace
¼
cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1
tsp. lemon zest
1
tsp. vanilla extract
Dash
of salt
One
baked 9″ pie shell

Preheat
the oven to 325 degrees. In a double boiler mix the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the
sugar, the mace and the lemon juice. Cook, stirring over hot (not boiling!)
water until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat.

Mix in the lemon zest and
vanilla. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Gradually add the
remaining sugar. Then fold into the hot lemon mixture. Fill the prepared pie
shell with the mixture and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool
before serving.

Bruce Burnett is an award-winning writer, a chartered herbalist and author of HerbWise: growing cooking wellbeing. Bruce and his wife Delaine own Olivia’s Fashion, Furnishings & Gifts ( olivias.ca/ olivias.ca/) in Ladysmith, BC Canada. Read more published articles by Bruce Burnett on his websites: bruceburnett.ca/ bruceburnett.ca/ and herbalcuisine.com/ herbalcuisine.com/

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