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Sunday, August 1, 2010

ALLSPICE; RECIPE TRADITIONAL GREEK RABBIT STIFADO

ALLSPICE (Pimenta dioca, formerly officinalis)
Allspice is another, like Lemon Verbena which has undergone a Latin name changes. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in (about) 1494 when he was in the West Indies, searching for pepper. He believed that the berries he found in Jamaica were in fact pepper, hence the name in Latin, pimenta. In some languages, such as Hungarian and Czech, allspice is known as a ‘pepper’ in the cases mentioned, its name translates as ‘clove pepper’. It gets its English name, allspice, from the fact that it is aromatic and tastes like a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Food manufacturers use it to flavour ketchups, pickles, and sausages. It is also used in the manufacture of terrines, pates and smoked meats. Some say that it can be used as a substitute for cinnamon, but as cinnamon is readily available, I think you should use the real thing, especially in recipes which call for both cinnamon and allspice.
Russian soldiers put it in their boots to keep their feet warm in the Napoleonic War of 1812, and whether or not it helped warm their feet, their smell must have improved. In traditional medicine it is used to aid digestion and stop stomach cramps. If you put one or two drops of oil of allspice on a teaspoon of sugar, it will help with flatulence, and bouts of hysteria according to a Victorian source.
It is good in hot baths to relieve aching muscles, and help arthritis sufferers. You can also make a poultice with it to put on aching muscles: take powdered allspice and mix to a paste with water, spread this paste on a cloth and put on the affected area. It’s good for toothache too. And you can put one or two drops of essential oil on the painful tooth and gum to relieve the pain, (in much the same way as cloves do). In Jamaica they make allspice tea to cure colds, stomach cramps and other stomach disorders. To make this tisane, you need one or two teaspoons of powdered allspice per cup of boiling water. Steep the powder in the water for 15 minutes, and then strain through a coffee filter, or the paper filter.
Allspice is an ingredient used in men’s toiletries, and has also been used as a good luck charm to attract a fortune from business dealings or gambling.
The recipe below is a traditional Greek one which can be used with beef or rabbit.


RABBIT STIFADO
Ingredients
1 rabbit, jointed
500 gr small onions, peeled (either shallots or pickling onions) but left whole
1 large onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
2 tbsps tomato puree (concentrate)
½ tsp grated nutmeg
2 sticks cinnamon
6 cloves
6 allspice berries
12 black peppercorns
1 or 2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
¼ cup red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Method
In a frying pan, heat oil and seal rabbit pieces in it. When sealed all over, transfer to an oven proof dish with a tight-fitting lid.
Now fry the chopped onion, garlic for about 5 mins until the onion becomes translucent. Now add the chopped tomato and tomato concentrate (puree) and stir. Add wine and wine vinegar and all herbs and spices. Stir well and add salt and the whole small onions.
Pour this mixture over the rabbit and add water to cover the meat and cover with the lid. Cook in a low oven for 3-4 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes, and green vegetables (broccoli is good).
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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