Spicing up your cuisine the right way

Now let's tickle your taste buds. The right spices can turn any meal into something amazing. But chances are your cabinet is full of bottles you've had longer than you can remember. So it's time to spice things up.

I went to La Boîte on 11 Avenue in Manhattan. It is New York City's spice emporium. Owner Lior Lev Sercarz is known as the spice king. He believes whether you're a Michelin-starred chef or a home cook, you should be using spices. 

La Boîte offers about 70 single spices and about 80 spice blends. If you're feeling spice-challenged, Lior's book "The Spice Companion" shows you simple ways to use 102 common spices.

What's best is to educate yourself. Start by taking all your spices out of your pantry. And if you can't remember when you purchased a specific spice, throw it out. Lior recommends keeping a spice for up to a year and half.

Lior showed me how easy it is to make a blend. We started with a crushed up cinnamon stick, then a little dried lemon peel for acid, next mustard seeds, a little cumin, and dhania seeds. You toast the blend for a few minutes and the grind it using a coffee grinder. It's that easy.

Finally, he gave me the 411 on a few exotic spices: barberry and asofoedita.