Hello everyone.  I’m pleased to be writing now that Spring is finally arriving (although the weather still leaves a bit to be desired!). The clocks have changed so the evenings are getting brighter, which to me is always the real sign of a change in the season. I hope you enjoy this month’s write up which includes a feature on the spices, herbs and seasonings we turn to as the sun gets stronger, things which will taste fresh and new. And speaking of fresh and new, Spice of the Month is our new falafel blend, a lovely taste of the Middle East which is popular pretty much everywhere. Recipes include a delicious dessert, shared with us by the Pudding Post (details of whom can be found in the recipe – check them out), and a lovely Portuguese recipe featuring pork and clams.

I had a delicious Georgian meal recently, which featured a few flavours new even to me – I enjoyed it so much I just had to recreate the taste, with our new Khmeli Suneli blend. It’s included in the feature further on, to find out more. Well that just leaves me to say, Happy Easter! I hope you have a great holidays, and talk next time!

Magali

Spice of the Month

Falafel

It is difficult to walk far in the Middle East without passing a falafel shop – falafel is the go-to fast food of the area, and also of course in many areas around the world where Middle Eastern people have settled. It is fast, delicious and filling with the garnish of sauces and salads, and a totally satisfying meal. Our falafel blend allows you to prepare this treat at home – featuring coriander, cardamom, ginger and garlic among others it will lend the true taste of the Levante to your falafel. Traditionally made with broad (fava) beans, nowadays falafel are usually made with chickpeas, and ‘instant’ falafel mix is widely available in Turkish and Asian shops (if using these, simply add a couple of teaspoons of falafel blend and proceed according to packet instructions). Great for lunch with salad and pitta bread, and also perfect for the party buffet. Falafel blend can also be used as an all-purpose seasoning for Middle Eastern dishes, especially a teaspoon added to a tahini sauce, for example.

April Recipes

 

Pork with Clams

This Portuguese recipe stars our Piri Piri blend (which we call Portuguese Chicken), and combines tender pork shoulder with juicy clams to create one of the perfect meat and seafood marriages.

Read Recipe

 

African Chicken

Despite its name, this dish actually comes from Macau, the old Portuguese enclave on the South coast of China near Hong Kong.

Read Recipe

 

White Chocolate Mousse

This lovely recipe was shared with us by a customer, the Pudding Post, who were kind enough to use our raspberry fruit powder in it.

Read Recipe

This Month’s Feature –
A Change of Season(ing)

After the long dark months of Winter, where we tend to cook with ingredients and seasonings which somehow combat the cold and dark (we’re thinking warm, aromatic ingredients such as ground mixed spice), the arrival of Spring changes everything in the kitchen. In the same way that the world outside will fill with light and colour as the days get longer and the sun gets higher, we turn to spices and herbs which will perform the same job, things which will bring colour and fresh flavours to our cooking. Here we share our favourite Spring seasonings from our range, all of which  will help shake off the dark chains of Winter and welcome the return of sun-kissed evenings eating al fresco (although we can’t promise the weather will play along!).

Flowers – A great way to add a splash of colour to your cooking, edible flowers feature strongly in many cuisines, for example rose petals in North Africa and the Middle East (usually as part of the ras el-hanout blend). Marigold is a basic ingredient in Georgia and the surrounding countries, and blue cornflower is another which is great for adding colour and freshness.

Fruit Powders While our range of fruit powders can be used all year round, they come into their own in Spring. Use your favourite fruit powder to enliven desserts, smoothies and that morning juice to start your day the sunshine way!

Ghormeh Sabzi – This is a Persian herb blend which includes fenugreek leaf, dill and parsley. It brings a strong, fresh and grassy flavour to dishes and also a powerful green colour, and the blend works particularly well with chicken and fish, and also vegetarian dishes which feature pulses or beans. Each of the herbs are available instore and online and can easily be combined to make up this wonderful blend.

Chimichurri This blend comes from Argentina, where it is usually used to make a sauce for steak. It features garlic, herbs and a little bit of zingy chilli, and the sauce is made by combining chimichurri blend with olive oil and lemon juice. However it can be used as a general seasoning, where it works very well in quick-cooked dishes such as stir-fries and grills.

Wild Herbs –  The hillsides of Greece are alive with the scent of mountain herbs like thyme and oregano in Springtime, and this herb blend manages to pack all of that goodness into a jar! The blend works very well when used to season roast chicken (and also potatoes), and it matches perfectly with anything involving lemon. Its robust nature means the blend is great for the barbecue, and for a simple treat, use it to garnish a Greek Salad.

Advieh Powerfully aromatic, yet subtle at the same time, this Persian blend uses rose petals combined with cardamom, nutmeg and other spices to create a unique seasoning. In its homeland it is used as an all-purpose seasoning, particularly in stews and casseroles, and is an essential in the national rice dish Polo. It matches well with most ingredients, but is especially effective in lentil and bean dishes, such as a red lentil soup. Another interesting use is in desserts such as a rice pudding.

Portuguese Chicken This fiery chilli based blend pops up in cuisines around the world, notably South Africa, but is originally Portuguese. The chilli from which it takes its name is a kind of bird chilli, small, pungent, fruity and with a big kick! These are combined with garlic, spices and herbs to make a rub or marinade for chicken (and often prawns) which will be cooked on a charcoal grill, or in the oven to create one of the most elemental of foods.

Parsley/Chervil/Savory These three are closely related, and collectively seem to sum up the taste of Spring. Fresh, green and grassy, they match with pretty much anything. Chervil and Savory have a more subtle flavour while parsley is more robust, but bearing that in mind they can be used interchangeably. Adding ground parsley to a spaghetti al’olio e aglio (olive oil and garlic) will bring a sprinkle of sunshine to a classic simple Spring pasta dish.

Aleppo Pepper These mild, fruity Turkish chilli flakes are dried in the sun, and somehow seem to absorb all of that sunshine flavour! This is reflected in their beautiful scarlet colour, and adding a couple of teaspoons of Aleppo flakes to a dish will really make it glow. Their mild flavour makes them very versatile, and are a great find for those who like the flavour of chilli, but aren’t so keen on the heat.

Khmeli Suneli New to Spice Mountain, this is the national spice blend of Georgia. It combines coriander, marigold petals, blue fenugreek (a Georgian variation of fenugreek) and other spices, and has a lovely aromatic perfume to balance an earthy, slightly bitter flavour. It is used as an all-purpose seasoning in Georgia, particularly with meats and in stews, but it works very well when used in bean and vegetable dishes too.

Sumac Sumac is an elemental spice in the food of the Middle East, used as a cooking ingredient and also a garnish in a wide range of dishes. Its flavour is fruity, pungent and sour, almost citrussy, and so it matches very well with earthy, nutty flavours – this is why it works so well sprinkled over hummus, for example. It is also lovely for the barbecue, when sprinkled over kebabs close to the end of cooking.

A Match Made in Heaven

In which we take a monthly look at which spices, herbs and blends match best with the fruit and vegetables in season.

Radiccio – This bitter purple lettuce has a very strong flavour, so needs an equally strong one to match – saltiness works well so try our  Rosemary Pyramid Salt or Himalayan Salt with Roasted Spices.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – This needs something subtle to underly rather than overpower, so Aleppo flakes are perfect. For something a little different, try seasoning with Japanese Gomashio.

New Potatoes – Of course mint, dill and parsley are all common seasonings with new potatoes, but for the Spice Mountain touch, try Cuban Seasoned Salt, Dukkah or Zatar for a taste of the Middle East

Peppers – The sweet flavour of peppers matches with anything earthy and smoky, and fenugreek leaf is a natural partner. Of our blends, Tunisian Tabil and Mauritius Masala do great things to roasted peppers.

Pak Choi – You don’t want anything to mess with the clean, crisp, fresh flavour, so use any seasoning in moderation. Try a sprinkle of Shichimi Togarishi, Sesame seeds on their own or our amazing Sesame infused with Ume plum (Japanese sweet & sour fruit) or for a little kick, Korean Gochugaru chilli.