Spice Road Spices
Artisan Spice Merchants
A journey of 3000 years to bring gourmet, time saving pure spice blends to you the Home Chef
We received a note from one of our Queensland Wine and Food Society subscribers mentioning that while Umami flavour is all good and well, it should be remembered that many dishes are happily accompanied by wine. So compatibility of wine with food is important.
Our subscriber points out that there is little point in creating wonderful textures and flavours with your food only to submerge all the good work under a dominating and sometimes inferior and incompatibile wine.
You really do have to wonder. There is a large group of otherwise very nice, caring, food wise people who happily look forward to a pizza, layered with over salted anchovies.
Now mention a classic Italian Anchovy recipe and they assume a studied yuk look and a polite, no thank you. We seem to be getting into a bit of a pattern with all this. Our previous Epicurean Post highlighted the plight of Raisins in your cupboard (important), the quest to save the Side Dish (equally important) and now we are again defending Anchovies. Scary but someone has to do this so please stay with us
THE SIDE DISH and YOU - a brief fantasy
This may seem an odd way to start but just for a moment we are going to ask you to imagine you are a Side Dish, full of great flavours and sustainable ingredients.
4 x Small Celeriac Bulbs
1 x Bunch of Long Beans
It all happened about the same time. First we noticed that our cousins from bon appétit in America mentioned that Raisins were clearly the world's worst possible snack food, then marvelled that the very same, sticky little dried grapes, stuck in the corner of a packet, could rehydrate into a flavour essential !
And at much the same time, the talented Mary G. Frenchs Forest NSW, commented favourably on our Spice Roads Ottoman Spice Blend in her recipe - and then mentioned that she added Sultanas for a touch of sweetness to the Chicken Thighs in the braise.
The choice of using Roasted Garlic or Fresh Garlic really depends on the recipe and of course your personal choice.
The differences are simple. Roast Garlic gives a lovely warm, caramelised aroma and flavour to your recipe.
Make no mistake, Sage is not one of those team player Spices (or Herb in this case), happy to be part of a harmonious flavour blend.
Sage needs to be the lead but once settled into a recipe it will provide a wonderful sweet and sour Umami with warm notes of eucalyptus and lemon.
Walnut Oil - Salad perfection. It follows that having reviewed and in fact learnt a good deal about the quality of Australian Walnuts from Otway Walnuts - refer recent BLOG posting - we should follow with a review of another Otway product. Otway Walnut Oil.
And another revelation ! Walnut Oil has long been accepted as an essential part of many salad dressings, especially those based around apples - read Waldorf Salad. And just like our impression of many supermarket Walnuts, we just assumed the sometimes tannic flavour notes were part of the deal.
500g Free Pasture pure Pork Fat
Even the name sounds old fashioned and rightly so. Lard is an ancient part of our cooking with a history going back thousands of years.
Until quite recently Lard fell out of favour with concerns of the high animal fat content. Now with greater understanding of how our diet can benefit from clarified animal fats, it is nice to see Lard once again starting to appearing in our kitchens.
Like all comparisons, Butter, Ghee and Olive Oil have their strengths and weaknesses. Simple enough. But for you the Home Chef, applying those pluses and minuses to your cooking requires a little more planning and understanding of your recipe.
To start with Butter. Butter is essentially made up of three parts: Fat, Water and Milk solids. And this immediately brings us to the first negative.
A lovely recipe for your favourite Goats Cheese and traditional Dukkah
To Rub or Marinate. Firstly, we should declare an interest in what follows: Spice Road Spices provide an excellent range of pure and natural meat, poultry and vegetable Rubs that happily flavour and enhance your recipes.
And anyway, it's about time we gave poor old Worcestershire Sauce a break from having to appear in endless marinades.
"Hello Spice Roaders,
This recipe for Moroccan Lamb Riblets has become a firm favourite in our home and we thought that some others might enjoy it as well.
Last month, just before Christmas, our little tasting team, Pam, Simon and I, decided we should not let 2018 go without reflecting on our favourite Spice Epicurean recipes for the year.
Pam, in her ever definite way, thought the Wild Mushroom, Capsicum and Parsnip Ragout should be the choice and then wondered why the rest of us did not immediately agree.
Gifts for Foodies: Certainly a zippy slogan and nice if it points the Gift Givers in the right direction but Spice Roads Gifts are more than that.
The Spice Roads Gifts are for all people who enjoy food and have a love for cooking. And the cooking covers the lot. BBQ, Oven, Pan Frying or Grilling.
Our subscribers are clever Foodies and to make the point, Vanessa B. from Perth, Western Australia picked up on our Wild Mushroom Ragout with Miso paste and suggested the following Sauce recipe. Pure Yum !
A quick recap, we were supplied with the following three blends;
Finely slice lemon and cut the slices into wedges. Important, leaving each portion with a section of the lemon rindt
Our Many Makers from Many Kitchens page in our Spice Road Spices website continues to uncover further hidden gems from Australia’s artisan Makers.
Following our successful review of Asterisk Kitchens in Melbourne we were privileged to be offered the chance to review a selection of roasted coffee beans from The Coffee Warehouse, at Kurmond in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
Naturally we jumped at the opportunity and we were supplied with the following three blends;
Following our search for the very best Artisan products for our new SAVOURY GIFT HAMPER we were recommended to a relatively new Melbourne Maker and their Kitchen. Asterisk Kitchens.
The background is interesting and the products reflect the passion for quality and great food.
We have received a report on the 2018 Olive Harvest from the producers of Grampians Toscana Olive Oil, which given the draught difficulties experienced in the Grampians region of Victoria, makes interesting reading.
" Olive Oil reflects the land and the climate (terroir) in which it was grown and each season varies slightly. This season has been characterized by one of our driest and hottest 4 month periods on record. You can almost taste the dryness.
Our tasting team at Spice Road Spices often refer to Home Chefs flavour “weapons” in recipes and artisan product reviews.
This is not referring to the sometimes wild chilli flavours that rightly have a dedicated following but rather, the softer fruit and spice driven flavours that bring life to your recipes.
Roasted Garlic v Sauteed Garlic. Very much a personal taste thing of course. Roasted Garlic adds a lovely milder and sweeter taste to your dish while sauteed raw Garlic can be aggressive and dominating especially when finely chopped.
Against this, Roasted Garlic has the draw back that sometimes when a recipe calls for Roasted Garlic, you simply do not have the 45 minutes or space to do a separate roast
You may have noticed that from time to time several of our recipe suggestions have included Anchovies as part of the ingredients.
Taking this further, we have received a recipe suggestion to share from Paul L. Adelaide picking up on our Anchovy mentions with an interesting Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Anchovies, Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Thyme recipe. Click: RECIPES for the recipe.
Water and Malt and Hops and Yeast. These days nearly every brewery has a t-shirt with some variation of these words and while those four ingredients are essential for any brewer, they are not the only ingredients that brewers over the centuries have used to spice up their ales.
Prior to the proliferation of hops, most brewers would use a combination of local herbs and spices to flavour beers. This spice blend was known as “gruit” and might be as simple as crushed coriander seed with some orange zest - still the base flavouring for most Belgian-style wheat beers - or may be as complex as the recipe for Purl, a hearty ale served warm to English fishermen and flavoured with a combination of gentian, juniper, wormwood, senna, ginger, horseradish, calamus, pepper and galangal.
The name sounds daunting but underneath Pomegranate Molasses is simplicity itself : Pomegranate juice and lemon juice with caster sugar ( optional ) reduced down to a syrupy consistency.That's it. Simple.
It might be obvious but just for the record, lemon juice is from the inside of the lemon and really, offers not much more than a citrusy tart liquid.
By contrast Lemon Zest is the lemon skin grated directly from the lemon and offers a lovely scent and positive flavour without being liquidy.
Make no mistake, the members of the Wine and Food Societies across Australia are, in culinary terms, very knowledgeable and very good at understanding food and the compatibility of wine with food.
Sure they may take a little longer examining their red wine than the rest of us but behind it all they really do understand and better, they understand that in the end it is all just food and wine. For them it is the simple enjoyment and understanding of these gifts and the people they share it with that is paramount.
For some time now we have noticed the recommended Salt for recipes published by many of our North American and Canadian Spice Merchant cousins is Kosher Salt.
We felt it curious that these very accomplished recipe writers and chefs should be so emphatic on the use of Kosher Salt, harvested from the Dead Sea.
For all those who enjoy seafood and look for something beyond a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt but do not wish to compromise the essential taste of the seafood, then a light covering of Chermoula may be the answer.
To start our review of the importance of best quality Olive Oil and the pitfalls of using lower grade Olive Oil, I thought no better way to commence than comments from arguably the finest organic Olive Oil producer in Australia - Toscana Grampians. Victoria.
"Organic farming, a unique mix of rare varieties, the right climate and the age of our olive trees are what create the unique flavour of our oil. True to our philosophy of quality over quantity, we undertake every process from tree to bottle with great care. Our 28,000 olive trees are low-density planted in the traditional 10 x 10m layout. Our grove is certified organic and dryland farmed, meaning it relies solely on rainfall with absolutely no irrigation, producing a low yield of oil beautifully concentrated in flavour. Our heritage olive trees are a mix of traditional and rare olive varieties such as Verdale, Bouquettier and Benito. While these varieties produce a low yield the flavour and quality of the oil produced is exceptional, enhanced by the age of the trees".
Fennel - bulb and seeds
If you have enjoyed Absinthe, then the next morning, and depending on the night before, so to speak, you may not wish to discuss Fennel !
Ok. We all understand that the basis for your special beef casserole, chicken ragout, sauce or soup is a good stock. It is the blank canvas from which you can build wonderful flavours from your own creativity. And in the end, provide the "flavour" background for your finished dish.
All good and understood - the principle is perfect and ageless and as our great Chefs will explain, very necessary.
But do you, busy Home Chef and Spice Roads Subscriber have 7 - 8 hours to scrub and blanch the bones, then endlessly skimming the barely simmering liquid, adding the vegetables after 5 hours, removing the developing scum from the top and finally sieving the thing to remove the tinniest bits until the stock is crystal clear, so as not to cloud your dish or show any greasiness.
Part 3 Apple Cider Vinegar
Cue the Coleslaw and Pork Chops !
Part 2 Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is not so much the opposite of Sherry Vinegar but rather, in culinary terms, the alternative.
Part 1 Sherry Vinegar
Kampot Pepper, Cambodia
Another absolute classic in our Five Pepper series. And our friends who import and market Kampot pepper in Australia will tell you that of the world's great peppers, Kampot pepper is the best. They may well be correct.
Tellicherry Pepper - India
Much like Indonesian Lampong pepper and the wonderful Kampot pepper from Cambodia, Tellicherry pepper is solely based on a particular region and within that region terroir - the particular effect of farm site, climate and soil.
Moving to the second in our series examining a selection of the main pepper producing countries, we will be looking at Vietnamese Black Pepper.
First a little bit of history before we begin our pepper odyssey.
Our spices begin their journey.