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Bill Spohn

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Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:29 pm

I have a tendency to incorporate North African flavours in my cooking - it adds a je ne sais quoi exotic element to regular dishes. Thought I'd mention a few of the blends to urge people to experiment.

Za'atar - thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and (in the version I prefer) sumac, Used all the way from the Middle East to Morocco, as a rub, a topping, or in a dip, and it is what got me thinking about posting this, as we used it last night to sprinkle on top of buttered popcorn (a good way to evaluate a mix). Ottolenghi uses it quite a bit. Stumbled across this article when checking the blend: https://www.thekitchn.com/taming-the-wi ... our-188327

Dukkah - tends to be centred in Egypt. A mix of hazelnuts, sesame, coriander, cumin, black pepper and salt, with the herbs lightly roasted and somewhat coarser than some of the other spice mixes. Sprinkle it on a bowl of soup or serve with toasted bread and some olive oil.

Ras el Hanout - salt, cumin, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice, turmeric, paprika and cloves. Mostly used in the west (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) as an additive to many dishes and a rub on meats., The spices add an exotic hint to the mix. Nice over baked acorn squash

Berbere - now we are in Ethiopia. A mix of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima (similar to cardamom), rue (a herb we don't see much), ajwain (tastes like a cross between thyme and cumin), nigella (the plant used often in Indian cuisine, not the amply endowed food personality)., and fenugreek (which I usually use in fish curries). Used as a dry meat rub, and in stews. Habit forming!

If anyone has favourite spice/herb ,ixes, by all means post a note along with how you like to use it. I restricted myself to one area so didn't get around to shichimi togarashi, quatre epices, five spice, herbes de Provence, garam masala....

And although some of these may sound foreign and exotic, North America has it's pumpkin pie spice mixes, BBQ rubs etc.
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Jenise

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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:14 pm

The first time I had Dukkah was in Australia. Sitting outdoors at a winery somewhere in the McClaren Vale, they brought us a basket of thick white bread, olive oil and a plate of Dukkah for dredging. It blew me away. There are probably as many recipes for same as there are grandmothers to create them--I know the one we had included a lot of cumin and cinnamon, which I had never paired together before.

But speaking of spice blends, one of my favorites is Vadouvan. I've had fresh versions and dried, but the one that sets the bar for me is from Whole Spice in Pasadena, CA. When I say sets the bar, I mean it can't be improved upon in much the same way that no berbere I have ever found in North America, with one fleeting exception, matches exactly and is therefore not as good as the berbere my Kenyan roommate used to get from family in Ethiopia. I have some now that came from Ethiopia, and good as it is.... Anyway, back to Vadouvan. This particular one just enchants me. So much so that I have the empty jar here on my desk to remind me to order some more. My favorite use for it? I use it to coat a rack of lamb which will also receive a panko-coconut coating.

I have Za'atar and rarely use it. It's good, I make no excuses, but somehow it doesn't occur to me.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:49 pm

Just placed my order as discussed above. You're getting some Vadouvan.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:51 pm

Jenise wrote:Just placed my order as discussed above. You're getting some Vadouvan.


:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:21 pm

I live in a Middle Eastern neighborhood so plenty of za'atar-y things here. Always with sumac. Yummy and puckery!

I like the sound of dukkah. I don't think I've had it so I'll have to find some.

Ras el-hanout is basically "everything in the front of the spice shop" swept together. I use it on b'stilla but every one is different.

Vadouvan is that new Chevy eight-seat SUV, right?
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:42 pm

:)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Matilda L » Thu May 09, 2019 12:26 am

Jenise, dukkah makes a nice substitute for crumbs on the outside of crumbed chicken.
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Mon May 13, 2019 4:37 pm

I love that idea. Just bought a bag of Dukkah when I ordered the Vaudovan I described to Bill--will try it!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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John F

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Re: Spice It Up!

by John F » Thu May 16, 2019 5:34 pm

Jenise

Where do you order your spices?
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Re: Spice It Up!

by John F » Thu May 16, 2019 5:39 pm

I have made a Melissa Clark recipe for Grilled Za'atar Chicken with a lemon yoghurt sauce....very good. If you google you will find the recipe at a Sur La Table link. I made that with an InstantPot recipe of hers which was Persian green herb rice with Tahdig and man was that an awesome meal combination
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Re: Spice It Up!

by John F » Thu May 16, 2019 5:49 pm

I have used the Ras al Hanout in a tray bake recipe. (Trimmed/halved if large) Brussels sprouts with oil, S&P and the Ras al Hanout sprinkled in (eyeball it....maybe a TBSP?). Spread the sprouts across a rimmed baking sheet pan. I then put bone in, skin on chicken thighs (usually 8 of them) nestled on top. Chicken has a bit of oil, S&P and usually some cumin on the skin. I then sprinkle a few lemon wedges all around and bake/roast at about 425 for around 35 minutes. The fat from the chicken thighs renders a bit and so the sprouts are cooking away in this incredible mix of spices, lemons, and chicken goodness. If I'm feeling adventurous I may toss a couple of bird chiles into the mix just to impart some heat to the sprouts.

I love these tray bake things....they could not be easier and as you can tell from the "recipe" above....total blank canvas.
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Thu May 16, 2019 7:48 pm

John, that sounds great. I'm loving the whole tray bake thing too, but I call them Cheat Sheets, a name I picked up from some TV show. And always chicken thighs, like you, for the same reasons.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Tue May 28, 2019 7:45 pm

Warning - while most spices entice with their exotic odours, I just finished transferring a kilo of Berbere spice to a permanent canister and the act of pouring it from the plastic bag it was shipped in to the receiving container was the equivalent of trench warfare - expect that it is the dried chile powders, cayenne and paprika that contribute to that effect, You have been warned! <cough, cough...>
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Paul Winalski » Wed May 29, 2019 1:37 pm

I've never handled berbere in that sort of large quantity. I've experienced similar trench warfare incidents when preparing Inner Beauty hot sauce (lots of minced habaneros) and Thai Mahogany Fire Noodles (30 red bird's-eye chiles). The fumes from these dishes certainly violate EPA emission standards. Does anyone make Chemistry-style fume hoods for kitchen stoves?

-Paul W.
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Wed May 29, 2019 1:54 pm

We've got a 1200 cfm vent hood which would have probably worked had I been forewarned - at full suck setting it can just about grab a hamster and hold it against the screen (thought experiment - I have nothing against rodents) - normal hoods suck at 250-600 cfm.

I needed high power as I have a combination that would otherwise be untenable - a smoke alarm system tied to a security company plus a liking for seared foie gras and no door between stove and detector. And because I have one burner that puts out 20,000 BTU (although I bet that's what the simmer element produces on Jenise's stainless marvel).

I shall remember next time I am repackaging any significant amount of hot spice to turn it on and do the packaging on the stove top.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jeff Grossman » Wed May 29, 2019 6:54 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I shall remember next time I am repackaging any significant amount of hot spice to turn it on and do the packaging on the stove top.

And watch all the beautiful seasoning swirl up and into the hood! :lol:
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Wed May 29, 2019 7:01 pm

:mrgreen:

It was the no-seeums - the invisible component that was the killer, so I doubt anything good would go out the flue..

Now you have given me a mental picture of my wife, with extractor fan on full, holding up a small vial to the light (right beside the intake) to see what the label said and then coming to me saying that she had a container that said 'saffron' but there didn't seem to be anything in it.... :shock:
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jeff Grossman » Wed May 29, 2019 7:32 pm

Indeed, the average hamster weighs more than a thread of saffron. :idea:
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Wed May 29, 2019 7:43 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:Indeed, the average hamster weighs more than a thread of saffron. :idea:


Indeed, even the Roborovski dwarf hamster tips the scale at around 20 grams, but if you put them up against the intake they aren't going anywhere!

Image
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Thu May 30, 2019 10:57 am

A whole kilo? Bill, WHAT were you thinking?
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jeff Grossman » Thu May 30, 2019 11:17 am

Really, what use did he have for 50 dwarf hamsters?
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Thu May 30, 2019 11:36 am

Jeff Grossman wrote:Really, what use did he have for 50 dwarf hamsters?


Richard Gere?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Bill Spohn » Thu May 30, 2019 12:01 pm

Jenise wrote:
Jeff Grossman wrote:Really, what use did he have for 50 dwarf hamsters?


Richard Gere?


Ooohh! There's a mental image I didn't need.

As for the berbere, I had thought I might offer some to friends to try.....and it keeps well. Want any?
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Re: Spice It Up!

by Jenise » Thu May 30, 2019 12:41 pm

Bill, I would love to try it. I own two attractive berberes (and have thrown away others that totally sucked) but neither quite match the flavor I'm looking for--that which would match the stuff my old roommate's family used to send him from Kenya.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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