Author Archives: Robert
What do you do when one of Seattle’s premier cheese makers needs a hundred pounds of ground black pepper? Or how about when everybody’s favorite artisan salami shop needs twenty pounds of fennel cracked to just the right size?
Last week I talked about some options for grinding spices at home, but grinding the amount of spice some of our commercial clients use with a small blade grinder or a hand cranked burr grinder would take ages! Down at the World Spice Professional Division we’re just as committed to providing fresh, ground-to-order spices as our counterparts at the World Spice retail store, so we’ve come up with the perfect solution: a re-purposed espresso grinder. By using a high quality, Ditting brand, Swiss, espresso grinder, we have the ability to precisely control the coarseness of our grinds. Using a large mechanical burr grinder like this also allows us to grind large amounts of spice quickly while maintaining a nice even grind.
As you can see in the picture above, just a few months of use begins to wear down the burrs in our machine, requiring near constant resharpening and replacement. By constantly examining the results of grinding a small test run of cumin, we’re able to know just when to ship the burrs back to the factory for professional resharpening to ensure that our clients are getting the highest quality grind around!
How often do we acquire pre-ground black pepper or nearly any other spice for that matter? Never!!
Our store is bustling with spice merchants grinding spices right when folks order them. Why do we keep pure spices and our house-made blends whole until you tell us to grind them? It keeps our spices exceptionally fresh; some especially dedicated spice connoisseurs prefer to grind their spices in their kitchen, right before adding them to their recipe – now that’s fresh! Grinding a spice releases much of it’s great flavor and aroma, but more aroma in the air means less flavor in your food. Grinding spices to order also lets you request a custom grind for certain spices. Need your black pepper extra coarse for a nice steak au poivre? Sure! Need your white pepper really fine so it just disappears into a cream soup? No problem! Want us to crack some fennel for your homemade sausage? You got it!
There are many different ways to grind your spices at home. A mortar and pestle works well for most things if you don’t mind your final product being a little coarse. A special blade grinder works for a finer grind. Some folks even have their coffee grinders pulling double duty. Don’t want your spices to taste like coffee? Easy, simply grind rice or stale bread to clear out the leftover flavors. If, like me, you’ve encountered a couple of groggy mornings making curry coffee you may want to keep a separate grinder for coffee and spices. Our recommendation for a great all purpose grinder is a burr grinder. The burr grinder on the shelves at World Spice Merchants is a great model that’s hand-made right here in the United States. So go ahead and start grinding your own spices at home, there’s a reason those fancy restaurants offer you freshly ground black pepper on your soup or salad – it tastes better freshly ground! If you kitchen is void of a grinder, take advantage of our low purchase minimums and rest assured that all of your spices will be ground to order. Come back for part 2, where I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at how we grind as much as 200 pounds of spice in a day at our professional division.
Spring is in the air! This is my favorite time of year: spring training baseball is on the radio, Mother Nature is providing us with some gorgeous sunny days between all the rain, and one of the most fun celebrations on the calender is right around the corner. That’s right, St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and whether your entire family is from the Emerald Isle or you’re just Irish at heart, St. Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to have some friends over to enjoy a pint or two of Irish stout and some corned beef and cabbage. For our recipe, be sure to brine it for as long as recommended. The salt in the brine carries the flavor of our Pickling Spice through the whole piece of meat and the extra spices reserved for the cooking liquid lend it a great burst of flavor on the surface. This St. Patrick’s Day be safe, enjoy some delicious corned beef and remember:
“May the lilt of Irish laughter
lighten every load.
May the mist of Irish magic
shorten every road…
And may all your friends remember
all the favors you are owed!”
By now most bagel lovers in Seattle have discovered Eltana and as an ex-pat from the East Coast, I can tell you it is about time. The perfect crust on their bagels comes from being boiled in honey water and then baked in a wood burning oven; yielding a hint of sweetness with a very light smokiness that is out of this world. Of course, they use our spices in many of their dips, spreads & salads too which always makes for a superior schmear.
With a recent spice delivery, I found Daniel, one of the founders of Eltana, working on something new that was too good not to share. He was making tuna salad using our Kharcho blend. This rare mixture of spices is typically associated with the hearty stews of the former Soviet state Georgia, and its unusual flavor profile often leaves folks wondering what to do with it. When I tasted this Kharcho Tuna Salad, I was sold. This is no ordinary tuna salad. Daniel starts with high grade albacore tuna which is cooked in house before getting mixed with all kinds of delicious goodies, including our Kharcho. I haven’t been able to pry the secret recipe from him yet, but if he does share it, we will pass it along. Until then, we’ll see you at Eltana!
We’re excited to announce we have a new blend! We’ve reformulated our Pacific Seafood blend, using bright notes of citrus and lemongrass; this Pacific Seafood blend incorporates flavors from the Pacific Northwest all the way to Thailand. Using a delicious process of trial-and-error, while taking into account staff and customer feedback, our fearless leader and accomplished blend artist Amanda created this blend for a wide variety of seafood. We all agree that using it as a rub for seared scallops is where it really shines. The versatility of the Pacific Seafood blend lets these scallops be the shinning star of a huge number of varying meals. Start with the recipe below and see where your culinary creativity takes you!
Beef brisket is one of my favorite cuts of meat. Brisket when cooked just right is incredibly tender and flavorful, and one of the most affordable cuts to boot! However there are an abundance of horror stories out there of under or overcooked brisket that end up tough, dry, chewy, shrunken or shriveled. Don’t fear! With a little practice and close attention you can easily avoid these common pitfalls. Briskets come in a wide variety of sizes, from a small one pound size common in the supermarket, to massive fourteen pounders meant to spend an entire day in a smoker; in this recipe we call for about a three pound brisket. Feel free to use whatever size you need to feed everyone at your table but be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Having an in-oven probe thermometer will be a huge asset here, since being able to pull it out of the oven right at 185°F and letting it rest for a while will give your brisket the maximum amount of time at just the right temperature to melt the fat without overcooking. The key to a tender brisket is cooking it just long enough to allow the connective tissue to breakdown, without leaving it dry and tough. Also, when making the whiskey BBQ sauce, be sure to use a whiskey you would drink. The old adage about not cooking with something you wouldn’t drink yourself isn’t just for wine!
As we all mourn the end of summer (say it ain’t so!) it’s easy to forget all the great things that fall has to offer: apple season, football season, sending those kids back to school, acorn squash, and of course pumpkins! There are a plethora of things one can do with a nice pumpkin, but one of my personal favorites is to brew beer. These days my first indication that fall is right around the corner is getting that call from our friends over at Pike Brewing looking for some spices for their seasonal pumpkin ale. A few weeks later, nothing softens the blow of the shorter days and cooler nights like getting a taste of the first batch. It seems like breweries are everywhere today, and as the seasons change the shelves are just packed with options for pumpkin beer, some far better than others. I have to say that this is hands down one of the very best I’ve tasted, and having a lovely lady at home who adores pumpkin beer, I’ve tasted almost every one we can find. This makes me especially proud to say that I had a hand in helping our Pike Place neighbors with such a great product.
Anyone who has brewed a spiced beer can tell you being able to filter out the spices is a crucial step in the process, and anyone who has tried to get nutmeg to a roughly “cracked” state can tell you it’s not real easy. After lots of experimenting, research, and trial-and-error, we finally came to the conclusion that the simplest method of cracking nutmeg is the most effective, using a good old-fashioned hammer. We even keep a specially designated (and sanitized!) hammer around our warehouse for just this occasion, and this time I seem to have gotten caught on camera.
I could describe the Pike Brewing Harlot’s Harvest, but I couldn’t do nearly as good a job as their official press release. So as I wrap this up, I notice that it’s already five minutes past closing time on a Friday and time to open a Harlot’s Harvest for myself, since blogging is such thirsty work! So this weekend, if you’re putting in a tough shift on your own blog, or tailgating down at the Clink (go Hawks!), or however you choose to enjoy these last lingering days of summer, check out this great pumpkin offering from our friends at Pike Brewing.
The endless number of various popcorn toppings out there make popcorn one of the easiest and most versatile snacks I know. It’s my go-to snack not only for movies and Dr. Who marathons, but also ball games, potlucks and picnics. Everyone loves popcorn and if you can bring yourself to cut down on the butter (I know I sure can’t) it can be a low calorie, high-fiber option for snacking.
For summertime fun, nothing beats a trip to the old ball yard, and in Seattle we’re lucky to have Safeco Field, one of the nicest parks in the country. We’re also fortunate that on most nights you can get in for as little as ten bucks, but as everyone knows the real cost comes inside the park on the expensive food and drink. So to stretch my budget I like to make a big batch of popcorn, toss it with a few different popcorn toppings, put each batch in a paper bag and head down to watch King Felix and the gang. It was the perfect snack to watch the recent historical perfect game and I even had enough money left over to celebrate with a cold adult beverage!
In the recipe below I’ll tell you about some of our favorite popcorn toppings, but these aren’t the only options by any means. We’re always discovering great new spice blends to use as popcorn toppings and would love to hear what your favorite is! Let us know in the comments below and it just may end up in my bag at the next big Mariners game, Go M’s!
Aji Mirasol Chiles, the dried form of the Aji Amarillo, are a unique chile pepper absent from the arsenal of many chefs. A staple of Peruvian cuisine, their uniquely fruity flavor make Aji Mirasols a versatile pepper; great in a wide variety of dishes, but especially salsa. You can use this salsa as a dip with tortilla or cassava chips, but it’s even better served with grilled meat or seafood. Aji Mirasol Salsa is the perfect accompaniment for anticuchos, the grilled meat kebabs that are classic Peruvian street food. The combination of fresh citrus, cilantro and the slightly spicy Aji Mirasol chiles just begs to be eaten with grilled halibut, shrimp, chicken, pork or goat. Try some at your next barbecue and wow your guests with one-of-a-kind South American flair!