Author Archives: World Spice Merchants
There exists an old spice merchant proverb dating back to the early 21st century which, roughly translated, advises that “the better the cocktail; the better the party. The better the party; the better the friends.” E’er here to help, we’ve compiled some of our favorite reference materials on the topic. Serve these delicious, humorous, and historical (and of course, spicy!) signature potent potables at your holiday soiree for insurance on a years’ worth of favors from your party-goers.
“Let’s Bring Back; The Cocktail Edition” touts itself as a “compendium of impish, romantic, amusing, and occasionally appalling potations from bygone eras.” The recipes hail from two-hundred year-old sources, right up to the archives of 1950′s iconic restaurant bars. From chuckles to laughs-out-loud, the history and suggestions accompanying each cocktail will have you and your guests tittering for hours, a la, “think only pure thoughts while sipping [The Bishop],” or consume a Scofflaw to give you the courage to “Wear white after Labor Day… Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on Seafood Pasta… and all sorts of comparable acts of insurrection.”
“Savory Cocktails” is a slender little tome; an ode to all things sour, spicy, herbal, umami, bitter, smoky, high, and strong. These drinks are undeniably sexy — what a modern-day Don Draper might imbibe. They’re interesting and nuanced, and legions away from fru-fru — no neon-hued apple-tinis here! Sophisticated foodies only need apply. Try a subtle Green Tea Gimlet (I’d pick jade green Mao Feng to offset the lime), or a Dog’s Nose, made with, of all things, powdered porcini mushrooms in combination with porter and shaved nutmeg. This book calls for a wide variety of flavored bitters- pick up a Scrappy’s sampler pack or two to complete the package.
Though we love classic Mulled Wine and Eggnog, there’s so much more to winter-y cocktails than these two standbys. Enter, “Winter Cocktails.” Learn how to give hot chocolate a grown-up twist with lavender flowers and Earl Grey tea, or elevate your ski-lodge lounge with a “Rosy Cheek,” sprinkled with the rosy cheeks of cracked pink peppercorns. In addition to inspired beverages, this book also has a fabulous section on infusing alcohols at home — Rose-infused gin, anyone? Pair any one of these liquors or cocktails with their suggested finger foods. This is a one-stop-shop for great winter entertaining.
No list of cocktail books would be complete without a mention of the “Drunken Botanist,” shop best-seller and staff favorite since spring. As the name implies, this book unites the best of science and insobriety, leading an alphabetical nature walk from Agave to Strawberry and hitting all the best booze-making plants in between. Learning and jubilating skip hand-in-hand in this volume, the pages dotted with recipes for classic cocktails, as well as tips for updating old favorites in single servings and “pitcher” fulls.
Out of a workshop in Brooklyn comes “Shake,” self-described as “one part instructional recipe book, one part photo journey, and one part inspirational pep talk” for mixing spectacular cocktails at home. The approach is seasonal and straightforward, focused on simplicity, socializing, and, above all, fun! Our copy in the shop comes with the sweetest Mason jar cocktail shaker, pictured on the front of the book, for an automatic out-hipster of just about any one. (Pair with the Art of Fermentation- pickle it! for the win.)
It’s important to choose the right wine to mull, and through much “research,” we”ve settled on Pinot Noir as the optimum choice. It’s fairly robust, so stands up to the spices, but the less expensive varieties are not so nuanced so as to make covering their intricacies with spice, criminal. Look for one whose shelf-talker boasts a larger body, and hints at black or red cherry flavors that will complement the star anise in the Mulling Spice.
A good-quality, unfiltered apple cider is all that’s required for heavenly spiced cider. As the apple capital of the world, Washington state farmers markets are chock full of cider choices, and we’ve yet to find one that disappoints. A few even pair other local fruits with apple- try apple-cranberry, apple-cherry, or apple-blackberry. Simply substitute a quart of apple cider for the wine in the recipe below, and perhaps omit the sugar, depending on the variety of cider that you choose.
It’s also possible to combine these two delights- Winter Sangria, anyone? Add one bottle of wine to four cups of apple cider, along with 1/4 cup of honey or brown sugar, and 1/3 cup of freshly crushed Mulling Spice. Steep for twenty minutes before straining and serving, and don’t forget the cassia stick stirrers!
What person on a tight schedule doesn’t love a crock pot?
Nobody, that’s who! Unless you’ve been hiding in an underground bunker/bomb shelter since the 1970′s, odds are you’re aware of these marvelous devices. Since it gets hot inside and outside during these long summer days, the slow cooker is my preferred method to reduce the work and heat that goes into cooking a meal. The whole “set it and forget it” method does wonders for my mood each time I remember that dinner is busy preparing itself.
For some, it doesn’t stop with meals either. Folks are getting more and more creative with their slow-cooker recipes these days, as Pinterest helps to popularize “alternative” uses for crock pots, such as:
- Making your own yogurt
- Dyeing yarn
- Home made soap
- Home made candles
Now, personally I don’t need my crock pot tasting like soap. Or candle wax. I’d much rather have my slow cooker bubbling with the flavors found in our Low and Slow gift set, which includes our Tikka Masala, Memphis Beale St. BBQ, Cuban Spice, and Mole Ole! spice blends. You might have tried some of these spice blends as dry rubs or in sauces already, but once you’ve tried them in your favorite slow cooker recipes, well, you’ll want to continue trying them often.
When it comes to getting the most our of your crock pot, I cannot recommend this cookbook highly enough. The Mexican Slow Cooker is 137 pages of glorious slow cooked meals, such as moles, soups, carnitas, enchiladas, tacos, etc…You can have all of the authentic Mexican flavor without languishing in the kitchen heat during the day-long braising and simmering.
Heck, during the time it’s taken you to read this post, you could already have your Pollo en Crema con Chipotles in the pot and ready to forget about until dinner. Now you can get out there and enjoy your day. You’re welcome!
What are your favorite low and slow cooked meals? Let us know in the comments!
Imagine a perfect summer tomato. Vine ripened, deep red, full of flavor. The kind of tomato you you just want to bite into. And why not? Tomato with a pinch of salt is a tasty and refreshing snack for the summer time. Does anything compare?
The perfect summer avocado, perhaps. There’s another delicious summer fruit that begs to be eaten plain, with a bit of salt and pepper to enhance the flavor.
Now’s the tricky part. What salt should you use? At World Spice, we’ve created a tantalizing array of and seasoning salt blends. Here, for your snacking convenience, is our top three seasoned salt blends, and the best snacks to accompany them. Be warned, if you decide to do what I did and have a salt tasting exravaganza, be prepared for a very thirsty afternoon and no regrets.
Our seasoned salt blends:
Provencal: This blend has that unmistakable taste of green in every pinch. Probably due to the tarragon and chervil, a French herb related to parsley. More subtle flavors of lavender, tomato, garlic, and lemon leap out of this blend when paired with the right snack. While it’s good on tomatoes, this blend really shines with green veggies like roasted zucchini, broccoli, and is delightful on a slice of soft French Brie.
Svaneti: This blend has lively and versatile flavors. Coriander, caraway, Tellicherry black pepper, chile, garlic, and fenugreek on a base of sea salt compose this superbly seasoned salt. It will enhance your red meats and potatoes marvelously, and is a great choice to accompany that perfect summer tomato.
Voodoo: What gift do you get the salt blend that has everything? Whole mustard seeds are probably the most endearing member of the Voodoo blend, lending a satisfying texture and flavor, but the red Aleppo pepper, thyme, and peppercorns might be the real stars of the show. Garlic, onion, and allspice round out the flavor. This is the boldest blend of the trio, which goes well with anything that could use a kick, from eggs to broccoli to popcorn. After trying this with avocado, I won’t be having avocado any other way any time soon.
What are your favorite summer snacks? Hit us with ‘em in the comments and we’ll hit you back with the right blend for you.
No doubt about it, our selection of cookbooks here at World Spice Merchants is vast, and possibly a little daunting. Since summer is in full swing, here’s a handy guide to cookbooks you can add to your shelf to use all summer long without breaking a sweat:
I don’t know about you, but folks in my family are a little, well, garden crazy. My brother is one of the few folks I know who will go for a hike in the mountains and come home with a salad. My mother prefers the tame vegetables that she plants every year like clockwork, but her garden still gets a little out of control. From spring to early fall she commands an abundance of asparagus, tomatoes, onions, several varieties of squash, swiss chard, string beans, and snow peas. There’s a whole segment of her garden devoted to herbs.
How she is able to coordinate all these delicious plants with the proper time to plant, water, and harvest is beyond me. However, how she is able to swiftly convert this vegetable matter into a delicious meal is not so hard to understand with the help of The Gardener And The Grill. This book will give you plenty of ideas for what to do with this years crop. It may even have you making plans for what to plant next year.
Personally, after checking out the prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears, I’ve got my own plans for the neighborhood p-patch. Make your own plans for your garden, and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labors!
“Plenty” is a more than just a word that brilliantly describes the produce of the summer season, it’s also an inspired book of vegetable cookery by Yotam Ottolenghi. Perfect for the time of year when all of our figures beg for lighter fare, the recipes are so succulent that even the most devoted carnivore won’t miss the meat at the barbecue.
Ranging from simple techniques like poaching, to more beautiful and complicated frittatas and tartlettes, veggies are taken to new levels with Ottolenghi’s focus on featuring the best ingredients and pairing them with unique spices and flavors. A hands-down favorite of nearly every spice merchant, Plenty is a must-have for spring and summer cuisine.
This handy book by Robin Donavan offers more than 100 recipes for the earnest camper. Once you get your paws on this book, you may want to plan a camping trip just for the express purpose of trying some of these simple and delicious recipes out.
While I understand that you probably don’t want to go camping 100 times in a year, the good news is the old backyard is a fine place to practice the craft of outdoor cooking as well, so you can keep whipping up your favorites well into fall.
Campfire Cuisine also contains practical guidance on menus, shopping for those fresh ingredients, and the best equipment that won’t break the bank or your back.
Chefs of every skill level will enjoy this travel sized camping companion. Snag it now!
There’s a regular cornucopia of great food tips floating around the web. Today, we have compiled a sampler platter of some of these appetizing articles and videos for your enjoyment, but first, a palate cleanser:
A chicken salad sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender gives it a nasty look, points at a sign over his head, and says “Hey! Can’t you read?”
The chicken salad sandwich looks up to read the sign.
“No food served after 10:00 PM.”
The chicken salad sandwich turns toward the door and grumbles as it walks outside, “Sassafrassin’ Urban Spoon.”
Zing! Anyhow, on to the fun stuff:
Food52 has this article that you’ll surely find useful this week. Step one is start with the best ingredients. You know where to find those, right? Food52 has approximately one million articles of interest, like the virtues of millet for you gluten-free folks, so don’t stay up all night browsing. Or do. I’m not your mom.
Thekitchn.com has an great Q&A section with user questions and answers from the editors and community. There’s a few cooking knowledge power houses lurking in the comments, so don’t dismiss those. Pureed vegetable soup can be an awesome summer meal, since many of these soups have low prep time and can be served cold. Don’t miss out on the rest of their awesome answers to questions like “I’ve got me some saffron, now what,” and “can I make homemade wine from bananas?”
Man, if this stuff turns out tasting as good as it looks, your chicken salad sandwich won’t be getting kicked out of any bars. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe uses whole mustard seeds, in case you need any.
Seattle native(ish) Joel McHale poses some good questions to Adam Perry Lang, Adam Corolla is on hand, mostly to drink beer and get flipped off by Joel. They are joined by comedian Jimmy Pardo, and they all seem pretty hungry.
That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading. If I missed something awesome, let me know in the comments!