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Africa

Get Your Sausage-Making on with Chorizo Bomb!

Chorizo is great on the grill!

Chorizo is great on the grill!

World Spice Merchant‘s new Chorizo Bomb spice blend  has been a favorite of our restaurant clients for years, so it was no surprise that it started flying off the shelves as soon as we started offering it to our retail family. This versatile blend can be used to make a Mexican-style chorizo, or even a North African –style merguez sausage — as links or patties. It pulls double, triple, and quadruple duty as a great grill seasoning, taco and fajita spice, or in simple beans and rice. A little smoky from the Pasilla Oaxacas, sweet smoked paprika, and Chipotle flakes, a little herbaceous from the generous dose of oregano, thyme, and marjoram, and a bit sweet from the Hungarian paprika — you’ll see, there’s a reason we call it the “bomb!”

So, how do you use it? We’re testing additional recipes right now, but in the meantime, here are easy patty-making recipes for both Mexican chorizo and North African mergeuz sausage. For additional inspiration, check out HuffpostTaste’s published list of the “The Best Recipes that Use Chorizo.”

P.S. If you decide to go all D.I.Y. homemade, here’s a great article explaining how to grind your own meat for patties as well as case up your sausage links: how to make your own sausage.

Mexican-style Chorizo Sausage

Ingredients

2 pounds ground pork or turkey
4 tablespoons Chorizo Bomb
1-1/2 teaspoons Alderwood Smoked Salt
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water or beer

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, break apart your ground meat into manageable chunks.
  2. In a blender, combine the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add the blended ingredients to the ground meat and mix by hand.
  4. When thoroughly mixed, you will want to check to see if it's seasoned to your taste. To do so, take a little bit of the chorizo, flatten it out, then cook it in a small frying pan over medium heat until it's completely cooked through. Taste it to see if it has enough salt or seasoning. If not, then add either more salt or more Chorizo Bomb.
  5. If you like the seasoning, then you can go ahead and cook the remaining chorizo mixture or store it. The raw mixture will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but also freezes well. You can portion it into patties for breakfast and/or for burgers, or just use it in recipes.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/mexican-style-chorizonorth-african-merguez/
North African Merguez Sausage

Ingredients

2 pounds ground lamb or beef
1/3 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons Chorizo Bomb
1-1/2 teaspoons Alderwood Smoked Salt
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup red wine

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, break apart the ground meat into manageable pieces.
  2. In a blender, combine the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add the blended ingredients to the ground meat and mix well. When thoroughly mixed, you will want to check to see if it's seasoned to your taste. To do so, take a little bit of the mergeuz, flatten it out, then cook it in a small frying pan over medium heat until it's completely cooked through. Taste it to see if it has enough salt or seasoning. If not, then add either more salt or more Chorizo Bomb.
  4. If you like the seasoning, then you can go ahead and cook the remaining merguez mixture or store it. This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but also freezes well. You can portion it into patties for breakfast and/or for burgers, or just use it in recipes.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/mexican-style-chorizonorth-african-merguez/

Categories: Africa, Global Cuisines, Grilling Season, Hot Topics, Latin America, Main Meals, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Organic Grains of Paradise Connection? We Sure Hope So!

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Nefisa, Amanda & Georgina

This month World Spice Merchants was happy to host Georgina Koomsen from Ghana and Nefisa Siraj from Ethiopia. Participants in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, both women work in the spice industry in their home countries and visited Seattle looking to connect with their peers in the United States.  Lucky for us, our own Amanda Bevill was on their list.

As business leaders in their respective countries, Georgina and Nefisa are both pursuing fair trade and organic production practices. In September 2006, Georgina was the first woman and the first African ever awarded the ‘Spirit of Organic’ Award, by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements in recognition of being the most progressive organic-producing co-operative having overcome huge odds.

Are these women representative of the type of farmer co-operatives with which we’d like to partner? You bet. Ghana happens to be the world’s largest supplier of Grains of Paradise, a perennial herb belonging to the same family as ginger and turmeric. Georgina’s farm grows many acres this exotic and expensive spice, and we are hoping to get just a modest quantity of that deliciousness to supply customer demand and to satisfy our own desire for Grains of Paradise Peanut Soup.

This last photo shows a sampling of their wares including from left to right, dried turmeric root, nigella seed, mixed sesame seed, coriander, white sesame seed, and dried ginger root. We’re currently taste testing these and other samples provided against our current stock, and if they are superior we will be placing our first order. Either way, it was a delight to discuss trade with  these two visionaries.

Is there a spice or blend that you would like to see added to our inventory? If so, please put in a comment below, and we’ll investigate adding it to our shelves.

turmeric nigella sesame grains of paradise ginger

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Categories: Africa, Notes from the Field, Spice Notes | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Harissa and Vegetable Couscous

This recipe has been a long time coming. Hardly anyone who comes in to the shop — spice masters and novices alike — can pass over the North African section without some long, lingering sniffs. The spices from that region are so exotic, in their perfect union of sweet-spicy-aromatic. “How do you use the Harissa?” is one of the most common questions following the exclamations of delight, and though my fellow merchants and I have written versions of this recipe on many a business card, envelope, and scratch paper, it’s about time it took its place among our favorites here on the blog.

The tender-crisp vegetables and fluffy cous cous are a perfect vehicle for this sumptuous sauce; our version of the traditional Tunisian red pepper condiment that is so ubiquitous in Northern Africa. The cumin, coriander, and caraway add complexity and depth, with the guajillos lending just enough heat to be interesting without being overwhelming. You can also try the Harissa sauce on grilled meats or eggplant — or even on halibut!

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Harissa and Vegetable Couscous

Ingredients

For the Harissa –
 
6 ounce can of tomato paste
12 ounce jar roasted peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Harissa, ground
1-1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 green onions, sliced thinly
 
For the couscous –
 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
2-1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 small acorn or butternut squash (cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 small cauliflower, florets cut into small pieces
1 medium zucchini (cut into ½ inch cubes)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
¾ cup fresh or thawed green peas
½ cup chopped cilantro
1-1/2 cups couscous

Instructions

  1. To make the Harissa – In a small saute pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When hot, add the chopped red onion, and saute until it starts to get a little color. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the tomato paste, roasted peppers, Harissa, garlic granules, 1/3 cup olive oil and red wine vinegar. Pulse until it’s still a little chunky. (You can also puree it until it’s smooth.)
  2. Transfer to a bowl and add salt to taste. Add the sauteed red onions and green onions and mix well. (You can prepare this ahead of time – let it get to room temperature before serving. If you have any leftovers, it will keep well in the refrigerator. This works well as a condiment to any meal.)
  3. To make the Couscous – In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add stock, dried apricots, squash, zucchini, cauliflower florets, chickpeas, turmeric, ginger powder and Aleppo pepper, stirring well. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Place the cover on the pot, reducing the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are tender, but still a bit crispy. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Then mix in the diced tomatoes, peas, cilantro and couscous. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. (This will cook the couscous.)
  5. Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle some of the Harissa onto the couscous, serving the rest of the Harissa on the side.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/harissa-and-vegetable-couscous/

Categories: Africa, Main Meals, Mediterranean, Sides, Snacky Bits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Zahtar Flatbread

After a long day of working (or running errands and doing chores), I just want something quick and easy for dinner, but it still has to be delicious… And if it’s at least somewhat healthy-ish, all the better! I don’t know about you, but I can always eat pizza, in pretty much any form. I can always find ready-made pizza dough at the store, which means my homemade pizzas or flatbreads can be made without any fuss. There’s also something incredibly soothing about rolling out pizza dough, especially after a long day. The smell of the yeast dough always takes me back to childhood when I would help my mother make bread. Working with that kind of dough has an air of tranquility to it…it’s a blank canvas, just waiting for you to do something fun, interesting and flavorful with it. I’ll roll out the dough, brush it with olive oil, then top it with spices. Now it’s ready for me to add fresh colors and flavors. I’ll rifle around in my fridge  or the cupboards of my small kitchen for odds and ends of goodies that I can either put on the dough before I bake it, or after it comes out of the oven. It all depends on my mood at the moment. I have always enjoyed “playing with my food,” and this certainly fits the bill. Israeli Zahtar is my favorite spice to use for this, but I also love Dukka. The smell of the flatbread baking is heavenly, and always seems to perk me up a little bit. It’s a perfect end to a hectic day.

Israeli Flatbread, topped with the salad on the left, and an “untopped” Dukka Flatbread on the right.

 

Israeli Zahtar Flatbread

Ingredients

1 store-bought pizza dough
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, leaves picked off
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves picked off
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 2 or 3 whole tomatoes)
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, juiced
olive oil (for brushing, drizzling and salad)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Follow instructions on pizza dough package. (Sometimes you have to leave it out for 20 - 30 minutes to 'rest' at room temperature.)
  2. Divide into 3 portions and roll them out thinly - if you roll them into long ovals, and not rounds, they will fit on one cookie sheet. (They will cook more evenly this way.) Brush the cookie sheet with the olive oil and place the dough on it, without any of the sides touching.
  3. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on the Israeli Zahtar. Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown cooked through. Since there is only oil and spice on the dough, keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn.
  4. While the flatbread is baking, you can make the salad that will go on top of it. Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the lemon juice and olive oil), mixing well.
  5. When the flatbread is done, remove from oven. It will be easier (and less messy) if you cut the flatbread into pieces now before you put the salad on top. Put the cut up flatbread on your serving plates. Add the lemon juice and 2 Tbl. olive oil to the salad and toss to coat. Evenly top the flatbread with the salad.
  6. Feel free to drizzle more olive oil on top before you serve it. Or anything else you choose!
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/israeli-zahtar-flatbread/

Categories: Africa, BBQ, Global Cuisines, Mediterranean, Middle East, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berbere Ketchup

Most people here in the United States love their ketchup. There’s always a bottle in the refrigerator. It’s a must for french fries and a necessity for any barbecue. The problem with most commercially available ketchup is that they are too sweet. Want to know what’s in your ketchup? Use our simple recipe to make this version at home. We like our ketchup spicy, so we’ve added one of our favorite blends to it. Berbere is most commonly used in North African stews or roasted meats, but it has an affinity for ketchup. Whether you choose to keep it rustic or blend it smooth, both versions are sure to please. We like to keep some on hand all summer for dipping fries, topping burgers and hot dogs, or to use as a “secret ingredient” in BBQ sauces.

Be warned: This Berbere Ketchup is highly addictive!

 

Berbere Ketchup

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 large onion, any variety (cut into pieces)
4 cloves garlic
2 – 14.5 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp Berbere, ground
½ Tsp Allspice, ground
½ cup red wine vinegar (but you can use any kind)
2 Tbsp tomato paste

Instructions

  1. Put garlic and cut-up onion into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a deep saucepan over medium heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add onion/garlic mixture and sauté until lightly browned. Then add the rest of the ingredients and cook until ketchup is thickened, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning.
  2. Take off heat. You can leave the texture “rustic” or you can puree it smoother in a blender. (Just be careful pureeing hot things – make sure the center plug has been removed from the top, and use a folded towel to cover the hole. Carefully hold towel down tightly while you puree the ketchup. Now you see why we like it rustic.)
  3. Transfer to a refrigerator-proof container. Allow to cool completely before covering. This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks - but you will find excuses to use it before then. Trust us.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/berbere-ketchup/

Categories: Africa, BBQ, Global Cuisines, Hot Topics, North America, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grains of Paradise Peanut Soup

Peanuts, called groundnuts in West Africa, were adopted as a staple soon after their arrival from the New World. This sweet-and-savory soup gets its savoriness from Ajwain, and its peppery heat from Grains of Paradise. The soup is considered a comfort food — with many vegetarian, fish and meat variations — and usually features whole pieces when prepared with chicken.

Paradise Peanut Soup Rocks!

 

Paradise Peanut Soup

Yield: Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

3 Tbsp unsalted butter (or olive oil)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Grains of Paradise,, finely ground
2 Tsp Ajwain,, ground
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup peanut butter (any style)
1 medium-sized yam or sweet potato, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
1-1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
2/3 cup coconut milk
Coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (for garnish)
3 Tbsp freshly Tabil, ground

Instructions

  1. Melt butter (or olive oil) in medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir frequently until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion, stirring until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add Grains of Paradise and Ajwain, stirring briefly to coat onion.
  2. Add chicken stock, stirring up any chicken bits on bottom of pot, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, stir in peanut butter, peanuts, tomatoes, Tabil, cubed yam, cider vinegar and coconut milk.
  3. Simmer partially covered 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro. Pass Tabil at the table, so that guests may season to their individual tastes.
http://www.silkroaddiary.com/grains-of-paradise-peanut-soup/

Categories: Africa, Global Cuisines, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment