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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.