The rich and toasty taste of our Besar blend makes an ideal complement for the pop of fresh cranberry in this exotic twist on a holiday classic. Candied ginger and dried apricots round out the fruity flavors, and the result is an intensely flavored chutney that you can serve well past Thanksgiving. You can try variations too- add an apple to mellow the flavors or some chopped walnuts for a little crunch. Any way you make it, the bright flavor of cranberries add a bit of sunshine to a winter feast. Go cranberries!
Soup shots are the perfect starter for a long Thanksgiving feast and this Heavenly Hawaij Soup is the ideal choice. Combining aromatic spices, earthy mushrooms and velvety cream, it is decadent as a holiday feast should be. If you start with this, what could be next! Cardamom, turmeric and saffron are the essential spice elements of the Yemenese blend Hawaij and they play wonderfully in this exotic mushroom soup. It is the leftover that will have you sneaking back to the kitchen at four am.
Lamb is the perfect pairing for our version of the signature Persian spice blend, Advieh, and this easy meatball recipe will have a flavor feast on your table in no time. You can serve them on a bed of greens, over grains or as a sandwich or as a wrap. Garnish with feta, mint, parsley, and pomegranate seeds and complement with a tangy sumac salad dressing or a mellow creamy tzatziki. Fabulous! Our version uses Panko bread crumbs as the binder, but for a gluten free option, you could use lentils, quinoa, or gluten free bread crumbs.
The Autumn Equinox brings many things around the Pacific Northwest: our infamous drizzle begins anew, the few maples and oaks color aflame in between the miles of evergreen, the oysters are firm and plump again, garden kale stems grow thick and tough in preparation for wintering over, and, perhaps less famously but no less excitingly– my spice cabinet gets its quarterly makeover! Fall is when my cooking gets hearty, and I rely the heaviest of blended spices to warm my belly and my soul through the short, grey days, and the long, cold nights. It should come as little surprise to anyone who follows my blog-y musings that I delight in the unexpected, so here I’ll share a few of my top, must-have-on-hand blends that add cheer, color, and interest to my standby fall dishes.
The man who shares my life also shares with me an almost unnatural love of Harissa. At once familiar and unexpected, Harissa adds such depth and warmth to everything it touches. Instead of the traditional thyme and rosemary, I rub harissa on a chuck roast before sealing it in my dutch oven and slow-roasting it overnight. The juices from the meat mingle with the exotic spice, and makes the most sumptuous little pan sauce- after you’ve pulled your tender roast, just reduce the liquid by half, and add a pat of butter. Our cous cous with roasted vegetables and Harissa sauce is a year-round classic in my house, too.
My family is a bit “leftovers-challenged,” which is a nice way of saying that even the meals that get raves on night one, die slow deaths in the refrigerator if not re-imagined in to other things. When I make our Turkey Mole, the first night I’ll use the meat to make enchiladas or tacos, while the second, I’ll thin the sauce with chicken stock until it’s just thicker than broth consistency, and add chopped tomatoes, white beans, corn, and onion, and simmer for half an hour to make the world’s fastest and most delicious chili. Soul satisfying, and infinitely more interesting that your traditional “bowl of red.”
Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Kabocha, Spaghetti, Turban… Gardens and markets abound with scores of winter squashes — to say nothing of the dozens of pumpkin varieties — all delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and begging for a roasting. A dash of cinnamon, a grate of nutmeg- fine, I suppose, but who settles for “fine” when “amazing” is available? I stock Kashmiri Curry and Besar for just these occasions. Both have the toasty, sweet spices that bring out the inherent sweetness of the squash, but add so much more, whether you’re roasting whole to mash, or cubing and caramelizing your gourds.
The easiest side dish at this time of year is roasted root vegetables. Heat a sheet pan in a 450 degree oven, toss a sampling of carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, and onions in a bit of oil, spread in an even layer on your hot pan, and roast until tender and golden. It may be natural to reach again for the rosemary, or even the Italian Herbs, but I prefer the savory crunch of Svaneti Seasoned Salt. This eastern European blend is so versatile that I find it pairs no matter how I’ve seasoned the main dish — European, north African, Middle Eastern, or Indian. I go through quarts of the stuff, I just can’t get enough.
I have to preface all of this by saying that I do not consider myself a baker. I usually find the excessive measuring and strict orders of operations stifling, and too math-like to be enjoyable to my free spirit. However, creatively spicing puts the joy back in. Pumpkin pies abound at every gathering this time of year, and though I love them, I do grow weary. I prefer this pie, adapted from a very traditional Southern recipe, using sweet potatoes and Sri Lankan curry. Deeply toasted and just a bit spicy, this warm, sweet blend has all but replaced Pumpkin Pie Spice in my kitchen, for sweet potato and pumpkin pies.
This Apple-Carrot pie has also become a standby in my kitchen. When I first posted it, great Seattle food blogger cook.can.read commented that “Cinnamon is the gateway drug. Chinese Five Spice is the destination.” I couldn’t agree more! Try using Chinese Five Spice anywhere your autumn baking calls for cinnamon- I’m talking pumpkin or zucchini breads, muffins- even toss it with sugar to coat the outside of your snickerdoodles!
So, if you’re open to any advice from your humble spice merchant, although nature may be hunkering down for the chilly months ahead, use this time to re-awaken your spice stash. Grab a few unfamiliar and exotic blends, and turn over those spices that have been languishing for six months or longer. The bright flavors of fresh spices will all but erase the dreary skies from your psyche. We’ve got an entire display dedicated to these blends and a few other fall staff favorites, (as well as a bunch of new books!) so drop by for a sniff and a chat!
My position at World Spice’s professional division has afforded me wonderful opportunities to connect with some of the best chefs around Seattle. One of the most rewarding parts of my role as a spice merchant actually happens when I’m off the clock and I get to experience the delicious dishes that our products enhance. From newcomers like Mamnoon to all the restaurants in the Tom Douglas empire, I never have trouble coming up with great restaurants for date night (deciding on which one is the hard part!) But until recently I had never had the chance to experience the cuisine of one of our most loyal and long standing chef clients, Lisa Dupar Catering.
Last weekend I was honored to attend one of the winemaker dinners as part of the Auction of Washington Wines fundraiser for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Chef Lisa Dupar and her talented crew teamed up with Dunham Cellars, Willie Green’s, and World Spice for a fabulous “Farmers AT the Table” dinner. Hosted by the gracious and generous Midori Chan and Paul Strisower, this event gave guests the chance to meet some of the people behind the food being served, while giving purveyors like us an opportunity to enjoy the magic that Lisa Dupar creates with our ingredients.
When Lisa first approached us about participating in this dinner we were ecstatic; after getting a sneak peak at the menu, I knew we’d have to do something extra special for the guests who came out to support the Seattle Children’s Hospital. One of the services we offer both our retail customers and professional clients is custom spice blend production, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a limited edition spice blend. I was immediately drawn to the goat on the menu and knew I wanted to create a rub for it that was either Persian inspired or with some Caribbean flair. After playing with a few different mixes, it struck me, why not do both? After a few hours of tinkering and a few delicious taste tests, I settled on the playfully named Rastafari el Hanout. By taking the well-known middle eastern spice blend, Ras el Hanout, and adding a few traditional Caribbean ingredients, I believe I created the perfect goat rub.
Unfortunately space in our little shop is extremely limited, so we can’t offer every custom blend we make; only those in attendance at Riverside Falls last weekend got to taste the exact recipe for this particular limited edition blend. That doesn’t mean we can’t create something special just for you! If you have a big event coming up and want to offer your guests something extra special, ask us about creating the perfect custom blend for you.
The evening soiree at Riverside Falls was an unforgettable night, and I’d like to wrap up by thanking Lisa Dupar (check out her wonderful cookbook), Jeff Miller from Willie Green’s, Eric Dunham, the indulgently hospitable Midori Chan and Paul Strisower, and of course all the guests who came out to support such a great cause.