Smoked paprika is an indispensable ingredient in any spice pantry, and the authors of Fresh & Fermented agree! Check out their delicious recipe below!
“Smoked paprika, also known as pimentón, has finally reached mainstream status in the spice world, and not a minute too soon. Made from pimento peppers that have been dried or smoked over a fire, this spice imparts a robust smoky flavor. As a hearty side, this dish pairs well with your favorite sausages, pork loin, or any grilled meat. Leftovers are delicious with eggs in a breakfast burrito or scrambled into a breakfast hash.”
*(c)2014 By Julie O’Brien and Richard Climenhage. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Fresh & Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to Make Fermented Carrots, Kraut, and Kimchi Part of Every Meal by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photography by Charity Burggraaf
It’s here! This season’s crop of Piment d’Espelette arrived at our doorstep this week, ready to transform our dishes with its mild heat and fruity, almost tomatoey flavor. Piment d’Espelette’s mild flavor is the cornerstone of the traditional Basque stews, and in keeping with Basque tradition we consume our Piment d’Espelette seasonally, making way for each new crop when it comes in.
The seasonal rotation isn’t the only thing traditional about the pepper of Espelette. Piment d’Espelette bears the distinction of being the only spice with an official AOC designation. Being recognized by the AOC, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, guarantees that the product which bears its seal will be produced in traditional manners, and originate only from their traditional region. In such illustrious company as true french Champagne, only the superior pepper grown in the ten, tiny approved Basque villages may be labeled as Piment d’Espelette.
Piment d’Espelette originates in the area that joins the southwestern-most corner of France with northeastern Spain, historically known as Basque country. In the region, late summer and early fall are marked by festoons of peppers drying against white stucco houses, just as they have for centuries. Each October, the end of the harvest is marked by a vibrant festival, complete with parade, where peppers are sold fresh, pickled, or dried and ground, as we carry it.
The Basque have another tradition worth imitating- that of the txoko, or gastronomical society. Generations of Basques have gotten together to cook, sing, and experiment with food in thousands of private clubs. While it might not have centuries of tradition, we’ve got a kind-of txoko of our own, the World Spice Cookbook Club, that meets up to try out recipes from a new cookbook each month. Singing is purely optional.
So come pick up some of the freshest and most flavorful flakes of Piment d’Espelette available in the United States by the ounce or by the jar, and if you’re feeling adventurous drop us a line and come out to the next meeting of our Cookbook Club for a little gastronomical bonding. On egin!
Figs are such a versatile fruit, conjuring both exotic images of relief under shade trees in a desert oasis and the comfort of a fireside holiday treat. We’ve whipped up a spiced fig preserve that lives up to that reputation. Rich with wine, balsamic vinegar, orange, spices and honey, this spread is worthy of the finest table yet easy to make. Here’s the recipe, just in time for holiday entertaining.
You can make preserves in a water bath or pressure canner, but rest assured they won’t last. We’ve gobbled up three jars in the first week and are hoping we have enough left for our Thanksgiving guests. Paired with Dukkah encrusted goat cheese and crostini they make a delicious snack. We plan to serve them alongside roast meats, too, for a sublime and unexpected combination.
For this rainy day canning session we had help with the canning AND photography from our good friend Leah Manzari. Thanks, Leah!
Few things say “winter” better than a steamy cup of spiced cider or mulled wine. Mulling Spice takes many forms, but ours is heavy on the cassia cinnamon and with a hint of orange peel for the power to banish those grey-day blues.
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.
“Do you have shawarma spice?” – It’s a request we hear often, and if you’ve tasted it, you know why! If you’re yet unfamiliar, shawarma is an Arabic and Middle Eastern street food traditionally prepared on a rotating spit over an open fire. The open flame cooks the meat to juicy perfection on the inside, with a crisp crust on the outside. Slivers are sliced off the spit all day long, and stuffed in to pitas overflowing with tomatoes, cucumber, tahini, or hummus. It’s a “four napkin” sandwich – meat juices running together with creamy sauce, punctuated by crisp vegetables and fresh herbs. It’s even the official food of superheroes, if you believe 2012’s Avengers movie… and we do!
Spice merchants are curious merchants, so with the first inquiry, we were pouring over cookbooks to find exactly what would be in a Shawarma blend. We turned to Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem for our initial inspiration and reveled in the heavy use of spices, including, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek, cinammon, nutmeg, fennel, cumin, star anise, sumac, and coriander just to name a few. Our test kitchen is without the traditional rotisserie setup, so we grilled our marinated shawarma instead. Tucked in to warm pitas with all the traditional accompaniments, we’re confident that our version will earn Iron Man’s seal of approval… and yours, too.
Thanks to its luxurious ingredients, this pasta is fancy and decadent enough for special occasions, but is simple enough to be thrown together quickly. Rather than an elaborate sauce, the pasta is dressed with cream flavored by all of the dishes’ components. This makes for a rich-tasting effect that feels far lighter than a traditional cream sauce. It’s worth noting that this is one of the few recipes in which I advocate not toasting the pine nuts, because it is my experience that the toasted flavor doesn’t complement the saffron, and actually competes with it. You can use any shape of pasta, of course, but I find that penne rigatè- the penne with the little ridges- holds the perfect amount of sauce. Each element in this pasta represents one of the tastes detectable by your palate, so the result is a beautifully balanced, crave-worthy dish.