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October, October, October!

October is finally here. Cooler weather, heartier meals, warm drinks and a little trick or treating are some things we look forward to this time of year.

Our big announcement is that VSpicery will be returning to the Saturday Morning Farmers’ Market in downtown St. Petersburg. Our original start date was October 19th, but tropical storm Nestor decided otherwise. We’ll update you as to when our start date is rescheduled. It will be soon! We are really looking forward to reconnecting with our customers in St Pete, and meeting a bunch of new customers.

VSpicery will be taking only our culinary blends to the market, but any of our other lovely products can be ordered and picked up at our market booth.

October Recipes Ideas

For Fall tailgating occasions and in anticipation of Holiday entertaining, we have been playing around with meatball recipes and have a few for you to try.

Meatballs Italiano
1 lb Ground beef
1-2 tbs VSpicery’s Ammoyo seasoning
¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs*
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine ingredients, form into 1” diameter balls, place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until done. Serve with a simple tomato dipping sauce

Savory Thai Meatballs
1 lb Ground Beef
1-2 tbs VSpicery’s Java Jo Steak Seasoning
¼ cup bread crumbs*
1 tsp Fish Sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine ingredients, form into 1” diameter balls, place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until done.

Thai sweet chili dipping sauce
1 cup plus 2 tbs. water, divided
2 tbs cornstarch
3 medium cloves garlic minced
2 tbs Crushed Red pepper
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil

Whisk together 2 tbs of water and cornstarch, set aside. In a medium sauce pan combine remaining ingredients and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture to re-combine and whisk into simmering sauce. Cool until thickened, remove from heat and let cook. Serve with or pour over meatballs.

Americano Meatballs

1 lb Ground Turkey
1-2 tbs VSpicery’s Herbal Crust Seasoning
¼ cup bread crumbs*
1 tbs Mayo
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine ingredients, form into 1” diameter balls, place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until done.

*For a GF version, add ¼ cup cooked Quinoa instead of bread crumbs.

New product alert!

Moo Char Gusto – Treat meat with some char before it hits the grill. This is more than just a savory smoky treat with a hint of sweet. Activated charcoal gives color, and helps detoxify your system. Wonderful on beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. Flavors caramelize and intensify when grilled, making your tongue tingle with delight.

We’ll leave you with one last creative and delicious dinner idea.

Asian Marinated Flank Steak
1 lb lean beef steak
2 tbs VSpicery’s Asian Xiang Liao
1 tbs Tamari
1 tsp sliced fresh Ginger

The day or morning before you want to serve this dish, drizzle olive oil over beef, rub both sides equally with Xiang Liao and place in a casserole dish. Add Tamari and ginger turning to coat both sides. Let marinate.

Before serving, simply remove from marinade and pan sear in cast iron skillet. Slice thin and serve with veggies or rice.

That’s our short and simple update. Let us know if you try any of these recipes, we would love to hear your feedback. Also, please leave a review on our site for any products that stand out for you. Until next time, we wish you happy cooking and flavorful meals.

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Let’s Talk Veggies

Vegetables play a huge part of our diet, whether you use them as side dishes with your proteins, as a whole meal or as the main component of your diet. These days, more and more folks are changing to a vegetarian lifestyle, in its many forms. We have many ways to help you keep these veggies interesting, elevating even the most boring vegetables to rockstars on your plate.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sunny Soiree Seasoning.

One of our newer rubs, Sunny Soiree, is absolutely fantastic on roasted vegetables. Especially broccoli and cauliflower. Herbal and citrus notes combine with a slight tarragon flavor that perfectly complements vegetables. One of our favorite ways to use Sunny Soiree is on roasted cauliflower. It is super quick, easy and delicious. Lightly steam cauliflower until fork tender, then place cauliflower on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle some Sunny Soiree and toss until evenly coated. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and generously sprinkle grated parmesan or romano cheese. Bake at 350°F until cheese is golden brown.


Eggplant Burger
This is a quick delicious meal to make any night of the week.

INGREDIENTS
1 Large Eggplant, cut in 1/2″ rounds
1 egg, with tsp water
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 Tbs Herbal Crust (blended with breadcrumbs)

DIRECTIONS
Cut eggplant into 1/2″ rounds. Dip eggplant into egg wash, then into breadcrumbs and drizzle olive oil over the eggplant rounds. Line rounds on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 mins at 350°F, until golden brown and fork tender. Serve with pita bread and top with cheese and any condiments you like.


Roasted Broccoli with VSpicery’s Citrus Seasoned Salt.

Roasted Broccoli
This dish is truly irresistible, and so easy to make!

INGREDIENTS
1 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 ½ bunches of broccoli)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
VSpicery’s Citrus Salt
Pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet for easy clean-up. On the prepared baking sheet, toss broccoli with the oil until all of the florets are lightly coated. Arrange them in one even layer across the pan, then sprinkle with Citrus salt and pepper.

Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway, or until the florets are turning deeply golden on the edges. Season to taste with additional Citrus salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve warm.

If you like broccoli as much as we do, here are a few ways to change the flavor a little to keep it interesting for your taste buds. Prepare broccoli as instructed above. After the broccoli is done roasting add any of these options just before serving. Finish with a light drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar (like our Aged Balsamic Vinegar), a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (for extra lemony pop, add lemon zest too). Grated Parmesan is also a delicious way to finish the dish. A light sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes or Marash pepper flakes will give just the right amount of heat.


Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Sweet Singing Seasoning.

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
Roasted to perfection, these Baked Sweet Potato Wedges are a delicious snack, appetizer, or meal. They are super easy to make!

INGREDIENTS
5-6 small or 2-3 large sweet potatoes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt, or more if desired
1 Tbs VSpicery’s Sweet Singing Seasoning

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or grease baking sheet lightly with oil.

Wash and pat the sweet potatoes dry. Remove any spots or blemishes. Cut potatoes lengthwise into quarters, and cut into 1 inch thick wedges. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and give a good toss. Arrange potatoes in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and Sweet Singing Seasoning. Place baking sheet on the middle oven rack, and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes and serve. If you would like a dipping sauce, Garlic Aioli (vegan recipe below) or a Sriracha Cream Sauce are both really tasty with these wedges!

For more caramelization, once sweet potatoes are done, place under the broiler for a few minutes. Just be sure to watch them so they don’t burn. Store leftovers, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Garlic Aioli (Vegan)
This creamy, garlicky aioli is great as a dip for fresh or roasted vegetables, or use as a spread for burgers and sandwiches. It is gluten-free, vegan, super easy and quick, and has no oil.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Himalayan Pink Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Place cashews, water, garlic, dijon, and juice of lemon in a blender and blend until creamy, about 45 seconds. Taste for flavor, adding a little more of any desired ingredients. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Spicy Shark Wing Sauce.

Buffalo Cauliflower
Our new line of Spicy Shark hot sauces includes a vegan wing sauce that is dairy free, gluten-free, and really good! Here’s a delicious way to enjoy the flavor with a fraction of the calories of regular chicken wings.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
oil spray or oil
1/4 cup flour, or almond meal
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp milk of choice
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (optional for crunchier texture)
1/2 cup Spicy Shark Wing Sauce
1 to 4 tsp oil

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking dish with parchment. Spray florets with oil spray or toss with a little oil. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with the flour and garlic powder until evenly coated. Then add milk of choice and then the breadcrumbs (if using) to the cauliflower, and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer in the baking pan. Bake on the center rack 25 minutes.

Combine the oil with Spicy Shark Wing Sauce (the added fat helps the sauce adhere to the cauliflower). Toss cauliflower in sauce, then bake another 15 minutes. For added crunch and color, broil for up to 5 minutes. Be sure to watch while broiling to make sure it does not burn. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing, if desired, and serve.


Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burgers
Between homemade, restaurant, and store-bought, these are the best black bean burgers we’ve ever had. Our taste testers agree that this is the tastiest version they have tried too. The trick is to partially dry out the black beans so the burgers do not taste mushy. Grill or bake the black bean burgers and enjoy on a bun, plain, or on a salad. They’re big, thick, and hearty and even meat eaters LOVE these.


INGREDIENTS
1 (14 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (1/2 of a pepper)
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1/2 of a small onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1/2 Tablespoon)
1 Tbs Sriracha (optional)
1 1/2 Tbs VSpicery’s Ra Ra Rio
1/2 cup panko
1 large egg
Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread beans evenly onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out. Meanwhile, sauté olive oil, chopped pepper, onion, and garlic over medium heat until peppers and onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Gently blot some of the moisture out. Place in a large bowl or in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Stir or pulse everything together, then add the black beans. Mash with a fork or pulse the mixture, leaving some larger chunks of beans.

Form into patties– about 1/3 cup of mixture in each. Saute patties in 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil until heated thoroughly and slightly browned.

Bake: Place patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes on each side, 20 minutes total.

Grill: Place patties on greased aluminum foil and grill 8 minutes on each side. Heat temperature is personal preference as all grills differ. Generally, black bean burgers should grill on medium-high heat about 350°F-400°F. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Make ahead tip: Cooked or uncooked black bean burgers freeze wonderfully! Stack between parchment paper in a freezer container or zipped-top bag. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat to your liking or, if uncooked, cook according to instructions. If desired, you can skip thawing and reheat/cook from frozen for an extra couple minutes. To make a Vegan version of this recipe, just replace the eggs with 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato.


Red Lentils

Berbere is an Ethiopian curry blend that is full of flavor with a bit of a heat kick. Authentic Berbere can be hard to find, but we have it in stock and hand mix this curry blend at the shop every few weeks.

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir wot)
This richly spiced Ethiopian lentil stew recipe, known locally as misir wot, is packed with flavour from berbere and niter kibbeh. Niter kibbeh is a type of spiced butter found in Ethiopian cuisine. This is a really delicious and simple midweek meal for spice lovers.

NITER KIBBEH (SPICED BUTTER) INGREDIENTS
8 oz of unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 knob of ginger, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

MISSIR WOT (Lentil Stew) INGREDIENTS
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp of tomato purée
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp of Berbere
8 oz of red lentils
16 oz of vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS
Begin by making the niter kibbeh. Place the butter in a saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients and simmer over a very low heat for about 20 minutes. The butter solids should be starting to caramelize into a brown butter but be careful not to cook too long, or it will burn. Line a sieve with a piece of muslin or coffee filter and strain the butter into a bowl.

To make the stew, add 4 tbsp of the niter kibbeh to a medium pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a medium-low heat until softened. Add the berbere and tomato purée and cook out for a further minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook down for 8 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down a little. Keep stirring to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan. Rinse the lentils, then add them to the stew along with the vegetable stock. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve the misir wot with extra niter kibbeh drizzled over the top and enjoy!


We could go for days about delicious veggies dishes, but we will save the rest for future blog posts. We hope that these recipes get your taste buds tingling with some ways you can make any vegetable taste incredible, especially when you use fresh seasonings like ours. Keep your food exciting and irresistible with VSpicery Flavor Shop.

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We’re Bringing the Heat with Lots of Flavor!

VSpicery recently partnered with a fantastic hot sauce company out of New England, called The Spicy Shark, and we have some exciting new products to share with you! But first, we want to tell you a little about this company, and why, after 16 years of being a hot sauce free zone, we decided to add hot sauce to our shelves.

If you have been a customer of VSpicery for a while, you know that we love to find interesting and delicious new products every 6 to 12 months. We have had many hot sauce companies approach us, begging to have their products on our shelves. Every time, we share the samples with our taste testers to see if the products have what it takes, but honestly, none of them hit the mark. In case you haven’t noticed, hot sauce is EVERYWHERE! You can even find some varieties of bottled hot sauce in convenience stores. For us to stock any product, it has to be an incredible stand out product from a company that maintains the same level of quality that we maintain at the shop. That means no preservatives or additives, high quality ingredients, and big flavor. Many hot sauce companies focus so much on trying to attain new levels of flames on the tongue, that they miss out on providing full flavors that can actually be used on food to make it taste better, not just hot af. The market is so saturated with mediocre hot sauces that we really wanted to find products that stand out from the crowd. We finally found what we’ve been looking for, and we think you are going to love them just as much as we do.

The Spicy Shark founder, Gabe and his Baby Shark (Dino).

Here’s a little background on The Spicy Shark, their mission, why we love this little company and the folks who own it. After growing up working in the restaurant business, and then 17 years in the beer industry, Founder Shark Gabe was ready for a change. He figured if he could take his two biggest passions, spicy food and sharks, and turn that into a career, it would be a pretty fun life. With some family recipes, and help from his family and friends, he took the summer of 2018 to put together the blueprints for The Spicy Shark. The feeding frenzy began in February 2019!

Their mission is simple: To make the best tasting and unique spicy products using the best ingredients, to help preserve and improve the lives of our oceans’ sharks, and to have a lot of fun along the way.

The Spicy Shark uses fresh peppers, veggies and fruits to create their amazing flavors, and you can taste each ingredient in every bite. We started with a selection of products that we really loved, all with a nice heat level and lots of flavor. Here’s the list:

Hot Honey
The Spicy Shark Original Hot Honey is a special blend of 100% pure USA Clover, Alfalfa, and Goldenrod Grade A Honey. We steep the honey with a touch of Cinnamon and infuse it with Habanero to add some heat to the sweet. Delicious with biscuits, pancakes, waffles, warm desserts, pizza, ribs, fried chicken, scallops, cheese, marinades, and hot beverages. Medium Heat Level. Gluten-Free.

Hot Maple Syrup
The finest Grade A Dark Pure Maple Syrup available in the USA creates the base for this tasty syrup. This rich, flavorful syrup is then infused with ginger, and heat from the Habanero Pepper. This unique blend of Sweet & Heat can be used on a wide range of food and drink. Works well as a glaze, in sauces, and BBQ sauce. Use on meat, fish, poultry, desserts, pancakes or waffles, ice cream, coffee drinks, and cocktails. Medium Heat Level. Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Nurse Shark Jalapeno Hot Sauce
Nurse Sharks are mellow by nature, but large in size, and unlike most other sharks, smooth to the touch. Like the Nurse Shark, this green Jalapeno sauce has a mellow smooth heat, but huge flavor. Undertones of tomatillo, apple, and melon balance the heat from the Jalapeno and Poblano pepper for an approachable, but unforgettable taste. Delicious with tacos, nachos, eggs, chicken and sandwiches. Warm Heat Level. Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Wing Sauce
The Spicy Shark Original Wing Sauce is our Dairy Free twist on a traditional wing sauce. Sweet Red Peppers meet Spicy Cayenne Peppers, with a smooth vinegar and garlic bite. Use on chicken wings and veggies. Spicy Shark Wing Sauce makes a really great buffalo cauliflower dish, as well. Medium Heat Level. Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Smoked Maple Sriracha Sauce
The Spicy Shark Smoked Maple Sriracha is our twist on a traditional Sriracha. We balance smoked vegetables with garlic, fermented hot peppers, and a touch of maple syrup. This sauce is one of our favorites and is delicious on anything that you want to add a little heat and a whole lot of flavor. Mild Heat Level. Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Thresher Shark Chipotle Hot Sauce
The Thresher Shark is known for its long unique tail that it hunts with. This complex smokey sauce with notes of coffee and chocolate packs a thresher whip of chipotle smoke and heat. Delicious with fish, poultry, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, add to salsa, grilled shrimp, nachos, and eggs. Warm Heat Level. Vegan and Gluten-Free.

Check them out, and let us know what you think by adding your review to the product’s page on this site. We are having a lot of fun finding different dishes to use these sauces on, and can’t get enough of them.

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Summer Sale and Cooking Class

Summer is definitely here – sun, heat, and of course, rain. While summer is not our favorite time to cook, VSpicery can make dinner quick and easy. We’ve had a lot of requests for our next cooking class and have devised one to help ease summer cooking blues.

Mark your calendars for June 29th (3:00 – 5:00) and register for our first Summer Cooking Class! This class will show three different, quick and delicious meals using shrimp, ground lamb and salmon, plus a side and delicious salad. Seating is limited. Cost is $30.00 per person, includes tasting and recipes. Register by June 26th by calling VSpicery – 813-870-1133.

Salads are a favorite item to eat all summer long. VSpicery is offering 20% off our Bellindora Fig and Bellindora Pomegranate Vinegar from June 11th – 15th so you can create your own spectacular dressings. These vinegars are also wonderful for marinades, vinegar reductions and sauces. Our Salad Seasons blend is great to use in vinaigrette recipes, using these vinegar flavors and our delicious olive oils.

Be on the lookout for our summer sale announcements all season long. That’s it folks. Enjoy the summer and come see us. We will leave the AC on for you.

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Summer Eats and Mother’s Day Sale

It’s Florida and while it’s only May, the heat is on. This time of year VSpicery folks start thinking about how not to cook. The challenge is how to make the simplest meals taste oh so good with very little effort. And with Mother’s day just around the corner, VSpicery can help liven up Mom’s kitchen or make your meals easy and delicious. The secret involves VSpicery’s culinary blends. By combining our delicious blends with various simple ingredients, a meal with multiple complementary flavors can be achieved.

Here’s an example of a simple meal. Take 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we like thighs better but either option works well). Next, season both sides with VSpicery’s Harmony Chicken seasoning, place in a ziplock bag, add 3 tbsp. olive oil and 3 tbsp water. Remove as much air as possible when sealing, roll chicken around in bag to mix up well, place in refrigerator until ready to cook. Cut 3 Yukon gold potatoes into chunks, boil until folk tender, drain and let dry a bit. Then, transfer to bowl, coat with olive oil, season with VSpicery’s Greek Seasoning, and spread out on one half of a baking sheet. Place chicken on the other half. Take 1 package of frozen broccoli, spread out on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with VSpicery’s Sunny Soiree. Place both baking sheets in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Dinner is done in about an hour. Simple, healthy, and delicious!

Need other suggestions? Come to the shop and we can make tons! Our customers frequently grab a pad of paper and a pen to make notes. We have been told that we need to put together a cookbook, and we are seriously thinking about doing one this summer.

It’s only early May, and we know that it will just get hotter from here. VSpicery has a carefully selected variety of vinegars to dress your salads. Our latest delight is a combination of Champagne Pear, part Meyers Lemon Oil, part good Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and VSpicery’s Salad Seasonings that make a lovely light salad dressing.

Praise Your Mom Sale from May 7th – May 10th
Buy 3 culinary blends for $18.00. Get ready for easy and delicious summer meals by getting some of our flavorful spice blends that make cooking a breeze.

Celebrate again with 20% off our popular Belindora vinegars! Get Apple Balsamic, Champagne Pear, Fig Balsamic or Pomegranate Balsamic. These vinegars make wonderful salad dressings for leafy greens or fruit salads.

While we’re talking Summer foods, how about a recipe for Chicken Salad. Yes, we know, kind of over it, but you really need to try this one. It is different from any other we have tried, and it is our favorite way to make it.
1 – Roasted Chicken, shredded
1 medium Red Onion, diced
¼ cup Smoked Almonds (ground down to almost dust)
2 stalks Celery, diced
Mayo (enough to evenly coat – start with ¾ cup)
VSpicery’s Sweet Singing Seasoning (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, let sit for a minimum of 20 minutes then enjoy.

Memorial Day
Whether you’re planning good times on the beach or a backyard BBQ, there is lots of goodness to be enjoyed via VSpicery’s culinary blends. Roasted Garlic Champagne Mustard is a real treat, and amazing on just about any burger, brat, hotdog or sandwich you can image. It also makes a scrumptious substitute for dijon in vinaigrette recipes.

Deviled Eggs are great to bring to potlucks and picnics, and we have a few variations that will get your taste buds tingling.
– Curried deviled eggs with our Madras Curry and a little smoked salt.
– Dilly Devils with our Dillious blend.
– Truffled Deviled eggs with our Black Truffle Salt and Fines herbal blend.
– Smokey Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika (or Smoked Hot Paprika for a little kick) and smoked salt.
– Guacamole Deviled eggs by adding avocado, Cocoa Loco Taco seasoning and a little smoked salt.

Come on in and see us to get your goodness on!

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High Stepping into March!

It’s time to Celebrate Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day! Fat Tuesday, the climax of Mardi Gras, falls on March 5th this year. Traditionally a time for zaniness, a reason to party, and often an excuse to imbibe to excess. We suggest you plan ahead with a spectacularly simple Shrimp Creole dinner. Here’s how:

Our Easy Shrimp Creole for 2
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 can 14 oz. Diced Tomatoes
2 tbsp. VSpicery’s Creole Seasoning
2 tsp. VSpicery’s Gumbo Filé

DIRECTIONS
Put diced tomatoes into 10” skillet.  Cook on medium heat until liquid starts to reduce. Stir in Creole Seasoning and Gumbo Filé. Cook so flavors concentrate, and create a sauce (about 5 minutes). When the sauce has thickened, add shrimp. Cook until shrimp have turned a pretty pink. Serve over rice or accompanied by crusty French bread with a nice salad. Laissez les bon temps roule! Yes, flavor can be that easy with VSpicery’s blends.

Next we are rolling along into St. Patrick’s Day.

Many Americans only know Irish dishes such as potatoes, corned beef and cabbage. If you want to cure your own beef, as several of our customers do, we have the spices that you need. Just let us know and we’ll put them together for you. Beyond the delicious home cured corned beef, when it comes to Irish food, there is much more to consider. Spices such as bay leaves, spearmint, thyme, parsley, rosemary, black pepper and caraway seeds are primary seasonings found in Irish cuisine.

Speaking of caraway seeds, many of us don’t know much about caraway, but it has been an international player on the spice scene since ancient Rome. Caraway seeds can be used in a variety of ways. They have a pungent aroma that, like the flavor, is warm and bittersweet, sharply spicy, with a note of dried orange peel and a slight lingering hint of anise. Commonly used in Asian and northern and central Europe, the Romans used caraway in vegetables and fish. Caraway seeds are often found in eastern European Jewish staples such as rye breads, sausages, cabbage, soups, and stews. Caraway seeds go well with apples, duck, goose, noodles, onions, pork, potatoes, and other root vegetables, and interestingly, tomatoes.

Back to the Irish food – if you are in the mood for something a bit off the well worn path, give this recipe a try:

Beef in Ale with Cheese Cobbler
INGREDIENTS

Casserole
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons VSpicery’s Herbal Crust Seasoning
1 1/2 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups premium ale
1 cup homemade beef stock or low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cobbler
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 to 2/3 cups water
1 tablespoon milk for brushing tops

DIRECTIONS
This beef casserole dish is best when made with premium Irish ale. Topped with a cheesy Cheddar cobbler, the dish can be prepared in advance, with the cobbler added just before serving time. To make the casserole: In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine the flour and VSpicery’s Herbal Crust Seasoning. Dredge the beef in the flour mixture and set aside. Lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Add the beef and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Add the carrots and celery and stir to coat. Stir in the ale, broth, tomato purée, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are tender and the sauce starts to thicken. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish.

To make the cobbler: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sift the flour and mustard into a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Add the butter, and pulse 4 to 5 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese, Tabasco, and 1/2 cup water. Process for 8 to 10 seconds, or until a soft dough forms. Add more water, if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness. With a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Arrange the rounds on top of the meat mixture, overlapping in a decorative pattern. Brush the tops of the cobbler with the milk. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and the mixture is heated through. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6 as a main course.
Sláinte!

We hope that you enjoyed this post and try the recipes. If you do, send us an email about your experience to val@vspicery.com. We like pictures too! Love hearing from our customers. Next time we’ll spotlight some of the products that we carry that in our opinion are top-kotch! 
Stay tune for our next cooking class.  We’re working on a nice one.

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Here’s to VSpicery’s 16th Anniversary, the New Year and a dinner full of love.

We hope the holidays were fabulous for you and your family. There was an astounding array of delicious flavors floating through our home, highlighted by my talented daughter’s beautiful creation – a sumptuous Buche de Noel (or Yule Log Cake).

We look forward to 2019 being a year of developing more flavor combinations and searching out new flavors to add to our collection so that you can add them to your pantry. We currently have about 35 of our own spice blends and rubs, 11 curries (Indian, African and Thai), and over 5 seasoned salt blends that we hand mix at our shop every week. In addition, we have over 150 different individual spices, Greek, Spanish and Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils, delicious high quality vinegars, flavored mustards and locally harvested honey from Eden’s Nectar. We are committed to sourcing the freshest spices we can find, and bringing high quality herbs and spices to you without chemicals, preservatives or additives.

At VSpicery we are kicking up our heels and sending out many thanks. VSpicery will be celebrating the 16th year of providing our customers with great spices, seasonings, blends, and other delightful flavors to incorporate in their everyday cooking.

We started our business at a farmers’ market back in 2001 and after two years decided to take our business to the next step, opening our brick and mortar location. The doors opened on January 23rd and we have been at the same location ever since, right next to Alessi Bakery. Lots of great stories have been created and shared here. We have had celebrity chefs, local chefs, local football players, restaurateurs, gourmet cooks, and most importantly, our folks who just love to cook. They recognize the difference our spices and seasonings make on their plates.

To celebrate our anniversary on January 23rd, we are offering 20% off your total purchase from January 23rd – January 26th (excluding Eden’s Nectar products).

The 10th customer through the door on January 23rd will receive a bottle of something very special. We look forward to many more years of supplying the very best in seasonings for your kitchen.

COOKING CLASS

With February just around the corner, we all know what that means – Valentine’s Day. Oh, the pressure! The flowers, the candy, the reservations, and on and on… Well, we would like to take some of the stress off by offering a COOK FOR YOUR LOVE CLASS.

The Cook For Your Love Class will be a full dinner featuring a light appetizer, salad, two different entrees (beef & salmon) so that you can have a choice of what you would like to prepare, and accompanying sides. With Spicy Kym in the house, perhaps we’ll feature a delightful dessert as well.

Class is on February 9th starting at 4:00pm. Seating is limited to 8 individuals. Cost is $40.00 per person, so bring your appetite because this will be a full dining experience and lesson in food love. This class is by reservation only, please reserve your spot by February 5th by calling (813) 870-1133.

Eat well and enjoy the best 2019 has to bring. If you have resolved to explore some new flavors this year, VSpicery is here to help.

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Class is in Session

Cooking class can be so much fun! Pretty sure we have just as much fun, if not more, than our students. Classes at VSpicery are all about demonstrating how to create maximum flavor with minimum effort. We love to answer questions about cooking techniques, and regularly help our students and customers perfect everyday dishes that wow the diners around their family tables.

In our November cooking class, we had some tasty alternatives on the menu for holiday dishes, and the results were delicious. We began with a simple and flavorful salad that pairs beautifully with fall and winter menus. To make the salad we added granny smith apple chunks, sliced red onion, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and toasted coarsely chopped pecans to a bed of fresh romaine and arugula lettuce. The sharpness of the cheddar cheese nicely balances the tart apple flavor and nutty toasted pecans, making this salad a serious taste bud teaser.

Next, we made our maple orange dressing using our Maple Flakes, maple syrup, honey, Himalayan Pink Salt, Green Peppercorns, Apple Balsamic Vinegar and Seraphino Greek Organic Olive Oil. We developed this dressing for our previous salad class, and it has quickly become one of our favorites! Our dried maple flakes are key to giving this dressing a delightful maple kick. The orange juice brightens the dressing and balances the acidity of the vinegar really well. Once the ingredients are mixed together well, and emulsified with olive oil, it’s ready for serving.

Our class moved right along to the main course with Herbal Crust Turkey Thighs. VSpicery’s Herbal Crust Seasoning was developed specifically for roasted meats, including game meats like venison. This blend is perfect for your holiday bird, and the pan drippings make the best gravy we have ever made. We normally roast a whole turkey for our Thanksgiving meal, but using turkey thighs is just as tasty. Turkey thighs take less time to cook, are really flavorful and no carving is needed. All you need to do is lightly coat with olive oil (or any oil of your choice), add Herbal Crust Seasoning, and bake. We tend to prefer using bone-in, skin-on thighs, since roasting with the bone in gives much better flavor and the skin keeps the meat moist throughout the roasting process. After the turkey thighs were cooked, we took the bone out, and sliced each thigh into 3 nice sized chunks. You can serve it with or without the skin.

We rounded out the meal with some yummy side dishes that are super easy to make, healthy to eat, and diet friendly. If you haven’t tried Delicata Squash yet, you really should! Delicata Squash is low in calories, and has a thicker consistency than other squash varieties. This is the perfect alternative to high carb sides like mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. All you need to do is roast the squash in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast cut side down. Once cooked, scoop out the meat of the squash into a bowl and mash it up with our new blend, Sunny Soiree, some butter and a tiny splash of heavy cream, then season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also add a little goat cheese, if you want a creamy tang of flavor, but it’s entirely optional. This simple dish will quickly become a go to side for any meal.

For the final two sides, we made steamed green beans and roasted carrots. This may sound uninspired, but as usual, VSpicery takes the bland and unexciting to flavor heights that will make you crave these healthy veggies regularly.

After steaming the green beans, we made a simple warm vinaigrette for them. We used our Champagne Pear Vinegar, Yellow Mustard Powder, Shallots, Honey and Himalayan Pink salt. We poured the vinegar into a sauté pan on medium heat, and added the rest of the ingredients as it warmed up. When vinegar mix is just coming to a boil, remove the pan from heat, then pour the mixture over green beans just prior to serving.

The last side dish we made was Spiced Roasted Carrots. We started by quartering the whole carrot sticks, then tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and thyme. While the carrots were roasting, we softened some butter and stirred in cumin, coriander, turmeric, and aleppo pepper. Then, we tossed the roasted carrots in the spiced butter and transferred them to a serving platter. You can use cumin and coriander ground powder, but you get a deeper nuttier flavor if you lightly toast the whole seeds, then grind them down before adding to the butter mix. This carrot side dish also pairs really well with roasted meats, baked salmon and pork.

Last, but definitely not least, is the gravy! As mentioned above, the pan drippings from roasting the turkey with Herbal Crust Seasoning is what makes this so incredibly good. Just make gravy as you usually would by adding the pan drippings to a sauté pan over medium heat. Stir constantly, while thickening it with flour to your desired consistency. For this class, we used a gluten free flour to accommodate our student’s dietary restrictions, and it turned out great! We discovered how tasty this gravy is a few years ago while cooking a Thanksgiving feast for a catering client, and now we look forward to it every year. If you want to read more about it, check out our original Tasty Gravy blog post.

That’s it for this class menu! This meal can be ready in a fraction of the time that it normally takes to fill up your holiday table, and will work for just about any diet. Treat your family to a healthy, quick and incredibly delicious holiday meal this year. VSpicery is here to help you with all of your flavor needs. Keep an eye out for our next class offering! We try to schedule at least one public class a month. You can also book your own private demonstration. We just need 6 or more to put your group on our kitchen calendar. We can create a menu for your private class, or you can choose. Call us at the shop 813-870-1133 for more info.

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Fall is in Season

Well here in Florida it’s more of a wish than a fact. Floridians hope for a cool down with highs in the low 80s or high 70s, and that’s pretty much how fall goes here. Even the illusion of fall makes us want those flavors! The lower temperatures and declining downpours make us more apt to fire up our grills in the evenings.

New Delicious Additions

Summer is a creative time for us, and we have been working hard on new spice blends that turned out to be pretty amazing.

Our first creation from the summer is Fin & Feather Schmacker. Not only did we have lots of fun naming this blend, but the flavor combination is delicious on fish, chicken, roasted potatoes, and veggies. About every couple of weeks, my taste buds light up wanting this spice blend, and a round of tasty chicken wings are just the thing to soothe my craving. Try this blend on your next roasted chicken or turkey for a different spin on your common roast. We love Fin & Feather Schmacker on mild white fish as well.

Our next creation is called Sunny Soiree. This is a delightful combination of herbs, shallots, with a hint of sea salt. Originally blended with vegetables in mind, but we are happy to say that this combination works really well on many dishes. We have a super easy and tasty recipe below with this new blend on cauliflower, and it is a definite gotta have, gotta try! Sunny Soiree is incredible on fish, seafood, chicken and turkey, or mix in with pasta or rice dishes.

Maple Flakes are also new to our shop. This is exactly what it sounds like, dehydrated Maple Syrup. What can you do with this? Well … salad dressings, salmon, pancake batter, smoothies, rim a glass for an Old Fashioned, and on and on. We have had a lot of fun finding new way to use maple flakes, and it is the perfect pairing to many fall dishes.

Anyone for Squash?

Fall is a great time to enjoy squash, whether butternut, acorn, or spaghetti, they are delicious and flexible. We also can highly recommend a squash called delicata. Delicata is delicious just roasted with salt and pepper, but our house blended curries such as Berbere, Ras El Hanout or Garam Masala would also be an outstanding addition. For those who don’t like curry, our Sweet Singing Seasons would work very nicely as a substitute.

For the Locals

Tune up for the holidays and join us on November 4th from 12 – 3 pm when our professional knife sharpener, Mark, will set up to get your knives sharpened up for the cooking season. There is nothing worse than a dull knife in the kitchen. Mark will be happy to quote the cost to sharpen all your knives while you wait or VSpicery will hold them for pick up at your convenience.

While Mark is busy with your knives, VSpicery will be working in the kitchen. We will have a cooking demonstration of holiday flavors, traditional and some original tastes. Class starts at 1:00 and is $25.00 per person with a tasting included.

To reserve your spot for sharpening or our cooking class please call 813-870-1133 by October 26th or register and pay online. Seating for the cooking class is limited.

Because We Like To Share

Roasted Cauliflower
This is a wonderful side dish that is perfect for fish, chicken, turkey or beef. The bright herbal notes of our Sunny Soiree are brilliantly balanced by the crunchy savory bites of Pecorino Romano cheese. This combo makes it difficult to stop eating because it’s so dang delicious!

1 head of cauliflower, stems removed
3 tbs. Olive Oil or more
Pecorino Romano cheese
Sunny Soiree

Place cauliflower in a microwave proof bowl with ¼ cup of water, cover and microwave for 7 minutes. Remove from microwave, drain, cool and dry.

Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick spray, and place cauliflower on baking sheet drizzle well with olive oil. Season nicely with Sunny Soiree, top with Pecorino Romano.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, check after 20 minutes.

Well that’s all for now. Remember, if you would like to attend our event on November 4th, please go ahead and register. Until then have a creative time with your food.

Food Should Be Delicious!

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Cool Eats for Hot Summer Days

I am August, hear me roar.

It is said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. In Florida, August comes in like a lion wearing sunscreen and rain boots, and leaves like the exact same lion, except well stocked with hurricane and school supplies.

Speaking of supplies, if you are headed out to a beach condo or up to a mountain cabin, ask yourself this: when was the last time the spices in the kitchen were replaced? Can you name the president at the time? Our VSpicery flavor packs will bring the flavors at your favorite getaway up to date. Visiting with friends or family? Our flavor packs are a wonderful way of introducing them to the VSpicery experience.

It’s too darn hot!

It might be too hot to cook, but you still have to eat. Grilled seafood will make the cooking quick and easy. For grilled shrimp, we suggest one of our bodacious blends: Shallots N’ Pepper, Barista’s BBQ, Greek Seasoning, or Sriracha Sizzle. Simply skewer the shrimp, drizzle on a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning, and allow to marinate for 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator or cooler. Then pair with your favorite grilling veggies and fire it up. Not a shellfish eater? The same sublime simplicity applies to your favorite fresh fish filet. And when it comes to fish, be sure to check out our newest blend, Fin & Feather Schmacker.

Salad Days – Our Upcoming Event

So you think you know salads? Sign up for our next event and let us expand your herbivore horizons. On Saturday, August 18th at 3pm, we will be hosting a class on all things salad – everything from exploring various types of leafy greens, vinegars and oils to our favorite pasta and potato creations. And of course, we will dress for the occasion – learn how to ditch the store bought dressings and create your own. Class is limited to 12. $25 per person includes tastings. Reservations are a must – call 813-870-1133 to reserve your seat by August 14th.

Early Event Announcement

On September 8th we will be hosting a knife sharpening event with our guy Mark. We will also be doing something in the kitchen and will let you know in the next newsletter. So, get your blades ready and mark your calendars.

Sale in the Wind – Balsamic Vinegars and Extra Virgin Olive Oils

In celebration of salads, we are offering $2.00 off our Bellindora Balsamics – we have a pomegranate, a fig and an apple. If you would like all three, an additional discount applies. Also, be sure to take advantage of 10% off our extra virgin olive oils while supplies last. In store only special, sale runs from Aug. 18th – Aug. 24th.

Side Dish Success

VSpicery loves sharing recipes. We find that the side dish below is a perfect combination when you use VSpicery’s Greek Seasoning on grilled chicken. It’s a brilliant combination of flavors that will leave you with a satisfied palate and happy tummy.

Couscous, Asparagus, Cucumber, & Olive Salad

Serves 8

1 clove Garlic
3 tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice
½ cup EVO
1 tsp. Roasted Garlic Champagne Mustard
2 ½ cups low salt Chicken Broth
2 cups toasted Israeli Couscous (about 6 oz)
2 cups ½-inch pieces thin Asparagus spears, blanch for minutes
2 large green onions chopped
2 cups ½ -inch hot house cucumber
½ cup pitted Kalamata Olives, halved
¼ cup fresh mint leaves + sprigs to garnish (optional)
1 ½ cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese

Press garlic clove into small bowl. Add lemon juice and mustard; whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt & pepper. Bring broth to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Mix in couscous. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until couscous is tender and all broth is absorbed (about 10 minutes).

Transfer to large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally (about 45 minutes). Mix asparagus, cucumber, olives, green onions and ¼ cup mint leaves into couscous. Add dressing, toss. Gently mix in cheese. Can be made two hours ahead, let stand at room temperature.

Hope to see you at our next events on August 18th to learn all about salads. Until then have a creative time with your food.

Food Should Be Delicious!