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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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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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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!

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Springtime Holidays

It’s Easter. It’s Passover. It’s, it’s both and April Fool’s Day too! In some years, Passover and Easter fall on the same weekend, and 2018 is one of those years. A festive yet reflective holiday that celebrates the Jewish exodus from slavery, Passover has its own cherished food traditions. For many folks, the star of the Seder (the ceremonial dinner held on the first two nights of the festival) is the Matzo Ball Soup. Here’s our take on it.

Minnie’s Matzo Ball Soup

INGREDIENTS
4 large eggs
¼ cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) or vegetable oil
¼ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup matzo meal (GF is available or make your own with ground GF matzo)
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt V’s Version Garlic Salt (additional sea salt for cooking)
freshly ground black pepper (we recommend Lampong Peppercorns)

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, combine eggs, schmaltz or oil, stock, matzo meal, and nutmeg. Season with 1 teaspoon Garlic Salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gently mix with a whisk or spoon. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, lightly salt. With slightly wet hands, take some of the mix and mold it into a small ball (about 1¼”). Carefully drop it into the boiling water, repeating until all the mix is used.

Partially cover the pan, reduce heat to medium and cook matzo balls for 30 to 40 minutes for a firm matzo ball, longer if you like them fluffy. To serve, place two or three in a single serving bowl, spoon hot chicken broth or vegetable broth over them and serve immediately.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget the brisket. We love seasoning brisket with VSpicery’s Herbal Crust seasoning and for an Eastern European kick add some Smoked Hot Paprika.

Easter, so much fun. Coloring, hiding, and finding eggs. If you have thought about coloring eggs naturally, we can say that it really works. Too many websites toting how to, so look it up.

Easter Sunday, a day to celebrate and feast. Growing up my Mom would make roasted leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, a green vegetable, salad, rolls and her famous Lemon Meringue Pie. Good memories.

We like to take these memories and update them. A boneless leg of lamb stuffed with cranberry, apricot and herbs, mashed potatoes a la Herbs de Provence, roasted asparagus, salad, rolls and dessert. This is a delicious and easy to make meal.

Here’s our big recipe share for the meal.

 

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Cranberry and Apricot Stuffing

INGREDIENTS
3 Tbsp Cognac
3 Tbsp Water
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup Dried Apricot, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Almonds, toasted & chopped
1 med. Shallot minced
3 Tbsp unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp. Fennel Seeds, toasted and crushed
½ tsp. Kosher Salt plus Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 – 4 lb. boneless leg of Lamb
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 cup Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream
½ cup Dijon Mustard

DIRECTIONS
Warm the Cognac and water in a small sauce pan. Add cranberries and apricots and set aside until plump. In a small food processor pulse the fruit and any unabsorbed liquid with almonds, shallots, butter, fennel seed, ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until coarsely chopped.

With a boning knife or other large thin knife make a cut 3 inches across in the center of the roast. Gently push and work the blade in and straight through the roast to the other end. Insert the narrow end of a wooden spoon into the opening to widen it a bit all the way through. Push the stuffing into the lamb working first from one end and then the other filling to the center.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; pat the lamb dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over a medium-high heat. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the meat side down for 1 ½ hours. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Whisk the Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream with the mustard in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

We hope that whichever Holiday you are celebrating, the celebration is a grand event.

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Irish March Madness

Does March Madness reign supreme at your place? Between the brackets, we suggest hosting a St. Patty’s Day gathering. A good stout is a slam dunk with some great St. Patrick’s Day plates. Bring your “A” game: Beef in Ale with Cheese Cobbler, served with Irish Soda Bread, followed up by Irish Whisky Balls for dessert.

Beef in Ale with Cheese Cobbler

CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS
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, peeled and 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

CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS
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.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. 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.

 

Herbed White Soda Bread
Soda bread is as common to Ireland as rice is to China or pasta is to Italy. This bread has a soft rich flavor with a texture that is light and crumbly, and it’s aroma has wafted through every kitchen in Ireland. The delicate flavor of the herbs comes through with a subtle delight. You can add 1/3 cup of raisins or some ground fennel seeds to change it up.

INGREDIENTS
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, and parsley
12 to 14 ounces buttermilk

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, make a well in the center and pour all of the buttermilk in at once. Using 1 hand, stir in a full circle starting in the center of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated.

The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll dough around gently with floured hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up, flip the dough over. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2-inches deep. Sprinkle a little flour onto the center of a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Cut a deep cross on it with a sharp knife and prick the four sections. Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until just cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

Irish Coffee Balls
This recipe was one that we couldn’t resist trying, and really glad we did! Recipe by SkinnyMinnie, thank you for this delicious creation.

INGREDIENTS
3 1/2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar, divided
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/3 cup Irish Whisky
1/3 cup light corn syrup

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, pecans, and 1 cup of sugar. Dissolve coffee granules in Irish whiskey in a small cup. Add to dry mixture along with corn syrup, mixing until blended. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Roll in remaining sugar. Store in air tight container. Note: Cookies become more flavorful after sitting 2-3 days. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Well that’s all for now. Hope you give some of these suggests a whirl.

 

Have you heard the news?

Our kitchen is open! This means that you can host your own fantastic evening at VSpicery Flavor Shop and let us do the cooking. Gather your friends (minimum of four couples), contact us so we can work out a menu, set the date and then come enjoy. These evenings consist of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. We don’t have a liquor license so we can only encourage you to bring wine or other beverages of choice to complement the meal. We will serve iced tea and coffee while you wow your friends with an unforgettable feast.

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Flavors of the Sea

As February is waning and we head into March, VSpicery is ready to spice it up!
Lent means fish on Fridays for many, and here are a couple of fun fish recipes for you to try. We have a few spins on the “usual” and a couple of fun alternatives that will help you keep fresh fish on the table frequently without getting bored. Just because it is healthy for us to eat, doesn’t mean it has to be boring!

Venture down the bayou with a seafood gumbo featuring VSpicery’s Creole Seasoning. Try our Blackening Seasoning on shrimp or fish, and our Shallots N’ Pepper blend is wonderful on any fish variety. Add a touch of our Chophouse Seasoning to perk up an Oyster Stew or Clam Chowder.

Fish Cakes
Fish cakes are fabulous with VSpicery’s Shallots N’ Pepper blend. So easy and so delicious, these fish cakes will please everyone at the table, including our picky kiddos. Here’s all you need:

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ lbs. Cod
1 egg
1 med. onion
1 stalk of celery
¼ cup bread crumbs, plus ½ cup for coating outside
2 tsp. VSpicery’s Shallots N’ Pepper divided

DIRECTIONS
In a food processor, chop down onion and celery until finely minced, and set aside in a bowl. Season fish with 1 tsp. Shallots N’ Pepper (use more, if you like). Put fish into food processor until finely flaked.

Combine fish with onion, celery, egg and 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and mix together well. Combine ½ cup bread crumbs with 1 tsp. Shallots N’ Pepper, form cakes and coat fish cakes with bread crumbs.

Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle a bit of olive oil on the fish cakes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and serve immediately.

One of our easy favorites is salmon seasoned with VSpicery’s Tasty Tango served with our French Inspired Rice. Simply bake the seasoned salmon at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes and follow the directions on the rice package. Another delicious combo for salmon is VSpicery’s Sweet Singing Seasoning paired with our India Inspired Rice.

If shrimp is your thing, try Shallots N’ Pepper or spice it up with Sriracha Sizzle. Here’s a quick and delicious shrimp marinade with our Sriracha Sizzle that is incredibly delicious and easy to make as an appetizer or main dish.

 

Sriracha Sizzle Shrimp
You can use fresh or frozen shrimp for this recipe. Try this marinade for grilled shrimp too!

INGREDIENTS
3lb bag of shrimp, medium deveined and peeled
3/4 c. Olive Oil
2 tbs Sriracha Sizzle
1/2 c. Soy Sauce (preferably the low sodium Kikkoman)
1 Lime, zested and juiced

DIRECTIONS
Whisk ingredients until well blended, pour over the shrimp in a ziplock bag or bowl, and let the shrimp chill in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes.

Pour 2 – 3 tbs of Olive Oil in a large skillet, and put on medium-high. When the oil is hot, add shrimp to the pan, searing on both sides until shrimp turns pink and just starts to curl. Don’t overcook, or they become rubbery. Cycle shrimp out of the pan and onto plates as they finish cooking. Each batch should only need about 5 – 6 minutes total.

We like to place the shrimp on a small bed of arugula or any other peppery leafy greens, and a small lime wedge (or wheel) is optional. A fresh spritz of lime juice adds a bright, fresh touch. Serve and enjoy!

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A Thanksgiving Story from Val at VSpicery

You know the food is good when you have a crazed chef running at you with a big spoon yelling, “Taste this” and evidence of their own sampling on their chin! This actually started last Thanksgiving when my sous chef and I were preparing a luncheon for a holiday office party. We made a full Thanksgiving spread, complete with turkey, ham, stuffing, spiced cranberry and orange relish, mashed potatoes and gravy, all made from scratch in our kitchen at VSpicery.
In the final preparations for this catering event, I had to run out for an ingredient and left her stirring the gravy.  As I walked back in the door, she came running at me with a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes and gravy shouting, “You gotta try this!”, and shoved the spoon in my mouth.  This sensational gravy that caused all the commotion was a simple concoction of  turkey fat, pan drippings and flour.  All this flavor from simply sprinkling on and rubbing Herbal Crust Seasoning onto a lightly oiled turkey (also great for beef roasts or venison) and roasting it in the oven until done.
We successfully repeated this fabulous gravy this past Thanksgiving and the only thing we can attribute to it’s divine flavor was the rub we used on the turkey.  That rub is called Herbal Crust Seasoning.  The pan drippings are the key to a fantastically flavored gravy or sauce to complete your meal, and “wow” your guests. We have known for a very long time that this rub is terrific on just about any roasted meat and makes a great beef stew.   Originally blended at customer’s request for something to put on venison, it has become one of our favorites.
We also have used it to make eggplant and turkey burgers.  Just mixing some of this rub into bread crumbs, using an egg wash and bread the eggplant rounds.  Drizzling with olive oil and baking for 20-30 minutes on 375 degrees.  A little pita bread and whatever condiments we like on our normal burgers makes this meatless dish a satisfying alternative.  Also fantastic on turkey burgers, and you can either sprinkle it on each side of the patty or mix it into the turkey meat as you form the burgers. But the gravy, oh the gravy!  Just fabulous.
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Cool Weather, Hot Plates

It’s that time of the year when the weather starts cooling down, and kitchens start heating up with soups, stews and all kinds of delicious takes on chili. We’re also just ahead of Holiday baking. Here are a few tips from our kitchen to help you welcome in the season.

Chili can be complicated or quick and easy. Our Cha Cha Chili blend makes a pot of delightful chili in about an hour or less. VSpicery believes that when cooking with tomatoes, keeping it at a simmer a little longer always makes a big difference.

Suggestion: Cha Cha can also be used to make a delicious tasting dinner using simple ingredients. Make a pot of yellow rice, then season chicken tenders with Cha Cha Chili blend. Sauté chicken in olive oil until cooked through, serve over yellow rice with a bit of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. A side salad works nicely to round out dinner.

If you want to make a different type of chili, we recommend using ground turkey, black beans, a can of tomatoes and our Cocoa Loco Taco Mix. It not only makes great tacos, but this chili is deliciously different.

Now if you want to make an all day pot of chili, we have a large variety of chili powders, from mild to wild. We simply love the combination of Ancho, Pasilla and Chipotle chili powders to season the pot, and Mexican Oregano is a must. This oregano makes a huge difference when seeking that special background flavor. Most “oregano” in the grocery stores is sweet oregano. Mexican oregano is earthly with hints of citrus and licorice (in a good way), and has a spicier flavor. VSpicery also has super fresh cumin, which makes your dishes even more delicious.

 

We love making a nice pot of stew to warm us up on cool nights! Our blend, Herbal Crust Seasoning, was originally developed for venison, this blend has taken us on all sorts of culinary journeys. We use it to season flour to dredge the beef and add a bit to the vegetables for beef stew. The end result is one of our favorite fall flavors. VSpicery also uses Herbal Crust Seasoning in turkey burgers, eggplant burgers, on our Thanksgiving turkey, and in a vegetable stew. We have discovered that our Thanksgiving Day gravy is ridiculously delicious just from using the pan drippings after baking a turkey with Herbal Crust Seasoning.

Baking season is just around the corner and VSpicery has all your fresh baking spices – whether you are looking for Korintje cinnamon, whole vanilla beans, Grains of Paradise, cardamom … we help your kitchen creativity soar!

For the Holiday season, VSpicery freshly blends brines, mulling spices, poultry seasoning, pumpkin spice, and apple pie spice. We want you to have the freshest possible flavors for your eating pleasures.

One last thing, we were astounded at the price in the grocery stores for cloves. VSpicery has fresh cloves priced just like all our other spices – only $4.00, and far fresher than you will find anywhere else in the bay area.

Remember, good ingredients equal great results.

 

 

MARKET UPDATE:
On a sad note, VSpicery has decided to sit out the market season this year so we will not be at the Saturday Morning Market, this was a decision made due to changes in our personal lives. We will miss the market and hope you all attend and enjoy.