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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.

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End of Summer Dishes

Heading towards the end of summer. Of course, being in Florida, it feels like summer most of the time.

Did you know that Labor Day became an official holiday to honor the contributions of American workers in 1894. That’s 123 years of cookouts and, wow, how cookouts have changed through the years. Baked beans were around during the cookouts of the 1800’s. Potato salad as we know it today didn’t make an appearance until approximately 1940, when mayonnaise replaced a French style dressing. Deviled eggs have actually been around longer than baked beans.

Most of us just open, add a few enhancements and bake the beans from the can then call it baked beans. Here’s how you can make them from scratch.

Baked Beans
Serves 10-12 as a side dish

Ingredients
1 lb dried navy or Great Northern beans
8 cups water
1/4 lb bacon (or salt pork), diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Rinse 1 pound (about 2-1/3 cups) dried navy beans or Great Northern beans in a colander under cool running water. Be sure to sort through the beans to remove any debris. Soak the beans overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans.

In a large Dutch oven combine the beans and 8 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Drain beans, reserving the liquid.

Now, it’s time to add the Flavorings! In a 2-1/2-quart casserole combine the beans with bacon, onion, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Cover the casserole, and bake the Beans in a preheated oven at 300°F for 2-1/2 hours or until the beans reach the desired consistency.

Baked Beans Tip: You can get a head start on baked beans by soaking them and cooking them in advance. Cover and store the cooked beans in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Some cooks like their beans saucy, while some prefer them more dry. If you like them saucy, add additional reserved bean liquid during cooking. If, at the end of cooking time, the beans are not as dry as you like, continue to bake them, uncovered, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Keep in mind, though, that beans will continue to soak up the liquid after cooking.

 

Okay, that takes care of the baked beans, now on to the potato salad!

This is VSpicery’s take on potato salad using simple ingredients for great flavor. Wash, peel and chunk 5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes. Place in pan large enough to cover potatoes with an inch of water. Add 3 eggs to the potatoes so that they will cook with the potatoes. Bring water to a boil, adding 1 tbsp. salt and cook until fork tender.

While potatoes are boiling dice 2 carrots and a medium red onion. When potatoes are ready, remove eggs and drain water from potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl, stir in carrots, cover and cool.

Peel and dice 2 eggs, third egg should be sliced to place on top of completed salad. Combine 1-1 ½ cup of mayo with VSpicery’s Salad Seasons to taste, set aside so flavors mingle together to make this tasty dressing.

When potatoes are cooled, fold in onion and dressing until totally covered with dressing. Place sliced eggs on top; sprinkle VSpicery’s Hungarian or Smoked Spanish Paprika for color and bit more flavor.

 

We also love deviled eggs and lots of our blends make delightful deviled eggs. Some suggestions to add to the mayo are: Shallots N’ Pepper, Salad Seasons, Greek Seasonings or even Red Hot Sting. Something as simple as Black Truffle Salt and Chervil make a lovely deviled egg. Our curries also make delicious additions to deviled eggs. Our favorite to use is Madras Curry Powder, but Ral El Hanout and Sweet Curry powder work really well too. Be unique, not traditional here!

Fruit salad
We have a delightful Strawberry Champagne Finishing Sauce which adds amazing flavor to a cut fruit salad.

If you’re grilling burgers we got your seasonings. Java-Jo Steak Seasoning, Soulful Seasons, Chophouse Kitchen, and Savory Steak Seasoning go great. Combine Chophouse Kitchen and Savory Steak Seasoning for that WOW factor! Of course, if you’re grilling steak, any of these will work perfectly as well!

Don’t forget the mustard if you serving burgers, hot dogs or grilled shrimp. We have a variety to change it up and delight your guests at any cookout.

VSpicery has all kinds of suggestions and we are always happy to share our ideas. Those of you who have stopped by the shop know we love talking recipes and how to’s. If you need a suggestion or have a question feel free to call, email or stop by the shop.

Well that’s it for now. Hope you all have a great Labor Day Weekend. Happy grilling!

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Pumpkin Chicken Curry

Seminole Pumpkin Chicken Curry

We like to grow lots of different veggies in our garden, and recently harvested some Seminole pumpkins. We thought about making soup or roasted pumpkin for a side dish, but really wanted something different. That’s when Val came up with this scrumptious curry dish. We think you will love just as much as we did! If you don’t have pumpkins available, use butternut or acorn squash. This recipe is also delicious to make without the chicken and bacon for a great vegan curry.

 

Roasted Pumpkin
Ingredients

1 Seminole Pumpkin
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt

Directions

Cut pumpkin in half lengthwise, and season each cut side of the pumpkin halves with the olive oil and salt. Place seasoned pumpkin, cut side down, on foil lined baking pan. Roast in 350 degree oven 30 – 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

 

Curry
Ingredients

1 Red, Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper, diced
1 medium Onion, diced
3 strips of Bacon, cut into pieces
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can Coconut Cream
1 cup Water
1 cube Vegetable or Chicken Bouillon
1 – 2 tbsp VSpicery’s Madras Curry
1 roasted or store brought chicken, shredded (leftover chicken works fine too)

Directions

Render bacon and cook until crispy. Add onion and bell pepper, season with a bit of salt and saute until tender. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.

Add water and bouillon, bring to boil crushing bouillon until dissolved. Lower heat and add coconut cream and curry stir well to combine.

Skin pumpkin and cut into chunks, then add to sauce along with the shredded chicken. Simmer on low heat, until all ingredients are fully heated. Serve with brown rice.

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Super Bowl Party Food

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner, and if you are hosting a Super Bowl LI party, you know that the food is one of the most important aspects of the day. We have a few traditional recipes and a few unique spins on old favorites that will keep your guests happy no matter what team is winning.

Game Day
Sunday, February 5, 6:30 PM on FOX

NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons 

 

Pita Chips

 

Here is something a little different for your Superbowl party that you can make in place of potato chips. These pita chips are also great with hummus, dips or on their own.

Ingredients
2 pita breads (get the thicker, Greek style)
2 tbs. water
3 tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 tbs. VSpicery’s Za’atar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pita into bite-size squares and place them in a small salad bowl. Drizzle with water and olive oil; season with salt and Za’atar. Toss gently to mix and coat. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. (serves 4 – 6)

 

Crab Dip with Bacon

This delicious dip is great with the pita chips or regular crackers. Either way, your guests will gobble it up and may ask for more after the dip bowl is empty.

 

Ingredients
6 oz crab meat
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Fines, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Bay Seasoning
Crumbled bacon
Crackers for serving

Directions
In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Shred the crab and stir in all remaining ingredients except for the bacon. Cover and chill for two hours. Sprinkle with bacon pieces and additional chives right before serving. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

 

Cha Cha Chili

Our award-winning Cha Cha Chili seasoning includes 5 different varieties of chili peppers along with cumin, paprika and a number of other ingredients. This blend has a pleasant, mild-to-medium heat and is big on flavor.

Ingredients 
16 oz can tomatoes, chopped
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 lb ground beef
2-3 tbls Cha Cha Chili
16 oz can beans (optional)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbls olive oil
salt
pepper
garlic powder

Directions
Season ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then brown meat over medium heat. Remove from pan when cooked through and drain fat.

Heat oil in large pot and saute onions and peppers until soft, then add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add browned ground beef to the pot, then add tomatoes and chicken stock and stir until well combined.

Bring chili back to a low boil over medium to medium high heat and add Cha Cha to taste. Add beans (if using) and let simmer for 30 – 40 minutes.

Taste before serving and adjust spices to your liking. If you want to bump up the heat level, use our Habanero or Ghost Pepper Salt in place of regular salt. Taste as you go to make sure it’s not too hot for everyone. Serve with chips, cheese and sour cream, if desired.

 

Smoked Wings

Tasty Tango and Ale & Herbs are two very different blends that love the grill, and it do amazing things to grilled or smoked chicken.

Put wings, or chicken breasts into a bowl or ziplock bag, add enough olive oil and seasoning to evenly coat the chicken. Marinate from 1 hour to overnight, and grill or smoke until done.

Anytime we smoke chicken wings for a party with either of these delicious blends, they never last more than an hour after they come off the grill. Become an instant gourmet with a simple and delicious way to get big flavor in your wings with our seasoning blends!