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30 Days of Flavor: 03/16/11 – Chicken

We will be discussing flavors this month in our “30 Days of Flavor” blog series. Every day this month, VSpicery will select a spice, seasoning, salt, etc., as the flavor of the day, giving you it’s history, flavor profile, and uses. We hope you enjoy these flavors and their unique stories.

Everyone always wants to know what to do with chicken. Most of us consume this tasty bird frequently, and want new ways to season and enjoy it. We have several options for our chicken lovers, and that is what today is all about at VSpicery. Two awesome herbal blends, Greek and Harmony, are delicious and some of the most requested blends we have created. Tasty Tango stands in a class by itself with a balanced blend of chili powder, garlic and a hint of orange that makes grilled chicken finger licking good. For those that like exotic and aromatic blends for chicken, VSpicery’s Sweet Singing Seasoning and Xiang Liao (Asian Rub), both create unique and addictive flavor.

Harmony Chicken Blend is a harmonious combination of garlic, rosemary, pepper, coriander and a touch of salt that is one of our most popular blends. Wonderful on chicken no matter how you want to cook it, makes a fabulous baked, grilled or beer can chicken, and works well on turkey. Harmony is great over steamed veggies or as a seasoning for pork. For an amazing flavor experience, bake or grill chicken pieces or a whole chicken (this also works with turkey), seasoning it with a little olive oil and Harmony Chicken blend, then cook. During the final 10 – 15 minutes of cooking, spritz or drizzle a bit of our Champagne Pear Vinegar, and let it finish cooking. The Champagne Pear Vinegar creates an amazing sweet balance to this herbal blend, giving your chicken fantastic flavor, it also tightens and helps crisp the skin on the chicken, giving a moist and delicious bird.

VSpicery’s Greek Seasoning Blend was developed for chicken, but works well with pork, fish and seafood too. Greek seasoning is a delicious blend made of Mediterranean Oregano, Lemon, Marjoram, salt and other spices that creates an authentic Greek flavor. We love using this blend in a marinade, combining fresh garlic, olives, capers, olive oil, and Greek Seasoning, then letting the chicken soak up the flavor before cooking. This marinade creates such moist and flavorful chicken that you’ll want to make it every week, and it also is a wonderful marinade for grilled shrimp.

Tasty Tango is one of our newest blends that is all about spice, with very little heat. There is a bit of orange peel that really brings out the other flavor notes and gives a nice citrus touch to the blend. Tasty Tango does have a higher salt content than most of our blends, but it doesn’t overpower food, the chili powder, paprika, orange peel, garlic, and onions really come out creating incredible flavor notes. Our favorite uses for this blend is for grilled or baked chicken, and on Steelhead Trout.

For an Asian taste, try VSpicery’s Xiang Liao on chicken, pork or tuna. Our Asian blend consists of sesame seeds, Chinese five spice, sugar, garlic, onion and ginger, and has a medium heat level. If you want a fabulous flavor for tuna, this is the blend to use. Our Sweet Singing Seasoning is a very aromatic blend made from allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, turbinado sugar, onion, and salt, that is fabulous on chicken, pork, salmon, and on bananas sautéed in butter for a nice dessert topping. We also discovered that Sweet Sining Seasoning blend makes an unbelievably delicious chicken salad. Cut up your desired amount of chicken, add diced red onion, ground Smoked Almonds (very important ingredient), and Sweet Singing Seasoning. Mix together, then add enough mayo to bind the ingredients together. This chicken salad is wonderful as a sandwich, on crackers, or over fresh lettuce or baby spinach.

We also have a Rub Sampler for chicken that makes a wonderful gift, composed of our Harmony, Greek and Tasty Tango Rubs. If you’re the resident chef, this selection will keep you set to mix it up in the kitchen, and always keep them coming back for more.

All of our blends are pure spice, with no chemicals or preservatives. We like to make them big on flavor and low on salt. If you need Salt-free blends, just send us an email or call us at the shop to let us know. We can mix most of our blends completely free of salt, and would be happy to make one for you.


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30 Days of Flavor: 03/12/11 – Steak

We will be discussing flavors this month in our “30 Days of Flavor” blog series. Every day this month, VSpicery will select a spice, seasoning, salt, etc., as the flavor of the day, giving you it’s history, flavor profile, and uses. We hope you enjoy these flavors and their unique stories.

Yep, you heard me right: Steak. Grilling season is fast approaching, and VSpicery has some amazing steak rubs that are perfect for the grill, and also pretty darn awesome for baked or sautéed steaks. If you’re a grill lovin’ carnivore like we are, there is nothing like a juicy grilled steak. It is a simple technique, with little clean-up, and the flavor is unforgettable.

Beef is labeled using a grading system determined by the quantity of visible fat (“marbling”) throughout the muscle tissue. The more marbling, the more flavorful, tender and juicy your steak will be, since the fat in between the muscles constantly bastes the meat as it melts during cooking. You don’t want large strips of fat, but evenly distributed strands throughout the meat. The superior grade is “Prime”, and this indicates a well marbled steak that will be tender and juicy. “Choice” is the second best grade, and can still deliver a pretty great steak. The final grade is “Select”, but isn’t recommended for steaks, since this will be a tougher and less flavorful piece of meat, much better for stews and soups.

When grilling your steaks, it’s best to flip them only once so that the caramelization process is not disrupted, which gives the steak a nice crust. It’s also best to use tongs or something that you can handle the steaks with that will not pierce the meat; if you use a fork, the steak will lose juice and dry out more easily. Also, allow the steaks to rest for 5 – 10 minutes before serving or cutting, this helps keep the steak tender and juicy.

Now that we’ve gone over some tips for selecting and cooking steaks, let’s talk rubs! All three VSpicery steak rubs are very popular with our customers, most buying in bulk because they use it so fast.

Our first flavorful rub is called Java Jo Steak Seasoning. This a perfect blend of paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper with a hint of coffee, that comes through more in the aroma than flavor, but acts as a natural tenderizer and flavor enhancer to the other ingredients and the steak. Used to season steak or mixed into ground meat for burgers, this blend really brings out the natural flavor in the meat and gives a nice spice punch without heat.

Savory Steak Seasoning is a more traditional blend, that incorporates garlic, ginger, mustard, two different peppercorns, Worcestershire powder and salt in a balanced taste sensation that will soon become a family favorite for seasoning steaks, burgers, roast beef, and cheese-steak sandwiches. Savory Steak also makes a fantastic seasoning for sautéed mushrooms and onions as a condiment for steaks, burgers or sandwiches.

VSpicery’s third blend for steak is Soulful Seasons, and this rub makes the best steak we have ever grilled. There is a little bit of heat to this blend, but is balanced with garlic, salt, pepper, coriander, paprika, and a touch of caraway. This rub is great on steaks, burgers, chicken, pork, and vegetables, it is a nice all-around blend that is one of our newest creations, but is quickly becoming a best-seller.

All three of these rubs give food fantastic flavor, with no chemicals, no preservatives, and definitely no MSG. Just loads of natural herbs and spices blended by hand at our shop to bring you simple ways to create big flavor every day at your table. Last tip for your next incredible steak, cooking time can make all the difference in flavor, and we suggest serving medium rare to medium temperature steaks to ensure the best flavor. For medium rare steaks like sirloin, ribeye, porterhouse or t-bone, it should take 7 – 9 minutes per side for an inch thickness, and 9 – 10 minutes per side for medium. If you like it well done, just leave it on a little longer until the meat feels really firm.

For the steak lover in your life, we also have a Rub Sampler available, just choose the “Steak Rub Sampler” option button to order.

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30 Days of Flavor: 03/09/11 – Bacon!

Bacon Jam

We will be discussing flavors this month in our “30 Days of Flavor” blog series. Every day this month, VSpicery will select a spice, seasoning, salt, etc., as the flavor of the day, giving you it’s history, flavor profile, and uses. We hope you enjoy these flavors and their unique stories.

Flavor is VSpicery’s mission, and after finding the best herbs and spices, oils, vinegars, mustards, and honey from around the globe we wanted to find or develop something new. Bacon is the flavor of the day, and we have two very different items that highlight this delicious flavor: Skillet Bacon Jam and Bacon, Horseradish & Tomato Flavor Effects. Here are their stories…

Skillet Bacon Jam was developed in Seattle by the very talented Chef Josh Henderson, who was a founder of the national street food movement sweeping the country. He began in a vintage airstream trailer, developing inventive menus, and serving the people of Seattle on the streets. Bacon Jam was created as a condiment for his delicious burgers and sandwiches, and has since exploded nationwide, quickly becoming a family favorite after being featured on Good Morning America last Christmas season. Watch how it’s made in the video below:

Bacon Jam

Bacon is cooked with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar and reduced to the perfect spreadable consistency, with a nice balance of sweet saltiness. Bacon Jam can be spread on sandwiches, burgers, or made into a bacon vinaigrette. Smear it over a grilled steak or chicken breast. Stir it into veggies like green beans, spinach and asparagus, or into loaded mashed potatoes. It’s also wonderful with scallops, shrimp and clams, as an addition to your sautee, or as a finish after baking or grilling. Kick your Pasta Carbonara up a notch by using Bacon Jam in place of pancetta.

One of our personal favorites is a turkey and cheese croissant with bacon jam. Just spread Bacon Jam on one side of the croissant and put the turkey and cheese (we like provolone or swiss, but any cheese will work) on the other side, then put it under the broiler until the cheese is just melted. Add your favorite veggies, like fresh spinach leaves, red onion and tomato, then eat! The flavor is amazing, and everyone will likely want two sandwiches. Bacon Jam freezes indefinitely, so we like to portion it out into ice cube trays, freeze, then keep the Bacon Jam cubes in a bag in the freezer to use as needed.

Bacon Lover's Gift BasketVSpicery’s Bacon, Horseradish & Tomato Flavor Effects is a seasoning that we originally developed as a dip blend, with smoky overtones and a savory finish with just enough horseradish to give it a slight zing. We have carried other dip seasonings in our shop, but were always disappointed with their lack of flavor. So, we spent last summer developing our own line of dip blends, coming up with five equally delicious flavors, and the Bacon, Horseradish & Tomato Flavor Effects is one of our favorites.

When our panel of judges were testing our Flavor Effects line, they found that there are many other uses for these seasoning blends that go far beyond dips. You can make compound butters, cream or oil based sauces for veggies and pastas, seasoned mayo for sandwich spreads, baked potato toppings, salad dressings, or flavorful marinades. The Bacon, Horseradish & Tomato Flavor Effects makes a wonderful creamy dressing for salads, dip for seafood or crab cakes, a great cream cheese spread for bagels, or dip for veggies and fried appetizers. And for all our vegetarians out there, the dried bacon bits that we use for this blend are vegan friendly since they are a soy based product with great bacon flavor.

Have you used Bacon Skillet Jam or BH&T Flavor Effects in your kitchen? Tell us what you did and what you think in the comments below!

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Beat the winter blues with some fresh Spring flavors!

Spring is just around the corner, and we came up with some fun ways to enjoy the season. Most of us found that we indulged a bit too much over the holiday season, and are looking for ways to cut calories and fat without sacrificing flavor.

A great way to replace oily potato chips when you crave crunch is to make Crispy Kale Chips. They are easy to make, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and you can play with all kinds of flavors. Some tips for getting crispy instead of soggy kale chips:

  • Make sure the kale is very dry by using a salad spinner. If the leaves have any moisture on them, they will steam and become soggy.
  • Do not add salt until after you pull them out of the oven. Salt causes liquid to be released and will make for soggy chips.
  • Convection ovens work well for this, although not required. If you use your convection oven, set at 325°F and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • When the chips are out of the oven that is when you season them, just mix any seasoning in with the salt and sprinkle over the hot kale chips. If you want to add extra flavor, try our Creole, Cocoa Loco, Greek, or Asian Rub.

Kale Chips

Ingredients:
4 giant handfuls of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces and tough stems removed (about 1/3 pound)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt
Seasoning (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the kale leaves into a salad spinner and spin all of the water out of the kale. Dump the water and repeat one or two times more just to make sure that the kale is extra dizzy and dry. Use a towel to blot any extra water on the leaves. Place the kale on the baking sheet.

Drizzle olive oil over the kale leaves and use your hands to toss and coat the leaves.

Bake in the oven for 12-20 minutes until leaves are crisp. Take a peek at the 12 minute mark – the timing all depends on how much olive oil you use. Just use a spatula or tongs to touch the leaves, if they are paper-thin crackly, the kale is done. If the leaves are still a bit soft, leave them in for another 2 minutes. Do not let the leaves turn brown (they’ll be burnt and bitter) Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt (and seasoning if desired) and serve.

Sweet potatoes are making a serious comeback this year, and uses will vary from common to very creative flavor fusions. You will see sweet potatoes in all sorts of dishes like stuffed pasta, sushi, and French toast. A delicious and easy way to enjoy them is to make Sweet Potato Fries with our Sweet Singing Seasoning blend. The flavors in this rub perfectly compliment sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:
5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4” pieces.
Olive Oil
1-2 tbls. Sweet Singing Seasoning

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with Sweet Singing Seasoning. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd them. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

We love salads, and eat them almost every day, so we’re always on the prowl for new ideas. Grilled chicken salads happen to be a favorite. Our Greek Seasoning blend is a perfect addition giving this light dish big flavor.

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad
(serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast tenders or 4 Chicken breasts
10 oz bag fresh baby spinach leaves
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
8 Greek Kalamata olives, pitted & cut in half
1/4 cup Light Zesty Italian or Greek dressing
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning
2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:
Preheat a charcoal or tabletop grill. Toss chicken with olive oil and sprinkle on both sides with Greek seasoning. Let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate overnight. Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover grill and cook 4 minutes on one side, flip and cook 2 minutes more or until cooked through. In a large bowl combine spinach, cucumber, tomatoes and olives. Add dressing and toss to coat evenly. Arrange on 4 salad plates and top with chicken. Sprinkle with feta and enjoy!

For your next spring party, try making ice cubes with edible flowers. They are easy to make, colorful, and add flavor. Choose a flower(s) to compliment the drink flavor profile or to match the colors of your party. You can find edible flowers next to the herbs in the produce section of your grocery store or at your local farmers market.

To make these beautiful cubes:
Fill an ice cube tray halfway with water then freeze. Dip the edible, organic blooms in cold water and place one on each “half cube”. Top with water and freeze completely. Then add the cubes to your desired beverage.