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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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Hello summer, our old friend!

That means Father’s Day is just around the corner. If your husband, dad or granddad is a grill master, he might appreciate a new flavor or two. That’s where VSpicery’s blends come in. VSpicery has a little something for just about anything you would want to throw on the grill, but will also work beautifully for inside cooking.

If you are grilling up hamburgers or hotdogs, you gotta try one of our splendid mustards. We offer Chipotle Honey Lime, Sweet Fire Ale, Smoky Onion Garlic, and our signature Roasted Garlic Champagne. Besides being the consummate condiment, these mustards can be used for salad dressings or marinades. Several customers have even taken a whole pork loin and coated it with Chipotle Honey Lime mustard, sealed it in a Ziploc bag and refrigerated it for a couple of days. It was then grilled it to porkfection.

You can toss potatoes with the Roasted Garlic Champagne mustard and roast them in the oven. Mix the Roasted Garlic Champagne mustard with tarragon vinegar and diced shallots for a delicious dressing on steamed green beans. We could go on and on, but you are the best guide for your own culinary adventure.

Something as simple and inexpensive as elevating salt and pepper can make a huge difference. We have a nice variety of various sea salts and peppercorns. Elevate your black pepper with our exclusive Lampong Peppercorn. Spicy, sharp with a pleasant heat level, it is truly a better black pepper.

Here’s what’s new at VSpicery:

VSpicery is launching our latest culinary blend this month! A delightful mixture of sea salt, herbs, garlic, smoky paprika, and other delicious spices, this new blend is fabulous on chicken and seafood. After much thought, we have christened it Fin & Feather Schmacker. Once you give it a try, you will be schmacking your lips from all that flavor!

A Black Olive Tapenade and a Green Olive Tapenade are new to our shelves, both bursting with flavor. The Black Olive really brightens up a regular tuna sandwich. Build a better sandwich with your favorite bread, tuna topped with your choice of tapenade, a touch of mayo, and crispy lettuce. Mix the Green Olive with sun dried tomatoes and olive oil and serve over pasta with freshly grated Romano cheese. Both are lovely additions to cheese and charcuterie boards.

Clearly, we can help you give a gift of flavor that will be enjoyed by all. So shop VSpicery and let your culinary adventure begin or continue.

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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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30 Days of Flavor: 03/27/11 – Pork!

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.

Today we are talking about tasty seasonings for pork. We have many blends that work well with pork in various preparations, but will be focusing on three of our favorites, 15th & 5th, Especia Roja, and Marinate That Pork. These selections range from savory and herbal to spicy and aromatic, with flavor to tempt any palate. We also have these three blends available in a Pork Lover’s Rub Sampler that makes a tasty gift.

Our 15th & 5th Rib Rub is a dry Memphis style rub that has lots of flavor, and can be used on ribs no matter how you want to cook them, from the grill to the slow-cooker this is the rub for ribs. We make this rub with salt, paprika, garlic, oregano, mustard, chili powder, apple cider vinegar and other spices that really makes for tasty ribs that you’ll want to make every week. Great to eat with or without your favorite BBQ sauce, or for an extra treat drizzle some honey on your ribs before serving.

Especia Roja (Red Spice) is blended with lots of spice, but very little heat. We use paprika, chili powder, mustard, salt, cumin and other spices, that livens up anything you use it on, and is excellent on pork, eggs, chicken, and fish. This is a fantastic blend to make seasoned potatoes or French fries. We also found that Especia Roja makes the best pulled pork we have ever made. Slow cook a pork butt that is seasoned with this blend and a little olive oil, then pull apart and serve with the BBQ sauce of your choice.

We went back to our Latin roots for this next blend, Marinate That Pork. We wanted to create a dry rub that would give everyone a simple way to create a flavorful Mojo seasoning for pork, similar to what you find in Latin restaurants in your area. Blended from thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and other seasonings, this rub is also nice for chicken or roasted turkey. For an extra flavor treat, create a wet marinade with this blend, olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, white wine and lemon juice, letting the meat soak up the flavor for at least an hour to overnight.

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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.