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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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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, Hot Hungarian Paprika 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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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.