James’s top tips (Emma’s away this month!)
After the wettest June on record the energy seems to have gone out of summer cooking but it can't last forever (can it?). Let's try and stay vaguely optimistic and look ahead to some sunnier days in July
Holidays are on the horizon and whether you’re self catering, camping, glamping or relaxing at home there always seems to be more time in the summer. Lots of customers have mentioned over the years how they like to take a recipe kit or a spicebox on holiday with them (I know it sounds a bit weird written like that but we do have some very dedicated customers!) as they have more time and energy to cook different meals during the summer. Obviously this is something we thoroughly approve of so if you’ve got more time to cook this summer, why not try a new recipe?
The new range of summer recipe kits is something we’re really proud of and some highlights include Cajun Jambalaya, Paella, Moussaka, Browndown Chicken and many more. You can now combine any of these with one of the dessert kits such as Peach Cobbler, Mango Saffron Kulfi to make a fantastic summer meal on the new Summer Box page.
Some really good blends to have on hand this time of year include Chermoula – a Moroccan blend with lots of cumin, garlic and herbs. It’s really good mixed to a thick paste with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil then you can use it as a marinade for chicken, lamb or fish – really coat it on fairly generously. You can then make a dressing using the same blend of chermoula, lemon juice and more olive oil to make a thinner mix to drizzle over a salad – it’s very family friendly and full of flavour without any heat.
On that subject, Za’atar is also a great mix to have in the kitchen now. It’s a middle eastern blend of thyme, sesame and sumac which makes it nice and herby, nutty and tangy – very good sprinkled on anything you grill (particularly vegetables), tomato salads or even have a little bowl of it with a separate bowl of olive oil to use as a dip for flatbreads.
I had a trip to Memphis recently to try the real deal bbq pork and fried chicken and our kits (both the Memphis Barbeque Pork and the BBQ King blend) stood comparison really well. I'll be starting a new blog about our spice travels soon so keep an eye out for that!
This month we’ve got father’s day to look forward to and we're assuming there’ll be lots of barbequing going on (ladies step away from the bbq, clearly this is mans work).
Here are some ideas and blends to get you (or your dad) started with some lively and vibrant flavours: Rajun Cajun – a hot, spicy deep south rub for meat, Barbeque king – a sweet smoky blend with mustard and paprika to make a quick American table sauce, Dub Rub – a deep dark Caribbean rub with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and of course a spicy kick, or the classic jerk marinade from Jamaica (You Must Be Jerking) its heavy on the thyme and allspice, and our popular Mexicanarama is back – a smoky chipotle blend, with cinnamon, herbs, cumin and Mexican chillies. Some of these require making a simple paste and some can just be rubbed straight on. All will seriously turn up the flavour on your bbq, (but only dad is allowed to turn up the bbq).
The grand jubilee is upon us, and after the patriotic community spirit that the Olympic torch seems to have produced, I think we’re all ready to throw ourselves headlong into being utterly British. Pimms o’clock and strawberries it is then! Both elderflower and pepper are the perfect compliments to our beloved berry. You can make an elderflower sugar syrup (just a couple of tbsp of the flowers infused in a 50/50 sugar/water syrup then cool it and whip it into the cream. Long pepper, a slightly vanillery, musky and gentle pepper is even better than black pepper and can be dusted on, or cooked into shortbreads.
For the abundant green vegetables that are growing now – courgettes, green beans, broad beans, spring onions, how about trying out an Indian thoran. Toss lightly steamed or stir fried vegetables with a pinch of toasted mustard seeds, a handful of toasted crushed nuts or coconut, and a tsp of amchur (green mango powder)/ chaat masala/ toasted cumin or fennel along with a little turmeric and some of our fantastic curry leaves and you have yourself an interesting summer side dish or light lunch.
Enjoy the sun!
Wedding season is upon us and amongst the mayhem and joviality don’t forget to take a moment to smell the roses...
Not only are roses a universal symbol of love but they're one of the many natural aphrodisiacs available and are a key ingredient in our new ‘all you need is love’ spicery pack. This is a blend of fragrant spices known to evoke feelings of love - rose, cinnamon, cardamon, black pepper and nutmeg all renowned for their aphrodisiac properties and you can just sprinkle the mix onto strawberries, summer fruit desserts or even ice cream. We've also got some rose petal confetti on the way, ‘keep calm and curry on’ (a calming curry blend to soothe away anxiety) plus the famous hangover cure and they'd all make fantastic little Wedding Favours!
We're leaving winter behind us at The Spicery (that means many of your favourite wintery recipe kits are in our sale and will soon be gone until next winter). Don't delay!!!
The British food highlight of May must surely be asparagus, which goes fantastically well with Romesco sauce, a robust Spanish sauce of tomatoes, roasted garlic, toasted nuts and dried peppers. Nora peppers are a key ingredient with some of our lovely Sweet smoked paprika.
To make the sauce just soak a couple of Nora peppers, grill a couple of tomatoes and garlic cloves until charred and soft. Remove the charred skins then blend to a puree with the soaked Nora pepper, tsp of smoked paprika, handful hazelnuts or almonds, olive oil and a splash of vinegar.
Rhubarb is also worth mentioning, as opposed to a winter crumble you can try it stewed with bruised green cardamon pods and served with a Vanilla pannacotta – Tahitian vanilla is particularly good for this as it has floral notes which go well with rhubarb (or with elderflowers or raspberries).
Spring lamb is in full swing and to bring out it’s wonderful, succulent flavours try an Indian raan – hands down the best thing I’ve done with lamb this year. It’s tangy, flavourful and doesn’t overpower the lamb. Mix up yoghurt, salt, ground almonds, ginger and garlic paste, infused saffron, ground green cardamon, ground cinnamon, garam masala, toasted ground cumin, ground cloves and a little chilli powder. Slash the lamb and smother with the paste. Marinade it for as long as you can then cook it with the marinade until its tender. You won’t regret the extra effort. You can toss your usual roast vegetables with toasted crushed coriander, cumin and nigella seed to add a touch of India to them, beetroot are especially good roasted this way. Click on the picture for a recipe, but there are tons out there.
Hope you enjoy all your May experiments and dishes, it really is one of THE BEST food months in Britain, get cooking!
Spring is here! We can look forward in the next couple of months to welcoming a bounty of fresh, green flavours onto our tables, baby leaf spinach, wild garlic, watercress, fresh herbs and spring onions. If you try to eat seasonally these glorious spring vegetables have been a long time coming! Try some Chinese spices which seem to work well with greens - roasting spring lamb rubbed with 5 spice powder and serve with wilted greens or there'll be Dan Dan noodles and Singapore noodles recipe kits available any day now......
Indian’s celebrate the ‘Holi’ festival to welcome in the spring season, an abundance of colour and flavour to reflect what spring brings (click on the picture to read more from my friend Stevie Parle and his Indian mango recipes...)
At this time sweet dishes are favoured, those with coconut and mango such as mango and cardamon kulfi are real favourites (we have a new kulfi kit here which is softer and mousse-like if you take it out 20 minutes before eating, delicious!) Tangy mango salsas are also popular in Caribbean food to offset the glorious heat and depth of dishes like Trinidad beef curry or Barbequed jerk (Jamaica’s crowning glory - a wonderful marinade for chicken, pork or fish).
Otherwise on the barbeque (which we know you already broke out in that little mid March summer we had!) try Memphis BBQ ribs, tender, tangy and sweet’
If barbeque’s not your thing you can get a taste of the Deep South with our Cajun Jambalaya (this tune has been going round my head all week as the new kits are being packed.......
We’ve also got a heap of lighter summer curries coming your way next week.
Don’t forget the fish! Salmon is good now and you can jazz it up with a spice crust using chermoula and breadcrumbs, with harissa on the side and some garlicky herby couscous. A favourite of mine, is a hefty green salad, with a few capers, peas and broad beans, roast the first of the jersey royals, and add broken up smoked mackerel. Toss it all with lemon juice and drizzle horseradish over the lot. Yum!
Lastly have a garden party, (if only as an excuse to make our fantastic vanilla berry cheesecake!)
P.s Ancho chilli chocolate brownie – back by popular demand. If you don’t know why, I won’t spoil the suprise.
It’s March and we’re starting to come out of hibernation! It’s too early for raw salads but stews and root veg are getting a little tedious and rather heavy for springtime. It’s still wintery enough to eat comfort food on the sofa and we’ve got it covered. Southern fried chicken and smoky Boston baked beans screams soul food; warming paprika laden goulash and creamy spiced rice pudding is easy, old fashioned comfort; or for all who crave an quick and familiar curry: balti and Bombay potatoes. There's something for everyone!
If fixing up a lighter meal is your springtime craving, take a tip from the Med. A warm salad, green leaves, toasted nuts, grilled chicken or fish, braised whole chicory, steamed tender stem broccoli, artichokes and orange segments, you can go to town on simply cooked salads tossed with raw leaves. A dressing of oil, sherry or balsamic vinegar and za’atar, sumac, toasted cumin, Urfa chilli flakes, thyme and paprika in any combination that takes you will bring Mediterranean veg to life beautifully.
Mother’s day is coming soon and I’ve been doing my research into natural beauty products to pamper all those hard working mums. We’ve come up trumps with a floral facial steam, a quick fix DIY facemask packed with skin brightening and soothing flowers and spices; and ‘beauteaful’ a hibiscus flower and liquorice infusion that is super high in vitamin C and antioxidants, not to mention liquorice hydrates the skin and lightens dark spots (a secret ingredient used in Estee lauder and Chanel products).
It’s almost spice changeover time for us here, when we call time on winter packs and recipe kits. Some old favourites such as warm to the core, frisky whisky, lamb baharat and Goan chicken xacutti are sadly on the way out to be be replaced with summery stuff such as Cajun jambalaya, Memphis bbq ribs, spring chicken and Tanzania banana bread. Grab them while you still can!
Have a look at the Spicery kitchen blog for more on what we’ve been concocting, recipes, tips and ideas.
Just in case you haven’t yet shaken the January blues, we can whole heartedly recommend an indulgent cup of saffron tea, which studies have shown works in the same way as Prozac but without the side effects! Now I think we could all use some of that, however, beware an excessive dose of saffron can cause uncontrollable laughter! (see how to make it here:
February brings Valentines’ day, and of course, we have spices at the ready. Get in the mood for romance with some traditional aphrodisiac spices, black pepper, fennel, mustard, coriander and cardamon to name a few and they’re all packed into a yummy fragrant South East Asian curry for you to rustle up, followed by a vanilla bean and chocolate dessert. Crank up the Barry White and feel the love!
Lest we forget it’s also pancake day on February 21st! Hurrah, officially the most fun to be had with a frying pan. We’ve got a spiced pancake sugar for your sweet pancakes and a slightly smoky, slightly hot, hugely moreish savoury sprinkle for your cheesy/ ham/ mushroom pancakes. With ‘Urfa’ chilli flakes from Turkey, smoked paprika, mustard and thyme. Having concocted this blend, we resurrected our sandwich toaster and we can’t get enough of it on our cheese toasties, it's also a great blend for adding some boom to your macaroni and cheese along with a good handful of bay leaves, (comfort food at its best).
We think this time of year is all about soups, stews, roasts, and warming curries and many of the spices that compliment this hearty winter food (coriander, nutmeg and allspice) have warming properties to drive out cold from the body and rev up your circulation to really warm your cockles. Try Your country needs stew, rubbed up the roast way, warm and toasty black pepper curry and souper douper root veg soup which we’ve devised with spices to keep you lovely and warm!
Emma's Top Tips
Hello, I'm Emma - the chef who tests and writes all the recipes here at the spicery. This is my new page which is all about simple ideas and tips to help you use spices to enhance your everyday cooking. I'll update the page every month with some new suggestions for the forthcoming months cooking.
If you've got any spice-related questions or suggestions of your own please get in touch - email@example.com