After such a tumultuous, tragic and dramatic start to the year in so many parts of Australia, we’re happy to finally welcome winter and a drop in humidity. We hope that we’re in for a season of relative calm and serenity in which to indulge our taste buds with the wonderful warm spicy flavours of true comfort food. And speaking of comfort food, try this next weekend ….
SLOW-COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB
1 shoulder lamb, skin and fat trimmed
Preheat oven to 100 degrees C. Rub the Super Ras el Hanout over the shoulder of lamb and place it in a large cast iron lidded pot. Depending on the size of the pot, you may have to force the shoulder joint until it breaks. Add water to half the depth of the pot, add salt and cover with lid. Place in oven and bake for 5 hours, turning once.
Meanwhile, combine feta, olives, garlic and oil and mash well together. After 5 hours, lift the unbelievably tender meat away from the bones with tongs and arrange on a platter. Serve with vegetables of your choice with the feta mash accompanying, or serve as part of a mezze with flatbreads, dips, harissa and salads.
* Save the stock. Cool it overnight, then remove any solidified fat off the top. Brown a chopped onion in a little oil. Add stock, barley, tomato paste and chopped vegetables to make a delicious hearty winter soup.
We’ve had months of anticipation, but we’re happy to tell you that the fabulous premium-grade Hungarian sweet paprika has arrived! If you’re a regular user of this indispensible spice, you’ll certainly notice the difference, and if you’re not, it’s time you started! Known as kulonleges (exquisite delicate) grade, this particular paprika has not been available to us before, and we know our Hungarian customers will be delighted to have it available at last. Once you have it, revisit our Newsletter from Summer 2010-11 and make the Catfish Soup again. Just fabulous!
Have you noticed in magazines how ingredient lists in recipes always list “smoked paprika (pimenton)”, and have you wondered why? Putting the pimenton in brackets is just showing you that they know the Spanish word for paprika. It seems funny, when it doesn’t appear necessary to put a foreign translation after other ingredients. It’s a small thing, but one we’ve been watching for the last 14 years, and it bemuses us.
It seems that even with close attention to detail, sometimes quality problems arise unexpectedly. For example, we found a new supplier for whole nutmegs , and the product was lovely – large, smooth and aromatic. However, our customers began to tell us that their nutmegs were black and crumbly inside! We immediately recalled all of that nutmeg and found a source for better quality product, however inevitably some packs have found their way to pantries around the country. If one of those pantries is yours, please let us know and we shall be happy to replace your dodgy nutmegs with better ones.
We have also noticed lately that our vanilla extract seemed less exciting than usual, and when we asked our Mexican supplier to double-check their stock, they found that an entire batch had been incorrectly labeled and was in fact “single fold” and not the “two folds” that we always buy. The replacement vanilla extract has now arrived, so if you are finding your recently-purchased vanilla extract not up to the standard you expect from us, please let us know and we’ll be happy to replace it.
Our customers have been kind enough to tell us how delighted they have been to see our products in the Masterchef pantry over the last few years. So there might be some puzzlement as to why we are no longer providing our product for this hugely popular show. The reason is simply that, as Masterchef is now closely aligned with a supermarket chain and a large multinational spice brand, we no longer feel that it is an appropriate affiliation for us.
Sometimes you may find at the last minute you’re out of an important spice ingredient when you need it most, and it’s not always possible to mail order and get the ingredient in time. If this happens to you, don’t forget that we now have all our stockists on our website and you might have somewhere just around the corner that has the spice you’re needing in a hurry. Go to “Contact and Stockists ” and click on your state to bring up a map of that state. If you go to the bottom left hand corner below the map and click on “View (state) in a larger map”, a complete list of stockists for that state will come up on the left hand side of your screen.
Winter has arrived with a blast for many parts of Australia, and the time has come for wonderful hearty soups, stews, tagines, hot-pots, curries, casseroles … whatever you call them and however you make them, warming slow-cooked meals benefit hugely from the addition of herbs and spices. Consider adding bouquet garni, mixed herbs, our wonderful new Hungarian sweet paprika, baharat spice mix, tagine spice mix or ras el hanout, or any spice blend you prefer, and remember that the cheaper cuts of meat shine in this kind of cooking. We particularly love the Tunisian spice mix and the fabulous vegetarian lentil hot-pot recipe on the back of the pack. Make a big batch – great for lunches as well as dinner!
Happy spicing! Herbie and Liz
©2011 Herbie’s Spices®