Herbie’s Newsletter – Spring 2021

August 17, 2021 posted in General
Home Made Pizza

Like so many Australians, we have had plenty of lock-down time during winter.  Our fabulous local pizzeria closed for a time, and we had to make our own pizza – not so difficult, really.  Here’s a simple dough recipe: mix 400g white bread flour with 1½ teaspoons of dry yeast and 1 teaspoon Italian Herbs.  Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in 250ml warm water, and mix into the flour.  Using your dough hook, knead in your Kitchen Aid for 5 minutes, or by hand for 7 minutes.  Leave to rise in a warm place in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled wrap, until doubled in size.  When risen, cut into two equal parts and set aside until ready to make your pizza.  Doing you best impression of the guy at the pizza shop, stretch each dough ball to cover a baking tray (approx 25cm square). We mix Herbie’s Spices Italian herbs and garlic powder with the tomato paste, making a super tasty base upon which to add our chosen toppings.

Needless to say, the tomato paste for our pizza is made using our tomato powder, which gives a sweeter, more natural and less acidic flavour than pre-made paste available in jars and pouches.  Bake your pizza at about 220C for 15-20 minutes.  This amount will serve 4 … or two teenage boys.  If you’re cooking for only two, the second half of the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for a week, and taken from the fridge in time to bring it back to room temperature.

Recently, there seems to be a growing awareness of Umami.  This is rather timely, given that we have recently created our lovely Umami spice blend.  That hard-to-define deliciousness evoked by the Japanese word umami, is achieved by using ingredients such as miso and soy sauce.  You’ll find umami in Vegemite, too, and mushrooms, tomatoes and other natural ingredients. Monosodium Glutamate, in its natural form (it’s not all manufactured), is the nearest compound that can be defined as umami, which is why synthetic MSG is found in so many cheap fast foods and convenience foods, to romance your taste buds and make you keep coming back for more.

Umami Seasoning

Our Umami spice mix is one of the packs in the Spring Box of Ideas, along with mild paprika, Yemeni spice mix and super grade black peppercorns.  Did you realize that pepper is such an important spice that it is known as King of Spices in India – not only that, but airlines give little free packs with your meals! The peppercorns in the Box of Ideas are the Super Grade peppercorns from Southern India. What makes them different is the method of drying – rather than being spread out in the sun for a few weeks to turn black and dehydrate, they are briefly heated in boiling water to begin the enzyme reaction that turns the skin from green to black, then they are kiln-dried and hand-sorted, resulting in a premium flavour. We’ve had fun developing some really delicious recipes to see you through Spring this year.  In the spring-leaf green box, it’s $25.00 plus postage, as usual.

Green Peppercorns boiling to accelerate the enzyme reaction that turns them black

Box of Ideas Spring 2021

Shakshouka with Rose Harissa

Our popular spice blends have all been created with a particular purpose in mind – curry mixes to make curries, tagine mix for tagines, Italian seasoning for Italian meals, etc.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, like the chef in California who mixed equal parts of Balmain-Rozelle (aka Sydney) Spice with our Curry Mix with Whole Seeds and Spices.  The result was an amazing chicken dish that was not exactly curry, but something tantalizing and delicious.  You could try other combinations, such as: Tagine with Ras el Hanout; Tempero Baiano with Baharat; Greek seasoning with Umami. One of our favourites is Rose Harissa with Super Ras el Hanout.  It’s a good way to use those little bits left in the pack.  We’d love to know what winning combinations you’ve come up with!

Spice Blending Pyramid

Why is it possible to mix two or more blends together without ending up with something disastrous?  It’s all to do with balance: each blend is created with a careful balance of hot, pungent, tangy, sweet and amalgamating spices, and when two different spice blends are mixed together, that balance still remains. The art of blending spices is explained in The Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition that includes the Spice Pyramid. In theory, you should be able to mix any two blends together successfully. You could even mix our sweet Mixed Spice with, say, Malay Curry Powder to make a richly sweet curry.  We’ve even tried a mix of Fragrant Sweet Spice (25%) and Vindaloo (75%) and found the result amazingly delicious!

Having had parents who lived through the Great Depression, we learned young not to waste anything, especially food, so there are always little containers of leftover bits and pieces in our fridge.  When you throw these things together with a certain abandon – and a Herbie’s spice blend – there’s lunch, or a snack for any time.  Take, for example:  the heel of a wedge of cabbage, half a sausage (sliced), a late-maturing tomato that had struggled through winter in a pot outside the kitchen, a slightly limp mushroom, and half a cup of leftover cooked rice.  All stirred with some olive oil in the pan, with a good helping of Brazilian spice mix …. delicious, and no wasted food! Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Brazilian Mushrooms

Spiced Mixed Berry Muffins

Like so many home-bound people, we’ve been baking.  To make a spread for our banana bread, we mixed a teaspoon of Fragrant Sweet Spices with 2 tablespoons of softened butter – yum!

We’ve been talking about it, and it’s finally here … our new, upgraded website.  It’s mobile-friendly, too, so you can place your order at your convenience, wherever you are. We’re sure you find all the familiar, simple things still there for you, as well as lots more information.  You can now search for products that do not include such allergens as nuts, gluten, chilli, and other allergens that may be important to you.  Naturally, all of our products are vegetarian and vegan.

Website Home Page

Nutrition Information

All our spice blends on the website, and many individual herbs and spices, show a nutrition panel.  The sodium levels may seem alarming at first glance, but they are traditionally shown in milligrams whereas the other components are shown in grams.  Even an individual spice can show a sodium reading.  For example, galangal has a sodium level of 180 mg (that’s 0.18 gram) per 100g, because it occurs naturally and contributes to the flavour.

Many of you will be happy that we now have a PayPal option available.  Bear in mind, however, that as this is a USA facility anything from Iran is blocked, so if you wish to order Iranian saffron, you will not be able to pay using PayPal.

Here’s to a brighter year ahead! Happy Spicing,

Herbie and Liz

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