Herbie’s Spices Newsletter Autumn 2023

February 27, 2023 posted in Behind the Scenes

Like all Australians, we have been shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the terrible earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.  We source some of our best and most popular products (sumac, Aleppo pepper) from these areas, and over the years we have formed a strong bond with the hospitable people in the Gaziantep region.  Our thoughts are with them at this terrible and traumatic time.

Liz with sumac workers in Gaziantep 2019

We have our bags packed for our February/March trip to India with our happy band of travellers, some who have been with us before, and some we have yet to meet.  Already there is interest in a 2024 trip, but at this stage, as we feel our age just a little, we’re not sure about more group tours to India.  Watch this space.

Chilli Market in Guntur, India

Saffron Flowers in Kashmir

The bio-security inspectors at Australian Customs have always been vigilant to assure the safety of foods that come into Australia.  Besides food safety, the other important issue for them is that no undesirable insects or seeds of noxious weeds cross our borders.  We’re not sure why, but since Covid, requirements have become more stringent … one might even say, unreasonable.  Saffron that arrived in Australia with the same documentation as every other shipment over the past 25 years was found to be wanting, and very nearly shipped back to our supplier in Kashmir.  We constantly work closely with the authorities and our customs clearance agent to keep lines of communication open.

Our beautiful Piment d’Espelette, which comes from the Basque region of southern France, has been rejected, along with tonka beans.  So when you look for these items and find them out of stock, you need to be aware that small artisan agricultural producers don’t have the wherewithal to provide documentation and certificates of analysis that meet our recently changed biosecurity requirements. If you simply can’t live without your Piment d’Espelette, you will be surprised to find that the Korean Red Pepper Flake (Gocharu) is a very creditable replacement.

Korean Red Pepper Flakes

Box of Ideas Autumn 2023

The Autumn Box of Ideas once again brings you new ideas to expand your repertoire.  With Black Garlic Powder, Ancho Chilli Powder, Mexican Spice and beautiful Australian premium sage, we’ve put together some delicious recipes to warm and sustain you as the air begins to cool.  In the rich autumn-coloured box, it’s $25.00 plus postage, as always.

Spaghetti Bolognese (better known as good old Spag Bol) has been a constant family favourite for decades.  When we make it for the family, we reach for our Italian Seasoning.  But during the course of cooking, we find ourselves also reaching for other elements … bay leaves, porcini, extra garlic, a little smoked paprika … so to make things more simple for all of you at home, we’ve put together a complete Bolognese Seasoning, with a good recipe on the back of the pack, in case you don’t have your own favourite.  We know you’ll love it.  This is our recipe, which is a bit long for the space available on the pack.  When our grandchildren were small, we would use this recipe, but puree the cooked vegetables before adding the meat, as they didn’t like “bits”.

Bolognese Spice Blend

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

  •  1 medium onion, finely diced        
  • 1 medium carrot, cut to 1cm dice
  •   ½ celery stalk, cut to 1cm dice      
  • 100g pancetta/bacon cut to 1cm dice
  •  1Kg premium beef mince              
  • 1½ Tbsp Bolognese Seasoning
  •  1 tsp salt                                             
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  •  250ml (1 cup) water or stock        
  • 700ml passata
  •  2 Tbsp tomato paste                    
  • 500g cooked tagliatelle or spaghetti

 In a cast iron lidded casserole dish, combine onion, carrot, celery and pancetta.  Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Do not brown.

Heat a large heavy-based frying pan and brown the mince in two batches, for at least 8-10 minutes, using a spoon to break up the mince.  Cook until all liquid has evaporated and mince is dark brown.  Add the mince to the onion mixture, add Bolognese Seasoning and salt.

Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping the pan.  Add to casserole dish, with water or stock, passata and tomato paste.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Cover with lid and transfer to oven at 150 C.  Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  The vegetables and pancetta should be almost dissolved into the sauce.  If preparing ahead, turn off oven and leave overnight. 

Serves 4.

Remember the poppy seed debacle in December?  It simply reinforces what we have always said: herbs and spices should be consumed in normal culinary quantities.  If you think a particular spice is going to be good for your particular physical condition, think of it in homeopathic terms (a little each day) rather than going overboard with unrealistic large amounts.

Poppy Seeds

Where we Started in Rozelle

When we started Herbie’s Spices way back in 1997, we imagined that our business would be a two-person operation, just Herbie and Liz looking after the needs of the few people who really cared about their spice ingredients.  No-one was more surprised than us when the business grew exponentially, and we now have a veritable village of Herbie’s employees, including some mother/daughter and father/son combinations. We would like to acknowledge how important they are to our business, as they have taken on the Herbie’s Spices policy of quality above all and the best possible customer service.

Happy Spicing

Herbie and Liz

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