NEWSLETTER: April – May 1998

April 01, 1998 posted in Newsletters

Mother of all Spice Kits

Our very best wishes for a safe and happy Easter! Mother’s Day is looming, and we’ve made a new Spice Kit especially for the occasion. This one is in a deep purple box, with a soft lilac ribbon giving it a feminine look. The recipes have been designed for cooks in the age group of about eight to fourteen, so that an entire meal can be prepared while Mum sits and relaxes far from the kitchen. Like the other kits, it’s $24.95, plus $5.00 packing and postage.

Kit News

Speaking of the Spice Kits, we’ve reviewed and revamped some of the original kits – one of the benefits of a January lull is the time to do such things. So now, the Indian kit has more curries, the Sweet kit has had its recipes and contents updated, and the True Blue Aussie kit’s recipes have been slightly amended. We left the Hot & Spicy, Vegetarian and the Moroccan alone, as we’ve had very positive feedback on them just the way they are.

Hot mustard? Just add water (and other mustard news)

A customer the other day wanted to know why some mustards are fiery hot and some are mild, if they’re all made from the same mustard seeds. Are the English seeds hotter then the French and American, she asked. We thought other people might also wonder, so here’s the explanation. Mustard seeds release their heat and pungency when they are mixed with water, and the different styles of prepared mustards get their flavours from the way the seeds are processed. A hot English mustard for instance does not come from England, it is simply the method of soaking the yellow seeds in water prior to milling that creates the biting hotness we know so well. On the other hand, Dijon mustard is soaked in wine or verjuice, inhibiting the enzyme reaction that makes mustard hot and creating a far milder mustard with definite white wine notes. The darker German and French mustards have also been made to have less heat, and the bitter background note of mustard is masked by sweet spices such as cloves and allspice.

Whole mustard seeds in Indian cooking are often fried in oil and used for their texture and flavour rather than for any heat contribution.

Now, about black mustard seeds. Are they the same as brown? Black mustard is Brassica nigra and brown mustard is Brassica juncea, however they are very similar in both taste and appearance. For all intents and purposes, they are virtually interchangeable.

Crusty Old Roasts

Last newsletter was so full of new products that the new Crusting Mix for red meat only had mention in passing, and it deserves more. We wanted to have a family-friendly coating without chilli or too much pepper, with lots of flavour. We’re very pleased with the result – a blend of coriander, paprika, brown mustard, sumach, salt, ginger, sugar, pepper, oregano and allspice. An unusual mix, you might think, but they work together extremely well. The mustard and the sumach contribute to a wonderfully dark, tasty gravy that truly puts the good old roast dinner into the “comfort food” category. We put about two tablespoons of the mix in a clean plastic bag, add the whole piece of meat to be roasted, and shake around until it’s completely coated. To use up any mix left in the bag, we shake the potatoes in there too before baking them. You can also use the Crusting Mix on steaks. Pan fry the steaks, throw in a few sliced mushrooms, then transfer the steaks to warmed plates and swirl a little water into the pan for an almost-instant sauce that is so delicious you’ll find it hard to believe it isn’t bad for you!

Spice World Tour

We mentioned the Herbie’s Spice Discovery Tour to India in the last Newsletter. The costs and itinerary are finally all in place, and here’s the way it’s looking. The tour will leave Sydney on Friday 22nd January 1999 and return on Thursday 4th February, giving us twelve full days in Southern India, which at that time of year will be humid and hot, but dry. We’ll stay in world-class hotels and resorts, and our mode of transport will be a deluxe air-conditioned bus, so that when we’re not striding around spice gardens or getting hot and dusty in noisy, smelly markets, we’ll be enjoying very comfortable conditions. Forays into the country to see spices growing and being harvested will be interspersed with some visits to tissue culture laboratories, spice processing facilities, the famous Pepper Exchange, a cardamom auction, and some favourite restaurants. There’ll also be a cooking class and an overnight stay on a working spice plantation. If you’d like to get your map out, here’s the route: Bombay (now called Mumbai) to Cochin, then to Thekkady, Alleppy, Madurai, from where we fly to Madras for the last two days (that’s where you can shop for your silks and gems), then back to Bombay for the flight back to Sydney. The cost will be $5,975 per person twin share. We’re doing the tour in conjunction with the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, and we’ll be launching the tour to them very soon. As the maximum number we can take in the group is 25, might we suggest that if you have a genuine interest in coming along, call us for more information or to tentatively reserve yourself a place fairly soon so you don’t miss out.

Gifts To Get Your Mitts On

Because we have relatives and friends living in the country, we can understand how difficult it is to buy gifts without access to good shops. Especially when stores in nearby towns have limited stock, and everyone else is buying their gifts from there anyway, it’s hard to find something different. We have in our shop bright oven mitts and aprons made from a red chilli design on a cream background, trimmed in red, which we can mail order to you if you wish. The mitts are lined with proper insulation so that you don’t burn your fingers, and the aprons come in either wipe-clean PVC or cotton (the cotton has a slightly larger width so it’s more suitable for a generous girth!). Mitts are $11.95, aprons $25.95. If you’re ordering spices as well, there’s no additional charge for postage, otherwise add $5.00 for packing and postage.

Going Postal

Thanks for your continued mail order support – it tells us that you’re happy with what you’re receiving, and that’s very rewarding for us. We’re thinking of a “Comfort Food” Spice Kit for winter – more news later.

Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

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