We trust that everyone enjoyed the annual Christmas eating extravaganza – we certainly did, with beautifully seasoned vegetables and a galantine of turkey rubbed well with Crusting Mix before it was roasted in our brick oven. It was followed, naturally, by a traditional pudding enhanced with Mixed Spice and Quatre Epices (sweet). Now the diet begins ….
… but it’s hard to diet in India where the food is so delicious! During January we were there once again, on our tenth Spice Discovery Tour with twelve very pleasant travelling companions. Our fortnight was divided between the northern cities of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Pushkar, and the verdant southern state of Kerala, allowing us an excellent illustration of the regional food differences between north and south. The very northern experience of riding camels into Pushkar village gave way to the very southern experience of drifting down the backwaters on a rice boat! Treading the fine line between non-stop activity and time to draw breath (it is a holiday, after all!) we are already working on the itinerary for January 2010, so check our website or phone the shop if you’d like more details.
Speaking of India and its fabulous food, you might find reference to something called Meat Masala or Kitchen Masala in Indian recipes. We brought some home to check it out, and it can be replaced with 2/3 Tandoori spice mix and 1/3 Medium Curry powder to get the same effect if you can’t find it here.
What’s the big deal with flavoured salts? They seem to be very fashionable these days, and many people have asked us why we haven’t joined the bandwagon with a range of our own flavoured salts. Here’s a better idea … why don’t we tell you how to make your own? Firstly, obtain the salt of your choice, be it Murray River pink or imported Fleur de Sel or a big bag from the supermarket. Set yourself up with a few Herbie’s blends – let’s say Bay Seasoning, Herbs de Provence, and Harissa or Peri Peri. Mix one teaspoon of the blend of your choice with 4 teaspoons or more of salt. Using the blends suggested, put your spicy salt mixes into little jars and label them, in order, “Barbecue Seasoned Salt”, “Provencale Salt” and “Chilli Salt.” Go for it! We have over forty blends suitable for blending with salt.
Also on the subject of salt, did you know that dried parsley contains 452 mg of sodium in every 100 grams? Naturally-occurring sodium in foods is different to having added salt, and people on salt-free diets should recognise the difference. It seems while half the population is having a love affair with the idea of flavoured salt, the other half is ordered to cut it out completely! (Check the home page of our website for a list of no-added-salt products). Whatever happened to moderation?
Herbie’s hitting the road! On the 18th April, we’ll be in Orange as part of the Food of Orange District celebrations. For more details, check out the events calendar on the website www.orangefoodweek.com.au Other dates for out-of-towners: 23rd – 25th July, Herbie’s at Herbicious Delicious in Olinda, phone (03) 9751 0025 for details; and at Cooking Coordinates in Belconnen on 13th June, phone (02) 6253 5133
What’s new at Herbie’s? Many baby-boomers are now grandparents … it’s happened to us too! And it should come as no surprise to anyone that Herbie’s grandchildren all started early with gently-spiced food, which they all love. In fact, we’ve decided to bring out a new “Baby Spice” Kit (not Posh and definitely not Scary) full of ideas for delicious first food for baby (from 6 months), subtly flavoured, natural, and nourishing. Containing ground cinnamon, lemon myrtle, smoked paprika, chaat masala, sambar spice mix and ras el hanout, there are recipes and meal ideas to suit babies from six months old, all tested within our own family. Like the majority of our spice kits, it retails for $30.00 and comes in a lovely baby-green box.
We are impressed with the work being done by McCormick in the USA, researching the anti-oxidant properties of herbs and spices. The seven “Super Spices,” identified by their new McCormick Science Institute, include Cassia (called Cinnamon), Thyme, Oregano, Ginger, Turmeric, Paprika and Rosemary. In fact, cassia, oregano and turmeric feature in the top 10 anti-oxidant foods. Check out the website www.spicesforhealth.com.au for more information. And for a shortcut to many of these super spices, try our Jerk Seasoning (chilli, ginger, thyme), Portuguese (paprika, chilli, cinnamon, ginger), Tandoori (paprika, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, chilli), and of course have plenty of turmeric-rich curries!
In these uncertain economic times perhaps it’s time to broach the subject of Credit Crunch Cooking. Entertaining at home is a cost-effective alternative to dining out. Remember that fresh, unprocessed foods are cheaper than slop-in-a-bottle, as well as being much more rewarding to the palate. A stock of good herb and spice blends will certainly pay their own way when they are used to enhance your basic ingredients … economical cuts of meat are excellent for slow-cooking with spice blends such as Tagine, Baharat, Berbere, Ras el Hanout Super, Persian or Tunisian spice blends.
Enjoy the last of the summer stone fruits before they disappear! Chop white peach, nectarine or yellow peach flesh and mix with a little orange juice, Fragrant Sweet Spice and orange blossom water, and serve with yoghurt. For a stylish brunch, spread toasted slices of panettone or brioche with ricotta and top with the fruit … delicious!
Happy spicing! Herbie and Liz