NEWSLETTER: September – October 1997

Everyone talks about job satisfaction and its importance in relation to the contentment and well-being of the worker. We at Herbie’s Spices must be the most contented and well of all, because we’re lucky enough to be doing exactly what makes us happy and we’re able to say it’s our job! The response to Herbie’s spice shop has been overwhelming positive, and people tell us every day how wonderful it is to finally be able to access good quality ingredients so simply, and to have advice about how to use them. The “tester jars” have been a great success &endash; customers can smell, taste, and compare before they make their decision about what is going to best meet their particular need.

Our Spice Appreciation Classes have also had a positive response, and we are now fully booked until December. (They are on the first and third Thursdays of each month, and have a maximum of 12 people.) Quite a few bookings have been made for groups of three or four friends who come together for the class. If you would like to make a group of six or more for a class, just phone us and we will make a special evening on a date to suit you. It’s a friendly, informal session, with a glass of wine or mineral water and a few spicy snacks to stave off the pangs and illustrate some of the easy ways to transform average food.

Chicken with Ras el Hanout
In the last Newsletter, we told you of the creation of Herbie’s own Ras el Hanout, a subtle and fragrant blend of 23 different spices, including saffron. It has become a personal favourite of ours, and here’s the way we like to use it…

4 chicken thighs with bones
2 chicken breast fillets
2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 small carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
12 small mushrooms, halved

Put the Ras el Hanout into a shallow dish and roll the chicken pieces to coat lightly. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add chicken and turn until browned all over. Add onions, garlic and a tiny amount of water and reduce heat to lowest possible. Cover and do not lift the lid for at least 15 minutes, by which time the chicken will have released its juices. Add salt if desired and carrots, continue to cook very slowly until carrots are almost tender. Stir in the other vegetables, add more water if necessary, increase heat until heated through then turn it back to very low again. When the mushrooms and peas are cooked, serve over rice or couscous.

This can be made in advance and stored refrigerated for a day or two. You can use different cuts of chicken if you like &endash; the main thing is to include some bones as they enrich the flavour. You may also prefer to thicken the stock with a little cornflour or a roux of butter and flour, or make it more special by adding cream at the last minute.
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Gentlemen, start your spices
We mentioned in the last Newsletter that we had put together a Moroccan Starter Kit. We also created our Father’s Day gift boxes, and it seemed a good idea to combine the two. We now have a range of five themed gift box sets, packed in coloured recycled corrugated cardboard boxes, which are proving a great hit. The kits are:

  • True Blue Aussie: five Australian grown spices (pepper, native BBQ spice mix, native seasoning mix, akudjura and wattleseed), with 4 recipes for making Bronzed Aussie Chicken, True Blue Cocktail Meatballs, Spicy Fried Pumpkin and Wattleseed Blinis. $24.95 plus $5.00 postage
  • Moroccan: seven spices (coriander seed, saffron, cinnamon quills, tagine blend, whole cloves, ginger and black peppercorns) with 3 recipes for making Lamb Shanks Tagine, Preserved Lemons and Spiced Couscous. $24.95 plus $5.00 postage
  • Sweet and Spicy: eight spices (allspice, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, ground coriander, mixed spice, ginger, cloves and vanilla beans) with 4 recipes for making Coriander Apple Crumble, Fried Orange Slices, Cardamom Ice Cream and Easy Spiced Shortbread. $24.95 plus $5.00 postage.
  • Indian Summer: eight spices and blends (Curry Mix with seeds, brown mustard seeds, Tandoori Mix, Garam Masala, cumin seeds whole and ground, Panch Phora and minced garlic) with 4 recipes for making Tandoori Prawns, Goan Chicken, Hot Potato Salad and Full-Bodied Lamb Curry. $24.95 plus $5.00 postage
  • Hot and Spicy: six spices and blends (Harissa Mix, Cajun Mix, Curry Mix with whole seeds, bird’s eye chillies, Peppermill Blend and Chilli Lovers’ Spice) with 4 recipes for making Spice Butter, Hot Lamb Curry, Harissa Sauce and Cajun Blackened Chicken or Fish. $24.95 plus $5.00 postage.

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The gift of spice
We know what a hassle Christmas shopping can be, and we can make it easy for you by sending any of these kits direct to your friends and relatives, with your words in a gift card. We have Australian Quarantine Inspection Service approval for export, and so long as you order before the end of November, the kits will reach their destination in time for Christmas. Postage and packing cost for Britain, Europe and USA is $10 for one box. For more than one to the same destination address, add $5.00 per additional box. The boxes also have great potential as different and classy corporate gifts &endash; who needs another pen or baseball cap, anyway?
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A spice by any other name
Regarding those Asian spices… yes, we do have serai, Laos powder, methi and kemiri kernels! They are also known as lemongrass, galangal, fenugreek leaves and candle nuts. If you are looking for an ingredient that is not listed in our product range, do feel free to phone or fax us to see whether it is known by a different name. We’re happy to help you with any questions you may have. There are several alternative names for some spices, so it becomes very confusing at times. For instance, kolongi is also referred to as nigella, but as well is often called black cumin, which it is not. Black cumin is very difficult to find, (we’re still trying!) and kolongi can be used as a substitute.

Don’t forget to call us or write if you have any special requirements. Meanwhile, happy spicing!
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