NEWSLETTER: Spring 2001

September 01, 2001 posted in Newsletters

Countdown to Christmas

Once Spring arrives, we know we’re on the countdown to Christmas. AAAAARGH! But no, it’s not that bad, in fact it’s a joyous time, especially when one is prepared and organized. So now is the time to make sure that you have the spices for your Christmas cake and pudding, because if you make your own, it should be done in October or November. If you like a really richly spiced flavour, our new Quatre Epices Sweet blend will make you very happy, but be warned that you should use it sparingly.

Quatre Epices Simply Means “four spices” in French

Our original Quatre Epices blend is a traditional mix of white pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. This blend is used extensively in charcuterie, and is therefore superb in sausages, terrine, pate and meatloaf, or simply as an alternative to ground pepper. The new Quatre Epices Sweet was added to our range after we visited France earlier this year and saw how frequently this blend is used. What makes it different is that the blend has allspice in place of white pepper, still with nutmeg, ginger and cloves. It can be used either in the same way as the other Quatre Epices, or as a more pungent alternative to Mixed Spice.

So what makes it different to Mixed Spice? Mixed spice has the same four ingredients, plus larger amounts of the sweeter and milder spices of coriander seed, cassia and cinnamon. Therefore, while you can use lashings of Mixed Spice and be pretty confident that you can’t actually use too much, you must use a lighter hand with the more pungent Quatre Epices Sweet. For your Christmas baking, a subtle combination of the two blends would be to use proportions of 4 to 1 (that is, 2 teaspoons of Mixed Spice with one half a teaspoon of Quatre Epices Sweet).

There have been signs in certain restaurants and the media that French cooking is coming back into fashion, after being ousted by Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Moroccan et al. It’s nice to know that something really good can’t just be disposed of forever. When we were in France, we had a feeling of 70’s déjà vu, as we encountered such old classics as pepper steaks with fries (French, of course!) England’s foot and mouth problems certainly didn’t affect the availability of beef in France!

Spice Kits – Range Review

In the after-travel glow, and feeling decidedly Francophile, we’ve put together a new spice kit – the French Provincial kit, no less. Containing Savory, Quatre Epices, Quatre Epices Sweet, Juniper Berries, Bay Leaves, Herbs de Provence, Thyme and Ginger, it is accompanied by recipes for Auverne-style potato omelette, pork and veal terrine, rabbit or chicken with juniper berries, and a wonderful pain d’epices (gingerbread) recipe.

Whilst on the subject of our gift kits, we’re working on a complete overhaul and review of the range. They have a new look, with a smooth board replacing the corrugated cardboard box, and vibrant new colours. As prices of various spices have increased during the last four years, we have had to juggle the ingredient content of the kits to keep the price a constant $24.95. Rather than compromise, at this time of change-over, all of the $24.95 kits will increase to $27.50. This will enable us to maintain the integrity of each kit, with a possible review of the recipes. And what will happen to the old corrugated boxes? Especially for Christmas, and in response to requests, we’ll have some selections of five jars of spices complete with relevant recipes. These boxes will have a clear lid so that the labels of the jars can be seen. The packs created so far are:

Magnificent Moghul – cardamom pods, cumin seeds, turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder, with a recipe for a delicious ‘Murgh Mumtaz Mahal’ which uses all of the spices.
Granny’s Tea Time – ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mixed spice and nutmeg, with recipes for classic old-fashioned favourites like nutmeg cake, apple tea cake, ginger snaps and shortbread.
Southern Barbecue – Cajun spice, chilli flakes and Mad Wombat hot pepper sauce, for those who like their food blisteringly hot.

The boxes of bottles will have different price points depending upon which jars are used, and the cost of mail order will be higher owing to the extra weight and extra packing needed to keep the jars safe in transit.

Lemon & Herb Pepper

What’s new at Herbie’s? We have a new Lemon and Herb Pepper, which is like none you’ve tasted before. Any lemon pepper you’ve bought in the supermarket will contain citric acid to give the lemon tang, but we have found some fantastic natural dried lemon and lime powders which are made in Australia. We just had to use them in this way, and we know you’ll love this new product as much as we do. It carries a recipe for Corn-fed Chicken with Lemon Couscous … fabulous!

Greek Seasoning

Also new is our Greek Seasoning, perfect for summer barbecues with the Mediterranean influence of grilled eggplant, capsicum and zucchini. This is a family-friendly blend that the kids will enjoy, with flavours of rosemary, oregano, garlic, sumac and lemon predominating. Try this on lamb fillets or cutlets and you’ll be hooked … and mix some with olive oil to brush over the grilling vegetables, too.

Rasam Powder

Some of our Indophile customers have lamented the lack of a Rasam Powder in Herbie’s range. Well, they need lament no longer, as we’ve created one for them. Rasam is a thin, spicy soup much loved in Southern India, and the colonial English gave it the name of Pepper Water. Serve it as a soup in the traditional western way, or use the more authentic Indian way and serve it as part of the main spread. It can be spooned over rice, or sipped separately.

Sambal Olek

From Greece via India to Asia – in response to requests, we now have a Sambal Olek spice mix. Made with the freeze-dried red chillies that work so well in the Harissa mix, this new concoction mixes with water and oil to produce an authentic-tasting Asian chilli paste.

Next Spice Tour of India

We’ve had several enquiries about our next Spice Discovery Tour. The next one will be in January 2003, and as soon as we have more details in place, we’ll let you know. The average size of a group is between 8 and 14 people, so it’s a comfortable environment with on-ground travelling being done in a medium-sized air-conditioned bus. A recent reunion of people from the last two trips resulted in a jolly day with lots of wonderful curries and happy reminiscences.

Remember – the Christmas countdown has begun! Happy spicing

Herbie and Liz

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