NEWSLETTER: Summer 2000/2001

Christmas is upon us
Christmas is upon us once again, after a year where we lurched from the Millennium milestone to the GST milestone, thence to the Olympics and Paras, and before we knew it, there was Christmas! The two major considerations of Christmas are cooking and giving, and we’re here to make them both easier for you. The range of spice kits just seems to keep growing – we’ve made a couple of more lavish kits for those who want to spend a little more than $25 – so to keep you up to date, visit the Spice Kits page on our website: Please order early so that we can get them to you in plenty of time.

Bulk index – what is it
Bulk index – we all know that a box of bricks is heavier than the same sized box of feathers, but how does it relate to herbs and spices? You may have noticed that a pack of oregano might have been a “normal” size the first time you bought it, and stuffed full like a pillow the next time. This can happen when a batch of herbs has a “fluffier” character, so that the stated pack weight takes up a lot more room. Even something as supposedly predictable as peppercorns can vary greatly in bulk index from one shipment to the next. Whether a pack is fat or flat doesn’t really matter much, but variations in bulk index can be a bother when a recipe calls for a teaspoon of something. For instance, take our Laksa mix. When we tested the recipe, the contents were exactly four tablespoons for making four bowls of laksa. But due to bulk index variations, the tablespoon measurements don’t always work out exactly. If you have trouble, just use ¼ of the pack for each bowl!

A new Paella Spice Mix
The Spanish rice dish, paella, has different interpretations in different regions of Spain. In some areas you will find it made using rabbit, beans, or snails rather than the seafood version which is best known throughout the world. We were recently asked to create a paella spice mix, and it was a great delight to treat ourselves to this fabulous meal a few times while we were experimenting with the spice mix. The final result is a blend of paprikas lavishly spiked with saffron and garlic, with a hint of rosemary. The Spanish smoked sweet paprika helps to re-create the smokiness traditionally developed by cooking on an open wood fire, and the overall effect is simply delicious. Take a lead from the original Spanish fare, and fill your paella with your favourite meats and seasonal vegetables, like chicken, pork, fish, broad beans or artichokes to make a hearty family meal. The Spanish pronounce this wonderful dish “payeeya”, but, however you say it, it’s a fantastic crowd-pleaser!

Festive Seafood Paella Recipe
More and more Australians are switching to seafood as their preferred Christmas fare. If you want to spend more time with the family and less time in the kitchen this Christmas, make this fantastic, lavish paella in your biggest pan on the barbecue. It’s a minimum-effort, maximum-effect, meal in one dish! We acknowledge our dear friend Margaret Fulton’s original paella recipe from which this one is derived.

Festive Seafood Paella

Serves 6-8
2 teaspoons Herbie’s Paella spice mix
seafood to taste, making a total weight of 1 Kg – blue swimmer crab, lobster tails, green king prawns, baby octopus, mussels, and scallops.
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups chicken or fish stock
2 half chicken breasts
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red capsicum, seeded, peeled and sliced
1 ½ cups rice
12-15 anchovy fillets
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup shelled peas

Make the stock using an MSG-free stock base or cubes and hot water. Add the Paella mix and set aside.
Heat the oil in the pan and brown the chicken on both sides – it doesn’t need to be cooked through, as it’s going back later. Remove and slice each fillet into 3 or 4 pieces, and set them aside.
In the same pan, fry the garlic and capsicum until soft, then add rice, stirring to coat for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and bring to boiling point, then reduce heat and begin the decoration of the paella, which is traditionally done in a symmetrical wheel-spoke pattern. Start with the chicken pieces as equally-spaced spokes, then put an anchovy fillet between each one, then add tomato pieces and peas. Cover the pan lightly with a piece of aluminum foil, and add the seafood pieces over the next 20-25 minutes so that everything is cooked by the end of the time. Prawns, mussels and scallops need very little time, and the heat of the rice is enough to cook them. Crab claws and lobster tails can be tucked into the rice around the edges.
Serve direct from the pan, allowing your guests to help themselves.

Alfatoxins – an update
Adelaide University recently released research showing that 80% of chilli products sold in Australia breached the legal aflatoxin contamination rate. Naturally, quite a few customers have asked us about it. Aflatoxins are natural chemicals caused by mould present in some imported chilli products. In a recent article in Food Processor, a trade magazine, it was reported that “because Australia’s biggest chilli eaters don’t eat more than a teaspoon of chilli a day, or three teaspoons of dry chilli, the Australian New Zealand Food Authority considered the contamination wasn’t enough to be poisonous.” So there you are – chilli in moderation is perfectly safe!

Native produce back in stock
And now the good news – bush tomato, akudjura, and our Native Barbecue Spice Mix, are back in stock after an absence of over twelve months. The very popular mini papadams, also out of stock for some time, are now available too, just in time for the cocktail season.