Comments Off on HERBIE’S SPICES SPRING PICNIC SPREAD IN BOWRAL
HERBIE’S SPICES SPRING PICNIC SPREAD
Add a little spice to your spring picnic with a flavour infused spread of Herbie’s spiced recipes… including a Herbie’s Spiced Gin!
Join Liz & Ian “Herbie” Hemphill (author of the award winning Spice & Herb Bible) on a magical mystery tour of the world of spices. Watch & learn about fresh vs dried herbs & spices, how best to extract flavour and create 4 different spice blends from 9 identical spices before putting your new know-how to use… hands-on spice blending & menu making!
Plus, if that’s not enough spice for one picnic… just add Gin!
Take in tips as Herbie demonstrates how to make your own spiced Gin using Herbie’s Ginspiration Spice Mix.
Class menu includes
Moroccan Chermoula Chicken Kebabs
Moroccan Quinoa Salad
Chinese Spiced Ham
Middle Eastern Muhamarra Dip
Middle Eastern Quick Flatbread
Indian Sweet & Spicy Beer Nuts
Sample Herbie’s Spiced Gin & Tonic
At the end of this flavour infused class guests will come together to enjoy a picnic spread they have collectively prepared… complete with a refreshing glass of Herbies Spiced Gin & Tonic.
Proceeds raised from this class will be donated to the Your Angel NAO for Kids robotics program
Providing interactive learning & development opportunities for local children living with Autism, developmental, social, emotional or behavioural challenges
Available for purchase on the day:
Herbie’s award winning The Spice & Herb Bible (Third Edition), $40
Herbie’s Spices Ginspiration Spice Kit, $65
Comments Off on SPICE TRAIL WITH IAN “Herbie” HEMPHILL: MARVELLOUS MIDDLE EAST
Julie’s Place is very excited to announce a wonderful long lunch with herb and spice guru, Ian “Herbie” Hemphill.
Ian, author of “Spice & Herb Bible 3rd Edition”, among other respected books, will take you on a journey through the Middle East to learn about and experience their use of spices. And while he does, Julie Goodwin will cook for you the dishes that bring the stories to life. The lunch will consist of multiple delectable courses with wines.
Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience a journey through the world of spice with a peerless expert. And a beautiful lunch as well!
As we wish you all the best for 2019, we want to thank you all most sincerely for giving us our busiest December in years. It’s great to know that the spice kits are still working well as gifts for your family and friends, and that your kitchens are well stocked with the best spices you can find.
It’s many years now since we introduced the suburb-specific Balmain and Rozelle Spice mix. Originally it was created at the request of Tourism NSW, when it was running a promotion for that Sydney area. After all this time, we feel that the sunny, fresh and outdoorsy profile of this mix would be better described as Sydney Spice. We have been running the same product under both names for nearly a year, and the time has come to let the old Balmain and Rozelle name slip away. So, if you’re a fan, look for it under the new name, Sydney Spice, for the same great flavor.
How often have you looked at your Turkish or Middle Eastern recipes and wondered about Urfa Biber (also called Isot or Pul Biber)? They are small Turkish chilli flakes, and we have finally found a supplier. Differing from most dried chilli flakes, the Urfa Biber flakes are mixed with a little vegetable oil and salt, giving them a salty tang similar to Sumac, with very pleasant rich yet not too hot chilli flavor. I’ve been putting Urfa Biber in our muhammara dip (see our website for the recipe), which is a staple in our house. We’ve also found a dusting of Urfa Biber is just the ticket on seared scallops. And because we love a little touch of chilli just about any time, we’ve mixed equal parts of Sumac and Urfa Biber, for a tangy, tasty, and slightly hot finishing touch, to sprinkle over our salads
Autumn Box of Ideas
The Autumn Box of Ideas has given us lots of fun as we’ve developed the recipes using some of our newest products. Rose Harissa is a star, as we can see from our sales that you’re loving it. Also in this season’s Box of Ideas are: Bill’s Steak Rub, Herbs de Provence, Tagine Spice Mix and Mustard Seed Ground. We’ve taken a mix’n’match approach this time, so you’ll find there are lots of variations and riffs to give you more options. It’s in an autumn-leaf russet-coloured box, and as usual, the price is $25.00 plus postage
Rose harissa is the most versatile of spice blends. Kate, who develops the recipes you see on our website, keeps a sauce on hand, simply made with Greek yoghurt, rose harissa and a little crème fraiche. It’s great as a dressing on a salad, or a drizzle over a grill. We love the dry mix sprinkled over slices of haloumi before we cook them in the pan … easy
Escape from the City
Did you happen to catch Escape From the City on ABC TV recently? Thanks to the few minutes shown where our old friend Simon Marnie visited the Herbie’s factory and had a nicely spiced meal with Herbie at home, lots of people have realized that we really are still in business … closing the shop in Rozelle did not mean that we ceased operations.
Laksa Spice Mix
Have you fallen into the habit of picking up a jar of curry or laksa paste when you’re at the supermarket? It’s so easy, isn’t it, whilst you’re there? Perhaps it’s time to remind you that pastes are mostly powdered spices mixed with onion, garlic, oil and water. (Read that label!) You have those extras at home, don’t you? Is it time you re-discovered our amazing Laksa Spice Mix? Most laksa pastes contain powdered shrimp, so if you’re vegetarian or vegan, ours is one of the few that will suit you. Many of our regular customers say they don’t bother to order laksa when they’re out any more, because they know they can make a terrific one at home, using their Herbie’s mix!
Spice Tours of India
It seems that our Spice Tours to India are back – we’re just having so much fun! Our forthcoming India – Food and Festivals later this year was filled from the list of those who had asked to kept informed as plans evolved. Plans are afoot for a tour in January 2020, focusing on Chillies (including the largest wholesale chilli market in the world) and those spices grown in the south of India, as well as some amazing not-so-well-known ancient historical sites. Plus a nice serving on the side of the kind of unbelievable luxury that India does so well for its visitors. If you’d like to know more about dates, costs etc, just let us know and we’ll put you on the email list and keep you updated as plans take shape.
The Essential Ingredient
The Essential Ingredient has moved from Rozelle, where it had become the quasi-Herbie’s, just up the road from where our shop used to be. With no renewal available on the Rozelle lease, they have found beautiful new premises in Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, where Sydney cooks can still find the complete Herbie’s Spices range, as well as all their other special kitchen needs. We wish all at Essential well in the new locality.
We have recently noticed an increase in awareness of mastic as an ingredient, so have decided to share some previous information to help demystify this fascinating and useful spice.
Mastic is the name given to the resinous gum that exudes from the scored bark of the Gum Mastic Tree. There are many varieties of mastic trees (Pistacialentiscus) in the Mediterranean and Middle East, yet most of the world’s production of gum mastic comes from the “Protected Designation of Origin” trees (P. lentiscus var. Chia) that grow on the Greek island of Chios. The name mastic derives from the Greek word mastichon which means to chew.
Mastic has a slightly resinous, pine-like flavour and can be chewed just like chewing gum. Mastic is used in cooking for the consistency it gives to Greek slow-cooked lamb, it is used in ice cream and in The Spice & Herb Bible there is a recipe for an Asparagus and Mastic Summer Soup.
Between June and September, Mastic farmers ‘hurt’ the trees by scoring the bark. The tears that ooze out in stalactite-like strands fall onto white kaolin clay that has been spread on the ground below the trees. This promotes drying and contributes to the clarity of the mastic that falls onto it.
Mastic flowing from the scored bark of a Chios gum mastic tree
In this grove of gum mastic trees you can see the white kaolin clay that is spread around the base of the trees prior to scoring the bark.
The gathered mastic is then stored in cellars to further solidify, and during winter, families in the mastic villages clean and grade the resin into different sized ‘tears’ ready for sale.
Mastic stored in a cellar ready for cleaning and grading in winter.
Extract from Spice Notes & Recipes by Ian Hemphill:
The gum mastic tree, or schinos as the Chia variety is called in its native Greek island of Chios, is a slow-growing, hardy evergreen tree that averages 2–3 m in height, although some have been known to reach 5 m. The mastic tree has shiny dark-green leaves, resembling those of myrtle. The trunk is rough and gnarled and when tapped yields a clear resinous substance which when coagulated is called gum mastic. The valuable gum mastic flows when the grey bark has been cut, or ‘hurt’, to tap the supply. Full growth of these charming trees is achieved after 40–50 years, and some trees are known to be up to 200 years old. Mastic production commences when the trees are five to six years old, reaching maximum yield of up to 1 kg per tree when the tree is 15 years old. The end of a tree’s productive life comes at about 70 years of age.
The sappy gum hardens after ‘hurting’ and is most often seen in either large (3–5 mm) or small (2–3 mm) pieces, referred to as ‘tears’. The texture of these tears is brittle and somewhat crystalline. When broken, mastic tears reveal a shiny surface resembling a piece of chipped quartz and release a faint pine-like aroma. The flavour is initially bitter and mineral-like, becoming more neutral after a few minutes chewing, when it takes on the consistency and opaque fawn colour of chewing gum. Even after 15–20 minutes chewing, a surprising degree of mouth-freshening flavour remains, unlike today’s highly flavoured chewing gums, which seem to expire in a matter of minutes. In cooking mastic does contribute to flavour although its main function is for texture and as a binding agent. A gum mastic oil is also produced by distillation of the leaves and branches of mastic trees, however, few cooks would be familiar with it as its primary use is in the manufacturing of sweets, liqueurs and medicines.
Origin and History
One legend, which I feel is particularly appropriate, has it that when Saint Issidoros was tortured to death by the Romans in AD 250, his body was dragged under the mastic tree. Upon seeing the saint’s mutilated form, the tree started to cry with real tears.
There are many varieties of mastic trees in the Mediterranean and Middle East, yet most of the world’s production of gum mastic comes from the Greek island of Chios, where an unsurpassed passion and dedication to the gum mastic tree is evident, and there is even a Gum Mastic Grower’s Association. Mastic has a long history that dates back to classical times and is mentioned by erudite Greek authors such as Pliny, Dioscorides, Galenus and Theophrastus. Mastic was well known to the pharaohs, and was mentioned by Hippocrates (the ancient doctor known as ‘the father of medicine’) as a cure for all manner of ailments from baldness to intestinal and bladder problems, as a paste for toothache and to apply in cases of snakebite.
From the tenth century on, Chios became famous for its masticha. The name derives from the Greek word mastichon, which means ‘to chew’ and is the root of the English word ‘masticate’, for it was as a chewing gum and mouth freshener that mastic was commonly used. By the 14th and 15th centuries, the production of mastic was highly organised and controlled by the ‘Scriba Masticis’, clerks whose job was the registration of the production of gum mastic. Such was the importance of mastic that during Turkish occupation, mastic-producing villages on Chios were given special privileges, such as their own management and permission to strike the church bells. In all there were 21 mastic villages, which paid their tithes with 26 tonnes of mastic and were thus made free from paying all other taxes. As with most valuable commodities, the penalties for stealing gum mastic were draconian to say the least, and the severity related directly to the quantity stolen. Receivers of stolen mastic also had the same punishment meted out to them. These punitive measures ranged from having one’s ears and/or nose cut off, to branding with red-hot steel on the forehead, or getting your eyes burnt out. The ultimate penalty was hanging, if one was caught with over 200 kilos. Thus Kyriakus Pitsiccoli of Angona, when on one of his many visits to Chios between 1435 and 1440, was heard to say, ‘If you wish to live in Chios, just keep the gum mastic and never steal it.’
Today the Gum Mastic Grower’s Association lists 64 uses for mastic, extolling among other things, its anti-cancer properties, use in treatment of duodenal ulcers, benefits for oral hygiene and use in South Morocco and Mauritania as an aphrodisiac.
Production of gum mastic is still strictly controlled and occurs between June and September. This begins by first cleaning and levelling the ground around the base of the trees with white clay – called ‘currying’. The white clay contains limestone, which promotes drying and contributes to the clarity in mastic that falls onto it. The first cutting, or ‘hurt’, of 10–20 wounds is made on the trunk, typically in the morning, which is the best time for maximum sap flow. Up to 100 cuts are made over the season, however, too much ‘hurting’ of young trees will inhibit future yields. Over the next 10–20 days, coagulation takes place as gum mastic oozes out of the cuts. The tears are collected, first using a special tool called a ‘timitiri’ to remove them from the trunk. The rest of the mastic on the ground is collected, put into wooden crates and transferred to the houses where it is sorted, ready for cleaning by the village’s womenfolk during winter. After sieving to remove any adhering leaves and soil, the gum is washed in cold, soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and spread out on bags inside the houses to dry. After drying, a small knife is used to remove any remaining dirty particles. Much of the winter in the mastic villages is spent carefully cleaning the summer’s production by hand to prepare it for sale. Clean gum mastic is categorised into three main grades. ‘Pitta’ is the foam that occurs when many drops become one; this grade is the largest (pieces up to 7 cm in diameter) and has an oval shape. Next are large tears, which measure about 10–15 mm in length, and small tears that average 3–6 mm in diameter. Tiny pieces are classified as powder, and any uncleaned remains left over are usually distilled for use in perfumes and alcoholic drinks, such as ouzo and raki.
Buying and Storage
Gum mastic can be purchased from Greek and Middle Eastern food stores and specialty food retailers. The most common pack size is 1–5 g because it is relatively expensive and a recipe only requires a small amount to be used at a time. Tears should be quite clear and transparent with a slight golden tone. The best storage conditions are in a cool place, as exposure to extreme or prolonged heat will cause the tears to become cloudy and discolour, with a subsequent loss of flavour.
Mastic appears to have myriad applications ranging from the medicinal to the functional, including use as a stabiliser in paints, and for making varnishes, especially for musical instruments. It has been used in the production of tyres, aromatic soaps, insecticides and electrical insulators. Frankincense is produced from gum mastic and rosin, and mastic has been used in the tanning, weaving and bee-keeping industries. Where mastic really shines of course is when it comes to culinary uses. Besides being used in toothpaste, chewing gum and confectionery, it is an ingredient in the making of liqueurs. Included in the best and most authentic Turkish delight, it is found in recipes for breads and pastries, ice-creams, sweet puddings and almond cake.
Although exotically named, this wild harvested member of the cardamom family has enjoyed renewed awareness as followers of West African cuisine, and boutique gin producers, discover its true potential.
The economy of Sierra Leone, a major exporter of Grains of Paradise, was devastated during the last ebola epidemic. Therefore we were pleased to hear from our supplier who advised us:
“We also out here are using some of the proceeds to help communities, especially during the Ebola crisis in the country. We also help some schools and hospitals in the rural areas. Doing business with your company have helped us a lot to achieve our goals in Sierra Leone”.
Many people are not aware that the majority of spices are grown and sold by relatively small producers, often family controlled, who depend on these wonders of nature for their livelihood.
Winnowing Grains of Paradise Seeds
After removing the cardamom-like seeds, they are winnowed to remove any remaining fibre.
Grains of paradise (Amomum melegueta) also known as Melegueta pepper, is indigenous to the West Coast of Africa from Sierra Leone to Angola. The common name “Melegueta” derives from Melle, the name of an old empire inhabited by the Mandingos in the upper Niger country situated between Mauritania and Sudan. The Portuguese called it Terra de Malaguet, and the coast to its west, referred to as the “Gold Coast,” was also named the “Grain Coast” and the “Pepper Coast” after this spice.
Grains of paradise are the seeds from a plant that is a member of the ginger and cardamom family. These herbaceous, cardamom-like, leafy-stemmed shrubs grow from a stout rhizome and may vary considerably depending upon where they are growing in West Africa. The flowers are followed by pear-shaped, 4-inch (10 cm) long red to orange fruits that contain many seeds.
Packing Seeds for Export
The aromatic and pungent hard, roundish, dark brown, small seeds are 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) in diameter. Their taste is initially piney, then peppery, hot, biting and numbing like native Australian mountain pepperberry (Tasmannia lanceolata). Similarly, a lingering camphor flavor with notes of turpentine is detectable.
When Australian mountain pepperberry is in short supply, grains of paradise may be used as a reasonable substitute, although they are not quite as hot.
Grains of paradise are used in much the same way as pepper and in the region they come from are considered an acceptable alternative, as well as being the preferred spice in some of their local dishes. Exotic Moroccan spice blends such as ras el hanout may contain the crushed seeds and their peppery notes will be found in Tunisian stews spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It is best to grind grains of paradise before adding them to a dish, as they do not soften readily in cooking and grinding releases their flavor more readily.
Combine all salad ingredients, then toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil and Greek seasoning.
For a strong savoury taste add 1/2 tsp crushed Oregano.
Puy Lentil and Pomegranate SaladThe combination of earthy lentils with flavoursome and colourful pomegranate seeds and sumac make this an excellent salad on it’s own or as a side salad, particularly at Christmas with the lovely red and green colours!
75g puy lentils, cooked until tender, rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 200C. Place cauliflower with garlic and saffron liquid in a saute pan and cook over low heat for 6-8 minutes until all liquid is evaporated. Transfer to a baking tray, sprinkle with a little salt and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and tender.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch asparagus and peas for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold iced water. When completely cool drain and set aside.
Take chorizo out of sausage casing and roughly chop. Cook for 5 minutes in a frying pan while stirring, until cooked through. Transfer to a blender and blitz until it resembles crumbs. Return to the frying pan and cook for 5 minutes on high until the crumbs are crispy. Drain on paper towel.
Combine dressing ingredients and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste. Mix Israeli couscous with cauliflower, vegetables, herbs and chorizo.
Spices are important ingredients in making the diverse tastes of Middle Eastern cuisine available to us all.
Over the past few years there has been a resurgence in our love for Middle Eastern food.
More than ever before, Turkish food is booming in Australia. The fresh and lively flavours delight our taste buds, and nourish without being heavy.
Authors such as Yotam Ottolenghi with his books Jerusalem, Plenty and Plenty More and Australian authors Somer Sivrioglu and David Dale with Anatolia, have done much to raise the awareness of recipes from Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Turkey in particular.
Much of the appeal comes from the use of lots of fresh ingredients, judiciously spiced with a variety of culinary herbs and spices.
For those venturing into this cuisine for the first time, and for cooks familiar with Middle Eastern recipes, we have created three spice kits with spices and recipes that are flavoursome and easy to make.
With recipes included for making Lamb Gozleme, Skewered Lamb with Vegetables (Sis Kebap), Imam Bayildi (The Imam Swooned – pictured), Turkish Sausage Rolls (Borek), Burghul and Silverbeet Pilaf with Labneh and Tomatoes, Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Dolmeh) with Tomato Sauce and Chicken and Vegetables (a version Tas Kebab).
With recipes included for making Fattoush, Barley Risotto with Leafy Greens, White Bean, Barberry and Fennel Salad, Marinated Haloumi, Zucchini Fritters with Yoghurt Sauce, Carrot Dip, Za’atar Crisps, Warm Eggplant Salad and Roasted Cauliflower, Nuts and Grains.
Choosing vegetarian options should not equate to eating bland or uninteresting food. The spice blends and spices in this kit will bring out the best in your ingredients, and take your taste buds on a journey to the Middle East, were vegetables and grains are never boring or dull. Remember that, whatever the recipe says, you can put sumac with any salad!
With recipes included for making Lamb Shanks and Rice, Kookoo-yeh-sabzi (herb omelette), Ghormeh Sebzi (slow cooked meat), Black Olive and Parsley Salad, Koofteh Berenji (succulent meatballs with rice) and Zereshk Polo (barberry rice with chicken).
Persia has centered around modern-day Iran since the Iron Age, its cultural sphere has diffused through parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, its neighbouring post-Soviet republics (the “Stans”), and even into Turkey and India. The influence of Persian cuisine on the Medieval and Renaissance European culinary traditions cannot be overestimated (it is said that Persians invented the fork). Persian spice traders brought saffron to the Mediterranean. And long before the Genoese first ground together nuts and basil to make what we have come to call pesto, the Persians were doing it with mint, coriander, and dill to make stews served over rice and bread. Saffron, pomegranates, mint, dill, nuts, lamb, black limes, apricots, and barberries dominate Persian/Iranian cuisine. Its cornerstone dishes are grilled meats, rice, and slow-simmered stews.