sharing recipes from one generation to the next
I hope it’s just the winter blues that are clouding my brain, creating a fog that’s slowing down my writing process. If I was writing with a pen, on paper, my floor would be littered with scrunched up rejects. Despite having the ability to easily cut and paste, as I sit pecking at the key board of my brand new MacBook Pro, I find myself rewriting the same line over and over, shuffling the word order, removing and adding punctuation, but nothing will change the fact that what that line conveys is tortuous and just plain dull.
I have never aspired to channel Will Shakespeare and I make no claim to journalistic skills, but to be able to write a few lucid and interesting lines as an intro to a post some days is like giving birth to an elephant, actually, it seems that the easier the recipe the harder the post.
Chuck some spices together, coat some strips of chicken breast, pan fry, eat.
It’s that simple……BUT, if you use spices that have been in unsealed clear glass jars on your kitchen bench for more than 3 months they will have lost most of their flavour. If you are using the last of the 500g bag you bought cheaply 2 years ago, it will be dusty and dull.
Once ground, spices should be sealed and kept in a cool dark place. Opaque containers are ideal, the freezer optimum, but in this imperfect world, the best insurance is to buy small quantities from a trusted spice supplier with a high turnover. I buy online from Herbie’s in Sydney. Many food shops in Melbourne carry Herbie’s products, though I feel more confident buying directly. I have never been disappointed.
This spice blend was a joyous accident. It’s evolved a little with time, but in essence, it’s a warm mouth filling blend that adds spicy interest not only to chicken, but also pork, prawns and fish, tofu, haloumi, pumpkin, eggplant, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, zucchini, parsnip, carrot and so on
We call it Cajun spice for want of a better name, but because of the versatility of this spice combo it’d be more apt to call it Sandra’s little helper.
I keep the whole spice ready mixed then when needed I measure 2 tablespoons per serve into my mortar and pound the salt, black peppercorns, oregano and sesame to meld them into the cumin and paprika. The oil released from the sesame and peppercorns will act like the glue needed to stick the spice to outer surface of the protein. Cheese, tofu and vegetables I toss in a little olive oil before coating in spice.
I generally pan fry or BBQ spice coated meat, and either grill, BBQ or oven roast spice coated vegetables.
Do you have a favourite kitchen helper?
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon hing (or granulated garlic)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pound everything together in a mortar, or process until the peppercorns and sesame are crushed.
If you are interested in exploring spices in depth, my favourite reference is Spice Notes by Ian “Herbie” Hemphill