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
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Hing is asafoetida powder 🙂 It makes everything yummier!
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Fabulous! I’ve never made a similar rub to this mixture with sesame seeds! A great addition!
Thanks Mimi, sesame seeds add texture and flavour
I love my new MacBook Air too although it doesn’t make the writing process any easier I have to admit. I have a similar kitchen helper – fennel, cumin, schezuan pepper, salt, coriander and a pinch of cinnamon. With zested orange or lemon rind it goes onto chicken, fish & pork.
I like the sound of your spice mix too Nancy, is it an equal quantity of the spices?Do you toast and grind the seeds or leave them whole?
Yes equal quantities and like you I mix them whole and then roast and grind when I use them. I’m going to add sesame seeds next time I think like you do.
Nancy, I tossed some pork fillet in your spice mix last night for dinner. We loved it. We’re great lovers of fennel seed so next time I might increase the amount I use.
Thanks so much for sharing!
Love your ‘Cajun spice’ mix and shall certainly try even tho’ here Down Under this is not the most common form of fusion cooking. And .more Central European than Caribbean!! Having lived in/around the Sydney Basin for a quarter of a century and actually ‘there’ for some three decades previously, of course I oft use Herbie’s. For the locals: please try ‘Sami’s’ . . . only a few mixes at the moment, but absolutely fresh and perfect and cheaper and oh so ‘home made’!!!!!
Herbies ticks all the boxes for me, the small extra amount of $$ is paid off big time in quality. I hope you enjoy my combo…..
I love a good spice mix and yours here is going straight to Pinterest so that I can find it when I need it. One of our farmers markets has stall with a local spice shop. I’m a regular there, buying, as you say, small amounts. The difference in flavor, when using fresh spices, is amazing. Thanks for sharing your recipe,
It’s always a pleasure John…
I love your writing, but appreciate that some days it is just a bit too difficult to string two words together let alone a whole post. Really like the spice mixture. Looks like it would go well with almost anything. Got get some red snapper for blackened red fish…
Enjoy your spiced fish.
Your writing process seems absolutely fine to me! I see nothing out of the ordinary in your writing that would say otherwise! I hate those moments when you sit at your laptop and stare at it, wondering what could you possibly say…. I think once I have the first two or three sentences going…the words just seem to flow! Don’t you love your MacBook pro? I just got mine about two months ago, and I’m smitten!
This is a lovely spice mix… I can hear my printer has just spit out the paper after printing it up for me! Wonderful post! ❤
Hi Prudy, just love the new MacBook!! You’re right, some days the writing just flow, and then there are others…enjoy the Cajun spice mix, it’s very versatile
I am really enjoying your blog, the writing and the recipes, from Canada. As our seasons are reversed, I have to wait till cooler weather for most of your current recipes. This spice mix looks wonderful and season neutral. Fresh spices are so worth the little bit of extra trouble!
Hi Miriam, nice to meet you, yes the Cajun spice mix is trans seasonal and well worth the effort
Well then it doesn’t show. Even if it is painful, you always write so lucidly. That looks so tasty, I might take up chicken eating. I agree about old spice bags and jars. Another source of super fresh spices is Bas Foods in Brunswick.
Thanks Francesca, sometimes it’s much easier than others. Just peeped at Bas Foods online, I think I need to visit. I can’t believe that I didn’t know about them…..
You will love it!!!