If Martha can market everything she knows how to do, why not moi ici? A friend told me, "Do what you love, love what you do, and make no apologies..."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rave Reviews for Artisanal Spice!

Early reviews are in at my new Etsy store, and here's what my first customer shared with the world:

Asian Spice Rub - Zesty Minty Blend: in a word........... WOW I love it so refreshing yet different. We used it on center cut chops and grilled them and let me tell you ... we did not have leftovers! great spice from a great seller!

Chocolate Chipotle Coffee Rub: OMG this is my new secret go to for company it makes such a great crust on the meat that is to die for!!!! Such a great mix and blend !

17 Spice Moroccan Blend : this is amazing on flank steak and grilled onions for that perfect hit of heat but not so hot that your taste buds melt. A great mix from a great seller! i highly recommend this shop to everyone !

Porcini Sea Salt Umami Seasoning Blend: I will never eat my risotto without it again. It adds such a great depth of flavor that i never even knew i was missing! Got great reviews at the work luncheon! Thank you so much for being so helpful and your recipies are great too! a joy to work with!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fennel Savory Blend with a dash of cinnamon

Click photo to purchase at ArtisanalSpice.etsy.com
Toasted fennel seed crushed with peppercorns, sea salt and a kiss of cinnamon combine contrasting notes in this savory blend. This is especially divine rubbed on pork, lean cuts of beef such as flank steak, chicken dishes, yams (oh my -- scroll down for that easy recipe!)
Each 1-ounce tin contains 2 tablespoons (15 grams/2 oz) of freshly blended seasoning.

IMPACT: Transforming and distinctive, fairly bold but not overpowering to foods.

TIP: To draw out the flavors of your spice blends before using them in your recipe, I suggest lightly & quickly heating them. Place the amount called for in the recipe in a heated saute pan over medium heat and toast quickly until the aromas are released, or mix them with a little hot cooking oil.

Cut fresh yams into 2-inch dice, toss in olive oil, a little salt, and a generous amount of my Savory Fennel Blend. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden-brown and done to your liking. Utterly delicious!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Using Your Spice Blends

Quickly toasting or lightly heating your spice blend just prior to using helps extract and bring out the flavors. Two good ways to do this: 1) Quickly heat them in a dry, hot non-stick pan, 2) To the hot non-stick pan, add 1 teaspoon of oil and saute the spices for about 1 minute before incorporating them into your recipe.

Store your spices tightly sealed in a cool, dry location. Buy in small quantities and use within a couple of months, since flavors fade over time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Steak Bravissimo and the Salt Debate

Salt is the most profound flavor enhancer of all foods, including meats. When it comes to dry-seasoning trimmed meats prior to cooking, some chefs say "no" to salt because they believe it draws out the juices. Others disagree, hence a controversy.

One side of the debate says that meats which are trimmed down to bare muscle should be salted post-cooking, during resting, so that the salt functions as a mere accent. Others say apply salt judiciously, a few minutes prior to cooking, to truly marry all the flavors of the meat and other seasonings.

When it comes to grilling or quick cooking methods, I prefer to include some salt before cooking to deepen and balance the flavors of the meat. Nothing heightens, enhances and unites flavors like salt, and by adding it just before or during the cooking process, it performs to its full potential.

Whether or not you salt before cooking, my opinion is the true key to retaining juiciness is searing the surface of the meat at the start of cooking to seal in the juices and flavorings. (In fact, one of the best methods of pan-cooking a pepper-coated steak is to use a smoking hot, dry cast-iron skillet with nothing more than coarse salt added to the pan just before searing the meat.)

If you prefer your salt just as an accent, go with "no salt before cooking." You can request any of my spice blends to be salt-free, and add salt just before serving.

Not sure? Experiment! Your own palate is your best judge of this debate.

Moroccan 17 Spice Blend: Ras el Hanout

Known in Morocco as Ras el Hanout, this is an extravagant, outrageously delicious blend of 17 different spices.Purchase at ArtisanalSpice

IMPACT: Transforming, exotic, "wow" flavor, distinctive but won't overpower the taste of the other ingredients in your dish.

Suggested Uses: Sprinkle it as a salt-free seasoning on roasted turkey, eggs, potatoes, lentils, hummous, cooked shrimp. Use it as a rub for chicken, lamb or pork. Add it to stews -- you'll find lots Moroccan style recipes online that call for Ras el Hanout seasoning, such as tagines, couscous, lamb dishes, B'stilla.

Recipe: Marrakesh Harrira Soup
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup lentil beans, soaked overnight
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" chunks (approx. 8 to 10 ounces)
2 large onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp Ras el Hanout seasoning
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 large tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup long grain rice
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups water
1/3 cup flour dissolved in 1 cup water

In a stock pot, heat olive oil and brown the onions and the dry spices. Add the chicken and cook lightly. Add the 6 cups water, salt, peppers, garbanzo beans, lentils, and celery. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Blend the flour-water with the tomatoes, cilantro and parsely and stir into the pot. Add the rice, and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Add 1 Tbsp butter and the lemon juice and stir. If too thick, add more water and adjust seasonings before serving.

Minty Asian Spice Rub

Sea salt blended with mint and selected spices is divine rubbed on pork, flank steak, and chicken dishes. This packs just the right amount of red-peppery heat, without overpowering the other flavors of the dish. Available at ArtisanalSpice.

IMPACT: Adds delicate salt and subtly contrasting flavors of Asian cuisine. Transforming as a rub, not bold or overpowering.

Simple Recipe Suggestion: Wonderful as rub for grilled meats. For lamb, pork tenderloin, flank steak or boneless chicken breasts, simply rub a little olive oil all over the surface, then sprinkle generously with Zesty Minty Asian Spice Rub. Grill over medium-hot coals.

Porcini Sea Salt Umami Seasoning

Sea salt and freshly ground porcini mushroom dust blended with selected earthy herbs. This adds earthy delicioso to everything, from eggs to meats. It is outstanding with sauteed mushrooms and rice. Available at ArtisanalSpice

Recipe: Wild Rice with Mushrooms
This is a fabulous side-dish with meats and earthy entrees. Makes 4 1/2-cup servings.
1 cup uncooked wild rice
3-1/2 cups water
1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon Porcini Sea Salt Umami Seasoning
Fresh ground pepper

Cook wild rice according to package directions, omitting salt, approx. 30-40 minutes until just done (al dente)
In the meantime, saute sliced mushrooms over medium heat in 2 tbsp olive oil until tender, and juices become slightly syrupy, approximately 10-12 minutes. Season with 1-teaspoon Porcini Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Set aside while rice continues to cook. When rice is al dente, add the mushroom mixture to it and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Adjust seasonings to taste by adding more Porcini Sea Salt and pepper as desired.

Fennel Magic

If you're impressed with fennel pollen seasoning but not the steep price, my affordable blend mimics it nicely for the home chef. Sold in my Etsy store, ArtisanalSpice, you can purchase a sample or a tin. You'll find recipes and ideas for using fennel pollen all over the net, and here is one of my own "go-to" recipes, simple, dependable and delicious! Fennel is most sublime paired with seafood, poultry, pork, and sausages.

Grilled Herbed Fish
One 6-8 oz steaks or fillets per serving (I suggest wild-caught salmon, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan cod, or striped bass)

For each 8-ounce fish fillet or steak:
Rub with 1/2 tsp olive oil
Lightly season with small amount of salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
Dust with 1/2 tsp Savory Spice Fennel Magic Seasoning

Grill over medium-hot flame for 8-9 minutes per inch of thickness. Fish should be just past rare when removed from the grill, as it will continue to cook a bit more. (If necessary, keep fish on the frill for one additional minute.)

Meet Andria: Self Representing Artist, Blogger

A random selection of my fiber creations, sold on Etsy

I'll just give you the facts, and let you draw your own conclusions:

Day jobs I've had, starting with the college years:
Bank Teller (how funny, since I can only count to 9. Double digits scare me.)
Architectural Assistant (this was really a glorified gopher/secretary person)
Interior Designer (putting my education to work)
Textile Manufacturer (my signature handwoven upholstery line -- finally doing what I adored)
Burned-out Textile Mfg.: Scaled down, went back to my studio & online with KatsaraYarns
And now, Self-Representing Artisan: designer/weaver/knitter/cook/jewelry maker/spice blender/silk painter who sells online and in a local gallery

Extra-curricular favorite things to do:
Travel (don't do enough)
Strolling through a good museum with Mom
Talking politics with Dad
Entertain friends
Read a great historical novel
Read a great cookbook
Daydream with kitty on lap
Eat good food with good friends
Drink good coffee anytime
Drink good wine with hubby and stare at the stars
Visit a winery
Hang out with sister, brother and their mates