Tag Archives: spicekitchenuk

Uses for spice mixes…

Picture the scene: you’ve got a selection of spices mixes in your cupboard that you’ve made or bought for a particular recipe and never used again…or someone has bought you a great set of spice mixes from the lovely people at Spice Kitchen, for example, and you don’t know what to do with them, here’s some ideas for you. In fact, this is why I love making spice mixes because you can use them so easily.

Whatever the spice mix, whatever the origin, these ideas will work with whatever you’ve got to hand..

An easy dip

Stir a teaspoon of any spice mix into a small bowlful of natural yoghurt, ideally Greek yoghurt, or a mix of half yoghurt/half mayonnaise. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving. Stir again before serving. 

Pimp your homous:

Add a teaspoon of any spice mix to a pot of shop bought homous, or a small bowl of homemade homous. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving, it will be even better the next day. Stir again before serving. I particularly like using my Moroccan spice mix or harissa spice to do this. 

Eggs:

Sprinkle a pinch of spice mix over cooked eggs prior to eating.

Stir half a teaspoon of spice mix into scrambled eggs or an egg mixture prior to making an omelette. Try a Mexican spice mix for starters. 

Eggs and tomato sauce in one!

Tomato sauce:

Make an easy tomato sauce and add any of the spice mixes as it cooks.

Soups:

Add a teaspoon of the spice mix to any premade soup, or add several teaspoons to your own homemade soups as you cook the base ingredients.

I’ve made a lot of soups recently, for example, this soup above is made of olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, water and baharat spice mix. I’ve made similar in the past with Mexican and Indian spice mixes. 

Whereas this soup is made with cauliflower and a Japanese curry powder. 

Roasted chickpeas:

Drain a can or jar of chickpeas and toss with a tablespoon of oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice mix and roast in a single layer at 180C until the chickpeas look roasted and tasty, and before they start exploding in your oven.


Roasted nuts
:

Pretty much the same as above, more details on my post here. 


Rice/grains
:

Stir some spice mix through any cooked rice or grains prior to serving.


Salads
:

Mix a pinch of spice mix with homemade or shop bought salad dressing, or just sprinkle some spice mix over a salad just before serving.

Salsas:

Finely chop fresh mixed herbs, garlic, maybe a chilli, with olive oil, lemon juice/your choice of vinegar, and add some spice mix.


For marinading
:

Cut 2 your choice of vegetables or meat into chunks, put them into a plastic bag (preferably one without any holes) in it, add 2 heaped teaspoons of spice mix and shake the bag to mix it round and cover all of the chicken. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Alternatively, mix a couple of teaspoonfuls of spice mix with a couple of tablespoons of oil and create a paste. Add you choice of veg/meat and thoroughly stir it through the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Or, add a couple of tablespoons of spice mix to a couple of tablespoonfuls of natural yoghurt, below, and marinade as above. 


These work well if you are then grilling/broiling or barbecuing the vegetables/meat.


Roasting vegetables

Toss prepared vegetables in a drizzle of oil and a couple of teaspoons spice mix and roast until ready. More details here

OR…..throw some spice mix into your bread dough! 

I’m taking my spice mix ideas along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Ginger and Suzanne

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It all started with Kellie’s onion bhaji potato scones..

 It’s not news that I love Kellie’s blog and her recipes, she always inspires and excites me with her food 🙂

Recently she posted these fabulous ‘onion bhaji potato scones‘, an amalgamation of cuisines and flavours brought together to create a tasty flatbread. I made them the same week that she posted them and served them with an Indian feast that I had made for myself and my boys and they were a great success. I produced 14 mini breads and there was only 3 left at the end of the meal! 

I finished them off the next day with some roasted root vegetables and fresh tahini sauce (above & below). 

  The recipe triggered some other ideas in me…an element of the recipe is to make a spiced onion mixture and I liked it so much that I increased the quantities and cooked my version of the onion mixture with coconut oil. I like the idea of red onion chutney but I can’t stomach all of the sugar, so this was my version in a way..

Ingredients

4 red onions, peeled and chopped

2-3 tbsp coconut oil 

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground roasted cumin

1/2 tsp ground roasted caraway 

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp onion powder 

2 tsp amchoor powder

Method

I started by heating the coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat and added the onions to start softening them

I then added all of the spices and cooked the mixture over a low heat for 30-45 minutes so that it caramelised…

It was so good!!! I used it in various ways one of which was to create a quick pizza: 

I spread the mixture over a plain flatbread (I used ‘khobez’, Arabic bread) and topped with crumbled goats cheese and baked until the cheese softened..
  
How good does that look?? I can tell you that it was good!

In my next post I’ll share what else I did with the onion mixture…

Spiced nuts..

 Whilst I’m on the theme of spices, I thought I’d share my recent spiced nut adventures..

This week I made roasted nuts with my rose harissa spice mix, some with the Mexican spice mix from www.spicekitchenuk.com,  some with garam masala, and finally some cashews with chilli powder.. 

To make your own spiced nuts, start with raw nuts; 

Heat the oven to 190C and spread the nuts on a baking tray in a single layer;

Roast until they start to brown;

Keep checking them and move the nuts from the outside edges into the middle and around the tray so that none of them get overdone; 

Whilst they roast, pour 1 tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil into a bowl and stir a tablespoon of your chosen spice mix into the oil – of course, this may vary depending how may nuts you’re roasting, you need to gauge it yourself; resist the temptation to use any more oil, the oil is only to help the spices stick to the nuts and too much will make the nuts greasy;

Once they start to brown, take the tray out;

Mix the nuts with the oil and spices then put them back on the baking tray and back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until you feel they are sufficiently done. 

Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add a sprinkle of salt. 

* Don’t put the spices in right from the start of roasting the nuts or you could burn the spices and they will become bitter. 

Mexican spiced 

Chilli cashews 

Garam masala spiced 

Rose harissa spiced 

    
  I thought I was making these rose harissa spiced nuts below for me when I first made them and suddenly my boys had eaten the lot! That’s success in my book 🙂  

Enjoy!

Happy Sunday x

Pimp Your Veg part 2: spices are your friend! 

 If you have ever read any of my blog then you know that I love spices; these beautifully coloured aromatic powders have the power to not only nourish and heal our bodies, but to completely change any meal. 

Just a teaspoon of the right spice can take a dish from bland to grand! 

When it comes to embracing vegetables and learning to add more of them to your meals, I think spices are your secret weapon. You can bring all the flavours you love to your plate via your vegetables and make them sing.

Likewise you can use dried herbs, but for me, it’s all about spices, that’s where I would begin…and again, I know that lots of you use spices regularly and know far more than me about them, so please pass this onto to anyone you think might find it useful 🙂

Please keep in mind, this is a starting point for anyone looking for ways to pimp their vegetables. And of course, spices can boost any dish, for now, it’s just all about the veg! 

So, where to start? If you stand in front of a selection of spices in any shop it can be overwhelming so this is my advice…

You don’t need to have a huge library of spices immediately; my vast collection has grown over a number of years, but to begin with, I only bought those I needed for particular recipes; as I am not talking about anything so prescriptive, I would start with spice mixes. You don’t need to make your own like I do, (not to begin with anyway, you might fancy trying that later?) for starters I’d look at what is available in your local shops. All I would say is, for me, shop bought spice mixes usually have too much salt, but that’s just me and my tastes, try some and see what you think. 

If you think of the flavours that you like, go with them:

If you like Indian flavours, buy spice mixes with names that you recognise – tandoori, korma, madras, rogan josh, tikka, garam masala (masala means mix). Think of dishes you’ve enjoyed and choose based on those flavours.

If you like Mexican or South American food, try taco/fajita mixes, or creole or cajun, or just smoked paprika. For me, a creole mix is really user friendly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. 

If you like Middle Eastern flavours, try baharat, ras el hanout, za’atar or harissa. Or try some lovely citrusy sumac. As a note…many Middle Eastern flavours include cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or cloves, what we might consider Christmassy spices in the UK. If you try baharat or ras el hanout you’ll find these flavours, and they can be quite strong so don’t be heavy handed with these spice mixes until you get to know them .

If you like spicy food, try some chilli powder. 

I would also pick up some cumin powder, it’s a lovely starting point, and some paprika, as it’s so useful.

Be drawn by flavours and names you recognise. 

Where to buy spices? 

You will find lots of spices mixes in supermarkets, but I would also suggest visiting an Asian or Middle Eastern supermarket if you have one nearby, their spices are good quality and they have a fast turnaround, or look online at www.spicekitchenuk.com – they have perfect sized little sachets for an ideal introduction to spices (definitely try their Mexican blend!) and their fresh spices are lovely. 

As a basic starting point for using spices, ignore the directions and recipes on the packets for now and go back to my post about roasting vegetables; once you’ve sprayed the vegetables with oil prior to roasting, sprinkle over a tablespoon of your spice mix and stir it through the vegetables then roast as before. 

Alternatively, in large bowl, add a tablespoon or two (depending on your quantity of vegetables) of olive or rapeseed oil, stir in your spices, then add the prepared vegetables and toss them in the oil and spice mixture. Then roast as before.  

I will come onto other ideas for marinating and seasoning vegetables, but for now, why not throw some spices over your vegetables this weekend and see what you think? Try it with vegetables you’ve never really liked and see how they become something wonderful – for example, try roasting brussel sprouts (outer leaves removed and each one cut in half) in one of the Indian spice mixes, they’re so good! Make sure you roast them until the edges get crispy 😉 

These pics from my kitchen might also give you some ideas…

Above are carrots roasted with cumin and Aleppo chilli flakes. If you’re not a chilli fan, just try carrots with cumin. 

Above are aubergine slices about to be roasted with chermoula spice mix over them. Alternatively try these with ras el hanout or Harissa spice. 

Above…I roasted courgettes and aubergines with a selection of spices…try any one of the Indian spice mixes and see what you think..

Above is kohlrabi, carrot, sweet potatoes and shallots roasted in my own Moroccan spice mix. Try it with cumin, paprika and a sprinkle of salt. Replace the kohlrabi with parsnip or swede (rutabaga) and see just how different they can taste.  Above is mushrooms, red onion, leeks and kale roasted with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Try a good sprinkle of sumac as something different (for sumac I’d sprinkle over a couple of tablespoonfuls). I threw this together the other day with our dinner..mushrooms, red peppers, red onions and garlic cloves with paprika. Nice with a sprinkle of chilli powder? 

This butternut squash above it roasted with za’atar spice. Butternut squash and sweet potato are great with a Mexican spice mix, especially a creole or Cajun mix. If in doubt, just try a sprinkle of paprika or smoked paprika as a first step and see what you think. 

Basically, be brave! A little makes a lot of difference and you can build it up as you get more confident. If in doubt, just ask 😉 

I’m sharing my spiced vegetable ideas with everyone at Fiesta Friday this week – I hope they like them! Check out what everyone is cooking this weekend with co hosts Judi and Quinn.

Have fun! 

Coming next in the series: getting crunchy! 

Spiced spinach, buckwheat & cheese baked flatbreads/pancakes/pizza bases…

Welcome to Friday!!! Or…depending where you are, I hope you’ve had a good Friday and a good week? Let me share with you a recent creation from my kitchen..colour, goodness and flavour all in one go..

Basically, these concoctions could be used for so many things, hence the title…what they truly are, are tasty, healthy rounds of goodness that you could eat on their own or as a base for something else..

It all began with some leftover cooked buckwheat groats, a bag of spinach and some cheese…
Ingredients 

250g baby spinach

1 cup (when uncooked) buckwheat, cooked

80g mature cheddar 

Harissa spice mix – I just threw it in but probably around 2 heaped tablespoons would do – and if you don’t have this spice mix, throw in any spices that you like 

Method

Blend it all together in a food processor then place in a bowl to use immediately or refrigerate for later

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 

Press several spoonfuls of the mixture onto silicone paper sprayed with olive oil until about 2mm thick

Bake for 15-25 mins until you start to see the edges dry out

  
  Above shows before cooking..

Below shows after cooking..
  They should happily slide off the paper or you should be able to turn out onto a plate in one piece 

I spread various dips and sauces over mine and ate them like pizzas..

But they would be good with just melted cheese, or a tomato sauce and cheese, or so many other things, or just eaten on their own..

  

  
I was so pleased with these and I had made enough of the ‘dough’ to enjoy them for a few days 🙂 sometimes, leftovers make the best meals!! Plus, the flavours developed further over a few days so maybe these are best made ahead anyway? 

I am bringing these babies to this week’s Fiesta Friday, I missed last week’s, so look forward to seeing everyone this week 🙂 

My Indian feast with spiced bread rolls..

   
 
This was my Saturday night dinner, an amalgamation of tried and trested recipes plus some experimentation. I spent the whole afternoon cooking these dishes plus some meat dishes for my family…and then the whole dinner was eaten in about 20 minutes!!! That tells me it was a success 🙂 
   
Aubergine Madras

Note: this is lovely when first cooked, and even better if made then eaten later in the day, or even the next day, as the flavours have even more time to develop. 

Ingredients

10 baby aubergines, cut into 1.5cm slices or 2 medium aubergines chopped into chunks 

3 small green chillies (optional)*

5 tbsp oil

3 cloves

2 cardamom pods

2 large onions, finely chopped

2.5cm piece root ginger, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes, pureed

handful coriander leaves

1 tsp garam masala

  
Method 

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan, add the cloves and cardamom and wait till they sizzle.

Add the onions and fry until dark brown.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Next add the red chilli powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt and stir frequently.

Finally add the nutmeg and tomatoes.

Take off the heat and blend with a stick blender still in the pan (do this carefully otherwise your whole kitchen will get splattered!). Keep to one side. 

*I add the chillies now so that I have the option to remove them. If you like a spicier curry, add them with the garlic and ginger and then they will be blended into the sauce.

Chop the aubergines (or whatever vegetable you prefer) and cook in another pan until soft then stir them into the sauce.

Simmer, covered, all together for 15-20 mins. 

Finish with garam masala & chopped coriander to serve.
   
 I made the onion bhajia using Naina’s recipe, however, I shallow fried them in vegetable oil as I do not have a pan like Naina’s, yet!  Great flavours 🙂

   
 Bread 

I literally threw this bread together, trying to make a note of what I was doing as I went along. I split the dough in half and cooked half as bread rolls and half as flatbreads under a grill, and both worked well. The flatbreads came out with a crunch and the rolls were nice and soft and kept for the next few days. 

Ingredients 

500g flour – I used a mix of atta flour and plain flour (you may need more if the dough feels too wet) 

15g fresh yeast

300ml warm water

2 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt 

1tsp salt

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp ground coriander

1tsp turmeric

1tbsp nigella seeds

  
Method

Add the yeast to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Keep to one side.

In a large bowl, add the salt, then all of the flour over the top of the salt. 

Add in all of the spices, seeds, yoghurt and olive oil and loosely stir all together.

Pour in the yeast water then get your hands in and mix it all until it comes together as a dough.

Turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 5-10 mins until the dough is smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a plastic bag and leave to prove for an hour. 

After the hour, the dough should be well risen. Punch it down then turn out onto the counter again.

Split into 8 portions and either roll out to make flatbreads and/or shape into balls for rolls. 

Place the portions onto a lined baking sheet, with space in between for expansion as they cook, and cover with oiled cling film and leave to raise again for half an hour.

Bake the rolls in an oven at 200C for 12-18 mins, or, grill the flatbreads under a medium heat grill until the surface browns then turn the bread over and grill the other side. Keep an eye on them as they can brown very suddenly, very quickly.  

   
Before grilling, you can press your fingers into the surface of the flatbreads like I did if you fancy, or leave them as they are. 

I also made some roasted potatoes as a side dish. 

Serve it all together whilst it’s hot.

  
The following day, I had the leftover aubergine madras with some soft goats cheese and a couple of the bread rolls for lunch..nice! 

   
 I am taking my Indian feast to Whitney’s new Monthly Masala Link Party – why not join in or check out everyone’s recipes 🙂 

Selma’s romanesco, feta and za’atar cakes..

   

Another of Selma’s recipes that has stuck in my mind are her romanesco, feta and za’atar cakes…this week I made my version..

 

I haven’t been able to find romanesco so, as Selma suggests cauliflower as an alternative, that’s what I used. I also used a crumbly goats cheese instead of feta as that is a staple in my fridge (and I confess I’m not a huge feta fan…sorry…too salty for me!). I also roasted the cauliflower instead of steaming it as my oven was on anyway and it worked well. 
  

The week after Selma died I confess I did a lot of ‘consolation shopping’; I don’t eat cakes or chocolate or anything sweet, and I don’t drink alcohol, or have any of those typical consoling foods in my diet, so shopping became my emotional tool, including buying these new measuring cups and little plates…I thought that maybe Selma would like the plates, so I used them to serve these cakes..I quite like the idea that they might represent the tree of life..

  

The cakes are lovely and everything I knew they would be, and simple to make. I enjoyed them with some of my homemade homous into which I stirred through some of the chemoula spice mix I made for one of Selma’s other recipes

Visit Selma’s wonderful blog for the recipe and check out all of her lovely other offerings whilst you’re there 🙂 

  

  

  

The Fiesta Friday Tribute page to Selma remains open so this is where I shall be sharing this post. Later I will be back with a whole mezze including these savoury cakes for this week’s Fiesta Friday party. 

 
Enjoy!