1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1 Garlic Clove
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
¼ Cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
On a work surface, use the flat side of a knife and mash the garlic clove into a paste with a pinch of salt added in. Scrape the paste into a small bowl and stir in the tomato paste and lemon juice. Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, and caraway. Gradually stir in the oil and season with salt to taste.
This item can be made up to a week in advance when stored in the refrigerator. Also note that the longer the paste sits in the refrigerator, the flavor will deepen, so waiting a day or so after you make it to use it will enhance your recipe results.
Harissa is a spicy, aromatic, Middle Eastern hot sauce. You can find harissa in both powder and paste forms. Harissa emerged from Tunisa around the 16th century with the introduction of capsicum pepper (chili peppers,) to the area from Spain. Since then it has been adapted by many surrounding countries such as Algeria, Libya, and Morocco. This tasty tabletop condiment is a blend of herbs, spices, and oil and can be found on most tables in the Middle East and North Africa. Harissa is as common in these parts of the world as Ketchup and Mustard are to us here in the United States.
How to Use Harissa:
Harissa is great for a lot of recipes! Use this flavorful paste in soups, stews, appetizers, and main dishes. It makes a great marinade for meats and fishes. You can add it to any of your favorite dips as well. Try adding it to your hummus, talk about yum. Also, add a spoonful of harissa to a bowl of olive oil and dip your favorite bread in it. You can't go wrong with how you try out this international accompaniment!
Spicy Harissa Hash
Moroccan Eggs with Harissa Yogurt
Grilled Harissa Chicken
Rigatoni with Spicy Beef
Sticky Marmalade and Harissa Chicken
Harissa Salmon with Mixed Grains and Spinach
Soup & Stews
Irish Soda Bread with Caraway
3 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour (1 Pound)
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Caraway Seeds
4 Tbsp Butter (1/2 Stick) room temperature*
1 ½ cups Buttermilk**
* = Important, please ensure butter is room temperature prior or the recipe will not turn out properly
** = If you do not have buttermilk, you can substitute 1/2 cup of plain yogurt mixed with 1 cup plain milk and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
Preheat oven to 450° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and caraway seeds. Using your fingers (or a fork) work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a course meal. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the buttermilk into the center and using your hands or a wooden spoon, fold the flour over the buttermilk and gently mix until just combined. If too dry, add a bit more buttermilk. If too wet, add a little more flour. Roughly shape into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead just a few times to shape into a round loaf. Place dough loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet (or cast-iron pan.) Make 1 ½ inch deep cuts, forming a cross, from side to side on the loaf. Place in oven, cook for 15 minutes at 450°, then lower the heat to 400° and cook for another 25 minutes. To test for doneness, take it out of the oven, and flip it over and knock on the bottom. Let rest 10 - 15 minutes before serving.
The origins of the name caraway come from the Arabic al-karwiya seeds, which some presume is the origin of the Latin word carvi and from Caria, where caraway may have first been used.
Some sources indicated that the history of caraway dates back to the Stone Age. Caraway seeds were discovered in the refuse areas of prehistoric communities in southern Europe. Those finds are believed to indicate that the plant was a part of early man's daily life. The roots of caraway plants were said to warm and stimulate a cold, languid stomach. It was combined with milk to make a bread which formed the chara of Julius Caesar that was eaten by the soldiers of Valerius.
As a culinary herb, caraway is frequently used in German and Austrian cooking as a seasoning for cheese, dumplings, pork, goose, and sausages. It continues to be used for sauerkraut as well as breads, cakes, and sweetmeats. Young caraway shoots are used with salads and many eat boiled roots like a vegetable.
Appetizers & Breads:
Irish Soda Bread with Caraway Seeds
Buttered Cabbage with Caraway
Crisp Caraway Twists
Sautéed Chard with Caraway and Onions
Soups & Stews:
Irish Pork Stew with Stout and Caraway Seeds
Beef Goulash with Caraway Seeds
Chicken Soup with Crucifers and Caraway
Red Cabbage Soup with Caraway
Cream Cheese, Caraway, & Rye Toast w/Boiled Egg
Radish Breakfast Sandwich with Caraway Butter
Caraway Irish Soda Bread Muffins
Caraway Mini Pancakes
Cabbage and Kale Slaw with Caraway Ranch Dressing
German Pork Burger
Caraway Egg Salad
Caraway Seed Pork Chops
Creamy Cabbage with Pancetta and Caraway Seeds
Pork Chops with Braised Cabbage
Sugared Berries with Caraway Cream
Lemon Caraway Seed Cookies
Apple and Caraway Tartlets with Cinnamon-Clove Icing and Caramel-Cider Sauce
Five-Spice Chicken Breasts with Sesame-Orange Beans
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 teaspoons Five-spice Powder
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
¾ Cup Thinly Sliced Red Onion
1 ½ Teaspoons Grated Orange Rind
2 Cloves Thinly Sliced Garlic
1 (12 oz) Package of Haricots Verts (French Green Beans)
1 ½ Tablespoons Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
½ Cup Orange Sections
4 Teaspoons Toasted Sesame Oil
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with five-spice powder and salt. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into slices.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until browned. Add orange rind and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add haricots verts; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Stir in soy sauce. Top with orange sections, and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve with chicken.
A common spice blend found in almost all Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. Most commonly, you will find Cinnamon, Fennel Seeds, Star Anise, Sichuan Peppercorn, and Cloves as the five main ingredients in Five-Spice mixtures. In Southern China, you may see different types of cinnamon used, and even the addition of Mandarin orange peel. The reasoning behind the five-spice blend has to do with the five tastes (salt, sweet, bitter, sour, salty, umami) where each taste pairs with a spice. Some spices, like the cloves found in this blend, are high in antioxidants which can help prevent many common ailments.
The five spice mix is a rich reflection of the Chinese philosophy that explores the balance of the yin and yang in food. Apart from being used as a key flavor enhancer in the Chinese culinary world, it is a reflection of what the Chinese culture stands for — preservation of the unique identity that is symbolic of the nation’s traditions.
Five-spice is primarily used with more fatty meats such as pork, duck, or goose. It makes an excellent spice rub for chicken, duck, pork, or even seafood. A seasoned salt can be easily made by dry-roasting common salt with five-spice powder under low heat in a dry pan until the spice and salt are mixed. Five-spice can also add complexity to sweets and savory dishes alike. Traditionally, five-spice has been used as an antiseptic as well as a cure for indigestion!
Appetizers & Sides:
Five-Spice Kale Chips
Homemade Apple Sauce with Chinese Five-Spice
Chinese Five-Spice Taters
Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Wings
Lunch & Dinner:
Asian Five-Spice Chicken
Five-Spice Pork Lomein
Five-Spice Beef Stir-fry
Chinese Five-Spice Burgers
Braised Pork Belly with Soy Sauce and Five-Spice
Homemade Labneh with Za’atar
10 oz. plain Greek Yogurt (use full fat yogurt)
OR Coconut Yogurt if you want to make the recipe vegan.
¼ teaspoon Lemon Juice
Dash of Sea Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mix together lemon juice, yogurt, and salt in a small bowl.
Place the yogurt in a mesh sieve or cheese cloth and then place in a bowl for 12-24 hours. Drain liquid that is released as needed.
Once desired consistency is reached, place labneh in a serving dish / bowl. Top with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar. Use as much or as little olive oil and za’atar seasoning as you wish. Serve with warm pita, pita chips, or sliced vegetables.
History & Uses
Za’atar (pronounced Zaah-tar.) Having been used in dishes as far back as ancient Egypt, this aromatic Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac will transform your cooking. The name Za’atar alone most properly applies to Origanum Syriacum, a plant, in biblical scholarship to be the hyssop of the Hebrew Bible. Besides being a bold and flavorful addition to any dish, this herb and spice blend has some health benefits as well including soothing inflammation and boosting cognition!
The plant itself, which is native to Greece and to Palestine / Israel, has been cultivated in North America by Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese immigrants for use in their za’atar preparations since the 1940’s.
Za’atar recipes are sometimes seen as traits of certain families like in Morocco. Recipes for spice mixtures were often kept secret, and mothers would rarely share them with even their own daughters and other relatives. Za'atar, both the herb and the condiment, is popular in Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey
Besides being used as a way to season pita and other breads, za’atar is also used in seasoning meats and vegetables or it can be sprinkled on to hummus. It is also eaten with labneh, bread, and olive oil for breakfast commonly in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
Salads, Snacks, and Sides
Meat, Seafood, Poultry
June: Jerk Spice
Jerk Spice (provided)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 – 2 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Combine spices with olive oil and lime juice in a large re-sealable freezer bag. Pound chicken to an even thickness for consistent cooking. Add the chicken to the bag and turn to coat chicken in jerk seasoning mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator from anywhere from 2 – 24 hours.
Heat Grill (or oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit). If grilling, make sure to oil your grates prior to placing chicken down. If grilling, cook about 4 minutes per side, or until done and the internal temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If using your oven, bake in a shallow dish for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and then cook for another 12-15 minutes. Take meat off the grill / out of the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing; this helps keep the chicken moist!
Jerk is said to come from charqui, a Spanish term of Quechua origin for jerked or dried meat. Jerk is also derived from the action of “jerking,” or poking holes in meat so flavor can be more easily absorbed.
There are two popular opinions on the origins of jerk seasoning. The first origin states that the Maroons, who were an enslaved African people, had fled slavery into the Jamaican countryside during the invasion of Jamaica in 1655. They then adapted their new surroundings, including spices, into their eating habits. Others argue that jerk originated with the Amerindians in Jamaica from the Arawak and Taino tribes who intermingled with the Maroon peoples.
The smoky taste of jerk meat is achieved using various cooking methods including modern wood-burning ovens, grills, and smokers. The meat is normally chicken or pork. Jerk is a popular in Caribbean and West Indian diaspora communities throughout North America and Western Europe.
Appetizers & Sides
Vegetarian / Vegan
July: Montreal Steak
Montreal Steak Sweet & Spicy Rub:
½ tsp. - Red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. - Light Brown Sugar
1 – 2 tbsp. - Montreal Steak Seasoning (Provided)
1 & ½ lbs. - Boneless Ribeye Steak (Sirloin Strip works well too)
Combine red pepper, light brown sugar, and steak seasoning in a small bowl. Rub the mixture into the steak so that the meat is coated thoroughly. Grill the steaks on medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes per side OR until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees. Allow meat to rest 3 minutes before serving.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Morris “The Shadow” Sherman, a broiler man who worked at Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal, has been credited with creating what is known today as Montreal steak seasoning. The spice blend was used to cure the beef brisket before it was smoked and steamed. After seeing Sherman sprinkling the seasoning over his own lunch, customers clamored for the same spices on their meals as well, and the Canadian steak invasion began!
The blend, however, did not originate in Montreal. It actually came over from Romania. In Romania they use a dry-rub for preparing meat, which comes from the Romanian “Pastrama,” the ancestor of pastrami. Prior to Romania, it was used by the Ottoman Empire to help cure and preserve meats. It was then brought over to Montreal by Jewish immigrants. The spice blend is primarily made of garlic, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed, and salt.
Rub into salmon before roasting or pan-frying, sprinkle on buttered popcorn or baked potatoes, coat bacon with it before cooking, use as an instant pickling spice, sauté vegetables with a pinch, stir into a mustard sauce for sandwiches.
Appetizers and Dips
Vegetables & Vegetarian
Chicken & Poultry
August: Texas BBQ Rub
Simple Seasoned Steaks:
Texas BBQ Rub
2 Steaks (your choice of style)
Generously coat both sides of the meat with the dry rub. Allow the meat to rest in this coating for at least 30 minutes to allow the salt to penetrate the meat and help break down the fibers. Using a grill, or cast iron pan, cook one side for 4-5 minutes until browned and slightly charred. Flip over and cook for the additional time:
- Medium Rare: 5 additional minutes***
- Medium: 7 additional minutes***
- Well: 10 additional minutes***
Once cooked to your desired temperature, allow meat to rest 5-10 minutes prior to slicing to allow juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
*** = These cooking times very based on the size of the steak you are cooking. Please adjust times to fit your taste.
History of the Spice
Texas is home to many different kinds of barbecue. In western Texas a dry rub is used in a more traditional cowboy style. This style is cooked over an open fire by cattlemen working the land. In eastern Texas you will find more sauce based barbecue, and that is credited to the African-American population that settled in the area after being emancipated from slavery. And, in southern Texas, you will find a more traditional, “Tex-Mex,” style. These dry rubs focus on the combination of flavors from both Mexico and the United States. Our rub follows this recipe the closest.
The biggest influences to the barbecue culture in Texas came from the European meat-smoking traditions. German and Czechoslovakian settlers in the middle of the 19th century. Traditionally, butchers would smoke leftover meat, allowing it to be stored longer without going bad. As these leftovers became popular among migrants in the area, multiple meat markets began to specialize in smoked and cured meats.
Watermelon Skewers with Tajin:
½ small watermelon cut into 1” cubes
½ teaspoon Tajin
6 Long Wooden Skewers
Cut watermelon into cubes. Add a few cubes to each skewer. Squeeze a little lime juice all over the watermelon cubes. Sprinkle with as much or as little Tajin as you would like. Enjoy!
Tajin is a Mexican company that was founded in 1985 by Horacio Fernandez. Horacio’s grandmother created the spice blend and turned it into a sauce. Horacio wanted to recreate this blend in a powder form in order to market / sell it. Fernandez decided that he would name the product Tajin, after he visited the archaeological site of El Tajin in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. After much success in Mexico, the product was released in the United States in 1993, and the rest is history. As of today, the product can be found in over 30 countries.
The company’s most popular item is a seasoning powder often referred to as, Tajin. It consists of dried ground chilies, sea salt, and dehydrated lime juice. You can also find it with lower sodium, habanero peppers, a fruity chamoy hot sauce, or even a tajin clasico cocktail rimmer!
This is a very versatile spice. You can sprinkle Tajin on any of your favorite fruits and veggies like cucumber and mango to add a spicy citrus kick. Tajin also works great with main dishes as well as an additional seasoning or even a rub. Try Tajin on almost anything and you are sure to have a flavorful creation!
October: Star Anise
Star Anise and Honey Glazed Chicken:
½ Cup Soy Sauce
½ Cup Honey
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh chopped ginger
4-6 Star Anise (whole)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 – 4 Chicken Breasts (about 3lbs.)
Set your oven to 350 degrees and allow it to preheat.
Set the oven racks at the middle. Mix everything but the 14mixture over chicken. Bake between an hour, and an hour and twenty minutes. While cooking, remember to baste chicken with marinade mixture every 10 – 15 minutes. Serve with sautéed spinach and garlic or jasmine rice!
History & Origins:
Star Anise comes from a small evergreen tree in Southwest China and Vietnam. The “star” is the fruit of the tree, its then dried out, and used in multiple ways, from foods to medicines. The Chinese have been using this spice in both ways for over 3,000 years. Both the seeds and the pods contain the flavor and can be ground together or used whole to flavor broths. The eight arms of the star are supposed to signify luck in Chinese folklore.
The spice made its way to Europe in 1578. English navigator Sir Thomas Cavendish brought it to Europe by way of the Philippines. This originally caused people to believe the spice came from that region, instead of its native China and Vietnam. In Europe, the spice was used in desserts and liqueurs.
Flavor Profile & Uses:
Star anise is widely described as having the same licorice notes found in fennel and anise. Of the three it is known to be the most pungent. If too much is used, the spice can cause food to have a bitter aftertaste.
Star Anise can be used for many things. It is one of the main spices used in Five-Spice blends found throughout Asia. In Vietnam, it’s used to flavor Pho (a type of soup.) In Thailand, the spice is even used to flavor iced tea! Besides foods, star anise has shown to be helpful in pharmaceuticals and is a major source of Shikimic acid which is used in creating the anti-influenza drug Oseltamivir (Tamiful.)
Cardamom Honey Chicken:
4 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Sherry
1 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1 teaspoon Ground Peppercorns
4 Chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in OR 1 Large whole chicken cut into parts
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Warm honey slightly, stir in sherry, cardamom, and peppercorns. Place marinade and chicken in a large bowl, making sure to coat the chicken with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 390° F. Heat olive oil in a large pan on the stove over medium heat. Sear the chicken for 20 to 30 seconds skin-side down, until golden. Once seared, place lemon slices in a roasting pan. Lay the chicken pieces on top. Brush with remaining marinade. Season with salt and pepper and cover loosely with foil. Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 – 15 additional minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F. If the chicken starts to get too dark, tent with foil. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before serving. Pour out the drippings from the pan into a gravy boat for gravy. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or couscous.
History & Uses:
Cardamom is a spice that comes from the seeds of various plants in the ginger family. The spice is native to Southern India and can also be found growing in Guatemala, the largest producer and exporter of cardamom. In Guatemala, it is even considered to be more valuable than coffee. Vikings first discovered the spice on their travels and brought it back to Scandinavia. It has a strong aroma similar to cloves and some say has a taste like a combination of cinnamon and ginger. Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but, with such a strong flavor, a little goes a long way.
Considered one of the oldest spices used, cardamom dates back over 4,000 years to the Ancient Egyptians. Cardamom has been used to treat indigestion, asthma, to clean teeth and combat bad breath! The Greeks and Romans also used the spice for its pungent aroma in things like perfumes and oils. In Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, the spice is popular in curries and almost always found in a spice blend. In Asia, it is commonly found in teas. And, in Scandinavia, it is used to make mulled wine and glogg.
Snacks / Appetizers
Soups / Salads
December: Mulling Spice
Cinnamon, Orange Peel, Allspice, Cloves, Star Anise, & other Natural Flavors
Mulling spices can be used to enhance many beverages. Plain water, red wine, and apple ciders can all be used as a base. Choose your favorite beverage, and place the sachet in it (each sachet will enhance up to 4 cups of liquid.) Boil for 10-15 minutes. Remove sachet and enjoy! If you like your beverages a little sweeter, feel free to add up to ½ a cup of sugar to taste!
We first see use of mulling spices by the Romans in the 2nd century A.D. The Romans would heat and spice their wine as they moved across Europe. While the exact composition of mulling spices vary, they typically contain cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice, some even contain bits of dried fruit.
With the continued movement of the Roman people, the popularity of mulling spices began to spread across the continent. The beverage mixture really got popular during the Middle Ages, when people would use warmed spiced wine to survive the bitter winters.
Over the years, these spices have found their way into a variety of warm beverages and began to be associated with the Fall and Winter seasons. Today, the most common use is in festive winter beverages like mulled wine, cider, and tea.