Stuff and Nonsense: spiced pantry


Showing posts with label spiced pantry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiced pantry. Show all posts

12.08.2016

Cooking with Spiced Pantry: Sweden

October's Spiced Pantry box was all about the flavors of Sweden! Rather like with Morocco, I could smell the contents before I even opened the box and it got me craving gingerbread something terrible. Is gingerbread even Swedish? Pepparkakor is definitely gingerbreadish.

I have to admit that the little I know about Swedish cuisine comes from the Pleasant Company's Kirsten Larson American Girl Doll books (and Kirsten definitely ate some kind of ginger biscuit) and marathoning Crimes of Passion, based on works by the Swedish crime novelist Maria Lang (not much about food, there).


So what is this Spiced Pantry, anyway? Spiced Pantry is a monthly food subscription box featuring a different cuisine each month. Every box includes four ingredients (custom spice blends, grains, legumes, etc), an information card introducing that month's cuisine and ingredients, and the recipes to make with them. Recipes usually serve 4-6 people so, if you are small household like mine, either expect leftovers or be prepared to halve the recipes.

Subscribers can chose between the standard or vegetarian plan. While I selected the standard plan, most of the meat-based recipes I've received include easy modifications to make them vegetarian, anyway. As with many subscription plans, it renews automatically every month until cancelled.

Ingredients in October's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Ground cardamom
  2. Caraway Seeds
  3. Juniper Berries
  4. Stockholm Spice Blend

Recipes in October's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Braised Creamy Cabbage With Caraway
  2. Cardamom Buns
  3. Salmon with Mustard & Juniper
  4. Swedish Meatballs
  5. Swedish Potatoes Au Gratin


"Swedish Meatballs" were AWESOME. One of the best, if not the best, recipe I've made from a Spiced Pantry box. The Husband really enjoyed them, too, and there was a bit of a squabble over the leftovers. My mother and aunts always made Swedish meatballs at Christmas and I thought theirs were good, but this recipe put them to shame. The tender meatballs are packed with delicious flavor and smothered in the most heavenly creamy sauce that manages to taste rich without being heavy.


The "Swedish Potatoes Au Gratin" were also very pleasing and, while so creamy and cheesy, not heavy. A nice take on the French Gratin dauphinois with a touch of Scandinavian spice. Definitely something you want seconds of. The gratin was a little runny when it first came out of the oven, but I gave it fifteen minutes on the kitchen side and it set up nice.

My potatoes were getting a bit gnarly, so I peeled them, but I might leave them unpeeled next time for a little more texture and color. Also, maybe, add thinly sliced leeks and garlic, because more alliums is almost always better!

Looking forward to November's box, featuring the flavors of Vietnam. I know nothing about Vietnamese food that isn't phở or bánh mì, so this should be exciting!

Read about my other Spiced Pantry experiences.

11.10.2016

Cooking with Spiced Pantry: Morocco

September's Spiced Pantry box was all about the flavors of Morocco. I know very little about the food of Morocco, but had images of aromatic spice bazaars, mounds of Mediterranean fruit, and beautifully glazed earthenware tagines in my head when I fetched the box in from the mailbox. I could smell its spicy contents long before I even opened it (must have drive the postie mad) and then, when I did, I felt almost drunk on the heady perfume created by the spices.


So what is this Spiced Pantry? Spiced Pantry is a monthly food subscription box featuring a different cuisine each month. Every box includes four ingredients (custom spice blends, grains, legumes, etc), an information card introducing that month's cuisine and ingredients, and the recipes to make with them. Recipes usually serve 4-6 people so, if you are small household like mine, either expect leftovers or be prepared to halve the recipes.

Subscribers can chose between the standard or vegetarian plan. While I selected the standard plan, most of the meat-based recipes I've received include easy modifications to make them vegetarian, anyway. As with many subscription plans, it renews automatically every month until cancelled.

Ingredients in September's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Chermoula Spice Blend
  2. Dried Moroccan Pink Rose Petals
  3. La Kama Spice Blend
  4. Ras El Hanout

Recipes in September's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Carrot & Chickpea Tagine
  2. Chicken Tfaya with Couscous
  3. Moroccan Lentil Salad
  4. Moroccan Pumpkin Soup
  5. White Fish Chermoula


The recipe card for the "Moroccan Pumpkin Soup" indicated I could use vegetable broth and coconut milk, if I wanted to make this vegan, so that's what I did. The soup was very easy to make and quite tasty. While it's very aromatic, it doesn't taste particularly strongly of spice -- the spice is there to support and enhance the pumpkin, which it does well. That said, when I make it again (I have 5 more cans of post-Thanksgiving clearance pumpkin in the pantry), I will add more spice and a smidge more heat.


The "Carrot & Chickpea Tagine" was fabulous -- both sweet and savory, with a hint of heat, and very easy to put together. Really, a recipe worth repeating. I forgot the fresh herb garnish, but didn't miss it. As the recipe card suggested, I used vegetable broth (to keep it vegetarian) and currants (because currants are awesome).

Looking forward to cooking up October's box next as December (I am sadly behind, yes) seems the perfect time to experiment with the flavors of Sweden. Juniper, cardamom, caraway... mmm. Might want to dust of that bottle of aquavit!

Read about my other Spiced Pantry experiences.

9.26.2016

Cooking With Spiced Pantry: México


Celebrating the cuisine of México with July's Spiced Pantry box! Yes, I know it's September. I'm still a little behind from the summer's busyness.

Spiced Pantry is a monthly food subscription box featuring a different cuisine each month. Every box includes four ingredients (custom spice blends, grains, legumes, etc), an information card introducing that month's cuisine and ingredients, and the recipes to make with them. Recipes usually serve 4-6 people so, if you are small household like mine, either expect leftovers or be prepared to halve the recipes.

Subscribers can chose between the standard or vegetarian plan. While I selected the standard plan, several of the meat-based recipes I've received include easy modifications to make them vegetarian, anyway. As with many subscription plans, it renews automatically every month until cancelled.

Ingredients in July's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Al Pastor Spice Blend
  2. Ancho Chile Powder
  3. Dried Guajillo Chile
  4. Masa Harina

Recipes in July's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Al Pastor Tacos (Tacos Al Pastor)
  2. Elote (Grilled Corn)
  3. Enchiladas Rojas
  4. Tortillas
  5. (Bonus Recipe) Mexican Hot Chocolate

Enchiladas Rojas

These enchiladas were quite a lot of fun to make! I did cheat and use the meat of a rotisserie chicken, rather than poach a pound of boneless breasts, and doubt anyone could have told the difference. The recipe came with a black bean option and, next time, I think I'd use a combination of beans and chicken for extra flavor and texture.

I'd never cooked with dried peppers before and the whole experience was very interesting. Happily, the recipe's instructions were clear and, by following them as written, I ended up with a sauce I was quite proud of. While the sauce tasted quite spicy licked from a spoon, the overall dish was only mildly spicy -- by which I mean we could feel a gentle bloom of heat at the back of our throats and a very slight tingling on the lips.

Read about my other Spiced Pantry experiences.

8.29.2016

Cooking With Spiced Pantry: Greece


While I thought that June's Spiced Pantry box was the first box I received in my subscription, I was very wrong. Apparently, I received a box in May which, in the hustle and freak out leading up to my surgery, was some how tidied away into the front closet. Stumbled across it while looking for something else entirely and was both astonished and chagrined. Happily, properly stored spices keep pretty well and I had no problem making a few of May's recipes!

Spiced Pantry is a monthly food subscription box featuring a different cuisine each month. Every box includes four ingredients (custom spice blends, grains, legumes, etc), an information card introducing that month's cuisine and ingredients, and the recipes to make with them. Recipes usually serve 4-6 people so, if you are small household like mine, you can either expect leftovers or, you know, halve the recipes.

Subscribers can chose between the standard or vegetarian plan. While I selected the standard plan, several of the meat-based recipes I've received include easy modifications to make them vegetarian, anyway. As with many subscription plans, it renews automatically every month until cancelled.

Ingredients in May's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Athens Spice Blend
  2. Greek oregano
  3. Mahlab (Mahlepi): a powder ground from sour cherry pits
  4. Peponaki: a small orzo-like pasta made from soft wheat

Recipes in May's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Chicken Souvlaki (incl. recipe for tzatziki)
  2. Greek Braided Cookies
  3. Greek Salad
  4. Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers

The peppers -- stuffed with al dente peponaki, onion, zucchini, tomato, feta, oregano and the Athens spice blend -- were pretty tasty and a nice change from the traditional meat-stuffed peppers I grew up with. They made for a filling vegetarian meal when paired with a light side salad and some toasted pita bread. (Or you could treat them like a side dish and pair them with kofta, which I also did). I'd definitely make these peppers again, although I'd use orzo since I'm too lazy to hunt down more peponaki.

Greek Salad

This salad -- chunks of farm-fresh crisp cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and mild onion with salty feta and tangy kalamata -- was pretty darn delicious. So easy to make and so pleasing to the eye, as well. Made a wonderful supper paired with grilled steak and corn on the cob! Definitely a salad to make as often as possible during tomato season.

Chicken Souvlaki with tzatziki

I cheated with this recipe and threaded the skewers with marinated chicken tenders, rather than deal with cubing chicken breasts. Otherwise, followed the recipe to a T and it turned out marvelously. Tender, juicy chicken with tart, chunky tzatziki ... couldn't ask for better. Definitely a repeater. (It's safe to say every recipe I tried in May's Spiced Pantry box is a repeater!)

Can't wait to get cooking with July's box! ¡La Cocina Mexicana!

Read about my other Spiced Pantry experiences.

8.14.2016

Cooking With Spiced Pantry: Jamaica


Back in May, Crate Joy threw a flash sale with up to 50% off many subscriptions. I'd had my eye on the Spiced Pantry box since February (when I was looking for ramen subscription boxes for The Husband) but the price was a little high for me at the time. But half off six months of delicious spices? Of course, I signed myself up.

Spiced Pantry is a monthly food subscription box featuring a different cuisine each month. Every box includes four ingredients (custom spice blends, grains, legumes, etc), an information card introducing that month's cuisine and ingredients, and the recipes to make with them.

Subscribers can chose between the standard or vegetarian plan. While I selected the standard plan, several of the meat-based recipes I've received include easy modifications to make them vegetarian, anyway. As with many subscription plans, it renews automatically every month until cancelled.

One of the reasons I subscribed to Spiced Pantry was the opportunity to try new spices and ingredients without committing myself to store-size quantities. Each box comes with enough of each ingredient to make each recipe provided at least once, with extra for repeats, do-overs, or experimentation.

Ingredients in June's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Dried Hibiscus Petals
  2. Dried Pigeon Peas
  3. Jamaican Jerk Spice Blend
  4. Scotch Bonnet Chile Flakes

Recipes in June's Spiced Pantry box:
  1. Hibiscus Iced Tea (Agua de Jamaica)
  2. Jamaican Jerk Chicken
  3. Jamaican Patties
  4. Jamaican Rice and Pigeon Peas

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

The jerk chicken smelled simply heavenly and came off the grill perfectly cooked -- moist, tender and full of flavor. It was a little hot for The Husband so I might dial back the scotch bonnet pepper flakes next time (oh, yes, this is worth repeating). I might also use just legs (thigh with drumstick attached) instead of a mix of pieces as it's easy to grill all one cut.

Had intended to serve my jerk chicken with the rice and peas, but found I couldn't manage both dishes at the same time. Instead, I served my chicken with medium-grain white rice mixed with a liberal amount of cilantro and lime. Also the usual cucumber and tomato salad, because that's our go-to side.

Hibiscus Tea

Slightly tart and very refreshing, the hibiscus tea hits just the right balance between floral and spicy with just a little gentle heat from the ginger and cinnamon. I had only one empty pitcher on hand when I made this tea so I put the hibiscus flowers & ginger in a spice bag to avoid needing to strain or decant the tea after brewing (the cinnamon stick was big enough to be easily fished out on its own).

Jamaican Meat Patties

As you can see, my patties are more angular than rounded as I am not very skilled at rolling out dough circles. Despite their homeliness, the patties were surprisingly good for a first attempt. The filling need more flavor (and some sauce, maybe, as it was rather dry), but the pastry was wow.

The recipes provided by Spiced Pantry were clear and easy to follow, the amount of ingredients provided was just right, and the quality seemed high. All this resulted in dishes that were quite delicious and worth making again. Overall, I had a lot of fun creating June's dishes and look forward to exploring the tastes of México with July's box!

Read about my other Spiced Pantry experiences.