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Aleppo Pepper & Newport Spice Company

I Am constantly using Aleppo Pepper in my Blogs and quite a few people ask me what it is so…..

Aleppo chili pepper comes to us from northern Syria, near the town of Aleppo, which is considered one of the culinary meccas of the Mediterranean. It has a moderate heat level with some fruitiness and mild, cumin-like undertones, with a hint of a vinegar, salty taste. Use it for authentic chili flavor in any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dish.

Aleppo chili offers a nice variation from your usual crushed red peppers. It has a very robust flavor that hits you in the back of your mouth, tickles your throat and dissipates quickly. Try this staff favorite in place of regular crushed red chilies on pizzas, salads, and pasta. Use when a recipe calls for Red Pepper Flakes or red Chili flakes.

 Sprinkle on zucchini before grilling, on sliced tomatoes with a little salt & anywhere you put red pepper flakes…..Try it on Pizza YUM! And here is where I get mine. Newport Spice Company. http://newportspice.com/ This quaint shop I have blogged about before is the only place a Aquidnick Island to buy spices and they have a huge selection, along with refills so you can reuse your tins. Love that!! They do have ordering online so go check them out. You will also find when you go in there, not only a world of spices and rubs…..they have beautiful grinders in bright, bold colors. These are not your average “run of the mill” grinders they have a lifetime warrantee and are made by Vic Firth in collaboration with Mario Batali. Is there more you ask???? Why yes there is! There are beautiful Salt stones for cooking and serving, olive oils, extracts, preserved lemons, vinegars, gifts galore and the best part of all….The owner seems to always be there to assist you with a huge knowledge of everything spice, his personal books with inspiration and incredible recipe ideas. Being in Down Town Newport it is not all that common to find a friendly, personable and knowledged person working. There are some, but businesses come and go so often due to it being a seasonal town and the faces change all the time. To me it is comforting to go to a favorite store and be able to talk to someone and get suggestions, discuss successes and not just be sold.
Ok, OK, I Know blah, blah. But go check them out and TRY THAT ALEPPO PEPPER!!

24 Franklin Street Newport Rhode Island 02840
http://www.newportspice.com
401-846-8400

Enjoy -T

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The Gift of Herbs!

Today I had lunch, the most wonderful lunch with Lauren!! (UnCorked) She claim’s to not be able to make vegetarian food but the blue cheese & apple salad along with the fresh mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil & balsamic sandwich say’s otherwise. As I was admiring the salad on the counter she said “I made this for your birthday” I thought WOW how sweet she went out of her way to make a nice lunch with no meat and then she said “not the salad, the plants!”

I had seen it on her counter but thought it was just another beautiful pice in “The House Pottery Barn Built” Uh yea, everything in her house looks straight out of Pottery Barn’s Catalog…..Beautiful. But lucky for me it was the most thoughtful gift I had received for my birthday this year! Dramatic, I know but I Myself am a little dramatic and thoughtful gifts mean the world to me. This is not only thoughtful but 100% useful, beautiful & totally ME!. I had to share because if you have a friend that is a Foodie this is a perfect gift or if you are a Foodie you need to make one for your self. I usually have herbs cut and in a little jar on the counter….look at the difference Hahaha. I’ve had a great birthday month, Thank you 🙂

Like a kid in a candy store……..

I have never been a huge candy person but if you say to me “like a kid in a candy store” I think of the first time they swung open the door at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  That’s how I felt today walking into Newport Spice Company. Someone told me about it and I had no idea it was there so I had to go check it out. When I opened the door at Franklin Street just off Thames Street in Newport, I was greeted by the smell of a million spices YUM!! I didn’t know where to start. There were huge jars of spices on top of the white cupboards with rows and rows of silver containers filled with every spice you can imagine along with preserved lemons, bamboo bowls, tiny wooden spoons, honey & more!  The owner is there to help you through the maze if need be and to explain what each spice is for. There were spice grinders in beautiful colors and shapes and choosing one is almost impossible (don’t I need one grinder for every spice now?) He showed me books about spices and the new refills that you can get once you use up what’s in your tin. Environmentally friendly too?!, is there no greater pleasure then a spice store for a self proclaimed foodie?? I think not……
So trying to keep my self control and the fact there is not a square inch of space in my spice cabinet  I was able to get out with 1 grinder, 2 vanilla beans from Indonesia and 3 beautifully full tins (the tins are only $4.50 each & the refills are like $3.50) One of them I had never heard of before Aleppo Pepper and I will be trying it as he suggested on sauteed string beans instead of red pepper flakes!
They have a web site and sell online. Check them out if you have a chance it is a rarity to find a friendly person behind the counter and here you will. http://www.newportspice.com

Enjoy,

-T

Marinade Masterpiece……

I Really wanted a catchy title and with the right marinade any inexpensive cut of meat can become just that, A Masterpiece!
I bought a Top Round thinly sliced at the market yesterday because it was very inexpensive ($3.25) and  I like to buy things and then figure out how to make them delicious.
So I decided a nice marinade would be a great start to tonight’s dinner.
You can use any cut of meat for this marinade, chicken or Tofu.
You will need:
2 Tlbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tlbs Balsamic vinegar
2 Tlbs Olive Oil
1 Tlbs Stone Ground mustard
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
juice & zest of 1 orange (I had 2 tangerines so thats what I used)
2 lg  pressed garlic cloves
1 shallot finely minced
1 Tlbs honey
Fresh cracked pepper
Grab a bowl to mix all the ingredients in. This will yield a little more then a cup of liquid so a soup bowl will probably do the trick. Zest the orange prior to juicing it, it is very hard to get the zest from a flimsy skin, the best tool for this is a micro-plane.

If you don’t have a Microplane STOP what you are doing, get in the car and go to the closest store that has them. Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath & Beyond have great selections. This is a must have kitchen tool and it does more then just zest, it can grate cheese, nutmeg, chocolate & much more!!
Alright back to the marinade….

So once you zest the orange squeeze the juice into the bowl and remove any seeds that have fallen in.  
Add in the pressed garlic, onions and remaining ingredients except the fennel seeds.
To add in the Fennel seeds put them in the palm of your hand and using both hands, rub your palms together back and forth while pressing to crack the seeds and release the aroma.
If you were to just throw them in they will not have any flavor unless you happen to bite in to one.
This is true for most dried herbs & seeds they need a little “wake up” to get the flavors going before you add them.
Add in the Fennel and whisk it all together.

Once it is combined, in a shallow dish place the cut of meat you are using and gently poke holes in it with a fork so that the marinade will really soak in. Pour the marinade over it then cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Overnight is the best to really incorporate the flavors. You can also use a Ziplock if you like just put it on a plate, just in case.

When the meat is marinated, take it out and pour the marinade into a small sauce pan and place on high heat. When it comes to a boil reduce and simmer uncoverd until the sauce reduced to 1/2 and you can use this as a glaze or dipping sauce.
I will post the rest of the menu tonight so you can see what I make along with the Top Round, It’s going to be good 🙂
-T

Hello World!

Saffron Mussels Yum!

So for my first post I am giving you the recipe for mussels because it is what I made today.
It was super fast and the mussels were only $2.99 so the dish was very inexpensive to make. I had everything but the fennel so I spent about $6.00 on this and it was just beautiful!

Mom came over and said they were the BEST she had ever had and Karen my next door neighbor said “Oh my God you need to open a restaurant” so I think they were a success:)

I can’t wait to hear what you think.
BTW  (I cook with my eyes and nose and not so much minutes so all the times and amounts are approximate)

2 lbs mussels (cleaned, beards removed )
1c. shallots finely minced
5 or 6 cloves of garlic pressed (oh yea!)
2 1/2c. white wine
2c. chicken stock
1/2 c. heavy cream (or half & half whatever you have)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. chopped fennel fronds(the dill looking part)
10 saffron threads or more if you have them
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tlbs butter
1 tlbs olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
french bread or baguette toasted for dipping

-in a deep saute pan saute the Shallots on medium heat in the butter & olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes
(you do not want them browned so keep an eye on them)
-add in pressed garlic, saffron and red pepper flakes saute additional 3 minutes or so until garlic is cooked through
(again no browning, it can be bitter)
-pour in wine and chicken stock and turn up the heat! the liquid needs to reduce to about 1/2  stirring occasionally (10min)
-once the liquid has reduced add in the mussels &  fennel  cover  tightly
the mussels only need 5 to 7  minutes to cook
-while the mussels are cooking heat the cream in a sauce pan to a simmer
(adding cold cream to hot liquid will curdle)
-once the mussels are cooked take a ladle of the broth and add it to the cream to make sure it is totally tempered then add it to the pot, sprinkle the parsley and stir
gently so you don’t break the shells and serve in a big bowl with plenty of broth the dip the bread in.

Check out how to clean them on line, that’s what I did and to find out if there are any bad ones. its pretty simple if it does not open after cooked, discard it and if it will not close prior to cooking it, discard it.

-T