Monday, May 23, 2011

Spices Make Global Local -- Recipes for Bahrat Tomato Sauce with Okra, Quick Zucchini Pickles and Roasted Asparagus

Quick Zucchini Dill Pickles
 When you try to cook local but eat global, authentic spices are often what you need to translate international recipes into home cooking.  The earthy whiff of cumin, the sweet smell of cinnamon or the tingle of ground peppers all bring the world to my dining table.

I recently interviewed two San Francisco Bay area spice purveyors (who happen to offer most spices with  kosher certification) for a recent article in the j. weekly.  from Bay area spice purveyors who have found that a hechsher (symbol of kosher certification) is good for business.  One of the companies, Whole Spice, was also featured the following Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle food section

Whole Spice, based in Petaluma, specializes in ethnic flavors and seasoning mixes with a “special touch to make them more flavorful,” according to Israeli-born Ronit Madmone, co-owner of Whole Spice. Whole Spice’s freshly ground spices can be found in the company’s Napa store and online or call (707) 778-1750 for more information.

Another Bay area spice company is American Natural and Organic Spices, based in Fremont. John Chansar, senior customer service manager is proud of bringing the wide world of spices to everyone as well as the company's social values.

“We are also a green company and donate a portion of or sales to charities to support homeless children,” he said.

The company’s Spicely brand is widely available in the Bay area as well as online. For more information or for retailers, call (510) 440-1044.

Both companies also feature gluten-free and organic products. Below are recipes to take advantage of the wonderful spice mixes they offer. Substitute similar products from other manufacturers if desired.

Bahrat Tomato Sauce with Zucchini or Okra
Serves 6

Baharat means “spices” in Arabic. Whole Spice’s version of the traditional mix contains nutmeg, black pepper, coriander seed, cumin seed, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, paprika, and chili. This recipe is adapted from the Whole Spice website.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. baharat spice mix
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 lb. zucchini OR fresh okra, sliced
1 cup vegetable broth

In a large cooking pot, heat the oil and add the chopped onion, frying until golden brown about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Add paprika, black pepper, baharat, cumin, bay leaves, and salt. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes to combine flavors.

Add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add parsley, cilantro, and okra or zucchini; mix all ingredients well. Add vegetable broth and mix. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer over until vegetables are soft. (Okra will take longer than the zucchini). Add water if sauce is getting too thick. Taste and correct seasoning. Remove bay leaves. Serve over rice.

Quick Zucchini Dill Pickles
Makes about 1 quart

Sometimes it’s hard to find good pickling cucumbers, so that’s when I make this recipe. Pickling spice mix usually contains coriander, mustard seed, and black pepper among other seasonings.

4-5 small zucchinis
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1/4 cup dill sprigs, washed
1 1/2 cups of vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. pickling spice mix
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Wash and rinse well one quart or larger glass jar. Fill with boiling water and set aside.
Wash zucchinis well. Slice into ¼” rounds. You should have about 5 cups. Put vinegar and ½ cup water in a sauce pan with salt. Bring to a simmer.

Pour hot water out of glass jar. Layer cucumbers or zucchini, garlic and dill in jar. Scatter pickling spice and red pepper flakes in jar. Pour warm vinegar mixture to fill, making sure the vegetables are totally covered with liquid. Cover with airtight lid and store in refrigerator. Chill overnight before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Roasted Asparagus with Herbes de Provence
Serves 4-6

Herbes de Provence is my go-to seasoning mix for everything from roast chicken to pizza. Spicely’s mixture features thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, lavender and fennel seed. This recipe adapted from one on the Spicely website.

1 lb. fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Herbes de Provence mix
1/4 tsp. sea salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper or more to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, the herb mix, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the asparagus onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven until tender and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

1 comment:

Virginia Osborne said...

As a fairly fearless cook when it comes to spices I love this blog post. Part of the battle is knowing where to acquire them and having the information behind how to use them in the best fashion. I gained a lot of knowledge from a recipe club to which I belong. I'm well on my way!

Virginia O.