Caribbean Cooking Class – Grilled Jamaican Jerk Shrimp

Denise From GypsyWorldSpiceCafe.com @ Savory Spice Shop of Raleigh

Below is the recipe for grilled Jamaican Jerk Shrimp that I shared during a Caribbean Cooking class that I presented at the Savory Spice Shop in Raleigh, NC.

The marinade for the shrimp features the Savory Spice Shop’s Jamaican Jerk Season Blend, Citrus Juice and Annatto Oil.

It is perfect for upcoming summer parties. You can grill outdoors or use your grill pan to grill indoors. It is easy and quick especially since you only need to marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes.

I also made this with turkey cutlets.

Yum!

Enjoy!
Denise

Banana Salsa

Grilled Jamaican Jerk Shrimp

2 lbs Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons Annatto Oil
Juice from 2 Limes
4 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste

    • Combine annatto oil, lime juice and Jamaican jerk seasoning in a shallow dish. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Add shrimp to marinade. Toss to evenly coat.
    • Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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Caribbean Cooking Class – Black Bean & Mango Salad

Denise From GypsyWorldSpiceCafe.com @ Savory Spice Shop of Raleigh

Last week, I taught my first cooking class at the Savory Spice Shop in Raleigh, NC. The theme for the class was Caribbean cooking.

We had a lot of fun cooking, talking and sharing information, stories….and laughs.

Below is the recipe for Black Bean & Mango Salad. I love this salad recipe because it is easy to make and perfect for spring/summer parties. The flavors are simple, fresh and versatile. It pairs well with chicken or seafood.

Enjoy!

Denise

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Black Bean & Mango Salad
*Recipe adapted from Miami Spice

3 ripe Mangos, chopped
3 15-oz cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4-1/2 cups fresh Cilantro, chopped
4 Scallions, trimmed and chopped
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Limes
Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  • Adjust seasoning as needed.

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Caribbean Cooking Class – Banana Salsa Recipe

Denise From GypsyWorldSpiceCafe.com @ Savory Spice Shop of RaleighLast week, I taught my first cooking class at the Savory Spice Shop in Raleigh, NC.   The theme for the class was Caribbean cooking.  

Below is the recipe for Banana Salsa.  I chose to present this recipe because it is simple, flavorful and colorful. 

Banana?

Yes!

If you like mango or pineapple salsa, you will love it. Also, bananas are SO much easier to chop than both mangos & pineapple. 

Try serving it with blue corn tortilla chips or serve alongside of either chicken or fish.

It was a big hit at the class too. Enjoy!

Denise

Banana Salsa

Banana Salsa
*Recipe adapted from Miami Spice

8 Finger Bananas, diced
1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Jalapeño Pepper, diced
1 Serrano Pepper, diced
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
4 Scallions, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup fresh Mint, chopped
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice from 2 Limes
Salt & Pepper

  • Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  • Adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Serve with blue corn tortilla chips, fish or chicken

Banana Salsa

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Mediterranean Brushchetta

Mediterranean Bruschetta {for Rachel}

In one month, my niece Rachel is getting married!

For her shower present, I put together an appetizer themed gift. Below is the recipe that goes with it…

This very simple recipe actually came together by accident. On Saturday nights, we serve Tapas. One platter that has become a favorite has hearts of palm, olives and roasted red peppers. I season them with herbs and then drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar (that I’ve infused with rosemary).

Last time, I decided to package up the leftovers in the same container to save time. The next day at lunch we pulled it out. The flavors had married up overnight and the flavor/texture combination was perfect.

We all decided to make this “the recipe for Rachel”.

This recipe is dedicated Rachel and her groom-to-be Rusty. Here’s to many years of joy, love and good fortune….

This quote seems apropos…

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. ” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Enjoy!
(“Aunt”) Denise

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Ingredient List

15 oz can Hearts of Palm, cuts and tips
15 oz can Green Olives, pitted and sliced
15 oz can Black Olives, pitted and sliced
4 oz jar Sliced Pimientos, packed in water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried Savory
1/4 cup fresh Basil Leaves
Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  • Add drained olives, pimientos, hearts of palm, marjoram, thyme and savory to a large bowl.

Mediterranean Bruschetta Preparation

  • Chiffonade the basil and add to the large bowl.
  • Add the oil and red wine vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour over the olive mixture. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine.

Mediterranean Bruschetta Prepartion

  • Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight (or to 3 days). Give a gentle shake every so often…
  • Serve with your bread of choice.

Mediterranean Brushchetta

Note:

This recipe is a good one for your “back pocket”. You can have all the ingredients in your pantry. It is great for a last-minute appetizer to put together to “make and take”.

You can also add to soup or salads… I served mine with Coco Pop Cakes that I bought at the local Italian Market. Each Coco Pop Cake is about the size of a small tortilla and only has 16 calories. This is a great low-calorie snack!

Mediterranean Bruschetta IngredientsCoco Pop Cakes

P.S. If you love weddings, check out the wedding post, Ali Love Cakes, that I posted last year when Rachel’s sister Alison got married.

Sweet & Savory Vanilla Bean Dip

Versatile Vanilla – Spiced Sweet & Savory Vanilla Bean Dip

Who doesn’t like vanilla? Vanilla has a classic, unique flavor and an enticing aroma that is both relaxing and comforting. It is no surprise that this spice is widely used as an ingredient for baking, in perfumes as well as for aromatherapy.

Vanilla is a member of the orchid family. There are over 100 varieties of Vanilla. The pods that grow on the Vanilla flowers grow in clusters and are known as beans or pods.

Vanilla was actually discovered during the early 16th century in Mexico by the Spanish explorers. Mexico was the main producer of Vanilla until mid 19th century. Nowadays, Madagascar produces most of the world’s Vanilla.

The harvesting of Vanilla beans is very labor intensive which is why Vanilla is the second most expensive spice (saffron being the most expensive). It is purchased in several ways: Vanilla Beans; Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Paste and Vanilla Powder. Luckily, Vanilla beans can be stored in an airtight container for up to 18 months.

Vanilla beans do not have any aroma or flavor when they are freshly picked. The flavor/aroma develops during the curing process. The Vanilla bean is filled with lots of seeds. But do not limit the flavor to just the seeds…the bean/pod can be used to add flavor too.

When most cook with Vanilla, they add it to recipes for sweet dishes. For my appetizer post, I definitely wanted to think outside the box and create a savory recipe which demonstrated Vanilla’s versatility. It was not at easy as I thought it would be. I spend a lot of time thinking. I love to think… Then it hit me… I decided on a creamy vanilla bean dip using white beans as the base…. The result was a big hit…

What is your favorite way to use Vanilla? Let us know!

Enjoy!

Denise

P.S. Look for more Versatile Vanilla recipe posts later this week.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Sweet & Savory Vanilla Bean Dip

1 cup dried Cannellini Beans
2 tablespoons Honey
Juice of 1 Lemon
Seeds from Vanilla Bean (reserve pod for another recipe/use)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Powder
Pinch ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground Cardamom
3/4 teaspoon dried Marjoram
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
6 oz. Greek Yogurt
Salt & Pepper

  • In a medium saucepan, add dried Cannellini beans and cover with water. Cover and soak overnight. Next day, bring contents to a boil and them simmer for 1 hour. Drain (reserving bean fluid) and set aside to cool.Add cooled beans along with eight ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth.

  • Add reserved bean fluid as needed to get the smooth consistency. (I added about 2-3 tablespoons). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Transfer bean mixture to a small bowl and fold in the Greek yogurt. Chill in the refrigerator to allow flavors to marry.

  • Serve with crackers, bread, apple slices or veggies.

Variations: If you prefer to use can beans, substitute 1 can of Cannellini beans. Drain ( reserving bean liquid) them rinse before using. If you want, you can also try adding a bit of mint or some cayenne pepper to take it up a notch.

More With Mustard – Appetizer Recipe for Spiced Raspberry Dip

More with mustard…..

As promised here is another recipe featuring the spice Mustard.

Below is a simple appetizer recipe that is very versatile.  It is great for dipping pretzels and also pairs well with warm gooey brie.  I just may have to see how it tastes with my morning waffle (perhaps with Nutella… hmmm).

Definitely one for your entertaining repertoire….

Enjoy!

Denise

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Raspberry Dip

1 jar Raspberry Fruit Spread (10 oz.)
1 teaspoon Dried Mustard
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch coarsely ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Flour
1 teaspoon Water

  • Combine flour and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.

 

  • Stir until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture to the raspberry mixture.

  • Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
  • Serve Spiced Raspberry Dip with Pretzels

 

Alternate Serving Suggestion

  • Remove top of Brie.
  • Warm Brie for 30-45 Seconds in the Microwave.
  • Top with Spiced Raspberry Dip.
  • Serve with Pretzels, Crostini or Crackers.

Gypsy Spiced Frittata

Recently, I have become a huge fan of making frittatas.

Not only is the technique easy, you can easily swap out the veggies for whatever flavors you like.  

It starts on the stove top and finishes off under the broiler.  

I like to top the frittata with a small amount of cheese for flavor, texture and color.  I love how it browns under the broiler!

Serve with a nice salad and you are set for a nice brunch or dinner entrée.

Enjoy!

 

 

 Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Gypsy Spiced Frittata

Yield:  4-6 Servings

8 Eggs
1 teaspoon of your favorite herb blend ( I use my own custom blend)
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Pancetta, chopped
2 small Red-skinned Potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove Garlic, minced
4 cups Baby Spinach
4 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
3/4-1 teaspoon Hot Paprika (depending on level of heat you like)
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1/8 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella

  1. Add eggs, herb blend, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Heat oven broiler to high.
  4. In a large frying pan (that is oven-proof), melt butter with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Sauté pancetta, potatoes, and onions until veggies tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add garlic, mushrooms, and spinach. Cook another 3-5 minutes until spinach has wilted. 
  7. Season to taste salt, pepper and hot paprika.
  8. Pour egg mixture onto veggie mixture.
  9. Reduce heat to low and cook until edges or pan are firm (3-4 minutes). 
  10. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
  11. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted (and lightly browned).

 

Perfect Paprika Party

My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”.  As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…

One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.

While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.

I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.

Enjoy!

 

What is Paprika?

Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.

The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.

Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.

Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.

Paprika

Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.

 

Hungarian Paprika

Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.

There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:

1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red

2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red

3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red

4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat

5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red

6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange

 

Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)

Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.

There are three types of Spanish Paprika:

1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.

2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red

3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red

*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.

 

Tips for Cooking with Paprika

1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.

2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.

3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).

 

Nutritional Benefits

Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.

  • Loaded with vitamin C.
  • Aids digestion
  • Contains anti-oxidants
  • Increases metabolism
  • Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
  • Improves blood pressure and circulation

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix

2 cups raw Almonds

1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup Dried Cranberries

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
  4. Add dried cranberries.
  5. Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.

*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge

12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips

6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa

  1. Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
  4. Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  7. Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
  8. Cut into 36 squares.

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spicy Beer Cocktail

(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)

1 ice-cold Mexican Beer

2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika

2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice

1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce

1 dash of Soy Sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Black pepper

  1. Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
  2. Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
  3. Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
  4. Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.

*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

2 oz. Vodka

1 teaspoon Nutella

3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided

1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder

1 packet Splenda

  1. Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
  2. Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
  3. Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
  4. Add ice and give a good shake.
  5. Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
  6. Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
  7. Carefully pour into prepared glass.

Variation:  If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz  chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz.  Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.

 

Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is definitely one of my favorite things to eat at Thanksgiving. 

Several years ago, while on a personal mission to eat healthier, I developed this recipe to have a homemade, lower calorie cranberry sauce.  This recipe is done in the slow cooker and I opt to substitute Spiced Rum for a portion of the water.  What goes better with Spiced Rum than lime!  Cranberries pair very well with lime and it is an unexpected twist on the traditional orange zest that most use. 

I like it so much that I make a several batches this time of year and store some in the freezer.  It is great on yogurt and oatmeal ( or add to your post-workout shake!).    I’ve included a cocktail recipe using Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce (cool way to use leftover cranberry sauce…if you have any). 

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

2 12-ounce bags of fresh Cranberries

2 cups Splenda

1/2 cup Spiced Rum

1/2 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

grated zest of 2 limes

  1. Rinse cranberries and pick out the stems.
  2. Add cranberries, Splenda, spiced rum, water, cinnamon sticks to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on High for 2 hours (or on low for 4 hours). 
  4. Stir in the lime zest.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Transfer to an air tight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Blogger’s Comments:   You can also opt to use 1 cup water and skip the spiced rum.  On the flip side, you can opt to use 1 cup spiced rum and skip the water. 

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Crantini

Great way to use up the leftover cranberry sauce during the holiday season!  Great for parties!

Yield – 2 Martini’s

2 oz Light Cranberry Juice

2 oz Vodka

1 oz Spiced Rum

1 tablespoon of Slow Cooked Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Juice from 1/2 Lime

  • Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
  • Give a good shake.
  • Pour into two martini glasses and garnish with a lime.
Herb Focaccia Onion Serving

Herbed Focaccia with Onions

This  past weekend I needed to make something to take to our neighborhood Halloween party.  It was Saturday morning and I had no clue what I was going to pull together.  Normally, I would have it all planned out…however, last week was more hectic than expected …so now I had to wing it with ingredients I already had in my pantry. 

It was really easy to make.   I made one for the party and one to put in my freezer.

To serve, I sliced up the focaccia into small squares and served with a store-bought black olive tapenade. 

Note:  This recipe is based on using stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the bread dough.  If you do not have one, knead by hand.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe –  Herb Focaccia with Onions

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 packet instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cups warm water

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend, divided

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly

ground black pepper

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, 2 teaspoons of the Corsican Herb Blend, yeast, salt and sugar.  Stir to combine.
  2. Attach your mixing bowl to your mixer and place on low-speed. 
  3. While the mixer is mixing, slowly add the warm water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  4. Mix to combine ingredients then increase the speed to medium-high.  
  5. Mix until the dough is smooth.  This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on your mixer.
  6. Remove dough from mixing bowl and shape into a ball. 
  7. Spray another bowl lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn to coat. 
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise (double in size – about 1 hour).
  10. While the dough is rising, saute your onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 30 minutes (until golden and soft).  Season onions with 1 teaspoon of Corsican Herb Blend and salt/pepper to taste.
  11. Set onions aside to cool.
  12. When dough has finished rising, shape dough into a rectangle on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  13. Lightly brush with olive oil.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove plastic wrap from dough.  Use fingers to press dough down (giving a dimpling effect).
  15. Top the dough with the sautéed onions.  Season with pepper to taste.
  16. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  17. Transfer to a cooling rack and drizzle with olive oil.
  18. Cut up and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe – Zaalouk – Spicy Eggplant Salad

On a recent shopping expedition, the eggplant was on sale and this recipe came to mind.   I honestly do not know remember where I found the original recipe for this.   But, I do remember searching for it over ten years ago.  My husband and I used to enjoy going to a Moroccan restaurant in the Philadelphia area that served this and I wanted to learn to make it at home for him. 

This classic Moroccan dish is a great appetizer and over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe to our tastes.  It is another recipe for your collection that you can be creative with.  Switch out the vegetables for ones that are in season or are your favorites (like summer squash, zucchini, red onions or colorful bell peppers).  

The combinations are endless.  

Serve it warm or at room temperature with warm pita bread

Enjoy!

 

Zaaloouk – Spicy Eggplant Salad

1 1/2 pounds Eggplant, peeled and cubed

5 cloves Garlic, peeled

3 large Beefsteak Tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

4 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Paprika

good pinch of Chili Powder  (depending on how much heat you like)

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Sumac Pepper

1 teaspoon Cinnamon (or Sweet Spice Blend)

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped

  1. Boil the peeled and cubed eggplants with garlic in plenty of salted water, covered for 30 minutes (or until eggplant is very soft).
  2. Drain and chop the eggplants and garlic in a colander.
  3. Mash them with a fork, pressing all the water out.
  4. Put tomatoes into the emptied pan.
  5. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes (or until reduced to a thin sauce).  Stir occasionally.
  6. Mix with the mashed eggplants and garlic.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients.
  8. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Provocative Peppercorns!

 

 As we continue on though the Back the Basic series, this article will focus on Peppercorns.  

 Why use an adjective like provocative to describe Peppercorns?

Well, provocative is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate” (listing synonyms as “charged… edgy…exciting…inciting…stimulating”).  Peppercorns, either ground or whole, add that background heat to a dish that leaves the palate with that tingly sensation…and has health benefits (listed below) that charge the body!

 The recipes at the end of the article are recipes that I have either chosen or created to demonstrate that you can use Peppercorns in non-traditional ways to enhance your culinary experience.

 

History of Peppercorns

Peppercorns have been used for over 4000 years.  It quickly gained popularity and value.  This was because Peppercorns easily enhanced food to make it seem fresher than it actually was as well as added zing and heat to otherwise bland food.   Peppercorns were often used as a commodity which is why the spice trade grew and many explorers were tasked with finding more sources for Peppercorns.  Due to the unstable currency systems, landlords often requested to be paid their rent with Peppercorns in place of currency.

 

Peppercorn Harvesting

Peppercorns are typically grown in India.  However, Peppercorns are imported from India as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and China.   The pepper plant grows small flowers which become green berries that turn pink when ripe.   These berries are typically harvested when they are green.  The green peppercorns are dried and result in a black color.  White peppercorns are actually created by removing the outer skin of the peppercorn.  

Flavor Breakdown

  • Green Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hot ( However More Subtle than Black, White, or Pink)
  • Black Peppercorn -> Flavor is Warm &  Full-Bodied
  • Pink Peppercorn   -> Flavor is Sweet, Berry, Fruity with Delayed Heat
  • White Peppercorn -> Flavor is Hotter, Sharper then Green, Black or Pink

 

Health Benefits to Peppercorns

  • Powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Promotes mental clarity
  • Combats fatigue and tiredness
  • Increases metabolism
  • Promotes Digestion & calms stomach
  • Essential oil of black pepper added into oils used to treat aching, painful joints
  • Used in teas with mint to combat colds, viral infections and flu.
  • Added to mouthwashes to treat sore throats.

 

 

Snack Recipe – Peppered Caramel Corn

  • 1  (12-oz.) package Buttery Toffee Popcorn with Peanuts
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coarse Black Pepper

  1. Microwave popcorn with peanuts in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals.
  2. Stir in Black Pepper.
  3. Spread mixture in an even layer in a lightly greased jelly roll pan.
  4. Let cool 10 minutes; break into pieces.
  5. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Source -> Southern Living, OCTOBER 2007

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I actually cut this recipe out several years ago and was excited to finally make this.   Microwave time is dependent on your microwave.  You will know it is ready to be peppered when it gets gooey and sticky.  I increased the amount of pepper to 1 teaspoon.   This is a great recipe and the variations are endless.  I think this would be great with a cinnamon based spice or with cayenne pepper….

Taster’s Comments: 

My tasters really liked this and snacked on it all weekend…

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Corsican Herbed and Peppered Goat Cheese

  • 4-oz log of Goat Cheese
  • 1  tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons Corsican Herb Blend

  1. Mix together the Black Pepper and Corsican Herb Blend
  2. Pour the Pepper/Herb mixture onto a flat surface (wax paper, plate, etc)
  3. Roll the Goat Cheese log on the mixture to cover
  4. Serve with water crackers (or cracker of your choice)

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I like to use goat cheese for appetizers and have to definitely say that the flavor combination of the Goat Cheese, with the Herbs and Black Pepper was awesome.   Corsican Herb Blend is a unique blend of herbs commonly called for in Corsican recipes.

Taster’s Comments: 

This was a big hit with the tasters.   One taster commented that it was “addictive”…

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup

This recipe is a nice thing to have in the refrigerator.  It has many uses.  The recipes that follow this all call for Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar/Splenda Blend
  • 1 tablespoon Peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain into  an airtight container and keep refrigerated.

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Spiced Espresso Brownie Cupcake

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • 1/3 cup strongly brewed Coffee, chilled
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon coarse Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Ganache Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3 tablespoons Half & Half
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend
  • 1 tablespoon strongly brewed Coffee, chilled 
  1.  Mix the cupcake ingredients with a spatula until well blended.
  2. Pour batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 25-30 minutes until set.  Cool on wire rack.
  4. Melt chocolate chips with half & half in the microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips soften.
  5. Add Peppercorn Syrup, Gypsy Sweet Spice Blend, Coffee.  Whisk until creamy.
  6. When cupcakes have cooled completely, cover tops of cupcakes with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of chocolate ganache.  Top with chocolate covered espresso beans.
  7. Chill until set.   Save remaining ganache for other recipes.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

Have fun when making cupcakes.   The craft stores all have great cupcake liners.  I chose a cheetah print for my cupcakes.  

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster had one when first frosted and another after it had been chilled.  They said the flavor was better when it was chilled.

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Spicy Pepper Martini

  • 1/2 teaspoon Zest of a Lemon, divided
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Vermouth
  1. Put the ingredients (except zest) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved zest.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I thought this was a little bit too spicy for my palate (and I love black pepper).   Next time, I may add a splash of diet cola.

Taster’s Comments: 

My taster thought it was great and finished mine!    I guess this time, the drink was not too girly.

 

 

 

 

Gypsy World Spice Cafe – Peppered Strawberry Orange Martini

  • 1-oz Brown Sugar Peppercorn Syrup
  • 4-oz Vodka
  • 2-oz Orange flavored Vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar-Free Strawberry Preserves
  • Slices of Lime
  1. Put the ingredients (except lime) in a shaker with some ice.
  2. Give a good shake.
  3. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with reserved lime slices.

 

Blogger’s Comments:  

I loved this one!  Strawberries and Peppercorns are a classic combination…  So, thought this might be the drink for me since the other one was too spicy.

 

I hope you try some of these recipes…

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