Archive | November 26th, 2012

Spice Up Your Stocking Stuffers

Spice Up Your Stocking Stuffers

Silver Cloud Estates offers extracts, spices and herbs.

If there’s a foodie — or three — on your Christmas list this year and you need the right stocking stuffer, consider a jar or two of spices, herbs, extracts or seasonings they might not have.

There are numerous choices out there, some of them local and some you can have delivered to your door.

Alamo City Pepper Products is a local line of gluten-free seasonings. If you enjoy adding a kick to your food, try the Hatch Green Chile Salt or Jalapeño Salt, while the Honey Chipotle Seasoning adds a sweet-hot touch to most any kind of meat. If someone on your list is a real hothead, you can get Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chile), the hottest chile on the planet, in two forms: dried or powdered. You can find Alamo City Pepper Products at Whole Foods. You can order them, too, at

Penzeys Spices hasn’t opened a store in San Antonio, but that doesn’t make them a stranger to many from who have been in need of anything from mulling spices to Peri Peri Seasoning. Turkish bay leaves, celery flakes and salt-free corned beef spices are just a few of the beauties you can find online as well as an impressive array of dried chiles, including dundicut peppers from Pakistan, Sanaam chiles and Turkish aleppo peppers. To learn more, click here.

Alamo City Pepper Products are gluten-free.

Silver Cloud Estates bills itself as being more about vanilla beans and vanilla extract, but it also has an exciting array of spices, herbs and extracts. Among the pure extracts are allspice, cappuccino, coconut and ginger, while the spices include Grains of Paradise, Korintje (Indonesian cinnamon), epazote powder, bourbon pepper and Moroccan raz el hanôut. For more information, click here.

You could also shop locally at any of the city’s many ethnic markets for spices and seasonings from around the world. A few favorites include:

  • Ali Baba International Food Market, 9307 Wurzbach Road
  • Himalayan Bazaar, 8466 Fredericksburg Road
  • Hung Phong, 243 Remount
  • International Food Market, 2449 Nacogdoches Road
  • Las Americas, 6623 San Pedro Ave.
  • Mustafa, 4081 Medical Drive
  • Salaam International Food Market, 3727 Colony Drive
  • Sari-Sari, 5742 Wurzbach Road
  • Seoul Oriental Food Market, 2415 Harry Wurzbach Road,
  • Tim’s Oriental Food Market, 7015 Bandera Road
  • Vietnam Market, 5360 Walzem Road

A few other places where you can find an array of spices include Gaucho Gourmet, 935 Isom Road; Melissa Guerra Tienda de Cocina in the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St.; Sur la Table, 15900 La Cantera Parkway; and Central Market, 4821 Broadway.

You might also want to consider a spice book or two to add to the gift. A few suggestions include:

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Get Medieval with Mushroom Pie

Get Medieval with Mushroom Pie

Mushroom Pie

Ever wonder what people ate in medieval times? You can find a few answers at, a website that features authentic ideas modernized for today’s kitchens.

This recipe for Mushroom Pie seems almost too easy, yet it’s a rewarding meatless entree that’s perfect with a side salad. One note: When I tested the recipe, I didn’t drain the mushrooms as much as I should have. It didn’t affect the flavor or texture, but it left juices at the bottom of the pie plate.

Mushroom Pie

2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
2 cups Swiss cheese, divided use
2 teaspoons Powder Fine (recipe follows)
1 (9-inch) pie crust

Save some cheese to sprinkle over the top.

Sauté mushrooms in small amount of oil to cook the mushrooms and release their water. Drain and cool. Press the juices from the mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups of cheese and Powder Fine, and place into the pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes until done.

Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: Mushrooms of one night be the best and they be little and red within and closed at the top; and they must be peeled and then washed in hot water and parboiled and if you wish to put them in a pasty add oil, cheese and spice powder.

Item, put them between two dishes on the coals and then add a little salt, cheese and spice powder. They be found at the end of May and June.

Makes 1 pie.

Powder Fine

Powder Fine

“Many medieval recipes call for spice mixtures without detailing the exact spices,” says. “While it is tempting to assume that each particular spice mixture had a consistent recipe, there is evidence of substantial variation for different times, regions, budgets, and cooks. The recipe below is for one of the more commonly called-for spice mixtures. I strongly encourage altering it to suite your own tastes.”

3 tablespoons ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon grains of paradise (see note)

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: FINE POWDER of spices. Take an ounce and a drachma of white ginger, a quarter-ounce of hand-picked cinnamon, half a quarter-ounce each of grains and cloves, and a quarter-ounce of rock sugar, and grind to powder.

Note: According to a jar from Silver Cloud Estates, “Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melagueta), also known as Guinea Pepper, is an aromatic seed primarily used in the cooking styles of West and North Africa. It has a flavor similar to black pepper and was once used as a substitute for pepper in Europe.” It has a fruity taste with a light touch of heat and can be ordered online.

Adapted from



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