The best parties are usually linked to the kitchen in some way. If you want to enjoy your gathering as much as your guests, standing around the table, lined up at the kitchen island, or huddled around the oven, it pays to have a course of canapés and hors d’oeuvres to share. With a little organization, you can have everything ready ahead of time, or at least minimize the last-minute work you have to do when your guests arrive. Ideally, you’d serve both hot and cold dishes, and even play around with textures and colors! Don’t neglect cocktails, while still keeping those who don’t drink alcohol in mind. For a stress-free evening, ask your guests to serve a morsel or two and let them serve (and re-serve!) themselves.
True connoisseurs already have all they need, and know best how to satisfy their own developed tastes, or so they think. People who really enjoy cooking, however, never tire of discovering new, rare spices or terroirs. And, with luck, you’ll even get to taste the fruits of their new discoveries! Our Grand Cru Pepper Trio brings together three exceptional black peppers, sure to please both staunch traditionalists and adventurous cooks alike. For those who are always on the hunt for rare, mysterious spices, we recommend our Japanese yuzu or even our Korean pepper threads. Stick to classic gifts like Lemon Herb Fleur de Sel or a ceramic salt cellar signed by Arik de Vienne, or even an 8-spice chai, fragranced with vanilla. West Indian bay leaf, is just as aromatic as its better-known cousin, Mediterranean bay leaf, and also presents surprising notes of citrus and clove. Of course, for us, it’s not really a holiday without a real spice blend: the fragrant Ethiopian Berbere and the traditional Ras-el-Hanout are sure to please anyone who’s excited by aromas both subtle and complex.
Jams, cookies, pickles… handmade goodies are always the best! They’re not just less expensive than store-bought foods, they make excellent last-minute gifts for anyone, be it a child’s favorite teacher, a coworker, or whoever invites you over for New Year’s Eve. It never takes a lot of time and is always well appreciated by your loved ones. Pick a weekend afternoon, park yourself in the kitchen and get the whole family to pitch in! And you should always make more than you think you need: it’s great to have an extra jar of stuffed dates or truffles nearby to offer unexpected visitors (or even to treat yourself once the holidays are over).
Start your holiday planning with these suggestions!
Eating like a Spice Trekker is easier than you think! In their new book, Ethné and Philippe invite you into their kitchen to explore the dishes that comprise their family meals. The recipes presented are both gluten and dairy free, all while ensuring their deliciousness and encouraging the joy of sharing food with others. The menu presented here uses the cookbook’s recipe variations, which we assure you will please both hardcore paleo eaters as well as your fickler diners. We also like the idea of serving a soup after a cold fish dish and a few salads, which can simply be placed on the table so each guest can serve themselves. Swap your turkey and potatoes for a pork tenderloin with parsnip and finish with a fun, festive dessert.
It’s a well-known fact that foodies are easy to please, particularly if they have a sweet tooth! If you have someone in your family who’s always putting some pie or tray of cookies in the oven, our Dessert Spice Trio is all you need. If you’re in more of a DIY mood, a bottle of Vanilla Extract or West Indian Extract is a perfect gift- all you have to do is fill it with alcohol. Feeling like venturing into more unfamiliar territory? Try our Chai Spice Blend or even Silk Road, both of which are sure to enhance any dessert. If you’re even thinking about making chocolate cookies or brownies at home, be sure to add some of our Oaxacan Chocolate Spices. Success is guaranteed!
Whether you’re looking for a kit to impress a connoisseur, a new tea to give your sister-in-law, or something special to fill your stocking, we’ve got everything you need to please your tea-loving friends and their ilk. For fans of chai and fragranced teas, we recommend this original and varied Spiced Tea kit. If the tea drinkers around you have more adventurous palates and more obscure interests, you’ll get everything you need from our Rare Teas kit. Jasmine Pearls make a great gift for your host or hostess. Nomi Shiang and Payachakra may be less famous, but they’re sure to excite the travelers around you. If you really want to have some fun, give someone these magnificent, handmade tea tasting cups made by Arik de Vienne.
It’s safe to say that traditional Holiday cooking calls for generous amounts of spices. Why not extend the range of your spice cupboard to your liquor cabinet as well? After all, the Holidays present endless occasions and excuses for mixing a cocktail: decorating the tree, hosting a little soirée, during the big family party, or even relaxing on a day off after playing in the snow.
Baba Ganoush is an essential mezze in many Middle Eastern countries. The ingredients may vary from one region to another and there are many versions of the famous eggplant dip. Continue reading →
It is no surprise that the Middle East’s most popular crushed pepper flake is from the city of Aleppo, which was a hub of the Silk Road for centuries. This ancient market for spice production and trade has long been a natural place for culinary innovation. Numerous spice blends and dishes, like Syrian kebabs, originated there. And it was through spice trading centers like Aleppo that the chile pepper was introduced to the Middle East.
Halaby Pepper, Turkish Pepper, Aleppo Pepper: Many Names, One Distinct Technique
Sometimes called halaby pepper or Turkish pepper, the Aleppo pepper’s crushed red flakes are used to adorn kebabs, shawarmas, hummus, fattoush, and a multitude of other popular Middle Eastern dishes.
The city of Aleppo provided the ideal context for this creation: already flavored with the mineral grit of the semi-arid north Syrian Plateau, the chile was bred to grow red, slender and sweet. The area’s climate is also excellent for sun drying, and with salt and oil, it is there that the distinct technique for producing Aleppo pepper flakes was refined and brought up to the high standards of Syrian cuisine.
Ground slightly larger than typical crushed red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper takes on a warm, melting texture. The taste is summer sweet and savory, with notes of raisin, pomegranate, and even sun-dried tomatoes. The spice isn’t especially hot, and can be used almost anywhere.
The Aleppo Pepper’s Complex Flavor and History
The Aleppo pepper’s compact yet versatile flavor can be attributed to the innovative chefs, enthusiastic horticulturists, and keen spice merchants that shaped its long, proud history. It is also known as another casualty of the ongoing conflict in Syria. Épices de Cru lost contact with our spice merchant in Syria for over four years – his family now lives in Istanbul and trades at the spice market there, but no longer exports Aleppo pepper.
Finding alternatives can be tricky, although Maras pepper and Korean pepper make worthy substitutes. True Syrian pepper is simply no longer available, but its flavors still live on in our kitchens: we recommend Turkish Aleppo pepper, which is cultivated and processed in a similar fashion just across the border, near Gaziantep, on the same sunny plateau.
Like the chefs, gardeners, and merchants who brought this delicacy to life, we keep finding new uses for Aleppo pepper flakes in sweet and savory dishes, from Ottoman classics like Menemen to reinvented comfort foods like Shepherd’s Pie. Lovingly perfected for centuries, it surpasses other crushed red pepper flakes as a go-to flavor base that adds complexity to any recipe.