Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine – Drink and Be Merry

Mulled Wine is one of the best ways to stay warm this autumn and winter. What is mulled wine? In short it’s warm spice infused wine. According to science, mulled wine dates back to a time where people were cold but still wanted to party. After a couple of glasses of this warm wine someone decided to throw in spices.  This is irrefutable history.

Now mulled wine is pretty simple to make, yet some of the essential ingredients are always annoyingly missing from your spice pantry, and if they are not missing chances are you used them the last time you mulled wine back in 2006. Trash them. The Fair Seas Spice Co. has solved this problem by assembling an all inclusive mulled wine spice kit. Our Mulled Wine Spice Kit includes 100% Fairtrade certified cinnamoncardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla, along with ethically sourced bay leaves and star anise.

While there are many mulled wine recipes, this one is tried, tested, and pretty awesome.

First what you’ll need:

  • The Fair Seas Spice Co. Mulled Wine Kit
  • 1 orange or two Clementines
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 200g of Sugar (or less if you you prefer a less sweet drink)
  • 2 Bottles of red wine
  • a Nutmeg grater (any fine grater will do)

What you need to do:

  1. Open up your Fair Seas Spice Co. Mulled Wine Spice Kit and pour the spices into a bowl; remove the star anise, nutmeg and vanilla.
  2. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise using a sharp knife and return to bowl
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove large portions of the citrus peels.
  4. Over medium heat add your sugar to a large saucepan along with the citrus peels, the bowl of spices, and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg.
  5. Squeeze in the orange or Clementine juice
  6. Add just enough wine to cover the ingredients and let simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  7. Bring to a rolling boil, about 4 to 5 minutes, until you’re left with a thick and fragrant syrup. This syrup base will add amazing flavour to the mulled wine.
  8. Reduce heat to low, add the star anise and the remainder of the wine and let simmer until nice and warm (DO NOT BOIL, this will evaporate the alcohol and no one wants that to happen, NO ONE)

Now the following steps are optional but are most often taken.

  1. drink
  2. drink
  3. drink
  4. lose your inhibitions
  5. get into an awkward argument about climate change with your Tea-Party cousin
  6. Agree to disagree
  7. hug it out
  8. drink

There you have it, Mulled Wine.

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Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice – The Real Deal

Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice with Cassia Cinnamon

Pumpkin Spice; nothing says autumn like those two simple words uttered in the same breath. For good reason – for the next few weeks you’ll practically be inhaling the stuff every time you pass by a coffee shop, someone bites into their special seasonal muffin or opens up a bottle of micro-brewed fall beer. The bottom line is we can’t escape it, it’s everywhere. What gets me and our team of one other employee is that most of the pumpkin spice we’ll consume in the coming weeks is a fragrant cocktail of dyes, artificial flavors, and type 2 diabetes causing sugars. So think twice before buying your pumpkin spice either pre-blended, mixed into your coffee, or baked into your 6 dollar 14,000 calorie healthy whole wheat muffin.

Here at the Fair Seas Spice Co, I and the other guy I work with are doing it old-school. We won’t be selling you a convenient little shaker filled with spices blended over 2 years ago. On the contrary, our pumpkin spice requires a little elbow grease because we’ll be selling it whole spices and all. This means you’ll have to go home and grind it for yourself. Our blend it yourself pumpkin spice kit will allow you to really taste the difference between the freshly ground authentic stuff and synthetic alternative. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

So what goes into our pumpkin spice? First we start with Cassia or Ceylon Cinnamon, Cloves, Dried Ginger, Nutmeg, and Mace. These spices are fall’s quintessential warmth inducing ingredients. When freshly ground and combined together the result is a shift in your mood. Rather than complain about the impending cold you’ll welcome it as a reason to prepare and indulge in your favorite home baked deserts.

You can find our pumpkin spice at http://www.fairseasspice.ca/products/pumpkin-spice

Spice Sale

This Week’s Featured Spices

We’ve launched some pretty interesting specials to kick the week off.

40% off our Fairtrade Certified Home-made Vanilla Extract Kit.

Vanilla Extract

Fairtrade Vanilla Extract

If you love to bake this vanilla extract kit is a must have. Of course one can walk into any grocery or big box store and buy vanilla extract; so why make it yourself? Quality and price are the primary reasons. Vanilla is one of the world’s most expensive spices, second only to saffron. Vanilla extract is also very pricey; problem is the price does not necessarily correspond to the quality. To produce marketable extract, large brands resort to using lesser quality vanilla beans and vanilla bean extractives. They also often add sugar or corn syrup to the mix. Is store-bought vanilla extract terrible? No, it’s far from terrible.

 Vanilla Extract

Typical store-bought vanilla extract

Store-bought vanilla extract is fine for all intents and purposes, but why settle for fine when you can buy the best. Not only is our home-made vanilla extract kit better and cheaper, it’s simple. All that’s involved is a sharp knife, some vodka, and time. Simply remove the beans from the bottle, slit them lengthwise, replace them in the bottle, cover the beans in premium vodka, and let it sit for no less than two months. Our gluten free, organically grown and 100% Fairtrade certified Malabar vanilla beans are plump, fresh, and full of flavour.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract with Sugar Added

The only ingredient aside from pure vanilla is vodka (or any other spirit of your choice). You won’t find a drop of sugar or corn syrup. What about price? At $10.50 this 250ml bottle (8.5oz) is the bottle that keeps on giving. Extract grows better with age. The longer you keep it the more flavourful it becomes. When you begin to run low, just throw in more vodka and a fresh vanilla bean every now and then. This bottle will literally last you for years, and it makes the perfect gift for baking aficionados.

35% Off our Fairtrade Certified Black Pepper.

Black Pepper

Black Pepper 100% Fairtrade Certified

I sell fine spices, so I’m allowed to get upset when I see someone using pre-ground pepper. If there is any spice that should be purchased whole it’s black pepper. In fact there is no point in buying the ground stuff. Black pepper’s flavour’s and aroma’s begin to fade within 30 minutes of cracking its hard outer shell. We also often speak of salt and pepper in the same breath, and often buy salt and pepper as a single set. While salt is a vital flavour enhancer, black pepper is its own spice. Black pepper not only enhances the dishes flavour profile, it actually alters it. So while any salt will usually do, the same cannot be said about black pepper. High quality, freshly ground stuff can make the difference between a single note meal and a meal with depth and complexity.

35% off Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Nutmeg

I’ve talked about nutmeg in the past. Nutmeg is the be-all end-all of baking spice. It’s never a secret when nutmeg is one of the ingredients. Nutmeg’s unique flavour is warm, highly aromatic, and always recognizable. Nutmeg also pairs so well with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and vanilla. Nutmeg is not just a baking spice. It is also a vital component in many a garam masala recipe, it adds a nice touch to home-made sausages, and is the perfect addition to your do it yourself chutney (don’t tell me you’ve never cranked out a chutney. Here is a great yet simple recipe for Mango Chutney).

35% off Coriander

Coriander

Coriander

Coriander is an awesome little spice. It’s delicately sweet, yet woody with a wonderful floral and slightly peppery aroma. Coriander seeds compliment the full spectrum of foods: apples, chicken, citrus fruit, fish, ham, mushrooms, onions, salads, plums, pork, potatoes, and ext.

Recipe: Berberé – Hot East African Spice mix

Recipe: Berberé – Hot East African Spice mix

When we think of going out for dinner or preparing a home cooked meal, rarely does the prospect of Ethiopian food arise. If you’ve never experienced Ethiopian I’ve included a little introductory video.

Now Ethiopians are master culinary tacticians. Their innovative use of spices delivers food with unmatched flavour and complexity. In this short post I’ll focus on a common East African spice blend called Berbere, This amazing spice blend lends Ethiopian food its unique character. The ingredients are simple enough:

This great video will walk you through the process.

I cannot stress this enough: Spice blend recipes are rough guides. You should be able to add or subtract any spice you wish and make it your own. This is an awesome way to develop your palate and discover new flavours.

I’ve also found am insightful blog post which gives a great, albeit slightly different version of the blend.

http://globaltableadventure.com/2011/02/27/recipe-berbere-hot-east-african-spice-mix/

Enjoy

Baharat Spice

Baharat Spice Blend – The key to Iraqi T’Beet

Baharat is an essential Middle-Eastern spice blend. Being Iraqi, Baharat has played a huge role in my gastronomical upbringing. My mother, who was born in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, has done well to impart her countries rich culinary heritage onto me and the younger generations. Because of my mother, when I think of my “Iraqiness”, my mind conjures up memories of the many dishes she brought to our kitchen table. Among the myriad of mouth-watering offerings stands the iconic T’beet (pronounced ta’beet). Why T’beet? Because Baharat is at the epicentre of this dish’s awesome, sometime emotion provoking flavours. T’beet is as close to my heart as it is to my uncles expanding waistline and double chin.

Now most of you have obviously never heard of or tasted T’beet, a masterpiece of Iraqi cuisine. Hence, I’ll provide for a little crash course.

Is this a vegan or vegetarian friendly dish? No. In fact it’s the exact opposite. Not only is T’beet loaded with meat, it’s loaded with two types of meat. I actually pity the fool who attempts to dissuade my traditional mom from cooking and consuming meat. This is an argument which even PETA and Greenpeace would deem too dangerous to engage in.

In a nutshell, T’beet is chicken and chicken skin stuffed with Baharat spiced minced meat and rice, then slow cooked over night with rice. The tradition of slow cooking the T’beet overnight arises from the fact that this dish is traditionally consumed during our Jewish Sabbath. Now I’m not a religious scholar, nor was my parent’s investment in my Jewish education money well spent, so I apologize if my interpretations of the rules are a little unpolished, but on the Sabbath it is forbidden to use fire. To circumvent this rule, we simply lit our fires (or modern-day ovens) before the start of the Sabbath (sundown) on Friday, and then slowly cooked our T’beet until Saturday afternoon. As soon as the T’beet was removed from the oven, with the same primal instinct as a pride of lions surrounding a fresh kill, my family went to town on this quintessential Iraqi delight.

Like in the animal kingdom, there is a hierarchy of sorts when it came to consuming T’beet’s most choice parts. Let me explain. A bi-product of the long cooking process is the charring of the rice along the inner edges of the heavy pot. This rice, called H’kaka (don’t laugh) is coveted amongst Iraqi’s. Notice the beautiful H’kaka in the picture to your right.

Now my family was a ruled by my grandmother, a true matriarch. She was at the top of the food chain. When it came time claim our share of the H’kaka, we all fought to be the grandchild who would so graciously place the burnt rice on her plate. This was considered a true act of respect. After my grandmother there was the regular pecking order, uncles and aunts were followed by cousins oldest to youngest. Bottom line, no Saturday was ever complete without our T’beet fix.

As for the T’beet recipe, I’ll defer to an expert in the field of Jewish Iraqi cuisine, Rachel Somekh. Rachel has put together a very detailed collection of recipes, along with a great account of Iraqi culinary history. A must visit for anyone interested: recipesbyrachel.com.

What made T’beet a venerable delicacy however was the Baharat spice blend. Baharat, perfectly infused into every bite, is essentially the essence of T’beet. Like with any spice blend there is variation. At its core however, the Jewish Iraqi version of Baharat is composed of:

CardamomCardamom Black PepperBlack Pepper Cassia CinnamonCassia Cinnamon NutmegNutmeg ClovesWhole Cloves

But there are no limits as to what you may include: CuminFennelCorianderAllspiceGingerRed Chilli’sPaprika, Rosebuds, Ext. Each country, region, town village, and family, be it in  Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, ext, have their own unique version of this blend. In fact, the blend will vary from cook to cook. Whatever changes one makes to the blend, it will always be delicious. This blog does an awesome job describing the many variants of the Baharat spice blend. Check it out.

Baharat Spice

Baharat Spice Blend

Preparing the spice blend is easy. Place all of your non pre-ground spices (whole seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves) in a small frying pan and dry roast over medium-high heat, tossing regularly to prevent scorching, for 3-4 minutes or until very fragrant. Transfer to a spice or coffee grinder and let cool. Then proceed to add whatever pre-ground spices you have to your freshly ground spices. That’s it, you’re done, and you’ve made a Baharat spice blend.

Myristica fragrans, otherwise known as Nutmeg Spice

Thought I would share a few interesting funfacts on one of my favourite spice. Coincidentally, our newest batch of nutmeg will be available for purchase as of friday on our website at www.fairseasspice.ca

Nutmeg, scientifically known as Myristica fragrans, is one of the most desired spices on earth. It is also one of the most expensive spices on earth; trust us on this one.  ImageNutmeg adds a touch of sweetness and pairs perfectly with to almost any dish your mind can conjure up. The result is the addition of tremendous depth and complexity to you cuisine. An essential component to the  béchamel sauce you so often make at home (we know you don’t, but it’s never too late to start), Nutmeg also compliments homemade sausage, meats, soups, and preserves. Nutmeg however is perhaps best known for its use in baking. Mixed with complimentary spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, your cakes and cookies will literally explode with flavour; as will your waistline with girth.

Nutmeg, once ground, quickly loses its potency. We suggest you buy it in small quantities, from us, and grate it fresh just prior to use.

On a less culinary note, nutmeg in large and concentrated quantities can yield effect similar to that of marijuana. We also sell Nutmeg in bulk, strictly for cooking of course, just saying.