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Well, this is it. The spice store has made it's last gasp & is shutting down. Thanks for your support. If you have any requests or questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards to all,
Elliott

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Important Notice:


6/7/2010:

We're back. I'm still trying to re-figure/ streamline the Spice Selections to make it all more sensible to you and feasible to us. Truth is, y'all just don't use the spices and seasonings as much as I do (despite that, as with all spice & seasoning ingredients, they are best if used within a six month period and not after). That's understandable, but it makes having an online business impractical, is all. Over the course of many months I've been considering ways to make the spices more appealing to first time as well as repeat buyers. I've sought to solve several problems with the product, including:

The tendency for the spice seasonings to clump - I've switched suppliers and am now using ingredients which are ground finer and have less tendency to clump. I've been satisfied with the results and I hope that you have as well.

Packaging: The metal tins I'm using are, at best, a compromise in order to ship the spices as well as make them appealing and functional. When I initially started selling spices back in 2005, I was using 4 oz. glass jars. People really like the jars over the tins, and while the tins cost more, they are easier to ship without worrying that you will end up with a package of seasoned glass shards on your end.

Packaging #2: I have been considering losing the tins in favor of simple, functional, utilitarian plastic bags. Why? I have a lot of plastic bags in stock intended for refills of spices, and that just doesn't happen. If I switch to using the plastic bags, I could probably increase the amount of spice seasoning per order while decreasing the cost of each item as well as shipping. How about that?

Packaging #3: Wouldn't ya know, now they are saying that plastic is EVIL and DOES NOT LIKE YOU or YOUR FAMILY. Oh, plastic - we lived with so many hopes for you that must now go unfulfilled. It was sweet while it lasted.

Scrapping the catalog: That's right. Another serious consideration I've had for some time now is to scrap all of my current product and sell only certain items. What I have been selling over the past several years would essentially be retired. "What will you replace it with?", you ask? Well, let me tell you - I've been thinking of starting a whole new line of extremely hot and spicy seasonings and bbq rubs, so that I can rename it THE BURN WARD. That's right. I don't joke about such things. We're talking (or rather mumbling, since we've been steadily searing off the nerves on our tongues) serious Scoville Units here. What is your vote?

Spice of the Month Club: While it is still a serious consideration, it has never generated enough interest to convince me to do it. Maybe. Drop me a line and tell me you'd support it if I made it available. No, not just you, I mean some of those other people out there who haven't piped up yet.

Gift Sets: Of course - there will always be gift sets, as well as sales, like the ever popular buy 2 get 1 free deal.

Cost: Oy... one could make a living, if only they'd let you - ya know what I mean? Over the past 12 to 18 months, cost just got weird, particularly because import/ export costs that bear on the availability of ingredients for the spices and seasonings. I try to keep that old carbon foot print as small as possible - I've even considered binding my carbon foot to a child's size 2 - but there are certain ingredients that just are not easily available in our area of Western Massachusetts. Things like fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf and Lemongrass which, the last time I had to purchase a bulk of each I was told that I would need to pre-order it as it comes from places with sunnier climates, yet it is also affected by state restrictions which prevent growing these plants in proximity of delicate citrus agricultural regions. So - I temporarily stopped making the Green Thai Curry, which needs a good amount of each to get the flavor perfect. I know - it makes me sad, too, not to have my Green Thai Curry.

So that's the short of the long on the matter. Write me and let me know what your vote is on any or all of the intertwining topics.

And thanks for your support, your patience and your friendship - I really do appreciate it!

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This blog is a companion site to my online business at emburke.etsy.com where I sell unique spice and seasoning blends. I will be featuring recipes that use the spice blends here, but you can easily adapt them to suit your own needs. Also, my spice and seasoning blends are interchangeable - you can easily use one blend in place of another to get a different creative result or you can play it safe and stick to the recipe.

I have a variety of spice & seasoning blends available for purchase here - the perfect compliment for your meat & vegetarian entrées or side dishes. Each of my spice blends are made from fresh, organic spices purchased locally and are ground & blended by myself. They can be used as a dry or wet rub, as a marinade or sauce, or as a seasoning to add a little extra flavor.

Also, if you have any ideas, suggestions or challenges - send them on to me and I'll place them on the site as well.

Each quarter a portion of all sales from this site will be given to support a local charity in Western Massachusetts.

I think you will enjoy them as much as I do. Please spread the word!

Thanks, Elliott

P.S. - I'll have some other items available here in the near future.
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What would you like to find here?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tandoori BBQ Chicken

We ended up having an impromptu dinner with friends for the Fourth of July, which was planned to be a cook out only the weather proved to be unpredictable. They had fresh local chicken at our farm share (http://www.foodbankwma.org/), so we picked up a mess of thighs for cooking, while our friends, Bobby and Lisha Storey and Nate and Jen Orie brought along lots of beer, chips and dip, yummy lemonade and strawberryade. With the chicken thighs I made a Tandoori BBQ sauce and slow baked them in the oven, served with polenta and a beautiful salad that Cheryl made, and afterwards we had strawberry ginger and black current sorbet.

The barbeque sauce I used was improvised, is really simple to make and was quite nice. Here's the recipe for it:

Sweet and Sour Tandoori BBQ Sauce

In a medium sized bowl mix together:

4 Tablespoons of Tamarind paste (I used Laxmi Brand, which you should be able to find in any Indian or Ethnic Market, but any good Tamarind Paste should work)

4 - 6 Tablespoons of plain Yoghurt
2 - 4 Tablespoons of Sugar (to taste; more for a sweeter flavor)
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons Tandoori Spice Blend

add water as needed to make it into a moderate sauce for marinading and baking. I added a little more of the Tandoori Spice Blend, but I also live in the land of abundant spices.

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Clean the Chicken Thighs of any excess skin, fat or cartilage that you may not want and place them in a shallow Pyrex baking dish (let's say 6 - 8 thighs for an average meal; we actually had 14 - 16, which took two baking dishes) and baste them thickly and evenly with the sauce. (I double basted ours, which seemed to be a little too heavy to me.) Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 450 for half an hour, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees and let them cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The chicken thighs will slowly bake in their juices and will become extremely tender, with the meat falling off of the bone.

That's it. Slow baking is one of my favorite ways to cook meat (besides grilling and smoking) because it's tasty, simple, you can free yourself up to do other things, like take a nap, and you can't really mess it up.

For the Polenta I used the recipe from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins as a template. I was actually trying to improvise a variation of the Polenta we used to make Polenta Fries with at Daddy-O's restaurant so that I could grill it on our flat top grill.

Polenta

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
6 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup of Diced Onion
1/4 cup Cheese
(I used what was on hand and complimentary to the taste - Blue Cheese and Parmesan Reggiano)
2 Cups Milk
1 Cup of Plain Yogurt
1 Cup fine ground Corn meal
1 Tablespoon Kalonji (Black Onion Seed) optional
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Dash of Salt and Pepper to taste

In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic and onion; cook until translucent, taking care to not burn the garlic. Add the milk, yogurt and butter and mix well together. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium and gradually add the corn meal in a fine stream while whisking until fully incorporated. Add the Kalonji, cheese, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Cook until the polenta becomes firm yet still soft. Turn off the heat.

You may serve the polenta as is or make squares with it to grill. To do so, place parchment on a small baking sheet and pour the polenta into the center. Using a spatula, spread the polenta evenly over the parchment into a thick rough square, at least 1/2 an inch deep . If the polenta is cooked firm enough it will be pliable and go where you spread it. It will be okay if it is rough and uneven - it adds a rustic character to the dish. Let the polenta cool, then cut into squares to grill.

To Grill:

You can use a frying pan to grill the polenta or use a stove top flat grill if you have one.

Heat to medium high heat and oil lightly with olive oil, corn oil, butter, what have you - it's your choice. Lightly dust the polenta with fine ground corn meal and place in the frying pan or griddle.
Grill until warm and lightly toasted, then turn over and grill the other side.

Serve with some Tandoori BBQ Chicken, one of Cheryl's wonderful salads, good friends, beer and chips with dip.

Bon Appétit and happy Fourth of July!

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Read what some nice people have to say about my spices:"

Some mornings, I just stand in the kitchen alone and sniff Elliotts' spice. Then I'm somehow ready to start my day. And, oh yes, Elliott's spice IS great for cooking. Your eating habit will literally get "spiced up"."~ Tomoko Deeney (TADworks)

"I’ve almost never finished a full jar of spice and I’ve used several jars of Elliott’s spices in a matter of months. They are very unique and full of different flavors without being too salty or overpowering. They get my highest recommendation. Try them and you will love them."~ Keith Brisebois

"Elliott’s Green Thai is the most amazing spice... perfect for tacos, fish, chicken or beef. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t be able to cook without it!"~ Chrissie Henry

"I hadn't really explored the world of spices until this mixture somehow found its way into my cupboard. I had lived a fairly plain sea salt and cracked pepper food life, until this came along. I enjoy the 'kick' it has on my palate. And still the blend lends itself to good eatin'."~ Rachel Wilson

"Having a jar of Elliott's spice blends in my cupboard I feel as if I have been instantly transformed into a fantastic chef. Dishes I would normally feel intimidated to try - Curried Cauliflower, Tandori Chicken, Morrocan Lamb Stew - now feel within reach. Thank you, Elliott for opening up a whole world, literally, of fabulous food!"~ Alicia Pritt

"Filled a void in my life."~ Elizabeth (from Russia)