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7 Reasons Why Herb and Spice Blends Rock my Kitchen

Making Herb and Spice Blends

Whether you make your own in advance, buy them pre-mixed or just throw them together as you cook, herb and spice blends are an essential ingredient in my kitchen today – thanks to so many traditions and cuisines from around the world. Bringing these blends into your own kitchen can lend authenticity to international dishes and provide creative inspiration for your everyday cooking. Here we go a little in-depth as to why I won’t cook without them.

But before we start, let’s get one thing straight. The terms Herb & Spice Blends and Seasoning are often used interchangeably – however they do have different applications. Here is how Wikipedia defines them:

Spice mixes are blended spices or herbs. When a certain combination of herbs or spices is called for in many different recipes (or in one recipe that is used frequently), it is convenient to blend these ingredients beforehand.

Seasoning is the process of adding salt, herbs, or spices to food to enhance the flavor.

Did you spot the difference? Seasonings usually include SALT. Herb & Spice Blends – or Spic Mixes – not necessarily. If you dig a little deeper it’s interesting to see that Wikipedia also include infused olive oils as a type of seasoning!

WHY HERB AND SPICE BLENDS?

Herb Spice Chilli Paprika

Here are a few points to get you thinking…

  1. CONVENIENCE – So why buy herb and spice blends pre-made? Why not just make your own? Great point. Absolutely make your own – I’ve done it myself and it’s a deliciously satisfying experience. But for me right now, there always seems to be another priority. Pre-blended herbs are my flavour life saver! If you do want to make your own though, have a good read of this article to get an idea on how to correctly dry your ingredients.
  2. FRESH, TASTY INGREDIENTS – Have you ever compared a box of dried spice from the supermarket to a little packet from your Indian Market? If you can smell the difference – boy, can you taste it! This has a lot to do with how long that box has been sitting on the shelf, but there are many other factors to consider which I outline briefly below, as they affect both the taste and health properties of the herb. But there’s another point to consider here. I love how when I’m using a blend – I’m using up all the ingredients at the same rate. Do you have your favourite herbs and spices? And others you’ve bought for a recipe, and never used again? Remember how we covered quality earlier? Herbs and spices keep forever – but their flavour doesn’t. I mean, I have a jar of paprika I inherited from my Grandma which is labelled – caution HOT!!! I admit there’s a bit of a smell to the spice – but it’s anything but hot. In the long run, purchasing a blend where you’re using all the flavours at once ensures the best quality and works out cheaper overall.
  3. HEALTH PROPERTIES – There’s a heck of a lot to be said for the goodness of herbs and spices. But if you take a plant that grew up smothered in pesticides, was not harvested at peak season, dried correctly or stored in the best environment – there are a lot of steps to loose that all important goodness. If you’re making your own blend you’ll want to consider all of these aspects when sourcing the ingredients, but the same goes for buying pre-mixed blends. You can learn more about sourcing quality herbs here.
  4. PROFESSIONAL CURATION – 100% faith in google? Hmm. Some things are amazing first pop – others are a bit hit and miss. I really love to make the most of the professional curation of ingredients in the herb and spice blends that I buy.
  5. GLOBAL INSPIRATION – Before I had my blends, I would stand and stare blankly at my 40 plus range of individual herbs and spices. What should I try tonight? Some rosemary maybe, a touch of turmeric, will cumin go nicely? How about sage? Uh, I really don’t know. It seemed a blank canvas every time. Now when I can’t decide what flavour I want – I just pick a country. I really love the inspiration I get when I look in my cupboard now!
  6. TIME SAVING – Do you ever turn up a delicious looking recipe, only to put it right back when you see that long list of ingredients? Now I just pick out the main ingredients on that list and grab a herb and spice blends that matches well enough – often cutting that ingredient list in half. Now, instead of: one onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1cm ginger, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon sumac and the juice of 1/2 lemon – I’m simply going to use 3 teaspoons of Peri Peri Spice Blend. So peeling, chopping and sauteing onion, garlic and ginger. No measuring out bits of this and that. And guess what – it tastes amazing!
  7. DIET FRIENDLY – Gluten free? Dairy free? Watching your weight? Herbs and spices can be tolerated by most people and they’re full of amazing health properties to boot (more on this in posts to come…). Herb and spice blends are a perfect way to add delicious flavour to all your meals – 100% guilt free. In fact – you should actually be a tad guilty if you DON’T use them! The only diet I know of that excludes ingredients such as onion and garlic that are often in herb and spice blends is the low fodmap diet. However my Mum goes by the low fodmap diet, and hasn’t had any problems after using our blends. I guess it’s all a case of sensitivity, so you’d need to check it out for yourself.
YIAH Meze Dip Mix
Meze Dip Mix

Here are some of my all-time favourite: Meze Dip Mix. Exotic flavours of Turkey combined for a unique fresh dip made with sour cream or substitute with yoghurt or labne for an authentic meal. Use in soups and stews. Ingredients: carrots, garlic, sumac, paprika, black pepper, Persian lime, caraway seeds.

 

YIAH Bay of Bengal Curry Dip Mix
Bay of Bengal Curry Dip Mix

Bay of Bengal Curry Dip Mix. A unique, sweet curry without heat but packed with flavour and perfect for dips, sauces and – obviously – curries. This is a real family favourite. Ingredients: onion, garlic, curry powder, parsley, celery seed, cumin, chives, turmeric, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg.

YIAH Beetroot Dip Mix
Beetroot Dip Mix

Beetroot Dip Mix. Premium beetroot powder paired with a blend of zingy herbs and warming spices brings about flavour that you can’t get enough of. The stunning crimson colour will draw interest from your guests right away. Ingredients: beetroot powder, garlic, onion, sumac, parsley, cumin, chives, paprika, coriander seed, cinnamon, pepper.

YIAH Canadian Steak Meat Rub
Canadian Steak Meat Rub

Canadian Steak Meat Rub. This rub is unbelievably simple, and equally unbelievably flavoursome. Perfection on steak – but you’ll find so many more reasons to use it! Ingredients: Australian sea salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, dill seed.

YIAH Greek Taverna Spice Blend
Greek Taverna Spice Blend

Greek Taverna Spice Blend. Although part of the ‘Spice Blends’ range, this one is mostly herbs. It’s a fresh Mediterranean flavour with subtle garlic, onion and a hint of mint. Perfect partner for lamb, with falafel, as a salad topper or sprinkled on hummus. Ingredients: Onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, mint, basil, marjoram.

 

What are your thoughts on Herb and Spice Blends? Do you use them? Do you make your own? What are your favourites and how to you use them? Did you find this article helpful? Please join the conversation in the comments section below.

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.

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BBQ Peri Peri Chicken

Grilled Peri Peri Chicken Recipe

So here it is – as promised – the amazing BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe! And is it drool-worthy? Ooooh yess!

I’ve omitted a big long list of fresh ingredients in the recipe and replaced them all with YIAH Peri Peri Spice Blend. Why would I do that? Purely for the hurry factor – there just never seem to be enough hours in my day to labour over dinner, so it’s quick is best around here. I love the flavour that a great blend of freshly dried herbs and spices impart to the meal and will quickly steam up some veg to go along when everything else is almost done.

Tasty. Fuss free. Healthy (for the most part!). That’s what you’ll find with my recipes!

I’ll include a link at the end of the recipe so you can reference the original and add all the fresh ones back in if you wish – but I’d still recommend you use the YIAH Peri Peri Spice Blend to really up the zing.

Pour coconut milk and olive oil into a medium screw top jar. Add herbs, spices and salt and pepper to taste.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 1

Shake to mix.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 2

Mmm!

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 3

Pour over prepared chicken.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 4

Oooh, swimmingly good! Mix well, cover, refrigerate and let marinade for at least two hours or overnight. If you’re using an airtight container like me you can shake it up, and turn over every now and then to make sure the meat gets a really good cover.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 5

Preheat BBQ or grill to medium-high. Lift chicken, leaving most of the marinade. You can see we need to improve the outdoor lighting in our BBQ area…!

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 6

Cooking time will depend on the cut of meat you use. Turn chicken at half time.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 7

And look at that! Crispy on the outside, oh so soft on the inside… I always find chicken breast a little tricky to cook just right – don’t cook enough and, well, you know what! Cook it just a smidgen too long and ugh, rubber. But the coconut milk and oil soak really did it’s magic because despite slightly overcooking these pieces (it’s a bit hard to judge with no lights!) they were still so soft and melty.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 8

Maybe my very favourite thing about this recipe – is that we DON’T toss out the marinade! So many instructions call for such wastage and I’ve always been afraid to keep it because, well – raw chicken juice, you know! But here we just cook up the marinade and service it with the chicken. And. It’s. A m a z i n g. But, humblest apologies – that one dodged the camera! I promise to cook this one up again in the near future and update the post accordingly!

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken Recipe 9

I served this chicken with a side of steamed rice and veges. Scrumptious to say the least.

Eat healthfully:

Lean meat with herbs and spices is fantastic for energy and your metabolism. Herbs and spice (including garlic and onion) add a heap of flavour without the calories. They also contain many nutrients, vitamins and healing properties. We’ll be going into more specific details on these in later posts. Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or join our VIP Group to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health.

Eat beautifully:

In the eyes of a hungry kiwi, I’m sure there’s nothing more beautiful than char-grilled bird. Wait till you see the pale red marinade-come-sauce and the only extra you’ll need is a handful of fancy paper napkins!

Eat with minimal fuss:

Using a spice blend instead of trawling your way through a long list of teaspoons of this and 1/4 teaspoons of that is a real time-saver for me (not to mention brain-power saver!). I love to be able to just quickly throw all these ingredients together earlier in the day, then prep up the veges while the meat is on the grill.

BBQ Peri Peri Chicken

Category: Dinner

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Thai Satay Spice Blend (or Spice Blend of choice)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Thai Green Curry Dip Mix (or Dip Mix of choice)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (be sure to check your soy sauce is Gluten Free if required)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 500g boneless chicken breast or thigh, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 500g kumara, sweet potato or potato, cut into 3cm pieces

Instructions

  1. Soak skewers in cold water to avoid burning when cooked.
  2. Combine Thai Satay Spice Blend with mayonnaise to make dipping sauce. Refrigerate until required.
  3. Place the kumara pieces into a medium pot with a sprinkle of salt and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes until kumara is half cooked. Drain and set aside.
  4. Combine Dip Mix, soy sauce, oil and brown sugar. Pour over chicken pieces and mix to combine. Marinade for at least 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove skewers from water. Thread the marinaded chicken and cooled kumara alternativley onto skewers.
  6. Preheat BBQ or grill to high. Cook skewers for 7-10 minutes, turning once, until the chicken and kumara are cooked through and golden.
  7. Serve with Thai Satay dip.

Notes

Any root vege would go great in this recipe. I love how the marinade on the chicken caramelises on the kumara to give a real 'roasted-in-the-pan' flavour to these exceptional kebabs!

http://destinationgourmet.nz/2017/06/24/bbq-peri-peri-chicken/

Find the original recipe on Immaculate Bites here: http://www.africanbites.com/mozambique-peri-peri-grill-chicken/

Have you tried this? What are your thoughts? Would you do the quick version (mine) or the full monty (Immaculate Bites? Why? Please comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.

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Quick, Easy Spaghetti Lunch

Quick Easy Tasty Spaghetti Lunch

Oops – tinned spaghetti in tomato is a bit of a go-to around here when we’re in a rush. Which is all too often. But toss in a spoonful of herbs & spices and suddenly you’ve got something worth slowing down for.

Here is one of the QUICKEST light lunches EVER!

Seriously, spaghetti and tomato? These two lends themselves to almost any flavour you can think of, I’m sure. But today we decided to spice things up a bit.

To a tin of spaghetti I would usually add one Tablespoon of YIAH Dip Mix or YIAH Couscous Blend, or one teaspoon of YIAH Spice Blend. But this time we’re going Louisiana Creole – a red hot blend of chillies and pepper with onion, garlic, cumin, parsley and coriander thrown in for authentic jambalaya flavour.

You need so few ingredients and tools to whip up this quick morsel you could easily do it at work…

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 1

The Louisiana Creole is so hot and full of flavour I just added one teaspoon (usually one Tablespoon for a Dip Mix).

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 2

Mix it in… too easy!

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 3

Microwave on high for one minute, stir then microwave for a further minute.

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 4

Slop onto your plate(s).

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 5

Serve with a fresh side salad and slab of steamed meat. Oops, done it again! But I was in a hurry, right? Well, at least these soft(ish) boiled eggs add some extra protein and nutrition. But if you’ve got time for a salad – by all means, you’ll benefit from it!

Quick Easy Spaghetti Lunch Step 6

Eat healthfully:

I haven’t looked in-depth into the ‘health-factor’ of tinned food yet. Some say that all goodness is destroyed in the heating process. Hmm. Watties say that tinned spaghetti is a good source of lycopene which is great – but that’s all they’ve got to say for it! My advise for any other time-pressed spaghetti eaters out there is don’t eat it on toast – that’s just carbohydrates on carbohydrates. And while carbohydrates give you energy, if you don’t USE that energy – it will just turn to fat. And I don’t know anyone who wants that! Add some protein and salad or veg if possible to round out the meal. Follow us on LinkedIn or join our VIP Group to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.

Eat beautifully:

I haven’t got really creative in beautifying spaghetti yet – but I think it helped that I happened to have some fresh parsley in the garden. A bit of green – voila!

Eat with minimal fuss:

Good for the microwave – I don’t think you can get much fuss-free than this!

Quick, Easy Spaghetti Lunch

2 minutes

2 minutes

4 minutes

Category: Light Meals, Lunch

Cuisine: USA

Yield: 2

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place spaghetti in a microwave safe jug (or saucepan if heating on stovetop). Add 1-3 teaspoons YIAH Dip Mix or YIAH Spice Blend of choice and mix until combined.
  2. Heat according to instructions on tin (for me thats one minute on high in the microwave - covered, stir and repeat).
  3. Serve... enjoy your TASTY spaghetti!
http://destinationgourmet.nz/2017/06/21/quick-easy-spaghetti-lunch/

How often do you eat tinned spaghetti? What do you eat it with? Do you think of it as ‘healthy’, or ‘fast food’? Have you tried it with any of our herb and spice blends? Which ones? What are your easiest ‘quick lunch’ go to’s? Please comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.

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My very favourite Tandoori Chicken Puffs

Tandoori Chicken Puffs hero by Destination Gourmet

These little Tandoori chicken puffs or pies are so quick and easy to make and an absolute hit in our house. The YIAH Tandoori Spice Blend is one I just can’t get enough of – so gently warming and incredibly tasty, without too much heat.

I love the tent shapes they end up, and you don’t need to worry too much if they split – as it all adds to the rustic gorgeousness.

If you prefer a different flavour you can use any from the YIAH Spice Blend or Dip Mix ranges.

Tandoori Chicken Puffs by Destination Gourmet

Eat healthfully: 

Containing chicken, herbs & spices, lemon juice, tomato and chicken stock these Tandoori Chicken Puffs are full of goodness. For an even healthier meal, you can ditch the pastry and serve the chicken mixture with rice. Follow us on LinkedIn or join our VIP Group to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.

Eat beautifully:

Serve piled up on a platter (or cake stand if you have one!) lined with a decorative printed paper napkin, tea towel or sheet of wax paper. If you have fresh herbs in your garden, tie a small bunch of them together with a piece of brown string and place on the side of the platter for an added rustic touch.

Eat with minimal fuss:

These little puffs are a quick and easy version of a pie – delicious to boot! They’re also great to freeze – just heat through when needed.

My very favourite Tandoori Chicken Puffs

Serving Size: 4

My very favourite Tandoori Chicken Puffs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place chopped chicken into a medium bowl. Combine YIAH Spice Blend with the lemon juice, add to chicken and mix through to coat the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes, 2 or more hours is great if you have it.
  2. Preheat oven to 210°C.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken until it is sealed all over. Add the tomato and flour. Stir in the chicken stock and YIAH Garlic Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add a dash of cream or sour cream if desired, then stir through the cornflour and water, thickening the mixture to form a nice gravy for your pies.
  5. Cut the pastry sheets into quarters and brush the edges with water. Place spoonful’s of mixture onto each piece and pull the corners into the centre, pinching along the joins to form seams. Brush with the milk or egg and sprinkle with YIAH Dukkah of choice if using, or black or white sesame seeds.
  6. Place puffs onto baking paper on an oven tray and bake for 25 minutes until they are golden and the pastry has risen.
  7. Makes 8-12, depending on how full you stuff them.

Notes

This recipe can easily be made Gluten Free by swapping the flour for cornflour and using Gluten Free pastry. Alternatively, you could ditch the pastry and serve chicken mixture alongside rice.

http://destinationgourmet.nz/2017/06/19/favourite-tandoori-chicken-puffs/

I hope you love our very first published recipe! Please comment and speak your mind. Did you try it? How did you get on? Which blends did you use? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or to learn more about how these ingredients benefit your health in up-coming posts.