Archive | November, 2011

The Spices of Life

26 Nov

Literally. They are all here, see? Signs don’t lie.

Recently, I visited a little spice shop in CO that reminded me of places in Paris, in the sense that it is dedicated to offering a wide selection of a specific item. An entire store dedicated to either just bread (yum), just cheese (double yum), just meat, just vegetables…oh Paris. So, I was excited to go check out a local spice shop that does exactly that – offer every spice known to man and only spices.

I ventured to this little place, Penzeys Spices. Walking in, you get overwhelmed with the smells. It was set up with wood boxes lining the walls and being scattered around the center of the store, showcasing all the seasonings they had. You can get various individual spices, or use one of the mixes/blends they create, or get real crazy and pick up a grouping of related spices.

Or you can be like me and be over-excited and start taking lots of pictures so that the people working there think you are quite strange for taking lots of pictures from all angles of the little glass jars. Not the first time I’ve gotten that look, won’t be the last, I’m afraid…

I loved all the names of the blends…especially this little guy.

Here was the baking section, dedicated to the classic baking flavors. I thought it was adorable that it was set up like a grandma’s kitchen. Kind of made me want to put on a checkered apron and make some oatmeal cookies. Normal response, right?

They had 5 different types of cinnamon. I was in love. They also had rather unnecessary but very pretty baking boxes. I was tempted, but I went with just some cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and vanilla instead. For now.

I’ve been on a salt kick lately too. I love all the flavors, colors, size of grains…everything. It was so fun to find a place that offers more than just plain table salt and kosher salt, after being spoiled with all the colors of the rainbow fleur de sel (though they did have plain table salt and kosher salt, too…).

A little décor to remind you why you are there in case your nose stops working. (These boxes reminded me of one of my friends from school who would adore them. It was one of the little touches they had that made it feel very welcoming and cozy inside.)

After I had smelled everything in the store and took a lot of pictures, I grabbed a few of the little jars to play with flavors back at home.

Fresh, high quality spices really do enhance the flavor of what you are baking. Plus, they had a variety of flavors not available everywhere! I had so much fun playing with my new ingredients. All in all, a very successful trip! Might have to return soon to get a few new tastes for Christmas…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

26 Nov

Hope all my US friends and family had a great Thanksgiving. I certainly did!

My contributions: bourbon bread pudding, butterscotch and bourbon sauce, mi cuit with white chocolate ganache, peppermint macarons, orange and clove butter cookies, pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Lots of fun!

Happy holidays!

Carnivale!

11 Nov

With a squash!

What, not what you were thinking? Hold up, peeps, it’s a carnivale in your mouth…wait, that sounds wrong too. I’ll stop, and just say its just good, so try it out.

So, if you find a little guy like this at a grocer, market, field, whatever, grab it.

Then, grab a great big knife and attempt to cut it open. I do have to say, its kind of hard. Check it.

That one got stuck, so I had to use another…it worked!

Looked very similar to an acorn squash, to be honest. Just a lot tougher to cut up. Ehn, gots nothing on me…

Macro. You know the drill.

So scraped that nasty inside stuff out and gridded the inside.

From here, there were a few options. Some said, turn it upside down in a roasting pan and ¼ inch of water at 400°F for about an hour. Me, not enough flavor. So I rubbed it with butter (ok, a lot of butter), threw some sugar and cinnamon on…

…put it in a roasting pan, put a bit of water in the bottom and threw it in the oven to get yummy.

Every once in awhile, I basted the guys with the melted delicious butter and cinnamon/sugar mix. Keep it soft and yummy. And I like the stuff. Anyway, while that was baking, I toasted up some almond slivers in a skillet for about 5 minutes.

When the squash halves were done, I sprinkled (or doused, depending on your love of cheese) goat cheese and the toasted almond slivers on top.

Hmmm, spices…

Super simple and super delicious. For me, this was dinner. Add in some rice or meats or something, but I say, eat this with a spoon and love it. Regardless, carnival squash is super yummy. Woohoo, Carnivale!