Spice mix!

I love the idea of spice mixes. Berbere, zatar, Ras el hanout, garam masala, jerk seasoning. Even the names are wonderful! In the past I’ve tried to recreate some of these using the spices most available around here – but it’s sort of exciting that, when they’re at home, these mixes contain spices that are extremely hard to find where I live. Everything about spices appeals to me – the textures, the fragrances, the colors, and, of course, the taste. It’s no wonder that they were once considered precious.

I realized the other day, as I was typing up a recipe for this very blog, that I tend to use the same spices over and over. I’ve got different combinations I like to use, but there are a few that I use a lot. I decided to embrace that fact, and to try to distill the different spices into one perfect (for me) mix. So I did! And I’m very enamored of it, because I think it’s very pretty and smells very good, too. It’s smokey, a little bit hot…it combines some sweet herbs with some more piquant spices. I test-cooked it first with some roasted cauliflower, and that turned out well, so I decided to use it in these little pies. They’re stuffed with roasted mushrooms, white beans and hazelnuts, and seasoned with my spice mix. Very nice!

white bean hazelnut pies

Over the summer, my son Malcolm invented a spice mix of his own. So I decided to accompany the pies with sweet potato fries cooked with Malcolm’s supreme spicy spice mix. They went very well with the pies! And we had a fun time putting it all together.

Here’s Mix it Up by the Kingstonians. That’s the way I like it.

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Non-sausage rolls with chard and olives

chard rolls

We had a party the other night, and I made these chard “non-sausage” rolls. They’re substantial enough that you could have a few with a good salad or some soup and it would make a meal. But…because they’re cut into small pieces they make good snacking food. They’re easy to make as well, because you don’t shape each individual one – you just cut them apart.

I combined swiss chard with a sort of deconstructed version of my tapenade. Kalamata olives, hazelnuts, capers, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Lovely flavors together – earthy, salty and very satisfying.

See also non-sausage rolls with butternut squash and goat cheese.

Here’s another reggae christmas song, because I’m obsessed with them at the moment. This one is completely brilliant…Eek-a-Mouse with The Night Before Christmas (not a creature was stirring, only an Eek-a-Mouse
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Non-sausage rolls with butternut squash and goat cheese

Butternut squash goat cheese rolls

One of the nice things about being a savory pastry geek, is that when you have an opportunity to bring an appetizer to a party, you’re prepared!! These are loosely based on the good old-fashioned sausage roll, in construction at least. But the filling is a lovely blend of roasted butternut squash, spinach, goat cheese and hazelnuts. A nice balance of sweet, tart and earthy. These make a nice appetizer or snack for a party. With a bowl of soup or a good salad, they make a satisfying meal.

Here’s Tom Waits’ Eggs & Sausage and a Side of Toast, performed live on a TV show in 1976. And a very funny interview with him after. Look at everybody smoking!
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