North African Spice Blend: Ras el Hanout

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

I’ve often dreamt of walking through the colorful and bustling markets of Fez or Cairo. Exploring the tightly packed covered stalls, enveloped by irresistibly enticing sounds, sights, smells, tastes. The beautiful music, the banter between sellers and buyers, the sizzling skewers on tiny portable grills, the vibrant cloths draped overhead swaying in the warm perfumed breeze, the animals and children weaving through the crowds, the baskets of spices and herbs in every hue imaginable.

Though a dream it most likely shall remain, I was once blessed with gifts from the Old Town souk (market) in Dubai. Special edible treats to add to my global pantry, still enjoyed with great fondness, as we very much like to get away from the ordinary in our kitchen. Most unforgettable, a small bag, clearly hand-packed with care, layer upon layer upon layer of kaleidoscope powders. As deliciously aromatic as it was beautiful.

Ras el Hanout. A fragrant and spicy blend of up to 30 or more dried spices, roots, peppers, and leaves, some traditional versions up the ante with specialty ingredients like saffron and rose petals. This lends to a price tag of about 150 dirhams per kilogram, or roughly $20 per pound — fortunately, its well-balanced heat and complexity ensure that a little bit goes a long way in cooking!

Ras el Hanout spices pre-blend Continue reading

Sauerkraut 2.0: Red Cabbage with Bay and Fennel

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

A fermentation follow-up to my caraway sauerkraut. Red cabbage instead of green, fennel seeds instead of caraway, with a couple dried bay leaves slipped in for contrast.

Again, it couldn’t be simpler — shred the cabbage, massage in some salt, mix in the herbs, transfer to a jar. In as few as two to three days later, sauerkraut! And this updated version, well, just look how lovely. Fantastic flavor, and blood-red in time for the spooky fun holiday in less than two weeks.

Red cabbage sauerkraut

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Garam Masala

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

If you’ve seen our herb and spice collection — a full three-level cabinet + overflow in the pantry — you are well aware of my fascination at the limitless possibilities. Curiosity never killed the adventurous cook. (Unless it’s fugu. Don’t eat fugu.)

Originating in the Punjab region of Northern India, garam masala is composed of familiar spices in a blend that may not be established in your kitchen. Yet.

The name literally translates to “hot spices,” but it’s more a deep warmth than fiery heat. Must-haves are cinnamon, black peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg, and coriander. Ginger, cloves and mace typically find their way in as well. Maybe cumin, caraway, or nigella seed (also called black cumin, or kalonji).

Garam Masala spices Continue reading

Kitchen DIY: Cooking Dried Beans

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

Though I’ll greedily inhale multiple bowls of plain pintos in their “pot liquor,” beans are generally regarded as not so special on their own, and therefore find their way into other dishes. Spanning the spectrum of colors, shapes, and sizes (peep the beauties from Rancho Gordo), beans are literally the foundation for a world’s worth of incredibly tasty recipes.

And if there’s one simple kitchen technique to have in your back pocket, it’s cooking a pot of beans.

Pot of chickpeas Continue reading