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Author Archives: Wholespice

  • Layers of Flavor with Powdered Mushrooms and More

    When we first opened our Napa shop in 2008, we had hundreds of herbs and spices for sale — including garlic and dozens of chilis — but no garden vegetables to speak of. Dried bell peppers, carrots, celery and other veggies weren’t originally on our radar until our customers, including professional chefs, began asking us for them.
    So we set to work, sourcing the best and freshest ingredients until we had a rainbow of colorful vegetables in granulated and powdered forms: sundried tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, several types of onion and many more.

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  • Make Mine Methi: Fenugreek

    A member of the bean family, fenugreek is a plant that yields both seeds and leaves (called methi) for cooking. Long grown in Western Asia and the Mediterranean, fenugreek is now cultivated worldwide, including the United States.

    The slightly bitter flavor and sweet smell of fenugreek seeds and methi leaves can be found in many curries and spice blends, such as Ethiopian Berbere and Panch Phoron, a Bengali five-spice blend.

    Fenugreek's hard, nutty seed is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, making it a healthy addition to meals. Type 2 diabetics, in particular, may benefit from fenugreek: Clinical studies have shown that consuming the powdered seeds can lower blood sugar. Powdered fenugreek has also been shown to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides. Continue reading

  • Spicy Passover

    This past Friday we celebrated Passover with our family and friends. Our house was filled with people and with the unmistakable fragrances of turmeric and cumin along with other aromatic spices. It was heartwarming for us to continue the Passover tradition with our family and impart what we have learned from our childhood to our children. And one day, when they have their own families, they, too, will be able to pass on the Seder tradition. Continue reading

  • Make Your Own Cinnamon Syrup

    Customers at our Napa shop sometimes ask us why we carry cinnamon chips, as well as the more familiar powdered and quilled (“stick”) cinnamon. This week’s recipes are part of the answer — but first, a little bit about where we get this magnificent spice.

    Basically, cinnamon is tree bark — the most delicious tree bark in the world. Both Ceylon “true” cinnamon and its widely-used cousin, Cassia cinnamon, are harvested from trees in the Cinnamomum family. The bark of Ceylon cinnamon is more delicate than that of Cassia, which provides sturdier quills for cinnamon sticks. But when chipped or powdered, they both are bursting with cinnamon flavor and fragrance.

    Our favorite of all is Saigon cinnamon: It’s the strongest Ceylon cinnamon available in America today, and we think it has the richest flavor as well. Continue reading

  • Hawaj - Yemen's Spicy Little Secret

    Over 60 years ago, Shuli's parents had migrated from the Republic of Yemen to Israel. And with them came all their wonderful traditions from that amazing country which included a treasure trove of spices, recipes and culture.

    From each generation in his family, the women have been handing down their secret formulas for blending just the right amount of ingredients to produce some of the most delectable and exotic spice blends that you'll ever taste.Thanks to Shuli's mother's recipes and for his love of spice, we have been blending our own signature Yemenite seasonings every week at our Petaluma warehouse two of which are our top sellers Hawaj for Coffee and Hawaj for Soup. Continue reading

  • Viva Mexico!

    One of the reasons why we have come to love Mexican food so much is because the Native peoples knew how to use just the right amount of spices so as not to overpower the dish allowing the natural flavors of the food to shine through.Long before the Spanish conquistadors discovered Mexico, the indigenous people totally relied on spices such as,achiote, vanilla pod, chili peppers, garlic and allspice in preparing their meals. It wasn't until after the Spanish colonization took place, that the importing/exporting trade route between Mexico and Europe was established. It was about that time when cinnamon, cloves, cumin and pepper arrived on the scene. The renowned spices of the Orient were soon integrated into the Mexican food menu, and as in all great cultures, great cuisine will always be an important characteristic of that culture. Continue reading

  • The World According To Flavored Rice

    The earliest evidence of rice dates as far back as 2500 BC with its origins in China, and subsequently spreading to countries such as India and Sri Lanka. During the 9th century, East African merchants were introduced to rice through trading with people from India and Indonesia; thus, the rice grain began its journey across the globe, becoming the most important crop on the planet with literally billions of people depending on its cultivation. Continue reading

  • The Mediterranean Way

    When I think of classic Mediterranean cuisine images of Spanish paella, French ratatouille, or Italian risotto, accompanied by a glass of the local wine come to mind.

    With twenty-one countries bordering the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and Lebanon, to name a few, one can expect to savor a bevy of dishes from that part of the world. Continue reading

  • Hamantaschen Cookies: Not Just for Purim

    Buttery cookie dough, wrapped around a sweet and chewy filling: By any name, these treats are fun to make and delightful to eat — yet they’re named for one of the arch-villains of the Hebrew Bible.

    According to tradition, the three-cornered shape of Hamantaschen cookies is a reference to the hat worn by Haman, grand vizier to an early Persian king, who schemed to kill off all the Jews in the realm. Continue reading

  • Cooking at Oxbow Market

    This past Sunday, my husband Shuli, conducted a cooking class at the Oxbow Market in Napa Valley. The event was held outside on the sun-deck at the back of the Market.All eyes were on Shuli. Listening. Absorbing. And waiting to sample the four Mediterranean style entrees that he was preparing.
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