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  • Hungarian Goulash: Paprika is the Secret

    Thicker than a soup but thinner than a stew, Hungarian goulash has become its native country’s most famous culinary export — along with Hungarian paprika, which gives the dish its distinctive warm and fruity pepper flavor. Continue reading

  • Smokin' Good Paprika

    Fragrant, colorful, exotic, subtle are just a few of the characteristics that can describe paprika. It is one of those spices that evoke memories from my past, as it was a household staple that my mother used regularly from seasoning food to infusing olive oil. And don't get me started on the smoked version of paprika OMG!

    Whenever the subject of smoked paprika enters my mind I am as giddy as my young son when it is snack time. The amazing flavor of this bright red smoked pepper can add such a delicate, yet deep, woodsy like flavor to your cooking that it makes my head spin with delight - it's that versatile.

    In the Spanish region of La Vera, the farmers harvest and carefully dry the peppers over wood fires from burning holm oak wood for about two weeks before they are ground into a deep-red powder. This version is known as pimenton de la Vera. Smoked paprika is mostly used when making paella or arroz con pollo dishes. Continue reading

  • Sparklers. Sprinklers. Spices.

    Splashing in the water, barbecuing in the backyard, and watching the fireworks are just a few of the things that will be going on during the 4th of July celebrations. If you are already in the midst of planning a blockbuster cookout in an ocean of grilled goodies and snack items, you might want to consider something different for the kids this time around; something like grilled corn-on-the-cob or grilled kebabs.

    Id like to think that using the right spices and seasonings could add a touch of texture, flavor and color to make summer food festive and tasty. Some of the spices that come to mind for the 4thof July food fest are harissa and paprika. Both are red in appearance. Both add zest and flavor to any recipe, and both are not packed with heat, so the kiddies and those with sensitive palates can easily enjoy the taste of mild spice and delicious food. Continue reading

  • Paprika Series Part 1 - Capsicum Annuum

    It is my pleasure to present a series of posts about one of my favorite spices -- paprika. The first part will be about the spice and its origins. The second part will be about my husband's mother, who lives in Israel, and has a paprika farm.

    Paprika refers to the Capsicum fruit which is a bell pepper. When it is dried and ground into a powder it is then used as a seasoning in many cuisines from around the world to add color and flavor to the dishes. The major producers of paprika are Spain and other Mediterranean regions, South America, India, Hungary and California. But Israel has emerged to join this well-established group as a serious paprika grower. I asked one of the farmers that we do business with to tell us about the process of cultivating paprika, the varieties that are produced and about the differences in various paprika peppers. Continue reading

  • Shuli's Mom and the Paprika Farm

    Shuli's Mom Shuli's Mom

    In 1949, Shuli's mother and her family emigrated from Yemen to Israel, where they settled in the Negev desert in the southern part of the country. Her history with paprika peppers started about 30 years ago, when they were farmers growing vegetables and running a dairy farm.

    Shuli's father used to go to the spice market on a regular basis to buy spices for his wife. When he returned with his purchases, they would often complain about the quality. One day when Shuli's dad came home from the spice market, he informed his wife that they were going to open a spice shop! Soon afterward they opened their very own spice store which they proudly called Tavlinai Ha Bayeit (Home Spice).

    Shuli's mother began searching around for quality sources of whole spices, which she would then grind on a daily basis. Yet, the paprika peppers she bought were still not up to the standard of quality she was looking for. So she decided to start growing her own peppers.

    At first she planted a small quantity — about one acre. Soon after that, the quality paprika she produced became so popular she had to plant more, up to 10 acres.The paprika farm included the whole family, and along with her husband, the children also helped out. Right after school they would have to do weeding, planting, harvesting or grinding chores. Each child had his or her daily tasks to finish before they could go out and play. Continue reading

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