spice blend

Hawaij Chicken

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People send me all sorts of press releases about different foods and ingredients. But one that recently caught my attention was about Pereg’s new Hawaij spice combos. I was intrigued enough to say “yes” when samples were offered. I love trying out new spice blends and experimenting with them in recipes.

Of course Hawaij is not new — just new to me. It is a traditional Yemenite seasoning, the word in Arabic translates as “mixture.”

In fact there are two such mixtures: savory Hawaij for soups, meats, vegetables and so on, and sweet Hawaij for coffee. The Pereg savory blend includes ground cumin, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, cardamom and cloves, a flavorful combination of warmth and spice, an aroma that’s magical. The coffee-blend contains ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

The company sent me both, so — I got cooking.

The first recipe was so good I have made it several times already: braised Cornish hens in a coconut milk based curry-type sauce, served with cooked rice and a green vegetable. I have since made this recipe a few more times using chicken wings and bone-in chicken breasts.

The coffee spice? I used it to season homemade honey muffins. I added some to my afternoon coffee (a middle-eastern counterpart to American pumpkin-spice latte). And I couldn’t leave it at that so I made some Hawaij-coffee-spice ice cream.

I see more to come in the future of this fabulous spice blend.

Chicken or Cornish Hen with Hawaij Spice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cornish hens, split down the back or 4 large pieces of chicken

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1/2 lemon, sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons hawaij

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1-1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 3 cups cooked rice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Dry the surface of the hens or chicken, place them in the pan and cook them for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice, to brown the surface. Remove the pieces to a dish and set aside. Add the onion, lemon slices and garlic to the pan. Sprinkle with hawaij and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat the ingredients evenly. Return the hens/chicken to the pan, spoon some of the onion mixture on top. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to blend it in. Cover the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the meat is tender and cooked through. Place the rice on a serving platter. Remove the hen/chicken pieces from the oven and place them on top of the rice. Keep the platter warm in the oven. Place the saute pan over high heat on the cooktop. Bring to a boil, then simmer the pan juices for about 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour over the hen/chicken and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Za’atar

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love to use herbs and spices. It’s not that I am against mild food. It’s just that my tastes prefer stuff that’s more assertive or interesting. 
 I’ve tried all sorts of spices and blends for all sorts of foods. One of my favorites is Za’atar, an Arabic specialty. 
 There are lots of ingredient combinations to make this recipe but invariably, basic  Za’atar     is a mixture of sumac, sesame and thyme (in the Middle East it is made with an herb called za’atar that tastes like thyme). Some recipes include ground up pistachios or other nuts; some call for ground cumin and/or dried oregano or marjoram.   
 I fell in love with Za’atar years ago. It is so incredibly useful that I have several different versions of it in my spice cabinet. I sprinkle it on  hummus  and  eggplant dip . I make homemade flatbread crisps with it (brush pita rounds with olive oil, add a few sprinkles of Za’atar and bake in a 400 degree oven until the bread is crisp). I’ve added it to marinades for grilled chicken, sprinkled it on top of roasted winter squash and beets. 
 Recently I decided to sprinkle Za’atar onto challah rolls. I got the idea from a colleague of mine, Melinda Strauss, who wrote about  Za’atar braided bread  on her blog,  Kitchen Tested . 
 It was an inspired thought on her part. So I proceeded to make my usual  challah rolls , brushed the unbaked surface with vegetable oil, sprinkled with spice and baked. 
 Voila! More than delicious bread for sandwiches or for breakfast with eggs or to eat with  Shakshouka  or buttered and nibbled with coffee. You can figure all that out. 
     
     
  Za’atar  
     
  2 tablespoons dried sumac  
  2 tablespoons sesame seeds  
  1 tablespoon dried thyme  
  1 teaspoon dried oregano  
  1 teaspoon kosher salt  
     
  Mix ingredients well. Makes about 1/3 cup  
   

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love to use herbs and spices. It’s not that I am against mild food. It’s just that my tastes prefer stuff that’s more assertive or interesting.

I’ve tried all sorts of spices and blends for all sorts of foods. One of my favorites is Za’atar, an Arabic specialty.

There are lots of ingredient combinations to make this recipe but invariably, basic Za’atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame and thyme (in the Middle East it is made with an herb called za’atar that tastes like thyme). Some recipes include ground up pistachios or other nuts; some call for ground cumin and/or dried oregano or marjoram. 

I fell in love with Za’atar years ago. It is so incredibly useful that I have several different versions of it in my spice cabinet. I sprinkle it on hummus and eggplant dip. I make homemade flatbread crisps with it (brush pita rounds with olive oil, add a few sprinkles of Za’atar and bake in a 400 degree oven until the bread is crisp). I’ve added it to marinades for grilled chicken, sprinkled it on top of roasted winter squash and beets.

Recently I decided to sprinkle Za’atar onto challah rolls. I got the idea from a colleague of mine, Melinda Strauss, who wrote about Za’atar braided bread on her blog, Kitchen Tested.

It was an inspired thought on her part. So I proceeded to make my usual challah rolls, brushed the unbaked surface with vegetable oil, sprinkled with spice and baked.

Voila! More than delicious bread for sandwiches or for breakfast with eggs or to eat with Shakshouka or buttered and nibbled with coffee. You can figure all that out.

 

 

Za’atar

 

2 tablespoons dried sumac

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Mix ingredients well. Makes about 1/3 cup

 

Roasted Cornish Hens with Baharat and Mango

The first time my then-boyfriend-now-husband Ed decided to buy a birthday gift for me he wanted it to be something very very special. We had been seeing each other for some time and things were now “serious.” The gift had to be good. 
 So he consulted with his older, married sister who advised him to get something “personal.” 
 Which he did. 
 He gave me two spice racks filled with spice bottles (27 for each rack, which equals 54 bottles of spice). 
 His sister was appalled. 
 I was thrilled beyond belief. 
 To me, the spice racks plus 54 bottles was personal. Even then I loved to cook and invent new recipes and taste new ingredients and use all sorts of seasonings. 
 He knew me.  
  That was, still is, critical to any lasting relationship.  
 I can’t remember all the spices (and dried herbs) he chose, but of course there were the usual cinnamon, ginger and cloves; rosemary, thyme and oregano. 
  These days, years later, my spice racks are still filled. And I still use many of the “usual” — freshly grated nutmeg for  cake , ground cumin to jazz up  lamburgers  and such.  
  But the bottles number way more than 54 (I have a whole “seasonings” cabinet now). Because there’s a world of spices, herbs and interesting blends to try that we didn’t know about then and that I want to experiment with.   
  Like Za’atar. I have 3 or 4 different versions of commercial blends. Same goes for Ras el Hanout, Dukkah and Baharat. And others.   
  I also have many   other   spice blends   that are homemade (I spoon them in a small spice bottles so they look store-bought).  
  Today is my birthday. I don’t know what birthday gift is in store for me this year.  
  I do know that the older you get the more you think about birthdays past.   
  So I am remembering that first one with Ed. His gift,   those spice racks and bottles, started us on a delicious culinary journey together.  
  We’re still travelling.   
  Mostly I am still enjoying the pleasure of knowing that Ed got that gift so right.  
     
     

  

  

  
  Roasted Cornish Hens with Baharat and Mango  
     
  2 large Rock Cornish hens (about 1-1/2 pounds each)  
  1 tablespoon vegetable oil  
  salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  
 1-1/2 teaspoons  Baharat  
  1 cup mango juice   

  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry the hens. Rub the skin with the vegetable oil and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and Baharat. Place the hens breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Pour the juice over the hens. Roast for another 15 minutes, baste and turn the hens breast side up. Raise the heat to 425 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes, baste the ingredients and roast for another 10 minutes or until the hens are cooked through and the skin is crispy. Makes 4 servings

The first time my then-boyfriend-now-husband Ed decided to buy a birthday gift for me he wanted it to be something very very special. We had been seeing each other for some time and things were now “serious.” The gift had to be good.

So he consulted with his older, married sister who advised him to get something “personal.”

Which he did.

He gave me two spice racks filled with spice bottles (27 for each rack, which equals 54 bottles of spice).

His sister was appalled.

I was thrilled beyond belief.

To me, the spice racks plus 54 bottles was personal. Even then I loved to cook and invent new recipes and taste new ingredients and use all sorts of seasonings.

He knew me. 

That was, still is, critical to any lasting relationship.

I can’t remember all the spices (and dried herbs) he chose, but of course there were the usual cinnamon, ginger and cloves; rosemary, thyme and oregano.

These days, years later, my spice racks are still filled. And I still use many of the “usual” — freshly grated nutmeg for cake, ground cumin to jazz up lamburgers and such.

But the bottles number way more than 54 (I have a whole “seasonings” cabinet now). Because there’s a world of spices, herbs and interesting blends to try that we didn’t know about then and that I want to experiment with.

Like Za’atar. I have 3 or 4 different versions of commercial blends. Same goes for Ras el Hanout, Dukkah and Baharat. And others.

I also have many other spice blends that are homemade (I spoon them in a small spice bottles so they look store-bought).

Today is my birthday. I don’t know what birthday gift is in store for me this year.

I do know that the older you get the more you think about birthdays past.

So I am remembering that first one with Ed. His gift, those spice racks and bottles, started us on a delicious culinary journey together.

We’re still travelling.

Mostly I am still enjoying the pleasure of knowing that Ed got that gift so right.

 

 

Roasted Cornish Hens with Baharat and Mango

 

2 large Rock Cornish hens (about 1-1/2 pounds each)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-1/2 teaspoons Baharat

1 cup mango juice 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry the hens. Rub the skin with the vegetable oil and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and Baharat. Place the hens breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Pour the juice over the hens. Roast for another 15 minutes, baste and turn the hens breast side up. Raise the heat to 425 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes, baste the ingredients and roast for another 10 minutes or until the hens are cooked through and the skin is crispy. Makes 4 servings