Ready to experiment with some new ingredients today? One of my favorite things about cooking is discovering new things and challenging myself to make something that I might not normally try.
This week, the Virtual Potluck team is taking you on a Spice Adventure and I think you're really going to enjoy it. Donna from Cookistry has the roundup page where you can follow along with the whole team. We're working with Savory Spice Shop and each of us is focusing an a different area of the shop.
Savory Spice Shop is one of the most comprehensive spice stores online. They not only provide fantastic products but they also have a wealth of knowledge on where the spices come from and how to best use them to make some amazing food. I found so much useful information and loved just browsing through the store.
The area that I chose to highlight was the exotics! There were so many things that I had never used and I knew I could have some fun with these. When Mike from Savory Spice Shop suggested highlighting the Korean Black Garlic, Juniper Berries or Fennel Pollen, he joked about using them all in one dish. I had no plans to but as I got to thinking I came up with a great idea to highlight the unique flavors of all of these great ingredients.
Have you used any of these three that I chose? Check out the Spice Shop to learn more but here are a few fun things about each one:
Korean Black Garlic
This stuff really is black, and is so different than anything I expected. It's almost sweet and then has a garlic aftertaste. It has a gummy texture and really almost could be a snack food. It's not really a direct replacement for garlic but can be used in similar dishes. I used the garlic in the ragu and while it certainly wasn't highlighted in this dish, it still provided some sweetness.
While I was familiar with Juniper Berries, I had never used them previously. They come from the Juniper evergreen shrub and have a pretty unique flavor. Surprisingly spicy with just a bit of pine flavor. They are used a lot in venison and other game dishes because they help to reduce the "gamey" flavor of those meats. I crushed the berried before adding to the ragu and you could definitely tell they were there. I loved the spiciness that they added and it paired perfectly with the oxtail
I was really excited to try this one. I've heard so much about it and really wanted to find a way to highlight it's unique flavor. Like fennel seed, it has a licorice flavor but it is much smoother and just feels more luxurious. It grows wild throughout California and has so many uses, I just couldn't wait. I absolutely loved the pollen mixed into the pasta. It not only added a great texture to the pasta but it provided that subtle flavor all the way through the dish.
Each of the Virtual Potluck team is giving away a different prize pack from the area of the shop that they reviewed. My gift set is Flavors of Morocco, a great set of combinations to add some new spice to your dishes.
If you'd like a chance to win this gift set, visit the Savory Spice Shop on Facebook and click on the Virtual Potluck tab on their page. Find my section and leave a comment below telling me what your favorite spice would be. For additional entries (leave a new comment for each):
- Follow Thyme in Our Kitchen on Twitter
- Like Thyme In Our Kitchen on Facebook
- Like Savory Spice Shop on Facebook
- Follow Savory Spice Shop on Twitter
Oxtail Ragu with Fennel Pollen Pasta
5 pounds 2- to 3-inch pieces oxtails
All purpose flour
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
1/2 cup olive oil
5 large celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
1 large onion, very coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes with added puree
2 Korean black garlic cloves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons juniper berries
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth
1 cup low-salt chicken broth