Jazz things up with holiday spices

December 18, 2009 4:45:37 PM PST
Jazz things up with holiday spices that'll please your family and wow your guests.

Winter Sippers Hot Spiced Cider

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter Winter Sippers New England Mulling Spices
  • 1 quart apple cider*
    *can substitute with apple juice or fruit nectar
Preparation:
  1. Place mulling spices in a tea infuser, tie in cheesecloth, or place loose in a saucepan.

  2. Add apple cider, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove tea infuser, cheese cloth or strain out mulling spice. Serve warm.
Winter Sippers Hot Spiced Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter Winter Sippers New England Mulling Spices
  • 1 quart Burgundy wine
  • 2 cups sweet vermouth
  • 1/3 cup sugar or honey
Preparation:
  1. Place mulling spices in a tea infuser, tie in cheesecloth, or place loose in a saucepan.

  2. Add wine, vermouth and sugar or honey, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove tea infuser, cheese cloth or strain out mulling spice.

  3. Serve warm or chilled.
Hot Spiced Cider

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tsp. The Spice Hunter Whole Penang Cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. The Spice Hunter Whole Jamaican Allspice
  • 3 The Spice Hunter Indonesian Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 orange slices
  • 1 quart apple cider*
  • *can substitute with apple juice or fruit nectar
Preparation:
  1. Place spices in a tea infuser, tie in cheesecloth, or place loose in a saucepan.

  2. Add apple cider and orange slices, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove tea infuser, cheese cloth or strain out mulling spice.

  3. Serve warm.
Hot Spiced Wine

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tsp. The Spice Hunter Whole Penang Cloves
  • 3/4 tsp. The Spice Hunter Whole Jamaican Allspice
  • 3 The Spice Hunter Indonesian Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 orange slices
  • 1 quart Burgundy wine
  • 2 cups sweet vermouth
  • 1/3 cup sugar or honey
Preparation:
  1. Place spices in a tea infuser, tie in cheesecloth, or place loose in a saucepan. Add wine, orange slices, vermouth and sugar or honey, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

  2. Remove tea infuser, cheese cloth or strain out mulling spice. Serve warm or chilled.
** You can substitute your own spices in these recipes, but The Spice Hunter does not guarantee the beverage will taste the same.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Usually relegated to oblivion once the turkey's gone, pumpkin pie spice makes a great pumpkin spread for bagels or fruit (mix cream cheese, pumpkin, confectioner's sugar and pumpkin pie spice, see recipe below); can be added to baked apples, pears or peaches for a fresh, healthy dessert; makes an amazing pumpkin soup as a cold weather starter (recipe below); can be substituted for cinnamon and cloves in carrot cake and other recipes; and makes a great addition to Indian curries.

Cinnamon Sticks

Of course, they add amazing flavor to hot cocoas, ciders and mulled wines, but also add a great kick to stiffer drinks - stir flavored martinis like espresso martinis and chocolotinis with one. Beyond drinks, cinnamon sticks add depth to recipes including cranberry-brandy glaze for poultry, homemade Dulce de Leche ice cream, and even amazing flavored rice - recipes for all three are below.

Cloves

Often associated with the Easter ham, cloves are an amazing way to flavor hot drinks like cider and mulled wine during the holiday season. You can also grind whole cloves and use in cookies (oatmeal are particularly tasty), baked loafs like banana breads, and even spicy meat marinades like Jamaican Jerk chicken.

Pumpkin Spread
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1-8oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. Spice Hunter Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
Preparation
  1. Blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth in a food processor.

  2. Add pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Spice and then blend thoroughly.

  3. Chill until serving.

  4. Serve with sliced apples, sliced pears, graham crackers, Gingersnaps or sugar cookies.

  5. Spread on toast or bagels.
Information on Turkey Brining from Daniela:

Roast Turkey with Homemade Brine

Ingredients:

For brine:

  • (15- to 20-pound) fresh turkey
  • 2 cups coarse salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter Malabar Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter Mediterranean Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter French Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. The Spice Hunter Rubbed Dalmatian Sage
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 gallon vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium celery rib, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • The Spice Hunter Citrus Pepper Fresh Twist Grinder
Preparation:
  1. Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil on stovetop. Add salt, sugar, spices and herbs stirring until salt dissolves. Cool and chill mixture. Combine cooled mixture with remaining water and broth in a clean, large bucket, cooler or brining bag.

  2. Add turkey to brine. Place in refrigerator for 10-12 hours. Remove turkey from brine; rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place turkey on rack in large roasting pan. Place cut vegetables inside turkey cavity. Rub butter over turkey.

  3. Grind the Citrus Pepper Fresh Twist Grinder over turkey to evenly season.

  4. Place turkey in oven. Reduce temperature to 325°F. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, about 2 ½ hours.

  5. Transfer turkey to platter; tent with foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before carving.

  6. Garnish suggestions: roasted onions, roasted red potatoes and/or green beans.

BRINING BASICS

What is brining, and what ingredients are in a brine?
Brining is a method of soaking meat in a water-based salt mixture before cooking to lock in moisture. Brines are typically a blend of salt and other ingredients for infusing flavor - this can be anything from sugar, herbs, spices and pepper to dried fruits - into your meat.

Why should I brine my turkey?
Brining increases meats' water-capacity substantially, making brined meat incredibly moist. An additional advantage for busy Thanksgiving cooks in particular is that brining eliminates the need for basting, allowing them to give attention to other parts of the traditional feast. If you're using a store-bought turkey, just make sure the bird is not pre-brined or self-basting, as salty stock is already added to these types of turkey meat which will result in the bird being overly salty.

How does brining make meat more flavorful, and what is the chemical process that causes this to happen?
The salt in a brine interacts with the muscle proteins in the meat to actually dissolve part of the muscle filaments, which increases the water-holding capacity of the muscle protein cells. The cells retain this extra water throughout cooking, therefore reducing water loss. Brining works on any poultry, and is also good on pork.

How do I prepare the brine mixture? How do I brine?
For turkeys up to 14 pounds, follow recipe below (for larger turkeys double the recipe):

  1. Combine half of a 22 oz jar or entire 11 oz jar (2 cups) with one gallon of boiling water.

  2. Add the Turkey Brine mixture to the water and bring to a boil - or just heat until the salt dissolves.

  3. Cool the mixture thoroughly and refrigerate until chilled. This step is crucial because if you add the turkey to the brine while hot, the turkey may begin to cook.

  4. Place thawed turkey, chilled brine and an additional gallon of water into a large container or bag so that the turkey is completely submerged.

  5. Keep refrigerated or on ice in a large cooler for 12-24 hours.

  6. Rinse turkey with cold water, pat dry and cook as desired.

Note: If you're using a store-bought turkey, just make sure the bird is not pre-brined or self-basting, as salty stock is already added to these types of meats and the end result will be overly salty.

About Daniela Massey:

An extreme foodie and adventurer, Daniela combines her life experiences, including spending more than two years in the Peace Corps in Asia, with her formal education in food science to bring the best products into the test kitchens of The Spice Hunter.

A 15-year food industry veteran, Daniela has been part of The Spice Hunter team for more than eight years during which time she's developed a keen sense for identifying, developing and improving products. Her product successes include The Spice Hunter's line of Soup Bowls, Fresh at Hand and Fresh Twist Grinders. She is a connoisseur when it comes to blends.

Daniela works closely with the company's marketing and purchasing departments to guarantee that only the best herbs and spices are bottled under The Spice Hunter name. She plays a pivotal role in all stages of new product development and improvement for the company and its branded and private label projects.

Among her many accomplishments is the implementation of The Spice Hunter's Sensory Evaluation Process, which acts as the backbone of the company's quality program ensuring the creation of consistent and superior products.

Daniela received her Bachelor's degree in Food Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.


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