Monday, July 15, 2013

Use Your Spices: Local Twist

I grew up on a small family farm in northern Oklahoma.  One of the consequences of that heritage is a desire to support local farmers and small businesses.  When my mom and brother opened their Savory Spice Shop last fall they could only carry products provided by the parent company, but this spring Savory invited their franchisees to add local products to their stores and I am loving the new additions!

My immediate recommendation was that they try to get honey from Hilltop Farm (far left above) s as it is my absolute favorite.  It tastes amazing and just like the honey we used to extract from our own hives when I was a kid.  The next jar over is peach salsa.  I was curious, but strangely satisfied by the combination of sweet and spice.  I admit that I usually skip most of the "chunks" in salsa as I'm not a pepper person, but here I was searching out every tidbit of peach.  So good. Also, it can be used to make a dip in a similar way as the Pepper Butter I talk about below. 

Next to the peach salsa is pasta from Della Terra.  I admit, I was skeptical about the pasta.  Aside from very freshly made pasta I've rarely tasted much of a difference between dried pastas.  Furthermore, more than half of the offerings were whole wheat and so far whole wheat pasta has not been very popular at our house despite many attempts. That said, I trust my brother and decided to buy some whole what campanelle pasta to try.  It was phenomenally better than any pasta I've ever made.  I'll share my recipe here, but I strongly suggest trying the pasta as it made all the difference:

Simply Delightful Campanelle Pasta


1 lb Della Terra Whole Wheat Campanelle Pasta
3 T Unsalted Butter
1/4 c. Evaporated Milk
1/4 c. drained pasta water
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Dried Herbs (I used Savory's Pasta Sprinkle --- creative, I know). 
Parmesan to sprinkle on top 

Cook Pasta according to package directions in a large pot of heavily salted water.  I recommend staying with the time recommendations for "al dente" pasta. ( I know we typically go beyond this to slightly more mushy, but this particular pasta does live up to the al dente hype).  Reserve a cup or so of the pasta water and drain the rest.  Mix the above, adding only as much pasta water as needed to keep the mixture loose.  

Keep in mind that those dried herbs will taste more delicious if they have a couple minutes to soak up the liquids before serving.  Mix everything gently, but well and serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan.  

This is easily adjustable to match the flavor profile of your meal.  We were having this balsamic basil chicken dish so an Italian take worked perfectly and baby E ate this pasta for days afterwards, loving every bit!

Finally, on the bottom shelf, there are a variety of different pepper products from Mingo.  As noted above, I am not a pepper person and thus planned to avoid this entirely.  However, I needed an appetizer for our forth of July gathering and had been told the Pepper Butter made an awesome, and easy dip.  Ever one to experiment, I selected the Mild Pepper Butter and followed the recipe on the side for a simple dip.  I actually increased the ratio of Pepper Butter to Cream Cheese slightly as I wanted a little more kick (maybe I should have bought the medium heat version?)  Anyway, it was a big hit with everyone on the fourth, including the kids!  (Recipe is below and on the jar).  I've also poured this all over tamales and practically eaten it with a spoon.  This is all very confusing as I was not a pepper person, perhaps I'm being converted?

Mingo's Pepper Butter Dip

3-4 T. Pepper Butter (available in Mild, Medium, or Hot)
8 oz cream cheese

Mix well (I used my kitchen aid to make it extra fluffy) and enjoy!  Dipper suggestions are:  Carrots, Fritos, Scoops Chips, and Wheat Thins. 

I am so delighted that my family can now both bring high quality spices to Oklahoma and showcase and support some of Oklahoma's own producers.  Do you know of any products they should considering featuring? Let me know and I'll pass your ideas along.  Meanwhile, seriously go try that amazing pasta!

(Note: My Mom and Brother own the Savory Spice Shop in OKC and would be glad to help you out with recipe or spice information and supplies.  You can reach them at 405-525-9119,,  or visit the store at 43rd & Western.  They will also gladly ship products to those out of state).

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