Foodie Blogroll

Friday, October 15, 2010

Herbs and Spice Blends

I love herbs and spices, and like to grow many of my own herbs. I like to use fresh when I can. I also love spice shops and could spend a lot of time visiting one. When I go to Michigan to visit family one of my must do stops is Penzey's Spices. I like to check out the blends that they have and what they use them for. You can buy them on line which is nice, the package comes with nutmeg, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks as packing materials, but it's just not the same as being there. Just to be able to open the lid and smell or taste each and any spice that you want is a treat. One that I use quite often is Parisien Bonnes Herbes it is salt free it is good on veggie. I also like to use it on potatoes, eggs, chicken and pork. It's even good in breads. The last time I went there I met my sister and her daughter-in-law there to by some PBH. They wanted to buy some because they have been reading my blog and I have recipes that called for it by name. When we got there, there was only one package left... (I don't usually get the jars because I like to use the stainless steel containers that I refill) I said there was one package left and they got there before I did so they got it! I told them it was okay because I had most of the herbs and wanted to try blending it myself. This is my version:
Bonne Herbes
1 tablespoon dill weed
2 tablespoons chives
2 tablespoons French basil
2 tablespoons French tarragon
2 tablespoons chervil
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

Another place I get my herbs and spices is from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are high quality and mostly organic. They also carry teas, oils, essential oils, herb extracts, many bulk products to make your own lotions, soaps and such, and much more. It has monthly specials too. (this is where I got my pound of marjoram for like $3.50).

My second seasoning blend for today is Za'atar. Za'atar (zaatar) is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.

It is used as a condiment there and can be mixed with olive oil and spread on breads and baked, or sprinkled on top. It's used as a seasoning on foods like kabobs, meatballs, salads, and veggies. I like it on chicken and fish. The sumac has a little tang like lemon would. There are many different blends and like dukkah each family develops their own special blend.


1/4 cup sumac
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons marjoram (or oregano or 2 T of both)
2 teaspoons mint
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Store za'atar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container.

I like more sesame seeds in mine than most of the zaatar that you'll see. That's what's nice about blending your own, you can make it the way you like it!

I keep some in the freezer and some in a jar so I can use it at any time.

If you want to you can put it all in the spice grinder and whizz it around a little, if I do this I'll add some savory to it. Other wise savory can be a little "woody".

What are some of your favorite spices and herbs? Do you have a special blend that you like to use often? Are you willing to share?
Next spice blend: Herbes de Provence


  1. Oh, great post. Thank you! I'm so bad with spices and this is very helpful. :) And your pictures are so pretty.

  2. I am not sure I have ever had sumac (and known about it, that is). I love the sound of both of these herb blends. I love Herbes de Provence and Fines Herbes...but the only combination I have made is Madras curry. It turned out so good that as soon as all of the other blends I have are gone I am going to take a crack at making my own.

  3. Very informative. Thanks. And great pictures by the way.

  4. Lyndz, what a wonderful post! I don't really know much about herbs mixing and this is really impressive. I want to learn more. We'll chat later. Goodnight from the other side of the globe. Hope you're enjoying your day.
    Blessings, Kristy

  5. Betty Ray, happy to help. It is so easy to get fresh dried herbs now. I have 2 health food stores so close to me that sell herbs and spices in bulk, so if I want to try one or buy 2 tablespoons full I can run out a do just that.

  6. Oh Lindsey, how I wish I can stay next to you so that I can try all these herbs mixing ;))

  7. I love Penzey's but have never been there in person! My mom and I order from their catalog together and split up the herbs since they come in such big packages. Their herbs and spices are really terrific.

  8. I use Herbs de Provence a good I look toward to your recipe.

  9. Love the mixture of spices here! Perfect post!
    By the way, those ginger cookies from you previous post look to die for!
    Cheers~ :)

  10. Great post! Now I want to go play with herbs!

    I went to Penzey's when we were in Pittsburgh in July. It was so awesome! I wish there was one here, but I guess this way it's special and I'll go next time we're there. Wanted to go in a try some of the spices so I'd know if I wanted to order them. and I do. I love that they tell you how and where to use the spices. Kinda gives you new ideas.

    Keep the posts coming! :)

  11. Kristen, I haven't made my own curry blend yet, I usually just add all the spices separate as I make a curry. I'd love to make a madras curry, it's on my list.

    I.M. - glad I could help, and thanks so much!

    Kristy - thanks so much. I have always had such a love for herbs, I think that's what got me interested in cooking and it was something I could do and my mom really couldn't. I will get back to you this weekend! It's evening here good morning!

    Anncoo - I wish you were too, it would be so much fun! Now I know what to send next.

    marthaandme - they do come in large packages and I like to get them smaller and refill often to keep them fresh, so that why the rest are in the freezer.

    B0 - we use Herbs de Provence too and I do put lavender in mine. Now I need to find a good grill seasoning recipe.

    Catherine - thanks so much! Happy you like it.

    Susan - thanks! I know I wish we had one close by us too. So it does make it special to go visit when I'm north again. I get the catalog each month, love to flip through it.

  12. Yummmmy! I love spice shops, too. Za'atar is sooo tasty, and I love that tang from the sumac. We have a great spice shop called The Savory Spice shop which opened this summer, and I just saw we are getting our very own Penzey's! It's an embarrassment of riches.

  13. Awesome post, I can smell the spices from here! The pictures are awesome! Thanks!

  14. oh this is a wonderful post, great idea to make your own blends

  15. this is very fascinating and inspiring. love the vibrant pictures and various blends.

  16. Sonoma Bento - you are so lucky to have both spice shops so close to you! I like tangy things so I enjoy sumac too!

    Debbi - it amazing how smells work like that! :D

    Chow and Chatter - I am glad you enjoyed it. I was so envious when you went to the spice bazaar in Turkey!

    Kati - thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it! :)

  17. Penzys is definitely a goldmine of spice blends and herbs. this one looks really interesting. Tarragon is not a herb I use too often, but this seems like a perfect way to get to use it more. Zatar is an everyday spice for us though.

  18. very useful post,i saved za'atar recipe!thanks!

  19. spice shops are incredible! I love how some spices just magically transport you to different lands!! Thanks for sharing some great blends with us, I have never made my own blends, you make it sound so easy!!

  20. That is a very interesting post, I am looking forward to see how you use those spices in your cooking:D

  21. PJ, I like dried tarragon better than fresh, but that's just me. I like to use it on fish and poultry. It is good in a clam chowder too.

    alison, thank you, I hope you find it useful and enjoy the za'atar!

    Chef Dennis, I love to open my Indian spice box and all the aromas that comes wafting out from it. It does take you somewhere else! Now I have to get few more one for my Asian spices and Latin spices, maybe Italian spices and so on...

    Jeannie, thanks, now I can refer back to this post on recipes that I use them.


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