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