spices

Rockerbox Spice Company: Garlic and More!

by Anne Maxfield on January 29, 2018

Accidental Locavore Rockerbox Selling GarlicIf you’ve been at a local foodie event, you’ve probably come across Raema Rotindo and her array of spices—Rockerbox Spice Company.

Founded almost 6 years ago, Raema started experimenting with dehydrating garlic and running it through a food processor, making her own garlic powder. She quickly realized that her homemade garlic powder was much more intense and flavorful than the usual store-bought variety (which, can we all agree, is pretty awful). That’s because the jar you bought at the store a million years ago only contain about 60% actual garlic powder.

She started making batches of it for friends and family and trading it at food swaps. People started clamoring for it, asking her if they could buy more. With the purchase of a bigger dehydrator and a large order from Brooklyn Kitchen, Rockerbox Spice Company sprang to life.

One of the secrets to Rockerbox’s success is that it’s a pure product. All the chips and dusts are 100% product, giving you that great taste in just a pinch of powder.

In the beginning you could find Raema peeling mountains of garlic and onions to make her powders. It was taking 100 pounds of onions and 4 days of dehydrating to make 10 pounds of onion powder—that’s a lot of onions to be peeling! Now, she’s graduated to a co-packer where she oversees the production process for her expanding product line.

Accidental Locavore Rockerbox GarlicI’ve been using her garlic dust, garlic flakes and shallot flakes ever since I discovered her at a food festival. It was key to making the Magic Sriracha Sauce as delicious as it was!

Now I’m looking forward to playing with her black garlic and roasted garlic dust.

If you’re a fan of a classic French vinaigrette for your salads, you’ve probably diced up a half a shallot for a batch of dressing and let the other half die a slow death in your crisper drawer (sound familiar?). Keep her shallot flakes on hand et voilà, perfect vinaigrette!

All her products come in two sizes, which gives you the chance to try different varieties and come back for bigger jars of your favorites.

She’s expanded the product line to include things like tomato flakes and garlic-based spice blends like everything bagel spice and even a ranch mix, so you can make your own (better-tasting and better-for-you) ranch dressing.

The whole line is available on her website, so go indulge and let us know in the comments what you used it in!Accidental Locavore Rockerbox Garlic Set

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Drink More Good–Soda Syrup

by Anne Maxfield on May 22, 2017

Doing good and soda syrup don’t usually come to mind as a perfect pairing.

And trying to get people to drink more soda these days is a little like tilting at windmills.

Just don’t tell that to the guys at More Good.

They know that we’re all suckers for carbonated water flavored with something sweet – they’re just trying to make that something sweet a little better for you.

More Good uses locally sourced and organic ingredients to make concentrated syrups for sodas and cocktails.

If you own a SodaStream or you drink soda, you’ll want to check them out.

The flavors of the soda syrups are really interesting and range from classics, like their take on ginger ale and cola, to some unique flavors like Jalapeno Black tea.

It’s a premium product, but once you start using it you’ll be hooked (in a good way). Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more for ginger ale with organic sugar, ginger and citrus than the “fountain style” ginger ale whose list of “naturally flavored” ingredients do not contain any mention of actual ginger?

You control the flavor so you can give your seltzer a hint of flavor or go all out and create your own soda flavors. By doing this, you also control the sugar content (and it’s all organic cane sugar), making More Good more good for you.

Their headquarters is a small shop in Beacon, part coffee house, part apothecary.

Jars of herbs, spices, bitters, teas and bottles of More Good syrup line the walls and all of which are for sale. I actually bought a genius pepper grinder, but that’s probably for another post.

There’s a small coffee bar and space to hang out with your laptop or one of the local publications.

Behind the wall of spices is where the magic happens. Besides being the place where all the More Good soda syrups are made, the partners, Jason and Scott, also rent out the commercial kitchen for other entrepreneurs.

Their goal is to have the space be a collaborative effort, to help the community and to surround themselves with good people and to do good.

Enjoy!

 

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Spice Blending Class at la Boîte

by Anne Maxfield on December 14, 2015

Accidental Locavore LiorAfter about the first year of life, everyone knows what a spoon is used for, but confronted with a spice, we generally don’t have a clue. While you know what to do with salt, pepper, cinnamon and mint, what about allspice, cloves or mace? And while you can recognize a great tomato, would you know what cumin should taste like?

These observations and more were part of an interesting class the Accidental Locavore took recently at la Boîte. We were there to learn how to blend spices with Chef Lior Lev Sercarz. Initially you might think the whole thing is a little precious, but he’s got a down-to-earth attitude about his milieu, and a passion for finding the absolute best spices the world has to offer.

Accidental Locavore Spices for BlendingLike a lot of other food products, the best spices have a season, and there are “vintages” or years when a crop will be far superior to others. While Lior gets his directly from farmers, for most of us it’s hit-or-miss since we have no way of knowing when something was harvested, how it was treated or even what its expiration date might be.

When you buy them get them in small quantities and store in glass or plastic containers– you can see what’s in them and they don’t easily conduct heat. With wood or metal (which conducts heats too well), you can’t tell what’s inside. Avoid excessive heat and humidity, he says, and most spices can be refrigerated or frozen, but then, if you’re like me, you run the risk that you’ll forget all about them.

Lior suggests that you challenge yourself to use up a spice. Leave it out on the counter and try a bit of it in whatever you’re eating – from yogurt to yams. Worst case scenario, you have a bite of something and spit it out (French fries with a cinnamon spice blend), but you might decide that cumin in scrambled eggs is really delicious (it is)!

Accidental Locavore My Spice BlendWhen you’re trying to come up with a spice blend, or just figuring out what to do with single spices, he suggests that you keep the end-use in mind. For example, if you’re going to be grilling something, you don’t need to toast your spices, because the grill will do that. Otherwise, toasting helps to clean the spice and release any dormant flavors. While I used to toss spices in a small frying pan to toast, he suggests roasting them in a 350° oven for 5 minutes on a baking sheet with a second sheet nestled on top. It roasts them more evenly, and the second sheet keeps them from flying around – especially important if you’re using a convection oven as no one wants to be cleaning out stray caraway seeds!

Accidental Locavore Many SpicesCurrently there are over forty different blends in the store, with three additional special edition blends and collections. And my blend? I named it the “C” blend because it ended up with chiloe, cubeb, caraway, allspice, dried lemon and mace. If you don’t know what chiloe and cubeb are, neither did I, but it ended up being a warm blend, with a touch of heat and a bit of citrus. I tried it as part of a dry brine on some pork chops the other night and they were terrific (and I also remembered Lior’s other bit of advice – always add a little more of the spice to the finished product). It’s a small class, given once a month, so check on the website for available dates. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate and Salt-A Purist’s View

by Anne Maxfield on January 12, 2015

cioccolato fuso in tegame di rameIt might have been the Tasting Table article with chef Michael Anthony and the Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies (really?) that finally pushed the Accidental Locavore over the edge. Chocolate is a wonderful thing on its own. Ditto salt. And while they both play well with others, there are times when letting them be a solo act is so much more appealing.

Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

These days it’s rare to find anything caramel that doesn’t have the word salted preceding it, but Dorie Greenspan dared to have a caramel tart in her new book Baking Chez Moi which I made (to great acclaim) for Thanksgiving. While anything Dorie bakes is usually great, this recipe was especially appealing because the caramel wasn’t salted (nor was there a garnish of some expensive hand-picked and tweezer-placed sea salt). The chocolate that coated the crust was simply chocolate. It made a fabulous tart, and as much as I don’t usually bake, this may make it into my dessert rotation.

Accidental Locavore Ultimate Chocolate CookiesSpeaking of chocolate, why can’t it be left alone? My mother has always had the unfortunate habit of adding coffee to her otherwise fabulous chocolate sauce*. And she’s not the only one. Try browsing through a selection of chocolate bars, from bacon to chipotle and beyond, and each has a flavor usually associated with savory foods. Sorry, but I don’t want my chocolate to taste like breakfast, lunch or dinner! That’s why when I made Nancy’s cookies I left the coffee out and they were amazing!

There are times when a little chocolate adds an interesting layer of flavor to savory foods. Mole comes immediately to mind (as does the unforgettable odor of roasting chocolate, custom blended at the market in Oaxaca). I’ve added it to coq au vin and when I remember, to short ribs or beef stews.

Accidental Locavore SaltsA small bit of salt does bring out the flavor of sweet foods, but the idea that salt now needs to be a major player in every dessert has long ago jumped the shark. While an occasional chocolate, salted caramel ________ is a treat, how about if we save the sea salt for what it’s best for, garnishing that perfect tomato in August?

 

*Sorry Mom, but you know the coffee thing makes me crazy

 

 

 

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