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spinach, feta and roasted red pepper muffins

As many of you already know, we love experimenting with new flavours and ideas in the Kootenay Spice Kitchen. When we came across a few variations of spinach, pepper and feta muffins we knew we had to try our own take on the delicious, almost scone-like, treats.

We roasted our own red peppers for this recipe (instructions below), but if you are short on time,or energy for that matter, feel free to use a jar from the store.

This recipe will make 12 muffins and requires the following:

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2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of salt
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup (approx 2 large handfuls) thinly sliced spinach leaves
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 medium sized red pepper

Roasting your pepper

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We like to do up a few peppers at a time and keep them in the freezer for future use.

Preheat your oven to roast at 400°F.

Cut the top off of the pepper, cut it in half & remove the seeds & ribs.

Oil both sides of the pepper halves and place them, peel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

They should take about 13-15 minutes to roast, but check them often after about 10 minutes or so.

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Remove them from the oven when the peels of the pepper are blistered and beginning to blacken.

Rinse in cold water and carefully peel the skin off.

Chop into small pieces and set aside.

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Making the muffins

Reduce the oven temperature to bake at 375°F

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, paprika, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the milk, oil, and eggs.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until they are blended.

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Fold the spinach, feta, and peppers into the batter mixture.

Scoop the batter into a standard, oiled muffin tray.

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Bake for about 25 to 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. If you are using a convection oven, 20 – 22 should be enough time.

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Let the muffins cool for a few minutes in the muffin tray, then remove and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

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These muffins are delicious hot out of the oven with a touch of butter, or cooled and dipped into soup or stew. They also make for a great lunch or afternoon snack!

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Enjoy!

DSC04119 (1)Dan loves these muffins & could hardly wait until Shannon was done taking pictures!

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lemon salted chicken

At Kootenay Spice, we love trying new techniques with our products. We have salt-brined chicken in the past, but recently we thought to ourselves, “Wouldn’t that be good with lemon flavour too?”. Not surprising, that evening for dinner we had our first lemon salted chicken drumsticks!

It may sound like a crazy idea, soaking your chicken in a salt water brine, but it tenderizes the meat perfectly and because it gets rinsed off before cooking, it does not leave your meat tasting salty.

This recipe is super simple to make with minimal ingredients and minimal prep time. We chose to use drumsticks, but feel free to use whatever you happen to have on hand.

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For this lemon salted chicken, you will need:

1 package chicken
water (enough to cover the chicken in a sealed container or bag)
Kootenay Spice Lemon Salt (2 tablespoons per cup of water)
1 tablespoon Kootenay Spice Lemon Salt (reserved)
Oil

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Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon salt per cup of water and stir well. It won’t all dissolve, but mix it up as best as you can.

Place the chicken in a sealable container or zipper bag. Pour the lemon salted water over the chicken and seal.

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Let marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse the Lemon Salt brine off of the chicken.

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Place the chicken in an oiled baking dish and sprinkle with pepper and additional tablespoon of lemon salt.

Cook the chicken for about 1 hour, until it has browned and is cooked through.

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Serve with your favourite sides (we sprinkled Kootenay Spice Medley over lightly oiled asparagus and baked it in the oven with the chicken for the last 20 minutes) and Enjoy!

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tomato basil mussels

We tend to eat quite a few mussels in the Kootenay Spice kitchen. As many of you may know, we also go through quite a bit of garlic, basil and tomatoes. It should be no surprise then, that these flavours are one of our favourite ways to prepare mussels!

We actually use our basic bruschetta topping recipe, which is awesome for making traditional, toasted bread bruschetta. In fact, there is often quite a bit of mixture left over, so you may want to consider having a few rounds of toast and some grated mozza and parmessan on hand…

We will likely come back to this bruschetta-like topping in future recipe blog posts, as it is a simple yet very flavourful blend.

If you do not have any Rosemary Balsamic Drizzle on hand, reduced or regular balsamic vinegar will work too.

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We also generally use fresh mussels, however our local grocer was out of stock when we were preparing this blog post, so frozen will have to do!

For this recipe you will need:

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4 small-medium tomatoes (romas work best)
3-4 basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Rosemary Balsamic Drizzle
pinch of salt
1 pound mussels, fresh or frozen

Finely chop the tomatoes into 1/4 – 1/2” pieces. Set aside in a bowl lined with paper towel to absorb some of the moisture.

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Finely chop the basil and garlic.

Stir the basil, garlic, olive oil, balsamic and salt into the diced tomatoes. Cover and refrigerate at least one, up to four hours.

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If you are using fresh mussels, fill a large, deep skillet with a 1/2” of water and bring to a boil. Gently place the mussels in the water, cover and let steam for four minutes.

If you are using frozen mussels, do not use any water. Heat the empty pan over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Quickly empty the mussels into the pan and cover immediately. Let steam for four minutes.

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Once the mussels have been cooked, remove from heat. Carefully remove the halves of shells that do not have a mussel attached. If some have fallen out of their shells in cooking, simply place them in an empty shell half.

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Top each mussel with about 1 tablespoon of the bruschetta mixture. The mussel shells double as a built in spoon!

Serve immediately & enjoy!

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Caesar Salad

At Kootenay Spice we like to infuse anything and everything we can with garlic. Naturally, our Caesar salad is no different!

We start with making a double batch of our garlic aioli. If you are short on time (or energy), real mayonnaise with a clove or two of minced garlic mixed in will work in a pinch. Trust us though, if you have the time it is well worth it to use garlic aioli as a base for your Caesar salad dressing.

We also make our own bread crumbs for our Caesar salad. We like to make a small loaf of bread out of Italian seasoned pizza dough and chop it into bite-size pieces. We then broil them in the oven for 10-20 minutes and let them continue to dry on the counter for an hour or two.

If you missed it above, here is a link to our garlic aioli recipe.

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For Kootenay Spice Caesar Salad (serves 3-4) you will need the following:

for the dressing:

DSC030062 teaspoons fish sauce
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon hot mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 cup homemade aioli
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
pinch of salt

 

In a non-metallic bowl, blend the dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

for the salad:

prepared, chilled dressing
1 head romaine lettuce (or 2 bunches romaine hearts)
1 cup seasoned croutons
pinch of pepper
1/2 fresh lemon, thinly sliced

Chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in a large salad bowl. Add the croutons and mix well.

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Cover the lettuce & croutons with dollops of the dressing, gently tossing every now and again until the lettuce is evenly coated.

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Portion the dressed salad into salad bowls, sprinkle with pepper and serve with sliced lemons. In these photos, we have added strips of marinated chicken breast. Shrimp, scallops and beef also make great toppings!

Enjoy!

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Dill Pickles

Our last post, Summer Cucumbers, shared the beginning of our Kootenay Spice cucumber harvest. Although we are not growing traditional ‘pickling’ cukes, we still wanted to do up a few batches of pickles! We made a batch of bread & butter pickles last week (recipe post to come later this season) and this August long weekend, we decided to can some garlic dills to add to the collection!

One of our favourite details about this post is that all of the fresh ingredients, the cucumbers, dill and garlic, came right from our own gardens!

We had 4 medium-large cucumbers and ended up with 10 jars of pickles. Remember to clean & prep your canning jars & lids before filling them! Here’s what we used for this recipe:

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4 med-large cucumbers
1/2 dill plant, large stems removed chopped into fine pieces
2 bulbs garlic, coarsely chopped

for the brine:
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup pickling or rock salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon pickle crisp

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, vinegar and salt and heat on medium. Let it come just to a boil and remove from heat. Set aside.

Cut the cucumbers into chunks about an inch shorter than the jars you will be canning in.

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Slice the cucumber sections, lengthwise, into about 8 pieces each.

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Fill the bottom half inch of your canning jars with dill and garlic.

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Tightly fill the jar with cucumber slices and top with a sprinkling of dill.

Stir the turmeric and pickle crisp into the brine mixture and pour it into the jars, filling them to half an inch from the top.

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Place the lids on the jars and cook in a water bath. For detailed info on water bath canning for home use, check out this link: http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/clay53.html

These pickles only need 5 minutes processing time, no more.

Remove from the water and place on clean dish towels. Let cool until the lids have indented and the jars are cool to touch.

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Once cooled, store the jars in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening and Enjoy!

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Summer cucumbers

Our Kootenay Spice gardens are thriving this year! We have already had the pleasure of enjoying garlic, peas, herbs and most recently, cucumber!

This has been our most successful year yet for cucumbers! We’ve grown Sweet Slice & Marketmore varieties.The Marketmores are just starting to fruit, however we have harvested several Sweet Slices, which are growing to well over a foot long!

We love to cut up a few thin slices of the cukes and top with a sprinkle of our Rosemary Balsamic Drizzle for a quick and refreshing snack!

 

 

cucumbers July 28 2014

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BBQ potatoes & corn on the cob

Summer is almost here and BBQ season is in full swing at Kootenay Spice! Ok, Ok, BBQ season never really ends around here, but we do tend to do a lot more in the summer months!

Our last post, the perfect steak, was so good that we considered already retiring the indoor cooking for the season and stick to outdoors until at least October. We realize it’s not quite time yet, but we sure are excited for it!

As promised in our last post, we are now sharing our technique for the perfect potatoes and corn on the cob, both done on the BBQ! This potato method is our go-to for summer potatoes and once you try the BBQ corn, you will realize why we enjoy it so much!

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Start off with soaking the corn cobs, in their husks, in a large bowl of water. You will likely need to weigh them down with something (we’ve used a dinner plate) to keep them fully submerged. Soak for at least 2 hours, longer if you have the time.

The potatoes will take longer to cook, so you will want to start them aboout 20  minutes before the corn.

Preheat the grill to medium-high, about 400°F.

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To prepare the potatoes, carefully poke them with a fork to allow a few air holes through the skin. Generously coat them in oil and sprinkle with Kooteay Spice Smoked Rock Salt. Coarse salt is important in this recipe.

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Place the potatoes on the hot grill and flip every 15 to 20 minutes, until they are cooked, about 1 hour.

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Remove the corn from the water. Place them, in their husks, on the grill and flip every 10-15 mniutes for about 40 minutes.

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When we made these with our perfectly cooked steak, we kept them in our still warm, but turned off oven to keep warm while the steaks were on the grill.

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Serve with butter, sour cream and chives, alongside your favourite BBQ main dish and enjoy the summer BBQ season!

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the perfect steak

At Kootenay Spice we absolutely love a good steak. Our cut of choice is prime rib, however we are also partial to buying blade steaks & roasts.

We have had many requests to write a blog post on how to cook the perfect steak and, in our opinion, we do a darned good job of it!

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For a truly perfect steak, you will want a premium cut of beef. We prefer a thick cut of prime rib, but choose whatever you like best. Regardless of your selection, ensure that there is a fair amount of marbling, small lines of fat, throughout the steak. This is a sign of lots of flavour!

For this post, we had the butcher cut us a 2″ steak of AAA prime rib, it was on the verge of being considered a roast it was so fat! We have grilled the steaks on our kamato BBQ at about 900°F. We suggest you cook them as hot as possible. A cast iron pan on the stove or grilled on the BBQ are ideal.

There are a lot of little things you can do to help your steak taste that much better. First of all, allow your steak to come to room temperature before cooking it. Take it out of the fridge 1 – 2 hours before cooking. We will often put ours in the microwave to keep it out of the way while we are preparing the rest of our dinner. While the steak is sitting, frequently flip and pat it dry with paper towel. Drying the steak is important, as moisture in the meat will cause it to boil as it cooks. A dry steak will have more flavour.

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When you are ready to cook your steaks, preheat the oven to bake at 300°F. Place the steak on a wire rack on top of a shallow pan. Cook the steak in the oven and flip it once during cooking. For best flavour, we suggest cooking your steak rare, about 15 minutes in the oven. For medium rare, cook it for about 20 minutes and medium about 25.

DSC00967While the steak is in the oven, preheat your BBQ or cast iron skillet to as hot as possible. Once the steak has finished in the oven, take it out and season with a light coating of oil and your favourite steak flavouring. For this post we have used Kootenay Spice Smoke Medley and also suggest trying Steak Spice, Beef Rub or Garlic Pepper.

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Grill or sear either side of the steak for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with tinfoil and let rest for 5-6 minutes before serving. The resting time should be the same as your total grill time.

 

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We paired ours with BBQ corn on cob and BBQ roasted potatoes. We’ll share our technique for those in our next blog post, they were delicious!

Enjoy!

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slow cooked pork & beans

It’s the middle of winter and although it has been a very mild winter in the West Kootenay, there is just something about January and February that makes one crave comfort foods like casseroles, soups and, you guessed it, classic slow cooked pork and beans.

At Kootenay Spice, we went ahead and made a huge batch of beans as they are so delicious and freeze very well. We portion them into meal-sized containers and freeze them for quick & easy lunches to take to work or have as a side with dinner.

Remember to plan ahead for this recipe, as the beans need to soak overnight plus they will cook for 8-12 hours. To maximize flavour, we will buy pork hocks or bones and boil them into broth a day or two ahead of making these beans. Beef, chicken or vegetable broths will also work just fine if that is what you have on hand.

This recipe will make about 12-16 servings and requires:

2 (500g) packages white beans
1 (500g) package bacon (uncooked)
2 red onions
1 small can tomato paste
4 cups pork broth
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup molasses
⅓ cup honey
1-2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp salt
pepper to taste

Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water. Let soak overnight, covered & at room temperature.

Strain the beans when you are ready to start cooking.

Combine tomato paste, pork broth, syrup, molasses, honey, mustard powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

 

Cut the bacon into 1” or so pieces & place about ⅓ in the bottom of the slow cooker. Chop the onion & garlic into fine pieces. Layer ½ of the onion & garlic over the bacon in the slow cooker & top with pepper.

 

Add ½ of the beans over the onion & garlic. Top with more pepper if desired. Stir up the broth/sauce and pour just enough over the beans until the liquid is just starting to cover the tops.

  

Add another ⅓ of the bacon, followed by the rest of of the onion & garlic, then the rest of the beans.

  

Top with the rest of the bacon, followed by sauce to just cover the tops of the beans. Reserve & refrigerate any excess sauce, you may use it later.

Cook on high for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, stir beans gently and turn cooker to low. The beans will look like there is more liquid at the point, but don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal!

Cook on low for 4 hours. After 4 hours, gently stir again and add any leftover sauce.

Let cook another 2-6 hours, until beans are soft (but still intact) and absorbing the colour of the sauce.

You can enjoy your beans right away, or let them cool and save some for another time.

We enjoyed some with our sweet honey garlic rolls (pictured below – recipe to come soon!). We then let the rest cool & processed them as we mentioned above.

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roasted garlic

We had an abundance of garlic in the Kootenay Spice kitchen this season. So much, in fact, we figured we had more fresh garlic than we were going to be able to use in a reasonable amount of time (& for us that’s a lot of garlic!)

As many of you likely know, we love garlic and we love our cast iron pans. The cast iron guarantees far better results than most conventional pans. Check out our blog post on taking good care of your cast iron dishes.

You can make just a few bulbs of garlic or, as we have done here, used a few dozen bulbs. If you are roasting as much garlic as we did, be prepared for your kitchen to smell of garlic for at least a day!

DSC00193Preheat your oven to 350*F.

Cut the top 1/2 cm (1/4”) off of the garlic bulb. Place the bulb, cut side up, in an appropriately sized baking dish.

Smother each garlic bulb with extra virgin olive oil. You will need just a little more than about half a tablespoon or so of oil per garlic bulb. We did 40 bulbs and used approximately 1.5 cups of olive oil (which is about 25 tablespoons of oil).

DSC00194Cover the garlic with tinfoil and place in the oven for up to one hour (20 – 30 minutes if you are only doing a few bulbs). Check periodically over that time to ensure the bulbs are not burning. If they are getting

Once the bulbs are soft when poked with a fork, remove from the oven, keep covered and let cool.

Once the garlic has cooled, drain the excess oil into a sealable container to use with a day or two. Great for frying veggies or in a salad dressing blend!

DSC00205We put the excess garlic into a large freezer bag and grab a bulb or few when we need one.

To use the roasted garlic, simply peel the cloves or squish the meat of the garlic out of the shells. Use it for garlic butter (for toast or seafood), rubbed on meats & veggies, mixed into soups & stews, blended with salads or baked goods, there are so many options!

20 dipping firecracker shrimp

firecracker shrimp

The Kootenay Spice kitchen rang in 2014 with firecrackers… Firecracker shrimp that is!

We’ve always loved shrimp at Kootenay Spice. Even when Shannon thought she didn’t like fish or seafood, she always liked shrimp. Can you believe she also thought she didn’t like spicy foods? Crazy, right? Rest assured, she has come to her senses!

We also dipped our firecracker shrimp in our newest product, Sweet Maple Chili Sauce!

For this recipe you will need:

1 firecracker shrimp ingredients

1 bag large raw shrimp, defrosted & peeled with tails left on
3 tablespoons Siracha Hot Sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
zest and juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
smoked salt & pepper to taste
6 – 10 egg roll wrappers
1 table spoon flour
1 tablespoon water
oil (for frying)

Start off by making the shrimp marinade. Place the hot sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, lemon, sugar, smoked salt and smoked pepper in a large, sealable bag. A tip for avoiding spills is to place the bag in a bowl and roll down the top edges.

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Combine well. Add shrimp and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Do not let the shrimp marinate too long, or the lemon will eventually cook the shrimp (making it rubbery & not very good).

While the shrimp is marinating, prepare the egg roll wrappers.

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The wraps sometimes seem intimidating to separate, but if you peel them back gently & slowly, they come apart surprisingly easy. Keep the separated sheets covered with plastic wrap or a cloth to prevent them from drying out.

You will need half as many full wraps as you have shrimp. For example, 20 shrimp will require 10 wrappers, as they will be cut in half. We used 16/20 count shrimp and had 17 shrimp. Therefore, we used 9 wrappers.

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Slice the wraps into 2 triangles as pictured above.

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Combine the flour and water to create a paste.

Place a shrimp about 1/3 of the way along the long side of the wrapper, with the tail exposed.

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Fold the smaller outer edge over the shrimp and roll the shrimp over.

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Fold the top section of the wrapper down over the shrimp. Fix with a small dollop of flour/water mixture if desired.

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Continue rolling the shrimp until just a corner of the wrapper is exposed. Apply a thin layer of flour/water mix to the corner and finish rolling.

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Repeat with the rest of the shrimp and wrappers.

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Heat a medium size pot of cooking oil to 350°C.

Gently, with tongs, place one wrapped shrimp into the oil. This one will be to determine how much time it takes the shrimp to become golden brown, flipping once. This should be about 3 – 5 minutes, depending on the depth and heat of your oil. Remove and slice into the shrimp to ensure it is cooked through.

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Cook the rest of the shrimp in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. You do not want them to touch while they are frying. Cook for as long as your test shrimp.

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Once removed from the pot, place the shrimp on a paper towel covered plate to absorb any extra oil.

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We love to dip these Firecracker Shrimp in our newest product: Kootenay Spice Sweet Maple Chili Sauce (pictured above). A sweet sauce with a lingering spice and hint of pure maple flavouring.

Enjoy!

mushroom soup 1

condensed cream of mushroom soup

We had an abundance of mushrooms in the Kootenay Spice kitchen this past weekend, half of which were starting to get old & we knew we had to do something with them soon! Coincidentally, we were planning a pork roast in mushroom sauce and lo & behold, we were out of condensed cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard!

We’ve used this simple mushroom soup recipe many times before and have always had great results. We have used white button mushrooms for this post, and have also found dried shitake to be a good choice in a pinch. Any type of mushroom should do, whatever you have on hand.

This recipe will make about 500ml of condensed soup and requires:

mushtoom soup ingredients

1 pound (450g) mushrooms
1 can (370ml) evaporated milk
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 Tbsp flour
1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
up to 2 cups cream or milk (optional – for making soup)
salt & pepper to taste

Chop the onions into small pieces. We tend to like larger chunks of mushroom and cut many of them into large slices. You may wish to chop your mushrooms into smaller pieces than we have in these photos.

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Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the mushrooms on medium-low heat until they are beginning to turn soft.

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Add the flour and create a roux out of the sautéed mushrooms. Heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

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Slowly stir in the evaporated milk. Continue stirring until heated through.

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Reduce the burner to low and continue stirring until the soup begins to thicken to the consistency of condensed soup.

Remove from heat. You can make soup right away (read below for directions), or let cool and keep some of the concentrate in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Use the condensed soup as if it came right from the store! Pork chops, pastas, hamburger & potatoes, whatever you’d normally use cream of mushroom soup for.

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In a medium saucepan, combine 2 parts condensed mushroom soup with 1 part cream or milk. Add more cream or milk if you would like a thinner soup. Heat thoroughly, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper & crackers (optional).

Enjoy!