Stephen Fries: Sugar & spice and everything nice in Guilford
To create and share “the experience of a more flavorful life,” is the mission of The Spice & Tea Exchange, my favorite shop to purchase spices, spice blends, salt from around the world, naturally-flavored sugar, and tea. Until three years ago, when I traveled and knew that locale had a store, it was on the agenda to make a visit and stock up on my favorites. Thanks to Cindy Wright and her daughter Jen Asbury, I now drive 15 minutes to get my “fix,” since they opened their shop in 2015, on the Guilford Green, 80 Whitfield St., 203-453-0022.
I remember the first time I stepped into a Spice and Tea Exchange many years ago in Florida, I felt as if I was a “kid in a candy store.” I was surrounded by the essentials for cooking food with great flavor. And oh, the aromas tantalizing the taste buds. The design of the shop reminded me of an old fashioned general store, you know, that rustic feel, but everything displayed in an orderly fashion.
I was “hooked,” and if you love to cook you will be too. The mother and daughter team are so passionate and enjoy sharing ideas on how to use the products.
For those who need a little coaching, the Chef to Table Recipe Kits are perfect. Included is a recipe card, the exact amount of the spices for the recipe, a shopping list with the just the right amount of other ingredients needed and nutrition information. The recipes are also accompanied by a “Come Cook With Us” instructional online video, formatted in a 45-second time-lapse showcasing each step of the recipe. These are a few of the kits available: coconut Thai chicken, maple bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, slow cooker baked ziti, truffle mashed cauliflower, coconut blondies, Polynesian bloody Mary. An assortment of these make the perfect gift, especially for those who perhaps need a “coach” to assist.
The displays of recipe cards are enticing. During a recent visit, I selected a few so I can add new dishes to my spring repertoire. Here are some of the recipes I will be making. For the recipe for cheesy asparagus fries, please visit https://bit.ly/2rBgzHp.
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, skinned and chopped
Combine apple and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir to coat. Set aside. Bring 16 ounces of filtered water to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 minute. Stir in 2 tablespoons of Marrakesh mint tea and let steep 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Discard used tea leaves and set brewed tea aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to now empty saucepan. Over medium-high heat, add rice, stirring to coat evenly in oil and cook for 1 minute. Pour reserved tea into pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add ½ teaspoon chili lime sea salt. Cover and cook, fluffing periodically, for 10-12 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed and rice is fluffy. Be careful not to allow rice on bottom of pot to burn.
Transfer rice to a large bowl, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool. Combine lemon zest, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, shallots, Coastal blend seasoning, 1 teaspoon Marrakesh mint tea leaves, agave nectar and remaining olive oil in a small sealable airtight container. Shake vigorously to create vinaigrette. Chill until ready to use. Add peas, tomato, cheese, apple, pistachios or almonds, and parsley to the bowl of rice. Shake and drizzle vinaigrette over rice mixture. Fold ingredients together. Finish with a sprinkling of chili lime sea salt. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.
In a bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, Fleur de Sel sea salt, shallots and sumac.
Whisk in olive oil. Store covered in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Wash Brussels sprouts thoroughly. Place sprouts in a bowl of cool tap water for 10-15 minutes to hydrate them. Using a sharp knife, hold stem ends and cut them crosswise into slices. Toss sliced Brussels sprouts with dressing to taste (all dressing might not be necessary). Add cranberries, chopped pistachios and grated parmesan. At serving time add several grinds of Florida Sunshine spice blend.
What chef would you like me to interview? Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at email@example.com or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. (Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to stephenfries.com.)
Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: May 17, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $75 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Learn how to make beef carpaccio, beet and asparagus salad with tarragon vinaigrette, salmon over spring vegetable Risotto, Buddino (Italian Butterscotch Pudding)
Gathering of the Bines Beer Festival, May 19, two sessions, noon-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m, Two Roads Brewing Co., 1700 Stratford Ave., Stratford, Tastings of beer from 45+ breweries. Local food trucks will be selling food. $35 for general admission and $15 for designated drivers. 203-335-2010, Details and tickets at https://bit.ly/2r3VqEt.
Hubbard Park Food Truck Festival and Craft Fair, May 19 and 20, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Hubbard Park, 999 West Main St. , Meriden. 30+ trucks, a variety of craft vendors, live music and kids’ activities. Free admission and parking. https://bit.ly/2jMT89A.
Mohegan Sun annual Sun BBQFest, June 2 and 3, Saturday 11 a.m.--10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard Uncasville.888-226-7711 , $5 a day per person (does not include food & beverage) Kids 6 & under: free. $1 food & beverage tickets available at the event. Barbecue battles, food vendors, beverages, live music and cooking demonstrations. Saturday's events feature a wing contest and a rib challenge, with an evening fireworks display. Complete schedule at https://bit.ly/2nECs8D.