By: Mr Robot
It was my Birthday recently, and Mrs Robot kindly gave me a 6-month subscription to The Spicery spiceboxes. This consists of pre-mixed spices, freshly ground (no stale cupboard dwellers!) and sent out each month, giving a couple of set recipes each time.
I came across The Spicery some time ago so was intrigued to try it. I confess I was a little ambivalent about the concept. I feared it straying too far towards the cake-mix / DIY ready-meal approach that we try to avoid: how far is it really from, say, a jar of curry paste or packet noodles? Not that they can't be wonderful things of course, but you're probably not going to develop much as a cook by using them.
On the other hand, if it's bringing just the required amount of an ingredient you won't use often, that can only be a good thing (especially since our spice cupboard is already a disaster zone). And since I don't control what I get, I could see it being a good way into things I might not choose to cook otherwise. Perhaps this would offer a jumping-off point into new worlds, or at least give me a bit of a nudge.
|Fish / Rhubarb Klaxon!|
Well it's a good job I took that approach. As regular readers may know, I'm generally underwhelmed by fish, and as a child was traumatised by Gran's indescribable rhubarb.
So my box turning up with the makings of a Tunisian Fish Stew and a Saffron Pannacotta with Rhubarb was a bit of a chin-scratcher.
Well, I wanted to be pushed...
The box contains nice little recipe cards with a variety of spice packets (plus a freebie Indian BBQ mix, ta muchly), and happily the fish recipe is more involved than I'd expected. This bodes well.
|Fish lumps in chermoula|
And you know what? It was really good. Rich and intense stew, and although I found the chickpea couscous slightly bland a good dollop of nose-burning harissa set everything right.
The Pannacotta was the real excitement though. As already noted it demanded the dreaded rhubarb (which, spookily, the vegbox had turned up a few days before), on top of which I've never tried making pannacotta and only rarely eaten it, since I tend towards the Brown And Sticky school of puddings.
|New best friend|
Well it was a delight. Extremely simple to make, this pack just had a few strands of saffron, and a mix of spices for the rhubarb.
The rhubarb was outstanding and all my fears evaporated. Heavily sugared (never thought I'd say this, but possibly too sweet? Just a smidge?) the spice mix was full of black pepper and cardamom, producing a loose jammy, intense, fragrant, fruity goo.
I loved it.
I loved it so much I've invented the word "rhuplay" for my new hobby.
The saffron pannacotta itself was just too easy, so will become a staple of mild showing off. Even allowing for my hamfisted delivery it looked sophisticated and was highly satisfying in the mouth. If there's any complaint here it's that the saffron got a bit lost in the face of that massive rhubarb, but that's very minor.
|Needs practice, you say? Curses...|
Personally speaking, my hope for a bit of inspiration and a gentle hand to guide me off the path of habit have been entirely fulfilled. If the next five boxes are anything like this I'll be very happy indeed.
|Top Tip: save serving blushes and turning-out-faffery by making your pannacotta in a nice cup|
All images (c) PP Gettins
Note: We have no association with The Spicery and there are no freebies or favours - Mrs Robot paid for the subscription with her own hard-earned cash, though being a gentleman I couldn't tell you how much.