Through my searches and tasting among the various artisans on Etsy I have had the great fortune to find a spicy little shop named Kitschy Chic; Salts Blends & Rubs. Upon first viewing the shop and it's selections, I was instantly impressed with the fun and professional packaging, and the displays of flavors, all accompanied with tantalizing descriptions. The more I shopped and read the more I became interested in who this person was and how the unique blend of flavor profiles had been created.
|Kitschy Chic on Etsy.com|
"Find your inner spice today!"
Hollis McNeal, shop owner and spice creator, has had previous training in advertising and design which shows in her attention to detail in branding and packaging. After a career in cosmetology she has pursued her passion of spices; developing a growing array of uniquely blended spices, salts, rubs and sauces. Although there are many shops offering handcrafted spice blends on Etsy which provide excellent quality and flavor, the unique branding and descriptions of original spice combinations left me desiring a first hand experience.
I contacted McNeal with some comments and questions concerning her work. Through our communication I ended up receiving a chef's care package straight from the gods. From my inquiry McNeal kindly considered and selected a generous sampling of her elements that she thought I would enjoy and sent them my way. She was kind enough to order some of my handmade vinegar and preserves to try out as well.
Let me mention here that, as a professional chef, I have always made my own seasonings, blends, rubs, marinades, and sauces as needed. Rarely have I bought a pre made seasoning or sauce (except for the typical fridge condiments) or even been impressed enough to consider replicating an other's blend or spice flavor due to my preferences and yes, ego.
The day when my package from Kitschy Chic arrived I found myself humbled yet happily eating my own words. As a fellow food creator on Etsy, who takes pride in his product packaging and labeling, I was instantly impressed (and a little envious) with the branding, packaging materials, and product literature, which presented the goodies. I was also pleasantly surprised with the selection she had packaged for me. An assortment of rubs, spice blends, seasonings, and sauces all at my fingertips. The sample pack even included a Sea Monkey pin - Chef bling!
|Similar to what I received|
8 pack spice gift set or sampler
So after admiring McNeals products the only thing left to do was to hit the butcher's shop and farmers markets and get cooking. I needed to see what these spices could do!
For my first trial run with these spices I chose to liven up a chicken I was preparing for a Sunday evening dinner. It is no coincidence that the results ended up in my blog post, To Roast A Chicken.
After dipping my finger in the pouch of Tango Mango Habanero spice I knew I had to use this right away. I used a heaping Tablespoon in a quick brine for the chicken. Then I added 2 teaspoons in my olive oil and butter mixture for basting the bird.
Tango Mango Habanero Roasted Free Range Chicken with Pan Drip Root Vegetables.
The results were as gorgeous to share on instagram as delicious to eat. It made for a delectable feast.
Normally we don't eat much meat in our house but lately we have been eating more fish in an attempt to enrich our diets with omega 3's and lean proteins. This gave way to more experimenting and tasting.
Broiled Sea Bass basted with Molho di Piri Piri served with Toasted Quinoa and Sauteed Lacinato Kale. This Portuguese hot pepper sauce (molho di piri piri) really has a kick!
Foil Baked Salmon dusted with Espresso Rub to Die For.
Traditionally, I use many of the ingredients which are in this blend for red meats and maybe pork or chicken, but this time I had to try it on the salmon I was preparing for dinner. The rich espresso and smoky ancho in the blend of this rub added a nice depth and mild spice. My favorite part was the crunchy crust the rub created.
Before I go I would like to share a recipe I prepared using 2 of McNeals spice blends. This recipe was very losely based on Philly Pepper Pot Soup which I used to enjoy making somet time ago. Hope you enjoy it.
A Pot of Pepper Soup
1 pound, ground beef or ground lamb
1 Tablespoon Kitschy's Montreal seasoning
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt & Pepper
4 red bell peppers, charred and peeled (2 & 1/2 Cups prepared roasted red bells)
1/2 large yellow onion, small dice (1/2 Cup small dice yellow onion)
2 medium bulbs of fennel, cleaned, small dice, fawns reserved (2 Cups small dice fennel- reserve fawns)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, medium dice (3- 3 & 1/2 Cups medium dice russet potato)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Fresno chile (or Jalapeno), remove seeds, minced
4 Cups beef stock
2 1/2 teaspoons Kitschy Chic, Bloody Mary Pepper
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 teaspoon reserved fennel fawn,minced
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
Kosher Salt & Pepper
- In a medium bowl, gently break up the ground beef or lamb. Sprinkle the Kitschy's Montreal seasoning and chopped parsley over the meat and gently toss to evenly distribute.
- Dividing the meat into scant Tablespoon size portions, make 20 small meatballs (5 per serving of soup).
- Reserve these for cooking when the soup is simmering.
- Puree the roasted red bell peppers in a food processor or immersion blender until mostly smooth in consistency. Reserve.
- In a large pot (8 quart) add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and turn heat on to medium high.
- Add the diced onion, diced fennel and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. With a spoon stir the ingredients to combine and coat with oil. For the next 5 minutes allow the the onions and fennel to cook and get a little color before stirring. You want to get a little caramelized color on the edges of these ingredients.
- After 5 minutes, add the diced potatoes and minced garlic and chile pepper. Stir to incorporate and cook, stirring a couple times (we want color) for another 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, add the 4 Cups of beef stock, pureed red bell peppers, and the 2 & 1/2 teaspoons Kitschy Chic, Bloody Marry Pepper . Turn heat down to medium low, cover pot and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally or until potatoes are tender.
- At this time heat a large (12 inch) saute pan or skillet over medium heat and allow to heat for a minute. Season the meatballs with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, swirl to coat and then add the meatballs trying not to crowd them too much. Sear the meatballs, turning them when they gain a little color - We are only getting some color and flavor onto the meatballs, not cooking them through in the pan- Once nicely browned, turn off heat and scoop them out leaving as much of the fat behind, adding them to the simmering soup.
Note: Alternately, you could skip dirtying another pan by browning the meatballs and simply toss them in when you add the stock and red bell pepper puree. I like to brown the meatballs myself to add some texture, flavor and colorful eye appeal.
- After the 8 minutes of simmering or until the potatoes are just tender, turn off the heat and stir in the Tablespoon of chopped parsley, 2 teaspoon minced fennel fawn, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and add some freshly ground pepper. Allow the soup to rest while you prepare to dish up.
- Slice the hard boiled eggs to garnish the soup.
- Check soup for seasoning then ladle the soup into four soup bowls giving each serving 5 meatballs.
- Top each serving of the soup with the sliced hard boiled egg.
We enjoyed our soup with crusty rolls, a green salad and homemade GKP Fennel Kraut on the side for an extra accoutrement.
If you would like to learn more about Hollis McNeal and Kitschy Spice find her at;
Kitschy Chic Salts Blends & Rubs
Kitschy Chic on Etsy.com