Category Archives: Appetizer

Recipe: Summer Salad – Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panzanella

If you are looking for an authentic, traditional panzanella salad, you’d be better off with this one from Giada De Laurentis. But if you want something equally delicious,  that can be made in about 4 minutes, I’m your girl! There is no toasting of the bread, no seeding or peeling of tomatoes, or other fussy steps.


A bounty of tomatoes from Common Hands Farm

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Recipe: Spanish Chorizo with Smoked Paprika Potatoes

In continuing to document the most fun Christmas Eve meal I just had, I have to tell you about this dish!

Chorizo & Potato with smoked paprika

Chorizo & Potato with smoked paprika

Recap: no kids this year, no enduring family traditions, opening the door to the imaginative Spanish-style menu we developed.

I had been keeping an eye out for appropriate ingredients during the week before, and I spotted fresh chorizo at The Berry Farm while making a delivery. I’ll be darned if I can’t remember the brand, but I do recall that there were no gross ingredients, no nitrates or mentions of organ meats, and it was local. (I also picked up a package of huge, moist Medjool dates which got transformed into this recipe.) Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Stuffed Dates

This is a RARE recipe that does not include any spices!  But it was soooo delicious, as part of our Christmas Eve dinner this year,  that I had to share it with you.

dates with chaource

I am sure that as long as there have been dates, people have been stuffing them. When planning the dinner menu, I thought I remembered seeing dates stuffed with almonds, somewhere in my travels. Turns out,  dates stuffed with blue cheese, with or without almonds and bacon, are a classic Spanish dish.

Since I was already serving almonds, I decided to skip them in this dish. Bacon is not a hugely popular ingredient in my family (if you can believe it), so I 86’d that, too.

That left only the blue cheese to deal with. Instinctively, I knew how these two foods would work together. Dates are very dense, intensely sweet with a lingering taste of honey in your mouth. I needed something that would cut through that sweetness and give a sharp, delicious contrast.

“Chaource” cheese is what came to mind! Not a blue, at all, but I knew it would work. Chaource is a cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy, ash-coated rind. It is one of the oddest cheese I’ve encountered, the reason being that it completely changes in character during ripening.


Rory Chase of The Amazing Real Live Food Co at my booth at the Hillsdale Farmers Market in 2013 ~ educating customers on his cheeses

I use “Moonlight Chaource” from The Amazing Real Live Food Co in Pine Plains NY, and I also re-sell it at my farmers markets, so I’ve eaten quite a bit of it over the years.

When it is younger, it is quite firm, almost crumbly in the center, and the rind remains white with grey speckles of ash.  As it ages, the interior turns creamy melty gooey, like a ripe Camembert, and the rind darkens somewhat.

che_amz_chaource_zI prefer Chaource at this ripe stage. It is pungent, sharp, creamy, and the taste lingers in your mouth for hours. I knew this was the right pairing for my Medjool dates — and it was!chaseholm-farms-16


Slit each date and remove the pit.
Insert about 1/2 tsp of Chaource into the date.
You can pop the completed dates under a broiler for 1-2 minutes, on a cookie sheet, but you don’t have to (I didn’t).

Recipe: Smokey Spiced Spanish Almonds

I admit, I’m not all that familiar with Spanish food.

spiced almonds

Although I’ve lived in several countries in Europe, and traveled a lot, I just haven’t had much exposure to it. For some reason, Spanish restaurants aren’t that popular around me, which is surprising considering how many other international cuisines there are  (I checked!  Asian, Cajun, Creole, Chinese, Eastern European, French, Greek,  Indian,  Italian,  Japanese, Mexican,  Thai, Vietnamese are all within 15 minutes of me).

So…  when my family decided to go with a Spanish theme for our Christmas Eve dinner this year, I gulped. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Za’atar Pita Chips

Zaatar, za’tar, zatar, zatr, zahatar, zaktar or satar!  However you spell it, za’atar is a delicious spice blend with Middle Eastern origins.

Introducing:  za’atar by Your Spice of Life!

The same way that there is no set recipe for Italian or Cajun seasoning, there is no standard for za’atar. However, the components of za’atar that are most often found are thyme, oregano, sumac berry, sesame seeds and salt.

I wanted to develop my own za’atar blend, honoring its tradition but also adding my own twist, as I do with all my blends. So I omitted the sesame seeds (mostly because of their very short shelf life) and the salt (because none of my spice blends contain it). Instead, I added some marjoram to intensify the herbiness, and a pinch of lemon peel to brighten the flavor and enhance the lemony flavor inherent in sumac berries.

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Recipe: Salmon Bites

If you have the time,  I encourage everyone to take on the challenge of Julia Child’s infamous duck stuffed with meat, in pastry. But for most people, that is out of the question;  you have 15 minutes to get a meal on the table, and if it’s exotic / fabulous / memorable, that’s a bonus.

That’s why I like to come up with a recipe like Salmon Bites.  Super easy, quick as can be, but packing quite a ta-da factor.

The idea is simple:   sautee tiny squares of salmon that have been heavily coated in spice blend. or a straight spice.  You get an intense burst of flavor with each bite, but the salmon can take it and doesn’t get lost. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Homemade Hummus with a twist

Hummus with lemon garlic

Hummus is mainstream now, but it wasn’t that long ago when it was considered an exotic dish to serve, here in the States.  Remember?

To me, it’s still pretty exotic in that it transports me every time I eat it. Where?  Oh, eternally sunny places, lands of lemons and olives and intense fresh herbs.  Sigh.

With that truly lovely image in mind, let me share a few recipes for making your own hummus and bringing some of that sunshine into your home. First, I am going to walk you through a fairly traditional version, then give you a fabulous twist à la Your Spice of Life. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Mini-Meatballs

Moroccan flag
Moroccan flag

Located in Northern Africa, Morocco is a land whose cuisine is sublime yet not well-known here in the US.  Thanks to living in Southern France for a while (which, for the geographically challenged, put me fairly close to the top of the African continent), I enjoyed the influence of the cuisine from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

One of my most enduring culinary memories was the taste of the complex spice blends from that area. I’ve done my best to re-create it in my Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend, which appears in another YSOL recipe, Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous.  In this recipe, I’m going for the same exotic taste, but we’re getting there much faster with these simple but flavorful mini meatballs. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Curry Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are one of those classic dishes that many of us remember from childhood. Here is an updated version that brings some zing to the dish. Replacing the traditional mayonnaise with yogurt also brings down the fat count — but not the taste, I guarantee it!

Curried Deviled Eggs

Not your Mother's recipe!


A dozen large or jumbo eggs
6-8 oz plain yogurt *
2-3 T finely minced red onion
1 T  Hurricane Curry spice blend by Your Spice of Life
½ tsp sea salt


Hardboil the eggs, then cool and peel.  [Not sure how to hardboil a perfect egg?  Check out these helpful instructions: ]

Slice eggs carefully in half and remove the yolks to a medium bowl.

Using a fork, mash the yolks until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until mixed well.

Taste mixture and add more salt and/or Hurricane Curry to your taste.

Blend well and carefully spoon into egg halves (or, you can pipe the filling with a pastry bag,  or a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off).

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, to allow the filling to set.

When ready to serve,  place on a pretty serving dish. Dust edges very lightly with Hurricane Curry, and garnish with fresh parsley or mint if desired.

* you can use a mixture of 2/3 plain yogurt and 1/3 peach or mango yogurt, for a slightly more exotic taste.

© 2011 Your Spice of Life   ~   an original recipe!

Recipe: Silky Paprika Mushrooms

This is an easy, elegant appetizer that is reminiscent of a traditional stroganoff recipe.

Silky Paprika Mushrooms

Serve on toothpicks for an appetizer, or as a side dish.


3 cups halved mushrooms (white button, baby portabellas or a mix of both)
1 red pepper, cored and cut into very thin, 1” long strips
1 cup sour cream
2 tsps Racy Paprika spice blend from Your Spice of Life


In a large sautee pan, sautee the mushrooms in olive oil until softened but still firm. Add the Racy Paprika.

When ready to serve, lower the heat and stir in 1 cup sour cream (thickened plain yogurt may be substituted for the sour cream). Stir well to coat the mushrooms.

Taste for seasoning; add sea salt and/or slightly more Racy Paprika according to your preference.

To serve: skewer one mushroom with 2 strips of red pepper onto a toothpick. Arrange on an attractive plate, and serve immediately.

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