Your favorite penzey's spices
I am placing my first order from Penzey's and am shooting blind. First let me say that I love most spices. What I am looking for are recommendations for spices that really make a difference in your cooking or the ones you can't live without/ put on everything.
I love the Greek Seasoning and Sandwich Sprinkle, and use them both on everything from chicken and hamburgers to potatoes and other vegetables.
Other favorites - smoked paprika, red and black pepper, Vietnamese cinnamon, Aleppo Pepper, crystallized ginger (I eat it like candy), medium-hot chili powder, extra large peppercorns
I love the barbecue of the americas blend,( a great rub for a quick meat on the grill) the chicago steak seasoning, (speaks for itself), the galena st. chicken and rib rub, (great on roasts too), and the bavarian blend, (which we love on a pork roast.
Also, we love the vietnamese cinnamon, and their paprikas which are very flavorful.
I absolutely must have their Creamy Peppercorn dressing on hand, as well as their soup bases. I'm totally in love with all their baking spices (dutch cocoa is a bargain). Can't live without their smoked paprika, ground chipotle, and red pepper flakes. They simply have the best garlic and onions available (granulated and minced). Oh, and I can't forget to mention the Northwoods Fire seasoning .
My first time, I ordered the smallest size of about 15 herbs and spices. The total was $32. I love their maharajah curry, satay seasoning, Vietnamese cinnamon (my #1 favorite), tarragon, and seasoned salt. But I've never been disappointed with anything. My dad swears by their salt-free mixes: Sunny Paris and Sunny Spain, I think they are called.
The french grey sea salt and Indian Extra Bold Peppercorns are an absolute must whenever I cook. I concur with the other suggestions as I've tried most of them as well. I really like the Bay leaf seasoning. It is great on pork and chicken and potatoes. I also add it to soups and sauces. I've saved $$ by ordering with a friend. We wanted to order some of the same spices so we ordered larger portions and split them up when they arrived. It was a good $ saving strategy for us as well as sharing the shipping cost.
Didn't go through all the posts so forgive the repeats:
ground Vietnamese cinnamon (my absolute favorite)
double vanilla extract (my other absolute favorite)
ground ginger (so fresh, so sharp)
whole Telicherry black peppercorns
But I have NEVER been disappointed with anything I've purchased from Penzey's. And yes...be careful with the amounts you purchase.
I think the freshness and the price sets Penzey spices apart from the rest. I use the Bavarian seasoning on pork roasts, its a wonderful flavor. My whole spice drawer is Penzey's and each time I go to their Maplewood Missouri store I try something new. Also the hot chocolate gift pack is a great little hostess gift.
Hi - I just went to the Penzey's store in the Twin Cities for the first time - loved it. $84 later, I am in love with their French Basil (incredibly flavorful), and the sweet curry. I tried three of the other curry options, all also delicious. Also tried the Ajwain seed, which supposedly reduces the effects of legumes in vegetarian Indian dishes (I am a veg, so this is a real issue for me :-) ...), and it's very flavorful - I looked it up on the internet, and also found some recipes that call for it. Apparently, it is usually cooked first, or toasted in the pan, I assume, rather than being used raw, as it mellows the flavor. I also bought the smoked Spanish paprika, as I had seen it listed on this site, and it is nice, but, a bit harsh for my taste. I also bought a large bottle of their vanilla, and my friend uses their double-strength vanilla and loves it. If you ever get to one of their stores, you will swoon as you sniff into each jar - heavenly. I have learned, from this one shopping trip, that it really does make a difference to buy top grade spices and herbs, compared to the usual ones I buy at the supermarker. Most of the herbs/spices come in several formats, and the small bottle, or platic pouches are not very expensive. Oh, also got some of their wasabi/horseradish mix, which is cream colored, not green, as I usually get from the Asian market. Haven't tried that yet. I bought a friend a little bottle of the genuine wasabi - expensive, but a treat for her. Enjoy!!! Oh, I also got the "florida pepper mixture", or some such title, which is a nice lemony/orange/pepper type mix, which I often use in soups and potato dishes.
Smoked paprika: incredible if you like smoky flavors. It's really smoky.
Ground chipotles: see above, plus heat.
Aleppo pepper: Much more subtle and complex flavor than conventional red pepper flakes. My latest fave breakfast: Toasted whole wheat bagel spread with ripe avocado. Top with sliced tomato and a sprinkle of salt and aleppo pepper. Delicious!
Well, I don't use spice mixes very often, so I can't give recommendations on those. I just order from Penzey's every time I find I'm running low on regular spices. You should order what you use most in your everyday cooking - their spices are fabulous, and you will definitely notice the difference.
My basic spice list is:
Black pepper (I get the whole Tellicherry, though I liked the Sarawak as well)
Paprika, hot and sweet
Cloves (whole and ground)
Bay leaves (whole)
Cumin, whole and ground
Yellow mustard powder
White pepper (whole)
Cardomom (whole and ground)
Allspice (ground and whole)
I also keep garlic and onion powders only for use in cooking Paul Prudhomme's recipes.
But that's just me. I like to bake, and I love jerk-type seasonings, so I need the sweet spices. I have Mexican oregano, Ancho chiles, and other such, but I don't cook Mexican often, so those aren't necessities for me. They might be for you. I love Eastern European food, so both paprikas are a must. I dislike anise, and so don't often use star anise or seed anise. You get the idea.
If nothing else, get a big bag of great peppercorns. Your cooking will improve immediately.
I order mostly salt-free blends from penzey's... so I haven't tried some of the blends... but here are my favs.
any of the whole peppercorns
any of the cinnamon
black & red seasoning (black pepper & cayenne)
the tandoori spice is tasty
sunny spain (salt free lemon pepper)
fleur de sel & other sea salts.. all good.
I also like their cocoa powder for baking... haven't tried any of the hot chocolate mixes, etc. but have been curious.
their regular spices & herbs are nice too. we buy the refill bags of the stuff we use the most of. it is quite economical.
enjoy penzey's.. they are great. (though I thought their new magazine was a bit lame... don't order it)
well, I don't know if you've placed your order yet... but they do have "starter" sets. the wedding packs are great... i usually get one for young couples who are starting out.
anyway.. good luck with your penzey's order. you'll love it. and besides, the maintenance re-ordering is a bit easier on the pocket book.