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Sep 14, 2011 08:38 AM

Gift certificate for Penzey's

I was recently given a gift card ($50) for Penzey's Spices. I find if I go to a place like Penzey's without something specific in mind, I'm overwhelmed by the choice and wind up with nothing. So, any recommendations of worthwhile products at Penzey's?

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  1. I like the cinnamons, nutmeg, peppercorns, hot chocolate, cocoas, and the various ground peppers (chipotle, cayenne, ancho, etc.). I also like to get some of the mixs (mural of flavor, greek seasoning, etc.) to sprinkle on grilled veggies and chicken breasts.

    I tend to go crazy when I go to Penzey's and just fill my basket with interesting looking spices. What I've started doing is creating a list when I get their catalog. And when I get to the store STICK TO IT. It has helped.

      1. Besides their basic spices, I really like their Taco Seasoning and Northwoods Seasoning. They also have some nice box sets with selections of their spices and seasonings.

        2 Replies
        1. re: suburban_mom

          I gave the taco seasoning gift box as a wedding gift to a couple who does weekly "taco nights". They loved it.

        2. their cinnamon and peppercorns are outstanding.

          What do you like to cook?

          you can't go wrong with some ground ancho peppers, or some chipotle pepper, in my humble opinion.
          Buy some cumin, buy some herby spice blend (not their cilantro, it's just parsley).
          Think about some saffron.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Chowrin

            Ground chipotle sounds interesting, and like something I would use quite a bit

            1. re: zitronenmadchen

              If you dig heat, aleppo pepper is a mainstay in this household. It's a background warming heat like ancho, but it's a little bit hotter. When I'm building a dish with heat, I always try to layer the heat. Aleppo is an absolute must for a medium, warming, background heat.

              I'll also support the cinnamon - BIG TIME.

              Make sure you sign up for the catalogue so you can get the freebie coupons when you go. My store has catalogs at the register so you can grab the coupon freebie out of it if you want. Not sure if they are all like that. Other mainstays for this household:

              Toasted onion powder

              Talicherry black peppercorns

              granulated garlic

              Bangcock Blend - I use this to add a tiny bit of oomph to stir fry - I'll throw a few good dashes of it in the bottom of a screaming hot wok then build a normal sauce upon it with oyster, sesame oil, garlic, fresh ginger, chili garlic sauce, etc. It just adds a little extra oomph.

              Ground galangal

              I used to like all of their Indian inspired blends (especially rogan josh) until I started shopping at Indian markets and realized how overpriced Penzey's was. But still, Penzey's got me started with Indian food at home.

              Cocoa powder - any of it.

              Dried Dundicuts if you really want to bring the heat with a dried pepper. The pequins are hotter, but they are one note heat. The dundicuts have flavor.

              Northwoods FIRE

              Barbecue of the Americas is one of the two or three rubs I'll actually pay for, but even then, I doctor it up.

              Tuscan sunset for vinaigrette

              Definitely check out what they have online, and make a list!

              Not sure if you use cilantro or not, but don't waste your $ on dried cilantro. It seems like a good idea, but it doesn't work. They are totally flavorless.

              1. re: gordeaux

                second the dundicuts.
                OTHER cilantro works. not penzeys.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  gordeaux, I think you added "a little extra oomph" to "Bangcock Blend" by adding Cs...Sorry, couldn't resist. ;P

                  With you on pretty much all your recommendations, most of which are in this kat's cupboard, too. :) I'm also a huge fan of their cinnamon--my fave is Chinese Cassia--"strong, sweet and spicy."

                  I bake a fair amount and have BIG bottles of their double-strength vanilla and almond extract. I use the vanilla as though it's single-strength. I grab vanilla beans there, too.

                  Really like their French Country Vinaigrette and chili powder (medium, please) as well. I add to my chili spices with their ground chipotle, ancho and epazote.

                  I like that you can buy refill bags to refill your own containers--another bonus.

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Ooh, I didn't know they had allepo pepper! I'll definately add that and cinnamon to my list

                    1. re: zitronenmadchen

                      Did you go shopping yet? Their Chili 9000 powder is excellent, too. I used it the other day to make kicked up Sloppy Joes. It incorporates some "different" things I already add to taco meat (cinnamon and cocoa powder, to name two)...and several others I never imagined (lemon peel, turmeric, coriander, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, star anise, cardamom). Have a sniff when you're in the store!

            2. You could check their online cat before going to the store: