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American Welcome Drink - Pineapple Ginger Cocktail

American Welcome Drink (Pineapple-Ginger Cocktail) by SeasonWithSpice.com

Pineapples and murder?

From prosperity in the East to hospitality in the West, the pineapple is a positive symbol around the world.  But when I was a child, the pineapple symbolized mystery and murder.

The historic and infamous Glensheen Mansion – along the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota – is a trove of pineapples.  Pineapples carved in the woodwork and furnishings.  Pineapples hanging from light fixtures.  Pineapples decorating stairwells and entryways.  Symbols of welcome throughout the eerie 38-room home.

While the pineapples caught my eye as a child, it was the whispers that intrigued me.  A decade earlier, in 1977, a nurse was killed with a candlestick holder as she confronted an intruder on the elaborate, central staircase.  Moments later, the intruder entered a second-floor bedroom and smothered the 83-year old heiress, Elisabeth Congdon, with a pillow from her bed.  A Clue-like event intentionally left out from the tour, but clearly on everyone’s mind.

Luckily, a sinister association of a child’s imagination is only temporary.

Sweet bali pineapple (Malaysian pineapple) on SeasonWithSpice.com

Seeing pineapples of all different shapes and colors in Penang during Chinese New Year – representing a prosperous future – is a reminder of the powerful symbol of the fruit.

Smoked Salmon Salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing

Smoked Salmon Salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

Whip up a tart, tangy, savory, salty, sweet, homemade ponzu sauce for your summer dishes!

Ponzu sauce pairs so well with the flavor of smoked salmon. It’s a combination I’ve been using often during these steamy July days when I still want to make a satisfying, healthy meal at home without having to stand over the heat of the stove.

A favorite is this Smoked Salmon Salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing.

Homemade ponzu sauce dressing recipe with Japanese Chili Flakes by SeasonWithSpice.com

Ponzu is a Japanese citrus-based sauce that adds a dynamic punch of flavor to salads, marinades, and dipping sauces. You can buy a pre-made ponzu sauce, but for a healthier, tastier version, try making it at home. 

The ingredients in ponzu can vary, but start with a good base and then make it your own. Here are a few tips:

  • If available, add in the juice from yuzu or sudachi (popular Japanese citrus fruits). I usually keep it simple and just use lemon & lime as a quick alternative.
  • Add in rice vinegar, an essential ingredient. 
  • For sweetness, add in mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine). As an alternative, you can use sake – or white wine or dry sherry – along with a bit of sugar.
  • Traditional ponzu will usually include a fish and/or seaweed flavoring. You can omit the flavor for a lighter, more versatile sauce. If you want that stronger umami taste, add in some dashi stock, or a little fish sauce.
  • Ponzu can be made with or without soy sauce. I make both versions based on the dish I will be using it for. Try leaving it out for a simple salad dressing, and adding it in for a marinade or dipping sauce.

When you have your base ponzu sauce, add in a few more favorites – try olive oil, toasted sesame oil, honey, and Japanese chili flakes (Ichimi Togarashi).

Korean BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Korean BBQ Chicken recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

The lettuce was ready. The veggie toppings were too. But this Korean BBQ Chicken never made it onto the wrap. Mark started tasting, then eating. Lunch was late as usual on photo shoot days, so I joined in the feast too. Once the sticky, tantalizingly sweet & savory glaze was on my fingers, there was no turning back. The grilled chicken was gone, and the lens cap was still on.

Oh well, there was always tomorrow. So on the next day, shortly after a big breakfast, I made the same lunch again, but this time, yummy Korean-style BBQ chicken wrapped in fresh butter lettuce leaves.

Korean BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Whether you eat ’em as is, in lettuce wraps, in flat bread, or with a side of rice, this delicious Korean-style BBQ chicken is a fun meal for the family or for a small get-together on a summer evening.  Or to enjoy all to yourself if you're on a low carb or paelo diet.

To prepare, it’s an easy marinade made with our spicy, garlicky Korean BBQ Blend, fresh lemon juice, honey and/or maple syrup, and finally, a few essential Asian sauces – soy sauce, mirin (or rice wine), and toasted sesame oil.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad with Sumac by SeasonWithSpice.com

When it’s just too hot to cook like today in Minnesota, I had an Avocado Matcha Smoothie for breakfast, and then avoided the stove for lunch by putting a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) to good use in this Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad – spiced with smoked Spanish paprika & sumac berry powder.

Japanese Curry Powder (New Blend) + Japanese Chicken Curry Recipe

Japanese Chicken Curry recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Japanese curry is the ultimate comfort dish. It’s thickened with a creamy mix of butter & flour. Sweetened with caramelized onions, freshly grated apple, and chunks of carrot. And spiced with a rich blend of warming curry flavors like cumin & cardamom, and bay leaf & clove. The latter giving the curry its distinctly stew-like aroma and taste.

That’s homemade Japanese curry.  And like all curries, it’s best made from scratch.

Japanese Chicken Curry by SeasonWithSpice.com

I was first introduced to the alternative – boxed Japanese curry sauce – by two Japanese friends when I visited them at their University in Osaka many years ago. It was late the first night, so we walked over to 7-Eleven (a Japanese institution), picked up the boxed sauce, went back to the dorm, heated it up, and ate it with rice. It had that familiar stew aroma. But it was over spiced and over salted, with a very glutinous texture. It was dorm food, I thought at the time, and pretty tasty for a late night meal.

Looking now at the long list of ingredients - including MSG, palm oil, artificial flavors and preservatives – my initial thoughts of the boxed sauce made complete sense.

It wasn’t until Reese & I started cooking up Japanese curry at home – using only natural ingredients and our special blend of Japanese curry powder – that we truly appreciated this popular Japanese dish.

Japanese Curry Powder available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Our new, handcrafted Japanese Curry Powder is a balance of warm, sweet, peppery flavors. Coriander, cumin, and turmeric form the base. Then black pepper and chili for a mild heat. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, and a few more spices to sweeten the aroma. And finally, and most importantly, bay leaf & thyme to bring depth and warmth to the blend.

Curried Tomato Rice

Curried Tomato Rice by SeasonWithSpice.com

Before the large, juicy, garden tomatoes take over our kitchen counters in late summer, we have the baby-sized cherry tomatoes in season right now, popping up in pints as we scramble to put them to good use before they spoil.

They’re easy to throw into salads of course, and pasta dishes. And I love to use them as the main ingredient in this Curried Tomato Rice.

cherry tomatoes in white bowl

Similar to rice pilaf or Spanish rice, this Curried Tomato Rice is an easy one-pot rice dish that’s great for a summer gathering, or a weeknight dinner with the family.

Simply flavor it with our handcrafted Sweet Curry Powder. The blend adds a wonderful depth and a nice golden hue to the cherry tomato rice.

Asian-style Cabbage-Fennel Coleslaw

Asian-style Cabbage-Fennel Coleslaw recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

I hope everyone is taking a much needed day off this Saturday to celebrate 4th of July with your loved ones! We are opening the walk-in store earlier (8.30am), so we can take off at noon for the holiday. We will be grilling by the lake with the family, filling up on all the tasty BBQ meats that we can never cook up at home without setting the smoke alarms off.

It’s hard to resist whatever is sizzling and smoking on the grill. But save some room on your plate for a refreshingly tart and sweet coleslaw like this Asian-style Cabbage-Fennel Coleslaw.