Ah Penzeys, you had me at the Maharajah Curry. It came to me in a little brown gift box, surrounded by fragrant bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg, nestled between the Tandoori Seasoning, Rogan Josh, and Garam Masala. All it took was opening that first jar, taking in the lovely golden color and the spicy sweet aroma and I KNEW- this was something special.
“Wait until you try the cinnamon,” my sister-in-law told me. “There will be no turning back.” She was right.
Penzeys Spices is this lovely little catalog business that has transformed my cooking world. After that first box set of curry, I have been addicted.
The catalog alone is pure culinary wonder. Before I placed my first order I spent days poring over the descriptions of the herbs, salts, spices, mixes- their origins, the ways in which they can be used- it was fascinating. How to choose? Seriously, they are all so good, I don’t have room in my spice cupboard.
Here is a list of my favorite Penzeys Spices and mixes in no particular order. I encourage everyone to try them- they are fantastic.
1. Yes, the Cinnamon is amazing. Penzeys has about 4 different varieties (they devote an entire page in their catalog to them), and they all seem perfectly wonderful. I stick with the Penzeys Cinnamon variety, which is, as they describe it, “Hand-mixed from: China cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, Korintje cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon.” How cool is that?
2. Another essential is their Cumin. As I learned from the catalog, cumin is the world’s second most popular spice, after black pepper. Who knew? Penzeys cumin is fresh and much better than you can get in those little bags in the Mexican section at the grocery store.
3. Family favorite: Fox Point Seasoning. It is a little pricey, but oh my goodness. It is so yummy- it has this lovely mix of shallots, garlic, onion, salt and parsley that will transform your garlic bread into something unbelievable. They describe it as being “good on all the foods we are supposed to be eating more of, from fish to vegetables.” It kind of makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
4. New favorite salt free mix: Mural of Flavor. Penzey’s has a lot of great salt free mixes, and they all have great flavor. We love this mix on popcorn. It is tangy and peppery and delicious.
5. Favorite salad dressing mix: Buttermilk Ranch. Alright, I don’t know if I am alone here, but I have issues with store bought ranch dressings. Most of them have super scary ingredient lists, and I don’t like the creepy creamy texture. I am not really a vinaigrette person- so this is a perfect option. This is a flexible seasoning works well with Greek yogurt or regular mayonnaise, so it is easy to control your ingredients. All of their salad dressing mixes are great- but I love this one. It makes a great dip for veggies too.
6. Chicken soup base. I am too cheap to always go buy the boxes of chicken soup base, but I don’t like the msg stuff you find in bouillon bases. This is a great tasting base, and it lasts a me a long time.
7. Toasted Onions- minced and powdered. My kids don’t love onions- so this gives me the flavor without the yucky texture (I’m not a big squishy onion lover either). The toasted flavor is, well, super deliciously toasty.
8. Greek Seasoning. We love to use this on grilled everything. Veggies, chicken, lamb. It makes dinner a special occasion.
9. Kosher Flake Salt. I love this simple, flaky salt. It has a lot of flavor, so you don’t need to use as much as regular table salt, and has a clean, pure, tangy flavor.
10. Last but not least- their curries. All of them are fantastic. Especially the Maharajah Curry. Mmm….
As they say at Penzeys. Love people. Cook them tasty food.