Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye Roast


Coffee Rubbed Ribeye Roast by My Little Jar of Spices

This is a little awkward, the last recipe I posted was in February. I almost feel like a stranger on my own blog. Long time no see blog! The reason why I haven’t been posting lately is that I have been pretty overwhelmed with work. In fact I was traveling last week for a study on small-farmer Peruvian coffee cooperatives that produce and export organic and fair trade coffee to the US. Hey, maybe you’re sipping on a cup of freshly brewed Green Mountain coffee right now? Well I met some of your suppliers! Our objective was to study how connecting coffee smallholder farmers to international markets produced positive socio-economic impacts in the region and for the farmers of the cooperatives. Amazing experience in an absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking region (San Ignacio, Peru) named one of the best in the world for coffee; and for the first time in my life, I participated in a coffee-tasting. It’s kind of like wine-tasting, and believe me it’s serious business. They do it in a lab and test everything from aroma to flavor, uniformity, body. And you got to love the vocabulary of any specialty product-tasting profession when they discuss the results of each sample. Me: “slurp. Hmmm, wow, that’s some tasty coffee, batch number two seems stronger than batch number one, wouldn’t you say?”. The lab tester: “you’re right, batch number two was a little syrupy, with notes of aromatic cinnamon in cup, along with hints of mandarine acidity and quite lively on the palate”. Me: “…………yes, totally what I meant”.

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Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Thyme, Honey & Dijon Glazed Chicken Drumsticks by My Little Jar of Spices

I had an interesting experience today. My yoga instructor and his wife invited me to spend the day with them and their kids. We went on a lovely hike in Otuzco, about twenty minutes outside of Cajamarca where there are beautiful ruins, a river and a couple of farms, and then back to their house for lunch. They are vegetarians. While I have nothing but profound respect for anyone’s dietary preferences and choices, vegetarianism is always problematic given my own diet choices. Case in point: on the menu – whole wheat soup, peppers stuffed with rice, sweet potatoes, corn cobs and fruit, homemade mango ice-cream and quinoa-oatmeal cookies for dessert. A seemingly perfectly healthy lunch, but the total absence of fat or protein and the abundance of carb-dense vegetables and grains took me aback. In fact, 100% of the food on the plate was carbs, and what’s more, I completely forgot that this is what almost all of my meals used to look like before. Aside from the wheat soup and cookies, I ate everything else. I steer clear of gluten as a non-negotiable principle because even very small amounts can prevent your gut lining from repairing and keep your symptoms going. But on the other hand, I’m at a place where I feel that my digestive health is good and I have a pretty squeaky clean paleo lifestyle the rest of the time that I don’t need to freak out about the occasional small portion of grains, sugar or dairy as much as I used to. There are moments when it just seems senseless to reject delicious food that people have prepared for you because you follow a grain-free diet, and one carb-dense vegetarian meal with whole grains will not kill you or “screw up” everything you’ve been following. I can completely feel the effects of eating a bit of rice and milk ice-cream on my body though, which confirms that this can only be on an exceptional basis. My stomach has not been in a happy place all afternoon, rumbling, struggling and grumbling and trying to recognize how the hell all this rice got here. It’s ok, it was a delightful day, and I realized I’m almost never around children so this was a pleasant change of routine. Continue reading

Brazilian Carne Seca – and a Top 5 Must-try of Brazilian Cuisine


Brazilian Carne Seca - only 5 ingredients!

Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t posted in forever… well, it’s *only* been 10 days. This is how I know I’m completely hooked on blogging. Life is just not as sweet without it. But I’ve been crazy busy with some very exciting work projects lately, and as a result I have completely and utterly abandoned the kitchen. I barely even know what’s in the fridge these days and have been eating sardines and almond butter for dinner since Sunday. Gasp. It’s completely disorienting. I feel bad, I haven’t even had time to make Freddy a breakfast bread like I usually do every week and he’s one day away from falling back into the comforting arms of gluten.

So I’m here to make amends, with a post I’ve been meaning to write up for a long time now on the quintessential ingredients and foods of Brazil – the Must-tries if you will -, and depending on my inspiration, I might make it a monthly series. So let’s talk about Brazilian gastronomy a little. After a year and a half or so of living here, I have got a pretty good vibe of what the customs around food are here and what the typical ingredients are. Here’s the top 5 of foods and ingredients you just cannot miss on if you are in Brazil or just want to have some fun trying out Brazilian gastronomy. Continue reading

Perfect Espelette Chili Sirloin Steak

steak asparagus

Paris mon amour! It feels so wonderful to be back in France for one month, you really appreciate a place once you’ve been far away from it. And concerning French gastronomy, I feel like I’m discovering it for the first time. Or more accurately, I probably took most of the flavors in French cooking for granted and had never felt much curiousity towards them, but having lived in Brazil for one year, I suddenly realized all the ingredients that I really missed on a daily basis. Like raspberries, which believe it or not are impossible to find in Brazil, or good and inexpensive dark chocolate, or spices and condiments like Herbes de Provence, Dijon Mustard and Piment d’Espelette. Espelette Chili is a variety of chili pepper cultivated in the South of France in the Basque Region that I loved to use to flavor everything, from meats and dips to salad dressings and soups, because it’s spicy but not so hot to the point that it will numb your mouth and deprive you of actually enjoying the flavor of the food, and it’s delightful because it brings a slightly roasted flavor to anything you add it to.  Continue reading