RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Review + Coupon – December 2015
RawSpiceBar is a monthly subscription that sends freshly ground, small batch spice blends and recipes that utilize them.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription: RawSpiceBar
The Cost: $6 per month
COUPON: Use coupon code SPICEFLAVOR to save 50% off your first box!
The Products: 3-4 freshly ground spice blends from one country or region, enough to create 3 dishes serving 6-10 people.
Ships to: US (with free shipping) and Canada (for an additional fee).
Each month, RawSpiceBar sends spices from one region or geographical area. This shipment features spice blends from Norway!
This month’s featured spices are: Gravlax Spices, Winter Herbs, and Gingerbread Spices.
Gravlax Spices- .4 oz.
This blend combines caraway seeds, white peppercorns, and coriander. The recommended recipe is for homemade gravlax, but RawSpiceBar suggests that the blend will also make a great rub for chicken or tofu.
Winter Herbs- .4 oz
This month’s blend of winter herbs pairs well with poultry dishes, pork, veggie soups, and veggie burgers. It’s a blend of tarragon, sage, white peppercorns, thyme, allspice, black peppercorns, garlic, and marjoram.
Gingerbread Spices- .4 oz.
Nothing says winter quite like gingerbread! RawSpiceBar’s blend contains ginger, coriander, mace, cardamom, star anise, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
This month, RawSpiceBar included the following recipes: Nordic Caraway Gravlax, Potato Herb Gratin, and Pepparkakor (Nordic Ginger Cookies).
Every month since I began subscribing to RawSpiceBar, I’ve made the recipes that they print and send along with the spices. This month, I decided to take a slight detour. Partly, I made this decision because I couldn’t find a fish supplier I trust to provide me with high quality fish for the Gravlax. Maybe I’m being overly cautious, but I think in order to cure fish at home it’s important to start with an incredibly fresh filet- maybe sushi-grade, too? (I don’t have a good fish hookup here in DC- if anyone has suggestions please let me know!) I’ve also been curious to check out the additional recipes that RawSpiceBar posts on their blog. So, this month, I decided to give a couple of them a shot! I subbed in Cauliflower Caraway Potato Soup for the Nordic Caraway Gravlax, and I decided to make Gingerbread Pudding instead of the cookies.
Cauliflower Caraway Potato Soup
Soup is one of my favorite winter meals, so I was very excited to try this Nordic spin on creamed cauliflower soup! I began by sautéing an onion in olive oil. While it softened, I chopped potatoes and cauliflower and tossed them with the Gravlax Spices.
When the onion turned translucent, I added these veggies to the pot and cooked them for about 8 minutes. I then added about two cups of vegetable stock and enough milk to cover the vegetables and allowed the pot to simmer until the veggies were soft and starting to break down.
Using an immersion blender, I pureed the soup and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.
I’ve had issues with RawSpiceBar’s printed recipes before, and this online version was marred by similar problems. When I made my shopping list for this meal, I pulled my list of items from the recipe ingredient lists. In this case, the ingredient list included scallions; however, they were nowhere to be found in the actual recipe. So, when it came time to plate the soup, I decided to use the scallions as a garnish. I also topped the soup with a drizzle of olive oil, some shredded parmesan, and a pinch of toasted caraway seeds.
I was a little frustrated that I ended up purchasing an ingredient that I didn’t need for this dish, but my annoyance pretty much melted away when I tasted this soup. It was spectacular! I don’t have a lot of experience cooking with Nordic spices, so, for me, the caraway flavor was unexpected and exotic.
Potato Herb Gratin
Potato Gratin is one of my favorite comfort foods, (this is a regular feature at my family’s Thanksgiving table!) so I couldn’t wait to try this Nordic take.
I began by thinly slicing red potatoes. (The recipe called for purple potatoes, but, sadly, my grocery store didn’t have any in stock.) I blanched them in boiling water, strained them, and allowed them to cool.
I stacked the potatoes in a Pyrex baking dish, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, I mixed together eggs, heavy cream, milk, salt, and RawSpiceBar’s Winter Herbs. I poured this over the potatoes and popped them in the oven. The RawSpiceBar recipe didn’t specify a cooking temperature, so I set the oven at 375.
When the potatoes were cooked through and the egg mixture was set, I took the dish out of the oven. When cool, I plated them.
This dish was another success! The potatoes were rich and creamy, and the winter spices added a fantastic depth of flavor to the dish. This was fantastic served warm from the oven, and it was equally delicious when I ate some cold from the fridge as a late night snack.
I like cookies as much as the next person, but I LOVE bread pudding. I’ve never tried a recipe for gingerbread pudding before, so I couldn’t resist making this dessert. I began by ripping a loaf of French bread into small pieces and toasting them in the oven. While the bread dried out, I combined eggs, evaporated milk, milk, molasses (I used blackstrap), bourbon, vanilla extract, RawSpiceBar’s Gingerbread Spices, golden raisins, candied ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Note: the recipe called for non-fat evaporated milk and non-fat milk, which I found to be a little odd. My grocery store didn’t even have non-fat evaporated milk, so I just used the regular stuff.
When the bread was toasted and cooled, I poured the egg mixture over the top and allowed the bread to sit for about a half hour- long enough to soak it up. When it was absorbed, I transferred the bread pudding to a large loaf pan and baked it at 350 until it puffed up and formed a crust on top.
Instead of making the bourbon sauce, I decided to serve the bread pudding warm with ice cream on top.
I really enjoyed this wintery version of bread pudding, and I thought the spice blend was fantastic.
Given some of the frequent problems with RawSpiceBar’s recipes (typos, missing info, ingredient discrepancies, etc.), I’ve suspected for awhile that at least some of their recipes are taken from other places and (sometimes poorly) adapted. Since this recipe is somewhat unusual, I decided to search for similar recipes online and I found this this nearly idential one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with RawSpiceBar adapting online recipes to suit their needs, but it’s good practice to give a nod to your source recipe. Of course, it’s also important to ensure the adapted recipes are thoroughly proofread and properly edited.
Verdict: I think Norway is a perfect choice for December’s RawSpiceBar, and I had a really great time cooking (and eating!) Nordic dishes. As usual, the spice blends themselves were fantastic, and, as usual, there were were a few issues with the provided recipes. Still, my dishes all turned out wonderfully. Despite the ongoing problems with their recipes, RawSpiceBar is one of my all-time favorite subscriptions. I’d definitely recommend it for adventurous home cooks; however, I’d advise using caution when reading and following the recipes.
What do you think about RawSpiceBar’s Norwegian Box? Did you make the gravlax and cookies? If so, how were they!?