I don’t cook. I mean, I can… I just don’t like to. People ask me all the time why I refuse to make fun new dishes. Here’s the thing… I’m a super picky eater and with that comes the disadvantage of not knowing what spices go with what “interesting” dishes. All of my dishes (sadly) are made with garlic salt, pepper, and lemon. My sister once told me to use paprika… sure, that’s great and all, but HOW?!
It’s as if the cooking gods answered my (and my hub’s) cries for help. Spice Madam is exactly what I’ve been needing my entire adult life. A box of various spices, recipes, and a shopping list for everything I need specific to a country. Did someone say interesting dishes? This is not your mom’s meatloaf recipe (do people really make meatloaf or is it just on TV?).
This woman-owned Dallas-based company gave me the tools to throw the most epic dinner party. Each month, I can receive a Spice Madam box with spices and information from a different country! I was SO excited to receive the Portugal box. In 2012, I visited Portugal and it was one of most incredible places I have ever experienced. The food was amazing and beyond that, the bakeries… O.M.G. Portugal’s baked goodies are from a different planet. I could have tried to smuggle that stuff back… but you know customs and all.
Aside from the spices, recipes (vegan options included for my animal-loving friends), and shopping list, the box includes a card with information about the country the spices are from. The Portugal box even included a link to a Portuguese music playlist… are you kidding me?! Talk about getting in the right mood while cooking.
Since I missed the Portuguese pastries so much, I decided to start by making the Bolashas De Espece (Portuguese horseshoe cookies). Aside from the Portuguese Anise spice included in the Spice Madam box, the other ingredients were everyday things I already had at home like flour, sugar, salt, butter, and eggs. The steps for both the pastry dough and the filling were very detailed, making it easy even for a rookie like me. Oh, and the pastry I made is a local specialty from the island of San Jorge -- yep, info included in the box.
The other recipes were really interesting like Ervilhas Guisadas (braised peas with eggs), Arroz de Marisco (seafood rice), Porco a Alentejana (braised pork and clams), and Folar da Pascoa (Portuguese Easter bread). I can’t wait to attempt these, too.
After the short prep, I tossed the horseshoe-shaped babies in the oven and decided to do a little more research on Spice Madam. The company gives back in so many ways. With every box purchased, Spice Madam gives back proceeds to non-profits that impact youth education. Also, they hire refugees to offer them an opportunity to work. Currently, they are partnered with Cafe Momentum, a Dallas-based restaurant and training facility where some of the community’s most at-risk youth can have their lives transformed with life skills, education, and employment opportunities. I love this!
So my Bolashas de Espece didn’t look exactly like they were supposed to, but they were still SO delicious. I couldn’t believe I made it all from scratch.
Spice Madam is shipped out the second week of every month and each box includes 3-4 spice packets. When I used the Anise spice for the pastries, it barely made a dent on the packet… so I can definitely use the spice again and again. Or, if you just want one box, you can order them separately, as well. Spice Madam perfected how to take someone on a culinary adventure and it is definitely a busy person’s dream.