Posted on

Za’atar Hummus Recipe

I was so excited to be on WCIU this morning for the You & Me This Morning show.  I always enjoy getting to highlight my love of spices and all things delicious.  If you didn’t get to see the show, I was asked by Meaghan Thomas, creator of, to come on and talk about giardieniera with Melissa and Jeanne.  It seemed a little much to try and eat giant Italian beef sandwiches on a morning show, and we didn’t think just tasting straight giardiniera would be all thatfun, so we decided to make some homemade hummus to talk about spice profiles. Hummus is one of my favorite dishes that is so easy to make at home (and when you make it fresh, it’s so much better than store-bought brands).

For this recipe you will need a blender, or food processor.  I guess you could do this with a mortar and pestle, but that seems like a bit too much work.  Here’s what you will need to grab from the store:

  • 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic or a teaspoon of minced garlic (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • about a tablespoon or 2 of Za’atar Spice Blend

Of course I like to recommend Pinch Spices in our blog, but you certainly can use what ever you have on hand.  In this case we used our very own Za’atar blend, that has sumac, thyme, marjoram, and sesame seeds.  We also love making hummus with our Buffy’s Slayer Helper or our Humboldt Sazon.

Ok, enough with the spices, let’s get back to the hummus.  So to get started drain and rinse the chickpeas.  It is definitely worth the time to take the skin off the chickpeas.  This is really pretty easy and takes about 10 minutes to go through a can.  Simply pinch the skin and the bean will pop out.  I do this over a separate bowl and discard the skins.

Now we want to get out our blender or processor going.  First add the tahini and lemon juice and blend for 45 seconds.  It will get really thick and creamy, and will smell absolutely divine.  If you are adding garlic, now would be a good time to do so. Now we add about half the chickpeas and blend until smooth, drizzle in half the oil and blend for 5 seconds.  Now add the rest of the chickpeas and blend, finally add the rest of the olive oil and blend until smooth.  Wow….you just made hummus.

At this point I add the Za’atar or what ever spice I am using and stir with a spoon.  This is ready to serve, but will stay fresh covered in the fridge for a week or so.  For all of our giardiniera fans this is great served on a cracker with your favorite giardiniera on top.  Need some help picking out the perfect giardiniera, why not pop over to and check out their awesome list of giardinieras available both locally and nationally.

Posted on

Jamaican Jerk Tacos Two Way

One of the most common questions I get from our customers is, “Can this be used to make vegetarian food?”, or “What’s good on, say, chicken or beef?”.  So I thought it would be fun to start showing off how versatile our blends our.  In this month’s installment of the Two Way Recipe we are going to make a super simple and extremely easy dish,  Jamaican Jerk Tacos Two Ways. P1030652

Who doesn’t love Caribbean cuisine?  You get a great mix of sweet and savory with a nice blast of heat.  When I made this dish for a vegetarian friend, she exclaimed that she had never had jerk before.  At first I was kind of shocked, but then it dawned on me that the most common jerk dishes are made with some form of animal protein.  If a few vegetarians get to taste the magic that is jerk spice because of this recipe, then I will be one happy spice guy.  Regardless, this is such an easy method, I feel that everyone can enjoy some delicious jerk tacos.  Lets get started…


Your going to need some Jerk Seasoning.  I recommend our authentic jamaican jerk rub, available for purchase in our shop, or of course you can use what ever you have.  Seriously though, our Jerk is pretty frigging awesome!!! Just check out the list of organic ingredients we use in our hand made jerk rub (brown sugar, sea salt, onion, black pepper, garlic, bird’s eye chili, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, galangal, thyme, clove, and nutmeg). You are also going to need a little citrus, such as orange, lemon, lime, or pineapple juice, and a touch of soy sauce.  Finally you will want all the things you like on tacos.  In this case we chose; chicken and mushrooms as our base, and pickled onions, avocado, cilantro, and corn tortillas.  Lets make some tacos….


This is the process for the mushroom tacos, but the method is exactly the same for the chicken tacos.  You will want to do this prep at least a few hours before you are going to cook, but overnight is best.  Here you can see we have chopped up the mushrooms and added a generous dose of jerk mix.  This is a fairly spicy concoction and the more you use the hotter it will be.  For 12oz. of mushrooms you are looking at a heaping spoonful of rub.  Now we add a tablespoon of soy and a table spoon of citrus.  I used fresh squeezed orange juice in this case.  Below you will see the mushrooms ready for a nap in the fridge and also the chicken after the same treatment.




After marinating you are ready to make some tacos.  I sure was.  You are going to want to get a pan sizzling hot and add a little cooking oil.  Since everything is chopped up it is going to cook fast, and I like to get a nice sear on mine.


Both the mushrooms and the chicken will cook rapidly.  You can stir them around a bit to get even cooking.  Make sure to use separate pans and separate stirring apparatus for each if you are cooking for people with different dietary desires.


Once everything is finished cooking, you are going to want to get some tortillas ready and get your tummy ready for delicious taco time.


Now you just need to fix up the tacos with your favorite toppings and enjoy with a few friends.  Here is the chicken taco all dressed up.


And for my poor friend who has waited far to long in life to enjoy the magic of Jamaican Jerk, I present jerk mushroom tacos.  Her first comment was that she wasn’t going to waste space with beans.

Jerk Mushroom

Thanks for checking this out.  I am going to continue this series, and will have a new “two way” sometime next month.  Please feel free to comment or send us a message (  if you need some tips, have a question, or just want to say hi.

Your friend in flavor,


Posted on

Pinch: Chicago Farmers Market Schedules (2014)

UPDATE: As of late 2017, Pinch is no longer attending Farmer’s markets. While we’ve had a blast and have loved our time at each market, we are going 100% online so we can help more people around the country and world get the highest quality spices they want and need.

We look forward to serving you online and delivering the best spices in the world to your doorstep! (We also look forward to attending local farmer’s markets as just regular ol’ people who like to cook, so maybe we’ll see you there in passing!)

2014: We’re happy to be participating in the Logan Square and Wicker Park Farmer’s Market on Sundays in Chicago this year on alternating weekends for the summer season. We accept pre-orders by email or through our web store for pickup at the markets until Saturdays at noon.

Logan Square: 5/18, 6/1, 6/15, 6/29, 7/13, 7/27, 8/10, 8/24, 9/7, 9/21, 10/5, 10/19.

Wicker Park: 5/25, 6/8, 7/6, 7/20, 8/3, 8/17, 8/31, 9/14, 9/28, 10/12, 10/26

Have a great Summer and we hope to see you out at the markets!

Posted on

Pinch Spice Market Online ~ Get Fresh Organic Spices Delivered to Your Door!

We’re an online organic spice shop! We ship all over the USA, and can ship internationally in most cases. Browse our organic, fairtrade spices online here!

organic spices online

Learn more about Pinch Spice Market and our journey.

2013 Update: Pinch has some news of change to share with our customers and friends. We are closing our Bucktown brick and mortar retail location and continuing our spice business through online orders and deliveries. We are so thankful for the last two years being in the beautiful Chicago neighborhood of Bucktown.

We’re at a place where we want to keep prices as low as possible while still offering the highest quality, freshest spices from the best local farms on the planet. We can continue to do that by getting rid of the expensive Chicago retail roof over our heads. We will still have our spice kitchen/lab where we make our small batch blends of course, but that is closed to the public at this time.

It was a pleasure meeting all and sharing the highest quality spice blends and organic herbs and spices with you. We will miss you and our beautiful shop, but we look forward to continuing to serve your spice needs online!

Please stop by our shop before the end of the year and let’s chat about how we can make sure to continue to serve your spice needs in 2014 and beyond.

Thank you for your trust and business, and blessings for 2014!

Keep in touch on Facebook
See you on Instagram! 
Connect with us on Twitter



Posted on

Pinch Charcuterie-Pastrami

About a week ago we acquired a nice 13 pound beef brisket. In the summer I really enjoy doing Texas style brisket, but winter is perfect for making pastrami.

Pastrami uses time tested old world curing techniques and produces some of the best deli meat you will ever experience.  It is a fairly uncomplicated process, it also happens to be a great place to show case some of our amazing organic spices.

To start, we made a brine with our in house pickling spice, sea salt, sugar, and some curing salt.  Then we put the brisket and brine in a 5 gallon bucket, topped it up with water and stored it on a back porch for 6 days.  Pictured below is the pastrami coming out of the brine.

At this point we rinsed the brine off and did a couple cold water soaks to get any excess salt out.  We let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to dry out.

The crust on a pastrami in its simplest form is ground black pepper and crushed coriander.  We also added just a hint of onion granules to this mix and rubbed it all over the pastrami.  We let this sit overnight to dry out a bit more and to help evenly distribute all the delicious flavor.

What really sets pastrami apart from corned beef is the smoking process.  At this point we put it on a smoker to cook for 6 hours.  You want the pastrami to hit about 150 degrees internal temperature.  Here are a couple pictures of this process.


We used a mix of oak and charcoal for the smoker.  Temperature was about 20 degrees out and the smoker ran at about 220 degrees.  When it was done we let it rest on the counter for a few hours and then refrigerated it over night.  Here is a shot when we cut it in half right before putting it in the fridge.

The final and most gratifying aspect of this process was making a lunch of reuben sandwiches for some good friends.






Posted on

Indian spice month -Tandoori to begin!

UPDATE: Over the years, we’ve perfected our authentic and traditional Tandoori spice. We’re proud to say it’s become one of our fastest selling blends!

tandoori high quality organic spices

Creating the Perfect Blend

We’re always hard at work creating new blends with all the fresh, organic and fair trade spices we source here at Pinch.  This month we’re creating new blends focusing on authentic Indian spice blends.

India is a huge country with plants and flowers that produce amazing herbs and spices. The flavors vary widely and that’s one reason why we love to create India blends. There’s something for everyone.

Tandoori, a Traditional Indian Flavor Everyone Knows and Loves

Today we began work on a classic mix, Tandoori.  As always, we are using the finest spices we source directly (and fairly) from farmers to create these blends.

Tandoori is a cooking technique that uses high heat in clay ovens.  The ovens are used to create delicious flat breads like naan and meats similar to American BBQ.

One classic dish many people love is Tandoori chicken, which is a made with a marinade of spices and yogurt, then cooked at high heat on skewers in a tandoor oven.

Our special batch of tandoori spices includes the following organic spices:

We will be testing it out on some chicken soon and working to perfect it. When it comes to making authentic Indian blends, it can take years to find the perfect flavor profiles and combinations, and source the perfect, freshest spices from India. We’re in it to win and we’re dedicated to making the best Tandoori out there!

Posted on

Stunning reclaimed wood furniture at Pinch

We recently had a show at our shop with local artisan, Rob Christopher. Rob is the owner operator of Emotive Reclaim , and he specializes in taking reclaimed wood and turning it into beautiful pieces of furniture.  The show was a great success, and Rob decided to let us hold on to a couple of his pieces.  Come on by the shop to check them out, as the photos below do them no justice.

Posted on

Awesome Handcrafted Cutting Boards and Spice Racks

We are now offering handcrafted hardwood spice racks and cutting boards at our retail shop and soon on our online store.  Both the racks and the boards are produced locally in Chicago and were constructed with reclaimed wood.

The spice racks were designed by Rob Christopher and were built with 200 year old reclaimed barn wood.  We are excited to be working with Rob, as he brings a creative vision and high level of old world craftsmanship to our shop.  We will be working together to bring a variety of custom functional wood work to our customers.

The cutting boards were a collaboration project between Pinch Spice Market and Attrill Woodworking.  Back in July we went down to a friends farm in Indiana to mill an old log of white oak that had fallen in a storm years ago.  We also had the opportunity to bring back some scrap black walnut.  We have begun to produce hardwood cutting boards in small batches.  These boards are beyond description and are like nothing available at your local megamart or online retailer.  We will also be producing handmade pepper and salt mills in the coming months.

Come on over to our humble little spice shop and check them out.  You will not be disappointed.  We are also capable of making custom racks and boards so feel free to inquire about your dream spice rack or the most amazing cutting board you ever imagined.



Posted on

Event-Spices as Food and Medicine

Join us on Saturday for this educational event.

Spices as Food and Medicine

Saturday, October 6th – 3 PM

Join Doctors of Tibetan Medicine, Monika Budáčová and Todd Marek, on Saturday, October, 6th at 3PM at Pinch Spice Market for a general introduction to the theory of Tibetan Medicine and the use of spices, common and uncommon, as remedies and preventatives for common ailments. We will briefly introduce the practice of Traditional Tibetan Medicine and its foundational theories of the 5 elements, the 3 nyepas (sometimes translated as humors), and the six tastes. From there we will discuss the medical uses of 12 spices in medical formulas, food, and as simple home remedies.

Pinch Spice Market
1913 N Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60647

Visit the Sha Chung Healing Group website for more information about Tibetan Medicine and our practitioners.

Posted on

The Making of Ras El Hanout – Part 4: Mission Accomplished!

This post is part of a series. See our first step to making Ras El Hanout here, the second step (making Berbere) here, and the third step of ingredients and testing here.

After months of research, testing, tasting and sharing we are proud to release our new Ras El Hanout spice blend! It’s just been on the shelves for two weeks, but so far it’s a big hit, especially with folks familiar with this complex blend. We are humbled and honored to receive that feedback!

authentic ras el hanout spice

As we set out to create this mix it seemed to be a daunting task and at one point it felt almost impossible.  Along the journey we created another very traditional blend, Ethiopian Berebere, and we were introduced to many other traditional spice mixes.

We’re very proud of this organic spice mix that takes some of our more rare organic spices and showcases them in a rich tapestry of flavor.  Our customers have been over joyed to take home a jar and start cooking with this most traditional of spice blends.

This process has also solidified our commitment to making our blends authentic.  Where as we could have made the Ras El Hanout with 10 ingredients, like some other spice companies do, we opted to use 26 ingredients to really get to the deep, authentic richness this spice blend deserves.

This takes longer to make of course, and requires a ton more testing, but the final product speaks for itself.  Beyond this, it gives our customers the chance to experience our blends as though they were in the countries in which they have been traditionally used.

So what do you do with this amazing stuff?  One of the easiest and most fulfilling uses is to simply mix it in with rice. This will add a very nice floral aroma to the rice and give it a huge flavor boost.  Best part is when you add the Ras El Hanout you will probably find it unnecessary to add any salt.  Did we mention that the Ras El Hanout is completely salt free as well?