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Pinch Now At Farmers Markets

We are happy to be participating in the Logan Square and Wicker Park Farmers Markets 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.

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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.






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January shall be Indian spice mix month-Tandoori at the start

We are always hard at work adding new products and creating new blends here at Pinch.  This month we have decided to add some new blends and we will be focusing on creating some Indian spice blends.  Today we began work on a classic mix, Tandoori.  As always we are use the finest spices 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 is Tandoori chicken, which is a made with a marinade of spices and yogurt.  Then it is cooked at high heat on skewers in a tandoor oven.

Our test batch of tandoori spices includes the following organic spices: cayenne, coriander, cumin, black pepper, clove, cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, turmeric, and paprika.  We will be testing it out on some chicken in the coming days, so check back to read about the results.


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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.

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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.



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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.

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Ras El Hanout Part 4: Mission accomplished

After three months of research, testing, tasting and sharing we finally created our own Ras El Hanout.  We have had it on the shelves for the past 2 weeks and it has been a real hit.  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, the Ethiopian Berebere, and we were introduced to many other traditional spice mixes.  So how do we feel now that the Ras El Hanout is finished?

We are 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.  After working so hard on this we are now going to start selling some of our spices blends online, and thus this long road will lead us onto another road.  How very appropriate.

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 we opted to use 26 ingredients.  This takes longer, 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.  Here are a few pictures of the Ras El Hanout as it is blended.  Please come visit us for a taste and look for this to be for sale on line in the coming weeks.

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?

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Ras-El Hanout: Part 3 Testing, testing testing

We have been working extremely hard at our humble little spice shop here in Chicago.  We have made several test batches of our Ras El Hanout and we think it is going to be absolutely epic.  As we researched this spice blend it became apparent that authentic Ras El Hanout is rare at best in the United States.  An authentic version with all organic ingredients may just be something that doesn’t exist.  We have set out to make a masterpiece and that is what we have made.  After our current round of testing we should be putting this into production in the next week or so.

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Ras-El Hanout Part 2: Berbere similar and a little less intimidating

Organic Ethiopian BerberAs I continue working through the rather intimidating Ras-El Hanout, it has become apparent that I might want to get my feet wet before I jump in the ocean.  When we opened Pinch our friend and designer of the fixtures at Pinch, Travis, came in and requested some Ethiopian Berbere. Although we didn’t have it, I promised to figure out a recipe for him.  The berbere is actually very similar to the ras-el hanout in that it combines a rather large list of spices.  So here we are, a perfect spice mix to get my feet wet: Ethiopian Berbere.

A little background on the Berebere:  Berbere is the base of most Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking. If you have ever eaten Ethiopian food, this is a very spicy blend, with a majority of its weight in the form of hot chilies.  Much like the Ras-El Hanout, the Berbere does not have a set recipe.  This is something that individual families, restaurants, spice markets, towns, etc. spin in their own way.  In my research, the key is to develop a balance between the heat of the chili with the aromatic sweetness of the other ingredients.

The process of creating this recipe has really instilled in me a new appreciation for how spices combine.  Whereas our standard Steak , is a simple combination of a few key ingredients, the Berbere’s flavor profile goes all over the place and uses tiny amounts of powerful spices to form a symbiotic relationship and give depth and balance to the mix.  I did a ton of research on the web to hone in on that perfect, authentic recipe.  Rather than focus on the ingredients, I became very conscious of what each ingredient did for an individual recipe.  Then, like any good spice shop purveyor, I took a look at what some of my best items are (yes all of our items are awesome, but you know some are just amazing).  The key to the final recipe was getting the most flavor using small amounts of very strong ingredients, then kicking into spice heaven with a blast of heat.  Here is a picture or two of the blend in process.
Organic Ethiopian BerbereOrganic Ethiopian Berbere

So what did I end up putting in the blend?  Here is a list in order of amount used: cayenne, sea salt, birds chili, chipotle, paprika, fenugreek, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, coriander, cumin, allspice, mace, tumeric, ceylon cinnamon, and clove.  The chilies make up about 2/3 of the overall weight of the rub, so there is some real heat.  Yet the aromatic, and flavorful combination of spices that accompany them standout on their own and have staying power that lasts (with a nice burn).

So now we are proud to offer an authentic and deliciously addictive Ethiopian Berbere.  This is not for the faint of heart, but if you like a touch of heat in your cooking, I am confident you will find some creative ways to use this rub.  So far I have made roasted chicken, spicy scrambled eggs, Ethiopien Berbere BLT’s with avocado, and a spicy Ethiopian Berbere smoke knackwurst.

Next up…I might actually tackle the Ras-El Hanout.