I love to buy whole spices when they are available and toast and grind them myself. There’s nothing quite so wonderful as toasting a cinnamon stick, snapping it into pieces and whizzing it up in my coffee grinder and inhaling a super potent, fresh and spicy cinnamon cloud.
A while back I started making my own blends of herbs and spices (see my KFC chicken, Mixed Spice, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Curry Paste for more evidence) and I really love it.
It’s chance to personalise spice blends to your own taste as well as getting lots more flavour than from a dried up little supermarket sachet or jar. My Italian Seasoning is the latest experiment and I’ve got loads of recipes coming up for you to use it in, so Pin this post and get a big batch ground up today!
When I think of Italian food, the flavours which come to mind are oregano, basil, fennel, red chilli and rosemary. Imagine a pizza without a sprinkling of oregano, pesto without basil (sacrilege!), pasta alla aglio, olio e peperoncini wwithout flecks of red chilli or my version with extra prawns.
Italian sausages and porchetta would not be the same without fennel and my favourite focaccia of all time is rosemary and sea salt sprinkled. You’ll find all of this bar the basil which is best left to be used fresh, plus a few other magic ingredients in my Italian Seasoning. I’ve used long pepper which is the long catkin shaped spices in the photograph which have an extra special spiciness to them but you can use black peppercorns instead.
The addition of just a little cumin and coriander gives grounding to the flavour profile, a little earthiness against the dried but fragrant herbs. All in all, this spice blend has become one of my spice drawer essentials and I’m quite sure you’ll love it too. Watch this space for recipes on how you can use it but for now, why not try rubbing a chicken with it before roasting? Let me know how you use it.
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 4 whole dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
Lightly toast the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red chillies in a pan over medium heat for a minute or two until fragrant.
Tip into a bowl and allow to cool.
Mix in the remaining herbs and bay leaves then pulse in a coffee grinder (or the nut and seed mill of a Bamix) until finely processed. You will need to do this in batches.
When done, whisk well and sift to ensure all the spices are well mixed and store in a small jar spice jar or tupperware pot.
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Dear Jo Just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoy your blog & have tried many recipes which have been big hits.
KFC must be the biggest hit but you never let me down with anything I’ve tried.
Thanks for all including the newsletter.
That’s so wonderful to hear, thank you Karen – for taking the time to comment and the try my recipes out. I’m delighted they’ve been so successful for you 🙂 xxx
I love the idea of blending all the everyday Italian spices into one Italian Spice blend. What a clever idea. Looks delicious.
Love this idea! I have never tried blending my own spices. I really would love to take a class on spices. I feel like there is so much I could learn.
Oh you should give it a whirl Bella, it’s so good to be able to personalise them to your own preferences. Indian food is a great place to experiment with spice and there are certainly classes for that here in the UK 🙂
Mmmmm….. this would definitely get a lot of use in my house!
I use Italian seasoning all the time, and I’d probably use it even more if I made my own. This looks like a fantastic blend! I especially like the fennel and red chillies in there.
The fennel and the chilli makes it for me Tracy – this is a great all purpose seasoning to have in the cupboard 🙂
I’m with you on making your own herb and spice blends. I love dry roasting them, fills the house with great aromas. I love your blend, all the classics.
Jo, what are the black, long thingies for spice?
They are long pepper Ann – black peppercorns are just fine but these long “catkins” are a less common version. They have quite a fruity spiciness to them. Ordinary black pepper is just fine here!
wow, never saw these before. I will check for them next month in London when I go for the Dan Lepard bread course 🙂
You’ll have to head to The Spice Shop in Blenheim Crescent Ann. And of course Books for Cooks and Ottolenghi whilst you’re there!
On my list Jo 🙂 thank you.
Nopi is booked (when I will be over later in October) and Honey &Co is on my list to visit. We’ll see how much time I have…
I bought that special pepper.how many should I use for this recipe Jodie?
Hi Ann – I just use a tbsp as per ordinary black peppercorns. You may want to round the measure out as they won’t fit so neatly into a tbsp or crack them up a bit before you measure x