Liven Up Your Cooking with The Spice Lab

Grilled bread with cheese, tomatoes and basil that gets a generous sprinkling of The Spice Lab's Pizza Dust Seasoning.
Grilled bread with cheese, tomatoes and basil that gets a generous sprinkling of The Spice Lab’s Pizza Dust Seasoning.

How to make a simple slice of grilled bread taste like actual pizza?

Just shake on a generous amount of The Spice Lab’s Pizza Dust Seasoning.

Close your eyes, take a bite, and you’ll taste the sweetness of tomato, the pungency of garlic, a kiss of anise from fennel, a hit of warm spice from Aleppo pepper, and a subtle bread-y note from yeast flakes. In short, a close approximation to your favorite sausage pizza.

Based in Pompano Beach, FL, The Spice Lab is a family-owned business that turns out award-winning sea salts and unique seasoning blends that are all natural and kosher certified, with a good many of them gluten-free. The company, housed in a sweeping 125,000-square-foot facility, also makes custom blends, including the Nom Nom Paleo seasoning powders for best-selling cookbook author Michelle Tam.

The Spice Lab’s chef-in-residence Fiona Kennedy recently reached out to send samples for me to try.

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Dining At Mustards Grill

Flowering artichokes in the garden at Mustards Grill.
Flowering artichokes in the garden at Mustards Grill.

It’s a massive achievement for a restaurant to endure long enough to celebrate 41 years in business.

It’s even more impressive when that restaurant continues to draw crowds day in and day out of both locals and visitors alike.

Mustards Grill in Napa is that restaurant.

Chef-Owner Cindy Pawlcyn opened her restaurant in 1983, naming it for the brilliant yellow wild mustard flowers that bloom all over the Napa Valley in spring. It didn’t take long for it to turn into one of the valley’s first destination restaurants.

So, when I found out my husband had never dined there, I was flabbergasted. That omission was remedied last week when we were headed to Napa, armed with a reservation at Mustards.

The ever-popular mountain of onion rings.
The ever-popular mountain of onion rings.

We dined on a Tuesday night. But you would have sworn it was a Saturday evening, as the dining room was packed, with even a couple parties waiting outside in hopes that a table would open up soon.

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Jamming on Jamaretti Cookies

A play on the classic thumbprint cookie.
A play on the classic thumbprint cookie.

As a kid, life sure seemed to move at a languid pace. Summer vacation seemed never-ending. Our favorite holidays seemed to take forever to come around.

Not so as an adult.

Life now seems to whoosh by at Millennium Falcon hyper speed, making us ever grateful for all the shortcuts and time-saving tips we can get.

Enter “Jamaretti” cookies from Martha Stewart.

You know those classic jam-filled thumbprint cookies you made as a kid, rolling balls of dough one by one, then pressing your thumb into each one before spooning jam into every single crevice? Yeah, those ones.

Well, this recipe streamlines that process by making these cookies more like biscotti.

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Hawaiian-Style Lemongrass Adobo Grilled Chicken With Pineapple

Savor a taste of Hawaii -- in the comfort of your own backyard.
Savor a taste of Hawaii — in the comfort of your own backyard.

If you’re braving the record-setting crowds to fly off to some tropical paradise this Fourth of July, more power to you.

Me? I’ll be mellowing out at home instead, and creating my own sunny island feast with “Lemongrass Adobo Grilled Chicken With Pineapple.”

Marinate the chicken overnight with plenty of fresh ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and adobo seasoning. When ready to eat, fire up the grill to cook the flavorful chicken plus juicy sweet rings of pineapple. Then, sit back and enjoy.

This easy recipe is from “Islas” (Chronicle Books, 2023), of which I received a review copy.

It was written by Von Diaz, an Emmy Award-winning documentarian, food historian and food writer who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, GA.

A celebration of tropical cuisines, this cookbook is all about summer cooking from beginning to end. It’s a collection of 125 recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands.

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Sensational Sips, Part II

The 2021 Band of Vintners Cab.
The 2021 Band of Vintners Cab.

2021 Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon

First off, you have to love the playful name of this winery.

Second, it boasts an impressive pedigree: It’s owned by a Master Sommelier, who worked at the French Laundry.

Third, it’s a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that sells for a relatively bargain price — $39.

That’s what you get with the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon from Band of Vintners, owned by Desmond Echavarrie. He is the founder of St. Helena’s Scale Wine Group, a portfolio of 26 boutique wine brands, including Band of Vintners.

This rich and robust Napa Valley wine, of which I received a sample, is 78 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 16 percent Cabernet Franc, 3 percent Petit Verdot, 2 percent Merlot, and 1 percent Malbec.

It tastes deeply of raspberries and blackberries, with a backbone of leather, cedar, and even a touch of black tea.

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