Spice of Life


Many of the herbs and spices we use today come from exotic places, such as India, South East Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The spice trade brought rare spices back to Europe and created huge fortunes for many of the top trading companies of the day. Indeed, the spice trade can be traced back over 5000 years and was instrumental in establishing commerce and trade around the world.

Herbs and spices have been a desired commodity for millennia with their culinary and medicinal uses. As such, salt and pepper were once used as currency. Today, those herbs and spices that were practically unattainable by the public are widely available. Due to advances in modern cultivation, commerce, and shipping, these once rare and expensive spices can be purchased at specialty stores or online easily and relatively cheaply. Still, many people are not aware of the variety of spices that exists beyond their supermarket.

So, here are a few of the spices I love to use that you may or may not have heard of. I have added clickable links to our various spices, just in case we have piqued your curiosity.

Saffron – Saffron is easily the most expensive spice in the world. It comes from the stigma of the blue flowering crocus. The stigma must be gently handpicked, and it takes about 400 stigmas to make 1 gram of saffron which explains why it is so expensive. Fortunately, only a small amount is necessary to impart its beautiful orange blush to color and flavor to food. Saffron is most recognizable in dishes such as the Paella.

Sumac comes from the dried berries of the plant Rhus coriaria. There are many varieties of Sumac and some are poisonous, so care must be taken to avoid those varieties. However, when you buy from a reputable merchant you will not have to worry about what you are getting. The berry or the powder is used as a souring agent. It releases a sour citrus flavor and complements fish and red meat nicely. It is widely extensively in North African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cooking.

Juniper berries are thought to be the only spice that comes from a conifer and from a cold climate. They grow on small juniper shrubs that are common throughout the Northern hemisphere. These berries are used as the prime ingredient in the ubiquitous gin. The seeds can take up to three years to mature and are picked when they turn a deep blue. They have an aromatic flavor with a sweet accent and are popular in many European cuisines with an emphasis on lamb and venison dishes.

Nigella seed – Also known as black fennel flower, black cumin, and its more common name in the Middle East; kalonji. It has a pungent, slightly bitter flavor with a hint of sweetness. It is a small, black, sharply pointed seed that is commonly used in Bengali, and Turkish cooking. It is commonly used on top of Turkish bread, giving the beard its distinctive flavor and aromatic flavor.

The above spices are some of my absolute favorites. I will add an article each month that details more exotic and rare spices, so, if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary – just follow the Spice of Life at Gourmet Goldmine.

What if Copper Pots ruled the world?

What if Copper Pots ruled the world?

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Chefs, cooks, and bakers can’t be wrong. Copper pots and pans are fantastic.

Copper Pots in a French Kitchen

This is an age-old debate that is never going to resolve. Humans love what they love and are staunch in their steadfastness, and as such, we differ greatly, thankfully, or it would be one big boring planet. We all know people who swear by gas, electric, or wood-fired and there is nothing to be done to change their minds, well, copper-obsessives are no different.

I for one, am one. Totally obsessed.

One hears all these petty squabbles around dinner tables and pubs which are akin to predicting yesterday’s weather. Completely moot. You are, or you’re not.

If you don’t like copper or never even thought of trying a pan I will try to convince you, after all, that is what I am writing this for. And, if you are a fellow copper aficionado, stay with me as I discuss how to get more out of your copper cookware.

What works in copper, and what doesn’t?

Why would anyone choose to prepare food in a metal that is so archaic it dates back 9,000 years? I can tell you for sure, and it has nothing to do with having something stylish standing on your cooker or stovetop.

Cast iron, aluminum, steel, and stainless steel are more modern and ‘advanced’ – as are fancy coatings and bases. As are fancy coatings. But nine millennia, nobody has found cookware that has such uniformity.

Cooking in copper pots and copper pans means that the one thing you count on is uniformity. Copper is unbeatable when it comes to heat-conducting metals for cooking. Copper warms quickly and cools slowly, efficiently distributing the heat. Uniformity of heat distribution ensures that with well-made copper, you will never see burn spots or scalding on your cookware.

Copper ensures quicker, metered control over your cooking as you are able to attain precise heat levels. This is the first reason Professional chefs who use copper, say they do: Because of the superiority and versatility of heat conductivity.

I’ve tried them all. From cast iron to carbon steel, numerous non-stick alternatives. and stainless steel, but I always go back to copper.

Copper can be scary at first

First-time users often find copper hard to connect with, I’ve seen it frequently with friends and family who may be helping me to prepare a meal in my own kitchen. They pick up the copper pot or pan and are always surprised that they are a lot lighter than they look.

Then they’ll look at the receptacle every which way and aren’t quite sure what to do with it. Everything about it can be a bit tricky to grasp. So here is what I always advise: “Be ready to adjust recipes when using copper. Its conducting quality means both heat and cooking time may reduce by as much as half!”

I am often asked these two questions. Who in their right mind would pay so much more for each piece and go through the time to learn to use copper cookware? Why use non-dishwasher-safe cookware which requires regular care and polishing the bases with copper paste?

Those of us who are passionate cooks enjoy the precision they get from their copper cookware. Just imagine a gorgeous Sunday roast with all the trimmings sitting in a big gleaming rectangle roasting pan on your dining table. Magnificent.

Copper has some other endearing qualities too. One is that it is by default an anti-microbial metal. That doesn’t help with your cooking, as your food never actually comes into contact with the copper per se. This is because copper cookware is lined with another metal, mostly tin, on the inside.

Who can doubt the visually compelling appearance of copper pots and copper pans? The somewhat Daliesque reflections from their polished surfaces?

One sees so many kitchen shoots for magazines that display copper cookware because of the richness and, often, variance in the color.

Copper is also an ideal weight for cookware – sitting firmly on burners and other surfaces, but light enough to lift with one hand.

In the end, switching to copper is an individual or family decision. Think about it carefully, the price, the versatility, the extra care needed in cleaning them. Take everything into account. And then go and get your first piece. You’ll either love it or hate it. However, if their price far out seeds your bank account, not to worry as you can always find a second-hand, if not a little battered gem at a weekend or flea markets.

But most importantly, just have fun with your cooking, even though copper pots don’t rule the world…yet.

My Gelatine won’t set

My Gelatine won’t set

Appeared on our original Gourmet Goldmine blog.

This page contains affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links, at no cost to you. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This is such a common question for me. When I started using Gelatine and making up my own recipes I went through so many unset batches that I just wanted to quit using it. Then I looked online and began to understand the acidity and alkalinity of various foods such as fruits and alcohols. Let me just say making Cherry Champagne jellies needs 2 extra Titanium Gelatine leaves.

So basically, this means that the higher the acidity of foods, such as oranges, yuzu, and strawberries, the more Gelatine you need. When developing your own recipe and having these ingredients in the mix, you are going to have to experiment with the amount of Gelatine you need.

Titanium Strength Gelatine Leaves

One way I have found that works for me are that for every 1 leaf I use I add a half leaf (1:1/2 ratio). But depending on the amount of fruit or other inclusions you may need to add the Gelatine in a 1:1 ratio.

Having told you about how to set the Gelatine you also need to be aware that there are some foods that stop the setting process altogether. Kiwifruit, pineapple, paw-paw, mango, and peaches have an enzyme in them (as well as being highly acidic) that breaks down the gelling properties.

There is a way to use these fruits, you need to stop the enzyme (Bromelain in pineapples) from working. To stop this enzyme, you need to heat the fruit, basically, cook it. You can also use a canned version of the fruit. Don’t let this put you off from making a magical fresh pineapple and Kiwi fruit jelly, you can substitute Agar (Agar-Agar) for the Gelatine and make a wonderful creation that rivals Gelatine-based desserts.

The Gelatine that I use right now is from the Modernist Pantry and their leaves work exceptionally well. Usually, when you switch brands you may find you need to experiment a little, but when I changed I had no problems at all.

Sea Salt – The Perfect Partner

Sea Salt – The Perfect Partner

Salt is used as a flavour enhancer in cooking and for adding a finishing touch to a gastronomic creation, such as Black Salt. Most often cooks grab traditional cooking (iodised) salt for their everyday cooking. The reasons below will prove that sea salt is your perfect kitchen companion.

Unlike other types of salt, such as some rock salts which are mined from ancient seabeds, sea salt really does come from the sea. You don’t need anything other than seawater, wind, and sun. The sea salt that we use today is produced through the evaporation of seawater or water from saltwater lakes. Depending on the water source, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements.

Making Sea Salt

You will find that some sea salts are pink in colour due to trace amounts of magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These minerals also add a subtle flavour to the salt. The sea salt is then harvested and cleaned. It is a centuries-old method that is used worldwide and is kept alive today. This is an ecologically sound and sustainable method to produce salt.

The flavour of sea salt is slightly bolder than regular iodised table salt. Although both salts mainly consist of sodium chloride, sea salt has a more complex composition. Apart from sodium chloride it also contains minerals and trace elements. These give sea salt a different texture and mouthfeel.

sea salt

Sea salt is naturally available in different grain sizes. The unrefined sea salt is washed, dried, broken, and sieved. This creates a wide range of different grain sizes. For instance, there is fine ground (small crystals) sea salt for daily use, coarse (large crystals) sea salt for salt mills, and flakes that are crushed and rained over your dish.

Sea salt is often underestimated in daily cooking. Its unique characteristics make it the ideal addition to any meal, even desserts. Just imagine an oozy gooey salted caramel lava cake or an espresso mousse with a salted chocolate cookie base.

Happy cooking.

Working with Gelatine – Dissolving

Gelatine Product

Are you having difficulty dissolving Gelatine leaves?

I had this same problem and it took me a few trials to really work out what I was doing wrong. However, with a very simple method, you will keep your sanity and begin to love using this gelatinous product.

Titanium Gelatine Leaves

The initial dissolving process is the same for both Gold and Titanium Gelatine strength. Basically, take the number of leaves you need, making sure they are not sticking together, and soak them in a big bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. I always put all the Gelatine into the same bowl to soak, but if you are worried about them not absorbing enough water and leaving your dish lumpy you can soak each leaf separately.

When is Gelatine ready to use?

You will notice that the leaves go from a golden colour to an almost colourless straw look. If they feel gooey and like a firm gel they are ready to use.

After the 5 minutes scoop out the Gelatine and squeeze gently in your hands. This is to remove a good deal of the water, but don’t over squeeze, or the Gelatine will break and ooze its way through your fingers (from personal experience). When enough water has been removed from the jelly-like leaves add them with a spoon to your hot or tepid liquid.

With hot liquid, it takes about 20 seconds of stirring to dissolve completely, but to give your dish a finer finish, strain through a strainer to remove any Gelatine that has not dissolved.


With cool liquids, the dissolving may take a little longer, in this case, if possible, put the liquid on a gentle heat for about 30 seconds. This will give the liquid just enough heat to start the dissolving process. Again, especially with cool dissolving, strain the mix, as there is the possibility that there will be lumps of undissolved Gelatine.

You know for yourself that with any recipe trial and experimentation is the key. Each brand of Gelatine will give you a different result which is why I tend to stick to the one brand I know works. Right now, I am using a brand that we at Gourmet Goldmine are selling. This Gelatine, both Gold and Titanium strength gives me the same result each time.

Panna Cotta

I hope you found this helpful, as I know using Gelatine can sometimes be a hit-and-miss affair depending on the ingredient that you are using, but good luck and happy cooking.


What is Ruby Chocolate?

Rubi Chocolate- Outside

Ruby Chocolate was launched globally in 2017 by the famous Swiss Chocolatiers Barry Callebaut. Having heard about this new fourth chocolate, as it is being called, very few of us have had a chance to taste this new creation in the beginning. Is this a real product or some concocted confection?

2 Ruby CHoc GG Bright

Having tasted this chocolate and sold it over the last few years I want to tell you that yes, this is a real product, it is actually chocolate and it does have a fruity and vibrant taste. It is also made in the same way as the luscious chocolate we are used to is made.

Is there such a thing as Ruby Cocoa Bean?

The Ruby cocoa bean is picked and processed just like regular cocoa beans have been for centuries, and despite its appearance, the cocoa bean is not coloured in any way. It has a slight ruby pink blush. It does not, however, taste like the traditional cocoa you are used to. Smooth, velvety chocolate, dark or milk. It does have a mild white chocolate taste with slightly sour, vanilla and fruity overtones.

Ruby Chocolate can be used exactly like white, milk and dark chocolate, in fact as a hot chocolate it is gorgeous. Creamy and flavourful with a slight sweetly sour taste. It normally comes with sugar added (just like milk chocolate) so if you are going to use Ruby to make your favourite chocolate products, it will pay you to play around with it first. Adjusting the sugar to suit your taste will take some time.

So far, I have used Ruby to make hot chocolate, flavour marshmallows, quadruple chocolate chip cookies and a luscious ruby velvet cake. As this product comes into its own more recipes will be tried and created. Patissiers are now beginning to experiment and soon you will see Ruby Chocolate desserts at all your favourite restaurants. As soon as I first posted the pictures of my creations to our Instagram account, my sale went off the chart.

slow down

Although, it seems that the production and sales of Ruby Chocolate have slowed over the last few years. This might be based on the covid issues and not on its popularity.

For now, why not try a bag for yourself, melt it, eat it, drink it or just make a beautiful elegant creation. As soon as I find a new supplier I will it is here in the shop.

Ruby Choc Outside

One year on – Instagram- with Gourmet Goldmine

Ruby Red Chocolate

Ruby Chocolate – A gorgeous new ingredient, full of unusual flavor. This has been very successful.

Titanium & Gold Gelatine – My go-to dessert ingredient for special occasions.

Home baking at its best – Who could go past hot from the oven Challah.

Dessert Sparkle – Ruby Gold Lustre Dust for chocolates, cakes, and pastries.

Freeze Dried Raspberry Powder – A magical, sweet and tart powder that works brilliantly on all desserts, especially chocolate creations and Ice cream.

Pedro Ximenez Sherry Vinegar – A gorgeously sweet & tangy vinegar that can be used in sweet & savory dishes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Porcini Mushrooms – Perfect for an early brunch.

Homemade Chicken Soup – What more can one say about this healing concoction?

Spice of Life – Dried Rose Petals, Moroccan Spice & Dukkah.

Omelette Life – Brisket & Porcini baked omelet makes for a wonderful late breakfast.

Raspberry Pana Cotta – I found our photo backdrop & took our first shot with it.

There are over 300 photos on Instagram but these are just a few of what I have added over the last years of being online. I hope you like them as much as I had fun taking them.

Come visit us @gourmet_goldmine_providores or visit our online shop www.thegourmetgoldmine.com