Meet Chef Kristin Costa
Chef Kristin Costa developed Pinch of Fancy spice blends to show people that great meals don’t have to be difficult, and to inspire people to be creative in the kitchen and try new things.
Home cooking should be fun, done by feel with a touch of imagination, not rote science. Despite what your parents might have told you, it’s okay to play with your food!
An executive chef by training, other spice blends left Kristin feeling that something was missing. Spices have different flavor profiles depending on whether they are whole, ground or toasted, and in how they are used in different cuisines.
Playing with those differences opened new opportunities for Kristin and she began working with different flavor combinations to create blends that leave people satisfied and wanting more.
As she learned about spices and different cultures, she noted food was appreciated in a different way in those cultures.
Everyone helped to put food on the table, shared slowly and appreciated with a sense of togetherness and love. She developed her blends to evoke that sense of warmth, happiness, and family.
Kristin’s goal in developing these blends is to make home cooking delicious, exciting and a little exotic without too much work. Her blends are approachable, easy to use and developed to take the guesswork out of cooking.
As you’re cooking you’ll be transported to a spice market, and as you dine you’ll be tantalized with bold flavors that leave you wondering: “what’s in there?”
Pinch of Fancy is for you if:
- You have a busy life but enjoy making mealtime fun.
- You like to experiment and want to add a dash of flavor to tried and true dishes.
- You love to eat at ethnic restaurants but don’t know how to recreate your favorite dishes at home.
- You like to try new foods and shop at farmers markets and specialty stores for new foods to try.
These flavor combinations will excite your taste buds, intrigue your family and friends, and give you the confidence to be creative.
Ras el Hanout
The 16 ounce size is not just for professional chefs, home cooks can enjoy the benefit of volume purchase too. Just keep the pouch in a cool, dark place away from the oven, and it will last up to a year. Use it to refill the small tin kept on your counter for a quick pinch of fancy as needed.
Ras el Hanout
“As a chef, I love the team feeling in the kitchen, where we pitch in for each other and we have each other’s backs no matter what. Pinch of Fancy does the same thing for home cooks. I’ve made exotic flavor approachable with perfectly balanced blends that make it easy to create flavorful, slightly fancy meals. You don’t want to spend all night in the kitchen to make something delicious – use Pinch of Fancy and enjoy more time around the table with family!”
~Kristin Costa, chef & owner
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Ras el hanout spiced sea scallops with Moroccan couscous
- 16 large sea scallops, preferably dry scallops with the side muscle removed
- 1 tablespoon Pinch of Fancy Ras el hanout
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups couscous
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, julienned
- 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonade (finely sliced)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 orange
- Heat a medium saucepan to medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, shallots, garlic, cumin and coriander. Sauté until the shallots are translucent, stirring occasionally – about 5 minutes.
- Add broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
- Put dried couscous, 3 T butter, raisins, and apricots into a large bowl and set aside.
- Remove broth from heat and pour into the bowl of couscous and dried fruits. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed the broth.
- Add fresh herbs, orange juice, lemon juice, and pistachios to the couscous and fluff with a fork.
- While the couscous absorbing the broth, cook your scallops. First, pat the outside dry with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the scallops with course kosher salt and ras el hanout all over.
- Next grab a skillet. I prefer cast iron for searing because they retain heat so well and preheat nicely, but they’re rough on glass-topped stoves.
- Heat the skillet until it’s really hot, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat until oil shimmers but does not smoke.
- Drop in your scallops. Make sure to give them enough space in the pan so they’re not steaming each other.
- Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on the first side, flip them over then sear on the second side for 2 minutes. Add a small pat of butter to the pan and turn off the heat.
- Baste the scallops with the melted butter from the pan.
- Once the scallops are done cooking, remove from the pan so they do not overcook.
- Serve with the couscous and either some simple roasted vegetables like asparagus or carrots or a fresh salad of spinach, orange segments, shaved fennel, pomegranate seeds and a squeeze of lemon and olive oil.