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Big John's PFI March/April Newsletter

  • New Spanish Cheeses

  • European Butter

  • Yerba Mate

  • New Italian Tomatoes

We have some fine new Spanish cheeses for sale, including a new Murcia al Vino, a wine soaked goat cheese, as well as Zamorano, a cousin of Manchego that hails from Zamora. If you like goat cheeses, make sure to check out the Servilleta, Castel Morello, and the Spanish Cabra.
Wonderfully rich butters from Europe. We carry salted and sweet butters from France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. We even have a mild goat's butter from York, England! Great for those who can't have cow's milk, and for those who love goat's milk. 
Yerba Mate is a shrub from tropical South America whose leaves are brewed to make the beverage called Mate. brewed with hot, but not boiling water, Mate has a vegetal flavor somewhat reminiscent of green tea. Mate has a slightly lower caffine content than Tea or Coffee, so it makes a good morning beverage or afternoon pick-me-up.
That's a lot of tomatoes! New Italian tomatoes from Italissima. Prepared sauces, chopped, whole, and cherry tomatoes make dinner a snap!  
Big John's Pacific Food Importers
1001 6th Ave S
Seattle WA, 98134
(206) 682-2022 
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Mustard is one of the most common condiments in the world. It is made from the seeds of a type of brassica, also called mustard. The Romans provided the first written records of mustard being used as a condiment. They ground  the mustard seeds, mixed them with grape must and called it mustum ardens, meaning “burning must,” which later evolved into the word we use today.

We carry a huge variety of prepared mustards, most of them from France and Germany, but also a Canadian line as well. All of the major types are represented: French Dijon, whole grain deli-style mustard, sweet Bavarian mustard for weisswurst, hot mustard, maple mustard, horseradish mustard, even mustard in tubes and beer mugs.

  Another type that we carry is Kozlik’s “Triple Crunch.” This is not so much prepared mustard as it is brined mustard seeds. Brined seeds are as versatile as regular mustard. They are a   perfect addition to salad dressings, marinades, sauces or simply used as a condiment.

The brining removes much of the heat from the seeds, as well as softeningthem enough that they provide a very satisfying pop and crunch.

These are also really easy to make. Start with plain mustard seeds---we have both yellow and brown---I like to use a mix of the two. Next, make a simple brine out of sea salt, water and maybe a little bit of sugar if you like. Quantities should be to taste, as every type of salt will imbue a different degree of saltiness. You want it to be pretty salty, but not necessarily burn-your-face-salty.

Heat it up to combine the ingredients and add some vinegar. I usually just use white vinegar but you could also use wine vinegar or cider vinegar. Pour the brine over the seeds in a bucket or a large jar and let them sit, unrefrigerated for as long as it takes to soften the seeds enough to bite into them. When they pop in your mouth, they are ready. Brined mustard seeds are shelf-stable and will keep for over a year in my own experience.

Of course, you could also take the next step and  process your brined mustard seeds into Mustard, the condiment. This is also easy. Put the seeds into the food processor and combine with beer or white wine.

Let it just sit there overnight and repeat the next day. Do this over the course of a few days until your mustard is the desired consistency and strength. These are just guidelines. The process can be adjusted in any number of ways. Just remember: it should be easy! 





1 lb. dried Kalamata Figs

                  Press each fig into shape so it will stand upright after stuffing. Make a small X shaped cut in the bottom of each fig (the side opposite the stem). Use a spoon handle or your fingers to open the middle of the fig. Line a tray with wax paper and make room for it in the fridge or freezer.

Chocolate Stuffing

¼ cup heavy cream

4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 tbs. butter

1 egg yolk (optional)

Any flavorings—We used a small tbs. of Kahlua Coffee Liquor

Chop or smash the chocolate into small pieces. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just reaches a boil. Add the chocolate to the cream and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir till melted. Let stand to cool. If using the egg yolk or any flavoring, wait a couple minutes and then incorporate it into the filling. Stir until smooth.

Transfer filling to a small mixing bowl and place in the fridge to let cool until it stiffens a bit.

Cut the corner off of a freezer bag or use a piping bag. Load the bag with the filling and pipe into the figs. It doesn’t have to be perfect, remember we will be dipping the bottom of the fig in a chocolate glaze. This will cover any imperfections. Place the stuffed figs in the fridge to cool. The figs must be cold in order to dip in the glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 tbs. shortening

Chop or smash the chocolate and melt with the shortening in a double boiler (If you don’t have one, you can use a metal mixing bowl set over a pot of boiling water). Once the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat. Now you are ready to dip the chilled figs. Hold the stems and dip halfway into the chocolate. Wipe any excess chocolate off and refrigerate till the glaze is completely set. These stuffed figs are best stored in the fridge or eaten immediately, although they can be frozen. Enjoy!

-Kelley Grady, adapted from a recipe by  Maida Heatter



                  Since 1994, Essential Bakery has been providing fresh baked bread to the people of Seattle. They began by selling at farmer’s markets around the city, and they continue to be dedicated to local, sustainable production. They are certified organic and use zero preservatives and artificial ingredients.

                  If you have a passion for fresh local bread, check out our selection, delivered fresh each morning. We get the over bake, meaning we have lower prices. We receive a random selection, but the rosemary and raisin-pecan are staff favorites, so come early before we eat them all ourselves!


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