In case you didn’t know, I have a limited edition subscription box company, MARY’s secret ingredients, which specializes in culinary surprise boxes filled with gourmet, international ingredients and small kitchen tools. Unfortunately the box currently only ships within the United States, though we hope to expand that in the near future!

One of the beautiful ingredients we just featured in the fall box was, in fact, a South African spice! From Kalk Bay Foods’ Elements of Spice line, the deliciously smokey and addictive Smoulder spice totally captivated me and my team.

I discovered it at Chelsea Market Baskets in Manhattan, where owner David Porat shared with me his passion for inspired specialty foods. David continually searches the world for innovative products that are distinctly high quality, fresh, unique, and have a certain indescribable charm.

Let me tell you, this stuff is so good, I don’t know what you can’t put it on! You WILL want to put it on everything. Everything really can get bolder with Smoulder! It is a wonderful spice blend comprised of smoked paprika, garlic, salt, and black peppercorns. It comes in its own grinder so everything comes out fresher.

And here’s the thing, my husband hates smoked things, so at first I was sneaking this stuff on. I mean after all, it’s my duty to be able to tell you the best way to use it, so I had to use it. But he’s loved everything with this! The smokiness is real flavor – real flavor of the peppers, not just smokiness for smokiness’ sake. And the salt content is light so you can grind away to get more pepper flavor and not worry. You can put it on before you cook or use it as a finishing flavour for more intensity, right before serving, as I did here with the tomatoes.


So let me go through all the things I’ve been putting it on lately:


Any vegetable – grilled eggplant, roasted okra, roasted zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, yellow flat beans, bok choy and Brussels sprouts


Fillet of sole


Turkey burgers

Pork chops


Even eggs!

The list goes on and on; I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you would love this on popcorn!

Just go ahead and grind and smile like you’ve worked hard in the kitchen, let smoulder do the work!

Here is a super easy, terrific appetizer recipe:



6 – 7 large shrimp

Several grindings of Smoulder

1 plum tomato, sliced into 6 or 7 slices

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. unsalted butter

3 Tbs. dry vermouth

Sea salt – optional

Sorrel sauce – optional



Wash and dry shrimp and season liberally with grindings of Smoulder on one side. Season the sliced tomatoes with grindings of Smoulder as well.

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet. Turn heat to medium high and add the unsalted butter. When the sizzling ceases, add the shrimp and tomatoes, seasoned side down. Cook for 2 minutes. Lightly salt the top side, while the seasoned side is cooking. Turn the shrimp and tomatoes over and add the vermouth. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp, when just no longer pink and divide on two plates. Remove the tomatoes and add to your shrimp. Let the sauce simmer a minutes longer, then pour over the shrimp and tomatoes.

Optional: Top with a little sorrel sauce and serve or garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley.

About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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