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lpinkmountain

Spice mixes

lpinkmountain
12 years ago

The more I struggle to get dinner on the table being exhausted after a long commute, the more I'm appreciating spice mixes as a good shortcut tool. The ones I love so far are Penzey's Adobo (Mexican and Spanish) and Turkish seasoning (which also works for Greek, Egyptian, Lebanese and Scicilian), and their "Mural of Flavor" which is kind of like a shallot seasoning. I also love Mrs. Dash's Garlic and Herb seasoning and their Carribean blend. I have some Ras el Hanout that I made up from a recipe I found online (for Moroccan) but I also recently purchased a "Seven Spice" mix at the local ethnic market. I have no idea what the seven spices are, it doesn't say on the jar, lol! I haven't opened that one yet, I'm waiting until I use up my own Ras el Hanout.

I'm not doing too good with finding a curry I like, since I don't like fenugreek and cardamom in savory dishes. I use garam masala but that isn't very jazzy. I also haven't found an oriental blend I like, since I don't like star anise. I've tried Penzey's Singapore seasoning and don't much care for it. For Thai I use a curry paste I make up mysef and freeze in ice cube trays, but that is leftover from before my commuting days and it's unlikely that I will make more.

So what are your favorite spice blends? Brand recommendations or recipes welcome. I'm thinking these would make great Christmas gifts for foodies too!

Comments (19)

  • lyndaluu2
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I made Tricia's Citrus Salt to put into my gift baskets this year. Great on fish and pork. I'm also making her Spicy Wine Mustard. I use Emeril's seasoning mixes they can be found on Food Network Website. I make up Paula Deen's everyday seasoning: garlic powder, salt, pepper this can also be found on Food Network too. I do like the Mrs. Dash seasoning because they don't have salt in them.

    Linda

  • arley_gw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Penzey's 'Arizona Dreaming' is good--chipotle smokiness without too much heat. Plus, it's salt-free. Their 'Tuscan Sunset' is a pretty good generic Italian seasoning.

    For curry, I haven't found a dry spice mix that works as well as any of Patak's curry pastes (they come in a jar). The mild curry paste has a little zing to it, and the hot paste is HOT--but very good. These are Indian style curries, not Thai (thai curries often are based on coconut). If you have a pressure cooker, try this out--very respectable curry in less than half an hour:

    This recipe from Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect is a quick and easy way to make a pretty tasty curry. You can make it with chicken, beef, lamb or pork, and vary the hotness by using mild or hot curry paste. 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste makes a pleasant-but-wimpy curry; 4 tablespoons of mild paste makes it pleasantly zingy; 4 tablespoons of hot curry paste makes it very hot, near my limit of tolerance (and I really like hot food). I generally use 2 tablespoons of hot and 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste. This is another recipe that's ridiculously easy yet produces delicious food. If you don't want to mess with the yogurt, peas and cilantro, don't bother--the dish will still be very tasty, but the sauce won't be as rich or velvety-smooth. ( I personally don't like cilantro, so I don't use it.) The recipe calls for 3 pounds of bone-in chicken; I find it easier to use about 2 or 2.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. Once you get the pressure cooker up to pressure, make a pot of rice. By the time the rice is done, so is this.

    CURRY IN A HURRY

    1 cup water
    4 tablespoons Patak's Mild Curry Paste
    1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    3 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs or breasts, or 2-2.5 lbs boneless skinless thighs, or 2 lbs. other meat
    (see chart below)
    1 cup plain yogurt
    1 1/2 cup frozen peas
    3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

    Pour the water into a 4-qt or larger pressure cooker and blend in the curry paste. Place on high heat and add the onion and meat of your choice.
    Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring up to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for the time indicated in the chart. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. (If cooking chicken, release any remaining pressure after 4 minutes.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. If the chicken or meat isn't tender, cover again and simmer until done.
    If necessary, skim off the fat that rises to the surface or degrease the broth in a fat separator. Blend the yogurt into 1 cup of the broth. Stir the peas into the curry and simmer until they are defrosted, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and stir the yogurt mixture into the curry. Stir in the cilantro and salt to taste. Serve in bowls over rice.

    Meat choices and Cooking times

    Chicken (see notes above) 8 minutes high pressure, 4 minutes of natural release, then quick release

    Beef (boneless chuck, 1" cubes) 8 minutes high pressure, then natural release

    Pork shoulder (1" cubes) 8 minutes high pressure, then natural release

    Lamb (boneless, 1" cubes) 12 minutes high pressure, then natural release

    If using beef, pork or lamb, trim off excess fat and cut the meat into approximately 1" cubes before cooking..

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  • jessyf
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Look into Tuscan Sunset to replace Mural of Flavor - cheaper.

    Sounds like you would be a candidate for 'make your own curry' as well.

    I think you'd like Aleppo pepper - Penzeys sells it stand alone, and in mixes (you'd have to call!). I mix it with urfa chilies, smoked paprika and feta - omg.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Penzy's Northwoods, Ozark and Bicentennial are my favorites that include salt. I use them on almost everything sauteed.
    Mural of Flavor is used on nearly everything too but I don't like Tuscan Sunset.
    Personally I'm not fond of things with cumin unless I am making Mexican so I don't use P.'s mixes like Arizona Dreaming often.

    I like their lamb and Greek seasonings (Love the Greek) too and recently started using Fox Point. Don't like Galena.

    Another spice company I use is Victoria Taylor's Seasonings. TJ Maxx frequently has them but if I run out, I will order from them.- I haven't yet. They are wonderful. The Toasted Sesame Ginger is an excellent coating for Ahi Tuna and the Ginger Citrus while sounding similar, is different in taste and a favorite ginger seafood coating.

  • ci_lantro
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    One that I have recently discovered is the 'No Salt Seasoning' at Big Lots! It's insanely cheap but delicious. Also, it must be popular because my local store seems to be out of it a lot. Can't compare it to any of the Penzey's blends because I haven't tried them yet.

    It's the 'Fresh Finds' brand, 4.94 oz, the line of cheap spices/ herbs at Big Lots. Contains garlic, onion, parsley, wheat semolina, sugar, spices, herbs, citric acid... Anyway, I think it's around a dollar a container, maybe a little more. Need to cook low/ no salt for the hubster which is why I tried it in the first place. Wasn't expecting much so I was quite pleasantly surprised.

  • teresa_nc7
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I use Penzey's Ozark quite a bit, especially for pork, which may not be a choice for you. I also use the Sandwich Sprinkle anytime I want to make garlic bread or seasoned pita chips, etc. I need to find Emeril's poultry seasoning again - that is a go-to seasoning for me. I'm still using the English Mixed Spice for baking that I found on sale a while back. It's great for gingerbread, quick breads using my Friendship Bread starter, molasses cookies etc.

    Teresa

  • lyndaluu2
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I found this one on Food Network, is it the one you were looking for?
    Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

    2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    2 tablespoons salt
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
    1 tablespoon dried thyme

    Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

    Yield: about 2/3 cup
    Linda

  • lyndaluu2
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is the other one I found...
    Emeril's Southwest Seasoning:
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 tablespoons paprika
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
    Hope this helps

    Linda

  • booberry85
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I really like Penzey's Sunny Spain and Sunny Paris, also love their pizza seasoning, Greek seasoning and green goddess salad dressing (but I only have used as a spice mix).

  • cynic
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've been meaning to try some of the Mrs. Dash items since I've cut down on salt. I don't generally get into the mixes (except for Lemon Pepper and Italian Seasoning) because the seasonings I like on items vary by the item and so many of the mixes have salt and sugar in them, both of which I'd prefer to eliminate or at least reduce. It isn't hard to make up your own spice mixes but usually I don't find it problemsome to give a shake from several bottles. I did like a store brand "Cajun" seasoning and "BBQ" seasoning. I tried the Grill Mate's from McCormack/Schilling but there too, too much sugar. FAS strikes again. This is why I make my own rib rubs. The Big Lots one sounds interesting but I so seldom go there. Might be worth it to make a trip. Guess I could stock up on some of the other spices too. I buy the cheapies most of the time unless I need something special like bacon salt. The flavor is fine for me.

  • Lars
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I used to make my own Thai curry paste when I lived in Venice and had a huge bunch of lemongrass growing next to my pond. I recently put more lemongrass in my new yard, and so I may start doing that again, but the reason I started doing it was that I had trouble finding commercial Thai curry paste that did not have cinnamon, but I have since then been able to find curry paste in a jar that does not have cinnamon, and I've been using that.

    I think that for Indian spice mixes, you can start with garam masala and then add whatever you like to jazz it up. I'm not crazy about cardamom in savory dishes either, but I have been making my own Indian spice mixes and have been happy with that. I use them mainly on chicken, certain vegetables, and lentils. At one point I started with a Tandoori mix that was made in Pakistan and therefore mostly cayenne and salt, but I then added garam masala and whatever other dried spices I thought would help, including fennel, cumin, etc. Sometimes I add coriander, but not usually. I generally also use garlic and ginger but use fresh instead of dried, and so they do not become part of the dried mix. I prefer to make Adobo sauce from dried chilies rather than use a powder - the whole chilies have a much richer flavor.

    I make my own Cajun mix (from Justin Wilson's recipe, which I like better than Emeril's) as well as Za'Atar, which I like on chicken. I bought a West African spice mix (at an African festival), but it is heavy on the hot chili, and so I use it sparingly.

    I have additional spice mixes that others gave me that I use, and I especially like the herbes de Provence, but also the Tsarist Russian spice mix.

    Lars

  • lpinkmountain
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A friend gave me a boxed set of four Penzeys spice mixes--the Tuscan Sunset, Sunny Spain, Mural of Flavor, and Bavarian. I must say I didn't like the Sunny Spain--too heavy on the lemon peel for my taste and also had some kind of chemical aftertaste, so I dunno, maybe I got a bad jar. I mixed it with some garlic salt seasoning someone gave me in order to use it up. I loved the Tuscan Sunset and of course the Mural of Flavor. I still have the Bavarian seasoning. It's not bad, but mostly a meat/pork or potatoes thing, neither of which we eat very much. Maybe I should give that to my mom, since that's about all my dad does eat, other than bread!

    I used to use the Penzeys pasta blend as my go-to Italian mix but right now I'm just using McCormick that we got at the grocery store. And I forgot about Penzeys sandwich sprinkle. That was my go-to "dash" seasoning until I started getting Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb. Funny, I seemed to use the sandwich sprinkle on everything BUT sandwiches! I don't order from Penzeys as much anymore, they have switched to a new small glass jar, which is great for the environment since it is recyclable, but it doesn't fit in my spice rack! So I save the old plastic jars and just buy the bulk spices to fill them up again.
    I might be willing to do another order one of these days though, when I start running out of my favorites.

    Oh Jessy I forgot to mention that Tajin seasoning you gave me, it is the bomb! It's my secret chili weapon! Would probably be good in Thai and Indian too, to give it a kick. And I do use and love the Aleppo pepper. I like Aleppo and cayenne for my chili heat. I can't get into the chipotle, it's taking me forever to use up my little jar. Same with the hot hungarian paprika, it is too acrid for my taste. A friend gifted me with some mild paprika direct from her trip to Hungary, that is great! Who'd a thunk it, paprika with flavor!

    I'm going to have to look into some of the jarred curries for Thai and Indian. A friend gave me a jar of thai red curry paste, it's not suppoed to be firey hot, we'll see. I'm trying to pare down my condiment shelf in the fridge, it is over the top! I have some cilantro chutney I got but it is super hot so it is taking me forever to use that up too, since I just use a tiny dab in things. Same goes for the jar of black bean sauce. And I seem to have an inordinate amount of caramel sauce, but that's another story . . .

  • rob333 (zone 7b)
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Love that Emeril's Creole seasoning! It makes a bunch at one time and is lickety split quick. Basically, the same as cajun seasoning in a jar, but a bit better since I can control all of the spices that go into it.

  • Rusty
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The mixes I find myself using most often:

    Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning
    (also available in low sodium)
    When I want to add a little kick to a dish.

    Bolner's Fiesta Fajita Seasoning
    And their Chicken Fajita Seasoning.
    Both are available in both regular and no salt.
    Neither contain any sugar, either.
    I also use their Lemon Pepper.

    The Chicken Fajita seasoning is very good on
    chicken (of course), pork and fish, too.
    Both fajita seasonings are good on some vegetables,
    potatoes, and in rice, also.

    Rusty

  • jessyf
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey let me know if you want me to stock you up on the Tajin, LOL.

    I'm a heat wus so I understand about the chipotle powder - I wave it over my mango/black bean/cilantro salad, but it works.

  • cloudy_christine
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    How hot is Aleppo pepper? Is it about flavor or about heat?
    I'm such a heat wuss I don't even have cayenne pepper in the house. I just leave it out of everything. But the descriptions of Aleppo pepper's taste sound interesting.

    Lpink, I second the suggestion of curry paste. Makes a good quick meal. Patak's mild type is mild enough for me.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have a few typical basic spices and spice mixes. Nothing fancy.

    To me, spice is like color. Although there are only three primary colors, but you can create all kinds of painting by mixing these three colors.

    It is very interesting mixing spices and doctoring up spice mixes.

    dcarch

  • lpinkmountain
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well, aleppo pepper is picante, but I like it because it also has red pepper flavor, it's not just all hotness. And it's not as "bitter" tasting as crushed red pepper, IMHO. But it has a slight kick. Kinda in between cayenne and ancho peppers. Ancho peppers are the kind they put in mild chili powder. I use that and then add a dash of aleppo, a dash of cayenne, a dash of the Tajin that Jessy gave me (basically crushed red pepper with lime). Sometimes I waft some chipotle over the dish but I'm not even crazy about the roasted element of that spice.

    Speaking of chipotle, Jessy could you give me the mango black bean cilantro recipe? I have some mango in the freezer to use up. I got it for coleslaw, which I thought was delish but BF nixed my making again. I either need a recipe like that or mango muffins or some such.

  • cynic
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If you like Tony Chachere’s seasoning, you might want to just make it yourself. His Creole Seasoning is 80% salt. Many think it's a magical combination of exotic spices but it's salt, peppers, garlic and MSG. Here's the recipe for it. Eliminate the salt and just add the seasoning and salt as you like. And it's probably a LOT cheaper than buying his boxed version. BTW, this is not a copycat recipe, it's (supposedly) the original recipe from Tony Chachere's cookbook (“Cajun Country Cookbook” although I leave the caveat that I haven't verified it) where he says this one recipe was worth the cost of the book. My understanding is he started selling the seasoning later.

    Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
    from his cookbook Recipe By : Tony Chachere
    26 ounces salt
    1 1/2 ounces black pepper -- ground
    2 ounces red pepper -- ground
    1 ounce garlic powder -- pure
    1 ounce chili powder
    1 oz Monosodium glutamate -- (Accent)

    Mix well and use like salt. When it’s salty enough, it’s seasoned to perfection. For barbeque and fried foods: Season food all over. Cook as usual.