Monday, October 11, 2010
For the Love of Spice
I mentioned that I recently came into a whole slew of spices. Well today while walking around the kitchen, I just looked at my racks and through my cupboards aimlessly. It got me thinking about what some of my absolute favorite flavors and notes are. I figured I'd share, and hopefully get you thinking about your favorites too! (Feel free to share!)
Here are some of my favorite spices and flavor combinations! I realize that these aren't all just spices or all common flavors that you'd blend, but they're the top ten flavors that i can think about that just make my tummy rumble! So without further adieu!
10. Corn with lime juice and chilies. When I'm making anything Mexican, I typically make a blend with these three flavors. Whether I buy jarred chilies or fresh, I always find they mix well with the corn and the lime juice. I can eat it by itself, honestly. Probably why there are so many corn salsas :) I love cilantro in this too!
9. Worcestershire marinade with ginger and garlic. When I'm at work, I frequently email a friend back and forth all day long. Her and I talk about a lot of stuff, but more often than not, we will ask the other what they're having for dinner. She had told me about doing a Worcestershire marinade for chicken. For some reason, I had never even thought about marinating chicken in Worcestershire. I just always did extra virgin olive oil and herbs or spices, etc. But, because of her raving about it, I decided to wing a marinade with it. I just made a very simple marinade of Worcestershire, garlic, ginger, onion, soy and white wine vinegar. It was FANTASTIC! It's become one of my favorite ways to make boneless skinless breasts. But just the smell of Worcestershire, garlic and ginger is enough to make my mouth water!
8. Cajun spice with lime. Cajun spice is one of my favorites because it mixes so many pantry items into one. Cayenne pepper, salt, onion, garlic, paprika, chili powder. Many different blends have different spices, but you can usually count on most of them having at least salt, garlic and cayenne. And for great reason! It's delicious! Especially when paired with a nice batch of shrimp that are just hit with some lime juice. I put Cajun spice on everything from seafood to steak to chicken. And go figure, the lime seems to always pair just as nicely! If you want to make your own Cajun blend, try blending these (if you prefer less spice, alter the amount of cayenne and chili powder):
2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 tsp crushed Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Paprika
7. Caramel and Sea Salt. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly. I remember going into a Gertrude Hawk looking for chocolates for the hubby for Valentines' Day, and I got to sample their caramel and sea salt chocolate. I was hooked. These two flavors are also paired at Starbucks for their salted caramel hot chocolate! Delicious. If I could eat it every day, I totally would.
6. Avocado and Basil. I already have a post about why I love this so much. But in a short synopsis: because it straight up rocks. The lemony basil really pairs well with the cool creaminess of the avocado. It is perfect for dips, and I imagine it'd be great on a chicken sandwich with layers of avocado and your own homemade pesto on top (or store-bought! No one's judging!). You have to try this combination to understand just how delicious it is.
5. Balsamic Vinaigrette. This is one of my favorite dressings ever. It's sweet and tangy and extremely refreshing. I love this on everything from just plain greens, to caprese salad, pasta salad, or as a dipper for just vegetables. It's so versatile and easy to make. If you want to make your own, try this quick, easy blend. This is how I typically make mine at home.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 grated clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste.
Mix vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic, slowly stream in the oil, while whisking. Adjust the oil to your taste. I prefer a tangier, vinegar-y dressing. If you prefer more, simply add more!
4. Holy trinity of poultry: Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I never make a roasted chicken without blending these three. Whether I'm using dried herbs or fresh, they always make an appearance. It's just the perfect balance. If I wouldn't smell crazy, I would wear rosemary as a perfume. All three just smell amazing, but the rosemary is definitely my favorite out of those three. They all play in together though, and make poultry just extra fabulous. It just tastes like thanksgiving dinner, year round.
3. Fresh Chives. I absolutely adore chives. They're pretty, taste onion-y, and are great on so many things. I honestly garnish more with chives than I do parsley. I just prefer the taste, and they're just so friendly! Anymore I get sad if I'm ever served mashed potatoes without them. Tragic, really.
2. Basil, Lemon and Garlic. These three ingredients make every dish special. Pesto? Yes, you should add some lemon juice to it! Pasta? Um, of COURSE. Dips? Check. Home infused olive oil? YES! (Just make sure you use the oil right after you use it. If it sits at room the garlic can produce the botulism toxin. No thank you.) Fresh basil itself already has a lemony hint. But it's just accented even better when combined with some fresh lemon zest or juice. And seriously, does anyone not like garlic?
1. Parmigiano Reggiano... It's on a completely different level. It's got that nice, salty bite that goes perfectly into tomato sauces. It's amazing shaved over a variety of vegetables, my favorite being asparagus. It is amazing in soups, and even on its own. I put it in mashed potatoes, pesto, salad. You name it, I probably throw it in there. I am not usually stuck up at all about ingredients. But this cheese REALLY is as good as everyone says.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading my favorite flavors! Feel free to share yours!