I came across a random Huffpost article about spice blends while poking around the web. It starts off with this statement:
While some chefs turn up their noses at spice blends ― such as everything bagel seasoning or Old Bay, for example ― these flavorful seasonings can be a real asset in the kitchen.
Which got me thinking about my relationship with spice blends. I don’t call myself a capital-C ‘Chef’, but I like to make good food from scratch and I know my way around spices. In most cases I like to make my own spice blends from scratch, but there are exceptions. Here are my yays and nays:
I’ll start with this one since it’s mentioned at the start of the article. I don’t use Old Bay a lot, but when I want to use it, to me it has a unique flavor that I’d be hard-pressed to duplicate. I’m sure I could look up a copycat recipe online, but why bother? I like a little Old Bay in my crabcakes, or crabby eggs made with leftover crab from dinner the night before. It’s also good sometimes on eggs alone or on chicken.
Cajun / Creole spice blends
To me they are easy to mix up myself-- paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, powdered oregano and thyme, salt, etc etc… but I do keep a container of Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning on hand, which I’ll use as a base for a BBQ dry rub, doctoring it up from there. Or sometimes by itself if I’m in a hurry on a weekday and don’t feel like going to a lot of trouble.
This is something I am big on making from scratch every time when I make a curry sauce because it’s so much better than premade. I toast the whole spices in a dry pan, grind them up and mix them, and then bloom them in some ghee. Fantastic.
As much as I enjoy making and eating Indian food, I never quite understood the purpose of garam masala. Many Indian recipes will call for curry powder spices and garam masala. What’s so special and unique about GM as a spice blend? It contains many of the same ingredients of a curry powder. I’m not sure why it stands alone as its own thing. It probably has to do with regional styles of Indian cuisine.
BBQ Dry Rubs
This is where I like to go all mad scientist and make my own, mixing up anything and everything I can find or think will work well at the time. Though as mentioned, I do sometimes use Tony Chacere’s Creole Seasoning as a starting base.
How about you guys, whether you’re Capital C ‘Chefs’ or just like to cook? Oh yeah, here’s the article I mentioned at the top: