Friday, November 14, 2008

Crafty Gift Idea # 1 - Spice Mixes

The holidays are looming and if you plan on making your own gifts this year you better get a move on. One good idea for the cooks in your life is to give homemade spice blends and rubs. Here are a couple great recipes I've found in 'Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends' by Maggie Oster:

All Purpose Blend
makes 2 1/3 cups

5 Tb dried parsley
3 Tb dried oregano
2 1/2 Tb paprika
2 Tb celery seeds (ground)
2 tsp chile pepper flakes
2 Tb mustard seed (ground)
1 Tb marjoram
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp chili powder

Mexican Spices Mix
makes: about 2/3 cup

1/4 c dried onion flakes
4 tsp cornstarch
4 Tb chili powder
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb kosher salt

Spicy Jamaican Blend
makes: 1/2 cup

6 Tb ground allspice
3 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (optional)
Lemon zest adds a nice flavor to a dish with these spices, but obviously wouldn't work as a gift in a jar.

You can layer the ingredients in a small glass jar for a nice presentation. Or throw this all in a food processor or a coffee grinder for a finer mix. For more of a punch with these mixes its best to buy ingredients whole such as dried chili peppers (like ancho or chipotle) and toast them in the oven or in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Pull off the stem and throw out the seeds. Next, throw them into your food processor (or a designated coffee grinder is actually better) This works great for cumin seeds too. They will stay fresh and potent for longer than buying powdered spices from the store.

Local Seattle resources for bulk spices:
World Spice Market
on Western just West of Pike Market
Madison Market on 16th and Madison in Capitol Hill

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