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Got 5 Minutes? Spice (Blend) Up Your Life

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What can you do with just five minutes? Actually, way more than you think! Introducing Food52 in 5: your cheat sheet for speedy, delicious recipes, fun mini projects, and more.


I grew up when Emeril was still saying, Bam! Bam, bam, bam! on TV. I remember watching with my family, cats included, cuddling on the couch, taking notes in a journal. We had an Emeril cookbook for kids. Emeril pots and pans. Even an Emeril spice blend—Emeril’s Original Essence. We put it on everything.

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Since then, I’ve diversified my cookbook and cookware and spice collections. Instead of Emeril’s face, I turn to other, multipurpose spice blends—including DIY blends of my own making. All you have to do is make a large-ish—figure, 1/2 cup—batch, then store in the pantry to cheer up otherwise ho-hum grilled chicken or roasted vegetables, grain salads or savory yogurt.

Photo by Julia Gartland

If you’re worried about exact measurements, don’t be. Consult the usual suspects, pick and choose, combine, grind if necessary, and adjust to taste. If you're unsure, start with a very small test jar (a few teaspoons) to make sure you like your blend before making a large batch; I also usually start with mild spices and seeds—say, smoked paprika or sesame—then build from there with progressively punchier ingredients. Depending on the your time and energy levels, you can start with whole spices (optional: Toast them before grinding) or just start with ground spices.

The result might not be the most authentic, but if it tastes great to you, great, you’ll use it more—and that’s the whole point, right? A pinch here, a sprinkle there. Bam, bam, bam. Here are a few favorites to try:

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Berbere

Origin: Ethiopia. Potential ingredients: chilies; fenugreek; coriander; cardamom; paprika; ginger; garlic; onion; nutmeg; cloves; cinnamon; allspice; black peppercorns. Perfect for: crusting meat; spiced stews; sprinkling over salted, fresh fruit.

Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce

Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce by Aliwaks

Ethiopian-Inspired Spicy Chicken Stew

Ethiopian-Inspired Spicy Chicken Stew by Abbie C

Blackening (aka "Cajun seasoning")

Origin: Louisiana, USA. Potential ingredients: paprika; garlic; onion; black pepper; cayenne; oregano; thyme. Perfect for: pan-seared proteins, especially fish; griddled burgers; grilled anything.

Blackened Chicken with Green Onion Yogurt

Blackened Chicken with Green Onion Yogurt by Emma Laperruque

Blackened Tilapia (or Catfish)

Blackened Tilapia (or Catfish) by Nicholas Day

Chili Powder

Origin: Texas, USA. Potential ingredients: dried, ground chilies (usually ancho); cumin; oregano; garlic; paprika. Perfect for: Tex-Mex classics, like chili con carne or steak (or any protein) fajitas; also, grilled fruit, like pineapple or peaches.

Weeknight Chili

Weeknight Chili by Alexandra Stafford

Upgrade Your Taco and Fajita Toppings With These 7 Slaws

Upgrade Your Taco and Fajita Toppings With These 7 Slaws by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

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Five-Spice

Origin: China. Potential ingredients: cinnamon; star anise; fennel seeds; cloves; black, white, or Sichuan peppercorns. Perfect for: proteins, like chicken, duck, and pork; roasted nuts; desserts, from cakes to streusel to caramel.

Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Five-Spice Streusel

Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Five-Spice Streusel by hardlikearmour

Five Spice Oven Roasted Nuts

Five Spice Oven Roasted Nuts by Louisa Shafia

Furikake

Origin: Japan. Potential ingredients: sesame seeds; seaweed flakes; bonito flakes; sugar; monosodium glutamate. Perfect for: rice bowls; eggs, especially scrambled; buttery popcorn; pan-seared or grilled fish.

Furikake (Japanese Seasoning Mix)

Furikake (Japanese Seasoning Mix) by Hannah Kirshner

Daniel Patterson's Poached Scrambled Eggs

Daniel Patterson's Poached Scrambled Eggs by Genius Recipes

Jerk Spice

Origin: Jamaica. Possible ingredients: allspice; brown sugar; garlic; cloves; cinnamon; cayenne; black pepper. Perfect for: blending with scallions and fiery Scotch bonnet peppers into a wet marinade; low-and-slow cooked meat, especially chicken or pork; grilled fish; fried plantains.

Jerk Chicken Burgers

Jerk Chicken Burgers by Asha Loupy

Jerk Pork Stew

Jerk Pork Stew by Madhuja

Ras el Hanout

Origin: Morocco. Potential ingredients: cumin; ginger; black pepper; cinnamon; coriander; cayenne; allspice; cloves; paprika; turmeric; thyme. Perfect for: braised meat (are you sensing a theme here?); roasted vegetables; grain salads; plain yogurt.

Twelve-Hour Lamb Shoulder with Ras el Hanout

Twelve-Hour Lamb Shoulder with Ras el Hanout by Michelle McKenzie

Ras El Hanout Pistachio Belgian Waffles

Ras El Hanout Pistachio Belgian Waffles by The Weiser Kitchen

Togarashi

Origin: Japan. Potential ingredients: dried, ground chilies; Sichuan peppercorns; dried citrus peel; sesame seeds; poppy seeds; seaweed flakes; dried ginger; granulated/ground garlic. Perfect for: grain bowls; vegetables, from steamed to charred; fish, cooked or raw.

Togarashi Blend

Togarashi Blend by LukasVolger

How to Make a Grain Bowl Without a Recipe

How to Make a Grain Bowl Without a Recipe by Leslie Stephens

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Za’atar

Origin: Middle East. Potential ingredients: thyme; sesame seeds; sumac. Perfect for: flatbreads, either as a crust or oily dip; grilled or roasted chicken; savory yogurt bowls; roasted vegetables, especially potatoes.

Za'atar Grilled Chicken Wings with Fava Bean Feta Dip

Za'atar Grilled Chicken Wings with Fava Bean Feta Dip by MariaR

A Medley of Roasted Potatoes with Homemade Za'atar & Aleppo Pepper

A Medley of Roasted Potatoes with Homemade Za'atar & Alep... by onetribegourmet

What are your go-to spice blends? And how do you use them? Share in the comments below.

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: DIY Food, Food52 in 5