Spices and seasonings – chili powder

Posted on April 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

Who doesn’t like a good chili? But take a moment to think before you answer – I am talking about a good chili, one that leaves you wanting more, not one that leaves you feeling like something really bad just happened in your mouth or your stomach!

I tend to prefer foods on the spicier end of the Scoville scale, but plenty of people don’t like, or can’t eat, very spicy foods. This is why I make my own chili powder to be a wonderfully fragrant and tasty, but non-spicy, seasoning – those who like a zing can add hot sauce to the dish, while those who don’t like the burn can still enjoy a tasty meal.

My favourite base recipe for chili powder is Alton Brown’s, found at the Food Network page linked here. My take on the recipe follows:

  • 1.5 roasted, dehydrated red bell peppers*
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Put the cumin into a small frying pan and heat gently until you just begin smelling the cumin toasting – about 4 to 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Place all ingredients into a spice grinder or food processor and blend into a fine powder. Place in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Use within 6 months for optimal flavour and smell.

    * Why do I make this with roasted dried bell peppers? Because they are chili peppers bred to have no heat, they have a wonderful fragrance, and the roasting brings out the sweetness very nicely. Bingo, you now have some gorgeous chili powder – enjoy!

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    Spices and seasonings

    Posted on April 5, 2011 at 9:42 am

    How can you eat the same thing for dinner for 5 consecutive days without getting bored with it? Spices and seasonings. They can transform the mundane to the magical, the dull into a fantastic feast, and make leftovers feel not-leftover-y.

    The advice on spice is simple: buy it whole from an ethnic store. Ethnic stores tend to get the same spices at a far better price than grocery stores, and buying it whole will make sure you get the best possible taste: the essential oils that makes spices taste the way they do evaporate over time, but the whole spices lock them in.

    Seasoning mixes are hugely overpriced and mixes can be blended with anything cheap to bulk them out – flour, for example. A few seconds with Google will reveal a stupendous variety of recipes for making your own spice mixes, and the investment of 10 to 20 minutes once a month will result in a jar of your own spice mix, made fresh, with only ingredients that you recognise.

    I’ll be posting some recipes this week for spice mixes that deserve a place in everyone’s pantry, along with a time estimate for the preparation of said mix – laughably cheap mixes, in pint quantities, that take no more than 20 minutes to prepare? That’s what I am aiming for!

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