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The Gourmet Cooking Place

Spice Blends
and Mixtures

Top 10 Essential Spices for Everyone's Kitchen

A well-stocked spice cabinet is crucial to daily cooking and baking.
Turn comments like; "chicken, again?" into "this is amazing!"

With these quick and inexpensive jewels at your fingertips, you can turn the bland and mundane into the exciting and exotic.

While you'll find salt and pepper is a staple in almost every kitchen, this collection of spices, herbs and flavors will give your meals that special twist and "spice up your life"!

While I always encourage using fresh herbs and spices, this ingredient list will store well and invite you to be creative any and every day.

A note about storage:
The volatile oils that enable these ingredients to deliver their robust flavors are very aromatic and should be stored well away from other foodstuffs.

For best results, store your dried and ground herbs and spices in air-tight containers, well away from light, in a cool, dry place. Spices stored this way readily keep well for 6 months to a year, If you find your keeping them longer than this, buy in smaller quantities. Visit our Spice Care and Storage Guide.

The Top 10 Essential Savory Herbs and Spice

  1. Onion Powder - The onion is magical in the way it enhances the natural flavors of both meats and vegetables but, many people think they don't like onion. I say "think" because experience has revealed it's not the onion favor that most oppose but when they see the onion, they simply reject the dish. Use Onion powder lightly to enrich both the flavor and the depth of the dish.
  2. Garlic Powder - Garlic, like the onion, brings both healthy and flavorful benefits to your recipes.
  3. Dried Sweet Basil - A member of the mint family, dried sweet basil leaves are different from fresh not being as heady and aromatic but retain the refreshing, clove, anise-like and allspice bouquet.
  4. Thyme leaves - A subtle, dry aroma and a slightly minty flavor.
  5. Rubbed Sage - sage has a slight peppery flavor and is a perfect compliment for both pork and poultry as well as many other dishes.
  6. Cumin Powder - Popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, Cuban, and Mexican cuisines. Adds a unique and earthy quality to dishes.
  7. Oregano - Used commonly in Italian, Spanish, and Mediterranean cuisines.
  8. Ground Chili Powder - Adds a spicy heat to many recipes.
  9. Ground Paprika - The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot.
  10. Whole Celery Seed - Added to braised beef, soups, sauces and salad dressings; celery seed brings a subtle yet distinct celery flavor to your favorite creations.

  11. Now, let's make our Top 10 a perfect baker's dozen!

  12. Rosemary - Native to the Mediterranean region and a member of the mint family this herb has a slightly bitter taste and has a mustard like aroma when cooked and flavor hints of both lemon and pine.
  13. Dill Weed - A flavor reminiscent of caraway, more mellow and "brighter" or fresher.
  14. Allspice (or nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves) - I know this is not generally thought of as a savory but when added to dishes in small amounts, the aromatic properties enliven and magnify the more prominent flavors of the dish.
    Truly your "secret" ingredient!

While this list will always give you a great pallet to work with, no spice cabinet is complete without including the essential Sweet herbs and spice, so... let us present

The Top 10 Essential Sweet Herbs and Spice

While these are most often associated with desserts, baking and sweets, they add wonder and character to many savory dishes as well!

  1. Cinnamon - Warm, spicy flavor.
  2. Allspice - Tastes like a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  3. Ginger - Sweet, spicy flavor.
  4. Vanilla Extract - Sweet, rich taste, use in custards, ice cream, cookies, and pastries, and to flavor dessert sauces.
  5. Cloves - Hot, spicy flavor.
  6. Cardamom - Imparts a mild ginger flavor.
  7. Nutmeg - Spicy, sweet taste.
  8. Anise - With it's sweet licorice flavor, is also considered good for digestion.
  9. Mace - A mellow and soft nutmeg like flavor.
  10. Cocoa Powder - Stores well and used to bring the taste of chocolate to cookies, and batters. (It has even found its way into some Chili recipes.)

  11. Now, Our baker's dozen round up!

  12. Maple Extract
  13. Poppy Seed - Nut-like, sweet flavor.
  14. Aniseed - Hint of mild licorice. Used in cakes, baking and confectionery and to flavor alcoholic drinks.

Personalize Your Pantry:
This list is just a starting point to begin your culinary expedition and only scratches the surface. Turmeric, saffron, epazote, sassafras, the list is vast if not endless.
Explore, experiment, be not afraid young skywalker... use the force!

To complete the perfect spice pantry, pick and chose your own favorites and develop your own unique combinations to create those wondrous gourmet treats.

Good Food, Good Friends, and Good Life.