Kitchen Focus

As the hottest part of the year descends on us, many will spend time hiding from the heat by flocking to air conditioned rooms. My suggestion? Spend some of that time indoors creating spice blends to use in your cooking, whether it be on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. Here are a few of my favorites!

Apple Mulling Spice Mix

Just in time for the apple harvest.
  • 14 double-layer cheesecloth 5-inch squares
  • 14 (10-inch) lengths of white string
  • 3 ounces whole cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole nutmegs (1 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried orange peel
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup allspice berries
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped, crystallized ginger (1 ounce)

Place the cinnamon sticks and nutmegs into a heavy freezer bag. Hit the spices with the bottom of a small heavy skillet to break them into small pieces. Place them in a bowl and stir in the orange peel, lemon peel, allspice, cloves, and ginger.

Place about 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in the center of each cheesecloth square. Tie securely with the string. If giving as a gift, be sure to include the recipe instructions (below).

    Mulled Wine Recipe Instructions
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
    • 3-1/4 cups (750 ml bottle) red wine
    • 1 mulling spice bag

    Combine the water and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the wine and spice bag. Heat very slowly over low heat, only until small bubbles form around the edge and the wine is very hot. Do not boil. Discard the spice bag and serve hot.

    Mulled Apple Cider Recipe Instructions
    • 8 cups (1/2 gallon) apple cider
    • 1 mulling spice bag

    Place the apple cider in a 3-quart saucepan and add the spice bag. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the spice bag and serve hot.

  • Yields: 14 bags apple mulling spice mix (each will spice a 750 ml bottle of red wine - 3-1/4 cups wine or 1/2 gallon - 8 cups apple cider)
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cajun Spice Mix

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Combine the salt, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, black pepper, basil, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper, thyme, cumin, and white pepper until well-mixed.

Place the spice mix in a glass jar and seal tightly. Store in a cool, dark place up to 3 months.

Use this mixture for barbecue ribs, chicken, blackened fish, Cajun soups or sauces, blackened steaks, and blackened pastas.

  • Yields: 1-1/4 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Rustic Rub Spice Blend

  • 8 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne
  • 5 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 6 tablespoons salt (can be adjusted to taste)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons dried thyme

Combine the paprika, cayenne, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oregano, and thyme. Mix well.

Store in an air tight container for up to three months. This recipe may be doubled or tripled if you wish. Store all herb and spice mixtures in a cool, dry place.

Use the spice blend on grilled foods, in soups, dips, and other dishes.

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes