A really great way to use a spice blend is to rub it on your favorite meat, poultry, tofu or winter squash before cooking. Besides herbs and spices, a rub will include salt and often sugar. This creates a flavorful crust and draws out a little moisture which helps with browning.
There are many spice blends available, but making one’s own signature blends will take your food to a new level of deliciousness. The other advantage to making one’s own blends is that the flavor will be fresh and potent. You might want to start with a rub recipe that you like and is quite versatile. Our favorite rub recipe which makes 1 cup is:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground oregano
¼ cup sea salt
Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Store in a small jar with a tight fitting lid preferably in a drawer or cupboard to keep it away from light which deteriorates the color and flavor of the spices.
For more flavor depth, buy whole spices and toast them for about 30 seconds in an ungreased skillet on your stovetop. Use a clean coffee mill to grind them to a powder. You will be amazed by the pungency of freshly ground spices. Spices like cumin and mustard are seeds are ideal for this treatment. Sage and Oregano are herbs or the leafy part of the plant and don’t need to be toasted. Milling the herbs, however, will bring out their essential oils and flavor.