Category: Seasonings

Something about herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Zatarain’s Jambalaya with 40% Less Sodium Recipe

Prepared serving of lower sodium Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix
Serving of Less Sodium Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix

Zatarain’s NEW Lower Sodium Jambalaya Mix is rich and tasty and has less salt to boot. This Jamablaya Mix has only 410mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving. Plus it’s another one pan meal from Zatarain’s. This recipe is for a family size stovetop meal.

A note about Andouille Sausage. We used packaged Hillshire Farms Andouille Sausage which is not too hot. Some Andouille Sausages have a lot of heat, so if you are using another type of Andouille that you are not familiar with, it’s wise to test the sausage flavor after cooking and before adding the rice mix. You might have to cut the quantity of Andouille back if it’s really spicy.

  • 1 Cup Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix, 40% Less Sodium
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 Cup of Hillshire Farms Andouille Sausage thinly sliced
  • 1 Cup of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or Thigh), cut up into 1/2″ chunks
  1. In a very large skillet, cook the chicken and Andouille Sausage until done.
  2. Add 2 cups of water and butter, cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile mix the Jamabalya Mix together well, and measure out 1 cup. Seal remaining mix in a reclosable plastic bag.
  4. Add the Jamabalya Mix to the sauce pan, stir well. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes (until water has absorbed). Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the mix and serve.

Author: Matthew Schroebel Author: Matthew Schroebel

An Easy Trick for Keeping Cut Vegetables & Fruits Fresh Looking

McCormick Anti Oxidant
Chances are if you ever peeled, sliced or shredded a potato you found it didn’t take long for the nice white color of the potato to turn a lovely shade of brown. This happens because the oxygen in the air reacts with the enzymes in the cells of the potato which quickly changes the white potato to an unappealing brown color. The same is true with apples. Oxygen also reacts with that fresh cut salad turning the edges of the leaf brown.

Luckily, there is an easy solution to stop the oxidation. The simplest method is placing those peeled potatoes and sliced apples in water. This works well when there is only a limited time between preparation and cooking and when the pieces of potato and apple are large.

If you shred the potatoes and apples, the oxidation occurs very quickly. In fact, when I shred potatoes using my KitchenAid stand mixer’s shredding attachment, the potato starts to brown almost at the moment it’s coming out of the attachment. In this case as well as when sliced apples are to be displayed, I turn to McCormick Anti-Oxidant. Through the magic of chemistry, this product, which is made primarily with food grade citric acid, effectively stops the browning of sliced fruits and vegetables.

  • For potatoes, simply mix up 1 1/2 tsp of McCormick Anti Oxidant with each quart of water (or 2 tbsp to a gallon for larger needs) and let the potatoes sit in the solution for three minutes and then drain.
  • For shredded potatoes, put the anti-oxidant mixture in a bowl placed directly under the shredder to cath the shredded potatoes as they fall out.
  • For green vegetables such as cucumbers and lettuce, use 1/2 tsp anti-oxidant to 1 gallon of water. One gallon of solution will treat 40 pounds of vegetables and fruit.
Shredded Potatoes in Anti Oxidant Solution
Shredded potatoes in anti-oxidant solution

One of the best reasons for using anti-oxidant with foods instead of other solutions such as lemon juice is the pure citric acid adds no tastes to the food. When I used lemon juice to prevent the browning of my sliced avocado it always added the taste of lemon to my salads. You can see from the picture above how white the shredded potatoes are in the anti-oxidant solution, and they stay that way while cooking.

Three Big and Bold Seasonings for your Summer Cooking

McCormick Big & Bold Seasonings
Big and Bold Seasonings from McCormick

New at our Spice Place online store are McCormick’s Big and Bold Seasoning Blends. This is a line for very unique blends of seasonings from McCormick that we’ve simply fallen in love with. The flavor experts at McCormick have crafted some very delicious and savory blends into these seasonings. Each of these seasonings has a unique blend of herbs, and spices and they contain very little salt. We offer each of these spice blends in professional chef size containers ranging from 19 to 21 ounces.

Ranging in taste from Key West’s citrus flavor through Santa Fe’s cumin chili taste to Monterey’s red bell pepper seasoning, the McCormick Big and Bold Seasonings are a treat for the taste buds. These seasonings can be simply sprinkled on your foods, or mixed with liquids such as vinegar, lemon juice or water to make a delicious marinade. The flavors are unique, and will add a whole new set of tastes to your meals.

  • Key West Style – A blend of lemon peel, basil, thyme and other herbs and spices for use on shrimp, seafood, chicken, beef, and pork.
  • Monterey Style – Bold Red Pepper and Roasted Garlic flavor goes well with chicken, fish, seafood, pork and beef.
  • Santa Fe Style – A rich taste of the southwest seasoned with chili, cumin and just the right amount of garlic. Use with beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Blend 1 tbsp with a pound of lean ground beef for a Santa Fe style hamburger.

As the summer barbecue season approaches, curious chefs should consider this line of seasonings for there backyard cooking. Each seasoning has it’s unique taste that will make your outdoor cooking taste great and you’re certain to receive rave reviews of your recipes from your guests.

About Cinnamon

Cinnamon StickCinnamon, perhaps one of the most popular and tastiest of spices (although many don’t think of it as a spice), is a substance which many enjoy on a daily basic but do not know much about. Despite its wide use throughout the world, especially in America, millions of people are not even aware of where it comes from.

Cinnamomum verum, also known as Cinnamon (the tree), is an evergreen ranging from ten meters high to fifteen meters. Cinnamon (the spice), is made from the bark of this tree. However, while producing its edible bark (after some preparation, of course), the tree also composes fruit, which comprise only of very small, purple berries. The berries are not the prime product of the tree that humans are concerned with. While the tree is only native to Sri Lanka, it has been cultivated commercially in many tropical countries including Brazil, Vietnam and Madagascar. Surprisingly, and contrary to the smell of cinnamon, the leaves of the tree give off a foul odor. The name “Cinnamon” is from Greek origin, but also has some Hebrew and Malaysian roots.

Besides making cinnamon spice itself, there is another thing that the bark of the Cinnamon tree is good for. That use is the creation of the cinnamon oil, which is made through a slightly complicated process. First the bark has to be pounded roughly, soaked in sea water, and finally distilled. The oil has a gold-like color, and smells very similar to regular cinnamon.

Cinnamon is not a spice that can be made hastily. The tree must be grown for at least two years before it can be coppiced, which is cutting off the shoot (the upper-portion of the tree) but leaving the roots, so a new shoot can grow. The severed shoot is stripped of its bark; the inner bark is used to make the cinnamon while the outer bark is made into quills (cinnamon sticks) and sold. While many countries where the Cinnamon tree is not native (all other countries except Sri Lanka) produce it commercially, the Sri Lanka Cinnamon trees are believed to make the best cinnamon.

There are different types of cinnamon, and when people say the word “cinnamon” with no other description, the variety is assumed to be the pure cinnamon, or Ceylon Cinnamon. This is the Cinnamon that comes from the Cinnamon tree Cinnamomum verum. However, there is another type of Cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum aromaticum, which doesn’t produce the true cinnamon, but something very similar. This imitation cinnamon is called Cassia Cinnamon, and although it is not the “pure” kind, the majority of all cinnamon sold it in the United States is Cassia. Cassia Cinnamon is different from Ceylon in that it is stronger, thicker, and harder. The reason for this is that with Ceylon Cinnamon, only the inner bark is used to make the cinnamon, but with Cassia, all the bark is used (and it’s a different species of tree). While the sticks of the two cinnamon types are easily distinguishable, the ground form is not, although there are different techniques that can be used to figure out what is what.

Ground CinnamonCinnamon can basically be put in any food. It is put in pancakes, eggs, cakes, chocolate, candy, and is even used to add extra flavor to fruits (apples, cherries, pears), and cereal. In the Middle East, it is put in other foods that many Americans wouldn’t think about adding cinnamon too, such as lamb. Besides being used heavily as a spice to make tasty foods even tastier, and add flavor to bland foods, it also has some medical uses. It can treat colds, and people used to believe it was a straight up cure for it. Cinnamon is also used to treat a variety of digestive problems, such as upset stomachs and diarrhea. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, which are important in reducing damage that cells endure regularly. Many commercials promote the fact that their product is high in antioxidants, and cinnamon is no different. The oil that cinnamon has is antimicrobial, which kills or slows the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other things of the like. While this does little for the human body, when cinnamon is placed around other foods, it prolongs their life (how long before they come inedible). Studies have shown that cinnamon has great effects on people with Type II diabetes, but while the media portrayed the studies as showing that true cinnamon was beneficial, it was actually cassia that was used in the studies. Another fantastic use of cinnamon is its use as an insect repellant (kind of odd considering how good it smells). Many independent farmers do not like using insecticide because of its harmful side effects on humans, but cinnamon is a safe way to keep the bugs out and the crops safe.

The history of cinnamon is not a brief one. It dates back to as far as 2000 BC, and at that period was given as a gift to high leaders and rulers (it wasn’t as easy to make back then). Cinnamon is also mentioned many times in the Bible, adding to its value. In the Middle Ages, western world dwellers didn’t even know how cinnamon was made, as it was just exclusively imported from the other side of the world. Over the years, many different peoples dominated the spice trade (therefore the cinnamon trade as well). It was the Portuguese who actually discovered Ceylon is Sri Lanka, and they had a monopoly for over a century, and they fought hard to preserve it. However, the Dutch defeated them by making an alliance with another kingdom, and they completely expelled the Portuguese and used their own methods to produce and trade cinnamon. By the time Britain dislodged the Dutch, cinnamon was already declining in popularity and was spreading to other areas. Also, Cassia was becoming more popular, and Ceylon was no longer the only bark from which cinnamon was made.

About Old Bay Seasoning

Picture of can of Old Bay Seasoning
Old Bay Seasoning has been a favorite in the state of Maryland for decades. Ever since it’s development in late 30s, many have been using it to enhance things from crabs to hamburgers. While the seasoning used to only be enjoyed by Chesapeake Bay residents, its mass production and popularity have allowed it to spread across the country. However, it will always be most popular in Maryland, famous for its crabs, but especially Baltimore, where crabs are eaten most frequently.

Back in 1939, a German immigrant named Gustav Brunn came to America, with the goal of starting a famous spice business. It was him who developed Old Bay seasoning with a primitive spice-grinder and a few basic ingredients. Because he was in Baltimore, and crabs were plentiful, people quickly took to his unique brand of seasoning, and Brunn got to live the American dream. He even named the seasoning after an old steamship line that served passengers and moved cargo on the Chesapeake Bay (Old Bay). It’s been over sixty years, and Brunn’s seasoning still enjoys moderate fame. Unbeknownst to many people, Brunn was one of the many Jews to escape from Germany after Kristallnacht. However, little else is known about the man who invented Old Bay.

Back when Gustav Brunn created Old Bay Seasoning, crabs were so plentiful in the Chesapeake Bay that bars often offered crabs for free, and seasoned with salty seasonings in order to sell more beer to the patrons. Old Bay is just one of these bar seafood seasonings, and is the seasoning that has survived the test of time.

Of course, Gustav Brunn does not make Old Bay Seasoning anymore. His company, The Old Bay Company was sold, and the company which purchased the rights to Old Bay is McCormick & Company [McCormick also a Baltimore, Maryland based spice company], which now manufacturers Old Bay and many variations of it. McCormick sells Old Bay across the nation through it’s distribution channels and has transformed a regional taste into a national product, almost certainly generating millions of dollars a year through their ventures. Besides the classic “Old Bay” seasoning which McCormick markets, the company also produces varieties such as “Old Bay with Lemon and Herb”, “Old Bay with Garlic and Herb”, “Old Bay Crab Cake Classic”, and many more. It’s for certain that McCormick will be here for a long time, perhaps making even new kinds of Old Bay, with new and possibly exotic flavors.

Picture of Old Bay Seasoning
What exactly is in Old Bay seasoning? It is a mixture of different herbs and spices; it contains a multitude of ingredients. If one doesn’t want to buy Old Bay seasoning, they can make it themselves! Old Bay contains mustard seeds, celery seeds, peppercorns, and much more. An official ingredient list for Old Bay seasoning follows:

Celery seeds
Mustard seeds
Whole black peppercorns
Bay leaves (Laurel)
Whole cloves
Dried Red Pepper (Pimento)
Mace (the outer casing of the Nutmeg seed)
Whole Cardamom
Sweet Hungarian paprika
Picture of ingredient list in Old Bay Seasoning

As the ingredients list shows, it is quite a tasteful and flavorful seasoning. Recipes for making Old Bay Seasoning at home can be found on the Internet, and many people have changed the recipe to customize it just for them.

Old Bay Seasoning is used for more than just crabs, much more. While as we’ve said Old Bay was developed for serving crabs in the bars of Baltimore, people put it on basically anything, such as popcorn (it would be hard to get the seasoning into a movie theatre though, ha), eggs, salads, fries, chips, hamburgers, other seafood, and more. It really can be used on anything, and there are even people who probably put it on pancakes in place of maple syrup! Of course, the majority of people use Old Bay to season their crabs, and other seafood, which is what it will always be predominantly used for. Old Bay not only brings out the full taste of crabs, but adds additional flavor to the dish. And with the right combination with other seafood seasonings, crabs can taste perfect.

Old Bay isn’t the only seafood seasoning, there are several other pretty famous ones. Another great seasoning is Nantucket Rub, which is used mainly for fish, but can also be used on meats such as chicken, and even on breads. The seasoning contains garlic, lemon zest, peppercorns, tarragon, and dill. It’s is named after how it is used; it is rubbed onto the food. Another fine brand is Zatarain [also produced by McCormick & Co.], which has produced many different kinds of seasonings. Most of the seasonings McCormick produces under the Zatarain line are meant to be used on seafood, and some are to be used exclusively on certain fish, such as shrimp. The Zatarain also includes products other than seasonings, and it is famous all over the United States. Another “Rub” seasoning is Bayou Rub, Cajun Seasoning, and Red beans & Rice. The Zatarain’s Cajun seasoning is used for blackening different meats, mainly poultry and seafood. It contains garlic, paprika, onion, black and red pepper, thyme, oregano, and lemon peel. When mixed with other seasonings, the result can be quite delicious.

Here is a recipe for a Maryland Crab Cake, which uses Old Bay Seasoning. The source of the recipe can be found here:

1 lb fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
6 tsp real mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
7 tsp King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

1. Mix all ingredients except the lump crabmeat.
2. Carefully pick through the crabmeat and remove any remaining shell and cartilage keeping as many lumps intact as possible
3. In a large bowl, gently mix crab and mayonnaise mixture. Shape into 5 or 6 cakes. Place shaped cakes on a cookie sheet covered with non-stick aluminum foil.
4. Broil about 10 minutes until tops begin to brown. Turn and broil other side 2 – 3 minutes.
5. Serve with tarter sauce.

Author: Matthew Schroebel