Monday, September 16, 2013

Intermediate Culinary Class: Spice Rub and Condiment Exploration

The homework for today's class was to create our own signature spice rub, and to go to a store and look over some mustards, oils, vinegars, and rubs.

For the spice rub, I made up a batch of a rub I love to do for grilled steak. It's base is cocoa powder. Yes, chocolate isn't just for dessert. In fact, it was a savory spice long before the Dutch got the idea to add sugar and cream to it. I like to accent the cocoa with cumin, onion powder, coriander, and a little cayenne for a touch of heat. It also has some kosher salt. I think it gives a great crust on a grilled rib eye.

Cocoa Perfection Grilled Beef Rub

      1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
      1 ½ Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
      1 ½ tsp. Cumin
      1 tsp. Onion powder
      1 tsp. Coriander
      ½ tsp. Cayenne powder

The other thing I did was go to Harvest Ranch Market in El Cajon, and poke through their shelves. It is an upscale grocery store. It has a good selection of off beat stuff. Prices range from a little high to WTF.

We were supposed to look over mustards, oils, rubs, and vinegars. I picked two of each to make notes about.

The two mustards that caught my eye were Jack Daniel's Hickory Smoke Mustard, and Cuisine Perel Zinfandel Orange Mustard. I've used, and loved, Jack Daniel's mustards before. This is the first time I have seen the hickory smoked, though. The Cuisine Perel looked really interesting, with wine and lots of citrus juice.

The vinegars that I found most interesting were Alessi Orange Blossom Honey Balsamic Vinegar, and Lucini Dark Cherry Balsamico. The Alessi sounded sweet and luscious. It was actually reasonably priced. The Lucini uses real aged balsamic, and is aged in a chestnut cask. I would love to get it, but it is outrageously out of my price range.

For oils, there wasn't a lot of choice, comparatively. I found a Monini Porchini Mushroom Olive Oil that looked intriguing. Because, mushrooms, duh. The other oil I noted was Argana Argan Oil.  I had no idea what that was so looked it up when I got home. The argan tree is native to Morocco, and the Berbers have apparently pressing the oil from the seeds for a very long time. It is supposed to taste similar to hazelnut oil, and studies seem to indicate it is one of the healthiest of oils. It's also expensive, be argan trees only grow in Morocco, on the edge of the desert.

The spice blends/rubs I thought looked fun were The Spice Hunter Fiery Chile Fusion and Weber Kick'n Chicken.

It's fun to poke through a store and see what weird things you can find.

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