Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets

I thought I'd kick this thing off with a confession: I am a culinary hypocrite. Ok well not totally, but you will hear me spout off occasionally about freshness, purity, real food, doing it all yourself, etc. But there's some things in my pantry you should know about. They are my secret weapons, ingredients that I border on being
ashamed of using because some of them go against my food snobbery. But they make food taste so good!

Sometimes it's about convenience, other times it's just about recognizing that somebody over in Alabama or up in Harlem can blend spices better than me. I'm putting all this out there so when you see them pop up in my recipes, well, just don't judge me. At the end of the day, it's all about flavor...

That's right...I use it. A LOT

First up is Lawry's Seasoned Salt. It's truly magical. This goes on pretty much anything fried in my house, as well as on lots of veggies and meats. To be honest I've probably used it on everything but cake at this point. It's a perfectly acceptable way to get a lot of flavor into something without raiding the spice rack.

The second secret ingredient, which I do not have a picture of because we ran out 3 weeks ago, is Original Southern Flavor. It's a garlicky char-broil seasoning from my hubby's home town of Selma, Alabama. We beg his mom to ship it to us roughtly every 2 months because it's not available here. Would you excuse me for a moment?

Psssssst! Evelyn...could you send us two Southern Flavors? My food, and as a result my life, is empty without it. Thanks...

 That stuff is INCREDIBLE on broiled or grilled chicken, mixed into hamburger meat, and on any veggie you want to give good country flavor to.

All hail the Queen

Sylvia has a whole line of herb blends and canned goods, but I'm partial to the original. Perfect for greens and poultry; it's pretty heavy on the thyme. I also like to toss some cut up potatoes in olive oil and Sylvias and roast them in in a nice hot oven. Oh! I add this to my pan gravy when I do cube steaks as well. it dinnertime yet? Bottom line - it really is the perfect soul-food seasoning.

Two more not-pictured staples for home cooking around here, and again I say don't judge me, Kitchen Bouquet and chicken boullion cubes. I said don't judge me... KB makes my brown pan gravy, well, brown. It's also essential in my lazy onion dip, which I will share with you eventually. The boullion cubes I like to add to canned veggies to help get rid of the tinny taste. Of course, god forbid I run out of stock, those little golden cubes come in handy.

Ok....deep breath... because up until a couple weeks ago when I tried the brisket recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond ,  I swore I'd never go near the stuff... (PS it was divine)

I'm so excited the picture is blurry...

Let's be clear, if I'm going to use liquid smoke, it's gonna be the good stuff, from the grand poobah of  Texas BBQ. Mind you, liquid smoke by any name is strong stuff, so don't get all willy nilly when you experiment with it. I mostly use it in beans and meat marinades, but I'll take any excuse to add smoky goodness to something, especially when grilling season is over.

speaking of smoky goodness
Smoked salt is a gift from heaven. I am NOT ashamed of this stuff at all. Note: It's a finishing salt. That means don't toss it in the pot with what you're cooking. You sprinkle it over the finished product. My favorite use for this is on fresh sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil. It's also killer on melon. And pretty much anything else.

This is just a short list of some of my favorite not-so-secret-anymore ingredients. Periodically I'll share more favorites with you. I highly reccomend you all add these to your grocery list ASAP. Except maybe the Southern Flavor. I'm not sure my mother in law would appreciate all the calls from strangers.

1 comment:

  1. I love this, Christy! I "wrote" a cookbook several years ago for my friends and gave it to them for Christmas. Along with each recipe (mostly southern recipes), I included a story, a memory, or a random quip about the recipe. I would love to share some of my recipes with you!