So GoodApr/May 2009 Issue

Spice Up Your Allergy-Friendly Cooking

If you're at a loss to make something interesting for dinner, why not invoke a trade secret I learned in culinary school? Create a blend of spices, seasonings, herbs and zests that turn ordinary meat into something extraordinary. Blend chili, paprika, garlic and red pepper to flavor pork roast, brisket or chicken. Mix thyme, oregano, rosemary and garlic to flavor turkey. Professional chefs call these “rubs.” I call them magic. And you will, too.

You can make your own spice blends to sprinkle on all sorts of foods, including fish and vegetables. The combinations are endless. The trick is to find the mix you like best and keep it on hand.

Some chefs massage their spices directly into the meat. I prefer to sprinkle a heavy coating on the food. Thicker cuts of meat (roasts, turkey breast, etc.) should be seasoned overnight. Thinner pieces and all types of fish require just a few minutes to soak in the extra flavor.

Want to intensify the taste even more? Try basting the meat as it cooks with a “mop,” a liquid that enhances the spices and tenderizes the meat. For beef, chicken or pork, I use a blend of cider vinegar, brown sugar and a pinch of red pepper. For turkey, I “mop” with lemon juice.

You can customize your favorite blends by adding extra spices. Use cumin, for example, for a Mexican taste or allspice to impart a tropical flavor. Try these recipes to bring a little gluten-free, dairy-free spice to your table.


Roasted Asparagus

SERVES 4 TO 6

Serve this flavorful asparagus with Creamy Dipping Sauce.

1 pound asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spread asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Coat with oil.

3. Combine coriander, cumin and salt. Sprinkle some of the spice mixture over the asparagus. Shake the baking sheet to coat the spears.

4. Place asparagus in preheated oven and bake about 15 minutes or until tips begin to brown.

Creamy Dipping Sauce

¾ cup gluten-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
❧ Grated peel of one lemon
❧ Dash of cayenne

Combine ingredients thoroughly.

TIP For gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free mayonnaise, try Spectrum Naturals Organic Eggless Light Mayo (spectrumorganics.org), Nasoya Original Nayonaise (nasoya.com), or Follow Your Heart Vegenaise (followyourheart.com).Products may contain soy.


Meat Rub

This recipe enhances the flavor of beef, pork and chicken. If using on chicken, spoon the rub under loosened skin. Makes enough for several applications.

2 pounds brisket, 2 pounds
boneless pork loin, 3 pounds
whole chicken or 2 pounds chicken parts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup sweet Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne or to taste
½ teaspoon ground red chipotle, ancho chili, cumin or allspice

1. Rinse meat and pat it dry.

2. Blend all spices together. Generously sprinkle meat with rub. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake meat until tender, basting with Meat Mop. Meat may also be cooked in a crockpot.

Meat Mop

For milder flavor, reduce the amount of pepper flakes.

½ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1. Combine ingredients and baste meat.


Turkey Rub

This rub is also good on lamb.

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1½ teaspoons thyme
1½ teaspoons cracked rosemary, slightly crushed
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dehydrated lemon peel
¾ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
❧ Juice of a large lemon

1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil and lemon juice and rub the blend into a turkey breast. Gently lift the skin and rub some of the mixture directly on the meat. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey skin with olive oil.

3. Place turkey in preheated oven and bake until done, basting with pan juices and lemon juice periodically. LW

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