'spices' on Serious Eats

Achiote Oil

This fragrant red-orange oil can be used to color and flavor all sorts of Latin American and Caribbean rice dishes, stews, and braises. The oil forms a mild base to build layers of flavor with browned meat, onion, garlic, fresh chile, citrus, cumin, and tomato. More

Beef Tibs

The sauce in this dish gets its kick from berbere, an Ethiopian chili powder fragrant with cardamom, fenugreek, and clove. Use it once and you'll see why a good chunk of Ethiopian cuisine is built on it. More

Baked Eggplant with Lamb and Walnut Sauce

A Turkish-inspired dish with a ragu as complex as bolognese that can be made in a fraction of the time. The principal spice blend in the sauce is called janissary spice, the product of Turkish spice blender in Istanbul, but it's easy to replicate at home. Seek out maraş chiles, which are intensely sweet, not that hot, and carry the rich flavors of sun-warmed tomatoes with hints of red bell pepper for the blend. You can find them at Cambridge's Formaggio Kitchen and Oakland's Market Hall foods (both sell online as well). Easier-to-find aleppo makes a good, if not more tart and spicy substitute. More

Seven Spice Pork Lettuce Wraps

You can size up these patties to make full-on pork burgers, but I prefer smaller ones to wrap in tender lettuce and dip in a garlic-laced soy dipping sauce. Be careful not to compress the meat when forming the patties; they should just hold themselves together. Leftover dipping sauce can be served over rice or stir fried with leafy green vegetables as a side dish. More

Pork Adobo

Adobo is more a cooking style than a recipe. Pork, chicken, fish, beef, or pretty much any protein you want can be adobo'd. Some cooks swear by coconut milk, others consider it verboten. You can add coriander, cumin, and chiles (smoked or fresh), or just stick to classic bay leaf, as I've done here. Even the inclusion of soy sauce is negotiable. There are few rules with adobo, and fewer agreements about what constitutes it. More

Gingerbread Spice Mix

Gingerbread spices are endlessly customizable. This version balances warm, spicy flavors against cool, citrus-y ones, and has a cool finish of cardamom, anise, and black pepper. Unless you have a very good source for ground ginger, you're best grinding your own from whole dried versions. A microplane makes a quick job of them. More

Election Cake

The earliest recorded version of Election Cake was published by Amelia Simmons in the second edition of her book American Cookery. Alas, Ms. Simmons' recipe isn't of much practical use for the modern home cook—it calls for 30 quarts of flour, 10 pounds of butter, 14 pounds of sugar, 12 pounds of raisins, 3 dozen eggs, 1 pint of wine, and 1 pint of brandy, among other ingredients. More

Apple Rosemary Chutney

Apples and rosemary practically sing for roast pork (the juniper doesn't hurt either), but this chutney also plays nicely with roasted root vegetables, cabbage, soups, and cheese plates. Rosemary acts as a supporting player here, a foil for the apples. More

Bourbon Peach and Raspberry Crisp

This is high summer dessert at its finest: boozy, bawdy peaches with tart berries and a pecan-studded buttery topping, brightened and made perfect by the inclusion of lemon zest and mace. Use firmer, less ripe peaches here so they don't fall apart. The raspberries, on the other hand, will melt in the oven, so use whatever you have (frozen ones work well). More

Dal (Spiced Lentil Soup)

There as many versions of dal as there are Indian cooks. This is just one of mine, made with red split lentils and with no vegetable other than onions. The flavor is very South Indian, but the use of butter instead of oil (I actually use the spiced clarified butter niter kibbeh) and the inclusion of vadouvan at the end (to refresh the soup's flavor) take this out of strictly traditional territory. More

Chicken with Tomatillo and Red Chile Sauce

Piloncillo takes extremely well to spicy sauces flavored with dried chiles, as well as to the juicy tartness of tomatillos. This is my go-to chile sauce for recipes like tacos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles. Use it with or separately from the chicken that braises in it (the recipes makes extra sauce, which can be frozen and used later). More

Dinner Tonight: Pork Chops with 'Magic Dust'

If you're done much research in the realm of barbecue, you may have come across a spice mixture, credited to the great barbecue pitmaster Mike Mills, known as "magic dust." It is a marvelous, intoxicating mix of spices that can be used as a dry rub not only on a rack of ribs for smoking, but just about any cut of meat (or even sprinkled over vegetables), making it a handy mix to have around at all times. I always make up a big batch and use it regularly, which is how I found myself with a gorgeous, marbled, thick-cut pork chop and the inspiration for an easy way to dress it up. More

Fennel, Orange, and Roasted Pepper Salad

This is a simple salad, but it's all about playing off the different flavors of Tasmanian pepper, soaked in the dressing before serving. Raw fennel's complex sweetness and astringency highlights the spice's fruitiness and pepper-like bite. Oranges magnify its hints of bright fruits and flowers, while smoky roasted red pepper lets the spice's earthiness shine. The bed of arugula gives the salad body, and its bitterness does well with Tasmanian pepper's juniper-like alpine qualities. More

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