It’s been a while since I had a cooking post. Let’s play a bit, shall we?
Tonight I made shrimp fajitas. Nothing fancy – I’m still very cash strapped, so it’s all poor-man work. There was a massive sale on pre-cooked medium shrimp, and a good but not overwhelming sale on both bell peppers and tortillas. (I like the ones I make. My wife doesn’t. We all know who wins.) Slice, saute the veggies in an electric skillet. (yes, it should be grilled. what part of doing cooking on the cheap did you miss?) About a minute before done toss in the shrimp to heat. 30 seconds out toss in the seasoning, then plate with sides of refried beans and spanish rice.
Now in the middle of that block was one word. Seasonings. See, I’ve got a little mix I use on my fajitas. When I grill I either dry rub or convert this to a marinade, but I’ve discovered I actually prefer it this way; tossed with everything at the very last instant. I call it my semi-mole powder.
Here’s the rough of my recipe. I say rough because I measure by eye, and sometimes add a little of this or that.
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves.
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, ground to coarse powder in mortar.
1 teaspoon garlic powder.
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
1 teaspoon cayenne powder. (note, I double if it’s just me and not my wife)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder.
1 teaspoon salt.
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.
Other spices if I think of them and have them around:
1/2 teaspoon oregano.
1/2 teaspoon basil.
1/2 teaspoon parsley.
zest of one lemon (added if not storing the powder).
Everything before “other spices” is pretty much always in there. It’s eyeballed so it’s more ‘one part this, that, and the other thing’ plus a good shake of cinnamon and a careful couple of dashes of the cloves.
And I really want to emphasize the zest comment. Everything else can be combined and stored. The zest makes it use or lose.
But the first thing I do after mixing this is just smell it. It’s almost a quarter cup, more than enough for most things I make.
Let’s see. Two comments to finish. The less important is that yes, I use cocoa powder. It adds a dark but subtle undertone that helps balance the bright and sharp tones of everything else. The broader range brings all the tastebuds to the party. You can go wrong with chocolate, but not here.
The more important is to remind that you do not have to stick to my recipe. It is a guide even for me. You’ve got cilantro you want in? I’ve done it, liked it, go for it. You think that’s too much thyme or not enough garlic powder? You want to add minced garlic? In all cases, go for it. My tastebuds are not yours. (not to say I might not like your mix, just I may or may not like it as much as mine. And vice versa.)