Quick Recipes and Easy

Basic 6 Spices

The six spices that you should always have on hand. Not to insult salt and pepper, but they do have their limits.

Whether you have a lifetime of experience in the kitchen, or just starting out, every cook would benefit by having these basic six spices in their spice rack. Used separately to enhance a light gravy or soup, or blended together for a more flavorful pasta sauce or marinade, these spices will always perk up a meal and please the palate.

1. Onion: The foundation of most dishes, the base flavoring of world wide cuisines. Aromatic, with an earthy taste, a small goes a long way.

2. Red Pepper (ground or flaked): Natures own small gift of fire and flavor. This spice is fantastic added to meat marinades, pasta sauces of all kinds, curries, Asian dishes, you name it. I add chili to just about everything I make. Just a sprinkle, or a handful, you set the temperature.

3. Basil: Sweet herb, simmer into soup, stew, pesto or tomato sauce for a savory Italian dish. Basil can also be chopped fresh and blended into tossed salad greens.

4. Paprika: Paprika is often used as a garnish, sprinkled on eggs, hors d’oeuvres and salads. You can zest up cheeses, garlic bread, marinades and soups. It can be incorporated in the flour dusting for chicken and other meats. I never bake, grill or fry chicken without paprika. If you like home-made salad dressings, a shake or two of paprika is a must.

5. Cumin: Cumin is a standard for Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cooking. Turn nearly any dish from plain to extraordinary. It is essential for Mexican foods: tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and so much more. If you take a bite and feel that something is missing… it’s probably the cumin.

6. Garlic: I consider garlic to be the most vital and loved spice ever. I take it with me when I travel. The uses of garlic are infinite. The aroma of garlic lifts the senses and fills the soul with anticipation of flavor. If you desire to entice the appetite and bring your loved ones to the table, I guarantee, garlic will help you capture their attention.

Maria Graver is the author of many articles related to cooking and entertainment. While she has catered full dinners to groups as large as 400, most of her writings are focused on the family and making memorable meals that keep everyone coming back for more. If you’d like to learn how do start cooking like a pro, please visit her website, mariascookery.com MariasCookery.com.

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