Several years ago, when I first started making Jambalaya (recipe here) — a food entirely foreign to me — I needed to pick up some Creole Seasoning for the recipe. I fell back on the typical Zatarains Creaole Seasoning available at my local grocery store. It did the job, but over the years I have slowly banished pre-made spice mixes and bases from my kitchen, including things like taco meat seasoning, cream of chicken soup and more. I knew there had to be better choices to be found and a bit of searching on the Internet has always been able o turn up, at least the beginnings of, homemade replacements. This was also true for basic Creole seasoning mixes.
One of the firs recipes that popped up in my searches was Emeril Lagasse’s “Essence”, used in all his television shows, so I figured I would start there.
Creole seasoning mixes are pretty straightforward and include spices that most of us have in the pantry already including paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, and cayenne pepper, so I can make up a batch of this seasoning mix pretty quickly.
For my own personal mix, I have altered 3 items from Emeril’s original recipe.
- First, I reduced the amount of salt to around 1tsp instead of the 2 Tablespoons in the recipe. Pre-made mixes tended to be way to salty for me, and this recipe seemed to be more in-line with them as far as salt content was concerned. I think you could probably exclude the salt entirely — and manage it directly in whatever recipe your making.
- Second, his recipe was waaaaaay to hot for me, so I reduced the amount of cayenne pepper to around 1-2 teaspoons. I have slowly raised that amount with each batch I made, but it still falls far short of the 1 tablespoon called for in his recipe.
- Third, I used smoked paprika — picked up at my local CostCo — instead of regular paprika. For me, this immediately “kicked things up a notch.” The deep, smoky flavor imparted by the paprika brought an entirely new level of flavor to my dishes.
One side effect of having this spice mix at head was I quickly realized how yummy it was on popcorn — one of our go-to, low-cal snacks here at the house. I often combine a liberal shake of my homemade Creole Seasoning with some White Cheddar Popcorn Powder. This is a great way to mix things up from our typical salt and pepper popcorn topping and gives me the sense of eating really bad snack foods without all the calories. (SMILE)
I always keep the empty containers from the cheese powders to use as an extra container/shaker for this Creole spice mix, so I can easily shake it over popcorn sort anything else I want to add a little zing to.
By starting with a base recipe, like this, you an feel free to experiment with differing amounts and even different spices to make something that is entirely unique to you and your kitchen. It takes so little time to make spice mixes like this, so you should really try stepping away from the pre-made pouches and cans at the grocery store and creating something that you will really enjoy using and eating.
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