POWDERS: These are mixtures of dry spices which have been ground. The spices are usually sun dried but sometimes are dried over a wood fire to given them a smoky flavor. Some of the more popular dry mixture are:
SEED POWDERS are often found on the tables of rural families in Latin America; they are made by drying and roasting over a pan seeds from melon or pumpkin, they are then ground with garlic, cumin, oregano and salt to form a mixture that can be eaten with a corn tortilla or sprinkled over some cooked grain such as refried beans; it is simple and delicious. In central western Venezuela peasant families always have something they call "Mojo de Auyama", pumpkin powder, to sprinkle on their soups or refried black beans.
Below you will find recipes for some of these seasoning mixture and suggestions for use.
NUTRIENTS: Spices provide us with vitamins, mineral and fiber but their most important benefit is that they helps us reduce salt intake. A very spicy dish requires little or no salt to stimulate our taste buds.
PROCESSING: Condiments whether they are sauces or dry mixes are best prepared with finely chopped spices either by hand or food processor, blenders should not be used because they would liquefy or pulverize the mixture and would not produce the proper texture, which must have a little crunch, the exception being oil based pastes, which you want liquefy to produce a smooth texture.
STORING: Dry mixes can be kept for 3 months in a cool dry place in an airtight container. Oil pastes can be kept for 6 weeks in a cool dry place and do not need refrigeration. Sauces with vinegar or raw ingredients need refrigeration and should not be kept more than 2 weeks.
CHILI POWDER: Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika, 2 Tbs of ground cumin, 1 Tbs of cayenne pepper or other hot pepper ground, 1 Tbs of oregano, 2 Tbs of garlic powder. This is relatively hot version, you may make it milder by reducing hot pepper and increasing paprika, or vice versa making it hotter. This is the essential seasoning for Mexican flavors and chili stews.
ADOBO POWDER: 1 Tbs each of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder, oregano and ground black pepper, mix with 5 Tbs of salt. You may add a pinch of ground hot pepper for some heat. Adobo is very practical for quickly seasoning any meat.
ESCABECHE MARINADE: In a pot place 1 cup each of white wine, white vinegar, olive oil, 1 onion cut in strips, 2 cloves of garlic sliced, 1 carrot sliced, 1 bay leaf, 10 black peppercorns and a teaspoon of salt; heat the mixture until it boils and releases its aromas, you may then place in the hot liquid the fish pieces you want to cook; heat for 5-10 minutes, let cool an refrigerate. You may serve the fish over salad, crusty bread or with a side of rice.
SOFRITO: this is the number one flavoring sauce in Latin America, it is used on meats, grains and fish with some variations. The basic ingredients are finely chopped sweet chili pepper and garlic, for red meats you add chopped tomatoes, onions, green onions, bell peppers, if you will use it on poultry or fish eliminate tomatoes and add celery and leeks. For 1/4 cup of oil add 10 sweet chilies deseeded and finely chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 plum tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green onion, heat and stir until aromas are released and mixture becomes saucy. For fish or poultry eliminate tomatoes and 1 stalk of celery, 1 whole leaf of leek (white and green part). You would use the sofrito to flavor shredded meats.
RED PEPPER MOJO: blend 1 cup of oil with 1 hot chili pepper seeds included, 2 red bell peppers deseeded and chopped, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 Tbs of salt; blend very well if you want a thicker texture add a piece of the inside of white bread and blend. This goes very well with grill meats.