Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts From the Kitchen and From the Heart: Mole Dry Rub

   Making a gift is often a very economical way making sure everyone on your list has something special.  I am going a little crazy with the kitchen gifts this year.  Like me, my little brother enjoys cooking.  However, he is sort of poor and has responsibly decided that rent is more important than stocking his spice cabinet.  He is slowly building up the basics, and honestly, probably has more spices than most people.  It still isn't where he wants it to be though, and I totally understand.  So I decided to be a really thoughtful big sister.  I got him all the basic condiments to make Asian food (good soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, etc.) and I made him a set of dry rubs that will boost his spice rack considerably.  (I am not worried about this not being a surprise... he doesn't have internet or even a computer.)  This morning, I pulled out most of our spices (but definitely not all), my mortar and pestle, and got to work!

   The rubs I made are Jerk, Mole, and Provencal.  He likes spicy things, so I upped the heat in this jerk with more cayenne, ground crushed red pepper flake, and hot paprika.  I didn't make the exact same blend as the mild jerk, but it is really close.  If you decide to make someone the jerk rub as a gift, it is better to powdered garlic and ginger because storage is easier.  The Provencal is herbs de Provence, extra thyme and rosemary, some oregano, garlic and onion powders, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  
Jerk, Mole, Provencal

   I packaged Doug's rubs in little air-tight sealing acrylic jars.  They are 3 1/2 oz each.  I got them at Target for  $4.  Not bad.  They are the perfect way to make something that is only sort of special into something that is really special!  I also found some other jars at World Market.  They are 4 1/2 oz glass jars with adjustable shaker lids.  The set of four was also just $4.  I will say the acrylic jars have a better seal... just something to keep in mind.

   The mole is the one that I am especially excited about!  Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that was originally created by the nuns of the Puebla and Oaxaca regions in Southern Mexico.  It is a rich, spicy, earthy sauce that is characterized by the little bit of chocolate stirred in at the end.  Chocolate was considered a food of the Gods by the Aztecs and the idea of chocolate being a holy food carried through to the early Christians.  Basically, mole is meant to be a special occasion sauce because of the copious amounts of (what were) more expensive ingredients, the addition of chocolate, and the length of time it takes to prepare it properly.  This dry rub his all same notes, but it much easier to make.

Mole Dry Rub
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp ground)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp ground)
4 whole allspice berries (or 1/4 tsp ground)
1 1/2 tsp roasted pepitas
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika (any kind you like)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp cayenne

   In a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) crack cumin, peppercorns, and allspice until the are a coarse powder.  Add pepitas and work into a fairly fine powder.  Add the rest of the spices and herbs.  If using a mortar and pestle, work mixture just a few times to crush everything together.  If using a spice grinder, just stir everything together (do not grind).  Seal in (preferably air-tight) containers.  It should last up to 3 months if stored in a cool, dry place.
   Makes about 3.25 oz.

P.S.--Notice that the pictures are a bit better?  That's because my amazing friends got me a new camera for my birthday/Xmas!!!  I haven't had much time to play around with it yet so they aren't super great pictures, but I can already tell the difference.  This camera even has a specific setting for food... awesome, right?!

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