What started out as a cooking school has grown to include a successful spice business with a Spice of the Month Club, of which I’m a proud member.
Co-owners Cortney Smith and David Cook’s line of spice mixes and condiments is marketed as Gather Ingredients. They’ve used the spices in their various cooking classes, but they realized that students might end up knowing only one way to use a particular spice — in the class recipes.
So, a new series of classes was born. A single spice is the star of an hourlong presentation. Smith or Cook discusses its use in different styles of cuisines and demonstrates a recipe for tasting. Students get a package of the featured spice to take home.
I attended the August class, which featured adobo seasoning, and it was a real eye-opener for me. I had expected to learn how to make the marinade found in cans of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce. Instead, I was taught about its more common use: as a granulated seasoning mixture.
“I grew up using this spice on just about everything,” Smith said, holding up a jar of Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning. “I grew up in Wisconsin, and this was my mother’s go-to seasoning — not a seasoning you’d normally think of when cooking typical Midwestern dishes. I especially loved it sprinkled on spaghetti.”
She explained that adobo “is most popular in Puerto Rican foods and is a seasoning salt of Latin countries, a replacement for salt and pepper.”
“Chicken adobo is the national dish in the Filipino culture, using a briny mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and spices,” she said. “It should not be confused with the spicy Spanish adobo sauce. Although they both share the Spanish name, they are vastly different in flavor and ingredients. Adobo is a spice that goes around the world.”
She described the Goya adobo as a dry marinade and very salty. Gather Ingredients’ adobo seasoning is made without any preservatives and no MSG.
“We make a pure seasoning,” she said. “We use sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, Mexican oregano and turmeric. Turmeric gives foods a yellow tint and is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties and boosts immunities.”
Cook used their seasoning blend to make Puerto Rican mamposteao rice.
“When we travel to Puerto Rico, we eat this dish almost at every meal,” she said. “The big thing about this dish is that it uses pink beans, which are almost impossible to find. We had planned to bring back pink beans on our trip to Puerto Rico this spring just for the class. But, like so many things this spring, it was canceled. I’ve used Anasazi beans this evening.”
She added that sometimes you can find pink beans at farmers markets.
“Or, you can use cranberry beans, or in a pinch, pinto beans,” she said.
The hearty mamposteao rice can be a side or entrée, since it includes chorizo along with the beans. Dried beans can be cooked in a pressure cooker for speedy preparation or use a light-colored canned bean. Recipes for pressure cooker beans and the rice dish follow.
You can buy Gather Ingredients at Gather — A Food Studio, 2015 W. Colorado Ave. For hours, call 308-2992 or visit gatherfoodstudio.com.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.