mybellaThe best way I’ve found to spice up my salads, soups, meats and vegetables, is to add a big pinch of my homemade blend of “Especia Bella”, or “Beautiful Spice”.  I feel like Emeril Lagasse when I toss in a dash of my “Bella”, it may not be “Bam”, but it’s just exactly right for my taste.

In Emeril’s book, “Every Day’s a Party”, he gives his recipe for Creole Seasoning, which contain salt, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, dried oregano and thyme.  He lists the exact proportions he likes, just right for his taste.  Emeril mixes them together and stores them in an air-tight container, which can be kept up to 3 months.

I actually saw Emeril in person a few years ago. Our eyes met as he swept his hand across mine, I was standing in a crowd of admirers waiting to buy his book.  I was impressed at how widely he smiled and how everyone there was so thrilled to see him.  I’ve tried to emulate his energy, passion and flare for cooking.  Maybe the word isn’t “emulate”.  It’s that lately I’m paying more attention to my passion and love of cooking, and I’m enjoying fine, well-prepared and presented foods more than ever before.

Remembering back on that instant when Emeril touched me, I think I’ve found a way to become a little more like him by making my own blend of herbs and spices to use when I want to “kick it up a notch”.pestle

I thought of my favorite herbs and spices and how I could blend them to create a special spice just for me, my own signature flavor to add to any dish when the time is right.

Dried rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil started my blend, and then cumin, recently brought back from Egypt, and ground red-hot cayenne pepper from Chimayo, New Mexico completed my mix.  My marble mortar and pestle worked to crush them all together.  The aroma was amazing!  The portions were strictly what seemed right to me, a blend that comes from my heart, my “Especia Bella”.

If you’d like to spice up your dishes and give them your own signature flavors, make a special blend of your favorite herbs and spices, keep them in a lovely air-tight jar, invent your own name for it (my middle name is Bella), and use it with flare!