Spice It Up in the Kitchen

Several local companies are spicing things up—literally—with fresh and innovative blends that can easily take a meal from ordinary to extraordinary. From Tonguespank’s flavored sea salts and liquor-infused spice blends to Spicemode’s Indian-inspired infusions, the options are endless. Chefs have long enjoyed experimenting with various spices from around the globe, but now they are more accessible than ever for home cooks too. Even the most novice cook can sprinkle a little chili flake and paprika onto charred kale sprouts or marinate chicken in a vibrant blend of curry spices. Bring some of these flavors into your own home with these three simple recipes.

“We want to save the world from boring food,” says Tonguespank Spice’s Matt Potter. Their best-selling smoky bourbon spice and sriracha salt are anything but boring. This recipe for deviled eggs was born at a Kickstarter event to raise funds for the company’s initial launch. “This dish is supposed to highlight one of the key features of Tonguespank’s products, which is taking a seemingly normal dish and kicking it up a notch,” Potter says.

Smoky Bourbon Deviled Eggs

Serves 12


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tonguespank’s Smoky Bourbon Finishing Spice (for garnish)


1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with water to 1 inch above the eggs. Heat on high until water comes to a full boil, then cover. Remove from heat and leave covered for 12 minutes, then rinse under cold water continuously for 1 minute.

2. Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl, and placing the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, hot sauce and Worcerstershire sauce and mix well.

3. Evenly disperse heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites, or place yolks in in a pastry bag with a star tip for that perfect finishing touch. Sprinkle with Smoky Bourbon Finishing Salt and serve chilled.


Make your favorite Indian dishes at home with Spicemode’s various sauces and spice mixes. “These pantry staples eliminate hours of prep work,” says Spicemode’s Amar Singh. “But it tastes like you cooked all day.” There are health benefits to the home-cooked version too. “It’s loaded with spinach and with far less fat and calories than take out,” Singh says. They have plenty of other recipes on their site too. We also love using the cooking sauces as a dip for naan, veggie crudité and chips for when you don’t feel like cooking.

Spicemode Spinach + Sweet Potato

Serves 4



1. Peel and cube sweet potato into 1” pieces. Sprinkle with Masala Herb seasoning plus a drizzle of oil and roast on a sheet tray in a 425 degrees Farenheit oven for 30 minutes until soft and slightly charred.

2. Add Spicemode Madras Sauce to pot over medium high heat along with can of crushed tomatoes and a splash of water. Stir to combine and simmer gently for a couple minutes, until the flavors of the sauce combines with the tomatoes.

3. Add coconut milk and continue to simmer for up to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens.

4. Add 1 cup chopped spinach to sauce and stir until nicely combined. Drop in the roasted sweet potato and simmer gently until the potatoes are warmed through. Season with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon. Serve over brown rice or with naan.


The Spice House has locations in Evanston, Chicago, Geneva and Milwaukee, and second-generation spice merchants Patty and Tom Erd have been sourcing, blending and sifting fresh spices for your cooking enjoyment since 1957. From Caribbean to Mexican to Italian cuisine, their spice blends reflect Chicago’s melting-pot culture with the favorite flavors of a multitude of ethnic groups.

Their Jamaican Jerk spice blend is hand mixed with white and green onion, garlic, allspice, thyme, habanero powder, nutmeg, sweet Chinese cinnamon and cayenne pepper and has been a regular part of weekend staff lunch for years.

“The best testimonial came from a native Jamaican who was attending school in the U.S.,” Patty says. “He told us this was so authentic it made him homesick! There is a recipe for a terrific marinade on the label but if you just don’t have the time to make a marinade, the flavor is nice just sprinkled over chops, ribs, chicken or grilled shrimp kebabs. To get the real jerk flavor you want, it is well worth the extra ingredients and time it takes to make the marinade.”

Jamaican Jerk Marinated Chicken Wings

Serves 4-5 (appetizer servings)


  • 1 package (16-20 pieces) chicken wings


  • 1/2 cup (3 oz. in bulk bag) Spice House Jamaican Jerk Spice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider or white distilled work fine)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (1 large orange)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 small lime)


1. Wash and cut the chicken wings. Cut each wing at the joints, throw away the wing tips, and you’ll get two finger-lickin’ pieces per wing.

2. Mix the marinade ingredients together, pour over the wings, and refrigerate overnight (at least 4-6 hours, and up to 2 days). Zip lock bags make great disposable marinating containers. Throw the leftover marinade away. Grill or broil as desired.


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