Spike seasoning (Recipe: grilled chicken salad)
Helmut Eugen Benjamin Gellert Hauser must have had the world's most perfect pantry.
How else could he have concocted the latest addition to my own pantry -- his famous Spike seasoning -- which combines 39 ingredients (Really. 39. Can you count them in the photograph?):
Salt and sea salt crystals, special high potency non-active nutritional yeast grown on beet molasses, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (the box says NO ADDED MSG, but we'll come back to this), mellow toasted onion, onion powder, orange powder, soy flour, celery leaf powder, celery root powder, garlic powder, dill, kelp, Indian curry, horseradish, ripe white pepper, orange and lemon peel, summer savory, mustard flower, sweet green and red peppers, parsley flakes, tarragon, rosehips, saffron, mushroom powder, parsley powder, spinach powder, tomato powder, sweet Hungarian paprika, celery powder, cayenne pepper, Greek oregano, French sweet basil, French marjoram, French rosemary, and Spanish thyme.
Gayelord Hauser, as he was known, was a German-born naturopath, nutritionist to the stars, and, it's rumored, more-than-a-friend of Greta Garbo.
As a teenager, he moved to the United States, and shortly afterwards contracted tuberculosis. Sent to Sweden to be treated by a monk who used herbal and dietary cures, Hauser made a full recovery, and upon his return to the US, embarked on the study of "food science." He's best known as the author of Look Younger; Live Longer, published in 1950 way ahead of the eat-to-live curve. Though he died in 1984, Hauser's seasonings have been manufactured in Wisconsin by Modern Products Inc. for more than 50 years.
Available in supermarkets and online (the 7-ounce box sells for $4.99), Spike comes in salt-free and flavored blends -- garlic, lemon pepper, hot and spicy -- and adds awesome flavor and instant umami to cottage cheese and egg breakfast muffins, turkey meatloaf, poutine, garlic shrimp stir fry and spicy chickpeas, beef and cilantro.
Though the package says NO ADDED MSG, Spike does contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is a form of glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate. (To learn more, read this article and this one and this one.)
I am one of those people who turns beet red in Chinese restaurants that cook with MSG, but I love Spike, and I haven't had an MSG reaction when I've used it. Doesn't mean the MSG isn't there, just that the amount of it used at any one time is miniscule and doesn't seem to affect me.
What does affect me is flavor, and the flavor is great. I'll be using this all-purpose seasoning on grilled foods, eggs, veggies, and in salad dressings all summer. Thanks, Kalyn, for introducing Spike to my pantry.
Grilled chicken salad
When friends drop in unexpectedly, toss this chicken salad with some Dreamfields rotini and grilled asparagus to make a complete meal. Serves 4.
1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp Spike seasoning
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme leaf
1/4 cup chopped celery
Trim the fat from the chicken breasts, and place on a platter. Sprinkle on both sides with Spike and ground pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil, and turn to coat. Set aside.
Heat a grill to high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from grill and set aside.
While the chicken is cooling, combine mayonnaise, mustard and thyme leaf in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped celery. Chop the chicken breasts, and add to the bowl. Toss to combine. Serve warm or chilled, in a sandwich or salad, with or without pasta.