summer

The Flavor-Boosting Trio I’m Eating for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Even Dessert

published May 26, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A piece of french toast with a pat of butter on top
Credit: Mara Weinraub

I’m not a confident cook. But recently I’ve become more , dare I say, bold in the kitchen and open to experimentation. This is a relatively new phenomenon for me. My sweet spot (pun intended) is in all things baked. It’s in my bones. Cooking, not so much.

Over the past few weeks, though, I climbed out of my rut (winter, amiright?). I ate the most decadent French toast I’d ever made. After several previous failed attempts, I finally made a decent scallion pancake dough, and later got creative with it (more on that below). I successfully cooked ribs in my subpar oven for the first time and, on the heels of that victory, hosted a dinner party at a friend’s apartment with 20 minutes of prep. I credit almost all of it to this three-pack of seasoning salts from Portland Salt Co. Here’s why.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

What You Should Know About Portland Salt Co. Artisan Blends?

Portland Salt Co., like many emerging brands (Omsom, OffLimits, Otherworld, and others), was born out of the pandemic. Founders and married duo, Becca and Justin, had already been making their steak salt blend and gifting it to friends, family, and colleagues. During the lockdown the demand from the group increased, which got the couple thinking and later doing something more. Enter: Portland Salt Co.

Today, the line includes a mix of five artisan blends: Steak Salt (the OG), Za’atar (formerly known as Pita Salt), Pork Rub, Toast Sugar, and Greek Blend — the newest to the bunch. Each one is made with a mix of spices, seasons, seeds, and syrup, sourced globally from countries including Morocco, Egypt, India, Turkey, and Ukraine. And they all contain sea salt culled from the Pacific Ocean. The blends are sold individually, and in sets of three or five. 

The three-packs are labeled as gift boxes, and you can most certainly wrap them in a bow for your friends, family, and even colleagues. But they’re also a great — and slightly discounted — way to sample multiple seasonings for yourself.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

My Honest Review of Portland Salt Co. 3-Pack Classic Gift Box

These four-ounce jars unleashed weeks of untapped potential, and it all started with a one-pound box of barely touched unsalted Saltines. As fate would have it, it had been loitering in my cabinet for weeks leftover from when my adorable, yet germ-y nephew gifted me a stomach virus.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

The decidedly plain squares proved to be the perfect backdrop for a seasoning blend. They soaked up every bit of the bright, herby, toasty, and salty flavor in this twist on fire crackers I’d bookmarked and then forgotten about. I ate them for breakfast and as a snack every day until they were gone. 

Credit: Mara Weinraub

Since then, I’ve added the za’atar artisan blend to a handful of other blank canvases: I mixed it into cream cheese to use as both a more flavorful bagel spread and an easy, two-ingredient dip; I sprinkled it (along with a drizzle of olive oil) over store-bought hummus and served it as an appetizer and, then again, on tofu before grilling at the aforementioned party. Even the tofu critic couldn’t resist sampling the gorgeous striped planks.

I also added some to the thawed scallion pancake dough I’d stashed in the freezer before sprinkling with chopped scallions. I ate it standing over the kitchen counter — it was that good (10/10 recommend, and also suggest adding it to other savory doughs). Roast chicken is next on my list.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

As a self-proclaimed breakfast person and lover of sweets, you’d think I’d dive into the toast sugar first. I know I did. And while it (and the steak seasoning) came later, the wait was well worth it. In a real treat yourself moment, I took the advice of a friend and made a toast-sugar-mascarpone mixture that I stuffed inside thick slices of brioche bread. Then, I added more toast sugar to the egg mixture and, again, on top the French toast slices as they cooked in the skillet. I love how layered the flavor is — it’s vanilla-forward with a warmth from the molasses and nutmeg and has a lingering saltiness. Sprinkling this has been my method of choice: on ice cream, over shortbread cookie dough before baking, and in straight up cinnamon toast. Rumor has it, it’s great in coffee too.

Credit: Mara Weinraub

I’ve only begun to scratch, err, sprinkle the surface of what’s possible with the steak seasoning. To be fair, I don’t have a grill and the weather has been, well, spring in New York. But 5/5 guests raved about the NY strip I made last weekend (and the wings, which were sauced on the fly). And we have big plans for grill nights to come.

Buy: Portland Salt Co. 3-Pack Classic Gift Box, $27.50 for 3 (4-ounce) seasoning salts at Portland Salt Co.

Do you have a favorite seasoning blend? Tell us about it in the comments.