Except for pepper and salt, most spices have no business being used as a finishing seasoning; too often they jar when they’re supposed to seduce. Spices function best when they’re blended with other ingredients. This brick-red powder might be the exception. It imparts a smoky perfume and lightly peppery kick to all manner of dishes—frittatas, casseroles, rice dishes, roasted meats. One of its best uses is on an ear of corn. Roll an ear back and forth in a pan of hot butter, remove it, spritz on some lime juice, then sprinkle with a pinch of smoked paprika. Your guests will wonder how something so familiar could end up tasting so exotic.
Spanish smoked paprika (Pimenton de la Vera), $4.10 and $5 at Dean & DeLuca.