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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2007
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Photos courtesy of McCormick & Co.
Herbed Pork Chops with Caramelized Garlic-Riesling Vinegar Reduction.

Flavor forecast
Pairing seasonings and spices is tasty trend for 2007

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com· 340-2446

Have you had any Tellicherry peppercorns and berries yet?

What about smoked tea and sea salt? Crystallized ginger and salted pistachio? Cumin and apricot? Wasabi and maple?

There’s far more than salt and pepper out there to spice up your dinner plate.

The year is young, but you may spot some of these new flavor pairings on restaurant menus soon — or create these new-for-2007 dishes in your own kitchen with the recipes in this section.

Early each year, McCormick & Company Inc., probably the best known name in the seasoning world, makes its flavor forecast, telling what new seasonings and spices will be popular. For 2007, the emphasis is on new pairings for flavorings, much like you learned to consider what entrée and side dish to serve together.

Chefs look for flavors that will complement or contrast as they create new dishes, and some of them, along with TV cooking personalities and cookbook authors, worked on this 2007 forecast.

Two trends are influencing this year’s trends, said Laurie Harrsen, director of consumer communications for McCormick. The first is the ever-expanding number of choices. "Even staples like salt are now available in a diverse palette of flavor, color and texture," she said.

"Also, global cuisines, particularly those of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, continue to drive our exploration of new foods and flavors."

For example, Grant Achatz, chef and owner of Alinea in Chicago, likes to incorporate the flavors of the Middle East into dishes with more traditional ingredients.

"In Asia, apples are used like we use tomatoes," said McCormick chef Adam Walker.

Clove and green apple are refreshing examples of a healthy pair frequently used in India, Asia and Africa and are best enjoyed raw. "Bring apples out of the pie plate and into a range of fresh dishes, such as fennel slaw, panzanella, salsas and chutneys," said Walker. They also can be teamed with cool vegetables such as cucumbers and jicama, or used to complement main dishes such as fish, pork and poultry.

Thyme and tangerine offer a sweet and savory combination often used in dishes of the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Middle East. The fruit, peel and juice of the tangerine (or other mandarin varieties such as the seedless clementine or the Japanese satsuma) can be used in different ways, whether to flavor chicken, salmon or shrimp, or as a sauce or glaze for grilling.

Thyme, meanwhile, is a key ingredient in the Middle Eastern spice blend zaatar, as well as in bouquet garni, Herbes de Provence and poultry seasoning.

Todd Gray, chef and owner of Equinox Restaurant in Washington, D.C., said the combination of thyme and tangerine can be used in vinaigrettes, marinades and desserts from tarts to tiramisu. "There is a great rounding of flavor that happens when sweetness, herbal and acidic notes combine," he said.

Tellicherry peppercorns from the Malabar Coast of India are larger and considered to have superior aroma and taste. Add the fruity taste of berries to mellow black pepper’s mild heat and help create the perfect glaze for lamb, beef or pork, or enhance cream-based dishes and cheeses. Mix with red wine and a touch of sugar for an ice cream topping.

Jason Wilson, chef and co-owner at Crush in Seattle, likes cooking with tea. "I began using tea in my cooking after returning from Singapore, infusing it into cakes, ganaches, marinades and chocolates," he said. Salt, which is now available in about as many varieties as tea, balances the intense flavor of smoked tea, so this pair works to accent spicy foods.

Lapsang Souchong is a smoked black tea from China that is gaining in popularity. You can combine loose tea leaves and coarse sea salt in a spice grinder to add flavor at the table, rub it on grilled meats such as ribs and steaks, or brew the tea as a base for sauces and broths.

Lavender and honey, once used primarily for shortbreads and other sweets, now are appearing in port or Zinfandel marinades for lamb or game and as an accent to fruits and sauces. "Honey and lavender are two flavors most charming about a provencal French market, where honey is collected from beehives situated in the lavender fields," said John Besh, executive chef at Restaurant August in New Orleans.

Salty and sweet go upscale with the duo of crystallized ginger and salted pistachio, which are featured in the hip foods of North Africa, the Mediterranean and Asia. Pistachios can be used in place of pecans and walnuts in cooking and baking, too, while ginger is also at home in cakes, tarts and cookies. Try this combo with ice cream, fruit or chocolate, or sprinkle them on salads, on fish, chicken or pork, and in stir-fries.

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Ginger-Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Tangerine Sauce.
While cumin is associated with Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, chefs continue to experiment with it in all kinds of dishes. The pairing of cumin and apricot is a natural for braised meat dishes, couscous and rice, as well as pork or poultry. Bradford Thompson, chef de suisine at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been using cumin in a dish with rose petals, ginger, peppercorn and allspice. "It’s a very interesting Middle Eastern mix with an intoxicating aroma," he said.

Toasting and crushing mustard and fennel seeds provides a different flavor, as the mustard’s bite tames the licorice flavor of the fennel. Combine them in crusts for pork, shrimp, chicken and lamb, or add them to frittatas, potatoes, meatloaf and casseroles.In India, fennel seeds are roasted, coated in sugar and enjoyed after meals as both a breath freshener and digestive aid.

Wasabi, also referred to as Japanese horseradish, is not limited to the the sushi bar now, but can add spicy flavor to dishes without the burning sensation of some chili peppers. It needs a liquid to activate its flavor fuly, so the sweetness of maple makes a good partner, whether for soy sauce and stirfries, a glaze for shrimp, ribs, chicken or salmon, or a dipping sauce for plantains, pineapple, melon and other fruits.

"Wasabi is spicy in the nose, not in the mouth, said Alison Barshak, chef and ower of Alison at Blue Bell in Philadelphia.

Upgrade two kitchen essentials, garlic and vinegar, to caramelized garlic and Riesling vinegar to add new flavor to glazes for seafood and meats, fresh slaws, and vegetables such as green beans and roasted bell peppers. Change up your tomato and mozzarella salad by drizzling on this pairing instead of balsamic.

McCormick, founded in 1889 in Baltimore, today is the largest spice company in the world and uses ingredients from around the globe. Many of the following recipes include items from the McCormick Gourmet Collection, including Herbes de Provence, Saigon cinnamon, wasabi powder, crystallized ginger and Tellicherry black peppercorns.

Herbed Pork Chops with Caramelized Garlic-Riesling Vinegar Reduction

2 tablespoons oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

4 bone-in center cut pork chops (about 3/4-inch thick)

3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (1½ cups)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup Riesling wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic; stirring almost constantly, cook about 15 minutes or until garlic is golden brown and dry in texture. Remove from skillet. Set aside. Mix sage, thyme and sea salt in small bowl. Rub on both sides of pork chops.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet on medium-high heat. Add pork chops; cook 8 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Cook and stir carrots and onions in same skillet 10 minutes or until tender-crisp. Stir in broth, vinegar, sugar and caramelized garlic. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until carrots are tender and liquid is reduced by half. Serve pork chops with vegetables and sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Green Apple and Fennel Slaw

2 Granny Smith apples, cored

1/2 cup apple cider, divided

4 cups packaged coleslaw mix

1 cup thinly sliced fennel (about 1/2 bulb)

1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Cut apples into 1/2-inch chunks. Immediately toss with 1/4 cup of the apple cider in large bowl. Add coleslaw mix, fennel and pecans; toss to mix well.

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, remaining 1/4 cup apple cider, cloves and sea salt in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add to apple mixture; toss to coat well. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Ginger-Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Tangerine Sauce

3/4 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts

1/4 cup crystallized ginger

1/3 cup tangerine or orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon soy sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place pistachio nuts and crystallized ginger in bowl of food processor; process until mixture is chopped. Stir tangerine juice, honey and soy sauce in small bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Place chicken in foil-lined shallow baking pan. Brush with egg white. Coat evenly with ginger-pistachio mixture. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Slice chicken and serve with tangerine sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Fresh Berries in Peppered Balsamic with Vanilla Mascarpone

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon Tellicherry black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups mixed berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

Mix vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and crushed peppercorns in medium saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil and boil about 5 minutes until syrup is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Transfer to small bowl; cover. Cool completely.

Mix mascarpone cheese, cream, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat on medium-high speed until thick and soft peaks form. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, mix berries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Add cooled balsamic mixture; toss gently to coat well. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Divide berry mixture among 6 serving bowls. Spoon mascarpone topping over berries to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Smoked Tea-Rubbed Steaks with Grilled Corn and Tomato Salsa

2 Lapsang Souchong tea bags

1¼ teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided

1 teaspoon brown sugar

4 rib eye steaks, trimmed (about 8 ounces each)

2 ears corn, husked

3 plum tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Open tea bags; pour loose tea into small bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the sea salt and sugar. Season steaks with 1/2 teaspoon of the tea mixture per side. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 hours for extra flavor.

Meanwhile, grill corn over medium heat 6 to 7 minutes, turning often to cook on all sides without burning. Grill tomatoes 4 to 5 minutes or until charred and soft. Cool slightly. Remove corn from cobs and coarsely chop tomatoes. Place in medium bowl. Add lime juice, cumin, garlic powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt; gently toss to coat well.

Grill steaks 6 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Serve with corn and tomato salsa. Makes 4 servings.

Couscous with Apricots and Toasted Cumin

2 cups water

1 package (10 ounces) plain couscous

1½ cups diced dried apricots

2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

1 cup toasted slivered almonds

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan on high heat. Stir in couscous and apricots. Remove from heat; cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Spoon into large bowl. Cool about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally with a fork. Add tomatoes, parsley and green onions; toss to mix well.

Meanwhile, cook and stir cumin and coriander in small dry skillet on medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant and darker in color. Pour into small bowl. Stir in oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper with wire whisk until well blended. Add dressing and almonds to couscous mixture; toss to coat well. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Fennel and Mustard Crusted Shrimp with Apricot Dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon hot water

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 pound extra large shrimp (16 to 20 count), peeled and deveined

1/4 cup apricot preserves

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons oil

4 cups field greens

Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add mustard and fennel seeds; cook and stir about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Immediately pour out of hot pan to avoid overtoasting.

Finely crush seeds using a small food processor, a clean coffee grinder, a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle. Pour into small bowl. Stir in hot water and turmeric. Let stand 5 minutes. Coat shrimp evenly with seed mixture.

Mix apricot preserves, lime juice, soy sauce and sea salt in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 to 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, turning once. Divide greens among 4 serving plates. Top with shrimp. Serve with apricot dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Chicken with Olives and Provençal Herbs

3 pounds chicken parts

1 cup peeled small white onions, cut into halves or quarters

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1/3 cup tangerine or orange juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons Herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon tangerine or orange peel

1/2 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Place chicken, onions and olives in 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour evenly over chicken. Roast in preheated 425-degree oven 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken with olives, onions and pan juices. Makes 6 servings.

Maple Wasabi Glazed Salmon

2 teaspoons wasabi powder

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 pounds salmon fillets

Mix wasabi with water in small bowl until well blended. Add remaining ingredients, except salmon; stir until well mixed. Place salmon in 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon wasabi mixture evenly over salmon.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting occasionally with wasabi mixture. Makes 8 servings.

Tangerine, Thyme and Ancho Roasted Salmon

1/4 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 teaspoons thyme leaves, divided

2 pounds salmon fillets

1 tablespoon ancho chile pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated tangerine or orange peel

1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

4 tangerines or Clementine oranges, peeled and sectioned

Mix tangerine juice, oil and 2 teaspoons of the thyme in large glass dish. Add salmon; turn to coat well. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Mix chile pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, brown sugar, tangerine peel, cinnamon and sea salt in small bowl; set aside.

Remove salmon from marinade. Place in greased foil-lined baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with chile pepper mixture. Place tangerine segments around salmon in pan. Roast in preheated 450-degree oven 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Makes 8 servings.

Top 10 flavor pairings

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Thyme and tangerine
The top 10 flavor pairings for 2007 include sweet, hot, tangy, bitter, sour and all kinds of sensations in between:

  • Clove and green apple
  • Thyme and tangerine
  • Tellicherry black pepper and berry
  • Sea salt and smoked tea
  • Lavender and honey
  • Crystallized ginger and salted pistachio
  • Cumin and apricot
  • Toasted mustard and fennel seeds
  • Wasabi and maple
  • Caramelized garlic and Riesling vinegar
  • MCCORMICK & CO.

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