Slideshow: Eight flavor trends to watch

by Monica Watrous
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HUNT VALLEY, MD. — Adventurous global tastes, slow-simmered cuisine and a new twist on cookies top the list of flavor trend predictions for 2015. McCormick & Co.’s annual forecast compiles insights from a global team of chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists.

“Many early trending flavors in past reports have become favorites of today,” said Kevan Vetter, executive chef at McCormick. “Take chipotle chile, for instance. When we first identified this chile pepper as a flavor to watch in 2003, many people couldn’t pronounce it. Today, it’s a household name.

“Pumpkin pie spice, sea salt, coconut water and cocktail-inspired flavors have seen similar success, taking over restaurant menus and grocery store shelves.

“The flavor trends highlighted within our 15th annual forecast promise to do the same.”

Global blends beckon

From the Middle East to the Far East, bold combinations of spices entice adventurous eaters. Inspired by street food, a shawarma spice blend includes cumin, cinnamon and black pepper for use on chicken, beef or lamb before grilling or roasting, as well as in spiced cakes or cookies. A spicy Japanese seasoning known as Shichimi Togarashi features chilies, sesame, orange peel and nori to flavor soups, noodle dishes, grilled meats and seafood.

Liquid courage

When blended with bold herbs and spices, fresh purees and juices add intensity to sauces, pasta and dressings, while providing an extra serving of fruits and vegetables. A sauce of roasted corn, carrots and chicken stock paired with a puree of sour apple, plum and oregano add color and a kick to an ancho-spiced shrimp and faro salad.

Salt and sour

Coarse salt combined with such surprising sours as pickled ginger, sour cherry, dried mango and lemon zest produce a lively finish that adds texture and flavor complexity to dishes.

Middle Eastern appetizers

Dips and spreads made with zesty herbs and spices offer an approachable entry to Middle Eastern cuisine and culture. Cumin and coriander marinated olives, garlic pepper labneh, and roasted beet and white bean dip are mezze mainstays.

Smokin’ spices

Smoking cinnamon, curry powder and other herbs and spices deepens the flavor and aroma in food and beverages. When mixed with mayonnaise and egg yolks, a smoked combo of Creole mustard, garlic powder and sea salt kicks up classic deviled eggs.

The fifth taste

Mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and other umami-rich vegetables add savory flavor and freshness to such dishes as Mediterranean pasta and Asian steak tacos.

Wait for it

From Asian-style sour beef short ribs to traditional Italian Osso Buco, slow-cooked dishes with worldly ingredients combine comfort cuisine with rich global flavors.

Cookie creativity

Tradition meets innovation when gingersnaps, snickerdoodles and other classic cookies are prepared in sophisticated new desserts, such as cinnamon oatmeal custard bars with rum raisin sauce or a gingersnap crème brulee.

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