Baked brie is crusted in Dukkah then topped with chopped nuts and dried fruit.
It’s December and, ready or not, I’m taking a deep breath and diving head-first into all things holiday.
There will be decorations, gifts, cards and of course food. The party nibbles, the wintry soul-warming dinners, the sweets and treats and steaming cups of cocoa. But first there’s this baked brie to talk about. This familiar, comforting appetizer is lifted up from the expected with an exotic spice and nut mixture.
A whole round of brie is baked to molten perfection and topped with a colorful handful of chopped nuts and dried fruit, but it’s the Dukkah crust that gets me excited. It’s like your favorite comfort food took a trip to the Middle East and returned a little spicier and more complex.
Travel to Eygpt and you’ll find the origins of Dukkah, a spice and nut blend that is pounded together after being toasted. Traditionally eaten by dipping bread into olive oil and then into the spice mixture. It goes quite well, it turns out, with a good goat milk brie cheese. (I tend to prefer goat milk brie for this recipe because it can be easier to digest than cow’s milk). The toasted nuts, seeds and spices have a lovely warmth to them that marries well with the creamy cheese, the crumbly texture adding a welcome crunch in contrast to the softness of the melted cheese. It’s a hit of flavor that makes your taste buds sing.
Spices have effect — they make your mouth tingle — and while an integral part of cooking and baking all year round, they really shine during the holidays. With their bold flavors and hot-sweet nuances, spices certainly help to make meals memorable and no one knows this better than spice giant McCormick. Every year for over a decade McCormick has released their Flavor Forecast which showcases top culinary trends to watch over the coming years.
This year’s round up of global proportions aims to predict the flavor trends that will dominate what we eat when we dine out and at home for the next three to five years, according to McCormick’s Chef Kevan Vetter. The report takes a full year and a tremendous culinary team to compile and I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the findings for 2013 and chat with Chef Vetter about the trends for the New Year. According to him this next year will be all about: sumptuous flavors that escape the everyday, handcrafted and homemade touches, explosive flavors for empowered eating, exploring underutilized ingredients with a “waste nothing” mentality, and non-traditional, adventuresome uses of ethnic spices.
What do you think of the flavor trends for 2013?
Disclaimer: I was invited by McCormick to interview Chef Vetter and share the 2013 Flavor Forecast.