Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chefs Experiment with Flavors

Marinated Anchovies with Pink Grapefruit and Black Pepper
Five and Ten in Athens, GA
2012 James Beard Nominated Chef Hugh Acheson  

Dining duos such as onion and garlic, oregano and basil or lemon and pepper are flavor combinations we’ve gotten used to tasting together. But, there’s a delicious new world of flavor match making going on today as chefs season with a touch of surprise. Step aside lemon-pepper. At Five and Ten restaurant in Athens, chef Hugh Acheson’s new take on citrus paired with a bit of heat arrives with seafood. An appetizer of marinated anchovies and pink grapefruit segments dusted with black pepper is marvelous mix of briny fish with slightly bitter fruit and a hit of cracked pepper. Anchovies, by the way, are an excellent source of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and these tiny fish are very low in mercury so you can eat them often. Diving into Acheson’s anchovy dish is far more fun than taking fish oil pills.

Fresh Look at Taste

Culinary Nutritionists
Andrea Canada, Natalia Hancock and Kristy Lambrou
at Rouge Tomate, NYC

Do you like hot sauce on oysters? Most folks eat them that way. But, oysters on the half shell at Rouge Tomate in New York are topped with a pineapple, ginger and mint. Marmalade of shallots and prunes perks up poultry. Lemongrass-ginger oil with jalapeno pairs with fresh fish. Natalia Hancock, culinary nutritionist with Rouge Tomate, works with executive chef Jeremy Bearman to find flavor combinations which are not only mouth watering they have to be healthful too. “There’s nothing better than when the worlds of nutrition and food collide.” While the seasonal dishes are designed to fit within a healthy range of calories there are no numbers on the menu. Hancock, trained as a chef and a dietitian, says the food philosophy at Rouge Tomate prioritizes the quality of calories, “I choose certain ingredients for a dish not just because they taste good together but because they improve the overall nutritional profile of the recipe. A bit of olive oil in a sauce helps you better absorb vitamin A, for instance, in the vegetables.” Another example of this nutritional synergy is a sauce made from a puree of green olives and avocado.

Flavor Focus

Sometimes appreciating a specific flavor means finding it in a variety of forms. In their annual Flavor Forecast, chefs and other food experts at McCormick &Company identified the “quest for the ultimate” as one of 2012’s trends. For example, combining Meyer lemon with lemon thyme, Limoncello and Lemon Peel is described as the “ultimate lemon” taste experience. Flavors known for their cooling effects such as dill, mint, melon and cucumber are combined to create the “ultimate refresher.” At Five and Ten diners can find a new way to satisfy their fish with lemon craving with Rainbow Trout stuffed with thinly sliced fennel and preserved lemons. At Seasons 52, the spring menu brings lemon to the table in a new way with Steelhead Trout in a lemongrass sauce.

World View

Borrowing from the spice cabinet of world cuisines continues to inspire cooks to try new things. McCormick’s chefs identify Korean pepper paste and Moroccan harissa as flavors showing up in everything from barbecue to baked vegetables. Chef Marvin Woods, author of The New Low-Country Cooking which explores the influence of Africa, France, Spain and the Caribbean on southern regional cooking says “It’s great to extend your knowledge. There are no boundaries and its like ‘Wow! They did that!’ and makes you want to run with it.” Woods, who shares healthy southern recipes on his website www.chefmarvinwoods.com such as Lamb Burgers with Orange and Mango Ketchup, says “Too often people think they will lose something when they hear its ‘healthy food’ but you’re adding fantastic flavors with spices and herbs.”

Spice Savvy Cooking Classes

The Cook’s Warehouse – Midtown Location

“Favorites from Masala Farm”: April 5th 7pm-9m

Indian Cuisine: Chef Suvir Saran, author of three cookbooks on Indian Cuisine.

“Red Hot Chilies”: April 10th 7pm-9pm

“Cooking with Chilies” Chef Nancy Waldeck and Cultural Anthropologist Deb Duchon

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