Spices to the rescue

The folks at McCormick’s spices have identified eight trends for 2015 cooks, bakers and diners, with a decidedly exotic bent. Here they are:

1. Japanese 7 Spice, or Shichimi Togarashi, offers a spicy heat, while Shawarma Spice Blend gives grilled meats a warm, spiced nuance.

2. Middle Eastern spreads and dips sport zesty herbs and seasonings, offering an easy intro to more global flavors.

3. Look for coarse salt combined with sour flavors such as pickled ginger, sour cherry, dried mango or lemon zest as a new way to finish a dish, while also adding texture.

4. Smoked spices remain popular for the way they add depth to a dish.

5. Vegetables high in umami, or the “fifth taste,” include mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and nori. They’ll be tucked into many dishes.

6. Fresh purées and juices will be combined with spices and herbs to intensify sauces, pastas, salad dressings and more.

7. Slow-cooker meals go global.

8. Cookies step up as a dessert option with spiced flavors that are a twist on tradition. For recipe ideas about these trends and more, visit www.mccormick.com/Flavor-Forecast-2015.

Soup’s on

Well, at least the weather is cooperating. The Midtown Global Market’s annual Global Soup Cook-Off is from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 17. Vendors will prepare about 10 different international soups, available for sampling and voting, as they compete for the title of best soup-maker. A $3 donation is requested, or bring a new or gently used book or toy to donate instead. Proceeds from the event will go toward sprucing up the Global Kids Zone with new murals, a community chalkboard and a selection of toys and books for children visiting the market. Midtown Global Market is at 920 E. Lake Street in Minneapolis. Visit www.midtownglobalmarket.org.


Learn to cook something new

St. Paul’s Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op always has a diverse roster of classes. Among this month’s offerings: A Month of Meatless Mondays. The demonstration and tasting class explores four dishes that fulfill this growing dietary trend: sweet potato and black bean burritos, Moroccan-spiced quinoa with roasted vegetables, vegetable lasagna and veggie burgers with tahini mayo. The class is Jan. 24 at its W. 7th Street store. For the whole roster of classes, and to register online, visit www.msmarket.coop/events.


Happy Veganuary!

While a 2012 Harris Interactive study found that only 2.5 percent of U.S. residents identify as vegan, those who tout the diet and lifestyle say it can only grow. They note the number of vegan food start-ups and restaurants with even places such as Dunkin’ Donuts becoming more vegan-friendly. Thus we have Veganuary, a campaign challenging regular people to “try vegan” for the month of January. The idea started last year, primarily in the United Kingdom. A vegan diet avoids all animal products, not only meat, but also eggs and dairy. A website, www. veganuary.com, offers tips for dining out, shopping and ensuring a balanced diet.