Every new year brings predictions about what the new year will bring. McCormick - the company that makes the spices, herbs and seasonings sold in your supermarket - forecasts "flavor pairings" like roasted curry powder and wild mushrooms, fennel and piri-piri sauce, pickling spice and rice vinegar. They've looked into their crystal ball, and they see goat's milk and green peppercorns in our future. Which could be a delicious thing. The combo does, in fact, turn out to be lovely.
BAKED EGGS WITH GOAT CHEESE AND
4 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs; available in supermarkets)
3 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1⁄3 cup)
11⁄2 teaspoons coarsely crushed green peppercorns (such as McCormick Gourmet Collection Green Peppercorns)
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt (such as McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt)
1⁄2 large bunch Swiss chard, stems and large center ribs removed, leaves quartered or halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch slices (5 loosely packed cups)
1 tablespoon water
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 3⁄4 cup)
1⁄2 cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre) (about 3 ounces)
toast, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Generously butter four (6- to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place the cups on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the panko in the bottom of each cup.
Melt the butter in large skillet set over medium heat. Add shallots, crushed green peppercorns and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sea salt; cook and stir three minutes or until tender. Add Swiss chard and water; cook and stir over medium-low heat about eight minutes or until tender.
Spoon about 1⁄4 cup of the Swiss chard into each ramekin. Top each with 1⁄4 of the tomatoes. Make a depression in the vegetables. Place one egg into each depression, taking care not to break the yolk. Season all four eggs with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt. Sprinkle the goat cheese evenly over the eggs.
Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until the egg whites are almost set. Remove from the oven. Let stand 10 minutes. Season to taste with additional crushed green peppercorns, and serve with buttered toast, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe from McCormick Flavor Forecast 2011, www.flavorforecast.com
• Marialisa Calta is the author of "Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family" (Perigee, 2005). For more information, go to www.marialisacalta.com.