In the world of spices, black pepper is king. Native to India, this age-old spice is used in almost every nation in the world to flavor meats, seafood, salads, rubs, sauces and much more.

For best flavor, buy whole peppercorns and grind them yourself. These reader recipes (shown at right and below) make the most of black pepper.

"I once had a recipe for Black Pepper Pound Cake from the early 1900's but lost it, so I adapted my grandma's pound cake recipe," relates field editor Sue Gronholz from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

"Louisiana Shrimp is a Lenten favorite at our home," notes Sundra Hauck, a field editor in Bogalusa, Louisiana. "I serve it right out of the roaster with corn on the cob and boiled potatoes.

Chicken PhotoBlack pepper is prominent in Peppered Chicken Breasts from Jill Morzillo of Louisville, Kentucky. Yet it doesn't overpower the tender chicken flavor or the creamy mustard sauce. "It's easy to make yet elegant," Jill says.