20 Food Trends for 2009

I thought you’d like to see what’s hot, and what’s not, in the world of food for 2009 as reported by the National Restaurant Association in their Chef Survey: What’s hot in 2009.  I find #5 fascinating – fabricating new cuts of meat. Taking the same ol’ cow or pig and with different butchering techniques new, and many times better, cuts of meat are identified and often become quite popular, like this more popular Flat Iron Steak.

1. Locally grown produce

2. Bite-size/mini desserts

3. Organic produce

4. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes

5. New/fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, bone-in Tuscan veal chop)

6. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items

7. Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)

8. Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum

9. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor

10. Sustainable seafood

11. Nutrition/health (e.g. low-fat, reduced sodium, antioxidants, high-fiber)

12. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious

13. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)

14. Artisanal cheeses

15. Exotic fruit (e.g. durian, passion fruit, dragon fruit, guava)

16. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, customized to specific dishes)

17. Micro-vegetables/micro-greens

18. Organic wine

19. Dessert flights/combos/platters

20. Free-range poultry/pork…

Surimi Salad

12 ounces surimi pieces
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning
Black pepper to taste

Chop surimi into small chunks and place in a bowl. Mix in the celery, shallots, capers, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and creole seasoning. Add black pepper to taste. Serve chilled.…

Smoky Spiced Nuts

Yield 1  1/2 pounds

I like adding smoky flavor with smoked paprika not liquid smoke. For a spicer nut increase the cayenne pepper to 1/4 teaspoon. This recipe doubles well, but be sure to bake on two baking sheets in order to acheive the proper crunchiness.

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
8 ounces whole almonds
8 ounces pecan halves
8 ounces walnut halves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until very foamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted from the egg foam. Fold in the Worcestershire Sauce, paprika, and cayenne. Stir in the nuts and butter, coating the nuts well. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Immediately scrape the nuts from the pan while hot and spread on a sheet of foil until cool. Break into clusters or into individual nuts. Store tightly covered for up to 2 weeks.…

The Baking Begins

My holiday kitchen is officially open. Our Fraser Fur, fresh from Fries Brothers, stands bare waiting for its decorations. Behind me, the pantry overflows with nuts, spices, chocolate, flour, sugar, and sprinkles. Then there’s our refrigerator giving its all to keep the butter, eggs, and nog chilled. As we make our way through the next few weeks I’ll share favorite holiday recipes, many like these Smoky Spiced Nuts I make only once a year. That once a year is now.…

Deck The Halls With Whole Grains

If you’re like me you’ve seen, and perhaps even eaten, way too much sugar over the past few months. From Halloween treats, to Pumpkin and Mincemeat pies, I can safely say that fall surrounds us with a multitude of sweets. We’re all fully aware that Christmas lurks around the corner, as do more sugar-laden- cookie tins, dessert buffets, and Christmas stockings. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll bake my share of cookies, but right now I’m craving something to eat that’s savory, wholesome, crunchy and colorful. Is that too much to ask?

In case you haven’t heard, whole grains are a darling of the nutrition world. Now for the fine print. Imagine that I’m reading this real fast, and you can barely understand me:

1. Whole grains (the seed of a grass) contain no added chemicals, preservatives, salt or sugar.

2, Whole grains contain all of the nutrients nature intended for them to contain plus a multitude of B-vitamins, minerals, beneficial enzymes, insoluable and soluable fiber, a low-glycemic index and many phytochemicals.

3. Whole grains are subject to little if any processing so they have all three parts of the grain kernel intact, thus the name “whole grain” – nothing’s missing. These three parts are the oily-rich germ, the starch filled endosperm and the outer or bran coating.

That’s a mouth full, but trust me and the world of nutrition science on this one; we can all benefit by sinking our teeth into more whole grains, not only for the nutritional properties, but for their unique, nutty flavor, and appealing toothsome bite.

The natural food section of supermarkets, specialty markets, and health food stores boast a fascinating assortment of whole grains. Brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa (keen-wa), barley, buckwheat (or Kasha), and my beloved steel-cut oats, are generally more readily available. Consider also more unusual grains, such as amaranth, millet, spelt, teff, or rye. Each one is unique in color, texture and flavor. Whole grains contain the oily germ component of the grain therefore they have an increased potential to spoil or become rancid compared to a refined grain, such as white rice. For that reason, purchase whole grains in small quantities and store in an airtight bag, container, or jar, in the refrigerator or freezer. To learn more about cooking whole grains visit the Whole Grains Council.

Cooked whole grains are quite versatile. They make a tasty pilaf or stuffing, and instead of traditional potatoes or pasta, cooked whole grains create a fine side dish served with a saucy curry or stew. They also make a delicious ingredient for a cold salad. Add a variety of chopped fresh ingredients, toss with complementary vinaigrette, and you’ve created a salad that adds a welcome dose of crunch, and a splash of seasonal color to any winter meal. Consider making this salad as a wholesome addition to any meal. And at Christmas, who knows, someone might even  thank you on their way to the cookie platter.…

Thanksgiving Food Helplines

My countertops are covered with sweet potatoes, oranges, Yukon Gold potatoes, apples, and there’s a bag of cranberries in the refrigerator. This year we’re going to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving this year. (Read about our Thanksgiving last year on the Joy Kitchen blog.) This year I plan to bake a batch of my grandmother’s soft yeast rolls and a pan of pecan-crusted sweet potato casserole. What are your Thanksgiving specialities?

If you run into trouble in your kitchen this week, some of these phone numbers and websites might help. If I may give you my two cents: Thanksgiving is not a consumer-driven, gift-filled day, it’s about sharing a meal, plain and simple. Fill the day with some good food, good drink, and have a good time.

Butterball Turkey Talk: 1-800-BUTTERBALL (288-8372)

Empire Kosher : Poultry Customer Hotline: 717-436-7055

Fleischmann’s Yeast Baker’s Hotline: 1-800-777-4959

General Mills: 1-800-248-7310

King Arthur Flour Baker’s Hotline: 802-649-3717

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line: 1-800-637-8537

Ocean Spray Consumer Helpline: 1-800-662-3263

Reynolds Turkey Tips Hotline: 1-800-745-4000

U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline: 888-MPHotline (674-6854)

Stay Healthy - Cold and Flu Prevention

Cold and flu season is just around the corner. I tend to think positive. I’m not going to get sick this year. Children are the primary carriers of cold and flu viruses and because I spent a lot of time with my three crumb-snatchers I plan to be proactive in prevention. Here are some helpful food, nutrition and cooking ideas to help you stay healthy:

Eat Healthy

For this to happen planning is the key. Pick a day (I like Thursdays) to go grocery shopping. Visit a farmers market if you can sometime during the week or weekend. Plan meals in advance and make extra to take for lunch, or for your kids to take for lunch. I always think it’s just as easy to make soups, stews, and chilis in a double portion and freeze or eat the leftovers. Stick to a menu created around vegetables, fish, grains, poultry, fruit, and smaller quantities of meat – and stay away from processed foods as much as possible. I find this even hard to do, but I try to use as many ingredients in my cooking as I can, not just heat and serve foods.

Eat Immune-boosting Foods

Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. Turmeric has curcumin, a polyphenol with strong cold and flu-fighting properties. Oregano’s antioxidant activity is due to its high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. Ginger is spicy and sweats out colds and flu, among many other healing properties. This is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak about the health benefits of food. When used in cooking garlic, turmeric, oregano, and ginger are delicious, not to mention the health benefits from the good foods cooked with these ingredients.

Sleep

A reasonable amount of sleep every night is a must and if at all possible go to bed at about the same time and wake up at the same time. I personally prefer the 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. routine.

Exercise

A very important key to keep your body strong. Strong people are fit and energetic. Make a plan to put on your walking shoes and get outside everyday. When I do that I am successful at walking at least 5 times a week.

Drink Tea

Green, white, or black. So soothing during the chilly days of fall and full of plant-based phytochemicals that enhance health and maybe are even protective against heart disease, bad breath, and osteoporosis.

Take Care of Yourself

Eat well and be well. You deserve to be in peak condition when the cold and flu season hits. The kitchen, and all the wondrous ingredients we have access to, used for creating a delicious meal is the best place to start.…

Halloween Supper Tips

Forget the hotdogs cut to look like squid or wrapped in crescent roll dough to look like mummys. Make dinner tonight with lots of nutritious bang for the buck and then you might not feel so bad when they fall into bed with a belly full of Snickers and without brushing their teeth.

What my kids need tonight is more nutrition than hotdogs can offer. Here are my trick-or-treat dinner solutions:

1. Have dinner ready earlier than usual. I plan to eat around 5:00 pm. Trick or treat starts at 6:00 in our world and there is always a little pre-trick or treat costume comparison with the neighborhood kids. Maybe I’ll feed them at 4:30.

2. Plan a good source of lean protein – chicken, fish, legumes, turkey breast – and make the kids eat a lot of it. We’re having leftover lentil soup from Tuesday night.

3. Hydrate the kids with about 8 – 10 ounces of low-fat milk or water. Make them use the bathroom before you head out. Don’t let them say, “I don’t have to go”, or else you might be saying “trick-or-treat and can Johnny use your bathroom”?

4. Offer some good sources of fiber, preferably vegetable oriented. I’m making some dip with fresh veggies – carrots, cucumber, and cauliflower pieces. Whole-wheat bread with butter would work well too.

5. Avoid a high-salt, overly processed meal. If you’re night is going to be anything like mine, there will be plently of salt and sugar over the next 24 hours. Candy, chips, and sodas are sure to appear at our neighborhood get together, especially since it’s Friday.…

Bones of Our Supper Menus

Creating a basic weekly outline for supper helps me with my grocery shopping, because my secret to being an active cook, and not a food assembler, is having ingredients in the house. When I think of our upcoming week in terms of these “bones”, I end up cooking meals with more variety. I particularly enjoy Sundays, making an extended amount of time in my kitchen to try or develop a new recipe and perhaps even bake a seasonal dessert. I love the word supper. It’s super! To me, dinner is that meal served on Sunday afternoon.

Monday – Pasta Feast

Tuesday – Legume Creation

Wednesday – Meat/Poultry Night

Thursday – Soup or Fish Extravaganza

Friday – Pizza (mostly homemade, sometimes delivery)

Saturday – Market and evening activities dictate (have I been to a farm market or our city fresh market? Is a babysitter coming? Can we grill out? )

Sunday – New Recipe and Dessert …