Four Fun Food Trends
Why are butter, spicy sauces, bourbon cocktails, and "ugly" vegetables a topic of conversation these days? And how can you make the most of them in your home kitchen? Read on, and try the recipes, too!
Butter is making a comeback. After years of moving away from it (for fear of saturated fat and cholesterol) in favor of butter substitutes, professional and home cooks alike are returning to traditional ingredients such as butter thanks to culinary discourse about "real" food.
Butter is made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk until the butterfat and buttermilk separate. You can make butter at home with a stand mixer or even a hand mixer. All it takes is the time and patience to process good-quality cream until the liquid transforms and separates into solid (butterfat) and liquid (buttermilk). Once you’ve drained off the buttermilk and kneaded the butterfat into a solid mass, you can create a delicious Compound Butter with our recipe.
Last year, sriracha found its way into American refrigerators and all manner of foods. The spicy Thai chili sauce has become popular for adding flavor to everything from scrambled eggs to potato chips. Now that sriracha has become ubiquitous, chefs and food lovers are looking for the next big thing in spicy sauces.
Some are going the route of the sweet and spicy, such as hot sauce paired with honey, while others are delving into the sauces of other cuisines apart from Asian. One such sauce is charmoula. Traditionally used as a fish marinade in North Africa, classic charmoula is made with cilantro, garlic, lemon, and spices, and can be used to top everything from vegetables to fish. Top grilled vegetables with our Charmoula and let us know how you like it!
Cocktails rise and fall in popularity due in no small part to American pop culture. In the '60s, the vodka martini was made famous by Sean Connery's James Bond with the line, "shaken, not stirred." The White Russian saw a marked revival as the signature drink of "The Dude," played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski. And at the dawn of this century, the cosmopolitan craze sprung from Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.
Which brings us to bourbon, a drink that has enjoyed a resurgence thanks to Mad Men's Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm and arguably the biggest drinker television viewers have ever seen. First created 200 years ago, the distilled spirit may only be called bourbon if it's made from at least 51 percent corn and aged in charred oak barrels, a technique that imparts a sweeter and smokier taste. Bar chefs around the country are experimenting with the marriage of bourbon and other flavors such as maple, pine, and bacon to create innovative and delicious cocktails. For a lively take on a bourbon cocktail, try our refreshing Grilled Watermelon and Bourbon Cooler.
If you were to search the web for "ugly vegetables," you would surely read about a trend in Europe where supermarkets are selling misshapen fruits and vegetables at a deep discount in an effort to combat food waste. While this is a noble initiative to be commended, it's not the one we’re talking about here. For our purpose, ugly vegetables refer to unusual root veggies such as celeriac (a.k.a., celery root) and kohlrabi.
While these culinary diamonds in the rough may not be runway-ready off the supermarket shelf, they can be prepared in a myriad of ways and are a wonderful addition to daily meals, especially in the winter, when summer vegetables are less available and more expensive. Delicious ways to enjoy ugly vegetables are raw or blanched; for example, raw kohlrabi is fantastic in a crudité platter. For something with a bit more pizazz, try our recipe for Celeriac and Tart Apple Salad.