THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for Trends

TRENDS: Current Favorites & Next Wave Foods

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Will kimchi, Korean hot pickled vegetables,
be replaced by Mexican hot pickled
vegetables as a topping for burgers,
sandwiches, eggs and other fusion dishes?
Photo courtesy Bento.com.sg.

 

What’s next after the current food trends?

Parade magazine took a look at What America Eats with predictions from Mimi Sheraton, author of 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List.

She takes a peek at what’s coming next. Here are current trends and what Mimi thinks will follow.

1. HOT SAUCE

Now: Sriracha, the fiery Thai chile sauce.

Next: Piri-piri, the fiery African chile sauce. A Peruvian version is spelled peri-peri.

 
2. INTERNATIONAL SNACK

Now: Hummus, now ubiquitous in an every-expanding number of flavors, including fusion flavors like chipotle, jalapeño and wasabi.

Next: Khachapuri, a Georgian* comfort food of cheese-filled bread. Leavened bread is filled with cheese, eggs and other ingredients. According to Wikipedia, in a 2009 survey, 88% of Georgians preferred khachapuri to pizza.

 
3. PICKLED VEGETABLES

Now: Kimchi, Korea’s spicy-hot fermented vegetables, enjoyed as a condiment.

Next: Mexican hot pickled vegetables, a take on Italian giardiniera that combines garden vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions) with jalapeños, garlic, oregano and cider vinegar. A condiment with tacos, it has been ported to American burgers and sandwiches.

 

4. GREEK YOGURT

Now: Thick, creamy, tangy Greek-style yogurt, a category so hot, there’s no more room in the grocer’s dairy case.

Next: Labneh, a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S., that’s a mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East.

 
5. BEVERAGE

Now: African ginger beer, which is even spicier than Caribbean ginger beer. If you’d like a much more intense ginger ale experience, pick some up.

Next: Matcha, the mellow, powdered green tea that’s drunk hot in Japan (it’s part of cha no yu, the Japanese tea ceremony), but available hot, cold, sparking, in green tea lattes and more in the U.S.
 
 
It’s up to you: Keep eating what’s hot today, or get ahead of the trend!

 

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Labneh looks like tangy Greek yogurt and tastes like it, but it’s a spreadable cheese. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | New York.

 
 
*From Georgia, the country that lies between Russia and Turkey.

  

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TRENDS: Restaurant Produce

Many of us who love to cook get ideas from creative restaurant chefs. It’s their job to present new and different preparations to tempt customers.

It could be as simple as produce (NB the onslaught of kale, first in restaurants, then in our homes). What’s next?

Nation’s Restaurant News polled nearly 1,300 chefs in its annual What’s Hot survey. The chefs pointed to produce that distinguishes them from their competitors and gives them cred for sourcing specialty items. Here are what they see as the top produce trends for 2015.

LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE

Consumers like to see locally grown produce on the menu. It shows support for the community, an appreciation for seasonality and reduction of carbon miles, the extra fuel required to the transport food from farther distances. It is the top trend noted by the chefs in the survey.

 

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Easy for home cooks: Try chervil instead of parsley. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

 
ORGANIC PRODUCE

Americans have growing awareness of the desirability of organic produce—fruits and vegetables raised without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. “Organic” on a menu is well received (even when consumers don’t buy organic produce for their own kitchens); and all-organic chains such as Sweetgreen are finding success.
 

UNUSUAL HERBS

It’s time to think beyond parsley. Chefs with classical French training are turning to chervil as a garnish, Mexican restaurants are wrapping more foods in hoja santa and Japanese chefs are using kinome, leaves of the sansho/Szechuan pepper plant.

 
HEIRLOOM FRUIT

Heirloom apples, grown from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, are making a comeback. Heirloom foods fell out of favor because they are more difficult to grow, more expensive and/or other reasons that made farmers turn to other varieties—even if those varieties are less flavorful. You can look for heirloom varieties in your local farmers market. Ask the farmer to point them out.

 
EXOTIC FRUIT

Chefs have a growing interest in fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary. It could be açaí and goji berries added to fruit beverages and fruit salads, or desserts made with Asian pear or dragon fruit.

What’s your favorite fruit or veggie trend?

  

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TRENDS: Restaurant Focus For 2015

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No more waste: In restaurant kitchens, everything can have a second life. Citrus peel
is turned into marmalade. Photo courtesy Lola Loves Green.

 

What are the top culinary concerns for restaurateurs this year?

According to a survey by Nation’s Restaurant News, the top five focus on gluten-free and sustainability.

1. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Safeguarding natural resources is a growing concern across the globe, and the number one culinary issue cited in a survey of American chefs. It’s not just with fine dining: Fast casual concepts like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sweetgreen have been on the bandwagon since their inception. Chipotle recently stopped serving pork when it couldn’t find enough sustainable meat!

 
2. NATURAL INGREDIENTS/MINIMALLY PROCESSED FOODS

“Clean” labels and minimally processed food appeal to more and more customers. Chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association named natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a major theme. Last year, fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s took the concept mainstream, adding an all-natural burger to the menu. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts have responded to consumer complaints by doing away with additives.
 
3. HYPERLOCAL SOURCING

Locally sourced and house-grown food are becoming more and more important to customers. “Hyperlocal” fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in restaurant gardens. Some restaurants have beehives as well. We’ve even seen chickens strutting around rooftops (fresh eggs!).

 
4. FOOD/WASTE REDUCTION MANAGEMENT

Food costs are rising and consumers are growing more concerned about how what they eat affects the planet. Both have become major concerns among the dining public.

Chefs are practicing more “root-to-stem” cooking, the logical next step to “nose-to-tail” cooking, in which restaurants utilize the entire animal (or vegetable). It’s an effective way to avoid waste and manage costs.

Chefs have long used bits and scraps—in soups, chicken salad and so forth. But now, they’re making marmalade from citrus skins and bitters from plum and peach pits. This parallels the new law in Seattle, which as of January 1st ordered no more food waste in the garbage. Instead, residents are expected to recycle and compost.

5. GLUTEN-FREE CUISINE

Fewer than 7% of Americans are sensitive to gluten; about 1% of people worldwide suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten consumption can cause life-threatening intestinal damage.

Yet, 63% of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they believed following a gluten-free diet would improve their physical or mental health*. About a third of those said they buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten.

Gluten-free cuisine was the culinary theme chefs pointed to fifth most often in the NRA survey. Restaurants are responding with a growing array of gluten-free options, including gluten-free burger buns.

 
*Note that no scientific studies to date confirm or deny a positive impact of gluten-free diets among condition-free consumers.

  

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TRENDS: What’s Hot in 2015

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Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich
on a baguette. Photo courtesy The Great
Pepper Cookbook
by Melissa’s Produce.

 

Nation’s Restaurant News, the major trade paper and website for those in the restaurant industry, reports that Americans are becoming more interested in trying new ethnic foods—especially (but not surprisingly) in restaurants.

What “ethnic” means varies from person to person. The NRA commented that the three most popular ethnic cuisines in the U.S.—Mexican, Italian and Chinese—have become so mainstream that they hardly count as “ethnic” these days.

Based on a survey of nearly 1,300 chefs, the NRA pinpointed five ethnic flavors and cuisines that it expects to see this year.

If you live in a major city like Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco (among others), you probably don’t have to go too far to try these. But if you haven’t had them, plan an “eating safari” for your next big city visit.

Here’s the full article by Bret Thorn.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIAN CUISINE

Southeast Asian cuisine was the fifth most frequently cited ethnic trend by chefs. While a full Vietnamese menu is a delightful alternative to Chinese cuisine, the trendiest item these days is the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese version of a submarine sandwich made on a Vietnamese-style baguette (made with both wheat and rice flour). It can be vegetarian—pickled carrots, daikon and onions, for example—or include tofu or meat. Here’s a recipe.

PERUVIAN CUISINE

Peruvian food was the ethnic cuisine chefs pointed to fourth most frequently. Chefs at independent restaurants frequently offer ceviche, a raw seafood dish cured in a marinade, as an appetizer. Here’s a template to make your own custom recipe at home.

 

REGIONAL ETHNIC CUISINE

As restaurant customers become increasingly interested in learning about their food, calling something simply “Italian” or “Mexican” is not enough. Pinpointing exactly where in a foreign country a specific dish was created can add to its appeal. The chefs surveyed pointed to regional ethnic cuisine as the third most frequently cited ethnic trend.

Consider Hunam or Szechuan Chinese cuisine versus Cantonese; Venetian and Sicilian versus Tuscan Italian. Every country is divided into regions, each with its own delicious cuisine.
 
AUTHENTIC ETHNIC CUISINE

“Authentic” is a term that can mean as many things as “ethnic. The chefs surveyed pointed to the terms used together as the second most frequently cited ethnic trend. Unvarnished, unchanged dishes from foreign lands bring the true experience to the diner. Foodies don’t want their food dumbed down for “American palates.”
 
ETHNIC FUSION CUISINE

 

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A trio of different ceviche recipes. Photo courtesy Raymi | NYC.

The number one trend has to do with the delight so many people take in mashups from different cultures. Recent hits include the cronut, the cheeseburger burrito and the ramen burger; although the concept applies to fine cuisine as well.

  

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PRODUCT: Cake In A Jar

Way back in 2009, we discovered the excellent cake in a jar from Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles. It became a Top Pick Of The Week, and one of those products that, years later, we still pine for, remembering every spoonful.

The trend was slow in starting. After five years, in the past week we’ve received notice of two more cake in a jar products.

DUFF’S CAKEMIX

The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, has a custom bakery in Baltimore, a line of cake mixes and cake decorating accoutrements sold nationwide, and most recently, a bakery café, Duff’s Cakemix, also in L.A., which includes a studio where Duff wannabes can decorate their own cakes.

The bakery offers an array of freshly baked sweets, including Dinkies (Duff’s version of Twinkies) and Cake in a Jar.

The latter presents an opportunity to send a special occasion “slice” of cake in a Mason jar, which keeps it moist and fresh for five days (not that there will be any left by then).

So gift challenges are solved: You can send cake in a jar as a birthday gift, or to celebrate any occasion. There’s currently a seasonal red, white and blue Star Spangled Cake In A Jar.

   

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Confetti Cake is sweet and celebratory. Photo courtesy Duff’s Cakemix.

 
You can buy them in two, four or six units, and in two sizes: 8 ounces ($14 for two jars) or 16 ounces ($20 for two jars). The eight-ounce size is more than enough, but the larger size will keep for five days and affords the opportunity for continuous celebration.

Flavors include Chocolate With Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Chips, Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream, Marble With Chocolate And Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla With Vanilla Buttercream.

We received a sample of the Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream. The confetti says “celebrate”; the recipe was a bit on the sweet side for us, but should be just the thing most American palates are looking for.

Order them online at DuffsCakemix.com.

 

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Skip the wedding cake; almost everyone will
prefer cake in a jar. Photo courtesy Chicago-
Cake.com.

 

CAKE CHICAGO

We then received news that one of our favorite artisan bakers, Cake Chicago, is selling cake in a jar.

Cake Chicago began life as a wedding cake specialist, subsequently branching out into daily treats like cookies, bars and chocolate truffles.

So it’s no surprise that their cake in a jar achieves a higher standard. Just look at the elegant layers in the jar, perfectly fitted.

We’d give these as wedding favors and serve a dessert that most guests will prefer to wedding cake. As you can see in the photos, the perfectly-fitted layers and make an excellent presentation.

Like Duff’s, the jars can be wrapped in grosgrain ribbon, and tags can be added for quantity orders.

 
Flavors include:

  • White buttermilk cake with raspberry conserve and Italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filing
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
  •  
    The price is the same as Duff’s: $7.00, with a two jar minimum (8 ounce size only). Order online at Cake-Chicago.com.

    And if anyone out there wants to send us a gift: More cake in a jar, please! It’s a happy way to enjoy a nice piece of cake.

      

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