Donuts, bacon among top 2010 trends

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trends 2010

I was listening to public radio recently and had to pause when food essayist Bonny Wolf gave her trends for 2010. Donuts are the new cupcakes. (I don’t care for cupcakes and if I am to eat a donut I want fresh Krispy Kreme — why waste the calories otherwise?) Green tea, rosemary, thyme and maple-glazed bacon are in for 2010. Bacon, she says, is everywhere, even in cocktails. My bacon of choice and I find also the choice of several of my favorite chefs is Benton’s. I’ve told you that before. It is real smoked bacon and a little bit can go a long way for seasoning all kinds of things.) Beer is the drink, and there is home brewing, barrel-aging, seasonal beers and beer-centric restaurants. (I prefer wine, but a cool beer on a hot day does hit the mark.) Cardamom is the spice of the year. (I have been using it for years—mostly in Indian cooking. It can add a nice unique flavor to coffee or tea and can be infused into a French crme brûlée.)

Ms. Wolf says the focus on local, sustainable and simple will continue—just more so. I have been trying to grow more of what I cook and even tried to preserve some this past summer. Even if you don’t have a lot of time or space, herbs are easy. Put them in pots if you need to, but in the ground they don’t have to be watered so carefully. Lettuces are easy enough in the cool weather and I love arugula and homegrown seems so much more flavorful. I like having my okra so I can cut it small and tender. The biggest problem with it, you must keep it cut to keep it producing (have someone cut it while you are on vacation.) If you can’t grow your own, farmer’s markets are more readily available than in the past.

Wolf mentions joining a CSA (community supported agriculture where you sign up for a fee and get a box of whatever produce the farmer has.) I don’t know of any in the Andalusia area but my sister in Tennessee joined one with a friend to share last summer.

Consumers want to know where their meat comes from. Thus, foodom’s new rock star—the butcher. Wolf mentions grass-fed beef. I would add that ideally all our meat, eggs, and milk would be from pastured animals, more omega 3’s and 6’s.

In the kitchen it is back to the basics—cozy cooking, suppers in the kitchen.

Look for pickling and canning both at home and in restaurants. I found a pickled okra recipe that I like and plan to try this coming summer.

Pickled Okra from Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook.

Ida Mae’s Pickled Okra

Yield: About 2 pounds pickled okra

6 cups water

3 cups cider vinegar

1 tablespoon pickling salt

2 tablespoons iodized salt

1½ teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1½ teaspoons black peppercorns

8 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

12 fresh thyme sprigs

9 dried Arbol chile peppers (Use cayenne if you can’t find the Arbol.)

6 fresh dill weed sprigs

2 pounds fresh okra

Combine the first 11 ingredients (water through dill weed) in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the brine is simmering, rinse the okra with cold running water and pick through to remove any bad okra, tough stems, and leaves. Place the okra in a large stockpot or heavy-duty, heat-proof container. Remove the hot brine from the heat and pour over the raw okra. Weigh down the okra with a heat-proof plate to make sure they stay completely submerged. Allow the okra to steep at room temperature for 1 hour. Chill the okra and the brine for at least 48 hours but preferably up to one week. The pickled okra will keep, refrigerated, for up to one month.

Canned version:

For canning the pickled okra, place the fresh okra in pint-size sterilized jars. Pour the hot brine mixture over the okra into each jar, leaving ¼ -inch headspace at the top of each jar. Divide the garlic cloves, dill springs, and chile peppers (from the brine) into each jar. Place the two-piece lids on each jar and turn just until the lids are tight. Submerge the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and allow the jars to sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Check to ensure that there is an indention in the top of the lid on each jar before storing. Allow pickles to sit in a cool, dry place at room temperature for at least 2 weeks before using.

Saveur, one of my favorite magazines, has a Saveur 100, where readers share their favorite ingredients, chefs, tools, tips and more. Number 94 in this January’s issue is leftover shellfish shells. Most people throw away shrimp, crab and lobster shells, but Eric Stelle says he uses them to make stock. He freezes them so he can make the stock when he has time. I don’t have many crab or lobster shells but I do have a lot of shrimp shells (buy wild caught local if you can) and this sounded like a good way to increase the use of my purchase and the magazine had a good recipe for shrimp bisque using shrimp shells.

Shrimp Bisque

Serves 6-8

8 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

6 cups uncooked shrimp shells

½ cup uncooked rice, preferably basmati

2 tbsp. tomato paste

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. brandy

6 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 dried bay leaf

Kosher salt, to taste

½ cup heavy cream

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Crme fraîche, for garnish

Chopped chives, for garnish

Melt 4 tbsp. of the butter in an 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery; cover and cook, stirring, until soft, about 7 minutes. Increase heat to high and add the shrimp shells and rice; cook until shells are deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in ½ cup brandy; return pan to high heat and cook until liquid has almost evaporated, 1-2 minutes.

Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine; add to saucepan. Add salt and 9 cups water; boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let soup cool.

Discard herb bundle. Purée soup mixture in batches in a blender. Set a sieve over a 6-qt. saucepan; strain, discarding solids. Heat bisque over medium heat. Whisk in remaining butter, brandy, cream, lemon juice, and cayenne until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide bisque between bowls; garnish with crme fraîche and chives.

Have a good 2010 whether you are trendy or not.