New Year Musings


Tammy Carter promotes the Caswell Farmer’s Market

Culinary Trends for 2019

My idea of a good time on New Year’s Eve is checking out the culinary forecasts for the upcoming year while sipping a glass of Veuve Clicquot. Admittedly, some forecasts appear a bit ridiculous—such as charcoal-activated vegan croissants and broccoli coffee–but others I find quite exciting. As we venture forth into this new year, let’s consider some of the trends for 2019.

In researching this topic, I was pleased to find that we have moved on from the top two trends of the last ten years: Local foods and sustainable agriculture. The reason they are missing from the list is because they have become part of the mainstream culinary scene and no longer considered a trend. Chefs all over the globe work with local farmers to develop menus featuring local produce and meats.

We will begin with the two top trends:

People are eating in. This was a surprise. Yes, harried mothers go through drive-throughs, but many of us want to prepare healthy, unprocessed foods at home, if only we could. We seek not only healthy food but refuge from this crazy world we are living in right now. A cozy meal at home with loved ones is the panacea for most of what ails us.

But how do we do it? Companies like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Home Chef, and Green Chef offer meal-prep packages that arrive at your door step.

Not everyone can afford a private chef or mail order dinners, so grocers have begun to make it easier for consumers by offering fresh to-go items (roasted chickens, prepared casseroles), as well as cut-up produce and meats for easy sautés and stir-fries. (Please do not purchase bagged salad, which is often weeks old and contains chemicals and is not as clean as you think.)

Sheet pan dinners, instant pot meals, and Buddha Bowls allow cooks to prepare an entire meal in one pot or one pan. Check out Food Network’s “Best Sheet Pan Recipes” or Country Livings “30 Quick Instant Pot Dinners” or Yummy Mummy’s “30 Best Buddha Bowls” for quick and easy recipes.

Transparency. Because companies lie, consumers, especially millennials, are insisting on transparency. They want to know more about the food they bring home from the grocery or farmer’s market, as well as what they consume outside the home. How is it grown, packaged, and prepared?

According to a recent Tyson’s food report, “39% of consumers say they are willing to switch brands that use more transparent labels. New technology is providing everyone, not just experts and professionals, with background information about their food. The concept of tracking food from farm to table, which first took hold with some smaller brands, will become a focus for big food in 2019.”

I learned this during my trip to Spain. The label on the beef tenderloin stated not only the date the cow was “sacrificed” but also where it had its last meal. I think its mother’s name was Bella (just kidding).

Of course, there are other exciting trends, including root-to-stem meals, the revival of old school French cooking techniques, grazing tables, Pegan diet (Paleo-vegan), more instant pot cooking, foil pack dinners, DIY jam, Portuguese and Pacific Rim flavors. But we will need to save these topics for another time.

Wishing all of you a bright and happy new year!

Sheet Pan Supper: Parmesan Chicken and Roasted Romaine

Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine
(from Bon Appetit, 2012)

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Season 4 chicken breasts (boneless/skinless) with salt and pepper; place on prepared sheet.

Combine 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 C. panko breadcrumbs, 2 TB olive. oil, 1/4 C chopped parsley, and 1 garlic clove, minced, in a medium bowl; season with a little salt and pepper. Pat panko mixture onto breasts.

Place breasts on sheet pan and toast in the oven until crumbs begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes.

Drizzle 2 large hearts of romaine with 1 TB olive oil and sprinkle with 1 minced garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove sheet from oven; place romaine around chicken. Roast until chicken is cooked through and lettuce is browned at edges, about 5 minutes.

Divide among plates. Top lettuce with anchovy fillets packed in oil (drained and chopped) and garnish with lemon wedges .