While no one knows exactly how 2014 will unfold, there’s no shortage of predictions and pronouncements on the direction it might take.
The culinary world is no exception to this predilection to gaze into the future, as restaurants and grocers vie to predict the food trends of the coming year.
Just as Pantone, the authority on colors, proclaimed orchid the “color of the year” for 2014, the Sterling-Rice Group of culinary analysts has recently issued its list of the top 10 food trends they expect to see in the coming year.
By talking to chefs, product developers and grocery shoppers, the group tries to spot the new directions that cooks at home and in restaurants will be taking in 2014.
Surprisingly, the No. 1 trend spotted by Sterling-Rice is the resurgence of lemons in everything from salads to dessert.
“It will be the flavor of next year,” said Karla Jankowski, the group’s associate culinary director. “Lemon’s bright flavor is fresh and unadulterated. It ties into the cuisines of the Mediterranean, which are growing in popularity.
“Plus, it brings back memories of lemonade afternoons, Grandma’s lemon bars and summer desserts with lemon meringue pie.”
Sterling-Rice also foresees an expansion of the enthusiasm for the Mediterranean diet to include the cuisines on the sea’s eastern and southern shores. Currently, most Americans identify Mediterranean food with dishes served in southern France, Italy, Greece and other Southern European areas.
The group predicts that the foods of other Mediterranean countries, including Turkey and Israel, will become more popular. While they share many of the same elements as northern Mediterranean cooking such as olive oil, garlic and seafood, the group expects to see more lamb and spices such as sumac and Aleppo peppers turning up on American menus.
Egg yolks, in recent years shunned in favor of egg whites because of their cholesterol and fat, are expected to make a comeback. Fried eggs have begun making appearances in unlikely places, topping burgers and enchiladas, and Sterling-Rice predicts that the yolks will begin to replace cheese and cream as a way of giving sauces and soups a sumptuous texture and rich flavor.
Nondairy milk products, such as almond, cashew and peanut milk, are pegged to turn up in more pantries as Americans pursue lighter, healthier versions of milk for drinking, pouring on cereal and cooking. The latest versions of almond milk have as little as 30 calories per cup, while still delivering protein and a mildly sweet taste.
Some of the food forecasting may take longer than a year to come to pass — one restaurant in Portland, Ore., serving pigeon doesn’t really constitute a trend — and others predict comebacks of food that never really went away, such as lettuce wedges with blue cheese dressing.
One prediction that’s almost sure to come true is that cooks can find satisfying adventures in the kitchen whether they’re looking for the next new thing or sticking to old favorites.
4 egg yolks
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup Marsala
Place the egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler off the heat and whisk, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy.
Place the top of the double boiler over a pan on the stove containing about 1 inch of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the base of the double boiler.
Add the Marsala and continue to whisk or beat without stopping for about 10 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam and swells into a soft, frothy mass.
Serve warm, in large spoonfuls, over fresh berries or other ripe fruit.
(SOURCE: Recipe from “The Palm Restaurant Cookbook,” by Brigit Legere Binns)
MAKES: 1⁄2 cup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, finely diced
5 tablespoons olive oil
pepper, freshly ground
Combine the lemon juice, zest, salt and shallot in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes, then whisk in the oil and season with a little pepper to taste.
Add extra olive oil if needed.
(SOURCE: Recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” by Deborah Madison)
Turkish Pizza with Pomegranates, Spinach and Feta
MAKES: 4 pizzas
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1⁄2 teaspoon superfine sugar
5⁄8 cup lukewarm water
12 ounces all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 ounces milk
11⁄2 ounces olive oil
1 pound, 2 ounces fresh spinach
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 ounce pine nuts
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Mix the yeast with the sugar and a little of the warm water. Stir and leave somewhere warm for about 15 minutes, until the liquid froths.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast into this, mixing in the flour from around the sides. Gradually add the milk and the olive ill and finish with as much of the remaining water as it takes to bind everything.
Knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. Rub a little extra olive oil over the surface of the dough, put it in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
De-stalk and wash the spinach leaves and cook them in the water that still clings to them, over low heat in a covered saucepan, about 4 minutes. Squeeze out the moisture and chop roughly.
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over a gentle heat until it is just softening. Add the garlic, spinach and seasoning and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Put pizza stones or metal baking pans into the oven to heat at 425 degrees.
Knock back the pizza dough and separate it into four balls. Using a little extra flour, roll each into an irregular pizza shape — the Turks like misshapen ovals. Put these on lightly floured baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise for another half-hour.
Divide the spinach mixture among the pizzas and top with the feta. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Lightly oil the baking sheets if you’re using them and transfer the pizzas to the sheets or hot stones and cook for five minutes.
Scatter the pine nuts on top and cook for another 3 minutes until the dough is firm and lightly colored. Scatter the pomegranate and black pepper on the top and serve.
(SOURCE: Recipe from “Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons,” by Diana Henry)