As we cook, we also keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in food trends (with our feet firmly planted in classic techniques that always trump the latest and greatest). This week, the Web is suddenly all about sous vide, a cooking technique much beloved by fancy molecular gastrologists and involving the very long slow-cookery of meat in a plastic bag via vacuum. Huh? Whether you want to try it yourself or just are hungry for some knowledge to share at your next cocktail party, here’s a quick rundown on sous vide:
What does it mean? The term “sous vide” means “under vacuum” in French. Translation: Low temperatures, long cooking times, vacuum-sealed environments.
Why cook sous vide? Perfection: proper use of the technique means that cuts of meat that might otherwise dry out or change flavor with long cookings can retain their texture and take on a moist yumminess seen only in more expensive cuts. Also, it’s fun to play with thermometers, gadgets, and science! Who’s not up for a foodie challenge every once in a while?
What can you cook sous vide? Steak is the ultimate example, but chicken, carrots, even eggs can benefit from the technique.
Where do I learn more? Here’s a great collection of sous vide madness:
- Hack a slow cooker for sous vide
- Poor man’s sous vide
- Sous vide 101
- A practice guide to sous vide – by a Colorado mathematician who has gotten this science down to an art
Proceed with caution…any cooking technique that relies on lots of fancy equipment might not last the test of time. Want to brush up on your cooking basics and get reacquainted with French and Italian classics? Click here to view a course calendar!
Our first My Month In Food is finished…and it’s time to welcome our next MMIF correspondent, Susan aka DenverFoodGirl! But first, a quick wrap-up with the wonderful Elizabeth Young who did such a great job as our inaugural correspondent:
What if anything changed about your relationship with food in the last month? I wanted to be more interesting in my food adventures than I might be in a normal month, so I focused a bit more on planning meals a little further ahead of time than usual. I found that it takes only a very little bit more effort to make a meal jump from good to great/more memorable.
Did you come any closer to finding local favorites or did you stick closer to home? I tend to stay closer to home. I find that it’s easy to be disappointed at average restaurants and chains. When I do go out (for anything other than convenience) I tend to look for dishes I won’t or can’t make at home, or to try to learn new combinations. I did try the Buckhorn Exchange, Denver’s oldest restaurant (with CO liquor license #1). I tried a special with quail, ostrich, and yak. The birds were great, but I was less impressed with their yak. Since I recently became a fan of yak, I was a little disappointed to not learn anything new about yak preparation, but I more than made up for that by visiting a yak ranch this month! (I still need to publish my blog post about that.)
What would you tell a friend about Cook Street? I’ve told lots of people about Cook Street! I think that for someone who hasn’t tried a class yet, I’d recommend they look closely at the course descriptions when selecting a course. There really are students of all levels of cooking ability, so don’t be intimidated. Go with a friend – I’ve seen lots of people take that approach and they really seem to enjoy themselves! I think more serious students should focus on the techniques classes. I’m looking forward to some of the grilling classes over the summer.
What was your most memorable experience with food this month? Your worst? My most memorable is experience is the one I still need to blog about – visiting the yak ranch. A former coworker used to talk about how he bought all his beef directly from a local farmer, ordering an entire animal at a time. I now want to do the same with yak and bison, so the ranch visit was really my first step in that direction. I think the worst was wondering how many people I bored by talking about almost nothing but food for an entire month! That said, I have several more Twitter contacts as a result of this program, and I even have plans to meet some of them in person. That’s great, since I’m still settling into this area!
Now, let’s meet our new correspondent…Susan aka DenverFoodGirl!
Favorite food: Nothing makes me happier than a comforting cassoulet.
The last thing I cooked: Blueberry muffins for my fiancé.
Best meal: Il Sanpietrino in Rome . One beautiful course after another. Wine flowed and the hours flew by. The restaurant was part of the Buon Ricordo Association http://buonricordo.com which literally translates to “happy memories”.
Favorite Food Movie: Like Water for Chocolate
Food idol: Julia Child – She was passionate, daring and adventurous with food, and life.
Favorite restaurant in Denver : Too many to pick just one. I will say that my favorite restaurant neighborhood is definitely the Highlands . It gets better every year. As much as I enjoy exploring Denver ’s restaurants, I actually live with a very talented chef. My fiancé is really creative in the kitchen. We have our own version of the quick fire challenge where I’ll pick up four or five ingredients bring them home and he’ll whip up something amazing.
New year, new flavors, new predictions and trends. The world of wine is always changing, and 2010 will definitely follow suit. Read on for our trend forecast for the new year:
Wine Tech on the Rise: Molecular gastronomy will spill over from the plate to the glass in 2010, resulting in bold flavors with untraditional roots. Look for new bottling techniques, fancy techy gadgets, and crazy presentations (wine foam, anyone?). And don’t forget the rising popularity of sites like Facebook and Twitter, which will further unite wine fans in search of the perfect variety.
Green in Your Glass: Green is no longer a buzzword for vintners and wine fans: it’s a way of life. Expect even more focus on sustainable and eco-friendly wines in 2010, from biodynamic farming methods to sustainable self-regulation within the industry.
Value on the Vine: Blame (or praise!) the recession: 2009’s focus on value wines will continue well into the new year. Expect even better deals as industry insiders slash prices in order to pay the bills. And don’t judge a bottle of wine by its label…if the popularity of Trader Joe’s legendary “Two Buck Chuck” is any indicator, better varieties will be taking on discount labels as the economy remains iffy.
Local and Luscious: Expect even more attention to be paid to the local, artisinal wine movement. We’re talking small-production, high-value wine produced from local grapes and by wineries that could exist near (or in) your own backyard. The local trend will drive interesting blends, flavor profiles, and even more appreciation of America’s myriad microclimates and terroirs. Speaking of which, the United States is poised to become the world’s biggest consumer of wine within the next year…and that will change the wine scene for years to come.
Everyone’s A Sommelier: With wine education even more accessible than ever, 2010 will be the year of the self-made sommelier. There’s simply no excuse for even the most casual consumer not to know more about wine…and the resurgence of local wineries, well-informed wine and spirits shops, and great culinary education (ahem) will spur a trend we hope lasts much longer than a decade.
What are your wine predictions for 2010? We hope a class at Cook Street is among your New Year’s resolutions…try:
- Wine 101: Ever wish you could get a crash course in all things wine? We’re here to help. You bring your questions, your curiosity, and your taste for delicious vino. We’ll bring the wine and all the essentials on how it’s made and enjoyed. (Tuesday, February 16, 6-9 p.m.) Click here to register.
- Wine and Food Pairing Seminar: Think wine can’t possibly change the flavor of food? Think again! In this information-rich seminar, you’ll sample wines and food, comparing the before-and-after effects and learning how to pair the two for every kind of meal. (Thursday, January 28, 6-9 p.m.) Click here to register.
- Wines of Spain: Sample the big, bold flavors of Spain as you discover eight wines and a savory snack. (Thursday, February 4, 6-9 p.m.) Click here to register.
- Wines of Central and Southern Italy: Take a culinary trip as you learn about this region’s unique flavors and varieties. Sample eight wines and a light snack in this informative class. (Thursday, February 11, 6-9 p.m.) Click here to register.
Image courtes of Nils Geylen
With the end of the year comes a barrage of lists, predictions, and trendspotting, and Cook Street’s here to serve up the most interesting takes on a whole new decade of culinary delight. What are your 2010 culinary plans? We’re focusing on culinary technique in January with a series of classes aimed at the classics: Classic Techniques: Essentials I, Classic Techniques: Artisan Bread, Classic Techniques: Italian, and Classic Techniques: French)
- Fried chicken, Whoopie pies, and immunity diets: Epicurious weighs in on 2010 trends
- What will be big in beverages? Organic, artisinal, and even more choices for foodies who like to drink
- Appetizers, bars, and cafes, oh my!
- The snarks at Chowhound weigh on on their 2010 foodie predictions
- Umami, food vetting, and bartering? Food Network thinks so…
- In 2010, the breakfast will be 24/7 and the Asian world is fair game, according to Technomic
- Asian + Latin + beer? R&I weighs in
- …but Nation’s Restaurant News puts their money on culinary cocktails and mini-desserts
- How about adding some global sauces to the mix?
No matter what the trend, Cook Street will be serving up timeless technique and delicious food well into the next decade and beyond. Want to find out more? Visit our website or join our Facebook group!
Image courtesy of crd!
One of the pleasures of a foodie is constant nomenclature, analysis, and rumination over what makes a cuisine…well, a cuisine. In preparation for our Regional American Cuisine class on September 30, we’ve been mulling over what makes American cuisine so distinct. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
- It personifies the melting pot: American cuisine encompasses traditions from around the world…with a bit of uniquely regional and American flair thrown in.
- It begs, borrows, and steals: Where else can you eat a dish that combines French cooking techniques, Mexican ingredients, and distinctly local and seasonal elements?
- It’s user-friendly: American cuisine embellishes basic staples like chicken, sandwiches, and the classic casserole (gasp!). With the bar for entry set low, it’s easy for anyone to play along. And with so many great American dishes crossing boundaries of class, origin, and race, it’s anything but snobby.
- It’s constantly changing: Ask any chef what they think comprises “American cuisine” and they’ll shoot off a list of everything from comfort foods to exquisite fusion concepts. One of the things we love most is that, like America itself, American cuisine is always on the move in the most exciting of ways.
Want to go beyond plain-Jane toast, fish, potato salad, and cake? Learn how September 30 at our Regional American Cuisine Class. Click here for details!
Image courtesy of marxhivist
Food trends are truly a dime a dozen. Today’s soufflé rage is tomorrow’s retro cooking trend. In our Essentials Classes, we explore timeless, trendless dishes, but we’ve been known to offer a few trend-based classes. Here are three trends we’ve seen rise to the top, and that we don’t think are going anywhere anytime soon:
The Green Dish: Eco-friendly cooking is all the rage…and it ain’t going anywhere. Look at the rise in prominence of natural foods stores, bring-your-own-bags, and biodegradable packaging. But processed foods aren’t the only beneficiaries of a trend we hope will become a movment. With increased environmental awareness comes a “back to basics” approach we love. After all, the slow food/local food trend is simply a return to the way people are meant to eat…locally and in season.
Bacon: At first it seemed like just a fad, but bacon-loving cuisine looks like it’s bound to stick to our ribs for a while. What’s not to love about a salty, crispy meat that’s the perfect complement to both sweet and savory foods? Though we’re not sure how we feel about all bacon all the time, we’re glad people have rediscovered (and dropped the stigma around) this porky pleasure.
Recession Chic: While we emphatically hope the recession fades away like a flash-in-the-pan food trend, we can’t help but be excited about the creativity and resurgence in home cooking it’s inspired. More and more, people are looking for ways to enjoy simple, healthy, home-cooked meals with a bit of flair…and save their restaurant visits for splurges and special occasions. This hasn’t hampered the creativity of Denver’s superb food scene, and it doesn’t hurt home cooks, either! After all, what better way to develop your palate than with a real, up-front education in food?
What’s your favorite food trend? Sound off – comment below!
Photo courtesy of Heart of Oak