2011 Top Food Trends: Home Cookin'

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Last week local chefs shared restaurant predictions with Michele Laudig, and Wynter Holden mused about her high hopes for Steampunk cooking to trend in 2011. Taking a look closer to hearth and home, here are trends we think will influence the way we garden, shop, cook, and eat.

DIY: The economy may be showing signs of perking up, but some positive lifestyle effects of tightening our belts are here to stay. Cutting back on eating out brought us back into the kitchen. We discovered new skills and found joy in mastering recipes and cooking techniques. What's next?

find our 2011 predictions after the jump

Edible gardening will continue to surge and spread from restaurant patios to our front and back yards. If we grow or score some "dirt candy" at the market, we will put it up-canning and preserving our bounty. Plans for raising vegetables and planting fruit trees will be followed by the addition of a backyard coop and more neighborhood cocka-doodle-dos.

Everything old is new again. It started with the tomato; in 2011 we will see an increase in availability of heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. Inspired by local restaurant menus we will look to source Romanesco broccoli and Spanish black radishes for our tables, or plant some on our own.

Chefs will continue to look to the past for inspiration and the challenge of updating old time dishes. We will see more cookbooks based on a collective yearning for comfort food from the past updated with an influence of ethnic ingredients and 21st century techniques.

Move over table salt: Kosher salt nudged out table salt, while sea salt became a standard finishing touch, even in dessert. We will see new gourmet salts with reduced levels of sodium on the shelves of specialty food stores.

Spice it up: While we were busy conquering our favorite ethnic cuisine at home, we discovered a variety of herbs and spices familiar to our palate but new additions to our pantry. Besides adding flavor and taste to a dish, we learned the health benefits of spicing up our food. We will increase our exploration of herbs and spices not limiting their use to a specific cuisine or recipe. Interest in Indian, Korean, and Latino cuisines will influence where we eat and what we cook.

V, not just for vegans: We are going to eat more plant- based meals.
We want to enhance our health through nutrition and diet. Grass root campaigns, like Meatless Monday, will effect what we chose to cook and the menus of restaurants as home cooks and chefs add more grain and vegetable options.

Butcher, baker, and candlestick maker: Increasing our consumption of fruits, vegetables and grains doesn't mean we are giving up the beef (or pork or fowl). Nose to tail dining has introduced us to animal protein not found wrapped in plastic at the grocers. We will shop with the local butcher, pick up some fabricating skills of our own, and try some new cuts of meat.

Science of cooking: We have always been interested in cookbooks, magazines and food shows. Harold McGee, Alton Brown and Cooks Illustrated whet our appetite for the science behind cooking technique. The success of Harvard University's lecture series "Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter," will inspire other education institutions to offer similar series marrying the knowledge of scientists with the craft of the chef.

Label transparency: The newest USDA guidelines, SB 510, and consumer concern will increase the demand for information on packaged food labels. We will be able to chose prepared food with less ingredients (like Haagen-Dazs five), fruits and vegetables with country and region of origin, and continued transparency of sustainability for seafood, meat and dairy.

Obvious Apps: We will find and use more phone apps for shopping coupons, grocery specials and pricing, sustainable seafood, recipes, cooking advise, shopping lists, reservations, restaurant choices, menus, and reviews. No surprise here, we will expect to pay our restaurant tab electronically, at the table.

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