Hot food trends for 2012
Trendy French Dip sandwiches can be cooked up easily in your crock pot. | Melissa Elsmo~For Sun-Times Media
Trendy French Dip Sandwiches
Using a retro crock pot to make these sandwiches for your family table will make being on-trend for 2012 a snap! The dried mushrooms add tremendous flavor to these sandwiches, but you can increase the broth to 2 cups and leave out the mushroom step in a pinch.
4 dried Shiitake mushrooms
¼ cup dried Porcini mushrooms
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3-pound boneless chuck pot roast
3 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large French baguette
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 garlic clove, halved
¼ cup minced parsley
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Set the mushrooms aside to rehydrate. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper and place in the hot oil. Sear each side until deep brown (about 8 minutes per side) and transfer to an 8 quart crock pot. Top the roast with the onions, celery, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms and add to the crock pot. Line a fine mesh strainer with a damp paper towel and place it over the crock pot. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through the damp towel into the crock pot and add the beef broth. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
Remove the roast from the pot and shred or slice as desired. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, skim the fat, adjust the seasoning and keep the jus warm. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the onions and mushrooms in the strainer. Mix the mushrooms and onions into the meat, adjust seasoning and keep warm.
Heat the olive oil in the skillet and sauté the peppers until softened. Cut the baguette into six 4-inch sections. Slice each section open and spread each side with butter. Grill or broil the cut side of the bread until golden. Rub the bread with the cut garlic clove.
Place meat mixture on the bottom slice of toasted bread. Top with peppers and garnish with minced parsley. Top with remaining bread slices and serve with jus for dipping.
*Variation: Eliminate the butter for the bread and the sautéed peppers. Top meat mixture with sliced provolone cheese and warm until melted. Garnish cheesy sandwiches with sautéed cremini mushrooms and chopped fresh basil.
Updated: January 13, 2012 10:29AM
With the new year, foodies love to march out their trend lists. I eat these up.
Experts like Sara Bonisteel from Epicurious and John Mariani from Esquire, among my favorites, have predicted the rise of The Old Fashioned, The Happy Diet and Sustainable Fish.
They also tell us what culinary works are headed for a fall: cupcakes and pop-up restaurants.
Popularity is fickle and affection is fleeting when it comes to food, but you can see patterns emerging over the years.
I’ve decided to bite the bullet and share my own food trend predictions for 2012.
Some of my selections are based on broader social considerations like healthy kids and dietary restrictions, while others are simply delicious shots in the dark.
I have 12 months to see if I’m right and I’m counting on you not to monitor me too closely.
In the meantime, help a girl out by eating a doughnut or building a chicken coop!
1 The Elevated French Dip: I’ll back up the Huffington Post on this one! Rethinking this classic combination of beef au jus will offer chefs an endless array of creative cooking options. Make French dips at home, but look for fusion versions to start popping up on restaurant menus, too.
2 Home cooking for the family table: Folks will be eating less take-out on weeknights in 2012. Dust off those crock pots, pressure cookers and quick cook recipes to help serve up homemade family fare on your busiest nights.
3 Hyper-local home cooking: Keeping backyard chickens and beehives in urban and suburban yards is on the rise. Combining the birds and the bees with a robust vegetable and herb garden, suggests city farmers will go from “farm” to table without leaving their postage stamp-sized lots in 2012.
4 Shopping the farmers market: As our hyperlocal instincts kick in, our commitment to shopping at our local farmers market will grow as well in 2012. Mark your calendars; the Oak Park Farmers Market opens May 19. Check out your village’s calendar and circle the date for your farmers market opening.
5 Gluten-free restaurant fare: With an estimated 10 percent of the American population suffering from some form of gluten sensitivity, restaurants are sure to pick up on the need for more menu items meeting their dietary restrictions.
6 Macarons: Miniature desserts are dwindling in popularity, but I predict macarons are here to stay for a while. Get those thoughts of sticky coconut macaroons out of your head! French macarons (note the spelling difference) strike a delicate balance between sweet cream filling and soft cookie bliss. Pick up a dozen in assorted flavors at Vanille Patisserie located in Chicago’s French Market.
7 Asian dumplings: Whipping up an assortment of Asian dumplings is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. I’d love to see more local restaurants get on board with serving up my favorite dish. You can head to Urban Belly in Chicago to try some of the best around. Or watch for an upcoming column from me about tips on dumplings in time for Chinese New Year!
8 Death of the kids’ menu: Restaurants are caring more about the health of the kids they feed; dropping the sugar- and sodium-laden kids’ menus is a grand way to show it! Down go the “chicken” dinosaurs.
9 Pink pork: Just the other day a waiter asked my daughter if she wanted her pork chop medium rare. The FDA reduced the safe cooking temperature for pork by a whopping 10 degrees in 2011. Diners should expect chefs to take full advantage of the opportunity to serve pork with more than a little blush of pink in the center.
10 Doughnuts: Ditch the drive-through and give some gourmet doughnuts a try. This trend has been steadily growing over the past two years. High-end restaurants are embracing doughnuts with gusto; I recently enjoyed the “Foie”sting and Donuts at Next Restaurant in Chicago, and I predict we’ll see scratch-made doughnuts making appearances all over the place in 2012. Visit The Depot American Diner in Oak Park/Berwyn to learn how good fresh doughnuts really are!
11 Communal restaurant tables: Party of six or a table for one? It doesn’t matter! When upscale restaurants offer communal tables there is room for everyone. Shy diners may have to adjust to sharing a meal next to strangers, but social folks will appreciate the opportunity to meet new people over a memorable meal. Watch for this European trend to grow in the United States during the coming year.
12 Retro fare: People crave an emotional connection with their foods. Building on the diner trend of the past several years, I predict we’ll see restaurant menus including more variations on retro-inspired diner dishes like fried chicken, meatloaf and fruit pies.
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. She speaks regularly about reclaiming the family dinner hour with nutritious meals. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.