Category Archives: fermented

Top Twenty Hottest Food Trends 2015

For the week-end update and the January’s wrap up, I’ve collected some interesting data about the Food Trends for 2015. From the Food Channel to Better Homes & Gardens to Yahoo Food and many other sources, the experts and chefs agree on the following common food trends for 2015: 

ALL THAT VEG: Veggies are still going strong in 2015 to the greatest salumi-lovers chargin. The new crossbred vegetables like broccolette and kalette will enter the groceries and our kitchens. New cruciferous species are introduced by chefs (i.e. spigarello is the new kale according to Mario Batali). The underdogs like cauliflower and radishes re-emerge and will have a better standing throughout the year. 
I think it’s time to post my Cauliflower Lobster Dumplings Soup and/or Walnut Pesto Roasted Cauliflower soon. Stay tuned.
DIY FOOD BARS: From hippie lemon coconut cookies to healthy diy bites, raw food bars are becoming the new lunchables and your best traffic companion. Try this bites for some healthy breaks.
DUCK IS THE NEW CHICKEN: The duck’s popularity continues to grow and its healthier sustainable protein and fat are more and more recognized (along with duck eggs that cost the same as chicken eggs at Asian supermarkets). Roast it, use it in soups and stir fries, make some roasted duck skin salads (2014 restaurant hip). If not already, try this remarkable and easy duck roast to start falling in love with it. 
Follow with the duck skin salad for more adventure.
VEGETARIAN RAMEN: From NYC to Montreal and Toronto; from East coast to West coast, North to South, Ramen is still one of the most wanted foods, except this year vegetarian versions are more and more in demand. Pack it with all kind of Asian greens and herbs, miso/sriracha/and bunch of other flavors, add some sea weed and poached egg and you are good to go. Try to avoid the instant noodles unless you want to die a little each time you let 50% saturated fat and 2-days dose of sodium fuzz your digestive tract.
RABBIT IS THE NEW IT MEAT:Looks like my New Year’s Eve post on Cuban Rabbit Fricasse was right on time: rabbit is the next lean-clean light meat that can absorb all kind of flavors and make you feel light and good. 
Just wait until you try my rabbit lasagna!
SMALLER FISH:The time of the Old Man and the Sea has passed and the small fish is a new big fish logo now with all points sustainable. Try some Japanese smelts tempura or grilled sardines next and you won’t miss any big fish anymore.  
OYSTERS IN SEASON: Raw or baked, this highly sustainable and still very affordable bivalve is taking restaurant and home kitchens by the storm in 2015. Why not? The year of the Goat is all about elegance and class: let’s fancy this trend with a dash of sustainable kelp caviar, lime granita and a bit of mignonette sauce on a side.  
SEAWEED SAGA: 2015 is also about sophisticated cooking so many Japanese condiments have a strong presence including seaweed (fresh, dry or reconstituted) being added to stocks, salads and mains for added taste and umami. Great iodine booster besides other things, a pack of dried sea weed for the cup of morning miso or kombu for some hearty stocks make the most welcome additions to your pantry.
KEEP FORAGING:from edible weeds and berries to wild flowers to mushrooms and nuts foraging expands like never before to bring a touch of wilderness and rare flavors to the dishes and make our lives healthier and fancier. Check the recipes for Juniper Ham in Pastry; Cream of Foraged Greens; Almond Gazpacho with Violets; Fiddlehead Ferns Omlet and Pasta.
BREAD REVOLUTION: While the gluten free trend is still strong, there is a growing revolution in the area of artisanal breads (with multi and/or sprouted grain), which according to the world’s bread experts is going to expand over the next few years. Check this easy super-savory Cypriot-style bread recipe for the first hand exposure when making your own first artisanal bread.
FERMENTED & SOUR FOODS: Healthy gut has become the American priority in the war against the obesity. Fermented foods – yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso are trendier than ever. Use this fool proof kimchi recipe to join the movement. 
SPECIALTY PASTAS: Gluten free movement resulted in some outstanding specialty pastas (brown rice, kamut, buckwheat, spelt, etc.) that are now available at the restaurants and in stores. Make your next pasta meal special with this Pasta con le Sarde recipe and spaghetti of your choice.
SPICES & SMOKE ON A RISE: Learning how to season food in more than just salt and pepper has never been more exciting. From Cajun Spice and New Orleans food chronicles in the Chef movie, to Middle Eastern Za’atar mix the spice empire is raising its bar high this year. Check these simple Cajun and Zaatar spice mix DIYs, or try the some juniper berries in your next recipe. Add some smoke whenever you can and/or use more of the smoked paprika and chili seasoning.
FANCY COOKIES: The wheat revolution brought more focus on home-made cookies. From chocolate chips to Eccles cakes to gluten free hazelnut chocolate bites or candied ginger scones packed with dried fruits (coming soon) – gran style cookies with some modern health twist are very much in. FYI, cannabis is becoming a popular baking ingredient further to more and more of its legalization in many places.
BITTER IS A NEW BOLD: Wake up your bile and liver!  The watercress, ginseng, green collards, coffee, dark chocolate rubs and other acrid, astringent taste sensation evoking foods are in and ready to help your liver recovery.  Try the watercress salad for a difference.
SIPPING BROTH: Healthy broth is predicted to take over by the end of 2015. Anything that can increase the body’s alcalinity is a hot trend.  I’m already making my own miso soups for breakfast, but I’ve also experimented with a bunch of vegetarian broths that can boost your energy in the morning. Like this rainbow broth (red color is given by beets) that is great to kick start the day on a positive note with something less boring than smoothie. Stay tuned. And hey, mark my words: the Ginseng Chicken Soup will be a giant hit by the end of the year or earlier.
HOME BREWING & CANDYING: The DIY alchemy has never been stronger, from home-made apple cider to specialty vinegar to DIY rose water, to making your own primitive fermented drink, beer, wine or cider – I’m in, and ready to finally go and buy that special ‘mother’ to start brewing the real deal. Candied orange, lemon and ginger are also now very hot ingredients.
WINE CASUALIZED: Here is a bit of good news for everyone: from liquor stores to big gulps to future AA people and the rest of us.  A bit of wine each day is better than getting wasted during the week-end and that’s the whole thing about the great red cell cardio benefits.  
Make it casual. Make it French. Make it quality over quantity. Start using it in cooking sparingly: from stew, to soup to the dessert jelly, a splash of wine works wonders in cooking.  
ETHNIC BECOMES GLOBAL: The word ethnic is being removed from the chef’s vocabulary. Food and trends have turned global and we are all contributing to it. There will be no more polemic as to the origin of borscht.
RESTAURANTS – MY KITCHEN, MY RULES: The restaurants start discouraging the food photography and cell phones in general focusing on their food rather than opinion, which is the great news to those who want to be inspired by the food quality and cooking innovation rather than formality of the rating in social media. Example: this guy gave me the stink eye (aka dirty look) after I was taking the picture and I think he was absolutely right: it is disturbing.
REPLICATING RESTAURANTS: This is one of my favorite things and I’ve already been doing it for years. What’s the point of going someplace they serve what you can make at home in minutes (and without an extra pound of re-fried butter in it)? However, if it’s something extraordinary like this or that, I’m always in, and impressed and would like to go back even if I can deconstruct it and make it at home. I’m a big miss in general for the Michelin type of restos simply because I don’t like to feel like the honorable cadavre staring at some kind of tiny food in jello or smoke displayed (yes, I’m talking about micro cuisine) on a perfectly clean plate and reminding of the sad future of food and humanity. But some hearty hole in the wall with down to earth alternative burger packed with fresh ingredients and flavors: YES, PLEASE.

Kimchi DIY: Make Your Gut Happy


My kimchi story started about a year ago with an inspiration from my favorite Korean restaurant in Montreal. The first batch I made at home was successful and now kimchi is all the rage in our house taken with almost anything in copious amounts.  It is so umami-rich in flavor, that I firmly believe it can bring any carnivore one step closer to a vegetarian heaven. Which is why, I am so anxious to share the recipe with you! 

Korean Chili Pepper Drying
Kimchi red chili pepper & storing barrels in Korean village via Wikimedia
Kimchi is a Korean version of sauerkraut: a spicy blend of fermented cabbage, radish, Korean red chili pepper, ginger, garlic, salt and few other things. In Korea, it is traditionally served at every meal, either alone, or with rice or noodles.  A stinky mix of high-fiber, low fat, inexpensive fermented ingredients, kimchi is praised for its unique addictive flavor and its digestive health benefits. It is known to help the body fend off bacterial and viral infections and to have a strengthening effect on the circulation and digestion. The recipe is as old as Korea itself.
The major ingredient, Napa cabbage, is a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C, but when fermented it brings its power to the next level, adding probiotics and even more vitamin C.
There are endless applications of kimchi at the table. Serve it as an appetizer on its own sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds and laced with some aromatic oil, like hazelnut or walnut.
Use it as a side dish with rice, noodles, meat, fish, vegetables, etc. – my recent favorite is to put some on top of the steamy mashed potatoes. Use it as a flavor booster in soups, stews, even dumplings!
Or, use it as a better condiment in salads, sandwiches, tacos, tortillas or, our favorite street grub – HOT DOGS!
I wanted to write this post back in 2013 already, but now I’m glad I didn’t because I recently run into this amazing Kimchi Chronicles documentary made by celebrity chefs Marja and Jean-Gorges Vongerichten and featuring a whole bunch of some inspiring takes on kimchi and other Korean food. Watch Hugh Jackman and his wife Debora Lee Furness devouring hot dogs with kimchi relish in this episode:
 

According to Marja, every Korean house has a different recipe of kimchi, but since kimchi is more of a pickling technique, you can go way beyond just Napa cabbage. I like to add sliced daikon and carrots and sometimes cucumbers. As for the fermenting mix booster, I stay with fish sauce, Asian pear and Korean red chili pepper (you can find it in Asian stores) mix with ginger and garlic.  Please use these images to help you go through the simple steps of kimchi preparation in the recipe below.

As for the fermentation stage, I personally prefer well-fermented kimchi (after a least few weeks in a fridge, I find it tastes best within three-four weeks). FYI, one study about fermentation has shown that people who ate fermented kimchi for one month lost more weight and demonstrated improvements in total cholesterol and blood pressure, compared to those who ate fresh kimchi.
That’s it for now and Gun Bai to all, which means Cheers in Korean!
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One Year Ago: Veal Shoulder Blade Roast with Porcini;
                         Veal Canapes Appetizer;
                         Cuban Ropa Vieja Pulled Veal or Beef

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KIMCHI RECIPE
Kimchi ingredients:
2 medium head Napa (Chinese cabbage), chopped in chunks
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium daikon, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
180 g coarse salt
Water for soaking
Kimchi sauce:
6 tbsp. fish sauce
4 tbsp. Korean red pepper powder
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 oriental pear, chopped
½ apple chopped
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 (2 cm) slices of ginger
2 tbsp. sesame oil
4 spring onions, chopped
3 wide mouth glass jars (1.7 liters+)
Instructions:
Chop the Napa cabbage into chunks; slice the daikon, carrots and cucumbers. Soak them covered with water with about 180 g of salt added to it for 5-6 hours or overnight.
Make Kimchi sauce: blend the ingredients; add spring onions to the paste mixture upon blending. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
Drain the cabbage mix and rinse with cold running water to remove excess salt, transfer to a tray and mix by hand with the Kimchi sauce until all covered in sauce.
Pack the glass jars with the mix up to ¾ of each jar pressing well. Add any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process – it will help the brine to develop faster. Close tightly with the lid and let stand at room temperature for 12-24 hours to marinate. 
Transfer to the fridge for a storage. The flavors will continue to develop.  You can start eating kimchi within 2-3 days, but it is best when fermented for at least few weeks. Store kimchi jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Use clean utensils to take out a little each time.

Time for Apples: Apple Cider Vinegar Treasure

For years, we have been chasing a dream of our own private Garden of Eden, and now that we have it, it keeps us really busy, particularly in fall.  Apple picking is an important season for us: so many things to do with them and so little time in our hands! It is also magical, for each time I am wandering into the garden and catch the aroma of ripening and fermenting fruit it Proust-affects me and triggers some of my best childhood memories. End of summer: still no school, my grandparents collecting a mountain of apples to be processed, clouds of bees and lady bugs dancing around. My grandma in her summer kitchen behind the giant apple press squeezing out and giving me the first glass of the precious amber liquid. I walk through the fields of gold towards an old monastery orchard with my grandpa to learn about varieties of heirloom apples…  Oh, those days of freedom and wonder when you walked bare foot! They seem to be so far away… 

The Quebec climate is perfect to have wonderful orchards and one of the most interesting places to visit in fall in our neck of woods is a simple cider mill. Already busy with our own garden, I am not interested in going somewhere unless I can squeeze in a visit to an apple farm or a cidrerie.  
 A lovely short trip to the country is worthy of a lifted glass of a great apple cider at the place like, Michel Jodoin, for example, but there are so many, just minutes away from Montreal.
Spring, summer, fall or winter – there is something immaculate about the strait cascades of the apple trees in every season.  Anytime, I am ready to enjoy a humble winter silence of an orchard, a spring flower blossom, a comforting green shade in summer and, finally, the proverbial fruit that attracts zillions of living creatures to share the fermented apples feast.  Even elk or moose are no exceptions!

Our latest fall hobby is making our own apple cider vinegar.  There is absolutely nothing to making apple cider vinegar and many people I know are starting to do it too.  You just need some organic apples and a bit of patience. Fermenting is a new canning.  The importance of probiotics is sweeping our planet and comes closer and closer into focus. Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles – they are all good, but a homemade apple cider vinegar holds a very special place in my kitchen.  A spoon of a homemade apple cider vinegar added to a stock, stew, anything braised or roasted, makes wonders to the dish acting as a an enhancer and stabilizer of a flavour and bringing the best out of the cooking process. For me, it’s a truly revolutionary ingredient. You can officially ban the MSG once you have your own organic apple cider vinegar in your pantry.

The rule of thumb is: 4 weeks to make alcohol, plus 4 weeks to turn alcohol into the vinegar. If you are using a freshly pressed juice from organic apples, just roughly filter the juice, add one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to the ¾ full wide-mouthed one gallon jar of a juice. Fix the top of a jar with a cheese cloth/cotton linen and elastic to prevent Drosophila, the little fruit flies, which will surely appear in mass. Place the jar/s in a dark (I am keeping them on the garage shelves) at a room temperature for 4-6 weeks. You will surely notice the musty aroma of fermenting apple juice while the sugar will be transforming into alcohol. After 4-6 weeks, filter the liquid through the cheesecloth and sieve and return to the clean washed jar. Cover back with a cheesecloth or linen and place it again in the dark place at the room temperature, for another 4 weeks to complete the fermentation process.  By the end of 4th week your apple cider vinegar is ready.  Do not filter it, just transfer the liquid to the dark bottles and store it in your pantry. The best is to visualize the steps for you, so here you are:
If you are living in an apartment and don’t have your own apple trees, you can equally use just cores and peels from organic apples (collect them in the zip lock bag in the freezer until you have enough amount to fill up the large-mouth glass jar of the selected to ½ (half full)). When ready and the apple scraps are in the jar, add some filtered water enough to submerge apple scraps but to not exceed ¾ of a jar.  Sprinkle sugar, or add organic honey (approximately ¼ cup sugar to each 1 quart (4 cups) of water). Add a tablespoon of a good quality organic apple cider vinegar to jump start the fermentation process.  Mix well with the wooden spatula, cover the jar with triple layer of a cheese cloth or a piece of linen and fix with elastic or band. Place in the dark warm (room temperature) room for 4-6 weeks. I store the jars in our garage in the wooden wine boxes on the shelves and cover the jars with pierced brown paper bags to make sure the light is not inhibiting the growth of bacteria and slowing down the process.  If you use the freshly squeezed clear apple juice, there is no need to mix the liquid once a day, but with scraps, you have to mix it once a day to assist the fermentation process.
After 4-5 weeks the scraps will start to sink to the bottom. At this point you filter the liquid through the sieve covered with a cheese cloth or paper towel.  Rinse the jar with cold water, return the strained liquid to it, cover with linen or cheesecloth again and let it ferment in a warm dark place for another 4 weeks.  No need to mix the liquid anymore, within 4 weeks it will transform into live vinegar with the mother formed on the surface of the ferment.  You will notice some sediment at the bottom of a jar. Do not filter it, because the mother of the vinegar needs this environment to stay alive.  As long as it is there, you can use some to start another batch of apple cider vinegar. Store the final product in the dark (preferably) glass or plastic containers from the former apple cider vinegar and place on your pantry shelf.  Enjoy it in salad dressings, stews, soups and other dishes.  Or, as your daily diet partner: a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a bottle of water to help your cholesterol level. Even as a beauty product, such as, a hair rinse. Check these lists of benefits of apple cider vinegar for some interesting tips.