One of the best parts about serving turkey during the holiday season is the leftovers, right? If you served smoked turkey on your menu this year, its depth of flavor can enhance any number of post-holiday meals. Stick with seasonal flavors by mixing up a turkey-cranberry salad to serve on bread or greens, or create your own take on James Beard’s turkey-and-stuffing hash. Or, parlay the smoky flavor into new dishes that can benefit from a little heat, like a barbecue-style smoked turkey sandwich with pear chutney, smoked turkey enchiladas, or a three-bean smoked turkey chili.
It’s hard to deny the growing mainstream appeal of plant-based foods. The grocery store giant Kroger recently announced it was launching Simple Truth Plant Based, its own line of plant-based burgers and sausages, as a generic alternative to premium plant-based brands. Impossible Foods has won celebrity endorsements from the likes of Jay Z, Serena Williams and Katy Perry. You’re likely experimenting with more plant-based options on your menu. But could you default to vegetables? The University of Cambridge may offer a glimpse into what that might look like for you. Hospitality and Catering News reports that the university’s catering service, which operates 14 outlets and manages more than 1,500 hospitality events each year, removed all beef and lamb from its menus in 2016, replacing those items with plant-based options as part of a new Sustainable Food Policy. In making the changes, the university set out to reduce its consumption of meat, improve and increase the availability of plant-based options, remove unsustainable fish from its menus and reduce food waste. In the process, the university catering service trained its chefs in vegan cooking and its café managers in marketing for sustainability as opposed to profit. In the years since the university implemented its Sustainable Food Policy, it has been able to share dramatic effects with its guests. Despite a rise in how much food the university purchased, overall carbon emissions across the university catering service have dropped by 10.5 percent, according to the report. Further, there was a 33 percent reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of food purchased and a 28 percent reduction in land use per kilogram of food purchased. Finally, even though food costs have increased since the university launched its policy, its gross profits have increased by 2 percent.
What are the holidays without comfort food? If you’re looking for something that brings savory and slightly sweet tastes to your breakfast menu, consider the sausage kolache (or klobasnek, according to its Czech roots). A mainstay in parts of Texas, the sausage kolache is a pillowy, mildly sweet dough filled with sausage and cheese. In the Czech Republic, kolaches can be filled with various combinations of fruit, cheese and other ingredients.
The Speciality Food Association expects fermented condiments – and particularly Gochujang – to be among the top food trends to take off in 2020. Gochujang, the Korean red chili paste made from fermented soybeans, rice and seasonings, gives a kick to marinades, dipping sauces, soups and stews. How can you use it and other fermented condiments on your menu in the coming year?
Imagine your favorite protein. Chances are, there is a plant-based, or partially plant-based, alternative to it – and thanks to food technology, most of the up-and-coming options don’t require guests to sacrifice on taste. The Spoon reports that some of the latest additions to the plant-based protein world include Tyson’s Raised & Rooted meat-free chicken nuggets (the company’s half-plant, half beef burgers are next in the pipeline), and plant-based corned beef, which is being served up in sandwiches at select Quizno’s locations in Denver. In the ever-expanding plant-based milk category, Oatly’s parent company recently filed a patent for a quinoa-based option. Finally, at a time when seafood sustainability is of growing concern to operators and guests alike, there is great opportunity for plant-based fish right now – watch for tastes to improve in this category in the coming months.
Wouldn’t it be great to know what your guests will want to eat and drink not just next month or next season, but for the next two years? A recent Technomic forecast can tell you. The company has a menu predictive tool that includes machine learning, social listening tools and historical menu trends designed to map out consumer taste predictions for the next two years. Five items rose to the top: Is there a place for any of them on your menu? Two fiery sauces, Nashville hot and gochujang, will likely become widespread on menus in the coming months and years, according to Technomic’s findings. Nashville hot is a cayenne-based sauce that is associated with fried chicken – though the coming months may bring new applications. Gochujang, the Korean sauce made from fermented soybeans, dried chilies and garlic, manages to be spicy, salty and sweet. There were three beverages flagged for their anticipated rise in popularity: Ginger beer, Shochu and Mezcal. Ginger beer, which is made by fermenting ginger, yeast and sugar, is often non-alcoholic but has versatility as a mixer with alcoholic beverages. Shochu, the Japanese alcoholic beverage that can be made from ingredients as varied as sweet potatoes and barley, has a stronger taste than sake. Mezcal, a tequila relative, has a smoky flavor that is rising in popularity in both sweet and savory applications (one Washington, D.C. restaurant carries 35 varieties of the beverage).
Are your guests demanding plant-based substitutes on your entrée menu? If so, they may have a taste for plant-based ice cream. Until now, many of the dairy-free stand-ins for ice cream haven’t been as much about mimicking traditional ice cream but instead offering an alternative to it. Now, as the Impossible Burger and lab-grown meat aim to mimic the full experience of eating a burger, ice cream manufacturers are also harnessing technology to perfect a plant-based product. Eclipse Foods, which produces a dairy-free and allergy-free product that it says is indistinguishable from animal dairy, recently inked deals with the ice cream brands Humphrey Slocombe and Oddfellows, TechCrunch reports. Eclipse flavorings ranging from Miso Cherry to Mexican Hot Chocolate will soon be coming to plant-based ice cream pints in New York and San Francisco. Armed with funding from some heavy-hitting investors, their flavors may be expanding beyond the coasts thereafter.
Crescent rolls aren’t just for your bread basket. They’re more versatile than they seem, elevating both the appearance and craveability of your appetizers, sandwiches and entrées. Roll crescent dough around pepperoni, asparagus or the filling of your choice for bite-size appetizers. Encase scrambled egg and sausage in crescent roll dough for a winning breakfast sandwich, or layer turkey, ham and your choice of cheese in egg-dipped crescent roll dough for a melty baked sandwich. Crescent roll dough works well as a flaky, buttery crust too, so use it as a base for a savory pie on your entrée menu.
‘Tis the season for snacking – and dips are always a welcome part of the holiday spread. In Whole Foods’ recent report on food and drink trends for the coming year, dips and dippable spreads feature prominently. It identified a number of plant-based ingredients including grains, beans and seeds that mimic the texture of yogurt and other dairy products. Watch for these newcomers as potential bases for dips. Further, the company sees a growing interest from brands in developing dips and spreads that are not only keto- and paleo-friendly but are also mindful of the environment. Many of these dips and spreads eliminate ingredients like palm oil and include sustainably grown seeds and nuts. Beyond the usual spreads and dips with bases of tahini, chickpeas, peanuts, cashews and almonds, look for new options made from such ingredients as watermelon seeds and pumpkin.