10 Current Culinary Trends I'm Diggin'

1. Slow Cookers

You may have noticed I've posted a few slow cooker recipes in the past couple of months. Many dishes shouldn't be cooked this way, but stews/soups/braises can work especially well. If slow cookers can promote more homemade meals for the working people, then I'm all for them.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili w/ Sweet Potatoes  
Slow Cooker White Bean & Kale Stew (w/ one secret ingredient!)
Slow Cooker Apple & Curry Lentils

2. Daytime Vegan

Once upon a time there was Meatless Monday. For 2014, I propose daytime veganism. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule: the percentage of health to splurge you should strive for daily–this assists with that. Lighter food won't weigh you down at work all day, and unwinding at night will be that much more special. The idea is to strive for an animal-free, plant-based diet for breakfast and lunch, and reserve that jidori chicken and manchego salad for dinner.

Mark Bittman explains why being a part-time vegan makes sense

3. At Home Sous Vide

Sous Vide translates to "Under Vacuum" from French, a cooking method that involves vacuum packing ingredients in food safe plastic bags and submerging them in a temperature-regulated water bath for a set amount of time. Thomas Keller wrote the bible on the subject, as a guide for cooks at any level–now that home units are readily available.

Food and Wine: How To Cook Sous Vide At Home 
Popular Science: 2014 Is Going To Be The Best Year For Home Sous Vide 
Saveur | Thomas Keller, Cool Under Pressure

4. Massaged Kale

Kale isn't going anywhere this year, but the real trick to convert even the most green food phobic is to "massage" it. Literally as it sounds: a little acid (such as lemon juice) and some finger love. This method transforms this hearty green into something tender and more palatable. Look for leaves bright green and slightly translucent if you find yourself ever ordering a pre-made salad.

Kale Salad w/ Coconut, Pecans & Dried Cherries 
Los Angeles Times | Gjelina's Kale Salad

5. Exposed Cakes

Christina Tosi of Momofuku fame really jumpstarted this trend, one that gives cakes an updated edge. The idea is to leave the sides of each layer exposed, creating a juxtaposition of rustic and elegant.

Momofuku Milk Bar Party Cakes 
Milk Bar's Birthday Cake
Storyboard Wedding: The Beauty of the Naked Cake 
Miette Bakery's Tomboy Cake 

6. Cauliflower Carbs

Although cauliflower steaks should die a fast death, the idea of using the vegetable as a base to pizza (and as rice and flatbread!) is one I like. Gluten free and paleo enthusiasts have been gushing over this newer trend for the past year+, and there's a reason: it's delicious.

Love and Lemon's Cauliflower Pizza 
Real Simple's Cauliflower Flatbread 
Primal Palate's Cauliflower Rice

7. Designer Doughnuts

Doughnuts are nothing new and neither is adding a little color to them, but 2014 is the year of the designer doughnut: tailored and pretty. Expect updated classics, fresh flavor combinations, precision designs and upscale prices. They're getting an artsy overhaul. 

*Cronuts will be close by.

8. Ancient Grains 

Farro, quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, spelt, kamut, are all super grains–said to generate super health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar. Quinoa, Farro and Millet have already gone mainstream, but many of their lesser-known counterparts are emerging on the menus of chefs and into grocery stores. 

Recipe for Quinoa w/ Three Onions & Muscat Grapes 
Healthy Habits Hero: Dan Barber 

9. Fermentation

Kimchi, Kombucha, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Miso, Pickles– not just for the granola crowd anymore. Nutritionists are pushing for fermented foods, which contain probiotics to aid digestion, promote good bacteria, and heal our guts. Look for the indie packaging in any Whole Foods.

Crock and Jar 
Science of Pickles: Fermentation and Food 
Bon Appetit: How to Make Kefir, Kimchi, and Other Fermented Foods

10. Toast/Tartines

Toast, you ask? Toast has been around since sliced bread, but at no time has it ever been considered sexier than now. Both big name chefs and bakery owners are putting their touch on the humble staple, creating carefully crafted, ingredient-driven toppings worthy of waiter service.

The Kitchn | Restaurants Re-Creation: Avocado Toast from Cafe Gitane 
kevinEats: Farmshop Crab Toast 
New York Magazine: Why We Are in the Middle of a Toast Craze

(Click on images for source) 

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