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Passé ingredients you still favor

I adore that hallmark of early 1990s cookery, the oil-packed sundried tomato. I still eat them plain and use them in all kinds of things, though it's long since ceased being a bistro chef's darling.

Are there erstwhile trends you refuse to let die in your own kitchen, even if restaurants have passed them by?

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  1. Interesting thought. I was making oil packed sun-dried tomatoes long before they became such a darling of the food industry, and I still keep making them with tomatoes & basil from my garden every year. Creole/Cajun food. That's home cooking for me, though something called that swept the nation in the 1980s. Maybe roasted beets and goat cheese. That used to be in a lot of restaurant salads. I like the combo a lot and have some beets roasting now.

    10 Replies
    1. re: decolady

      Ha, yes—blackened snapper is just the sort of answer I was imagining.

      I *still* see roasted beet salads all the time—that seems to be a trend that won't die.

      1. re: tatamagouche

        Just in case you don't know, blackened redfish is not traditional Creole/Cajun food. It was invented by Chef Paul Prudhomme back in the 70s. Yes, he is Cajun, but he did not get this cooking method from his heritage. It's not something most people can make successfully at home, as they don't have a commercial stove that will get hot enough. Redfish were nearly wiped out in the Gulf due to the restaurant craze for this recipe. Unless it has changed recently, because of that craze, redfish can't be fished commercially anymore.

        1. re: decolady

          True, Prudhomme invented it, but it was the signature dish of that 80s craze.

          What I didn't know was that redfish are no longer commercially available. What a shame.

          1. re: decolady

            decolady, you are correct in one respect about redfish. They were nearly wiped out in Gulf Coast bays due to the craze, but thanks to Houston based Gulf Coast Conservation Association, (a group that has spread to most if not all Gulf and Atlantic states known as CCA), commercial netting for redfish and speckled trout has been outlawed in bays in most states and both species are flourishing, available only to sportfishing folks like myself. Redfish are available commercially for markets and restaurants, they are farm raised, and if you see one they will be green colored, not having the bronze or silver hue of wild fish. Of course, they are not as good as the wild fish. I was able to blacken redfish at my old house when I had a strong wind out of the right direction to vent the smoke out. A good stove will get hot enough if you heat a cast iron skillet on max for 15 minutes, the problem is the smoke. The dish I made was quite delicious.

        2. re: decolady

          That's a recipe I'd like to have -- homemade oil-pack sun-dried tomatoes. True, they were EVERYWHERE in the '90s, and for a while, I was so over them. Used sparingly, they're pretty great. And the recipe would be a big help with the big tomato harvests from the Square Foot Garden.

          1. re: fluffernutter

            Get a bunch of plum-type tomatoes, slice them almost all the way through, salt, pepper if desired, dry in a dehydrator until barely, barely moist, pack in a jar, cover with warmed olive oil, and put in the fridge for as long as you can.

            You can add other herbs if you want, too. I'd warm them in the oil.

            The trickiest part, I think, is if you don't have a dehydrator, but you can putthem on racks in a very low oven, turning fairly often so they get evenly dehydrated. Again, you don't want crispy chips, just leathery.

            You're right- they're pretty great-tasting!

            1. re: fluffernutter

              I forgot to say, after you slice them, open them up like a book. If they're big you may have to cut into the flesh (not all the way through) in the centers to facilitate drying.

              1. re: fluffernutter

                It's a method really, more than a recipe. Not sure if a recipe is supposed to be posted here, so feel free to move if necessary. I slice the plum tomatoes in four slices lengthwise and dehydrate them. These days I either use electric dehydrators or the dehydrator setting on my oven. When the slices have dried, I dip them in white vinegar and pack them in jars. Interspersed in the jars are sprigs of fresh basil and cloves of garlic. Pack them in the jars fairly tightly. When the jar is full, I pour on olive oil to cover. More oil might need to be added as air bubbles work their way to the top. For a quart jar I use maybe two good sprigs of basil and 2 or 3 garlic cloves. I don't have the canning directions here in town with me. They are out at the farm where I garden and can in the summer. You can just store them in the fridge without canning, if you like. They keep a long time, if they last so long. LOL. Around here they don't. My spouse loves them. Allow the flavours to meld for several weeks before using. I typically wait at least 6 weeks. You can do this with other tomatoes, besides plum varieties, if you like. My Mom likes to do mixtures of all the little tomatoes: grape, cherry, etc.

                1. re: decolady

                  Because of the risk of botulism with garlic in oil and I am no longer certain that there is enough acid to prevent it in this method, I will leave out the garlic and urge anyone else to do the same.

                2. re: fluffernutter

                  Forgot to say that these also go great on antipasti trays. One of our most common ways to use them.

              2. Just because it is no longer "hot" ingredients in trendy restaurants, it doesn't been that they are necessarily passes. Sundried tomatoes have been use in southern Italy long before the 90's and is still a popular ingredient for many of us home cooks. We learn to use them judiciously rather than throw them into everything.
                Now green and pink peppercorns are really passe but i still use them occasionally.

                1 Reply
                1. re: PBSF

                  Oh, didn't think about pink peppercorns. But you're right, of course. I have a recipe for pink peppercorn mayo that I still make in the spring and summer. Great on grilled leeks and fresh garden tomato sandwiches.

                2. Green Goddess salad dressing
                  (dating myself)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: laliz

                    If we're extending this to passe' dishes, put me down for fondue and souffle.

                    1. re: laliz

                      I would argue that granola is making a comeback, and good quiche never goes out of style.

                      My two dishes (rather than ingredients): grilled fish with mango/jalepeno salsa, spinach dip with water chestnuts in a sourdough bread bowl.

                      1. re: maxie

                        And I would argue that Green Goddess is making a comeback—I've seen it around in the past couple of years. Yay! Love the stuff. (I mean, I could make it myself, but then I'd probably eat the whole batch without even anything to put it on, so I'd rather find it in a restaurant.)

                        1. re: tatamagouche

                          I make Green Goddess a couple of times a year, but I haven't really paid much attention to see if it's being offered in restaurants. Typically I go with the house dressing because those will be notably different from place to place.

                          1. re: tatamagouche

                            I for one am glad to see it come back.

                      2. I don't think passe is a term that should be applied to food. It implies " fashionable" foods, which necessitates arbiters of what is "in" and what is not. The one area where men are clearly more reasonable than women is clothes fashion where hemlines go up and down to generate new sales while men just slog along in their jeans and chinos in spite of attempts by the fashion industry to introduce new looks(think Nehru jackets etc).
                        I hope this never happens to food. I would still eat duck a l'orange or fondue with no concern of being guache or passe.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: LRunkle

                          For better or worse, the culinary scene in America (and, I suspect, most western nations) is prone to faddism. Take fondue, as just one example. I don't think there's any doubt that this dish was far more popular in the late 60s and the 70s than it is now. That said, I don't give a dam' what is or isn't hip. If I like it, I'll eat it, and if anybody rolls their eyes at me for doing so, screw 'em.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            True- overall I think it's for the better, though. What if there hadn't been a big sushi fad here in the late '80s? I wouldn't have nine or ten sushi bars within five miles of my house today otherwise, and that would be a terrible culinary shame.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              Agreed, both of you. I certainly don't choose to eat or not eat something based on whether it's disappeared from menus. That would be silly. However, I am *aware* of what's suddenly everywhere and what's suddenly nowhere at any given time, as are most Chowhounds...

                          2. I suspect a lot of my favorite things to eat are passe' - we had blackened redfish (caught it myself in Nags Head in July) last night for dinner. Made quiche today. Had yogurt with granola for breakfast. I am bringing potato skins for the super bowl party, along with chip dip made with Lipton onion soup mix and sour cream. We're kind of snowed in, so breakfast will be sausage gravy over biscuits, and lunch is pimento cheese sandwiches. May not be fashionable, but we love it all.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                              Yay potato skins and pimiento cheese!

                            2. Except for the granola, it all sounds pretty darn good to me.

                              1. I find it's often that I've passed on from making a 1970/80s dish at home but it refuses to die in some restaurants. Prawn cocktail is the classic example, IMO. Or gammon & pineapple.

                                1. Cajun spices (always have Tony Chachere on hand and use it on a lot of things).
                                  Cedar planks for grilled salmon (you know it's passe when the cedar planks are on sale at the dollar stores!).
                                  Tapioca (wife loves to use that in chocolate pudding).
                                  Goat cheese as listed earlier.
                                  Nutella spread
                                  Almond butter

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: TexSquared

                                    Nutella is passe? Shoot, don't tell that to my students, who would give anything to be allowed to have a Nutella sandwich for breakfast every day and not just once a week!

                                  2. My ingredients go back a bit further than most mentioned:

                                    Beau Monde Seasoning, this one keeps getting harder to find as the years go on

                                    Sour Salt, very useful for certain recipes - gives a distinct flavor

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      I just saw Beau Monde seasoning this afternoon and was wondering what it is and what it's used for. Can you enlighten me please?

                                      1. re: cinnamon girl

                                        Beau Monde is a seasoned salt mixture that was invented by Spice Islands back in the 1940s when the company came into business. I too have noticed it is harder to find now, though it can be ordered online. Spice Islands says they use onion and celery as the most predominant flavour ingredients. You can find a lot of recipes for it online, but none of the ones I've seen have onion in them.

                                        Good on veggies, chicken and fish. I seem to recall some dip that calls for Beau Monde.

                                        1. re: decolady

                                          Would y'all consider Lawry's Seasoned Salt passe'? I bought a jar just the other day to make some "original recipe" (1952) Chex Party Mix.

                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            Yes, passe and much reviled here and elsewhere. But I still have my little shaker of it in the spice cupboard. Nothing like it on homemade popcorn!! :)

                                            1. re: LauraGrace

                                              You're gonna burn for that, Laura. ;)

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                Yeah, I expect the Chow Police to come knocking any second. :)

                                            2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                              This is not something I've ever used, so I don't really think of it in those terms. I do seem to recall my grandmother having it in her spice cabinet before Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning came along.

                                          2. re: cinnamon girl

                                            I enjoy vintage cookbooks and it shows up as an ingredient a bit in '50's - '60's Junior League and Church cookbooks. The majority of my community cookbooks are from the South - so I'm unsure if it was just regionally popular or if it held a wider appeal. Decolady is on the money - casseroles, stove-top chicken skillet dishes and spreads come to mind as recipes that used this.

                                            I tend to keep a very full spice drawer and just enjoy another flavor to play with, so I'm always picking up spices or blends that are new to me.

                                            On a similar note I find it interesting how frequently MSG was used during that time period. It is very common to see it in ingredient lists of that period.

                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              My mother used to keep the larger-sized bags of "Aji-No-Moto" brand MSG stocked in the kitchen....

                                              MSG doesn't bother nor scare me. Even before the following...

                                              There was an episode of Food Detectives where they investigated the side-effects of MSG.... and go figure, those who didn't have MSG added to their food still claimed to feel the effects:

                                              **warning - this might offend some**

                                              But even better that that "scientific" study... I overheard a discussion in the lunch room at work about MSG being bad for you and somebody said with a shrug, "Hey, one billion Chinese can't be wrong..."

                                              1. re: TexSquared

                                                It seemed like overnight MSG became the scourge of the spice cabinet. Daily I come across people who won't buy anything that lists "natural flavors" as an ingredient for fear it contains MSG...I suspect that the fear greatly out weighs the actual threat.

                                            2. re: cinnamon girl

                                              In the sixties, my mother made baked eggplant with Beau Monde. She cut the eggplant into rounds, slathered them with mayo, then pressed them in crushed saltines seasoned with the Beau Monde and baked them until soft, but with a crispy crust. I bought a jar of it for memory's sake, and recreated the dish using panko instead of saltines. My SO, who doesn't like eggplant, just loved this! Go figure ----

                                            3. re: meatn3

                                              I use sour salt (citric acid) when I make hummus, it just doesn't taste right without it... adding more lemon juice doesn't work, has to be citric acid in crystal form.

                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                Sour salt! I can't find it anywhere anymore and I just received a 2# bag I had to order online. I use it in my baked breads,