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Feb 5, 2010 08:23 AM

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!