Trends. They’re everywhere. Plastered all over social media: the latest thigh-high boots, a new line of makeup by a millennial billionaire, stainless steel drinking straws! We now have “influencers” – people who can make or break a product with a single Instagram post.
Unfortunately, food is not immune to this phenomenon and falls prey to a constant fascination with everything popular. What’s fashionable today (cauliflower everything!) can be boring tomorrow (remember kale?). If an influencer decides it, avocado toast may soon be passé.
Every single year, we are inundated with lists of the latest food trends and foods no longer considered popular. I may have a bone to pick with that. Many of the food trends were forgotten too soon.
Take crêpes, for instance. They took the restaurant scene by storm in the 1970s. Before the burrito conquered our palates, there were entire restaurant chains built around this French classic. Chicken à la King, Seafood Newburg, Creamed Spinach and fruity fillings with Chantilly were just some of the offerings. The electric crêpe pan was hotter than the Instant Pot (well, almost).
Then, interest in crêpes waned. I’ve never understood why. They’re practical, simple, inexpensive and can be filled with almost anything. Crêpes can be made ahead of time, frozen and reheated; they’re elegant and comforting.
I made a simplified recipe to help make crêpes trendy again, requiring only a bowl, a whisk and a non-stick pan. Crêpe batter is very thin, like whipping cream (any thicker and you’ll end up with pancakes).
If you entertained in the 1980s, you probably owned a copy of The Silver Palate cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, and made their famous Chicken Marbella at least once. If you’ve no clue what it is, here’s the idea: chicken marinated in an umami bomb of sweet, salty, briny and spicy goodness, and then baked to perfection. The classic, topped with brown sugar, had olives, capers, garlic, prunes and oregano, and was made for a crowd.
My version is perfectly suited for families and jives with the sheet-pan cooking method popular today. I’ve cut down on the amounts and use the best part of the chicken – the thighs. Inspired by the original recipe, I played with the many dried fruits available today, so use whichever one you love most: dried apricots, currants, giant raisins, dates, cranberries, cherries, mangos or blueberries all work.
Just in case you still doubt how something old can become trendy again … remember seven-layer dip? Everyone was serving it during the 1980s and 1990s. It deserves a modern re-do.
The original idea behind this dip was to make everything with ingredients readily available in your kitchen. That remains true in this version, which is as creamy and colorful as the original. However, everything else is new, from the cannellini beans to the pesto-crème fraîche and Fontina cheese. It might remind you of the original, but it will seduce you like a new lover.
2 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee, plus more for cooking
Whisk together half-and-half and eggs. Slowly sift in the flour and salt. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of clarified butter. Cover and let the batter sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. (You can let it rest for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator, but bring it back to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)
Heat a 6-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Brush lightly with clarified butter. Ladle 3 tablespoons of the batter into the heated pan and quickly swirl the pan to form a round crepe, swirling until the batter settles. Cook for about 1 minute, until the edges of the crêpe start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Flip the crêpe with an offset spatula and cook for 15 seconds; then transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, separating the crêpes with pieces of parchment or wax paper, so they don’t stick to each another. (Crêpes shouldn’t take any color, so look for slightly golden flecks on the first side. Don’t be tempted to raise the temperature; medium is perfect, so they won’t burn as they cook through.)
NOTE: To clarify butter, place it in a saucepan over low heat. Cook without stirring until it has liquefied, then begin skimming the foam off the top (discarding the foam) until the butter is clear enough to see through to the milky solids at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and strain the clear butter into a separate container; discard the solids.
PER CRÃŠPE: 90 calories, 2 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated
MARVELOUS CHICKEN MARBELLA REDO
4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 large lime or lemon (about ¼ cup)
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit, such as wild blueberries, apricots, dates or raisins
¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup pitted manzanilla olives (or pitted Kalamata olives)
3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brined capers, drained
2 teaspoons dried thyme
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup honey
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving
Combine the oil, lime juice, dried fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, capers, thyme, salt and Aleppo pepper in a gallon zip-top bag. Add the chicken; press the air out of the bag, seal and massage through the bag to distribute the ingredients. Place the bag in a mixing bowl (to avoid leakage) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning every once in a while to make sure the chicken thighs are evenly coated.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the thighs, skin sides up, in a single layer in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Pour the marinade around the chicken, then add the wine and drizzle the honey evenly over the chicken.
Roast for 30 minutes; then start basting the chicken every 10 minutes with the marinade in the baking dish, continuing to roast for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the chicken has browned on top and its temperature (taken away from the bone) registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. The juices should run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent it loosely with the aluminum foil.
Pour what’s left in the baking dish into a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.
Uncover the chicken; pour the sauce over the thighs, then garnish with the parsley. Serve warm.
PER SERVING (based on 6): 630 calories, 44 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 39 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 265 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugar
NEW CENTURY SEVEN-LAYER BEAN DIP
FOR THE CRISPY SHALLOTS
½ cup neutral oil, such as avocado or peanut
¾ cup very thinly sliced shallots (about 4 ounces, or 6 small shallots)
FOR THE SEASONED BEANS
One (15½ ounces) can cannellini beans, drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground dried sage
FOR THE PESTO LAYER
1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
½ cup prepared pesto
1¼ cups store-bought green olive tapenade or artichoke spread
1 large roasted red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
¾ cup packed sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and thinly sliced
1½ cups shredded fontina cheese
For the crispy shallots: Line a plate with paper towels. Heat the oil in a 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Test to see if the oil is hot by tossing in a shallot sliver; if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the shallots to the oil and stir gently. Cook the shallots, stirring often, for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook the shallots for 4 minutes, stirring often, or until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove the skillet from the heat, shallots go from crispy to burnt and bitter in no time. Use tongs to transfer the shallots to the prepared plate; allow the shallots to drain until cool.
For the seasoned beans: Place the beans in a bowl and mash with a fork until a chunky paste forms. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and sage, and stir to combine.
For the pesto layer: Combine the creme fraiche or sour cream and the pesto in a medium bowl.
To assemble the dip: Spread a thin layer of beans on the bottom of an 8-inch pie dish. Spread the pesto layer over the beans, and top with the tapenade (or artichoke spread). Evenly distribute the roasted pepper and follow with the sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top; then cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Right before serving, top the dip with the fried shallots. Serve with sliced focaccia, pita chips or crisp wonton crackers.
PER SERVING: 600 calories, 13 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 50 g fat, 18 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 1,160 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar
fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar