Celebrity chef Alton Brown once noted the significance of food in a time of crisis in an interview on Hot Ones. Speaking about the success of the Food Network and cooking shows, Brown said that after 9/11, “The entire country wanted comfort, and they turned to food.”
Today, once again, the world is suffering tragic events, however, our preferred method of media has changed from television to social media. Cooking, baking, eating and watching others cook, bake and eat still seem to comfort us.
Always wanted to make your own bread or try out that complicated recipe but never had the time? Well, that excuse will no longer fly. With much of the world on lockdown or practicing social distancing as a result of COVID-19, people have been staying in more and going out less. This means cooking at home and finding ways to keep busy, all while documenting it on social media – aggravating some, but we think those people should stop being grumpy, embrace the times and let people do whatever they need to do to stay sane during these crazy times.
Here are our favourite #quarantine food challenges so far:
What is it? Dalgona is one of those trends that really did seem to come out of nowhere. The sugary-sweet “latte in reverse” originated in Korea, taking the name from a popular candy, and is now taking the world (and TikTok) by storm. In an age of third-wave coffee and the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, it’s no surprise that this aesthetically pleasing, barista-style beverage is so popular – even if it is too sweet for coffee purists.
How to make it? The super–Instagrammable drink is made by whisking together hot water, sugar and instant coffee until light and fluffy and then placing the fluff on top of a glass of hot or cold milk. Read our article, which contains a step-by-step, easy-to-follow recipe. You can also watch our video to take your dalgona coffee to the next level with a matcha twist.
What is it? Banana bread is nothing new – it’s been a staple of cookbooks for decades, and many of us will remember our mums or grandmothers making it; the smell is sure to bring back some nostalgic memories. So why has banana bread become the official quarantine comfort food? One reason is that it allows us to repurpose brown bananas that we might otherwise throw out. It’s also pretty easy to make (for those tentative bakers who normally use their ovens for storage) and the ingredients are inexpensive. Plus, it’s super tasty and reminds us of simpler times.
How to make it? It’s likely that you have most of the ingredients at home: sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, butter, salt and, of course, bananas. You can also throw in some extra goodies like in this banana bread with blueberries, chocolate and hemp.
What is it? While sourdough bread has been around for centuries, it’s not a comfort many of us will remember from our childhoods. Sourdough is a slightly sour-tasting bread made by the fermentation of dough. It’s got a lovely, chewy texture and a crisp crust that goes down a treat with almost any sandwich filling.
How to make it? Unlike banana bread, making sourdough is not quick, but it is actually quite simple – provided you can grow your wild yeast, that is. Try it out using our sourdough starter recipe.
Focaccia artPhoto credit: @themindfulnesskitchen
What is it? This has got to be the prettiest of all the current food challenges! Focaccia is a traditional Italian bread that’s similar to pizza dough. The “art” is made with colourful veggies and herbs, usually in a floral pattern, but we did see one Instagram user get extremely creative with a peacock design. The only problem is that maybe these artworks are just too pretty to eat.
How to make it? Once you’ve got a focaccia base, the art isn’t too difficult to create. To make focaccia, you’ll need yeast, warm water, honey, flour and salt. For the toppings, you can pretty much use any vegetables or herbs you like. Leafy greens are healthy, easy to work with and will provide you with actual leaves for your “flowers”, while tomatoes will give you pops of colour.
What is it? The beautiful thing about dumplings is that they’re universal; almost every culture and country has their own type of dumpling. From momos to pierogi, ravioli to gyoza, manti to xiao long bao – dumplings are a staple of cuisines worldwide. They’re comforting and oh-so-satisfying. Many of us have a local dumpling spot that we frequent, however, with many restaurants closed as a result of COVID-19, people have had to resort to making their own dumplings. But that’s okay – most families around the world have a time-honoured dumpling recipe you can follow.
How to make it? These are time-consuming recipes, especially if you’re making the casing and filling by scratch. This Beijing dumpling recipe is a classic, while Jamie Oliver’s ravioli recipe is sure to be a treat. Or maybe these potstickers are more your vibe?
What is it? Why not use your grocery scraps and regrow them into luscious greens? This is an excellent way to work towards a zero-waste lifestyle and start a new hobby. Living in Hong Kong, it’s a sad reality that many of us will never have a proper garden, but regrowing veggies requires very little space. You just need some soil, a jar and a spot of sunlight.
How to make it? Cut the vegetable down to the end (where the roots were), pop it in some water or soil and it will grow right back! Our resident chef and green experimenter Tom Burney tells us how he grew his own Thai curry ingredients from food scraps.
What is it? Okay, this is definitely not something our mother ever made us! This bizarre yet oddly endearing trend takes something everyone loves and makes it teeny tiny. Pancake cereal, as the name suggests, involves making miniature pancakes and eating them in a bowl with a spoon. Once again we have TikTok and Instagram to thank for this overnight foodie sensation. We’ve also noticed a recent surge in other foods made miniature and turned into cereal – cookies, doughnuts, even croissants – but we’re not too sure how we feel about these just yet.
How to make it? Pancakes are one of the easiest breakfasts foods to make and require little time and materials. To make pancake cereal, take your pancake batter and place it into a squeeze bottle or a plastic bag with a hole cut at the bottom. Squeeze out your tiny pancakes on a pan and get flipping! Once cooked, place your mini pancakes in a bowl and top with butter, cinnamon, sugar, syrup or whatever takes your fancy. For the batter, you can try this banana pancake recipe or these gluten-free triple-almond pancakes.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
What is it? A traditional South African drink, pineapple beer has been trending lately for two reasons: 1) due to the country’s nationwide lockdown, people have a lot of time on their hands and 2) the sale of alcohol is prohibited during the South African lockdown and people are, quite simply, losing their minds. While pineapple beer is not difficult to make, if made incorrectly, you could get seriously ill. A non-alcoholic version can also be made for a safer placebo effect.
How to make it? We do not recommend making this one, so we will not tell you how! However, we will tell you that you need a pretty hefty load of ingredients. It is also vital to ferment the mixture in a plastic bottle as a glass bottle could explode. We’ll stick to pina coladas for now...
Tag us in your quarantine cooking pics on Instagram! If we like your creation , we may even share it...
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