Contemporary cooking: Trying new trends at home

Nov 24, 2011 at 4:17 a.m. ET

It's easy to get stuck in a cooking rut. Whether you're cooking for yourself or a long list of guests, you probably to stick with what you're good at. After all, the more familiar you are with a dish, the better you'll be at cooking it. But contemporary cooking trends are not something you should avoid. Here are a few tips for breaking out of your cooking comfort zone.

Couple making sushi at home

Don't be intimidated

Those techniques and terms you hear about on cooking shows aren't as difficult as they sound. Words like "reduction" and "demi-glace" might sound intimidating, but really, they're just sauces. Start simple. Begin by doing one new technique per meal. By the time you're done, you'll be cooking those gorgeous dishes you see on television with the mile-long, fancy names.

Read up on culinary trends

Eventually, all culinary trends trickle down to the masses. Be the first to the jump by keeping up with food magazines, blogs and websites. If the trend seems too difficult, often there's a simpler, "dummy" way to get around it. Communicate with other culinary novices online for simple recipes, or come up with your own. Experimentation is the key to culinary creativity, so don't fear it!

Learn your terms

It seems like cooks come up with new names for food every day, but really, there are only so many fundamentals. Wade your way through the confusion by learning a list of contemporary cooking terms that can trip you up.

Go local

One of the biggest trends in contemporary cooking this decade has been the switch to local. Sure, more restrictive diets include only raw or vegan foods, but eating local is a great way to get healthy and reduce impact on the environment. It's also a great way to get fresh, delicious, seasonal ingredients into your diet. When cooking with seasonal fruits and vegetables, you might come across some produce you're not familiar with. That's ok! A simple Google search of the vegetable will surely bring up recipes for preparing it from some of the world's most creative culinary minds.

Try raw

One of the biggest trends in the culinary world has been "raw foodism." Raw food enthusiasts cite studies where cooked food is allegedly considered dangerous, but really, eating raw is a great way to get energy. The closer your food is to its original form, the more energy it has. Start on the small scale with salads, then work your way up to sashimi and more.

Watch: How to follow a raw food diet

The raw food diet offers the ultimate vegetarian fare. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you will love -- and reap -- the health benefits.


More cooking tips and trends

Tips for cooking and eating locally
The history of your favorite dishes
Edible decor: Decorating with fresh food