An Amuse-Bouche is a Tasty Way to Welcome Guests to Your Home or Restaurant

Amuse-Bouche: Entertain Guests with a Bite-Sized Surprise

Amuse-Bouche: Current Culinary Phenomenon

In upscale restaurants around the world – and, nowadays, at home-cooked dinner parties – the amuse-bouche is having a moment. Once the mainstay of French chefs alone, these bite-size hors d’oeuvres aren’t just reserved for fancy restaurants anymore. These tiny bites served just before a meal are a clever way for chefs and amateur cooks alike to show off their skills, welcome their guests, and give a small peek into what is about to come.

Not Just for the French

Amuse-bouche (pronounced amuse boosh), means “to amuse the mouth” in French, and that is exactly what restaurant chefs and home cooks who serve these little bundles of culinary joy are setting out to do. The goal is to entertain guests with a beautiful, bite-size surprise that delights almost all the senses. Amuse-bouches are not to be confused with palate cleansers (also known as intermezzo) as these are served between courses, while amuse-bouches are classically offered before the meal begins to prepare guests for what comes next and to tantalize and stimulate the taste buds.

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Pulled Beef: A Slow-Cooked and Delicious Dinner Option

Pulled Beef Makes Any Meal a Party

Pulled Beef is the Current “Thing”

In restaurants and barbecue joints everywhere, pulled beef is having its moment. Also known as shredded beef, pulled beef is essentially slow-cooked meat, prepared over time in a mouth-watering sauce, which is then shredded into stringy deliciousness. Having pulled beef on hand means never having to wonder about tonight’s menu or how to feed a hungry crowd.

About Pulled Beef

Commonly referred to as shredded beef or pulled beef, this method of preparation involves slow and lengthy cooking of beef cuts to create individual strands of tender meat for various food dishes. A traditional way to prepare shredded beef is to cook the chuck or brisket cut of beef for a long period of time in a slow cooker or an oven in order to tenderize the meat and allow it to fall apart into narrow pieces of meat. After being cooked, the meat is then often mixed with seasoned sauces to be served on sandwich buns, in tacos or in burritos, over hummus, on a slider, or alone, as a main dish of tenderized beef.

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The Revival of the Nutrition-Packed Root Vegetable

Root Vegetables are Making a Comeback

The Root Vegetable Revival

Several factors are taking root vegetables out of the culinary (and metaphorical) cellar and onto plates everywhere. The trend among restaurants and caterers to use locally grown ingredients has spread to the home cook, as well, and many people are shopping in farmers’ markets for the freshest produce possible. And, as people make the shift from a supermarket state of mind to a local-market mentality, the root vegetable is making a comeback.

Nutritious, Delicious Root Vegetables

Root vegetables, particularly potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, have long been considered staples, albeit neither glamorous nor exciting. Now, however, retro is in and the lowly root vegetable has gone from staid and boring to hip and trendy. Root vegetables are literally the roots of a plant. Some root vegetables — carrots, radishes, beets and sweet potatoes — are familiar to just about everyone, while others, such as parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, and ginger, are a bit more esoteric.

Strictly speaking, a root vegetable is the underground, edible portion of a plant. Botanists make distinctions between “true roots” and “tuberous roots” and other non-roots that grow below ground such as “tubers” and “rhizomes” and “bulbs.” The root is one of six parts of a plant: the root, the stem, the leaves, the flowers, the fruits and the seeds. Plants anchor themselves into the ground with their roots, drawing moisture and nutrients through the roots into the above-ground stems and leaves. Many of these roots are inedible; however, root vegetables are the roots of certain plants that swell up to form an edible root.

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Discover the Health Benefits and Delicious Taste of Turmeric

Turmeric: A Flavorful and Healthy Exotic Spice

Turmeric: From the Middle East to… Everywhere

Middle Eastern cuisine in general, and Mid-Eastern spices, in particular, are big trends this year, with caterers using exotic tastes to lure trend-savvy clients. Dishes spiced with turmeric are popping up everywhere due to their amazing taste and turmeric’s powerful health benefits. Learn more about turmeric here and start using this increasingly popular spice in more of your dishes.

Turmeric: Background

A prominent member of the ginger family, turmeric has been used in East India and the Middle East for thousands of years, but only lately has it become one of the most popular spices in the world. Turmeric is packed with the powerful medicinal properties of curcumin, which research indicates may have strong anti-inflammatory properties. In ancient times, turmeric was used to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as jaundice, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

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The name “turmeric” is derived from the Persian word for “saffron,” and the spice provides the intense color of the pricey spice, as well as classic yellow mustard and curry powder. A domesticated plant, with a peppery flavor and a mild kick, turmeric it is grown primarily in India, while Indonesia, the Philippines, and China are also major producers of the spice.

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Why Stainless Steel is the Professional Chef’s Countertop of Choice

Quality Stainless Steel Countertops: A Must from the Start

Stainless Steel Countertops: The Ideal Restaurant Kitchen Surface

The equipment used in a commercial kitchen has to withstand both the test of time and the demands of constant, daily use. This is true for cookware and smallwares, such as pots, pans, and knives; and heavy equipment, such as range tops, ovens, and refrigerators; but, in particular, it is especially true of restaurant food preparation surfaces. Prep tables, counters, and cutting surfaces are essential to any commercial kitchen, and when it comes to making this vital purchase for your kitchen, the experts recommend eschewing the beauty of granite and the timelessness of butcher block. Instead, for no-fail results and long-term satisfaction, choose food preparation surfaces made of stainless steel.

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Learn How to Make the Solo Customer Comfortable in Your Restaurant

Increase Your Restaurant Sales by Welcoming the Solo Diner

Welcoming the Solo Diner

Eating alone is, for many people, an uncomfortable and awkward experience. Today, however, smart restaurateurs, with an eye on trends and demographics, are looking at the solo diner as an ever-increasing source of business.

Single diners – already ill at ease in a new restaurant – are sensitive to a number of things that a restaurant owner may not be aware of. These include factors like staff vocabulary, seating layout, and more. Making your restaurant more solo-friendly can both increase your business and secure your reputation as a forward-thinking, open-minded entrepreneur. With just a few minor changes and additions, your restaurant can make leaps in attracting and welcoming the savvy solo diner.

Solo Stats

According to Fortune, the percentage of Americans living by themselves has doubled since 1960; in addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that consumption by U.S. singles contributes close to $2 trillion to the economy annually. In the U.S. restaurant industry, reservations for one are on the rise: the number of solo diners has grown by 62 percent, making them the fastest-growing table party size. Put into financial terms, ignoring the particular needs of solo diners is tantamount to giving the cold shoulder to a big chunk of business. Instead, it’s time to figure out how to throw out the welcome mat.

Learn How to Talk to Solo Customers

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Color Code for Food Safety

Color coding kitchen tools can help prevent cross-contamination in both commercial and home kitchens.Food safety is a constant and major concern for commercial kitchens as well as many home cooks. In an effort to prevent cross-contamination, many regulating bodies require separate cutting boards to be used for poultry, fish, meat, and produce. Little labels are sometimes used to mark food preparation equipment based on the type of ingredients it is used for. But labels can sometimes go unnoticed which presents a danger of cross-contamination in the kitchen. Color coding food preparation equipment can provide an easy and stand-out way to identify and notice which equipment should be used for which foods. Follow these steps to get started.

Choose you food categories

The amount of separation between ingredients in a commercial kitchen largely depends on the venue’s menu and its budget. For example, a vegetarian restaurant will obviously not need separate cutting boards for fish, meat, and poultry, since those ingredients won’t be used, but may consider having dairy and non-dairy equipment or even equipment used only for the preparation of gluten free foods or foods containing allergens. With celiac on the rise and allergies as dangerous as ever rampant amongst the population, even small amounts of forbidden ingredients can have a serious and dangerous effect on diners. Choosing to differentiate between the food preparation equipment of various foods can help increase food safety in such cases. Other venues offering different types of meat, fishes and poultry should separate the ingredients and the equipment used to prepare them based on the ingredient type  (…Read More…)

Celebrating World Pasta Day This October 25th Text

World Pasta DayPasta may be the world’s most universally beloved food. From digging into heaping bowl of Grandma’s famous spaghetti and meatballs to enjoying a gourmet pasta dish at a 4-star Michelin restaurant, there are endless ways to enjoy this culinary world favorite. And there’s no better time to acknowledge all things pasta than on World Pasta Day this October 25th.

The Anniversary of World Pasta Day

On October 25, 1995, delegates from all over the world gathered in Rome to discuss their ideas for promoting pasta as a global food with dynamic benefits “capable of meeting both primary food requirements and those of high-level gastronomy.” The result? The formation of World Pasta Day.
Officially celebrating its 20-year anniversary this fall, World Pasta day is still going strong. In fact, pasta is healthier than ever thanks to a surge in whole grain varieties which can provide as much as 25 percent of your daily recommended serving of fiber, in addition to plenty of other vitamins and nutrients.

Pasta 101

Did you know that pasta was not actually invented in Italy? While its origins are unconfirmed, many believe that pasta was first made and eaten by ancient Etruscan civilizations, according to the International Pasta Organization. Others believe that pasta was discovered in China by Marco Polo, who returned to his home country where it was then co-opted by the Italians.

While we may never know for sure just where pasta got its start, one thing for sure: it is now enjoyed in countless incarnations all over the world. Consider these other eye-opening, mouth-watering pasta facts:

• With the average American eating approximately 20 pounds of past every year, the U.S. ranks sixth on the list of food per capita, according to Pasta Fits. This pales in comparison to Italians, however, who each consume a staggering 60 pounds of pasta annually. The country which eats the least amount of pasta? Ireland and El Salvador tie for last, with residents eating an average of just one pound per capita per year.

• The introduction of macaroni to the United States is credited to Thomas Jefferson, who reportedly discovered the dish in Naples, and had crate loads shipped back to the United States…along with his very own pasta machine, according to the National Pasta Association.

• According to the Food Network, there are currently more than 600 types of pasta, including both fresh and dry varieties. Today, many pastas are free of gluten, egg and other allergens meaning more people than ever can indulge in spaghetti, penne, cannelloni, or the pastas of their choosing.

Our Pasta Picks

Deciding between pasta dishes is the equivalent of choosing between beloved children: each has its own infinite list of things to love. Still, we’ve identified three of our favorites — ranging from the essence of simplicity to more complicated recipes — to help you celebrate World Pasta Day in scrumptious style.

1. Strozzapreti with Lamb Ragù

Declared by Food and Wine to be one of the best pasta dishes ever, this hearty dish combines a spiced lamb ragu with sauce-soaking striated strozzapreti. Saute lamb and Middle Eastern-inspired spices like cumin and Aleppo pepper in a cast-iron pan before creating a sauce comprising paprika, harissa, and tomatoes. Let simmer, add to cooked pasta, top with mint and cheese, and prepare to indulge.
Perfect for dinner parties, this meal can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to three days.

2. Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Lemon

No one does pasta quite like Giada De Laurentiis, and this recipe delivers everything and more you’d expect from this Food Network star. Even better? The ingredients can be plucked straight from your pantry and whipped up into a delicious meal in just nine minutes flat — in other words, the exact amount of time it takes for your pasta to reach the perfect al dente in a pasta cooker.
The takeaway? Sometimes simple is indeed best.</>

3. Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

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While the previous two recipes prove that pasta doesn’t have to be drenched in rich butter and luscious cream to be delicious, sometimes there’s no substitute for the real deal. Speaking of the real deal, this recipe from Saveur is devoid of something else typically found in pasta: gluten. Fashioned from potatoes, rice flour, potato starch and an egg, these gnocchis are temptingly toothsome, while the sauce is slightly sweet and oh-so-satisfying.
One last way to celebrate World Pasta Day? Consider making your own. It’s easier than you think — particularly if you have a food processor for making the dough and a pasta machine for rolling the pasta. Not only that, but conventional pasta recipes include just two ingredients: flour and egg.
While you probably don’t need another reason to indulge in pasta, we can think of no better excuse to dig in than World Pasta Day. Whether you head to a neighborhood restaurant to enjoy your favorite meal or serve up a home-cooked meal of your own to friends and family, it’s time to celebrate this October 25th.

The Allure of Free Appetizers: Why They Work

appetizer

TGI Fridays made headlines last winter by announcing that its Endless Choice Appetizer special would return in the spring. This deal allows customers to pay just $12 for a bottomless rotation of nine of the casual dining chain’s most popular appetizers, including everything from boneless Buffalo wings to loaded potato skins. Is TGI Fridays onto something? Should your restaurant also be getting on board with free appetizers and other appetizer-related promotions? Let’s take a closer look at the growing appetizer trend, along with why introducing free appetizers may be a savvy move for today’s restaurants.

Learning From TGI Fridays

Fridays announced its first, much-buzzed-about Endless Choice promotion two summers ago. Industry watchers weren’t surprised that the promotion following the sometimes scant winter months common in the casual dining industry. If the intent was to make up for slow winter sales, it worked. Fridays’ Chief Marketing Officer Brian Gies told USA Today, that it was “wildly successful.”

How much so? White Gies wouldn’t speak in specifics, he did reveal that sales not only jumped, but across double digits. The promotion also led a whopping 50 percent lead in sought-after Millennial customers. In the most recent Endless Choice go-round, Fridays anticipated even greater returns because — unlike in its first incarnation — diners were allowed to choose between refills of any appetizers as opposed to just the original appetizer ordered.

Three Benefits of Appetizer Promotions

Do you have to roll out a massive, well-publicized promotion like Fridays to lure diners in with free appetizers? No. As it turns out, even free appetizers like chips and salsa, popcorn baskets, and bread with butter can have the same effect. Here are some benefits of incorporating free appetizers of any ilk into your restaurant strategies.

1. Better Perceived Service

Aside from the fact that people simply like free things, offering free appetizers — particularly those which arrive at the table even before orders are placed– fosters positive diner perception of customer service. Why? Because free appetizers immediately satisfies the needs of hungry diners. In doing so, they also subdue hunger-related irritations, keep diners entertained, and give them something to do while they wait to place their order.
One caveat? Free appetizers served before orders are placed can delay diners from placing their orders, so some turnabout-minded restaurants prefer to wait to serve free appetizers until after meals have been ordered. As timing is everything in the restaurant business, finding the right formula is essential to making the most out of your free appetizer strategies.

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2. Increase Consumption

If you’re looking to amp up your bar sales, free appetizers not only get diners in a festive mood, but also in the drinking mindset. After all, many appetizers are salty and fried — the perfect combination to make diners pony up to the bar. Many restaurants find that free appetizers kick off the perfect cycle of consumption: the more diners eat, the more they drink, and the more they drink, the more they order.

3. A Competitive Edge

Today’s diners have more options than ever before. What separates your restaurant from the one down the street? In the case of hungry, budget-conscious diners, free appetizers may be this differentiator. Introducing an appetizer or other promotion during slower times, meanwhile, can help fill downtime. Why appetizers? Not only are they immediate, but they also have a significantly lower cost than entrees.

Meanwhile, appetizers are also the way to go if you’re courting the Millennial market — which you should be: not only have Millennials recently overtaken the Baby Boomers as the largest generation ever, but they’ve also got some serious purchasing power. According to Technomic’s 2015 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report, Millennials make up more than half of appetizer-ordering customers.

Worried about being eaten under the table by greedy consumers? Fridays reveals that this hasn’t been a concern: most customers reorder only once. And even though the Fridays Endless Choice promotion may have — at least for the time being — come to an end, some tasty takeaways remain for today’s restaurants looking for new ways to attract and satisfy today’s diners.

A Guide to Choosing Chafer Shapes

Choosing a chafer shape can inconspicuously influence the ambience of an event and add convenience to the serving process.Chafers are those fantastic contraptions that allow food to be served on a buffet, while being kept warm, usually by a flame under the chafer, a water bath heated by a flame, or by induction. They are seen at the buffet service of almost every event, hotel meals, and even home buffets. Though the any chafer will provide a tool for caterers, home entertainers, and hotels to comfortable and elegantly serve their guests, choosing the right chafer shape can have a subtle, yet defined influence on the overall dining experience. For example, soup should be served in a deep, circular chafer, in order to allow guests to comfortably scoop it out with a ladle. The same effect would not be had with a square chafer, even if it was deep, since the corners would make the ladling process more inconvenient. Chafer shapes can also have an influence on the ambience of an event. Choosing sharp edges versus soft edges can change the look of a buffet, while having a combination must be done carefully and with taste, set up implicitly and with purpose, so as not to look disorganized.
Here’s our guide to the different chafer shapes and the advantages and disadvantages they have to offer.

Rectangular Chafers

Rectangular chafers are probably the most common chafers seen on buffets. Lasagna, meats, and antipasti, can all be comfortable options to serve in a rectangular chafer. These dishes are all typically served with a spatula or tongs, tools which can be complemented by the straight edges of the rectangular chafer. As an added bonus, typical commercial kitchen sheet pans usually fit into these chafers, allowing kitchen staff to bring the food straight from preparation to the buffet, and perhaps making them the most comfortable chafer shape offered. However, for dishes typically (…Read More…)

A Guide to Flatware

flatware_resizedFlatware is present in every restaurant, on every table, but the quality and look selected by the venue differs from restaurant to restaurant. Some venues offer a wide range of flatware tools, specific to many different types of foods and drinks, while others only offer a few basics. The latter type of venues will often prefer to save the extra expense and forgo purchasing such specifically geared flatware tools. Beyond the different types of flatware tools available, the numbers used to describe stainless steel products and the different flatware weights offered can be confusing as well. This guide will put some of the options into perspective.

The Numbers

18/10, 18/8, 18/0- the numbers used to represent different types of stainless steel flatware can be overwhelming. Stainless steel is a metal usually made from a mixture of chromium, stainless steel and nickel, with some other metals sometimes incorporated as well. The concept behind the numbers is very simple: the first number indicates the percentage of chromium (a type of metal) compared to the total weight of the item, and the second number represents the amount of nickel content in the stainless steel mixture. The rest of the alloy, not indicated in the numbers, is the percentage of steel in the stainless steel metal mixture.

Why do these percentages matter? Chromium is a light-colored metal prized in alloys because of its toughness and stain resistance. Almost all stainless steel products contain steel and chromium. In higher quality stainless steel mixtures, nickel is added as well for its non-corrosive and stain resistant properties, as well as shininess.

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Parchment Paper Vs. Wax Paper

Wax paper can be used for preparing truffles and chocolate designs, preventing the need to worry about the paper sticking to the finished product.Every cook has felt the dismay of realizing that those roasted vegetables are in no way going to make it off that tray in one piece. You should have put more oil on the pan, or on the vegetables, or both. How are you going to cover it up so the plating doesn’t come out looking sloppy? You don’t have a choice, the order must go out, so you plate it as well as you can and try to cover up the imperfections.
And so the next time you attempt the seemingly simple feat of roasting some vegetables, you douse them vegetables in oil, and the tray too, just for good measure, and end with a finished product that, though beautiful and in one piece, tastes more like oil than the main ingredients. And so next time, you should try using parchment paper.

Parchment paper and wax paper are undeniably useful tools in any kitchen, commercial or home. Though, yes, you can manage without them, the sheer influence they will have in improving the kitchen experience makes them worth the investment. Yes, see it as an investment: less oil used, less time spent scraping off the burnt remnants off the pan, and better food presentation. Though in the end, you may break even in terms of financial aspects of the investment, the saved frustration will be greatly appreciated. Cooks make wide use of parchment and wax papers during food preparation, but in order to make the most of these tools financially, as well as guarantee a safer experience in the kitchen, the differences between them must be understood.

Parchment Paper

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What it is: Parchment paper, also known as baking paper, is usually a cellulose-based or silicone-lined paper. It is often used as a disposable, non-stick surface, mostly for baking and roasting. By lining a cookie sheet or roasting pan with this paper, the pan will require minimal washing afterwards, since the parchment paper is both grease resistant and moisture resistant. Parchment paper can be found in rolls, sheets, or precut to fit pans of different sizes and shapes.

Pros: Parchment paper can have various useful applications in the kitchen. The non-stick surface facilitates moving the foods from the cooking surface to the dish on which it will be served, without ruining its appearance, while the grease and moisture resistant characteristics minimize the cleanup which must be done in between baking subsequent batches.

Cons: Using parchment paper on roasting pans generates an extra expense. Parchment paper is more expensive than wax paper.

When to Use: Parchment paper is convenient to use when cooking any ingredient in the oven since it is heat resistant. Besides being used to line pans when roasting and baking, it can be folded around fish and vegetable dishes for cooking “en papillote.”

Wax Paper

What it is: Wax paper is, as may be deduced by its name, paper covered with a thin layer of wax. Wax paper is similar to parchment paper in that it is moisture proof and nonstick. However, it is not heat resistant, limiting its potential applications in the kitchen.

Pros: Wax paper is less expensive than parchment paper, making it ideal for use when heat is not required.

Cons: Wax paper should not be used in the oven! It is not resistant to heat, and can be a fire hazard if used in the oven. Additionally, the melting of the wax in high heat conditions can give the food an undesired taste.

When to Use: Since wax paper is less expensive than parchment paper, it should be used for food preparations which don’t require the paper to be placed in the oven. It can be used as a base for decorating cakes and cookies and as a surface for cooling truffles and chocolate decorations in the fridge. Folding parchment paper into a small, cone-like structure, filling it with a sauce such as chocolate sauce, and cutting off the end of the tip, creates a tool for writing on a cake, decorating plates, and garnishing pastries.

The Bottom Line

Parchment paper and wax paper can both be useful in any kitchen, especially commercial kitchens. However, they aren’t absolutely necessary. If a kitchen plans to purchase only one type of paper, they should choose parchment paper since it can be used for a wider range of applications. When both are available, wax paper should be used for “cold” preparation of foods, while parchment paper should be used in the oven. By balancing the use of these two types of cooking papers, businesses can reach the safest and most cost effective solution.

How to Brew Different Types of Coffee

Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant, grown in various regions around the world such as India, the Caribbean, and Ethiopia.According to the National Coffee Association, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. I, for one, view drinking a cup of coffee as the defining point in starting my day. The public’s addiction to coffee has been expressed in more than just statistics of $40 billion spent of coffee in the U.S. each year; the many different types which have been created over time in all parts of the world, attest to the popularity of the drink.
If the market share of the drink is not enough to convince businesses that coffee is worth keeping on hand, the versatility of the bean makes an even bigger case for using coffee. Chocolate-covered coffee beans can be used as garnish, while concentrated, brewed coffee can be used in desserts. From mousse to coffee flavored brownies, coffee lends itself to use in sweets. Coffee can also be used in spice rubs of meats, and sauces for chicken and meat, adding a slightly bitter, deep flavor.
The first step to selling coffee in a coffee shop or restaurant is knowing how to prepare the different popular types. This article provides basic information about the most common types of coffee, offering a good starting guide for how to prepare coffee and which equipment to purchase to best serve customers.

1. Espresso

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Espresso is a small, very concentrated shot of coffee made by forcing very hot water through finely ground coffee beans, under pressure. Espresso is most easily prepared using an espresso machine. The beans should be freshly ground for maximum flavor, and the water should be high quality. A thin layer of foam at the top of the shot is formed from oils and other components of the coffee beans, and is associated with the quality of the beans. Businesses selling coffee should invest time and effort into make their espresso as good as it can be, since it also serves as a base for many other coffee drinks such as cappuccino and café latte.

2. French Press

French press is a relatively simple coffee brewing method, which consists of brewing and filtering the coffee in one pitcher. The grinds are topped with hot water, and after three to eight minutes, depending on who you ask and the freshness of the coffee grinds, the strainer can be pushed down. Using freshly ground beans will make for the most flavorful coffee. The method takes a relatively long time, but is a great way to get the best flavors out of the beans and into the water, when done right.

3. Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is prepared based on a similar method as French press, but without the filtration. The coffee grinds and sugar, if wanted, are place directly in the serving cup, hot water is poured on top, the coffee is stirred, and then the drinker waits for the grinds to settle before drinking the coffee. Leaving the grinds in the cup allows the flavors to be extracted from the grinds throughout the drinking process, but requires the drinker to pay attention to the amount of coffee left in the cup: eating the grinds is very unpleasant in many opinions and should therefore be avoided. Turkish coffee is almost always served black (without milk).

4. Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is more than just cold coffee. Throughout the brewing process, the grinds do not come into contact with hot water. The cold extraction results in different chemical compounds in the finished product, when compared to hot-brewed coffees. Namely, cold brew coffee is appreciated for its low acid content and higher levels of caffeine when compared to hot brewed coffee. Cold brew coffee is prepared by placing the grinds in a pitcher with water, and letting it sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. It is a great type of coffee to serve in the summer, but is not usually heated and served hot, after preparation. Since cold brew coffee rarely has the bitterness which some hot brewed coffees have, it can easily be drunk without adding milk, and can also be a great base for ice cream and other desserts.

5. Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is the most commonly brewed coffee in diners and homes. The technique consists of pouring hot water on top of coffee grinds in a filter, and collecting the drip as it comes through. As the water makes its way through the layers of ground coffee, it extracts the color and flavor compounds. This method produces a relatively light coffee, since the time for which the water is in contact with the grinds is minimal, and it is not coupled with high pressure and temperature, as with the espresso brewing technique. Also, some of the flavor compounds may stay trapped in the filter, leading to a less flavorful cup of coffee.

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the world’s favorite drinks. Various cultures have entire ceremonies centered on coffee preparation. The best coffee preparation technique depends on the drinker’s flavor preferences, and in general each coffee lover knows exactly how he/she like his/her coffee, and has a defined, preferred preparation technique. Restaurants and coffee shops should offer a few different types of coffee, if possible, in order to best cater to all customers.

The Dos and Don’ts of Caring for Chafers

Proper care for chafers and chafing dishesChafing dishes, also known as chafers, are an important tool for buffets. They make it easy for food businesses to offer customers large amounts of food for taking at their own leisure, with a minimal number of employees constantly dealing with serving the food, and without sacrificing on temperature. Caterers and hotel buffets may be the biggest users of chafers, but even restaurants and college dining services offering catering for special events may choose to use chafers for convenience. Whereas service counters in venues with permanent buffet stations have a more permanent and usually less fancy feel, chafers can be set up in any location to give the buffet service a higher-class feel. Though well-maintained chafers can give events a classy vibe, without proper care chafers can be irreversibly damaged. Since appearance is one of the most defining factors in diners’ perceptions of events, having attractive chafers can help create good reputation for the food preparation services by making the event feel classy and clean.

The Dos of Caring for Chafers

Do purchase good quality chafers, which will generally look better and last longer than cheap alternatives. Good quality chafers are made with materials which require minimal maintenance, or can be aesthetically rejuvenated with simple maintenance, and are resilient to rough use over time. The quality of a chafer is not based solely on the type of material, rather also the quality of the material. Even stainless steel chafers come in different qualities. Therefore, before purchasing chafing dishes, it is recommended that businesses read reviews about the product to ensure satisfaction.

Do make sure your chafer has water in the water-bath section at all times. Lack of water can lead to burnt food and ruined chafers. To estimate the water level quickly, lift the pan and listen for a boil or sizzle, which are both signs that the water level is too low. This recommendation applies to bain marie style chafers. If an induction chafer is being used, cooks should occasionally check to make sure the temperature is not set too high in order to prevent food from getting burned.
Do stir food when it is in the chafer to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and/or getting burnt. (…Read More…)

Tips for Selecting a Paring Knife

The right paring knife can make an extremely comfortable kitchen tool.Paring knives are a basic, multipurpose kitchen essential that can be used by every cook. They are relatively small and often made to look like mini chef knives, but their uses vary greatly. Paring knives are the best option when controlled cutting or cutting of small ingredients needs to be done. They can also be used for fruit and vegetable carving as well as cutting other small details. For example, they are probably the best solution for hulling strawberries, removing the ends of green beans, mincing garlic, and sectioning citrus. Yet no number of paring knives will make such processes worthy of plating, unless a good quality and comfortable paring knife is used. Here are some things to look out for when choosing a paring knife.

1. Size

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Size is a one of the main considerations when selecting a paring knife. Since these types of knives are usually used for doing delicate cutting and cleaning work, they should be small enough to be comfortably held. Paring knives are usually 2 ½ to 4 inches long. The exact length should be chosen based on the use for which (…Read More…)

The Pros and Cons of Yelp

Studies show that a bad review on Yelp can have detrimental financial effects on businesses.

Yelp is a website where the public can rate and review various local businesses. Based on the average rating of one to five stars and the number of reviews, businesses are rated compared to other venues in the vicinity. According to Yelp’s “About Us” page, it was founded in 2004 to help the public find local businesses. They had an average of about 142 million monthly visitors in the first quarter of 2015, and users have written over 77 million reviews. Yelp provides business owners with an option to set up a free account, from which they can post photos and message their customers, as well as purchase ads. In this way, it provides a great platform for positive word-of-mouth to spread through social media, potentially boosting a venue’s image in the public eye. However, at the same time, a negative review can ruin a business, presenting a downside to the service.

Chez Pannise, for example, often a top-rated restaurants, has only four stars on Yelp and has received particularly nasty reviews such as:

“Look, 100 years ago or whenever Alice whats-her-name came up with the oh-so-brilliant idea of serving stuff that’s fresh and local (DUH, like rural people have been doing FOREVER), but guess what .. tons of places have taken the concept light years beyond anything ms. alice does and they do it far, far better…”

On the other hand, Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine, California, is the top-rated restaurant in the United States for 2015, according to Yelp, and has received praise such as:

“***DO NOT MISS THIS SLICE OF BBQ HEAVEN***
As a BBQ aficionado, this gem ranks in the top 1%!!
Owner Hank loves what he does and loves whom he serves!…”

The contrasting examples above make the case for keeping in mind the pros and cons of Yelp when opening a business page, and when deciding how to run a venue.

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A Guide to Food Portioners

Food portioners can be used to measure out dishes almost exactly, insuring the profit margin of a dish and providing a tool for aesthetic plating techniques.When pricing menu items and planning dishes, the defining factor is portion size. Whereas some potential customers will look for large portion sizes as the indication of a satisfactory venue, others will be happy with smaller portions, when they are offered a high level of food. Either way, the portions must be consistent. It simply won’t do to serve a small portion one time and a huge portion the next. Loyal customers will only be loyal if they expect the venue to keep up their standards. And on the business side of things, serving portions which are too large can cause the profit margin on the dish to be negligible, making the business less profitable. Food portioners offer a simple, efficient, and affordable solution for portioning most food items. This guide provides a review of some basic options available and outlines their potential uses.

Scales

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Scales are the most often used food portioning solution. They are useful for food businesses not only when portioning the dishes, but also for preparing baked goods which require exact quantities of various ingredients, as well as when receiving raw ingredients to ensure the weighing and billing was done appropriately by the supplier. When it comes to portioning pastas, doughs, meats, and fish, scales provide the easiest indication of size. Many burger venues offer patties by the pound, and those portions are weighed out using a kitchen scale to ensure that the customer is getting what they pay for, and that the business is making the expected profit off of the ingredients.

Food Portioning Cups

Food portioning cups are similar to measuring cups, and can be used to add previously decided upon amounts of a certain ingredients to a dish (such as herbs, for example) or to dish out an estimated amount of a component of a dish. For example, guacamole can be a very pricy dip, so instead of piling it on in different amounts based on the chef’s estimate of what the dish should be, scooping a set amount of it with a food portioner can be a smarter option. Food portioners can be useful for side dishes as well. Not only can they measure out adequate amounts of grains to add to a dish, if a grain such as rice is packed in, and the food portioner flipped over directly onto the plate, the grains can hold the shape of the food portioner, producing an aesthetic plating scheme. Food portioning cups can be used for the variety of applications mentioned above, and can also help provide customers with an idea of the nutritional value of their meal, if they ask how many ounces are included. Though food portioning cups can be seen as less critical for commercial kitchens when compared to scales, they offer a multipurpose tool to be used for the cooking process itself, as well as for plating.

Cafeteria Trays

Cafeteria trays are ideal food portioners for school caterers, since they provide a reusable, super-easy option for portioning. When considering using food portioners for cafeteria meals, the factors which are important go beyond caterer profit. With the awareness of obesity and the health problems associated with bad diet habits, eating the correct portion sizes and amounts of different foods has become a focus for schools and parents. Offering portioned cafeteria trays can help enable students to make wise food choices, and help the school caterer provide healthy solutions and good portion sizes while making a profit.
Food portioning tools are valued for their ability to ensure the amount of food being offered, and therefore the nutrition facts of a dish and the profit margin it will have for a food business. They also provide an easy way to measure out ingredients for a recipe. On the other hand, they can also be used to easily and aesthetically serve different dish components. Imagine an ice cream store serving ice cream with a regular spoon…doesn’t sound so attractive, does it? The ice cream scooper not only enables the server to easily serve the ice cream in an attractive way, it also allows the store owner or manager to price the scoop based on their expenses and effort for a given amount of ice cream. Food portioning tools are a must have for every food business, but which ones? Each food business will have to decide which food portioning tools are crucial for them, based on their menu and service strategy. Caterers offering buffets, for example, may be able to forgo food portioning cups in many cases. Food portioning is a basic factor that must be taken into consideration by every venue, even before sales start, in order to estimate profit potential and provide customers with a consistently positive experience.

Staying Cutting Edge by Keeping the Right Knives On Hand

Chef knives are classic, must-have, all-purpose options for a commercial kitchen.I’ve met so many home cooks who just don’t get why chefs are so attached to their knives and why they need so many different types. Some even think it pretentious that cooks insist on high quality, versatile knife collections. They cannot fathom the added speed and facility which good knives can give during food preparation. They are unaware of the dangers of using the wrong type of knife for a certain purpose or one with a dull edge. Here are short descriptions of five types of usual and slightly unusual knives and how they can help in a professional kitchen.

It is important to note that almost equally as important as investing in good knives is investing in a good knife sharpener. Even the highest quality knife needs to be kept in top shape in order to do its job efficiently and safely.

1. Chef Knives

Of course, any discussion about knives in a professional kitchen must include some type of statement in praise of chef knives. Chef knives have long, relative big blades and are a versatile option, cutting anything from vegetables to meat. Many different sizes are available, with both the blades and handles made from a variety of materials. The type of blade preferred depends on the cook, but having a knife composed of one, continues piece of metal allows for efficient cleaning. The size of the knife is important as well. Small-built cooks may have a hard time maneuvering extra-large knives, while some of the small, thinner chef knives I’ve encountered can be uncomfortable to hold and cut with, sometimes even chafing away at hand skin. (…Read More…)

Learn All About Kombucha and Its Amazing Health Benefits

Kombucha is Set to Become the Hottest Drink Trend

Kombucha

If 2017 was the year of fermented foods, 2018 is turning out to be the year of kombucha. While fermented foods, such as kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and kefir, are considered gut-friendly and healthful, kombucha can be viewed as the ultimate fermented drink. Read on to discover everything you always wanted to know about kombucha – even if you never heard of it before.

Kom What?

Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink, sometimes referred to as mushroom tea. It has a mushroom color, tan and cloudy, with bits of something… well, weird, floating in it. That’s the “scoby,” and if anything will turn you off to kombucha before you even try it, it’s that. Once you get past the unattractive look of the scoby, you’ll find that kombucha is a sweet and tangy drink with a bit of fizz – a drink that is worth your while getting to know.

Kombucha, kimchi, and other fermented foods have long been part of diets in various parts of the world, but only now are they appearing in the West as the food of the hour. Kombucha is tea that has been fermented from 1 to 3 weeks; it consists of black tea and sugar (from various sources, including cane sugar, fruit or honey) and it is considered to be one of the most effective probiotic drinks out there. It contains an army of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once it is combined with sugar. The word “kombucha” means “kelp tea” in Japanese, though in Japan itself kombucha is a mild tea (rather than a fizzy, fermented beverage.) Some people call kombucha “booch,” and that’s the term that’s been catching on with those in the know.

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Discover the Wondrous Buddha Bowl and Start Getting Healthy

Buddha Bowls: The One-Dish Wholesome Meal

Buddha Bowls

Buddha bowls, sometimes referred to as hippie bowls, are hearty – and heart-friendly – all-in-one dishes made of a variety of greens, raw or roasted vegetables, a serving of protein, and a healthy grain like quinoa or brown rice. They are often topped with crunchy nuts or seeds and layered with some kind of sauce or dressing for added flavor and texture. There is plenty of room for improvisation when it comes to Buddha bowls but the basic formula stays pretty much the same. It’s a meal-in-a bowl dish that is filled with vitamins and nutrients, and it has become one of the biggest trends of the year.

Who Launched the Buddha Bowl?

The consensus among Buddha bowl aficionados is that their first mention was in the cookbook, Meatless, a collection of vegetarian recipes published in 2013 by Martha Stewart. In the book, Buddha bowls are described as “plant-based bowls of glory” (and the bowls are still sometimes referred to as glory bowls). As the editor of Meatless says, “With whole grains, plant proteins, and vegetables, this is the ideal vegan one-bowl dish.” In other words, the original Buddha bowl was vegan but the book goes on to explain that the recipe is “… more of a general formula than a hard-and-fast recipe, since you can swap out different ingredients for variety and make use of whatever you have on hand.”

Why Are They Called Buddha Bowls?

The book doesn’t go so far as to label these grain-and-veggie dishes Buddha bowls, so the Epicurious website asked Dan Zigmond and Tara Cottrell, the authors of Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind, to explain the origin of the name. “Food for Buddha was very low-key,” said Cottrell. Or, as she explained, Buddha didn’t want food to “take over our whole life.” In addition, Buddha did eat from a bowl, which may have led to today’s use of the term. “Buddha woke up before dawn every morning and carried his bowl through the roads or paths wherever he was staying. Local people would place food in the bowl as a donation, and at the end he would eat whatever he had been given.” That, apparently, was the very first (and most authentic) Buddha Bowl: “A big bowl of whatever food the villagers had available and could afford to share.”

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Enjoy Nutrient-Packed Avocados in Many Shapes and Forms

Avocados: Versatile and Healthful Superfood

All About Avocados

Let’s clear something up right away – contrary to popular belief, the avocado is a fruit. The green color of avocados, and their lack of sweetness, can trick you into thinking they’re vegetables; however, not only is an avocado a fruit, it’s a berry. Call it what you may, however, avocados are incredibly healthy and wonderfully versatile and, if you’re unfamiliar with this amazing fruit, it’s time to be introduced.

History of Avocados

Archaeologists have found evidence of wild-avocado consumption in central Mexico going back almost 10,000 years in central Mexico, and it is believed that people began cultivating avocados about 5,000 years ago. Fifteenth-century Spanish navigator Martin Fernandez De Encisco set out on his quest to discover the “New World,” and came upon a fruit in the port town of Yaharo, Mexico, that, he wrote, “looks like an orange but turns yellowish when it is ready to be eaten.” He went on to explain the wonderful flavor of the fruit, which tastes “like butter” and is “so good and pleasing to the palate.” Later, Spanish historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo discovered the fruit in the northern part of South America. He identified the avocado tree as a variation of a pear tree in Spain and said that the fruit, “is the color and shape of pears, and the rind somewhat thicker, but softer, and in the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut.” He goes on to say that between the peel and the pit “is the part which is eaten, and is a paste very similar to butter and … of good taste.”

Neither Encisco nor Oviedo named the fruit, leaving that to explorer Pedro de Cieza de Leon who referred to it as “aguacate” in his mid-16th century writings and said that the fruit was widely used by the people from the Inca civilization. The Spanish conquistadors eventually brought avocados to Europe and sold them to other countries including England. However, the name avocado appeared for the first time in naturalist Sir Hans Sloane’s catalog of Jamaican plants, which was published in 1696. He described the tree and called it, “the avocado or alligator pear-tree, which grows in gardens and fields throughout Jamaica.”

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Learn About the History and Nutritional Value of Cinnamon

Cinnamon: Loaded with Flavor and Health Benefits

The Wonders of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is an ancient spice that is widely used in modern times due to its amazing flavor. Today, cinnamon is one of the world’s most popular spices, sprinkled on lattes; indispensable at Thanksgiving; and awesome on French toast. Much like salt, cinnamon is an ingredient that, while often taken for granted, adds depth of flavor, inviting warmth, and multi-faceted dimension to our food. Cinnamon has a long history and an abundance of uses. Let’s learn more.

Cinnamon Basics

The website, Cinnamon Vogue, is a one-stop shop for information about the spice. The site explains that the cinnamon tree is a tropical evergreen, the parts of which can be broken down and used for an assortment of purposes. The bark from the tree can be rolled into sticks that can be used in stick form or ground into cinnamon powder – the most widely used form of cinnamon. The leaves of the cinnamon tree can be steamed and distilled into oil, and the bark can be further broken down into chips (to throw into a fireplace, for instance).

All cinnamon trees – and there are a number of species – are members of the genus Cinnamomum in the Lauraceae family, although not all of the species are grown commercially. Cinnamomum verum is sometimes referred to as “true cinnamon” (more on that controversy later), but most internationally produced cinnamon is called “cassia.” The world’s supply of cinnamon is largely provided by Indonesia and China, which together produce about 75% of the global supply of the spice.

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Discover the Health Values and History of Chocolate

Fill Your Senses with Fabulous Chocolate

Wonderful, Delicious, Healthy Chocolate

Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food: we reach for it in times of stress, it improves our mood when the going gets rough, and it is downright delicious under any circumstances. Amazingly, after years of getting a bad rap, as unhealthy and high in sugar, chocolate is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and research now shows that high-quality chocolate, in moderation, is actually good for us. That’s a win-win situation for the chocoholics among us – which is pretty much everyone, right?

The History of Chocolate

In “A Brief History of Chocolate,” the Smithsonian Institute Magazine interviews Alexander Leaf, who runs Chocolate Tours of New York. As Leaf says, chocolate is “the best-known food that nobody knows anything about.” Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which was a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. Today, the term “cacao” is usually used to refer to the plant or its beans before processing, while the term “chocolate” refers to anything that is made from the beans.

Chocolate has been around for about 2,000 years, though some experts claim that it may be even older. Recently, anthropologists discovered cacao residue on pottery excavated in Honduras that could date back as far as 1400 B.C.! In pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered so valuable that they were used as currency. And the ancient Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical properties, using it in many rituals related to birth, marriage and death.

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Enjoy Peaches and Nectarines in Summer Recipes

Peaches and Nectarines: The Pinnacle of Summer Fruit

The Great Stone-Fruit War

Peaches and nectarines are, for many, the peak of summer fruit. Sweet, juicy, and delicious, this duo of nature’s bounty – so similar, yet so different – is completely irresistible. Both peaches and nectarines are considered stone fruit —fruit that has a hard, large pit (the stone) surrounded by sweet flesh. Learn more about peaches and nectarines now – moments before they hit the fruit stands.

Peaches vs Nectarines

Nectarines and peaches are basically the same, except for the fuzz, or lack thereof. Contrary to popular belief, nectarines are not a cross between a peach and a plum. Typically, nectarines are smaller and firmer than peaches, but both have either yellow or white flesh on the inside. So while they might look slightly different on the outside, their insides are very much alike. Their genetics are nearly identical as well – aside from a recessive gene in nectarines that gives them their smooth skin, versus the peaches’ fuzzy skin.

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