Chef’s Choice – Lentil Soup

nina | September 30th, 2011 - 9:00 am

LENTIL SOUP

Ingredients:
2 carrot, diced
2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bay leaf
2 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped smoked ham
1/2 cup finely chopped drained bottled roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation:
In a heavy saucepan cook the carrot, the onion, the garlic, and the bay leaf in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the broth and the lentils and simmer the mixture, covered partially, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Stir in the ham, the roasted peppers, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the soup for 1 minute.

Source:  Bryan Bernstein, Corporate Chef, Saval Foodservice

Setting Guidelines for a Server’s Appearance

nina | September 29th, 2011 - 9:00 am

While employers expect employees to keep hair out of their faces, what they will not tolerate is face jewelry. Nothing is more inappropriate then to have your server come in with “snakebites”.

 

Now there are some restaurants where snakebite piercings would be acceptable or even perceived as cool for servers to have. The question is really about the limits of enforcing an employee dress/appearance code—where do you draw the line?

Restaurants may require employees to comply with personal hygiene, dress and jewelry codes as long as they are consistently applied among workers…It is highly recommended that restaurants incorporate these requirements in employee handbooks, in coordination with legal counsel.

The main problem you, the employer, is having is that you didn’t make your appearance policy clear from the outset in your employee manual, bulletin board postings, and employment offer.
Since an employee’s appearance can change over time, it becomes difficult to backtrack if these things aren’t clearly spelled out.  In developing a uniform policies keep in mind that for firmest legal footing and employee buy-in you should:

Allow exceptions for legitimate religious or medical reasons. For example, a head covering may be a religious requirement for a particular employee.

Keep uniform codes job-related and explain the reasons for them in training sessions. For example, jewelry can be a hazard as it can drop into food, harbor bacteria, or get caught in equipment.

Enforce your policies across the board and make expectations clear from the start. Chances are, if someone knows upfront that the job requires them to remove their tongue stud or to keep an impeccably-groomed moustache or beard using some sort of beard oils, for a very example that actually happened to me, they may simply look elsewhere. It’s best to be upfront about these things and avoid any issues down the rown.

Herbs 101

nina | September 28th, 2011 - 9:01 am

Not only do herbs and spices provide flavor for very few calories, but they’re also nutritional powerhouses.  Here are some super-popular picks and recipe suggestions.

BASIL.  Did you know that fresh basil flavonoids could protect your cells and chromos0mes from radiation and other damage?  Plus Basil packs in heart-healthy beta-carotene and is an excellent source of vitamin K. 

Use it in:  Pizza or a simple Pesto Sauce.

PARSLEY.  Parsley isn’t just a garnish!  Parsley is great, not only for brightening up the look of a meal, but also for adding a punch of fresh flavor.   It’s a great source of vitamins A, C & K. 

Use it in:  Your mother’s famous potato salad or spaghetti.

CILANTRO.  Cilantro has benefits besides making salsa and guacamole taste amazing.  It can help to control blood sugar and cholesterol, plus it contains, iron, magnesium & fiber. 

Use it in:  Chicken Fajitas & mexican rice.

GARLIC:  Garlic packs some serious benefits — anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properites.  Basically if you’re feeling lousy, have some garlic.  Garlic also can lower cholesterol and potentially regulate the production of fat cells.

Use it in: Your favorite chicken, beef or pork dish.

CINNAMON.  One of the most frequently used spices.  Consuming cinnamon could help balance your blood sugar, which could ward off hunger pangs, mood swings, and other no-fun side effects.  The mere smell of cinnamon has been shown to boost brain function!

Use it in:  Hot beverages, breads and cakes.

Breakfast is Limitless. . . .

nina | September 27th, 2011 - 9:00 am

Breakfast is the one part of the day that still has plenty of opportunities.

It’s about taking ingredients you already have and using them in new ways.  Leading the way are quick service restaurants, which are realizing that hearty, homemade breakfasts have a place seven days a week, 24 hours a day — not just Sunday brunch. 

Especially with comfort foods, the sky’s the limit.  Try prosciutto and tomato as well as pepper and chorizo as flavorful additions to scrambled eggs.  Almond poppy seed pancakes, breakfast pastas, and artisanal breads.  Oh, and don’t forget the home fries.  This famous potato has so many opportunities for success. 

Layer flavor onto basic foods and make sure there are multiple textures on the plate.  For example, bagels and spreads are being reinvented with pesto (sundried tomato, wild mushroom, chipotle).

Fresh and flavorful, today’s breakfasts are being reinvented and supported by the customer base.

Chef’s Choice – Coconut Shrimp with Papaya Salsa

nina | September 26th, 2011 - 9:00 am

Featuring King & Prince Coconut Breaded Shrimp 21/25ct. (Item #12110)
2 lb Papaya, peeled, seeded, & cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 cups Pineapple, diced (1/4 inch)
2 Scallions, finely chopped
1 small Garlic clove, minced
2 T fresh Lime juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Mix Together and let stand for one hour before serving.
Serve 5 shrimp with 3oz of papaya salsa.

Source:  Bryan Bernstein, Corporate Chef, Saval Foodservice

The North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) Elects Jeff Saval as New President.

nina | September 23rd, 2011 - 3:55 pm

The NAMP has elected Jeff Saval Deli Brands of America) as president of the association.  He will serve for one year in this position.  NAMP members are a tight-knit group of meat processors, distributors and associates who rise above competitive concerns to support each other on common ground. Congratulations and thank you for all of always […]

Kitchen Essentials – 10 Awesome Tools

nina | September 22nd, 2011 - 5:17 pm

Most cooks will argue that without their favorite pieces of equipment, it’s difficult to find the motivation to cook.

Here are some of the favorite tips and tricks taken from the http://dryman.com.au website when making a meal using 10 of the most beloved kitchen tools.

These tools are some of the ones that we’d hate to live without.  Many of them are multi-purpose and others are so useful we can’t imagine what we did before they were invented.

1.  CHINOIS.  A cone-shaped sieve is made of very fine mesh metal with a long handle attached.  Use this for straining soup, stock, custards and any other sauce or liquid to produce a very smooth end product.  This item may also be used to dust pastries or cakes with powdered sugar.

2. DIGITAL SCALE.  There are several types fo scales. . .spring or balance, for example, but the spring seems to be the most favorite.  It calculates both metric & standard weights and can be used to measure any ingredient.  This type of scale if very accurate for prepping ingredients for baking.  If you are watching your weight, this scales is perfect for determining portion sizes.

3.  HANDHELD JUICER.  Another name would be a citrus squeezer of citrus press.  This tool quickly juices citrus, without any seeds and pulp.  Juicers are great to have behind a bar for extracting large amounts of citrus juice.

4.  SPIDER.  This is a hand-held, portable strainer.  Composed of a metal wire basket attached to a long, flat bamboo handle.  This can be used to pull blanched vegetables out of boiling water, drain pasta or scoop fried foods out of hot oil.  Using a spider saves time and dirty pots.  If you have several foods to cook, you’ll only have to boil water once.

5.  MORTAR AND PESTLE.  This two-piece tool, can be made of everything from stone to wood to marble.  The thick bowl is the mortar and the club-shaped handle is the pestle.  This is perfect for crushing spices or seasoning rubs.  A food processor or spice grinder can whirl ingredients into a muddled mass, where a mortar and pestle maintains the integrity of each ingredient.

6.  OFFSET SPATULA.  Available in a variety of shapes & sizes.  This spatula is unique in that the stiff metal extension bends down from the handle and then straightens out again, creating an angle that keeps your hand out of way and allows you to lift or turn items easily.  This spatula can be used to frost cakes, flip pancakes in a crowded pan or spread batter into a baking dish.

7.  SILPAT.  Think of this as permanent parchment or waxed paper.  These flexible silicon mats are used to line baking sheets or to create a nonstick surface.  The material is heat-proof, so the mats can go in the oven again and again.  Great for preparing pie or pizza dough and working with sticky ingredients like  caramel or taffy.

8.  MANDOLINE.  A hand-operated slicing machine, used for cutting even slices or julienne.  An adjustable blade allows the user to choose the thickness of the vegetable slice, or switch it to make julienne or crinkle-cut vegetables.  This is the best tool for precise, uniform slicing.  A hand guard comes with most mandolines, so you can slice without the fear of losing the skin off your fingers.

9.  MICROPLANE.  Also called a rasp grater, this long and skinny hand-held tool can be used to zest citrus, shave Parmesan or any hard grating cheese, or even shave chocolate.  Ergonomically speaking, it’s comfortable and easy to use.  And there is no fear of grating your knuckles.

10.  INSTAND-READ THERMOMETER.  Most chefs carry an instant-read thermometer with them at all times to determine when meat or fish is cooked through.  It’s also a good idea to have a candy thermometer, which can be used to regulate the temperature of hot oil.  This thermometer takes the guesswork out of the equation, and if properly calibrated, is always on target.

Source:  SFGate.com

Standard Hot Coffee & Tea Still Rule In Restaurants.

nina | September 19th, 2011 - 5:00 pm

While specialty coffees are hot (so to speak), regular hot coffee and tea still account for more reported out-of-home consumption among consumers in both restaurant/foodservice and retail settings, according to a recent survey conducted by the foodservice industry.

Sixty percent of consumers reported drinking regular hot coffee or tea within the last month — second only to the 62% who reported drinking a non-diet carbonated soft drink in the same period.

In addition, 14% of consumers say they are buying more single servings of regular hot coffee today than they did two years ago, and 10% say the same about single servings of iced tea.

Consumption continues to grow despite higher prices. Except for frozen/blended coffee drinks, all other types of coffee and tea drinks have seen steady price increases since 2008. Average prices for servings of regular coffee and tea/iced were $2.25 and $2.40, respectively, in 2008, versus $2.36 and $2.57 two years later.

When all types of coffee and tea (hot and iced varieties and specialty coffees) are included, they also dominate non-alcoholic beverage choices on restaurant menus. Coffees and teas each account for nearly 21% of non-alcoholic menu choices offered, whereas soft drinks, the next-largest category, account for just 13.6%.

Nearly three out of four consumers (73%) now say that green tea appeals to them as a hot or iced tea flavor, and 60% and 61%, respectively, say that lemon and honey appeal to them. Not surprising, that data shows the number of green tea products on menus having increased significantly in recent years.

Consumers are also buying more single servings of coffee in retail stores. Overall, such coffee sales in grocery stores, drugstores and mass merchants saw a nominal 15.9% increase between 2007 and 2010.

Each retail format saw gains, but mass merchants saw the largest increase: 53.1%, to $318 million, versus $208 million in 2007. This increase is attributed to mass merchants’ expansion of on-site consumption food/beverage offerings, as well as to coffee price increases.

Source:  MediaPost News, Aug 18, 2011.

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