Category Archives: Cookware

And The Best Kind Of Plate To Eat On Is…

Set of round plates or dishes on white background
If you’re a quick-service restaurant, you may use a basket with paper; toss out the paper, wash the basket, and you have a simple way to sling out french fries, hamburgers, and hot dogs. With soup or salad, you need a deep bowl that’ll hold a good amount of liquid or leafage for lighter lunches. Every once in a while, you might need a particular dish for a particular concept, such as manicotti, but for most every day dishes, you’re going to want a standard, every day plate that can be used across the board in your restaurant.

The BBC reports on a study that shows sometimes simple is best. White and round dishes might be the key to making food look and taste better. A test was preformed with the same cheesecake, on white round dishes, white square dishes, black round dishes, and black square dishes. The white round dishes were found to lead to more pleasurable eating experiences, but the opinion might stem from the mindset and emotional connections that are to be made with the design. White is traditionally connected to “purity”, and the white round plate might be just too iconic for serving food that anything different seems off. If anything, white plates can help show the cleanliness of the dish. Black square plates were found to have their own home, with being used for more critical judgements and

Slates might look nice or be used for unique effect, but may present problems with items rolling or draining off of the plate during serving or eating.

There are a variety of white round dishes availably for purchase. Width can range from 16 inches, 10 inches, to even 6.5 inches, but they all offer the same concept of holding food in a clean and concise circular carrying plate.

Have you considered that you might need to upgrade your dishes? Over the years, wear and tear can happen even to the cleanest and safest restaurants. Chips and damage can be joined by stains and streaks, and no matter how clean you try to get the dishes, it’s always a good idea to have new ones in backup.

Beyond ordering new white round dishes for the everyday sale, you might want to consider a few black square dishes for such creative moments. If you want a true response to new dishes, you might want to put items on there to get true responses to your dishes. For soup dishes, you’re left with no choice but to have deeper bowls, in which you should want to stick with white round ones as well.

Now, glasses and mugs, baskets and utensils? There’s a whole possible world of what to do with those, and there’s no particular study saying one color is better than another (although, round mugs would make sense).

gluten free

Gluten-Free Definition: Do You Meet It?

Gluten-free is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and has proven to be a boon for restauranteurs. Many chains and restaurants have tackled this trend with new menu items, and we’ve created a guide to going gluten-free in your restaurant.

Starting August 5th, 2014, restaurants will have to meet new FDA standards when it comes to being gluten-free, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.

The term “gluten-free” can only be used in certain situations:

  • The food item is inherently gluten-free
  • It does not contain a gluten-including grain
  • It does not contain a gluten-including grain that has not been processed to remove gluten
  • It does not contain a gluten-including grain that has been processed to remove gluten, but the usage of that grain increases the gluten content to 20 parts per million in the dish
  • Any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food cannot be more than 20 parts per million

These regulations make the first step towards having “gluten-free” be a regulated term. Many restaurants have used “gluten-free” with the condition that it’s not for those with celiac disease, but gluten sensitivity.

Any sort of product that is labeled gluten-free but breaks these rules will be subject to “regulatory enforcement action”.

One aspect with gluten-free food is that the food needs to be kept separate from gluten-filled foods. Cross-contamination can become a problem for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and yet while a food may technically meet all the above requirements, mishandling and improper cooking can ruin these dishes for the customers.

With these new guidelines in place, gluten-free will be clearly in the minds of consumers. Make sure you don’t displace their trust in your company and brand.

essential-cooking-items

Kitchen Essentials: 10 Items a Cook Should Never Be Without

Like dad always said, you need the right tool for the job. Lopsided birdhouses aside, the same is absolutely true in the kitchen. The right tools will speed preparation and lessen the chance your endeavor will end up a bust (or on fire – you know who you are).

1) Cast Iron Skillet

vintage enameled skilletCast iron is the seasoned cook’s (pun intended) pan of choice for a variety of reasons. First, it heats evenly and maintains that heat without sudden fluctuations. No more half burned and half raw pancakes! Second, it adds flavor to whatever you’re cooking as well as a little iron content to the nutritional value of the food. Third, it doubles as a weapon should the need arise. Whatever you do, don’t put a cast iron pan in the dishwasher. Simply wait until it cools, remove solids and wipe it clean. When shopping, look for a 10” to 12” skillet from a well-known manufacturer. Whether the pan is described as “pre-seasoned” on the label or not, you will benefit from taking the time to season it yourself.  Do a bit a research and choose the method that works for you.

2) Variable Speed Stand Mixer

variable speed stand mixerMixers come in many shapes and sizes and have different uses. A hand mixer is fine for making instant pudding, but for kneading bread you need something whose motor won’t burn up at the sight of a hardy dough. Get a good stand mixer that comes with different attachments, a whisk, dough hook, and a paddle. Make sure the mixer has at least three speeds, low, medium, and high are fine. The settings roughly translate to stir, mix, and beat. A locking mechanism is also a good idea if you plan on using it to knead dough of any kind.  As budget allows and cooking skills soar, additional attachments are a good idea, such as the self-scraping paddle, pasta rolling machine, meat grinder, and bowl shield.

3) Microplane

microplaneNope, it’s not a woodworking tool. A kitchen microplane is basically a grater with much smaller openings. Why would a cook need such a thing? You can grate hard cheeses very finely to top pasta or soup; add fresh nutmeg to cream sauces, never have to mince or smash garlic again, and much more! Microplanes are very versatile in the kitchen and can save steps in your favorite recipes. Throw away any garlic “gadget” you already own and replace it with a microplane. Your garlic and ginger will blend seamlessly in sauces thanks to the fine texture.

4) Knives

knivesA word about knives: less is more! If space is an issue (and let’s face it, in whose kitchen is space NOT an issue) you can truly get by with one knife. If you are limited by space and budget to just one knife, make it a chef’s knife, and purchase it from a restaurant supply store, not the local big box retailer. You can do just about anything you need to with just a chef’s knife, and an inexpensive one at that. If you have a bit of room to expand your collection, pick up a serrated knife for breads and cakes, a paring knife for very small jobs, and a boning knife for, well, deboning things.  If you want to get fancy, add a cleaver and filet knife to your repertoire. That’s it. That is all you need. Make sure any knife you purchase feels good in your hand, is nicely balanced, and isn’t an overpriced import. Finally, never, EVER put a knife in the dishwasher because it dulls the blade and loosens the handle.

5) Measuring Devices

measuring devicesThere are multiple ways to measure ingredients for a recipe: Liquid, dry, volume, or weight. Make sure you’re using the correct equipment for the job. Tablespoon and teaspoon do not refer (any more at least) to a spoon from your flatware set. Instead, use a set of spoons for dry measure to get your proportions correct. Small pitchers or beakers with graduated markings on the side are for liquid measurement only. Thusly, small cups with handles and no graduated markings are for dry-goods measurement only. The two are not interchangeable. For the best results, measure everything by weight on a kitchen scale.

6) Thermometers

thermometersTemperature matters, not only in cooking things like fudge and meat, but also in a larger scale like your refrigerator and your oven. Refrigerators and ovens both cycle, that is, their temperatures do not remain constant while in use. Keep a thermometer made for each respective environment on hand in each appliance and check them regularly to insure proper cooling and cooking. You’ll also need an instant read candy and oil thermometer for frying and precise stove top cooking. A digital thermometer with alert and alarm settings with a nylon covered cord is ideal. You can use this type of thermometer to insure your expensive prime rib does not turn into shoe leather and your candy hasn’t moved in to the break your teeth stage.

7) Spatulas, Tongs, and Whisks

spatualsMost people have a jungle of cooking utensils so it is hard to find the right tool when they need it. Let’s deforest a bit and weed it down to the essentials you really need. Keep a metal spatula with a wide base on hand for jobs that do not come into contact with non-stick surfaces, life ferrying French fries from a baking sheet or flipping burgers in your new cast iron pan. Get a plastic spatula with a thick handle and well-proportioned base for the same purpose to use on non-stick surfaces. The same goes for tongs and whisks, you need at least one set with plastic ends and one with metal. Last, you need at least one soft sided silicone or rubber spatula for scraping down bowls and getting that last drop of brownie batter into your pan (or mouth).

8) Heavy Bottomed Pots

heavy bottom potThere is no reason to have a set of non-stick pots, they don’t last and are usually too thin to heat efficiently. What you do need is a set of heavy-bottomed, restaurant grade pots with secure handles and tight-fitting lids. The heavy bottom ensures a quality pot, even heating, and the ability to stand up to high heat without warping. Pots are for cooking things of volume with liquid, thus the frivolity of non-stick in such a situation. Make a set with a large Dutch oven, a 3 quart, 2 quart, and 1 quart pot to have all your culinary bases covered. This is a no frills purchase, a chef’s name or fancy color won’t improve your food or get you out of the kitchen any faster. Restaurant grade pots are made to be used for hours every day and stand up to scouring and storing. The average person who uses a few pots four days a week will only ever need to purchase one set.

9) Skillets

skilletsWhile cast iron and professional pots will take you a long way in your foodie adventures, some applications still call for a non-stick surface.  Look for a 12” or 14” skillet with sloped slides made of anodized aluminum. The anodized aluminum will keep its coating longer than less expensive models. Like your knives and pots, do no put your non-stick items in the dishwasher, the detergent is too harsh and will reduce the life of your pans. Sloped sides are important for sliding food out without breaking delicate items like fish and eggs. Look for a nice heavy bottom for heat distribution and a solid well attached handle with insulation so the heat does not travel up and cause burns. Get another skillet with the same qualities but without a non-stick surface and with a handle that is oven safe.  That way you can create dishes that require a good sear followed by a short bake in a single pan. This pan will move seamlessly from stove-top to oven.

10) Baking Pans

baking pansLarger is better when talking about baking sheets. Get two with rolled edges and short sides. Look for heavy gauge aluminum that doesn’t sound like Hollywood thunder sound effects when your shake it. It should be sturdy enough to hold heavy items without buckling. You need two so you can easily complete recipes that call for more space than one baking sheet provides, like cookies. Air filled pans and other fad bakeware are not necessary for the savvy cook, neither is non-stick when it comes to baking sheets. Parchment paper will keep items like cookies from sticking without the use of cooking spray, which gives pans their aged and darkened appearance. As far as specialty bakeware, good choices are a loaf pan or two, muffin tins, and cake pans. Bare aluminum or non-stick is a personal preference with these types of pans.

A Good Place To Start

Though not an exhaustive list, these items will give a burgeoning cook or newlyweds looking to fill their cabinets a good start. Conserve space and choose wisely, these well planned purchases can last a lifetime, or at least until you hit the lottery and hire a personal chef.