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20 posts categorized "Passion for Food"

August 2, 2017

Tastes Like Home

Take your customers on a trip down memory lane by incorporating flavors in your menu that can be found in their childhood favorite meals and experiences. Give them a twist on Mom’s brown-bag classics to reminisce over lunch. Remind them of dinners at Grandma’s filled with smiles and Sloppy Joe’s. People tend to associate food with sentiments from their past — foods that taste good can make us feel good too.

As the years go by, we often reflect back on old memories and can develop a sense of nostalgia or a longing for the past. Seen in recent movie and television reboots, games and clothing, nostalgic marketing is taking over various markets and industries. *Forbes explains that this nostalgia tactic embodies the idea of tapping into positive cultural memories from previous decades. Although originally adapted to attract millennials to specific products, it is now seen as a successful strategy to engage with all age groups. Through nostalgic marketing, businesses can connect to their audience through cross-cultural and generational appeals. People love sentiments from their past — from the colors, packaging, smells, and taste, they appreciate the positive emotions that it can evoke.

Nostalgia

The ultimate way to adapt this trend to your restaurant is by creating a meal that uses familiar flavors from childhood classics.

Your restaurant environment can tell a story. From the names on the cocktail menu to the fold of the napkin, small details in your restaurant setting can help recreate cherished memories. It generates an immersive experience that will take your customers on a journey to a different point in time.

Re-purpose the Retro. Don’t just replicate a dish from the past; make it new and relevant to fit with the present. Give cult-favorites an upgrade by modernizing old recipes. From the ingredients, to the cooking technique, to the presentation, you can adapt dishes so that they’ll never go out of style.

Try it out:

  1. Make your own adult lunchable with an indulgent cheese and charcuterie board featuring aged cheddar, hard salami and decadent pâté
  2. Go vintage by serving Coca-Cola in the classic glass bottle
  3. Serve a homemade soft and golden Honey Bun smothered with a sweet honey bourbon glaze for breakfast
  4. Use vintage cereals to create sweet and crunchy toppings for desserts or breading
  5. Incorporate new spices and seasonings to put a twist on classic recipes like Mom’s chicken with Shake n’ Bake breadcrumbs

If you include modern novelty recipes, they are sure to be hit items for years to come. Remember to look back on the past to power your future.

 

*Friedman, Lauren. "Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Well With Millennials, And How Your Brand Can Benefit." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 03 Aug. 2016. Web. 07 July 2017.

May 30, 2017

Butter is Better

By Piet E. Jones

The five mother sauces - Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat, Hollandaise. The basis for French cooking that has influenced international cuisine for generations. Learn these, as nearly every chef does very early in their career, and you have a skill that will allow you to imitate or pioneer most any dish. Once the base was made, one could modify or enhance any of them to fit the dish they were intended for - be it a thyme infused Béchamel for the perfect mac-n-cheese or spicing up your eggs with a Sriracha Hollandaise. These were the sauces that set apart the truly great dishes from the might have beens. Or at least they used to be. 

Shutterstock_250461964

Sure, there is still a place for many of them, like the aforementioned mac-n-cheese and with your brunch Benedict, but rely on them too much these days and people will refer to your menu as dated and perhaps a bit heavy. The 80s were not kind to the mother sauces, short cuts and shelf stable mixes short circuited what made these sauces classic. A roux, the first step for many of these sauces, is a great way to thicken and as a medium to capture the flavor while a quickly dumped scoop of uncooked flour leads to lumps and sadness. Tastes have also changed. People like cleaner, more natural flavors, not to mention it being a bit of a shame to smother a high quality piece of fish or meat with a heavy sauce.

The problem with all this, while some proteins can be served plain, most need a little something to elevate the taste - a little fat to add sumptuousness along with some fresh herbs and spices to celebrate and complement the quality of the protein. Fortunately there is a simple solution, compound butter - more formally called a Maitre d'Hotel Butter. Endlessly adaptable, a simple pat or two will impart all the fat and flavor you’re looking for without burying the dish.

Making a Compound Butter is Simple

Softened butter with a little liquid and whatever flavor bombs you want to add, then roll in plastic and chill. Say you have a gorgeous prime cut of steak - grilled perfectly and ready to go. Instead of a heavy béarnaise or bordelaise, you could just add a pat of tarragon compound butter - shallots and garlic softened in olive oil then finished with a touch of dry sherry, take off the heat and mix in freshly chopped tarragon then whip into the softened butter, salt and pepper to taste (fresh cracked white pepper might be a more pleasant, subtle addition), roll into a log then chill until ready to use.

Don’t like tarragon? Try chopped chives with a shot or two of Worcestershire sauce or maybe some thyme with a squeeze of lemon. Yes, you could make truffle butter, but please use real truffle. Truffle oils and essences are little more than perfume, and often taste more chemical than fungus. The thing to remember, for most compound butters, garlic and shallots are a great starting point. Once you’ve created your butter, it can be used on most anything. Steaks, fish, chicken, even pork will work.

A Compound Butter Can Also be Used With Pasta.

A cheese or mushroom tortellini could be tossed with the tarragon or chive compound butters to add just enough flavor but still allowing the fillings to shine through. Perhaps you’re making seafood ravioli, why not top it with a little lobster roe compound butter? Literally just lobster roe and butter, the compound performs a bit of culinary magic as it warms up, turning from a rather unappetizing olive green to a sublime pale pink coral color. You needn’t limit yourself to lobster roe, salmon or trout roe can also work to create different flavors and colors.

As a matter of fact, you can even infuse the butter with seafood to create all manner of compound. Finely minced cooked shrimp? Sure! Chopped anchovies? Of course! Scallops or sea urchin can work as well. Even a few drops of concentrated seafood stock, distilled from the shells of crabs and lobster, could be the perfect delicate topping for a fillet of sole or turbot.

Sweeten Things up

Your compound butters don’t always need to be savory either, they can be sweet - a little honey and some poppy seeds, or perhaps a hint of lavender. Suddenly you’ve got the butter for the artisanal biscuits or cast iron rolls your baker has been wanting to add as a starter.

Besides appealing to modern tastes and cooking styles, compound butter offers more advantages over fussy sauces. It saves you time and money. A compound butter can be made then refrigerated until needed (seafood butters should be frozen). Sauces rarely last more than one night leading to waste and needing to be made fresh every day, sometimes remade in the middle of a rush if they break or go wonky in some way. A compound butter can last for several days - if it isn’t used up first. No more copper pans, tediously tended until they are just perfect, simply slice off a pat and you’re good to go. The perfect shortcut that won’t leave your diners feeling shorted.

April 26, 2017

Veggie Noodles are Here to Stay

By Piet E. Jones

Culinary trends are constantly on the move. Some pop big with lots of buzz and perhaps a bit overuse, like sous vide, before settling into becoming a somewhat commonplace technique used effectively for some dishes.Zoodles Others, like foams, devolve into culinary punchlines. 

Spiralized vegetables, or zoodles, looks like it might be on track to have some staying power. Typically made from zucchini, hence the Z, zoodles have crossed the boundary from restaurant to home kitchens cementing their popularity. Part of that is driven by the gluten free and reduced carb trends; the rest is that they are both tasty and versatile.

Any Pasta Dish Can Have Their Noodles Replaced with Zoodles.

Blanching in salted boiling water or a quick steam are common preparation methods, just be careful not to overcook lest the zucchini become limp and mushy. You can even skip precooking, just slip the zoodles into a sauté pan with the sauce and heat while tossing. A simple basil red sauce, maybe with some sliced hot Italian sausage, then finished with a little fresh shaved Parmesan is really all you need but nearly any sauce/protein combination can work. You could even list on your menu not as a separate dish but as a healthy option to your normal pasta dishes.

There is no need, however, to limit zoodles to pasta style dishes. They make great salads and slaws as well. The freshest zucchini zoodles can be served raw, although you can really dial up the color and taste with a quick blanch followed by an ice bath. Tossed with mayonnaise or dressings, they perform well as a bright and crunchy side dish or as a topping on, say, a pulled pork sandwich - either a tradition slaw dressing of mayonnaise and sour cream or with a simple, sweetened vinegar dressing.

You could even bind the zoodles together with flour and egg to make a pretty amazing latke. The flour kind of defeats the purpose of low carb and gluten free so you could sub it out for either almond (make sure you have an allergy warning) or coconut flour, just keep in mind those have very different flavor profiles so you might want to experiment with flour blends and maybe even some fresh herbs and spices to achieve your desired result. Dress the plate with the traditional accoutrements like sour cream and applesauce for the best fusion of nostalgic and contemporary.

Zoodles are Perfect for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Lunch and dinner also shouldn’t be the only time to consider zoodles. Potato heavy skillets and bowls are very popular these days for breakfast, zoodles are a healthy alternative to all that starch. Soften onions and peppers in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, toss with zoodles and crispy, chopped bacon then top with a couple of poached eggs and shredded Gruyère. Voila, a great high protein/low carb way to start any day.

Zucchini is also not the only vegetable you can use. Drop the first letter from zoodle to match your veggie and you’re good to go. Coodles when you use carrots. For parsnips you’ve got poodles. OK, no one wants to put poodles on their menu… Besides, zoodles is fast becoming a more generic term that can apply to more than just spiralized zucchini, best to just stick to that and modify it with the name of the vegetable used.

Get Creative with Your Veggies

The point is, most any firm or hard vegetable will do. Some, like carrots, you can serve raw and lightly dressed. Others, like sweet potato, require cooking. You also need to be aware of how the vegetable changes when heat is applied. Some will fragment into shorter pieces with too much while others, like sweet potato, turn to mush if overcooked. In nearly all the cases, fast cooking is good, from frats blanching to deep frying. Slower methods tend to break the zoodles into increasingly smaller pieces lowering the visual appeal.

Zoodles can also help reduce waste and lower food costs. Already offering fresh broccoli on your menu? What do you do with the large center stalk? Try peeling it then run it through your spiralizer. A quick blanch and what you used to throw away is suddenly ready for the table in a slaw or side.

So, there you have it, a well-established cooking trend that is endlessly versatile and adaptable. Zoodles can help you appeal to today’s tastes and cater to those with gluten issues or trying to reduce their carbs. Plus you might be able to reduce waste and lower food costs in the process. Everybody wins!

February 8, 2016

Fat Tuesday Traditions

 

Chargrilled oysters from New Orleans Creole Cookery
You can't visit the Crescent City without trying some Char-Grilled Oysters from New Orleans Creole Cookery.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.  No matter what you call it, this celebration of indulgence, the last day before the fasting season of Lent, has become something of a cultural phenomenon enjoyed by all, religious and non-religious alike.  And, like St Patrick’s Day when everyone becomes Irish, on Fat Tuesday we all channel a little bit of Cajun into ourselves.

In New Orleans, the epicenter of it all, the celebration starts well before Fat Tuesday itself.  One of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans, Antoine’s, founded in 1840 and the birthplace of Oysters Rockefeller in 1899, should be on every visitor’s agenda for the week, but plan your visit carefully.  Each day, from Hermes Friday to Proteus Monday (named for the krewe leading the parade for the day) might be booked for a special luncheon or dinner by the day’s lead krewe.  And Fat Tuesday itself?  Forget it.  The Mistick Krewe of Comus, the oldest of all the krewes, has for decades sent its 220 members there for a traditional dinner of Oysters Rockefeller and Filet de Boeuf en Brochette Marchand de Vin - prime tenderloin tips in a red wine sauce that serves as a nod to the French origins of both the city and the holiday - before marching out to officially close the festivities.

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December 22, 2015

2016 Food Trends

Korean food will be popular in 2016
As we approach the end of 2015, we have to admit this has been an interesting year for food. Labeling regulations have inspired restaurateurs to take a fresh look at their menus. The search for fresh, new flavors has inspired crazy concoctions like a Bloody Mary topped with a slider, bugs packed as snacks, black hamburgers for Halloween, and cotton candy grapes in mainstream grocery stores. With all the happenings of 2015 in mind, here are our trend predictions for 2016.

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August 10, 2015

Greek Food Showing Up On More Menus

Beet hummus is one of the latest Greek-inspired food trends. Greece may be making headlines these days for a lot more than yogurt, but that’s not stopping Greek food lovers from enjoying the fruits of Greek labor. From Greek wines to fanciful desserts, Greek food is enjoying a renaissance as part of the healthful benefits of a Mediterranean diet and the excitement over the long awaited sequel to a popular 2002 movie. Here’s where growth in this market is occurring:

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May 15, 2015

Food Trends From the James Beard Awards Reception Gala

 

Braveheart foodcentric
Our chefs served about 1,300 porcini-roasted Braveheart Beef filets.

We’re settling back in from the glitz and glamour of the 2015 James Beard Awards in Chicago, Ill., that took place early last week. As a sponsor for the reception following the awards ceremony at the Lyric Opera, we sent Chef Derin Moore, CMC, and Chef Ron Warner to serve our Braveheart Black Angus Beef to more than a thousand hungry guests alongside a host of former James Beard award-winning restaurants. A few lucky members of the marketing team were able to ride on the coattails to foodie fame and pick up some food trends at the pre-event parties and the reception. Some of these themes just might inspire Spring and Summer menu items.

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April 24, 2015

Trend Report from Taste of Vail

Tov1
Photo credit: Zach Malone for Taste of Vail

In the mountain town of Vail, Colorado, there’s a ritual that has become a rite of spring for the last 25 years—the Taste of Vail. Distinguished from other food events by its mountaintop picnic, The Taste also features an American Lamb Cook-Off and a Grand Tasting. This year the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, with national and local chefs, arrived in Vail in conjunction with the Taste. All the events were a good way to wake up winter dormant taste buds and find out what foods may be on everyone’s plate in the coming season.

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December 16, 2014

Industry Trends That Make Great Gifts

Beer2014 was full of fresh trends and flavors. As we all know, restaurant trends start high-end and slowly make their way mainstream. Since gift season is in full swing, we’ve picked up a few trends that are still riding high on the style wave. They make great additions in restaurants, and, hint: they also make great gifts for restaurant professionals. If you’ve been stressing over what to get your favorite chef, barman or server, look no further.

 

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October 15, 2014

The Ramen Trend: What You Need To Know

A steamy bowl of ramen noodlesIf you’ve ever been a poor struggling student, you already know about living on a cup of ramen noodles to make that dollar stretch. Heck, even a pack of gum costs more than those crispy, curly bricks. But these days, ramen is a whole ‘nother cup of noodles. 

Ramen restaurants focused on full-flavored broths and fresh ingredients—including the noodles—are new showplaces for a chef’s talent. It’s thought that ramen began in China and spread to Japan in the nineteenth century. Noodle shops are ubiquitous in Japan but most folks credit David Chang, the famous New York chef and restaurateur, for introducing the concept of a high-end noodle shop to America. Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York in 2004—and within 10 years, the noodle bar concept, built around ramen, has spread across the country.

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