Comfort foods will always be popular. Even in today’s world, with an emphasis on gourmet and an increasing amount of consumers developing sophisticated palettes, comfort foods are guaranteed to sell. Converting comfort foods into gourmet dishes takes plating skills and a bit of imagination. Changes, small or big, can be made to reconstruct these dishes into modern masterpieces.
The Importance of Food Presentation
Food presentation is the key to making food seem fancy and gourmet, no matter the ingredients. Of course, flavor is a defining factor in a dish’s success, but the presentation can have a huge effect on the diner’s impression of a dish as well. A study in Appetite, an international research journal, concluded that neater presentation of food hinted at more care and effort put into the dish by the preparer, as well as a higher quality venue. In addition, the study showed that people were willing to pay more for those dishes, when compared to a messy plating style. Turning food into an artistic masterpiece is something any restaurant can achieve, but requires large time investments for planning the plate construction. Inspiration can be obtained by dining at other venues or browsing cookbooks and websites. Careful food presentation may also require purchasing unique plates to complement the dishes, as well as extended training of new staff to ensure the dishes on the restaurant menus can be prepared and plated at a
There is nothing like a hot, fresh baked brioche in the morning. Morning is arguably the busiest selling time for fresh baked pastries, making it crucial for cafés, bakeries, and other venues to make sure they have a supply available for purchase at opening time. Inconveniently for bakers, artisan foods such as pastries tend to stale relatively quickly compared to industrial brand pastries. Their lack of preservatives and other stabilizing ingredients make them susceptible to the wear of time. However, difference in quality between homemade food and industrially-bought foods is usually recognizable. Therefore, it is usually very worthwhile for businesses, whether a bakery or just a restaurant bakery, to find a way to make fresh baked pastries available at their venue at all times.
Pre-made Pastry Dough
The process for how to make pastry dough is often long and time-consuming, depending on the type of pastry. While breads usually require short rising times, products like crepes usually rest for a few hours before frying, and croissants require refrigeration and rest times between each step of folding in butter. If the cooks at a venue do not know how to make pastry dough, the result of all the time investment may not even be presentable for sale. However, for hotels, restaurant bakeries, and other bakery venues with employees who know how to make pastry dough, having fresh baked pastries for sale can lead to a significant boost in morning sales. These venues can prepare the pastry dough in advance and store it in the freezer, baking fresh pastries as needed. By having a supply of pastries in the freezer, if sales are high, the cooks or bakers can easily defrost some more for baking and sale later in the day. Other venues may choose to purchase the pastries already shaped and frozen, requiring baking only.
Vegetarianism has been looked to in recent years for more than just ideological reasons. Vegetarian, or largely vegetarian diets are culinary trends often associated with higher health benefits when compared to meat-centered diet alternatives. Hard-core meat fans sometimes have a hard time grasping the idea that a hardy meal can be created without meat as the main. However, many delicious meatless protein alternatives exist that are making their way onto menus in venues other than the typical vegetarian restaurant, expanding the taste profile of the dishes, and expanding the possible customer base by providing meals for vegetarians and health-conscious diners.
How to Plan Meatless Meals
Meatless protein foods are usually considered the biggest challenge when it comes to planning meals for vegetarians. However, by researching and getting to know ingredients, chefs and cooks will have no problem conjuring balanced vegetarian meals that contain a variety of vegetarian health benefits. Below are just a few examples of meatless proteins
High-end venues are constantly on the lookout for ways to implement unusual flavor combinations. Flavored ice cubes are a great way to do this inexpensively and creatively. Unusual food can raise the food-costs for a venue, but unusual flavor combinations, such as those that can be achieved with spices and herbs and flavored ice cubes, can instantly make a restaurant seem more gourmet. The wise use of spices and herbs is a winning strategy for elevating culinary level in every item served in a venue. Putting traditional ice trays to use in creating flavored ice cubes, with the help of spices and herbs, is an easy and cost-efficient alternative to the commercial ice maker, which will elevate a restaurants culinary level.
Why Infused Ice Cubes are Cool
Thought ice cube trays were obsolete in today’s age of ice machines and ice-by-the-bag? Think again. The demand for unusual food in restaurants is putting ice cube trays back on the restaurant equipment list. Flavored ice cubes are convenient for more than just making a water pitcher exciting, they can be added to all sorts of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to spruce them up, and can be made in specific flavors to prevent the watering down of certain drinks. For example, customers will be thrilled to receive coffee flavored ice cubes in their cold coffee, keeping the temperature cool without watering down the taste with standard ice cubes. Typical soda water or white wine can be transformed using unusual flavor combinations with herb ice cubes or other flavored ice cubes. Though a commercial ice maker is ideal for preparing large quantities of ice, for restaurants who can afford to invest more time in individual customers, flavored ice cubes can improve existing beverages and to create new ones using unusual flavor combinations.
Tips for Preparing Infused Ice Cubes
Preparing flavored ice cubes requires using juice or infused water as a base. Juices with strong flavor and color, such as pomegranate or cherry juice, will be the most effective at creating a “wow” effect. Coffee, orange juice and tea can be used as base liquids for ice cubes to be served in their
For the stuffing
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted and seeded
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 leek, cut into 1/4" pieces (white part only)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 30 spinach leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 1/2-pound flank steak
For the crust
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 8 medjool dates (pitted)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tablespoons fresh grated horseradish
- 4 oz olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the stuffing
Take the bell peppers and place over an open flame until charred. Rotate it until the whole bell pepper is black. Allow the pepper to cool before removing the skin and seeds under running water. Rough chop the pepper into 1/4" chunks.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the rosemary, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Pound the steak until 1/4 inch thick. Lay out on a cutting board with the long side facing you and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the spinach leaves flat on the meat so it covers all the surface space. Place the roasted pepper mix evenly over the meat, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Roll the meat away from you into a tight cylinder, tucking in the filling as you roll.
Make the crust: Pit the dates and place in a bowl. Pour hot water over the dates to soften them (2-3 minutes. You don’t want to let it sit too long or it will kill the sweetness. Drain the water and rough chop or macerate the dates with the side of your knife. Mix the breadcrumbs, corn starch, parsley, dates, horseradish, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl until mixed thoroughly. Press the breadcrumb mixture over the top and sides. Tie the steak in four places, and make sure it’s not very tight (but will hold its shape when cooking).
Place the steak roll on a rack in a roasting pan and roast until the crust is golden and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and loosely wrap with foil. After 15 minutes carefully cut off the twine, then slice the roll crosswise into 1-inch pieces.
What is the Raw Food Diet
Many culinary enthusiasts and those who do not follow strict diets roll their eyes at the idea of the raw food diet. Those who have adopted the raw food diet usually believe that by minimizing ingredient processing, they can consume the nutrients they need from the original source (rather than secondary sources such as meat) and that by not cooking their food, they are preserving the maximum nutritional value of the ingredients, having more health benefits than vegetarian health benefits. Though the raw food diet seems to be here to stay, starting raw food restaurants may be inviting to only a very small pool of customers. However, regular restaurants can offer meals for those following a raw food diet, placing a notice on the menu to notify customers that the dish is raw. Many restaurants already follow this strategy for meals for vegetarians, but the idea can be extrapolated for any special diet including vegan, gluten-free, and the raw food diet. Vegetarian restaurants and vegan restaurants have even more incentive to offer raw food diet meals, since their customers tend to appreciate sustainable food, vegetarian health benefits, and other health-related culinary trends such as the raw food diet. Nevertheless, all venues can profit from offering a few raw dishes.
How Can Raw Food Be Prepared?
As can be deducted from the name of the raw food diet, raw food is very limited in its options for preparation. Salads and cold soups such as gazpacho are obvious options for raw food meals since chopping and pureeing are the most common forms are raw food preparation. However, many dishes in the raw food diet are prepared with food dehydrators, allowing cookies and crackers to be prepared from moist ingredients, giving them a crunch, and adding variety to the raw food diet meal options. Though the raw food diet is limited, it can still be combined with other culinary trends, such as tapas and combining sweet and salty in desserts. Dehydrated grain crackers
The number of people being diagnosed with celiac disease has risen dramatically in the past few years. Those with celiac are recommended to adopt a gluten free diet. Others have chosen the healthy gluten free lifestyle, as a way to improve diet and quality of life. The health benefits of a gluten free lifestyle for those who do not suffer from celiac, are debated. However, with the rise in the number of people going gluten free, there has been a parallel increase in the number of gluten free restaurants, gluten free flours, and gluten free products available. Pasta is one of the world’s favorite foods. But it contains gluten when made the traditional way. More and more, varieties of gluten free pasta are cropping up, making the gap between regular diets and gluten free even smaller.
Types of Gluten Free Flours in Pasta
There are many types of gluten free pasta available. Many come from Asian-inspired origins, as wheat is barely used in Oriental cuisine and pasta dishes are common. Rice noodles are probably the most common pasta replacement. These extremely fast-cooking, typically borderline translucent noodles, lend themselves best to light Asian dishes. However, brown rice noodles, since they are heavier, can be served with tomato sauce and heavier toppings.
What a Kids’ Menu Needs
Developing a menu for kids is a relatively easy task in the steps to create a menu. Food kids eat is usually relatively simple, without the complex flavors and varieties that more experienced palettes appreciate. Kids’ meals are usually repetitive from venue to venue, since the tried and proven favorites of kids are few and basic. By incorporating interesting food names that cater to children and adding healthy kid’s food to the options, businesses tailor the restaurant menu to kids, making it more likely that parents will choose to dine there, and raising their profits due to these relatively low food-cost meals. Since kids are generally impartial to fancy foods, or even dislike them, businesses can use the kids’ menu to boost the profit potential of the entire restaurant menu by having these items with lower food-costs.
Food Kids Eat
Meal ideas for kids for a restaurant menu should focus on making the most of inexpensive ingredients to create simple dishes of food kids eat. Chicken nuggets, spaghetti
Perhaps as a result of culinary knowledge and interest spreading swiftly, chefs are beginning to use more and more unusual ingredients to keep dining out interesting. From creating foreign world delicacies to using local items that would not usually be considered ingredients, unusual food items are becoming more prominent on gourmet menus. Chefs have taken cooking with spices to the next level by cooking with hay and cooking with ash to add interesting flavors to their dishes.
Cooking with Ash
Burnt foods are typically left for ruined and discarded instantly. However, chefs have begun to appreciate the bitter, smoky flavor of ash. They have started experimenting with cooking with ash in their dishes. They are now deliberately burning vegetables, with spices and herbs, in the oven, to create mixtures that will enhance the flavors of their dishes, to their liking. Ash is a surprisingly versatile ingredient, gracing everything from sauces, to cooking stocks, to coating meats and cheeses. It can be added to water for boiling vegetables or sprinkled on top of a puree for creating unusual flavor combinations to surprise diners. Chefs and cooks should be careful not to overdo it when cooking with spices, especially ash, since it has an extremely strong flavor. All spices and ash should be used as seasonings, and not a main highlight of the dish. Chefs should also ensure that the use of ash is written in the menu description of the item, as some guests may be hesitant to eat a dish that is prepared by cooking with ash, due to its carcinogenic properties. Ash is not the only far-from-mainstream ingredient that has recently made an appearance on gourmet menus.
Cooking with Hay
Cooking with hay gives dishes a unique aroma. Hay can be used as a base for smoking or roasting foods, but is not usually served with the dish. By coating a pan or pot with hay, it will begin to burn and the heat will cook the protein. It will infuse the meat, fish, or poultry with a woody flavor, inspiring chefs to use cooking with hay to impart a rustic, farm-reminiscent taste to dishes. Smoking with other types of spices and wood products has been done for years, but cooking with hay uses unusual ingredients, at their best, to create unique dishes.
Cooking with unusual ingredients is interesting to customers and restaurant employees, who will enjoy the rare flavors that can be created. Unusual ingredients such as hay and ash should usually be used in moderation, like spices and herbs, and not as the prominent ingredient in the dish. With proper preparation and use, they can add delicious and intriguing unusual flavor combinations to meals. A venue that uses unusual ingredients and creates unusual flavor combinations will be interesting to diners. By rotating the unusual ingredients used, diners will be tempted to return to sample the unique items offered on the menu, and restaurant traffic is likely to increase.
Food has the power to bring back nostalgic childhood moments and recall seasons and time periods. Putting a spin on kids’ favorite foods is sure to draw attention and interest customers. This culinary trend is spreading, and more and more venues are looking for creative ways to give diners an experience that will recall childhood times, while providing a gourmet culinary experience. Whether through incorporating cereal, peanut butter and jelly, or mac and cheese into the menu, kids menu items replayed for adult tastes, can be a huge success.
Ideas for Maturing Kids Meals
The best way to create ideas of gourmet foods based on childhood favorites is to select a food kids eat, and begin brainstorming variations and twists that can be applied to the dish. The most obvious way to automatically increase the target age group for any dish is to add alcohol or heat. Bourbon mac and cheese, or spicy deep fried chicken are similar to kids meals staples, but would probably not appeal to kids, while sounding delicious to adults.
Dessert is probably the easiest course to play around with. Even a dish as simple as chocolate chip cookies served with chocolate-liquer milk, can be presented as a high quality dish, especially if a scoop of homemade vanilla (or another flavor) ice cream is added.