2014 has seen a significant increase in food prices so far, affecting both the home consumer and food businesses. Drought in California has affected farmers as well as cattle herders, leading to food prices rising across the country. Raising cattle has become more expensive as water and grain prices rise. The higher prices of raising cattle have made it extremely difficult to buy meat at the price it once was. A recent article from CNN claims that beef prices have risen 56% since 2010. Such drastic changes in the numbers have a direct effect on food businesses, who must respond by finding beef alternatives or raising prices. Quite a few businesses have already found creative solutions designed to keep profits up, while keeping customers satisfied.
Balancing Beef Options on Restaurant Menus
The most obvious solution to the rising beef price per pound is to replace some of the beef options on restaurant menus. Since beef is a consumer staple, restaurants should be wary about completely eliminating it from the menu. However, adding more alternative protein options such as vegetarian entrées, or other meats such as chicken, can lower the overall menu food costs. Reducing portion sizes of beef dishes is another cost-shaving option. However, in this case, businesses must ensure that customers are not disappointed with smaller amounts of food on the plate. Adding creative, gourmet, homemade side dishes containing more affordable ingredients can fill in the gap where extra beef had been. For example,
Menu innovation is the best way to improve the reputation of a venue, keep cooks interested in their jobs, and create restaurant menu ideas that will become the next bestsellers. Whether inspired by the latest culinary trends, or unusual flavor combinations, unique flavors on restaurant menus are daring additions which can lead to high rewards. Food business owners must have full confidence in their kitchen staff in order to allow them to freely go with their creative cooking ideas. However, by seasonally drafting new restaurant menus inspired by fresh produce, with unique flavors and food presentation in mind, businesses can create interesting meals that will make their venue stand out.
Finding Creative Cooking Ideas
Inspiration for restaurant menu ideas can come from a variety of sources. Putting twists on culinary trends, creating unusual flavor combinations from local ingredients, and reinventing ideas learned from other chefs, can create roots for dishes that can be improved and developed into bestselling menu items. The most unique restaurants around the world are famous either for their restaurant concept or innovative menus, proving the importance of investing time and energy into planning the best menu possible. Of course, businesses know the typical dishes that are popular in their
Sourdough starter is the key to how to make sourdough bread. The sour flavor of sourdough bread varies from bakery to bakery, thanks to the starter. Making sourdough starter takes little time commitment and has the potential to expand the fresh baked section of a restaurant or bakery with interesting flavors, unique to the venue. The flavor of the starter will depend on the environment in which the business is found, as well as the sourdough starter recipe. Though some bread baking enthusiasts are disappointed, at first, by the flavor of fresh baked bread made with their sourdough starter, by experimenting with different sourdough starter recipes and storage conditions, most can create delicious bread.
The Right Sourdough Starter Recipe
The right sourdough starter recipe will depend on the taste preferences of cooks and customers and environment of the place it is being prepared. Sometimes it can take a lot of experimentation for a cook to come up with his/her ideal sourdough starter recipe. A sourdough starter recipe always includes flour and water as the basic ingredients. Flour and water, and even air, can be sources of yeast for starters. Starters rise because of the presence of yeast, microorganisms which break down the flour as a source of energy and produce carbon dioxide which causes dough and starters to rise, along with lactic and acetic acid which give the dough its
Pesto sauce and caprese salad are probably the foods that come to mind most often when one thinks of basil. However, the applications for basil leaves in the kitchen are unlimited. Basil can be easily grown in a restaurant garden and added to dishes to provide unusual flavor combinations and health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, essential minerals such as iron and manganese, and plenty of antioxidant compounds. Like most herbs, it is also low in calories and fat, making it attractive to health-conscious diners. Aside from the health benefits of basil, it’s relatively easy to grow as well, boosting the restaurant garden as well as the menu.
Growing a Basil Plant
Growing herbs can be challenging and time consuming, depending on the size of the restaurant garden and the types of herbs being grown. However, the basil plant is relatively resistant to weather and watering conditions, making it easier to grow than many other types of herbs. Additionally, since it repels bugs, it can greatly improve the customer dining experience during outdoor dining. Some flowers, herbs, and trees attract insects. This not only makes the restaurant garden dining experience less pleasant, but also makes growing herbs and other plants aesthetically, very difficult. Growing basil can help repel insects in the area, making it easier for other plants to grow in the garden as well. However, under ideal environmental conditions, basil can grow like a weed. Therefore, it is recommended to grow it in pots or in an area where it is unlikely to damage other herbs. A basil plant in the restaurant garden can provide a constant, fresh supply of the herb for use in restaurant dishes.<!–more–>
How to Use Basil Leaves in the Kitchen
Cooking with herbs is one of the easiest ways to created unusual flavor combinations in the kitchen. Basil is obviously a great base ingredient for pesto and salads, but can also be used in soups, drinks, pastas, and desserts. Peach-basil sangria can be a refreshing alternative to the staple during the summer. Strawberry, sweet balsamic, basil tarts and lemon-basil sorbet can be great hot weather desserts. Basil leaves can even be ground with olive oil, left to sit for a few days, and then strained, creating basil-infused oil with a bright green color that is perfect for garnishing. Chefs and cooks can develop creative, usual flavor combinations when it comes to cooking with herbs, and basil leaves are an ideal option.
Basil leaves are an excellent culinary tool for adding unique flavors to menus. Growing basil plants is relatively simple and can boost the outdoor dining experience for diners by helping to repel insects.
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.
Fats are important to health, as well as food preparation. Fats help give diners a feeling of satiety and contribute to cellular functions and vitamin absorption in the body, making them critical despite the bad rep they have received from dieters over the years. In food preparation, fats are used for inducing browning, creating emulsions, developing textures, and adding flavor. Fats, or lipids, are a group of molecules in which most types of cooking oil and cooking fat are included.
The Chemistry of Cooking Fat and Oil
Cooking oils and fats are made up of molecules containing chains of fatty acids. Saturated fats are fats that have no double bonds within the fatty acid chains. This causes the chains to be relatively straight and able to stack on top of each other, creating a solid structure, as seen in butter and other cooking fats from animal origins, at room temperature. Unsaturated fats contain double bonds within the fatty acid chains, which bend the molecular structures and allow fluidity or freedom of movement between the chains, as seen in many plant fats, or oils. Though double bonds and fat fluidity are associated with healthier fats, they also make the molecules more susceptible to oxidation and smoking when overheated both undesirable processes in the commercial kitchen and in terms of health.
The lengths of the fatty acid chains affect the properties of the fat as well. Shorter chains are more likely to be liquid at room temperature, while longer chains tend to be solid. Longer chains are also less soluble in water, the effects of which are seen with separation of oil from other ingredients in foods such as salad dressing and in the process of clarifying
How to prevent bacteria in the kitchen is an issue that concerns every cook, whether at home or in a commercial kitchen. Bacteria have become infamous for causing food spoilage and sicknesses, but they’re not all bad. There are millions of species of bacteria, and though some of them can cause illness, and even death, others are used in the cosmetic, biotechnology, high tech, environmental, and petroleum industries for various purposes. Yogurt, cheese, wine, beer, and many other foods, could not be prepared without the help of specific types of bacteria. In a commercial kitchen, however, restaurant staff should create a restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist to prevent the spread and growth of unwanted and damaging bacteria.
Strategies for How to Prevent Bacteria
Microbial growth usually slows in cold temperatures. Therefore, keeping foods in refrigerators and freezers can help slow the spoilage process. Most chefs know that it is not recommended to refreeze thawed food, especially meats, poultry, and fish. Though this piece of advice helps prevent texture deterioration, the main reason for not refreezing thawed foods is that when food is defrosted, bacteria on it and in it are given good conditions to grow, with a food source and comfortable temperatures. If the food is then refrozen and re-thawed, those bacteria that grew the first time around are given a chance to multiply, increasing the bacterial count in the food, and increasing the chances of spoilage and harmful side effects or sickness as a result of eating the food.
Bacteria in food can spread to surfaces that come into contact with it, including cutting boards, knives, workers’ hands, and counters. Therefore, keeping the restaurant kitchen clean and organized is of the utmost importance. Commercial kitchen appliances and all kitchen equipment should be washed frequently with hot, soapy water. Restaurant staff should frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap, especially after handling raw ingredients and before handling cooked or ready to serve foods. Some bacteria, when faced with tough conditions such as heat, can develop spores. Spores are dormant forms of bacteria that can survive extreme conditions and cleaning processes. Though spores themselves aren’t harmful, when placed in a compatible environment once again, spores can develop into bacteria which can lead to food spoilage or sickness. Cleaning kitchen equipment and
Foraging is undoubtedly an interesting way to make the most of local produce. With modern-day concern over genetically modified produce, the spotlight on oversized vegetables, heavy with water and low on flavor, has caused many culinary enthusiasts to doubt the quality of supermarket produce from industrial farms. Chefs of top restaurants, such as René Redzepi of Noma, use foraging as a means of getting the freshest and most authentic local produce possible. Foraging has opened up a world of spices, herbs, and wild edibles overlooked by industrial farms and unavailable in stores. Beach peas, Indian cucumber, colorful mushrooms in various shapes and sizes, wild asparagus, berries, herbs such as mint, tarragon, and chives, and even hay, edible flowers, and fish are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fresh ingredients that can be found while foraging for food. Despite the concentrated flavor and incomparably fresh produce that can be found in wild edibles, foraging is not right for all restaurant menus.
Is Foraging for Food Right for Your Restaurant Menus?
Foraging for food is a time consuming and sometimes dangerous business, which can be extremely rewarding for certain venues. Restaurant menus that rely on edible wild plants are likely to change every week, since foraging for food can bring surprising finds to the kitchen, but inconsistently. Another factor to consider is the time investment of foraging for food. Searching for and gathering wild edibles requires time and patience, but so does learning the trade. Before starting to forage, chefs, or any individual for that matter, will have to take the time to study the area and its plants thoroughly, making contact with local experts in order to receive advice about wild edibles. Foraging without proper knowledge of plants is a dangerous business. Edible mushrooms and berries are notorious for having wild, poison relatives, yet the list of poison plants spreads to wild peas and herbs as well. By gathering knowledge of local produce, conversing with local professionals familiar with the regional plants, and always being extremely cautious, foragers
Indian food belongs on menus beyond Indian restaurants. The use of spices such as cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger benefits both the taste and health properties of Indian food recipes. Dishes such as Chicken Tikka and Steamed Rice with Curry can easily be incorporated into fast casual venues, high-class restaurants, and every type of venue in between. In addition to delicious dishes, the Indian culinary culture embraces vegetarianism and therefore the ethnic food of the region provides many vegetarian meal ideas and Indian vegetarian recipes. Many of these dishes can be easily altered to be relatively healthy, especially since there is a heavy focus of vegetables and herbs.
Those that cannot be made healthy without losing their charm, such
as fried samosas, hold their own as delicious dishes on restaurant menus.
Indian Vegetarian Recipes
Hindu is a major religion in India. Some sects of the religion practice vegetarianism, a custom which has made its way into much of ethnic food of Indian culture. Indian vegetarian recipes therefore provide food businesses with ready-made vegetarian meal ideas. The rich spices and seasonings that are used in many Indian food recipes make it easy to spice up vegetarian and vegan dishes, persuading even meat-eating customers to order the dishes. The heavy use of spices also gives many Indian dishes health
Artificial sweeteners have taken the place of sugar as we know it in sodas, baked goods, yogurts, coffee drinks, and more. As of May, the obesity rate in the United States was estimated to be about 27.7%. The use of artificial sweeteners is hoped to help reduce sugar intake and hopefully lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Today, with nutrition facts becoming a more central focus on restaurant menus, food businesses may be tempted into experimenting with these sugar substitutes, swapping them in place of sugar in salad dressings, dipping sauces, and other foods. However, customers interested in following a sugar free diet are not usually customers looking for healthy restaurant eating in general. Customers practicing healthy restaurant eating habits may actually be less inclined to order dishes with sugar alternatives, due to studies and suspicions that have given artificial sweeteners bad reputations. And though the nutrition facts may look attractive by using sugar alternatives, businesses should keep in mind the negative effects that artificial sweeteners can have on health and taste.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad or Good?
Aside from their undeniable popularity in sugar packet holders, artificial sweeteners have yet to widely grace restaurants and restaurant menus. Big coffee shop and bakery chains do offer some sugar free options, but most venues have yet to catch on. Frankly, sugar alternatives’ aftertastes and lack of ability to caramelize, make them come short for the culinary world. Sugar does more for the culinary world than just effect taste. It also helps the chemical processes in the kitchen. It helps yeast produce carbon dioxide to make dough rise, thickens jams, and caramelizes, among other things. Sugar alternatives do not participate in these cooking processes the way sugar does. Therefore, before the biological impacts of sugar alternatives on health and taste are considered, these culinary implications of sugar alternatives should be acknowledged.
Synthetic sugar alternatives, such as saccharin and aspartame, are created to sit on the taste bud receptors that sense sweet tastes. Yet the majority of these sugar alternatives are much sweeter than sugar, ranging from one to 8,000