Going Gluten-Free – Restaurant Equipment for a Menu of Favorites

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Have you ever been faced with a need to fill gluten-free requirements, but don’t know how to meet those needs with your restaurant equipment?  This week we offer some valuable tips about what gluten-free really means and how to incorporate it into your menus.

About Gluten-Sensitivity
Gluten is a protein composite (made up of two other proteins) found in foods processed from wheat and other grain-related species like barley and rye.  There are different levels of gluten sensitivity.  Those with only mild gluten sensitivities might be able to eat some things those with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that causes, among other things, a complete intolerance to gluten) can not.  For example, be extremely careful about cross-contamination!  If foods are cooked in the same restaurant equipment that was used to bake, cook, stir-fry, or dice a food with gluten in it, those with high gluten-sensitivity will be affected.  Likewise, a food that is technically gluten-free may sport a label that says “Processed in a facility that also handles wheat.”   You can’t tout your menu as truly “gluten-free” if you aren’t careful about exactly what goes into your dish.

Cooking with Restaurant Equipment Sans-Gluten
Before you plan a gluten-free menu, look up as complete a list as you can find of foods with gluten in them.  You might be surprised what makes the cut!  Favorite, seemingly harmless foods like soy sauce, certain lunchmeats, bouillon cubes, and salad dressings can all contain gluten or be contaminated by gluten.

Then, rather than focusing on the things that are not available to your restaurant equipment for a gluten-free menu, think about the things that are.  All kinds of meats, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and a myriad of spices can be incorporated into a gluten-free menu.  There are also, of course, many replacements for gluten-laden ingredients; corn, flax, buckwheat, soy, rice, and almond flour can all serve as suitable substitutes in plenty of recipes.

Gluten-Free Recipes for Restaurant Equipment
Searching for some ideas to add to a gluten-free menu in your restaurant?  Try these recipes out on your restaurant equipment.

Gluten-Free Brownies

These brownies from Jesika Rose of jesicakes.blogspot.com are moist and chewy, and are made incredibly decadent by the inclusion of dark chocolate and almond flour.  Add some mix-ins to make this brownie recipe your own.  Chocolate chips, peanut butter, and pecans can all add a twist to these brownies.

Broccoli Divan

Faith of anediblemosaic.com created a broccoli divan recipe that is vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free.  It relies on no meat substitutes and relies instead on seasonings, almond meal, and vegetables.  This dish, which is normally made with chicken, becomes a flavorful alternative.

Pistachio-Encrusted Salmon with Edamame Mash

Shauna James Ahern of glutenfreegirl.com has created a pistachio-encrusted salmon with edamame mash that is surprisingly sparse in its ingredients and takes very little time to make.  Shauna says you can replace the pistachios with another nut, or the fish with a different firm fish depending on your preference.  Give it a try and see what new creations you can come up with!

Perfect Super Bowl Chili Recipes for Gen2 Ranges

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Though it is delicious in any weather, chili is especially delectable when cold weather hits.  And, more importantly, it is a Super Bowl snack staple.  As Gen2 ranges heat up to bring you this football-watchers’ favorite, we want to introduce you to some variations of chili recipes for your Gen2 ranges from across the country.  Chili or “chili con carne” is a stew that is made, at its most basic, with meat, tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic, onions, cumin, and a variety of other spices.  Whether you are a Ravens supporter or a 49ers fan, you’ll appreciate these tasty additions to your Super Bowl food menu, so grab a spoon and fire up your Gen2 ranges to simmer a batch of your very own chili for the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Cajun Chili
This one chili recipe is in honor of this year’s Super Bowl host city: New Orleans.  The unique taste of this chili lies in the addition of a special combination of spices to create a Creole seasoning, plus the Andouille sausage.  Andouille sausage is a spicy favorite well-known for its use in Cajun cooking, made of heavily-smoked and spiced pork sausage.  Follow this recipe, set your Gen2 range’s burner to medium-low, let this chili simmer for at least 30 minutes, and then serve it up hot.

Texas Chili
Most Texans say that beans have no place in their chili.  In fact, this contention has been a topic of debate between northerners and southerners.  The inclusion of tomatoes and tomato sauce also faces the same debate.  However you choose to prepare your own batch of “Texas red” (referring specifically to chili with meat and no beans), be sure to let it simmer for a few hours on your Gen2 range’s top.  The longer it cooks, the better its flavor.

Chili Mac
This Midwestern favorite relies on an extra ingredient for the dish: spaghetti.  Cook a batch of spaghetti or macaroni noodles on your Gen2 range’s top, then ladle out a serving.  Chili mac consists of your basic chili recipe, so spoon some over the noodles, then top with shredded cheese and diced onions.  Perfect for a Midwestern winter!

Boston Seafood Chili
This chili variation eliminates the beef component altogether, focusing instead on a variety of ingredients from the sea.  Mussels, shrimp, bay scallops, and squid make up the heartiest part of this chili, while relying heavily on a combination of vegetables to complete the texture of the dish.

Frito Pie
This dish is popular in the Southwest, and, contrary to its name, bears no resemblance whatsoever to pie.  “Frito pie” is a single-serving bag of Fritos corn chips, topped with a cup of chili, and finished off with shredded cheese, diced onions, jalapeños, and sour cream.

Vegetables for Southern Fryers

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

It’s no secret that in the South, food is top priority, and that fried food is a favorite in Southern kitchens.  Fryers are an important addition to any Southern restaurant, as there are so many fried foods that are part of the Southern cooking tradition.  County fairs are famous for filling their fryers with such strange things as s’mores and cotton candy, and “chicken-fried steak” is something that has confused many a Northerner on at least one occasion.  Fried vegetables are ubiquitous on Southern menus, and there are many options for veggies to throw in the fryers.  The batter for vegetables in those fryers is fairly uniform, often consisting of an eggwash or buttermilk dip, coated with a flour or cornmeal mixture and some spices.  Her are a few of our favorite Southern deep-fried vegetables which are sure to keep your fryers full.

Fried Pickles
Battered pickles fresh out of the kitchen fryers are a Southern staple.  Almost any Southern barbecue menu will list fried pickles as an optional side, and some even include them on their burgers!  Many chain restaurants have them on their appetizer menus as well for variety.  There are two types of fried pickles: chips and wedges.  Chips are small, round, and thin, as they come from slicking the pickle crosswise.  Cutting the pickle lengthwise fewer times produces wedges, making for a juicier result.  Fried pickles are often served with blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing, or a similarly creamy sauce.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Made famous by the 1991 film of the same name, fried green tomatoes can be eaten as a side dish, or for breakfast or brunch!  They are a great way to use up end-of-season tomatoes.  Just thinly slice the green tomatoes, then dip them in seasoned cornmeal and fry until crispy.

Fried Okra
Okra is a vegetable that is a fryer’s delight.  The okra plant itself is actually a flowering plant, but its edible seed pods are what make it so deliciously famous.  To make fried okra, slice the pod crosswise so that each piece of okra is bite-sized.  The okra is then coated with a mixture of buttermilk, cornmeal, flour, and seasoning, and deep-fried.  Serve them with ketchup or hot sauce, or by themselves!

Unusual Desserts to Make with Restaurant Equipment

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

One of the most important things to do when preparing a menu is to keep your guests guessing, so consider dispensing with the usual ice creams or plain cheesecake.  Whether you are using your restaurant equipment to fry, grill, or bake your desserts, if you keep an open mind you can create unique menus year-round.  Below we’ve compiled a collection of unusual desserts for your restaurant equipment.

Fried Cookie Dough Bites
With restaurant equipment like Gen2 fryers, you can create sinfully fried delights.  One of our fried dessert ideas is fried cookie dough.  These little balls of sweetness satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth.  Whatever you choose to coat your cookie dough bites with, be sure that it is extra crunchy.  (We recommend funnel cake batter and cornflakes.)  The contrast between the crunch of the shell and the warm, gooey dough on the inside is sublime.  Thanks to their richness, you only need to serve a few at a time.

Grilled Peaches
This dessert is simple and delicious.  Grilled peaches are a perfect summer treat.  Simply halve and pit the peaches, brush them with canola or grapeseed oil, and grill on your restaurant equipment grill until tender.  You can serve them alone, drizzled with honey, or with a side of yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream for a little cooling contrast.

Fried Flowers
Though fried flowers are a seasonal dish, they made a unique addition to a menu.  Squash blossoms, orchids, roses, zucchini blossoms, and acacia are all popular flowers to fry, and the resulting dish has a delicate flavor.  To keep your flowers light, make sure that after you dip the flowers in batter that you shake off any excess to keep from masking the flavor.  Likewise, your oil should be sizzling but not smoking, otherwise the flowers may absorb too much oil.

Beetroot and Chocolate Cake
It may sound odd, but the addition of beetroot to a traditional chocolate cake creates a kick of sweetness that counters the bittersweet chocolate.  Adding crushed beets to a cake also has many other benefits: they moisten the cake, add a rich red tint, and retain some of their nutritional value.  There are also vegan versions of this cake recipe, which are useful for offering customers an alternative unusual dessert option.

Dessert Wontons
Wonton wrappers aren’t just for savory edibles anymore.  Use your restaurant equipment to fry up wontons stuffed with sweet things.  Any number of combinations is acceptable.  Try bananas and Nutella; a rhubard pie-like filling; peanut butter and jelly; walnuts, pears, and vanilla; raspberry jam and cream cheese; or peaches, pecans, and mascarpone cheese.  These hot, crispy treats make a great winter dessert.

Gen2 Griddles Make Any Meal

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Griddles have long been a staple in kitchens from the Deep South to the Northeast.  While cooking on a griddle originally consisted of using a flat stone or brick slab, today’s are of course more advanced, more precise, and deliver reliable results.  Gen 2 griddles, for example, consist of evenly-spaced burners on a gas griddle that is manually controlled.  Gen2 griddles are great for cooking foods of all kinds, and make it easy to serve customers quick and delicious meals around the clock.  Here are a few of our favorite griddle recipes to make on Gen2 griddles.

Old-Fashion Buttermilk Pancakes
Griddle-cooked pancakes are a Southern classic.  Southerners have cooked up just about everything on a griddle, but pancakes are among the most classic Southern breakfasts.  The trick to the best old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes is, of course, to use real buttermilk.  True Southern pancakes often have lard or shortening in them, so if you want to err on the side of healthiness, there are several ingredients you can substitute.  Butter or margarine will work, but be sure to add 2 tablespoons to every cup of lard or shortening a recipe calls for.  Applesauce or prune puree are also suitable substitutes for lard or shortening.  For every cup of lard or shortening, use ½ cup of puree.  The rest are your basic pancake ingredients, so pick your favorite and fire up your Gen2 griddles.

Philly Cheesesteaks
This famous Pennsylvanian classic is made from vegetables and thinly-sliced pieces of steak, cooked on a griddle and served on a long roll with cheese.  There is much debate as to the composition of a “true” Philly cheesesteak, so choose your version carefully.  If you are not too reverent of the sacred cheesesteak, mix it up a little for those customers who prefer chicken, and offer them a chicken cheesesteak.  Loyal Philadelphians might scoff, but those looking for an alternative will thank you for the leaner suggestion.

Gourmet Burger
The hamburger is by far the most well-known component of the American fast-food meal.  However, it is easy to elevate a simple burger with a few tweaks.  Choose a theme and craft a burger to match, and you’ll have an original hit.  Looking for a little barbeque?  Hickory BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and bacon complete the burger.  Going lighter?  A patty made of shredded chicken and sundried tomatoes cooks well on Gen2 griddles.  A spicy burger might be your basic beef topped with poblano peppers and chipotle mayo.  Get creative with your condiments, and you’ll make an entrée not soon forgotten.

4 Winter Drinks to Simmer on Your Ranges

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Having winter drinks on our ranges at home is one of the best things about wintertime, and it’s no different in restaurants.  As kids we enjoyed seeing how many miniature marshmallows we could fit into a mug of hot cocoa.  We sipped at non-alcoholic eggnog, then wondered why anyone would want to sip at eggnog.  The smell of cider filling the house meant that the holidays were fast-approaching.  The fact is, warm beverages are a tried-and-true part of the winter months.

The nature of holiday libations ranges from rich, creamy refreshments to punches that are easy on juice and heavy on wine.  More often than not, the idea behind warm winter drinks is to throw all the ingredients into a saucepan, then let them simmer until ready to serve.  They are great to have readily available, because once they require no upkeep, as long as you keep them warm.  Here are four of the best winter drinks to please your guests.

1. Wassail (Non-Alcoholic)
This kid-friendly version of the traditional hot beverage will warm children and adults alike.  Its name comes from the Old English phrase “waes hael,” which means “be you healthy,” and was involved in an old drinking ritual that ensured a good harvest.  Today’s wassail is a more of a variation of mulled cider.  It usually combines several fruit juices cooked with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and sometimes allspice and ginger.  The result is a fragrant, flavorful punch.

2. Hot Chocolate
This winter drink is a classic.  However, there are many, many ways to put a new spin on hot chocolate.  Belgian hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, hot chocolate Agasajo-style, and even peanut butter hot chocolate are all options.  Give your hot cocoa a kick with ancho chile and cinnamon, add a dollop of marshmallow fluff, or drizzle with some ever-trendy salted caramel.  Whatever you do, make sure you top it with real whipped cream and serve with biscotti, cookies, or toast.

3. Mulled Cider
Mulled cider is one of the timeless, great holiday drinks.  To make it, combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves, an anise star, and some thinly sliced oranges for a citrusy kick.  Let it simmer on one of your ranges for as long as you would like; the longer it simmers, the more flavor it has!  (Besides which, no one likes cold cider.)

4. Hot Spiced Ginger Lemonade
It turns out that lemonade is no longer limited to summertime.  Although it sounds an unlikely candidate for a winter beverage, it’s actually perfect for cold winter days.  It generally requires the same spices as a wassail, but uses lemonade instead of fruit juices.  The result is a lighter-tasting version, and a great way to surprise guests with the unexpected.

No matter how you choose to fill your menu or your ranges, be sure to be creative with your holiday drink recipes.  Your unique drinks will keep guests coming back for more!

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