2013 has been proclaimed the Year of the Toasted Breads! Why, you may ask? Part of the upswing the popularity of toasted breads (and consequently, commercial toasters) has to do with a rising popularity in snacks and tapas featured more prominently on menus. Stemming from a desire to appeal to a restaurant-going population that wishes to remain economical when dining out, more restaurants have begun incorporating “bar food”, snacks, and tapas into their all-day menus, often for prices under $5.
So, what kinds of dishes incorporate toasted bread that you can make using commercial toasters? A whole variety, as it turns out. You are hardly limited to a basic slice of toast. There are toasted bread samplers, which allow you to utilize your commercial toasters and explore the different textures and tastes of various breads while pairing them with different spreads or toppings. Similarly, the “bread board” is gaining popularity as well, which includes not only toasted sliced breads, but also rolls and crostinis as well. These may be offered as appetizers or as bar food-style snacks to share.
As with any trend, the important thing to do when tapping into a new food style is to separate your dishes from the growing fad by utilizing unique flavors and new ideas. The beauty of the toasted bread sampler is that it allows a restaurant to put its own spin on the dish, customizing it to the overall theme of the restaurant’s food. The toppings you choose may be as tame and sweet as a flavorful house-made jam or spiced butter, or as filling and savory as slices of beef tartare or cured salmon. However you choose to use your commercial toasters to make toasted breads this year, be sure that you can contribute something new to the trend. Furthermore, it may be wise to change out the ingredients you pair with your breads from your commercial toasters from time to time. This variety will bring patrons back to try your new menu items, turning a fad into an innovation for your restaurant.
To find the right commercial toasters for your restaurant’s needs, check out ShortOrder’s restaurant equipment today and begin experimenting with toasted breads in your own commercial toasters!
Many restaurants are looking for ways to set their business apart from the rest. This week we can help you change what goes on your ranges for cooking by investigating the popularity of the locavore movement. A unique approach to buying, preparing, and serving food, the locavore philosophy can be a way to improve your relationship with both the surrounding community and with your customers.
About the Locavore Philosophy
The term “locavore” refers to a person who is committed to eating local foods. What constitutes “local” can vary depending on who you ask to define “locavore”; it can mean keeping to foods within a 100-mile radius of your home to keep within an entire city or region of your state. The type of food available to locavores ranges from eggs from local farms and vegetables from farmers’ markets to local honey sold at a grocery store.
Why Go Locavore?
Choosing to stick to the locavore philosophy may have some drawbacks for businesses, but the benefits are great as well. The most obvious benefit of eating locally is that you and your customers know where your food comes from and what is in it. The resulting menu for your ranges, then, consists of fresher foods, opportunities for seasonal dishes, and a greater variety of foods to cook on your ranges. Patronizing local growers and vendors also puts money directly back into the local economy, avoiding the need to exact a chunk of profit for a middleman in the production or shipping process.
How to Buy and Eat Locally
Raw fruits and vegetables are main contenders in a locavore’s starting menu, but it is equally possible to find local poultry, eggs, dairy, and meats. And this philosophy doesn’t just apply to raw ingredients! The type of food you can get from local vendors ranges from the simple to the fully-finished. Locally-made jams, coffee, baked goods, paper products, and even beer can be incorporated into your restaurant’s repertoire.
How to Alter Your Menu
You may not be able to turn your whole menu into a locavore’s feast—and that’s fine! Instead, try swapping out 5 major ingredients for foods that you can easily obtain locally and use on your ranges and in your ovens. Alternately, you could choose to make 2 or 3 dishes for your ranges that you can tout as completely locavore-friendly. You should also advertise your vendors on your menu, even if only by way of a small list on its back. This lets your patrons know exactly where their food is coming from—and isn’t that the point of going local? Plus, it will help you strengthen your relationship with your vendors, who will appreciate the publicity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Serving vegetarians doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or creativity. Char Broilers are an excellent way to get that open-flame taste without ever needing an outdoor grill. There are many types of char broilers to choose from and by many popular brands like Bakers Pride, Vulcan, and Gen2. Use char broilers to go for a unique approach to your vegetarian menu items, and you’ll end up with a bevy of foods that are both delicious and vegetarian-friendly.
Herbs and spices can boost the flavor of any vegetarian meal. Baba ghanoush is a classic Levantine dish that features charbroiled, charred eggplant, which is then pulped and pureed, and with added spices becomes a wonderful spread for an appetizer. Chargrilled corn-on-the-cob makes for an excellent addition to a Southern or Southwestern meal; add a dusting of Cajun seasoning or garlic powder to give it a unique kick. Or, marinate a variety of charbroiled vegetables like zucchini, eggplants, leeks, and yellow pepper in a combination of olive oil, garlic, and basil, salt, pepper, and vinegar, and you’ll find that you have a vegetable medley that serves well as an antipasti plate or a complement to a main dish.
But don’t limit yourself to just side dishes. When it comes to vegetarian dishes, there are so many types of veggie burger to be had in the vegetarian world these days. Don’t limit yourself to hamburger-tasting soy or tofu substitutes. The spicy black bean burger; Italian-inspired veggie burger with basil, tomato, and cheese; falafel burgers with tzatziki sauce; lemon-basil tofu burgers; and of course the staple portobello are all vegetarian substitutes which are not only tasty, but offer variety in a world that doesn’t necessarily always cater to vegetarians.
With char broilers you can get that made-on-the-backyard-grill flavor without leaving the kitchen. Who knows? You may find that even some die-hard carnivores fall for the deliciousness of a vegetarian dish.
Whether you are catering to the whole family clan or a big group of friends, the right restaurant equipment can help make Thanksgiving food preparation faster, leaving you with more time at the table. When cooking for large numbers, efficiency is the name of the game. Mixers, combination ovens, and even Gen2 fryers can make life in the kitchen easier. Here are some things to consider when putting together your own delicious Thanksgiving feast:
Start cooking your turkey first so it is guaranteed to be finished by the time everyone is settled at the table. There is nothing worse than a table (or two, or three) full of guests and no main course.
If you decided to deep fry your turkey, be absolutely sure it is completely thawed. It will probably take 3 to 4 days in a refrigerator to take a turkey from totally frozen to fully thawed and ready for the fryer. If you’re not sure it’s thawed… wait some more. Trying to fry a frozen turkey results in splattering oil that can cause a major fire if it comes into contact with a flame.
Be sure to consider your guests’ food preferences and allergies. Nuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, and certain fruits are some common food allergies to be wary of. Also, be careful to keep any allergy-friendly dishes apart from each other on your restaurant equipment. Clean surfaces and containers thoroughly that may have been contaminated by the allergens. Additionally, the kids’ table may be pretty picky, so in addition to your famous spicy Andouille sausage dressing have some kid-friendly sides on hand, too.
Be creative! Think outside the box when it comes to your Thanksgiving meal. Roast your sweet potatoes with lime and ginger, make a pumpkin coconut tart instead of traditional pumpkin pie, add a little curry to your macaroni and cheese, bake some garlic and sun-dried tomato corn muffins… the possibilities are endless.
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