Friday, November 28, 2008

Gingersnap Crusted Lamb Loin Medallions With Brandied Fig Sauce

Catherine Wilkinson's Gingersnap Crusted Lamb Loin Medallions with Brandied Fig Sauce quickly rose to the top of the "Best American Lamb Family Recipe Contest" for its seasonal inspiration, originality and savvy use of a budget-friendly American Lamb cut. Hailing from Dewey, Arizona, Catherine's winning American Lamb recipe is a family favorite that has been served for many holiday meals in her home.

Enjoyed by the whole family, Catherine's impressive American Lamb dish is easy enough to prepare that she has time to spend with family and friends. When her grown children come home for the holidays the "always ask for the Gingersnap Lamb" and still participate in crushing the gingersnaps in the recipe, a tradition since they were young. Catherine and her family all agree, the Gingersnap Crusted Lamb Loin Medallions with Brandied Fig Sauce is"definitely part of our family traditions during the holidays."

As the competition winner Catherine will receive a Cast Iron Cookware Set made by American Lambassador Chef Tim Love and an American Lamb cut of choice to serve a family of 6.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thanksgiving Story

The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious persecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered. After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children's education and morality.

So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for their working for their backers for 7 years.

On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others ,whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."

The long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days. Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th.

The long trip led to many disagreements between the "Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted a meeting was held and an agreement was worked out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed equality and unified the two groups. They joined together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."

Although they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter.

On March 16, 1621 , what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).

His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England and Spain. It was in England where he had learned English.

Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.

The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.

The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited Squanto and the other Indians to join them in their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.

The following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food.

The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Cooking for Solutions

Alton Brown of Food Network fame will make a return trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions in May, joined by renowned chef Thomas Keller as top honorees.

Terry Teplitzky At 2008 Cooking For Solutions

Keller owns the Michelin three-star restaurant The French Laundry in Yountville and is considered one of the most respected and honored chefs in the country. He will receive the Conservation Leadership Award — Chef of the Year at the eighth annual celebration. All proceeds support the nonprofit aquarium's Seafood Watch program, which has worked for the past decade to help transform the seafood market in ways that preserve healthy ecosystems and sustain ocean wildlife.

Brown and Keller especially have demonstrated leadership in promoting food practices that protect the health of the ocean and the soil. They will join other celebrated chefs to create gourmet dishes, host food and wine adventures, and offer cooking demonstrations that feature sustainable seafood and organic ingredients.

Tickets go on sale Jan. 19; Jan. 5 for aquarium members. Information: 866-963-9645 or

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sustainable disposables, coffee products added

U.S. Foodservice (USF), Rosemont, Ill., has announced two new additions to its line of sustainable products, both made available through the No. 2 distributor’s exclusive brands division, Monarch Foods.

Monogram Sustain™ is described as a line of 19 eco-conscious disposable products, including cups, plates and takeout. The initial line will utilize corn-based Polylactic Acid (PLA) and sugarcane-based bagasse fiber. All products in the line are biodegradable and can be composted by operators who have established composting programs.

In addition, USF’s Rituals® Estate coffee brand has added five new blends made from beans grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC) farms. The new blends include Café Venezia, Columbian Supreme Gold, Costa Rican, Guatemalan Antigua, and Sumatra Mandehling. Coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms carries and independent seal of approval to ensure it has been produced in compliance with sustainability guidelines that protect the environment, wildlife, workers and local communities.

Technomic: USF seems to be leading the charge for green products. It’s a win-win bandwagon to jump on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beef Inspection and Quality Grades

The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 made inspection mandatory for all meat that crossed state lines.

In 1967 The Wholesome Meat Act required that inspection of meat sold within a state meet inspection requirements at least as stringent as those of the federal system. Meat inspection is not synonymous with meat grading. Meat inspection provides assurances that meat is wholesome and accurately labeled. All meat that is sold must by law be inspected. Everyone pays for meat inspection through taxes.

Beef grading is optional and is paid for by meat packers and processors and ultimately by the consumer, in the price of beef. Beef is graded for quality by USDA graders according to standards established by the USDA.

Beef quality grades indicate palatability. While there are eight quality grades for beef, the three usually found at retail are Prime, Choice, and Select. Of all the beef carcasses offered for quality grading in the U.S.,

2% are graded U.S. Prime
44% U.S. Choice
27% U.S. Select
27% No Roll*

*No Roll carcasses are not quality graded and can be as good as any of the other grades at any time.

Quality grades are determined by estimating the age of the animal, the amount of marbling (flecks of fat within the lean of the Ribeye at the 12th rib), and by evaluating the texture of the Ribeye- its color and appearance.
When USDA Inspectors apply the blue grade stamp to a carcass it is applied with a rolling stamp. Hence the term No Roll for carcasses without a quality grade!

Young beef with the most marbling is given the Prime or highest quality grade. Prime is usually sold to restaurants, but may be available in some specialty retail markets. Choice is the most widely available grade in the retail market. Select has the least amount of marbling.

Aging is a natural process that arguably has the most impact on the flavor and tenderness of beef especially in cuts from the rib and loin.

Aging allows the natural enzymes in beef to tenderize the meat by breaking down specific proteins (connective tissue) in muscle fibers. Most of the tenderization occurs within the first 7-10 days of the aging process.
Two types of aging are practiced commercially: dry and wet aging.

Dry aging is the process of placing an entire carcass or wholesale cut without covering of packaging in a refrigerated room under humidity controlled conditions for up to 28 days. Too much humidity allows excessive microbial growth, too little causes excessive shrinkage. If the temperature gets too high, microbial growth increases significantly. During properly controlled dry aging, beef usually loses moisture. The dry aging process also adds flavor to beef, often described as “brown-roasted beefy flavor.” Today most dry aging is done by upscale steakhouses and specialty beef purveyors.

Wet aging refers to the aging of beef in vacuum bags under refrigerated conditions. Humidity control is not necessary for wet aging as the beef is tightly sealed in the packaging. Because most beef is vacuum packaged at the site of carcass cutting, wet aging is the predominant method of aging used today. By the time the vacuum-packaged beef reaches the retail store at least 7-10 days have usually elapsed. However, additional tenderization will occur with longer aging.

The remaining grades of beef such as Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner, are not usually sold in grocery stores or butcher shops. They are usually reserved for uses that do not require better grades of beef. They come from older cattle, and the name "Canner" sort of explains itself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The World's Greatest Baking Tips

Dan Lepard delves into his address book to bring you advice from the world's greatest bakers to help you cut costs and beat the credit crunch. Read the full story here.

Tim’s Cracked Wheat Bread

1/2 cup Bulgar wheat
3/4 cup boiling water
1 package yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tbl sugar.
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp salt
2 tbl molasses
2 tbl honey
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour

Dissolve the Yeast in the ½ cup lukewarm water. Add the sugar and cover with a kitchen towel to let rise. (Up to about 30 minutes, until its bubbling well)

It's Alive! Yeast makes bread rise and helps develop the flavor. Long, slow risings will give you rich, tasty bread. Short risings leave the bread tasting yeasty. This is because a long rise gives the yeast a chance to develop flavor by eating the starch in the flour and turning it into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol.

Pour the boiling water over the cracked wheat, cover tightly and let stand for 30 minutes until cooked.

Scald the milk then add the butter, salt, molasses and honey. Mix in the bulgar and let cool to lukewarm then add to yeast mixture.

Add the whole wheat flour and up to 1 cup of the white flour.

Have your ingredient pre-measured and seperated ahead of time, it makes the process much faster.

When the mixture is about the consistancy of brownie batter cover it and let it rise. (about 30 minutes)

Add the rest of the flour, turn out of bowl, and knead.
Kneading builds the net of protein for your bread. It will start out gloppy and end up elastic and firm. That elasticity tells you that the proteins are strong and evenly distributed through your dough. There is no right way to knead bread. However, folding the dough and pushing it down and away from you with the heel of the hand will make sure that the proteins are stretched and distributed. Knead for at least 5-8 minutes. You cannot over knead bread by hand but you can certainly ruin it by not kneading enough~"The Art of Baking"

When well kneaded shape into a ball, oil lightly and put in a mixing bowl. Cover ball with plastic wrap (like a shower cap). Let rise 1 hour.

Punch down and divide into two loaves, put into greased pans and let rise until ½ inch above the rim.

To see if your dough is done rising, stick a finger in the surface. If the dent does not spring back or fill in, the dough is done. If the dough collapses, it's overdone.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
*(Modified from a modified recipe from Beard on Bread)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Orange, Cranberry, Applesauce

3/4 cup orange, fresh, with rind, 3/4-inch diced
1 cup fuji apple, fresh, with peel, 1/2-inch diced
3 cups whole cranberries, fresh
1/2 cup celery, fresh, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole berry jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecan pieces

Process orange in Cuisanart for 30 seconds.

Combine all other ingredients (except pecan pieces) with orange in Cuisinart and pulse 8 to 10 times or until ingredients are coarsley chopped.

Stir pecan pieces into mixture.

Cover and chill.

Scallop Toasts with Wasabi Caviar

6 thin slices sandwich bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 large scallions, white and tender green parts minced, dark green part thinly sliced
1 tablespoon pickled ginger, minced, plus 1 tablespoon of the liquid from the jar
1/2 pound sea scallops
2 tablespoons wasabi caviar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, preferably black

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush the bread on both sides with the melted butter. Using a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 4 rounds from each slice of bread. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let the toasts cool on the baking sheet. Leave the oven on.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. Add the minced scallions and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Scrape the cooked scallions into a food processor and let cool. Add the ginger and pulse until combined. Add the scallops and process to a paste.

Transfer the scallop mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of the mousse onto the toasts.

Using your finger or a pastry brush, smooth the top of the scallop mousse with the ginger pickling liquid. Bake the scallop toasts for about 5 minutes or until the tops are firm but not rubbery. Let cool, then top half of each toast with the caviar and sprinkle the other half with the sesame seeds. Garnish with the sliced scallion greens and serve the toasts at room temperature.

Frozen Vegetables Are Good For You

Somewhere in California every day of the year a potato is being grown, no other state can say that."

That is how the story on Peace Corps on-line began, about Tom and Meredith Sayles Hughes who met in the peace corp and founded the Food Museum.

The internet is a wonderful place. I had a specific topic I was searching, but fortuitously my search wasn't specific enough and I have found a gold mine of great vegetable articles.

First I stumbled across a Harvard Buisness History Review Article about the history of frozen vegetables. At first a convienance product marketed only to the wealthy. The product was fresher than fresh unless you own your own farm. A bay area company introduced a "B" grade product into the market to compete on price. This drove the entire frozen veg market down, but introduced the product to a wider number of consumers.

Along the lines of frozen vegetable marketing I was in the frozen food section the other day and saw the new line of "Health Blends" from the Green Giant.

Norman Ernest Borlaug
(born March 25, 1914) is an American agricultural scientist. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of his grain and modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Now with 30 minutes of my life gone, 30 minutes that I'll never get back, Im heading back to google!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Abe the Sous Chef

I met Abe the Sous Chef at Willy's Smokehouse this morning. He had a great story about persistance. He moved her two years ago after completing culinary school in Las Vegas and applied for the Sous Chef job but was turned down. He took a server position among other jobs working at Willy's right from the beginning. "I was here before the tables" he told me. When Kurt, the previous Sous Chef left 5 months ago, he got the job he interviewed for.

Now Sous Chef Abe and his wife both work at Willy's. She is the Bar Manager.

A great story of persistance, and putting in your time!

The Extortionist Shut Down

Jarek Molski filed more than 400 complaints against businesses claiming violations of ADA accomodations. Here on the Central Coast he put Roy's Drive In out of Business back in 2004.

His was a numbers racket speculated an LA Times article. File enough complaints and some would settle out of court without a fight in order to avoid lengthy, costly trials. Similar to the way a telemarketer phone tree works, if you keep on dialing eventually you get a hit.

After he finished working the businesses in Salinas he moved on to Carmel where he sued eight businesses for $1.5 Million dollars, according to the Monterey Herald.

U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who has since died, branded Molski a "hit-and-run plaintiff," accusing him of systematic extortion of businesses across California. After he tried to sue a Chinese Restaurant owner in Solvang California the Judge barred him from filing anymore suits. Now the court has refused to hear his appeals.

Restaurants Partnering With Suppliers On New Items

Restaurants offer new items, willing to partner with suppliers
By Janie Gabbett on 11/21/2008

As the failing economy continues to take its toll on the foodservice industry, restaurants are changing menu options at a record pace and are willing to partner with suppliers on new items, according to foodservice consulting firm Technomic.

Based on data collected through its MenuMonitor service, October saw the largest number of limited-time-offers (LTOs) and new menu items in the past five years among the top 250 chain restaurants.

"With consumers cutting back on eating out, restaurants needed to find new ways to bring customers through their doors," said Bernadette Noone, Senior Program Manager at Technomic. "Many chains are using LTOs as a cost-effective way to trial new items before doing large roll-outs."

Noone added that operators appear quite open to partnering with suppliers on new products with shorter lead times.

Technomic identified 547 new menu items, 40 percent higher than the monthly average for 2008. Of these, 157 were reported as "back" on the menu, 197 were LTOs, and 193 were new items.

By category, the largest number of new October items were lunch/dinner entrees (273 items), followed by desserts (96), appetizers (49), breakfast entrees (48), non-alcoholic beverages (29), and adult beverages (20). Side items (17), healthy items (12) and add-ons (3) rounded out the list.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Central Coast Brussel Sprouts

2 pounds brussels sprouts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion (1 medium)


2 pounds Golden or Red Delicious apples (about 6)

3/4 cup apple juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (do not use grainy mustard)

3 shallots, chopped fine (1 cup)

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar.

1. Wash brussels sprouts and trim roots. Separate leaves and place them in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be completed the day before.)

2. Warm a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, then add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 15 minutes.

3. Peel, core and slice 5 apples. Add to pan with onions. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples soften and begin to break apart, about 20 minutes. Add apple juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Add mustard and remove from heat.

4. Put apple-onion mixture in a blender or food processor and pulse 6 to 8 times until smooth. Keep warm.

5. Warm a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then add shallots. Cook for 5 minutes, until shallots are soft and translucent. Stir in caraway seeds. Add brussels sprout leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar and continue cooking until leaves are just tender, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt to taste. Julienne remaining apple with skin on.

6. Spoon apple-mustard purée onto a warmed serving platter. Pile sautéed brussels sprouts on purée. Sprinkle julienned apple on top. Serve immediately.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Cepage Deli

I stopped by Rancho Cellars in Carmel today and met with Janet and Jacque Mellac. They have run the fine wine boutique for a little over six years.

Their vision when they opened was to provide the best and largest selection of domestic and imported wines to their customers, and currently they stock some 3000 labels on the floor for purchase, including some of the most sought after, exclusive, highly allocated cult wines, as well as a wide variety of affordable, everyday, drinking wines.

Last month Janet opened Cepage Gourmet Market and Deli taking up nearly 1/2 of the building. The menu is fantastic and the pricing incredibly reasonable. This is a place where you can eat high quality dishes, made with fresh, organic, sustainable ingredients for the price of a subway sandwich.

Get over here and buy something and support these folks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Petite Tender

In 2004, there were more than one billion steak servings in commercial restaurants alone, reported NPD Foodworld. Consumer demand for beef increased 22% between 1998 and year-end 2005, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Board.

The shoulder cut was considered less than premium to the end user and was a prime candidate for value adding. From it emerged the Flat Iron, Petite Tender and Ranch Steak BVA cuts, with tender, easy-to-prepare steaks and roasts.

Want to take steak and eggs to new heights? The Petite Tender can get you there. Grill it, slice it, later it with roasted potato rounds, and serve it with a poached egg in a nest of arugula and frisée, drizzled with Warm Pancetta Dressing. It’s the best thing to happen to the center of the breakfast plate since the short stack.

The IMPS/NAMP 114F, PSO1 Petite Tender, is prepared from Item No. 114 by separating the Teres Major muscle from the shoulder clod by cutting through the natural seam. This individual muscle is peeled and denuded and the surface membrane must be removed. Thickness varies from ½” to 1”.
Portion Sizes: 12 to 16 ounces

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cross Contamination In The Bar

It’s a common belief that the cold temperature of ice kills bacteria. However, bacteria in ice are preserved, so to speak, until conditions are more favorable for growth. Viruses are another threat because cold does not affect them at all. Often, the cause of illnesses linked to ice is handling ice with contaminated hands or utensils. Contaminants are then on the ice, which can be further spread to beverages or foods stored on ice, such as in salad bars. A few simple practices can help keep your ice safe.

Use dedicated containers for transporting ice.

These durable ice containers get your ice where you need it to go and keep it clean in a way that other ice holders can’t. Constructed of clear blue plastic, this is sturdy container is more than just a bucket, it’s the best way to avoid cross-contamination and keep the transportation of ice in your bar or restaurant sanitary. The integrated solid grip design leaves no room for germs and the large side knobs and thicker, stronger handle wire make it easy and comfortable to carry.

Provide an ice scoop at each location where an employee dispenses ice. Train your employees to store the scoop outside the ice bin and not in the ice.

Clean and sanitize every utensil used in the ice and the ice machine regularly.

I was at a restaurant last night and the bar back came out dumping ice from a Kelly Moore paint 5 gallon bucket into the ice well. You can purchase a generic "ice only" bucket for about $17.00 or even the real cool (pun intended) Saf-T-Ice totes for around $40.00. Even if you buy the whole range of scoops, hangers, handles, buckets, and bucket funnels for just under a $150. its still alot cheaper than battling a foodbourne illness outbreak, or lost buisness from people who won't eat at places that use paint buckets to move ice. Makes me wonder what the soup is stored in?

Big Kid Bacon And Brie Tater Tots

F.Nephi Grigg was a high school dropout who raised potatoes and corn in Idaho. In the early 1920's when a bankrupt frozen food processing plant in southern Oregon was up for sale Griggs and his brother, Golden Grigg mortgaged their homes to get a down payment.

In 1951 the Griggs began producing French fries, a process that entailed shaving the potatoes into rectangular blocks before slicing them. The shavings were later sold for a pittance as livestock feed, according to a article in 2003. In 1953 in an effort to merchandize the scraps and maximize their profits, the shavings were ground, mixed with spices, extruded, and fried. The result became one of the most famous Ore-Ida® products-Tater Tots® shredded potatoes.

But not without a little more marketing genius from Griggs. He introduced his new product by bringing 15 pounds of Tater Tots to the National Potato Convention at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami later that year. There he bribed the convention's chef to serve up the nuggets. They were a sensation.

Tremont 647 in Boston MA menus a rosemary-scented fontina stuffed tater tots. (They also have a very cool interactive site worth checking out.)On the Fall menu Chef Andy Husband includes The Wood Grilled Flat Iron Steak basil braised fennel, seared raab, and rosemary-scented fontina stuffed tater tots.

Michael Richards has a recipe in his James Beard Award-winning cookbook "Happy in the Kitchen" (Artisan, $45) — an homage called Spuddies — binds potato cubes with gelatin, which melts when fried.

So Richard abandoned that technique for a better one that, in fact, echoes the industrial process perfected by Grigg a half-century earlier. He barely steams Yellow Finn potato cubes, then packs them into a mold to cool, letting the expressed potato starch do the binding. He cuts the chilled mixture into bites and fries them twice — once at a moderate temperature to cook them through and then again at a high temperature to crisp the outsides. Creamier, crisper.

Makes 10-12

1 large baking potato
Vegetable oil as needed for frying
1 oz potato starch
1 egg
¼ cup minced shallots
1 tbsp minced chives
4 oz cooked crumbled bacon
4 oz Brie

Lightly coat the potato in oil, season with salt and pepper, pierce it a few times with a fork and bake at 350 degrees until three-quarters cooked, approximately 40 minutes. Remove potato and let it cool to room temperature. Peel and box-grate the potato. In a medium bowl, combine the grated potato, starch, egg, shallots, chives and salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, thoroughly incorporate the chopped bacon and Brie. Fill a one-ounce ring mold halfway with the potato mixture, then place a small scoop of the cheese and bacon mixture in the center and top with more potato. Press down to firmly compact the potato and unmold. Fill a heavy skillet with enough vegetable oil to cover the tots. Heat oil at medium high, approximately 325 degrees, add tots and cook until golden brown (or use a deep fryer following manufacturer’s instructions).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whole Foods Pressures Shrimp Market For Holidays

Whole Foods Hails "Shrimpsgiving" Arrival
Nov 12, 2008

Whole Foods Market is celebrating "Shrimpsgiving" at its seafood departments nationwide, featuring fully cooked and raw shrimp that the natural/organic grocer is billing as a great grab-and-go "value" for holiday meals. The chain is also featuring special prices on shrimp during the month of November, according to an article on Progressive Grocer, a supermarket insider magazine.

A larger array of shrimp will be on display in Whole Foods stores than in previous years, the grocer noted.

The Austin, Texas-based chain is offering wild and premium farm-raised shrimp, including already cooked, tail-on shrimp from Thailand; and raw, shell-on American-raised white shrimp (price varies by region, it said). It is also posting shrimp recipe ideas on their Website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roasted-Red-Pepper Relish

3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, quartered
1/2 pint yellow cherry or pear tomatoes
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the roasted peppers with the sun-dried tomatoes. Slice the fresh tomatoes, some in half and some in quarters, and add to bowl. Add the basil, vinegar, and oil, and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the relish to macerate for about an hour before serving.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Dry Aged BriSkirtRib Burger

I have a new customer working on opening a dry aged steakhouse in Salinas. The butcher in me wakes up late at night these days dreaming of menu items. Warped I know, but I can't help it. When I walked in there last week adn saw the band saw, dry age rooms, and the tenderizer it was over for me. My new office is at the Grower's Pub, I may just move there.

Yesterday I was sitting around playing with menu ideas and I came across the recap of the Rachel Ray Burger Contest at the NY Wine and Food Festival. While the winner of the contest was Katie Lee Joel (Billy's wife) with her patty melt I clicked away at a tangent that took me to La Frieda's Meats in the meat district in New York.
A couple great articles chronicled the "special black label blend" that La Frieda Meats put together for the competition. I started with The Feedbag., and then moved on to A Hamburger Today.. "The Black Label blend was aimed at high-end restaurants and featured an "intoxicating" mix of skirt, brisket, short rib, and a secret cut that is actually dry aged! It has an extremely generous 70/30 meat-to-fat ratio, making for an ethereally succulent burger."

I went out to Star Market after church today and got myself a 3 Lb brisket, a couple lbs of boneless short ribs, and a skirt steak..broke out the trusty villa home grinder and went after it.

I pan seared an about a 10 oz burger-on the outside..completely cold in the center, topped it with a sliced red onion, tomato, and some sliced home cured pickles and a sprinkle of Monarch steak dust.

I have to stop typing now, it is interferring with my cardiac arrest…. I should have got last rights while I was at church.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Roseli Brand Fire Roasted Red Pepper

The Roseli Brand Fire Roasted Red Pepper (USPN# 4326492) is a true fire roasted pepper...there are pieces of charred skin still on the product just like it would have been done in a Italian kitchen...the Bellagio Italian Style Red Roasted Pepper (USPN# 8348138) uses a process that cleans the pepper totally clean leaving a more processed appearance.

Roseli Brand fire roasted red peppers are grown domestically. Because we have two distinct locations for growing and processing on opposite coasts, this gives us the ability to overcome weather-related problems. We can shift production from coast to coast when necessary.

Production Facilities:
Santa Paula, California
Dunn, North Carolina

Additionally, the vast majority of our peppers are contracted with growers directly. We do not depend primarily on the open market to source raw product.

Our raw product is grown just for processing, therefore the best quality raw product is canned -- not sold as produce. We specialize in peppers -- it isn't a sideline.

Ingredients? Bell peppers, water, citric acid and salt.

Imported peppers typically have a much lower drained weight than American packed products.

Example of imported peppers:
Maria Brand =Peru
Roland =Spain
La Romanella =Spain

In fact there was nearly 2 ounces more product per can in the Roseli product in the cans we opened compared to the Maria brand. That’s like getting a free can for every case you purchase!

We did find that there were more whole peppers in the Bellagio brand Italian Roasted Red Peppers, so for a stuffing application this is the product the product to use.

Did You Know?

California’s warm days, cool nights and predictable rainfall produces America’s highest quality pimientos and bell peppers.

May is National Pimiento Month. It was designated so by the Governor of California to honor California pimiento growers.

Elvis’ favorite meal is said to have been a hamburger topped with red pepper cheese spread.

Mix an 8 oz. bag of shredded sharp cheddar, 3 oz. of mayonnaise and 4 oz. jar of drained Roseli Fire Roasted Red Peppers. You’ve just made the perfect red pepper cheese spread for bread, crackers or vegetables.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Soup Season On The Central Coast

As the winter weather rolls around, but just before our first big storm here

Jason and Kathleen begin cooking soups

in Monterey, Jason Schultz from MarketSmart and Kathleen Coleman from Campbell's soup came to town.

We had several calls together sampling Classic Tureen Soups, both frozen reconstituted and the new ready to use line.

Our first call was to address a consistency issue with the New England Clam Chowder with an operator.

There are 2 methods of production, hot fill and cold fill. The hot fill
process requires that the broth and ingredients all be cooked together, and then packaged.

What this does is damage the integrity of the solid particulates. The soup is then reheated for service so therefore it is a 2 cook process. Our Classic Tureen® soups are cold filled, all ingredients blended together while cold, so when you heat the soup for the first time, you are blending the flavors together, and also cooking the solid particulates for the first time. This results in solids that have better color, texture and integrity, and flavors that blend together for the first time, giving our customers that just made aroma and flavor.

Chef Dimas' Soup Dilemma solved made him happy again

The cream based soups, like the New England Clam Chowder, perform best when mixed with whole milk and are brought to a boil for about 2 minutes allowing the starches to become active.

We ran into only slight resistance from a customer who objected to using a pre-made product, but as Jason pointed out from his days in the kitchen. You are not always getting paid to make good food, but to serve good food, and when you need a short cut, the Classic Tureen line is high quality, great flavor and simple to use.

Notes on Soup
• More and more consumers are ordering soup with a meal.
• Soup, with a salad, sandwich or appetizer are among the top 10 items ordered.
• Soup served with a meal can increase customer satisfaction 55-67%
• Soup is served across all dining segments
• Customers prefer an average of 3-4 soups to choose from on a menu
• 80% of consumers feel that restaurants should very their soup menu seasonally
• Increasing the variety of soups on a menu can maximize profitability opportunities
• 55% of consumers say that would more likely order soup if descriptions or pictures were on the menu.

• Bundling ideas – soup and salad / Sandwich ideas, combination meal

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Farm Raised Catfish

Noted food critic Craig Claiborne swears farm-raised catfish are the finest freshwater fish in North America. In fact, catfish have been served to numerous dignitaries ranging from Prince Charles to assembled Western Leaders.

Catfish farms produce genetically superior catfish that are cultivated for size, flavor and texture. Once mature, they are loaded live from the ponds and released into the processing plant, still swimming. Now that's fresh!

Featured on this weeks Fresh Seafood Flyer: 11/3 through 11/8

Farm-Raised Catfish Filets Item # 5403589 10lb.avg.
These all white meat fillets are skinless and hand cut.

Farm-raised, grain-fed catfish is far superior to his muddy river cousin. Scientifically-bred and carefully tended, he has all but acquired a pedigree now that Gourmet magazine rates him the third-best-selling fish in America.

Higher in protein than most meats, farm-raised freshwater catfish is becoming exceedingly popular among health-conscious American diners-and with good reason. Not only is catfish low in cholesterol, fat and calories, he also rates high in aesthetic appeal since he has no fishy smell. It is also nutritious, healthy and downright delicious.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


A higher price point, more profit and happy customers can be expected from this tender, juicy and flavorful cut. Beat your competition to it and your customers will notice. They’ll thank you for giving them a mid-priced steak option that acts like a premium cut.

Well-marbled for great flavor and tenderness and second only to the Tenderloin in tenderness. Stays tender, even cooked to well done—never needs marinating.

Versatile as a grill steak, in fajitas, kabobs and stir fry.
Best when cooked to medium-rare or medium.

Cooking Methods:
GRILLING - Grill, covered, over medium-ash-covered coals, 10 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning once. If using a
gas grill, you may need to heat an additional minute or two.
SKILLET - Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet (do not crowd). Cook, uncovered 13 to 15 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning twice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beef Round Sirloin Tip Center Steaks and Side Steaks

Look at the round differently and you’ll see two great steaks that will give your customers permission to eat steak any day of the week.

Round Sirloin Tip Center Steaks

Round sirloin tip center steaks are derived from the Beef Round Tip, Cap Off (IMPS/NAMP 167A), which is separated along the natural seams into the tip side, tip center and tip bottom muscles. The tip center is then cut across the grain into 3/4 inch or 1-inch thick steaks.

Round sirloin tip side steaks are derived from the Beef Round Tip, Cap Off (IMPS/NAMP 167A), which is separated along the natural seams into the tip side, tip center and tip bottom muscles. The tip side is then cut across the grain into 3/4-inch or 1-inch steaks.

Round Sirloin Tip Side Steaks
A great ingredient steak for stir fry, kabobs and fajitas.
Economical steaks for the grill.
Sirloin Tip Center makes a quick and easy roast.
Sirloin Tip Center Steak is tender without marination.
Sirloin Tip Side Steak is tender and juicy when marinated and cooked to medium rare.

Cooking Methods:
GRILLING - Grill, covered, over medium, ash-covered coals, according to table, for medium rare (145°F) doneness, turning once. Do not overcook.
SKILLET - Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet (do not crowd). Cook, uncovered, according to table below, for medium rare
(145°F) doneness, turning twice. Do not overcook.
OVEN ROASTING - Heat oven to 325°F. Place 2 to 2-1/2 pound roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in
thickest part of roast. Do not add water or cover. Roast 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours to 140°F. Let stand, covered, 10 to 15 minutes. Temperature will rise 5°F to 145°F
for medium rare doneness and roast will be easier to carve, will retain more natural juices and be easier to carve.

The Bottom Round has historically been widely used as economical steaks and roasts, but they weren’t performing optimally. In this case, knife work did not
reinvent, but rather enhanced performance. This muscle has three sections with differing levels of tenderness, so understanding the best applications for each
section is key. A simple change to the cutting technique for this muscle results in a far superior steak with a great beef flavor.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Western Griller Steaks


Big is the best word to describe these round cuts.

Western Griller Steak

Big in size and big on flavor. It’s the Bottom Round made better through a couple of quick, but important,
strokes of the knife. What’s left is a large muscle that yields a lot of steaks you can portion to fit your needs. Beef lovers are going to love Western Griller and
Western Tip Steaks!

Western Tip Steaks

Versatile, convenient and affordable.
Quick-cooking, grilled or broiled.
Consistently tender when marinated before cooking and cooked to medium-rare.

Cooking Methods:

GRILLING - Marinate. Grill, covered over medium, ash-covered coals, according to table, for medium rare (145°F) doneness, turning as needed. Do not
SKILLET - Marinate. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet (do not crowd). Cook, uncovered, according to table, for medium
rare (145°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Do not overcook.
BROILING - Marinate. Broil in preheated broiler, 3 to 4 inches from heat, 18 to 20 minutes, for medium rare (145°F) doneness, turning once. Do not overcook.
Let stand 5 minutes.