Crepe Season


Crepes CookingIt’s always crepe season, and there’s never a bad time of day for crepes. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, in winter or summer, a crepe is always good. Hearty, savory crepes with meat and cheese on a cold day, fruit filled crepes on a sunny day in spring, chocolate crepes for dessert, mmmm.

Crepes are easy and fast to make, which makes them well-suited as healthy additions to menus at concessions, coffee shops, and fast-food stops. As a dessert, your find crepes at fine dining restaurants too. And at home, they are a fast, fun, and easy-to-make treat. Since it’s always a good time to make them, here are some instructions and helpful equipment for making crepes.

On Cutting Boards – Plastic vs. Wood? You May Be Surprised


Maple Top Work Table

A wood cutting surface, NSF approved for commercial restaurant use

Wood Vs. Plastic Cutting Boards

Food Safety

Various styles of cutting boards and butcher blocks are used judiciously in kitchens and restaurants everywhere.  Avoiding contamination by using separate cutting boards for various food types, washing boards with hot soap and water between cutting jobs, and using the right board type are basic concepts in every kitchen.  There seems to be some debate, however, over what type of board material is best.  Many people believe that wood is unsafe, and plastic is more sanitary.  But why then, would butcher blocks and wood cutting surfaces be used in restaurants and commercial kitchens everywhere?  And why would wood surfaces be approved by NSF and health departments if they are unsafe?  It turns out, when it comes to preventing growth of bacteria, wood is superior to plastic cutting surfaces.

A somewhat recent study at UC Davis was surprised to find out about wood’s superiority after they set out to design a way to disinfect wood so it would be as safe as plastic.  They soon determined that on wood surfaces, bacteria such as Salmonella quickly disappeared from the cutting board surfaces, even surfaces that had many knife cuts.  Plastic, however, especially plastic with grooves from knife use, tended to harbor the bacteria over time.  It seems that on wood surfaces, the bacteria are kept away from the cutting surface because they are absorbed by the wood, where they eventually die.  Plastic allows any bacteria to live for some time on the surface, and knife cuts in plastic can harbor the bacteria for some time.  Check out the study here:

http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm

That doesn’t mean plastic does not have it’s place – it does somewhat dispel, however, the common household belief that plastic boards should be used for meat and fish rather than wooden boards.  And, of course, proper washing and taking steps to avoid cross contamination should be practiced with any board surface.

Other Wood Benefits

Wood boards and butcher blocks can last a lifetime.  The cutting surface of a wood board can be maintained and treated with products such as John Boos Mystery Oil to keep the block looking like new and prevent drying & cracking. If needed, a thick board can also be sanded down to remove knife scars and other flaws. A thick board, if taken care of, can last decades, if not a century or more.

Wood cutting surfaces are better for your cutlery.  If you’ve invested in some nice kitchen cutlery, you’ll want to maintain the blades.  Often, dulling of knives is actually caused by the blade folding, ever so slightly at the knife edge due to impact while chopping.  The surface of wooden cutting boards is less inclined to cause this knife damage than hard plastics and other materials.

Wood boards and blocks are attractive.  A good block or board looks good and adds character to a kitchen.  In addition to cutting boards, check out our selection of maple top tables and butcher block tables for some beautiful and functional blocks.

Wood Board Types

End Grain Board

End Grain Cutting Board

End Grain boards are the constructed by binding the wood sections vertically so that the “end” of the cut pieces make up the cutting surface.  This results in a board that is superior in its ability to resist and hide knife cuts as well as being attractive.  Because the grain is on-end, it allows knives to penetrate somewhat, making it a more forgiving surface that is easier on your cutlery.  Your knives will stay sharp longer with this type of board.

Boos Edge Grain Cutting Board

Edge Grain Cutting Board

Edge Grain boards use the long-end of the block pieces to make the cutting surface.  This results in an attractive and sanitary board as well, while being easier to manufacture and therefore somewhat more economical.  An edge-grain board, however, will dull knives somewhat more quickly than an end-grain surface, and it will show more knife marks over time.  Don’t worry, that doesn’t stop chefs and professionals like Rachael Ray from using them.  Edge-grain cutting boards and blocks are practical, high in quality, and perfectly suitable for any kitchen – commercial or residential.

Rick@AKitchen

Spice Up Your Day (Or Night) With Candy Apples


 

Candy Apples

Yummy

It’s a cool Autumn evening, the perfect time to make some candy apples.  At ABestKitchen, besides all the big equipment and awesome kitchen supplies, we have some fun products, including candy apple dip and sticks.

I would suggest starting with the two dip varieties, then adding toppings and possibly a double-dip into some other gooey treat.  And why stop with nuts?  I am thinking of multiple options for dips and toppings at my candy apple party:

Crushed Oreos

Melted chocolate sprinkled with sea salt

The Caramel Apple Dip with Cocoa Pebbles

Melted chocolate sprinkled with crushed potato chips

The caramel dip rolled in M&Ms

Some version sprinkled with cinnamon, not sure yet

Caramel & popcorn

Any other ideas?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Also, one tidbit I picked up is to not use the coated apples from the store.  Try to get uncoated ones or buy directly from the farm – the candy sticks better without the coating.

Rick@AKitchen

 

Versatile Applications of Commercial Shelving & Stainless Steel Tables


 

Nexel Wire Shelving

The shelving is fully adjustable, and is available with sturdy wire, solid steel, or plastic shelves. Mix and match if needed.

Being in the restaurant equipment business, we typically think of our various lines of stainless steel tables & commercial restaurant shelving being used in commercial kitchens & restaurants.  These products are durable, sanitary, attractive, sturdy, affordable & flexible, with configurations available in seemingly infinite specifications and sizes.  Beyond restaurant use, these products are practical for use just about anywhere.

Stainless Steel Table

Stainless Steel Tables are available in a variety of sizes with lots of configuration options, including optional side splahes, back-splashes, under shelves, and more.

When it comes to storage and organization, these shelves and work tables can be configured to meet any need.  In garages, sheds, basements, storage areas, warehouses, or anywhere storage or workspace is needed, these tables and shelves are the perfect solution – measure, select the sizes you need, and rest assured you are getting a product that will last a lifetime.

Stainless steel tables are a no-brainer for food prep, but a heavy-duty stainless table works perfectly in the laundry room, in the garage as a work table, or anywhere an easy-to-clean work surface is needed.  They can be configured with options including under shelves and back splashes.  Browse our selection of sizes & options or build your own stainless table.

Most models of tables, shelving, and racks are available in stainless steel or rust-proof finishes such as galvanized and chrome-plated, so in addition to standard indoor use, these products can be used outdoors or in damp places.  So, why not use an easy-to-clean, rust-proof stainless steel prep table as an outdoor food prep area by your barbecue?  If you are cooking outside, it’s a valuable addition to your workspace.  I even know a fisherman who has a stainless steel table outside in the yard where he cleans his fish to keep the fishy smell out of his house.

Security Shelving

Security Shelving – Lock Up Valuables

Nexel offers a variety of different racks, accessories and configurations.  Have something you want to lock up or secure at night?  Nexel’s security shelving is perfect for party centers & bars that want to lock up their liquor, garages, warehouses, or offices where it is worth taking precaution.  Browse the full line of Nexel’s Shelving, Storage, and Transport Equipment for other configurations.

Corner Shelf

Have an unused corner space? These adjustable shelves are also available in corner units.

Add-on units and other configurations and accessories are available.

Think about it – where do you need a durable, easy-to-clean work surface or storage area?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Rick@AKitchen

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Apple Cider, Perked And Simple


CiderWith cool weather around the corner, consider spicing up your fall menu with fresh apple cider.  And with the help of a simple percolator, the preparation couldn’t be simpler.  Read more for an easy Hot Apple Cider recipe that will warm the hearts of your guests.

Perked Hot Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon all spice

1 teaspoon cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

Using a large automatic percolator like the Regal 10-30 cup Percolator , fill the filter with the brown sugar, all spice, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Pour the apple cider in the percolator and perk for 10 minutes. Serve in a glass mug such as the Libby Irish Coffee Mug , and garnish with the cinnamon sticks from the filter (optional). Yields 16-20 servings.

Mobile Point of Sale / POS Solutions in ‘The Cloud’


Some type of point of sale solution is required for every restaurant or foodservice business. Options include an old register, a cigar box, or a multi-terminal $10-$20K computer touchscreen system. With so many options, it’s tough to decide where to start sometimes. But POS solutions are just another example of where the iPad and iPhone, along with other smartphones, have become game-changers. 10 years ago, you could plan on spending at least $1500 on software alone just to get started ringing up your customers. Today, your next POS could be just an app away in the Apple app store.

shopkeep

ShopKeep iPad POS

My local coffee shop uses ShopKeep.  It runs on an iPad on a little swivel stand, allowing employees to ring up customers and let them sign for credit card payments with their fingers.  The system runs in “The Cloud” (meaning its data and software setup are stored securely somewhere in outer-space).  Running in “The Cloud” has its benefits.  You automatically have a backup if your hardware fails.  The system is available from any iPhone or iPad anywhere (with a secure login), which means you can access your POS and run transactions from any location with Internet access or using your iPhone data plan.  And, software upgrades and technical issues are not as big a deal for the shop owner compared to running your own in-house system.  The ShopKeep system runs about $50/month (you still need a credit card merchant account to process credit cards).

Another nice feature provided by running “In The Cloud” is being offered by numerous providers of POS solutions for mobile smartphones.  With an iPhone and a Credit Card swiper, you are free to roam with your point-of-sale in hand.  When operating in The Cloud, employees can run transactions while making deliveries or working events, and the transaction data is reflected in real-time on any device linked to the POS.  A food truck can attend an event, and it’s parent restaurant can monitor sales from the main restaurant POS system.  Pizza delivery drivers can swipe credit cards at the customer’s door, and this information is automatically captured in-house through “The Cloud”.  This can be a powerful tool for efficient sales and management.

One iPhone example is MX iPOS for iPhone / iPad.  MX iPOS is available in the Apple app store for around $5.00.  It also runs in The Cloud, allowing delivery drivers to run transactions, or mobile food business to have multiple devices running the same POS system in multiple locations.  It can be tied to standard credit card processing and requires no extra monthly fee to use.

I am not fully convinced that these cloud POS solutions are ready for use in large-scale restaurants yet, but for the small cafe, food truck, or boutique operation, these solutions are proving themselves to be well-liked and growing in popularity.  I am keeping my eye out for some enterprise level, full-scale, tablet & smartphone-based restaurant POS systems running in The Cloud.  I expect to see them soon, if they are not out there already.

Rick@AKitchen

 

Concession Selections – Equipment for Food Trucks


It’s mid-summer and food trucks and concession businesses are in full swing.  We’ve seen some great food truck ideas – a mobile wood fired pizza oven, a cupcake truck, a crepe truck, and a mobile soup truck to name a few. If you are looking for portable profits, we stock lots of Concession Equipment & Catering Equipment that can help.

 

Induction ranges for food trucks and concession.

Induction Ranges

If you are going to cook on your food truck, consider using induction countertop ranges. Induction ranges cook faster than gas, with less heat, and using less energy.  They are also easy to clean, and compact, which makes them perfect for operations like food trucks and portable concessions. Many professional chefs are acknowledging that induction cooking is superior to even gas due to its speed & efficiency. Within a small, hot space such as a food truck where energy use is often limited, induction makes sense.

 

Read more

FDA Compliant Thermometers That Meet New Food Code Requirements


Comark PDT300 Kitchen Thermomter

Comark PDT300 Thermometer – Hot!

New FDA Food Code requirements mandate that a thermometer with a 1.5mm tip be used to measure foods that are ½ inch thick or less. Dial thermometers are no longer acceptable. Bimetal, bayonet style thermometers should not be used to measure the temperature of thin foods like hamburger patties because of the large diameter of the probe, which can’t accurately sense the temperature. So be sure to update your thermometer today to avoid health department violations.  Comark’s model PDT300 slim, pocket digital thermometer meets all new FDA food code requirements, and is the most popular solution in the food service industry. Plus, it’s waterproof, field calibratable, withstands constant use in wet or humid conditions, and features BioCote antimicrobial protection! Model PDQ400 is dishwasher safe.

http://www.akitchen.com/store/comark-pdt300.html

Stylish Outdoor Restaurant Seating & Dining Furniture


There’s a lot of nice outdoor / indoor restaurant seating these days, with many new models of Outdoor Bar Stools, Chairs, Umbrellas, Patio Tables, Sofa Units, Loungers and more.  It’s the time of year to get those patios ready – here are a few nice additions for your outdoor lounge & dining areas.

Florida Seating BAL-5602BB

Faux teak / brushed aluminum bar stool by Florida Seating

 

Florida Seating

This indoor / outdoor bar stool by Florida Seating will make a nice addition to a light indoor atmosphere or a sunny patio bar.

Florida Seating metal stool with the look of bamboo.

Florida Seating makes an impressive line of stools designed for indoor or outdoor use – including stools like this one, that mimic a bamboo finish for your tiki bar.  There are also similar faux bamboo and safari backless stools.

Safari / Java Backless Outdoor Bar Stool

Grosfillex Havana Outdoor Table

Grosfillex

Another great company making outdoor chairs, tables, bar stools, pool loungers and more is Grosfillex.  They use synthetic materials to mimic textures and the look of tables that would not survive outdoor use.  This Havana table features fashionable 3D wicker decor without the maintenance – nor the cost.

 

Emu’s Sole Stacking Side Chair

Emu’s square bistro table with an aluminum finish and tubular base.

EmuEmu Furniture has a great line of metal / aluminum tubular tables and stacking chairs and stools that are lightweight and weather resistant.  They have a lot of nice items that can fit in with a classic, classy, or modern patio.

 

Indoor / Outdoor Chairs & Sofas – Florida Seating manufactures these Outdoor Sofas and Sofa Chairs along with matching ottomans and accessories. The sofa chairs can link up to create a sofa, corner sofas, and other layouts to fit your space.

Outdoor Sofa / Lounge Chairs

These lounge chairs link together to create an outdoor sofa with a flexible layout to fit most any space.

Grosfillex poolside lounger with the look of teak wood.

See you on the beach – perhaps on this Grosfillex stackable poolside lounger, once again using durable, low-maintenance materials that replicate the appearance of wood.
Rick@AKitchen

The Right Glassware


Pompilio's Italian Restaurant - Where a scene from the movie Rainman was filmed. They serve their table wine in plain little wine glasses, which is perfect.

Being in the restaurant business, the restaurant equipment business, and being an avid food lover and cook teaches a person to appreciate glassware.  Sometimes, that means glassware with character.  A tiny, old fashioned wine glass feels right in a place like Pompilio’s Italian Restaurant In Newport, KY – an historic place with a casual ambiance where table wine flows like, well…wine.  In other circumstances, when ordering a glass of wine, I find myself asking for the good glassware.  It’s not unusual for me to ask for a larger wine glass at my favorite local restaurants.  That said, both at home and in business, the good wine glasses tend to be more expensive and delicate.  So, it’s a good idea to have both the fine wine glasses and the durable stuff for house wine.  Rather than over-dwell on the subject, I want to point out two of my favorite glass selections.

The Best Wine Glass

22 Ounce Handblown Wine Glass

The Best Wine Glass

A good wine glass should have a thin lip to deliver the wine directly to your palette, the right shape, and enough room to swirl and observe the character of the wine.  This 22 Ounce glass goes beyond – it is a work of art, it’s the perfect size, and it’s classy.  The glass is lead-free crystal, handblown in one piece.  That means the entire glass is blown & formed at once.  Lesser quality glasses are machine-made and/or will have seams at the base and stem. This handblown glass is the product of a dying art that produces a lightweight, beautiful glass worthy of your finest wines.  It’s a bit costly at $22.95, but when compared to similar glasses that can sell for over $100, it’s a fair deal.  I’ve compared this glass to more expensive glassware by Riedel and other brands, and I prefer this one.

Note: These glasses are delicate, and should not be placed in a dishwasher.
We also have some other nice quality, but lesser priced Wine Tasting Glasses.

Another Nice Glass

I see the same tea/water/beer glasses everywhere.  But there is one glass that is a bit more unique that I prefer in my home and I have chosen for my business in the past. For water, beer, and other cocktails, this glass compares to the standard glassware you find everywhere, but it steps it up a class by adding 4 dimples, or impressions that give the glass a nicer look and a comfortable feel in your hand.  It is available in 10.5 Ounce Beverage Size, an 8 Ounce Cocktail Version, and a 12 Ounce.  They are priced reasonably, under $4.00/glass – around $40/dozen.

 

When it comes to beer glasses, I prefer the Stein or the Pint, but I wouldn’t pay much attention to me here. I should disclose – I like PBR in a can.

Rick@AKitchen