We were wondering, who makes the better burger? Big Boy or IN-N-OUT? We like both, so help us decide. Vote now.
Trends in professional foodservice, restaurants, food, and cooking.
We were wondering, who makes the better burger? Big Boy or IN-N-OUT? We like both, so help us decide. Vote now.
The Savings are Sweet right now! Seasonal selections in stores, support some of our favoite holiday recipes. Sugar pie pumpkins and sweet potatoes are abundant and affordable. I’m thinking Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter and Sweet Potato Pie. Happy Shopping!
Things you’ll need:
Homade Ravioli made simple – use a ravioli stamp:
Pasta Machines help too.
Tip: For crispy pie crust, dark metal pans work great, and deep dish pizza pans are great for pies too.
On cold winter days, a bowl of simple but elegant French Onion Soup is easy to make and delicious. So get your crocks ready and let’s make some.
Side note, The Crock, $1.50: Here’s a great example of why people shop at ABestKitchen. We found ourselves in a last minute mission to make onion soup one recent Sunday. I was too far from the ABestKitchen warehouse, and so I went looking for onion soup crocks elsewhere. I visited three kitchen stores, and found lesser quality crocks selling for $6.00-$14.00 each. But, here’s a commercial quality crock, for $1.50 at ABestKitchen – so ‘stock’ up for the whole family, and save.
French Onion Soup – The Recipe – 2 Servings
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig, whole
Red wine or sherry
1 tablespoon flour (optional)
1 quart beef broth
1 small sliced baguette
1/4 lb Gruyere or Emmental Swiss
Salt & pepper
In a stock pot or large sauce pan, melt the butter and add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme sprig, & salt and pepper. Over medium heat, stir and cook until onions are translucent and tender. Some prefer to slow cook the onions until caramelized.
Add about 1/2 cup of wine and cook for several minutes until wine has evaporated.
Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig.
(Optional) Dust the onions with flour and cook for several more minutes.
Add the beef broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven, and lightly toast several thin slices of baguette.
Set the oven to broil, and ladle the soup into oven safe soup crocks.
Arrange the toasted bread on top of the soup, and cover bread with grated Gruyere and/or Swiss.
Place the crocks on a cookie sheet in oven, and broil until the cheese is lightly browned and slightly bubbles over.
If desired, garnish with fresh parsley
Serve, noting that the crocks will be hot.
Note: Some, including me, prefer to make their own beef broth by simmering beef soup bones, onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, pepper corns, parsley, bay leaf, salt, thyme sprigs, garlic, and water for 3-6 hours, and then straining the resulting stock for use in soup.
The season for soup is here. Plan on chopping those flavorful, base ingredients, onions. Many people tear up, but keeping one’s knife sharp will reduce an onion’s volatile and tear-jerking cellular fluids. When using a clean, sharp, blade, you’ll be less inclined to tear when making your favorite soup.
Stay tuned for the French Onion Soup Recipe. Meanwhile get your knives ready, here are some knife sharpener suggestions.
People ask me all the time what NSF stands for. I always have trouble remembering that it stands for National Sanitary Foundation. But what does it really mean to all of us involved in the food service business? Those of you who own restaurants, pizza shops, or other food service facilities know the health inspector wants to make sure you are meeting all NSF standards. Aside from being clean, your restaurant or other food service facility must meet NSF requirements. For example, your sink must have coved corners, and also must have three compartments to provide for washing, rinsing, and sanitization. Most also require that the sink has two drain boards (one for clean and one for dirty). All the equipment in the kitchen is required to have 6“ legs or wheels, enabling ease of cleaning underneath. Most equipment must be stainless steel for easy and efficient cleaning. Containers for food storage must also be NSF approved. They must be made from the right material and be easy to clean. Any food processing equipment (slicers, dicers, mixers, etc.) all must meet the NSF standards.
So we know what NSF means to us in the food service industry. But who exactly is NSF? The National Sanitary Foundation was formed over 60 years ago. They are an independent, not-for-profit organization trying to make the world a safer place for consumers. They test and certify products to verify that these products meet health and safety standards. Once they have tested a product and deemed it acceptable, the product receives the NSF Mark. This NSF Mark means that the product has been tested by one of the most respected certification companies today and is held to the highest safety and sanitation standards. If you are in the foodservice industry, you want your products to have this mark. It tells customers they can trust you and your equipment. If something in your restaurant doesn’t meet these standards, your local health inspector will surely let you know about it.
To make sure your equipment is up to standards, always purchase your restaurant supplies from an experienced food equipment dealer. You can be sure that any equipment you buy from ABest will be NSF approved unless otherwise noted, such as some products in our “Just for Home” section.
Sometimes, a good slice of pizza really hits the spot. What’s your favorite style? I find the thin crust pizza to be delicious by-the-slice, and I think I know why. A typical by-the-slice pizza is pre-cooked and heated in a brick pizza oven before serving. The extremely hot stone oven heats the pizza very quickly and helps cook the crust into that perfect, foldable consistency that it’s famous for, but sometimes hard find.
One of my favorite pizza parlors is Best Pies, in Truckee, CA. http://bestpiesco.com/ – they have truly brought fantastic New York style pizza to this Sierra mountain town. When they opened a few years ago, I fell in love. But given that they are 20 minutes away from my home and do not deliver, I had to find another solution for a quick slice-o-pizza fix.
Enter the pizza stone. I have used it to make homemade pizza and other baked foods, but I found another simple, fast and easy use for my stone. Whenever I am near Best Pies, I buy one or two plain cheese pizzas, take them home, and freeze individual slices in the freezer. When I want one, I preheat the oven and the stone to 450 or so. Then it only takes 2-3 minutes to make that slice hot and every bit as good as out of the restaurant’s oven. It folds perfectly.
I get plain because it saves money, and it’s fun to play with whatever toppings I might have in the fridge. Easy as pie!
Thank you, Best Pies and other great pizza places. So stop by your favorite pizza place, pick up a pie, and enjoy slices for a week or so with your pizza stone and a hot oven.
Best pies, I mean, regards,
HONK IF THESE ITEMS ARE NOT IN YOUR KITCHEN – THEY SHOULD BE
LEMON LIME SQUEEZER
Beyond the usual suspects, like margaritas and other beverages with juice, this tiny device makes life easier when any recipe calls for fresh juice. Your hands will thank you when making salad dressings, Thai food, frozen drinks, lemonade, and more. Plus you can squeeze more juice out of your fruit than with your bare hands.
CAST IRON SKILLETS
Who needs Teflon when you have a nice cast iron pan or skillet. They’re easy to clean, versatile, and they can handle high heat for baking and sautes. Plus they will last a lifetime.
These pans improve with age, and should be ‘seasoned’ using fat or oil after each use. Over time, consistent use can create a natural ‘seasoning’ that gives the pan a smooth non-stick surface. The seasoning process is a kind of art, and some people have their own opinions on what type of fat or oil to use and if soap should be used to wash the pan. Personally, unless I am going to use the pan very soon, I use soap and rinse the pan for health reasons. I never let it soak, and I immediately dry it with a towel or over the stovetop. I then wipe it with a very light coat of oil or coconut oil. Take care and note that some oils and fats, including excess olive oil, could potentially become rancid over time, so I tend to exercise judgement regarding when and how I season the pan based on when I plan to use it next. We have a Cast Iron Care Guide you can read too.
Cast iron cookware is a joy to cook with, so browse our Cast Iron Cookware section for some deeply discounted, heavy duty selections, including cast iron pans, skillets, platters and grills.
This tool is as useful as it is simple. Beyond scraping ingredients from mixing bowls, this soft scraper will not damage cookware and is heat resistant so it can be used when cooking. If you are trying to make the perfect omelette, this tool makes it incredibly easy to free the omelette from the sides of your pan.
COOKING / KITCHEN TONGS
The color coded tongs concept is used in professional foodservice to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. At home, it’s stylish too. I like these tongs not only because they are inexpensive, but because they also have a natural, spring loaded grip that I find easier to use than some of the others when grilling or serving food. They are open just the right amount when not in use, and easy enough to close when turning or grabbing food.
Perhaps the kitchen tool I use the most. I like these mixing bowls because they have a nice, heavy-duty feel, and the non skid bottom does help when stirring, mixing and tossing. They are functional yet attractive enough to serve a salad after you toss it. Beyond that, from mashing potatoes to making dough, this bowl will not let you down.
If you are finding it hard to slice a tomato, you need a knife sharpener. I like the handheld sharpening steel, but there are many versions available in our Knife Sharpeners section.
There’s lots more – we’ll share some soon.
The farm to table movement is here to stay, and it makes sense. In restaurants, it’s a win-win for everyone. Farm fresh food tastes better, looks better, and it is better for you. Chefs, farmers, and restaurant patrons all get to support each other’s work by using and enjoying what food is available at that moment in their communities. It’s inspiring, enough inspiring that many chefs and restaurant owners are taking to doing their own growing, and the patrons love it.
Sonoma County in Northern California has fully embraced the farm to table concept, and it should – this place is a lush breadbasket where ingredients seem to grow right out of cracks in the sidewalks. The wine makers, wineries, farmers, restaurants, and patrons ooze fresh and local. In many communities there, it’s a given that everything served is from somewhere in the backyard. You eat what’s available, and it’s great. Locally grown veggies, eggs, meats, wild mushrooms, local wine, and local beer is all you’ll find. Here are a few great farm to table concepts we’ve visited in Sonoma where the food is colorful, creative, and fun.
Barndiva, in Healdsburg, CA, offers fine dining using seasonal ingredients from producers in Northern California. The food is fine and fresh, and they rightly sell the story and credit the purveyors they rely on by listing some of them on a sign outside the restaurant. It’s a mutually beneficial cross-promotion for the food purveyors and the dining establishment. Visit them in Healdsburg or at barndiva.com.
Ravenous, also in Healdsburg, changes their menu based on available ingredients almost daily. They update so often, they just hand-write and photocopy their menu – it’s a nice touch. The place feels like a rustic, comfy home. It’s popular with the locals, and crowded; you will usually find local wine makers hanging around there.
Peter Lowell’s, in Sebastopol, CA, features Italian-inspired cuisine based on the seasonally available ingredients from Sonoma County and Northern California. Everything is local, even the coffee, and they make their own ketchup. We were lucky enough to have wild-caught hedgehog mushrooms on our wood fired thin-crust pizza. Visit them on Healdsburg Ave in Sebastopol or at peterlowells.com.
So be inspired – we’ll bring you more great concepts soon.