Author Archives: Marie

More holiday must-haves: roll top chafers + some holiday recipe ideas

First off, congrats to the winner of the Fusion triple well warmers in yesterday’s giveaway: Paula L. of Martin, TN!

Today’s giveaway prize is another great piece for holiday catering – a roll-top chafer from Browne-Halco.

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Its a full-size 8 Qt. chafer, stainless steel with mirror finish. Gold tone handles on cover and sides of frame. It comes with a water pan, 2-1/2″ deep food pan and two fuel holders. (It also fits standard chafer storage boxes.

And, if you’re wondering what to put in that chafer you might win, R&I has some great side dish ideas that also happen to travel well – perfect!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Yield: 4 servings

  • Extra-virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp.
  • Brussels sprouts, blanched, halved 1 1/2 lbs.
  • Prosciutto, thinly sliced and jullienned 2 oz.
  • Garlic, sliced thinly 2 cloves
  • Red wine vinegar 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

In a sauté pan, warm oil. Add Brussels sprouts and prosciutto; sauté 3 minutes or until slightly caramelized. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Pour in red-wine vinegar; season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Sweet-Potato Biscuits
Yield: 2 dozen

  • Flour 5 cups
  • Light brown sugar 1 cup
  • Baking powder 2 Tbsp.
  • Cinnamon 1½ tsp.
  • Salt 1 tsp.
  • Ground ginger 1 tsp.
  • Ground allspice ½ tsp.
  • Vegetable shortening 1 cup
  • Mashed sweet potatoes, cooled 2 cups
  • Heavy cream 1 cup
  • Pecans, coarsely chopped ½ cup
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger and allspice in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add shortening and cut with 2 knives or pastry blender until crumbly.
  3. Add sweet potatoes; mix well with wooden spoon. Add cream and pecans and stir just until moistened.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1½-inch thickness. Cut with 2-inch floured biscuit cutter. Place biscuits 1-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Cauliflower Gratin

Yield: 8 servings

  • Cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 3/4 lb.
  • Chestnuts, roasted, peeled, diced 12
  • Heavy cream 4 cups
  • Grated Parmesan cheese 3/4 cup
  • Chopped fresh thyme 1/2 tsp.
  • Kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Black pepper 1/2 tsp.
  • Black truffle oil (optional) 1-2 tsp.
  • Herbed breadcrumbs about 1 1/2 cups
  1. In a stockpot, combine cauliflower, chestnuts and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, simmer for 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and chestnuts from the cream and set aside to cool.
  2. Add Parmesan and thyme to the cream, return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer until cream mixture is reduced by half and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
  3. Return cauliflower and chestnuts to the cream mixture; season with salt and pepper and drizzle in truffle oil (if using). Spoon cauliflower mixture into 8 (8-oz.) ramekins. Top each ramekin with 3 Tbsp. breadcrumbs.
  4. Place ramekins in the oven, bake 4-5 minutes at 400F or until topping is golden and sides are bubbly.

Spaghetti Squash in Sage Brown Butter
Yield: 4 servings

  • Spaghetti squash, split lengthwise, seeds removed 1
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Unsalted butter 2 Tbsp.
  • Fresh sage leaves, whole 5
  • Juice of two lemons
  1. Sprinkle inside of squash with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place flesh-side down on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  2. Bake at 400F until squash is easily pierced with a knife and can be easily picked out of the skin with a fork for a spaghetti-like shape and texture.
  3. Place butter in a cold saucepan; bring to medium-high heat, allowing butter to start turning nutty and brown. Add sage; cook slightly. Add squash; cook until nicely browned. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Chilean Quinoa with Fresh Herbs
Yield: 4 cups

  • Quinoa 2 cups
  • Salt To taste
  • Green onions, finely chopped 1 bunch
  • Cilantro leaves 1 cup
  • Parsley leaves 1 cup
  • Basil leaves 1 cup
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 3 Tbsp. and to taste
  • Black pepper, ground To taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, soak quinoa in hot water for 5 minutes. Rinse quinoa in a colander with fresh water until the water runs clear.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Add quinoa and boil until grains begin to split open, about 5 to 8 minutes; strain and transfer to a bowl.
  3. Toss green onions with quinoa.
  4. Combine cilantro, parsley and basil leaves with olive oil in a blender; season with salt and black pepper.
  5. Toss blended herb mixture with quinoa; season with salt, black pepper and olive oil to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Tomorrow is the last day you can enter to win!

The prize is awesome – a Radiance Hot Plate:

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We will announce the winners for today and tomorrow on Monday morning – have a fantastic weekend!

Holiday catering food safety tips

Congratulations to Nancy R. of Ash, NC – winner of a really cool reversible black and white wet-erase marker board.

Today’s winner is going to get something really UNcool- a Fusion triple well warmer. ( a little food warmer humor, haha.)

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This warmer is ideal for buffet lines, concession stands and other venues where foods need to stay warm – it keeps hot foods hot, appetizing and ready to serve.

It comes with three third-size food pans, three covers and a pan frame. The warming tray can be used alone, or with the pan frame to securely hold food pans. Adjustable temperature control: Off, Low (150°F), Medium (175°F) or High (200°F). There are cool-touch handles on the warming tray and skid-resistant feet for safety.

We published a holiday catering guide a few weeks ago with some helpful info on making the most of holiday catering season. It include some broad tips and tricks for catering events and parties, but I thought I’d go into greater detail today on some of the food safety guidelines surrounding buffets and catering.

This information comes from FoodSafety.gov – pretty much the leading authorities on food safety! (Plus, a lot of our product consultants are CFSP, so they’re also a great resource for food safety issues.)

  • Cook foods thoroughly before the party: Pull out your food thermometer and use the mimimum cooking temperatures chart.
  • Keep hot foods hot: Use chafing dishes, crock pots, and warming trays to keep hot food hot. Use a food thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature of the food is 140° F or higher.
  • Keep cold foods cold: Store cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time. On the buffet table, place plates or bowls of cold food on ice.
  • Follow the Two-Hour Rule: If the food’s been out at room temperature for more than two hours, throw it out! After two hours, bacteria can easily multiply and cause foodborne illness.
  • Wash those hands: Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after you handle food.

Also check out this USDA podcast on keeping food safe on the buffet table; and this USDA video about not letting foodborne illness ruin your holiday!

Come back tomorrow to find out who won the Fusion warmer, it could still be you! Go to CentralRestaurant.com and enter to win.

Marker board signs for the artistically challenged

Congratulations to Mary H. Maryville, TN! She won the ice bucket and tongs, martini shaker and wine sleeve in yesterday’s drawing.

Today’s giveaway prize is a double-sided wet erase board with one white side and one black side. The hardware is rust-resistant stainless steel to protect it against the elements. It also comes with pre-attached hooks for either vertical or horizontal hanging and rainproof markers (pink, blue, yellow, green and white).

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Last week when we gave away the color-chalk board, I talked about some of the ways you can use the board for sidewalk marketing. Today I thought I would continue on that same path and talk about some easy ways to create good-looking signs on your marker board. Even if you’re not an artist – you can fake it in three easy steps…

Here’s a quick tutorial from WikiHow on how to draw block letters:

Three-dimensional block letters are great for headings and lettering on marker boards and it doesn’t take a professional artist to make it look good.

According to this Wiki, the key to making them look 3D is to give the impression that light is shining on them and casting a slight shadow. Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by writing the letter you want to draw.
  2. Outline the letter with ONE thin line.
  3. Connect the ends of the inner letter to the corners of the line around it.
  4. Decide where your light source is going to be. You can draw a circle or square or some other symbol that will let you know where the light is coming from.
  5. Pretend you are looking at a real block letter sitting in front of you. Shade in the spots that light isn’t shining on.

Tomorrow we’ll be giving away a Fusion triple well warmer – Stop by CentralRestaurant.com and sign up to win.

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Our favorite winter cocktails + today’s prize winner

Congratulations to our latest winner – Brenda S. of Dresden, TN! She won the Mosa cream whipper and charger set.

The winner of today’s drawing will receive a stainless steel barware set with an ice bucket and tongs, martini shaker and wine sleeve…so we thought today would be a great time to share some of our favorite winter cocktails…

Candy Cane Cocktail

  • 1 candy cane, crushed, for garnish
  • 2 ounces strawberry vodka
  • 4 dashes white creme de menthe
  • 2 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
  • Ice cubes
  1. Place crushed candy canes on a small plate or saucer. Wet the outside rim of a chilled martini glass with water. Holding the glass by the stem, rotate the rim to coat with candy.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, creme de menthe, cranberry juice, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into prepared glass; serve immediately.

Ambrosia Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 shot Applejack
  • 1 shot brandy
  • 1/4 shot cointreau
  • 1/4 shot lemon juice
  • Champagne

Mix together the applejack, brandy, cointreau and lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Fill in with Champagne.

Irish Coffee (of course!)

  • One long shot of good espresso
  • Two fingers of Irish Whiskey
  • Two tablespoons brown sugar
  • Fresh heavy cream, laced with a dollop of white sugar, beaten until it’s the consistency of custard, but not whipped to fluffiness.
  1. Have everything prepared and ready before you start assembling as time is of the essence. Get your nata prepared and keep it nice and cold.
  2. Pour the whiskey and brown sugar into the Irish Whiskey glass together.
  3. Then use the espresso steamer to heat the whiskey until it is good and hot and the brown sugar is dissolved, about eight to ten seconds.
  4. CAREFULLY put a match or lighter to the glass and flame the whiskey for a few seconds. This adds a je ne sais quo to the flavor, and cuts down the alcohol, bringing the caffeine and alcohol into perfect balance.
  5. What’s your favorite winter cocktail?

    Be sure to stop by CentralRestaurant.com and enter to win. Tomorrow we are giving away a Black/White Reversible Write-on Board.

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Weekend Winners + Day 7 giveaway: Mosa Whippers and Chargers

Congratulations to our weekend prize winners!

  • Pizza & Snack Merchandiser Winner: Diane S. of Greensburg, IN
  • Color Chalk Board Winner: Jon G. of Charlottesville, VA
  • KenKut 3 Winner: “Chef Pab” of Colorado City, AZ

Today’s winner will receive a Mosa cream whipper and charger set, a $113 value: this tool is ideal for making whipped cream and sauces. It is also perfect for garnishing cappuccinos, coffees, shakes and ice cream.

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It’s easy to use; simply add cream (depending on your recipe you may use additional ingredients such as chocolate, flavored coffee mix, vanilla or powdered sugar), charge the unit, shake, and while holding the whipper vertically with the decorating nozzle pointed downwards, dispense your whipped topping.

It is stainless steel, dishwasher safe and NSF listed. Whipped cream will stay fresh for two weeks when chilled in an airtight environment. Mosa chargers have universal threading and will fit any model of dispenser.

Stop by CentralRestaurant.com daily and sign up to win – tomorrow we are giving away a barware set with an ice bucket and tongs, martini shaker and wine sleeve.

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Day 6 prize giveaway – Kenkut foil & film dispenser

Happy Sunday!

We’ll be announcing the winners from this weekend’s drawing tomorrow morning.

Today’s giveaway is the new Kenkut 3 foil & film dispensers. Anyone who’s ever tried to dispense food wrap out of a cardboard box knows this is an essential item for any busy kitchen. 🙂

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Here are the specs:

  • Allows for 100% use of foil or film, saving you money.
  • Eliminates cross contamination caused from using unsanitary cardboard cutter boxes.
  • Accommodates 12″W to 18″W rolls up to 3000 ft.
  • Integrated blade storage area on lid.
  • Wall mountable.
  • Dishwasher safe.
  • NSF listed.

‘Nuff said?

Stop by tomorrow to see our weekend prize winners and the details on Monday’s giveaway – a Mosa cream whipper and charger set.

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Day 5 – Color Chalk Boards: sidewalk marketing made easy

Just want to thank everyone who has participated in our Winter Wonderland giveaway. We’ve had a fantastic response and we’re hoping to do more giveaways like this in the future. Its just a great way to thank our customers and provide even a little relief to those who might be struggling during these tough times.

Thanks so much!

We’ll be announcing the winners for Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s drawings on Monday morning. Those who sign up today will be entered to win a color chalk board.

It may seem like a simple item, but in today’s atmosphere of fierce competition, anything that can set you apart and draw people inside from the sidewalk can really make a difference.

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According to the Restaurant Blog, the appearance of a sidewalk menu board on the outside of a restaurant is as important as the menu on the inside.

Here are some tips on marketing your menu effectively with a color chalk board:

  1. Make sure the board is in good condition. This board is scratch resistant with a lightweight wooden frame, so it’ll stand up to some wear and tear on the sidewalk.
  2. Make sure the writing is clearly legible from a distance. Remember, the idea is to draw in those who might not have noticed you otherwise. Have your most artistic person do the writing!
  3. That said, be creative – but don’t go overboard. Using one or two different colors is fine, but if you have an busy melange of swirls and filigree, your signage will overwhelm onlookers and have the opposite effect.
  4. If you’re marketing a daily special, be sure to include the price! Especially in this economy, patrons can be put off or apprehensive if they don’t know the cost of an entree before they come in, and some people are too bashful to ask. If you give them a price up front, it eliminates the chance of alienating cost-conscious customers.

Stop by tomorrow for details on our next prize giveaway – a Kenkut 3 foil and film dispenser.

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