Category Archives: Fun Food

Game-Day Snacking- Real French Onion Dip

It’s fall and football season is back in full swing.  And what kind of host would you be if you didn’t supply the best snacks for your guests?  Not a very popular one, that’s for sure! But fear not, we’ve got a delicious game-day dip idea that is sure to be a hit!  We’ve got what you need to know to make this gameday staple below.  Just add potato chips!

Real French Onion Dip -seriouseats.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 large yellow onions, finely diced (about 1 quart)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced chives

Directions:

  1. Heat sugar in a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until completely melted and light brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add onions and stir with wooden spoon to coat onions in sugar. Add butter, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Toss to combine. Cook, shaking pan occasionally until onions release all their liquid and brown coating builds up on bottom of pan, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons water shake pan while scraping with wooden spoon to deglaze brown bits from bottom of pan. Continue cooking, shaking occasionally until coating begins to build up again, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat deglazing and cooking steps three more times until all water is used up and onions are deep brown. Transfer to medium mixing bowl and allow to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  3. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan, and Worcestershire and whisk to combine. For smoother texture, run through blender or food processor. Chill in a sealed container for at least 1 hour and up to 5 days (flavor will improve with time). Spoon into a bowl, sprinkle with chives, and serve with chips.

Yield: ~2 cups

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Now that you’ve got the dip covered, just head on out and get your favorite potato chips! If for some reason you wind up with leftover dip, you can always put in on a hamburger or a nice roast beef sandwich!  You might be surprised how good it is!

Grilled Nachos: A Summertime Favorite

It is warming up outside which means people will be spending more time outdoors, particularly cooking outdoors.  One of the best things about summer is grilled nachos.  Yes, you heard right. Grilled nachos.  With a little bit of prep work, this is a real crowd-pleaser.  The reason it works so well is that everyone gets the toppings they want!  People get to customize!  Read on to find out how you can have a nacho bar at your next gathering!

Grilled Nachos: The Necessities

  1. Baking pans, Pizza pans work great for this!
  2. Tortilla chips. You can use white or yellow corn chips, but if you want to change it up or add some color, you can opt for black bean and rice or red bean and rice chips.
  3. Ground beef cooked with taco seasoning
  4. Refried and/or black beans
  5. Jalapeno peppers, fresh, not pickled and cut into medallions.  I prefer to leave the seeds in for extra heat, but you can remove them if you want a milder nacho.
  6. Poblano peppers, chopped and seeds removed.
  7. White onion, chopped
  8. Shredded Mexican style cheese
  9. A Hot grill
  10. Salsa  or Pico de Gallo, guacamole, and/or sour cream:  These items go on after you have pulled your nachos off of the grill.

Grilled Nachos:  Assembly Line Strategy

Once you have all the above items prepped and in their own separate bowls, line them up on the counter or a table.  This will resemble an assembly line process.  People get their pan, fill it with chips and whichever toppings they desire.  Make sure to place the chips nicely on the pan, not just a pile.  This will help ensure that each chip gets its share of toppings.  Put the cheese on last, to help hold all those great toppings in place!

Fire Up the Grill!

Now you are ready for the grill.  You will want to make sure that the grill is preheated at medium high, and the grate is clean before you place your nacho pan onto the grill.  There is no real set time for them to cook since each pan is a custom job.  Just keep an eye on them, when your cheese is all melted and the edges are nice and crispy, they are ready to enjoy!

Get Geared Up!

We’ve got all the cutlery, dishes and pans that you will need to make this a success.  If you don’t want to cut up vegetables by hand, try a food and vegetable processor!  Have questions about which products are best for you?  Call 1-800-215-9293 to speak with one of our knowledgeable product consultants.

Top Fall Foods to Look Forward to in 2015

Let’s face it: everyone goes crazy for fall – especially the food. Each year brings about new fall-flavored delights ranging from sweet to savory.  What foods are you looking forward to the most?

1. Pumpkin Spice Latte M&Ms

Fall’s coveted drink has been converted into America’s favorite chocolatey treat! M&Ms is on a roll, because they’re also introducing a Pecan Pie flavor. Fall and chocolate? Count me in!

Photo credit: m01229 / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: m01229 / Foter / CC BY-NC

2. Pumpkin Pie Poptarts

This was a must-try for our Content Specialist Tracey! Just thinking about warming up a classic Poptart with pumpkin pie filling… every day can be Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

3. Pumpkin Spice Almonds

Looking for a healthy way to get your pumpkin spice fix? Planters and Blue Diamond are coming out with pumpkin spice flavored almonds.

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

4. Caramel Apple Mini Donuts

Are you more of an apple fan? Tastykake launched apple-flavored mini donuts with a caramel crumble topping. Oh and if you’re still on team pumpkin spice, they’ll have you covered soon!

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy / Foter / CC BY-SA

5. Cranberry Apple Australian Yoghurt

Noosa had a hit last year with their pumpkin-swirled yoghurt, so this year they launched cranberry apple! Sounds like the best of Thanksgiving wrapped in one flavor.

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

6. Fall Seasonal Sampler Beer

Both Blue Moon and Samuel Adams’ have released their fall sampler set. Samuel Adams’ set contains their popular Boston Lager, Hoppy Red, Octoberfest and Harvest Pumpkin. Blue Moon’s set offers their Belgian White, White IPA, Cinnamon Horchata Ale and Limited Release Chai Spiced Ale.

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski / Foter / CC BY-SA

7. DavidsTea Fall Tea Collection

Want to be a part of the hot, fall drink trend but not a coffee drinker? DavidsTea’s fall collection includes five seasonal flavors: Honeycrisp Apple, Pumpkin Chai, Nutty by Nature, Cranberry Orange Muffin and Peanut Butter Cup.

Photo credit: Shockingly Tasty / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Shockingly Tasty / Foter / CC BY-SA

8. Hot Cocoa Cookie Dough

Whether you’re an adult or child, hot chocolate is always a favorite. Now, you can have your hot chocolate and eat it too with Toll House’s new hot cocoa cookie dough! Chocolate dough with marshmallow filling and chocolate chips – you can’t go wrong!

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy / Foter / CC BY-SA

Fall… Gone Too Far?

Every season brings about some of most delicious, and wackiest fall flavors. Here are some of the crazier ones we found: Pumpkin Spice Hommus, Salty Caramel Apple Vodka, Pumpkin Shandy and Maple Flavored Bacon Jerky.

What are your favorite fall foods? Let us know in the comments!

What the Fudge? How to Use a Chocolate Fountain

Have you been searching for a sweet addition to your menu, but don’t want to put a lot of time and effort into it? Chocolate fountains can be a picturesque addition to any catering event, restaurant or party! Easy to use and surprisingly easy to maintain, a chocolate fountain is a simple investment sure to bring it profit. Learn how to properly use a chocolate fountain using these steps.

How to Use a Chocolate Fountain

Follow along to ensure your fountain is a hit at your next event!

Choose a location wisely

  • Pick a spot that is away from air conditioning ducts, dance floors, doors of any type or a heavy traffic area. The cold air from air conditioning will cause the chocolate to harden and have trouble flowing smoothly. Placing the fountain in a heavy traffic area or near doors will only cause the risk of someone knocking it over to rise greatly! No one wants to be cutting a rug on the dance floor and accidentally cause a chocolate catastrophe!

Chocolate fountains and the great outdoors don’t mix

  • One big gust of wind and chocolate will be all over you, your guests and your table! No one wants that! Water and chocolate don’t mix, so if there’s a sudden downpour the chocolate will start to sieze. Even on a picture perfect day, insects will drawn to the fountain. They love chocolate too!

Choose a sturdy table

Chocolate Fountain

Photo credit: debbietingzon / Foter / CC BY

  • There would be nothing worse than setting your chocolate fountain on display to have the table tip during the party. Make sure that your table is not only sturdy, but also level! Before the chocolate is even in the fountain, use a leveler across the bowl to ensure that the bowl is level as well. If not, adjust the feet until you’re positive it’ll be safe.

Melt chocolate beforehand

  • Melting chocolate beforehand will save you a lot of time, but you’ll need to use plastic or Styrofoam containers that will insulate the heat so the chocolate won’t harden. Reheated chocolate can sometimes lose its smooth consistency, so time the melting process accurately. You can melt chocolate in the fountain basin, but this process could take up to an hour. Preheat your fountain before you add chocolate to assure it won’t harden and will flow properly.

Monitor the fountain

  • Once you put in your melted chocolate, someone still needs to stir the chocolate frequently and spoon it towards the auger to get the fountain to pull up the chocolate and get it flowing! During the event, your fountain might stop flowing properly. If this is the case, you either to add more chocolate or air has been trapped in the auger. Turning off the auger for about 10 to 15 seconds should solve this problem.

Cleaning the fountain

  • The party is over, the guests are leaving, and you’re stuck with a messy chocolate fountain. Sounds fun, right? Cleaning a chocolate fountain doesn’t to be a pain! First, cleaning up the fountain right after use will make it much easier. Turn off the machine, empty out the leftover chocolate (what you can) and disassemble it as much as possible. If a spatula cannot get every last bit of the leftover chocolate, use a damp sponge with hot water. Don’t pour excess chocolate down your drain, because it will clog it! Most fountain parts can be ran through a dishwasher, so run the pieces through a cleaning cycle. Once that’s done, check out the auger post-cleaning to ensure it’s not still clogged with chocolate. Finally, wash the base and carefully store it away until the next use!

Get Creative!

Chocolate fountains don’t necessarily have to be for chocolate! If your food service establishment usually goes for savory rather than sweet, switch out the chocolate for cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese, right? Having a barbecue or tailgating party? Use barbeque sauce or ranch dressing. Use this for vegetables, chips and more!

Still want sweet but not chocolate? Try using caramel for fruit, cakes, pastries and candies.

Regardless of what you put in your fountain, just remember to not use wet items that will cause the product you use to seize, and crumbly items that will just contaminate the food.

Shop Central for the fountain of your dreams and call one of our helpful Product Consultants if you have a question at 800-521-1277. We’d love to hear from you! Happy fountaining!

Featured image courtesy of Eugene Kim

Celebrating the New Foods of the 2015 Minnesota State Fair

If you are a state fair enthusiast (yes, they exist), then the Minnesota State Fair is definitely on your bucket list. The Minnesota State Fair has the largest average daily attendance of a state fair in the US, and surpassed in overall annual attendance by the Texas State Fair. The big draws each year are the top-name entertainment, one of the largest independent ride midways and – of course – the unique food items offered by the 300 food vendors dotted across the fairgrounds.

The 2015 fair will be held August 27th through September 7th, and the fair organizers recently released a list of the 40 new foods to be offered.  The list is diverse, and far outreaches the cliched list of ‘things you thought couldn’t be fried but are fried anyway.’ They range from the simple twist of the “Burger Dog” to the well thought out delicacy of Walleye Stuffed Mushroom. Dessert is not forgotten either, with 11 new treats including the intriguing BBQ Pickle Ice Cream. We’ve weighed through the official list, and picked out some of our favorites as we try and convince management to sponsor a trip to Minneapolis.

Most Appetizing

2015MSF-walleye_stuffed_mushrooms

Walleye Stuffed Mushrooms feature, three cheeses, red pepper, panko breadcrumbs and special sauce.

Minnesota does a good job of balancing fair food with interesting food that you don’t want to just try, but actually eat and enjoy. Many of the vendors are local restaurants who serve great food year round. One of the dishes that have our mouth watering already is Cowboy Dave’s Cluck & Moo from The Blue Barn. The all-in-one meal has smashed potatoes, roasted beef and grilled chicken covered with beef gravy, crispy onions and mustard BBQ sauce. The Minnesota Wild Rice Benedict Muffin combines a wild rice English muffin cup with sliced ham and a softcooked egg, covered with hollandaise sauce. LuLu’s Public House offers this delicious-sounding breakfast sandwich.

Looking to go upscale at the fair? It sounds like Coaster’s has a hit with their Prime Rib to Go. It is described as thinly sliced choice prime rib with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms (optional) nestled in a soft bread cone with a side of au jus, horseradish or Parmesan garlic sauce. Walleye Stuffed Mushrooms from Giggles’ Campfire Grill is just that – jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with a flavored cream cheese spread, walleye, three cheeses, red pepper, panko breadcrumbs and a special sauce.  Another ‘slightly tipsy’ selection is the Wine Fried Kalettes from Minnesota Wine Country. They took healthy kale and fried it in a batter featuring local wine. It’s served with a sweet Thai chili sauce.

2015MSF-shangheid_oslo

The Oslo Taco takes the tortilla to Norway with peppercorn-rubbed pork, Jarlsburg cheese, pickled cabbage slaw and other Norwegian favorites

Shanghaied Henri’s International Tacos brings several world-view variations of the taco to the fair this year, ranging from Korea to Norway. Their Korean Bar-B-Q Beef Taco is marinated beef glazed with spicy soy honey, layered with kimchi, topped with crispy rice noodles and served on two flour tortillas. The Oslo Taco features seared braised, peppercorn-rubbed pork, layered with Norwegian Jarlsburg cheese, pickled cabbage slaw, red onion, apple-smoked bacon and lingonberry relish sour cream, topped with pork cracklins and served on two flour tortillas. The local St. Paul Taco has braised beef brisket simmered in Summit Villain beer served on two flour tortillas with caramelized onions, cabbage slaw, horseradish sour cream and apple-smoked bacon bits. Finally, the Yucatan Taco has seasoned chicken chorizo braised in tequila and red wine vinegar served with green cabbage carrot slaw, queso fresco, pickled red onion and cilantro sour cream on two flour tortillas.

Can’t Get Away from the Clichés

2015 Minnesota State Fair: Sausage Sisters Sriracha Sliders

Sausage Sister’s Sriracha Sliders

As hot trends, Bacon and Sriracha inspired dishes continue to be introduced at fairs across the US. A couple of vendors at the Minnesota State Fair are still trapped under these clichés, as evidenced by Sausage Sister & Me’s Sriracha Sliders. They feature meatballs with a Monterey Jack cheese center, on a crusty slider bun with Sister’s own Sweet ‘n’ Hot Sriracha Sauce. Other Sriracha clichés include the Sriracha Dog and Sriracha Balls with your choice of fillings: a blend of shredded chicken, corn, tomatoes, egg and Sriracha; or Sriracha cream cheese with corn, tomatoes and egg.

This fair was one of the first to introduce the public to Chocolate Covered Bacon, and that tradition continues this year with a Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from a vendor aptly named Funnel Cakes. It is described as a funnel cake infused with bacon pieces, then topped with sweet maple glaze and sprinkled with more bacon. For the even sweeter tooth, Pat’s Place offers a Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Bacon Ice Cream Bar.

You may call the five new flavors of SPAM® Burgers a fair clichés, but Hormel Foods is based in Minnesota. Still, this year you can choose from Jalapeño, Hot & Spicy, Bacon, Hickory Smoke or Black Pepper at the SPAM® Burgers booth.

Finally, we can’t ignore the obligatory fried food entry – Ball Park Cafe’s Deep Fried Ribs which are smoked baby back ribs, breaded, fried and served with BBQ sauce.

Sweet Finales

The Doo Wop Dip features Strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant.

The Doo Wop Dip features Strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant.

Or beginnings, depending on your appetite. There are 11 new frozen treats this year. They range from the Doo Wop Dip (strawberry ice cream and real strawberries in a croissant, dipped in chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate) from the West End Creamery to Fire and Ice Kreme (soft serve vanilla ice cream with a Sriracha sauce and corn chip crunch, all topped with whipped cream) available at Goertze’s Dairy Kone.

From the ‘it says salad, so it must be healthy’ department is Grandma Deb’s Snicker Bar Salad. The “salad” includes chopped Snickers® bars and Granny Smith apples tossed in vanilla pudding with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce and is available from The Blue Barn. Finally, The Pizza Shoppe introduces Italian Dessert Nachos with cinnamon sugar cannoli chips smothered with sweet ricotta cheese filling, fruit, chocolate, nuts and candy toppings.

Cody’s Picks

2015 Minnesota State Fair - Hot Tail

The Hot Tail is a roasted pig tail coated in a scallion ginger sauce from The Rabbit Hole

Of course, we had to ask our resident ‘I’ll eat anything’ foodie into the conversation. His go-to items on the list included the Hot Tail, described as a “roasted pig tail coated in a scallion ginger sauce.” It is the culinary invention of The Rabbit Hole, a Koreatown-style Bar and Restaurant in Minneapolis. Sara’s Tipsy Pies also caught his eye, especially the Irish Apple pie made with 2GINGERS® Irish whiskey. Sara has been making pies with her ‘secret ingredient’ (Hint, it is local alcohol) since 2011 and is taking them to the fair for the first time this year.

On the flipside, Cody joined the chorus of puzzled gasps at the description of BBQ Pickle Ice Cream. The concoction from R&R Ice Cream is described as vanilla ice cream infused with a light BBQ sauce and diced pickles.

Create Your Own Food Creations Using Central Equipment

Many of the vendors at the Minnesota State Fair are local restaurants just like yours. They are using the fair to not only show their culinary creative side, but also attract some new business. When you are looking to invest in new equipment, turn to Central Restaurant for answers. Our highly-skilled Product Consultants are here to help you find the right equipment for your task, whether it is figuring out new weird flavors to add to ice cream or perfecting the perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors in a sandwich. Give one a call at 800-215-9293, start an online chat or order online from our website at CentralRestaurant.com!

All images and food descriptions courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair website at http://www.mnstatefair.org/.