Tag Archives: meat

Kitchen Blunders and Tips for How to Avoid Them

Oil; Image from MorgueFileMost people cook, to some extent, on a daily basis and everyone was instructed from some source whether it was a cooking show or their grandmother.  Along the way, many kitchen mistakes have been passed from person to person.  Some were thought to be useful or time-saving ideas, while others have simply become habits over the years.  So how do you know what’s wrong and what’s right when making your next meal?  Here are just a few tips on common missteps you may be taking every day in your kitchen and how they can be solved .

Blunder #1: Putting oil in your pasta water

Why it’s wrong:  When you first started cooking, chances are one of your first dishes was pasta of some sort.  More than likely you were told to add a little oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking together.  Makes sense right?  Wrong!   Adding oil to your pasta water actually doesn’t do any good for the pasta itself.  At best the oil will float on top of the water (remember how oil and water don’t mix?) and at worst it will coat the pasta and prevent any sauce from being absorbed.

How to fix it: Instead of using oil, you can prevent your pasta from sticking by doing one simple thing…stirring regularly.    It’s also a smart move to use a pot that is large enough for the amount of pasta.

Source: http://www.cookthink.com/reference/1074/Whats_the_point_of_putting_oil_in_my_pasta_water

Blunder #2:  Don’t overcrowd
your pan

Why it’s wrong:   You’ve done it before.  You, your family, etc. are starving and you want to just throw everything in the pan and get it cooked up fast.  What’s so wrong about getting your stomach full faster?  Well, overcrowding your pan does a few bad things.  First, the more food you have in the pan, the lower your pan temperature goes.  This can lead to undercooking some pieces while others get burnt and ends up actually making your cooking take longer.  Second, it can actually change the flavor of what you’re cooking (especially if different elements are being cooked together).

How to fix it:  Cook your food in batches.  While it may seem like it takes longer, your pan will actually stay at the desired temperature ensuring that all ingredients are done to the correct degree and preventing re-cooking or burning.

Tool for the job:  Grab a Vollrath Nonstick CeramiGuard II Finish Pan.  Remembering to not overcrowd the pan plus cooking on a non-stick surface will help make sure your food is cooked evenly and isn’t burnt on the bottom.


Blunder #3:  Don’t turn food too often

Why it’s wrong:   It’s tempting to turn your food to prevent it from burning and to ensure that both sides get cooked equally.   However, the more you move the food the less time it’s actually getting to cook.  While it doesn’t seem like much time for the food item to be away from the pan, because food is cooked by laying on the hot pan, when it is moved the food has to reheat itself to bring it back up to the correct cooking temperature.

How to fix it:  There is one simple tool that can prevent frivolous flipping, a meat thermometer.  This tool will allow you to check the temperature on the food to know when it should be flipped.  It’s also helpful to know the general rules on how hot to cook your food and how long on each side.  Go here for a nice guide.

Tool for the job:  Instead of turning your meat repeatedly to see if it’s done, it much safer to use a meat thermometer like the Cooper Atkins Dial Meat Thermometer to check the meat’s temperature.  This will help you keep from overcooking and keep your steaks (and other items) juicy and delicious.


Blunder #4:  Not tasting your food
as you go

Why it’s wrong:   You’ve followed the recipe and put in exactly what was instructed.   Of course, it should taste great and be seasoned perfectly.  In a perfect world, this would be true.  However, in the real world, everybody’s taste preferences are different.   By simply going by instruction you could end up with food that is totally bland or way over seasoned.

How to fix it:  The easiest way to fix this is to taste and then season as you go.  While it may seem like common sense, you have to season a little, taste and adjust.  By doing this you’ll not only make a dish that works with your tastes, you may also create your own version of a great recipe.   It’s also smart to follow seasoning guidelines about fresh and dried herbs.   Sounds easy enough, but if you substitute one for the other it could increase/decrease the desired taste outcome.  If you happen to accidently over-season a dish, there are also ways to fix these by using this handy guide.


Blunder #5:  Not using an appropriately sharp knife

Why it’s wrong:   It’s often thought that by using a duller knife you’ll be less likely to cut yourself.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  By using a knife with a sharp blade you will have to use less pressure to cut food and the blade will be less likely to slip through what you’re cutting.  Sharp knives will also ensure better, cleaner cuts to food, making more consistent, visually pleasing incisions.

How to fix it:  It may be tempting to go out and buy new, expensive knives to fix this mistake, but it isn’t always necessary.  Just because a blade is pricey doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well.  The best advice is to buy a sharpening tool to keep up on your knife’s blade.  Taking care of your knife is also important.  Make sure to use either wood or plastic cutting boards, wash and dry the blade right after use and store them in their own area.

Tool for the job:  Purchase a Mundial 7 Piece Knife Set to make sure you have every cutlery tool you will need to cook just like a professional.  It even includes a sharpening steel so you can always ensure that your cutlery is up to snuff and your food will be sliced, chopped and diced with ease.



Now that you have these handy tips, try them out in your own kitchen and see if things go a bit more smoothly (no more cutting yourself due to a dull knife) and your food taste just a little better (undoubtedly your steaks will be juicier).  You might also want to pass these tricks of the trade on (maybe to that person who taught them to you) to help start new kitchen habits.

10 Foodservice Trends for 2011

Within days we will say goodbye to another year and will welcome a new one. In 2010, there were many new foodservice trends; Gourmet-on-the-Go, “Fine Fast” Sandwich Shops, Boutique Booze and Eggs All Day are just a few of the trends mentioned in a Convenience Store News article. While many of the trends that began this year will continue on, many new ones are on the rise.  Here is a look at what some sources are reporting for the New Year.

1.      Food Trucks

In a Foodservice Equipment and Supplies (FES) article on upcoming trends, they bring up the food truck. We’ve seen and/or heard about them and they have even made headlines in Chicago for banning them. More food trucks may begin to appear in 2011—and what makes them different than in the past according to the article is the fact they are being used as “brand extensions and catering aids.”

2.      New Cuts of Meat

“Newly fabricated cuts of meat” is an upcoming trend described by Missy Frederick of the Washing Business Journal. She asks, “Have you heard of a Denver steak? The pork flat iron, the Petite Tender?” These are what chefs are saying will be a hot trend for the upcoming year. While these will become more popular, it will be interesting to see if there is any downfall when new guidelines go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, making it mandatory for there to be labels on raw meat and poultry.

3.      Hyper-Local

Buying from local business has been increasing in popularity over the past few years. Some restaurants are taking local to an even further level—they are growing their own products and doing their own butchering. In another article by Frederick, she discusses this trend and says places like Restaurant Eve and Bourbon Steak are already being hyper-local and more restaurants may move this way in the New Year.

4.      Social Media

Social media has been on the rise for quite some time and its popularity is as high as it’s ever been—especially for businesses and restaurants.  In the Harvard Business Review, they say 2011 “will be the year these companies take a look at integrating social media, not only regionally, but globally.” Many different news sources are pointing out the importance of social media, and we might see it being such an important marketing tool for 2011 that some of those who aren’t using it might be missing out.

5.      Sophisticated K-12 Cafeterias

This is what is titled in FES’s “Top Design Trends for 2011.” Currently, many college campus cafeterias have the open food court with several different food concepts and registers scattered throughout. According to this article, grade, middle and high school cafeterias might move in this direction.  This could possibly work hand in hand with the fight against childhood obesity as more concepts would provide children with more variety in healthier choices.

6.      Better Nutrition

We have reported on health and nutrition in our blog and it’s been heavily covered in news articles all around the country.  Many different news sites are discussing 2011 being a year of healthier food trends—not only for schools but also restaurants and fast food chains.

7.      Alcoholic Beverages

A recent Nation’s Restaurant News article says alcoholic beverage sales will increase next year.  This ranges from people entertaining guests at home and also in restaurants. FES mentions this in an article and says “’Mad-Men’ style retro cocktails, high-cachet gin and bourbon, craft beers and punch (including sangria)” will be on the rise.

8.      Mom and Pop Shops

While these could have some competition with those food trucks we just mentioned, Restaurant Hospitality says we will see more “mom and pop” shops popping up. They describe these as “self-financed and self-built restaurants” that usually have 40 or less seating arrangements. They say if someone is pondering the idea to open up a shop like this, now is the time to do it.

9.      Online and Mobile Ordering and Applications

If you can order a pizza through a text on your phone, just imagine what will be available in years to come. Not too long ago, we reported on digital menus! So there is a growing trend of technology in the industry.  Technology gives customers more control—and they like that feeling. But it’s not just online/mobile ordering that will be on the rise, it will be a variety of applications.  For instance, on the Sacramento Bee’s hot food trends for 2011, they’ve put down the “iPad wine lists.”  They say the New York Times found Bone’s wine sales increased 11 percent just two weeks after they rolled out their wine list on the iPad. It looks as though the mobile trend will continue to grow and make things quicker and more convenient for customers.

10.  Korean Food

Mexican and Chinese are two of the many types of popular ethnic cuisine in America and many top trend lists are pointing that Korean food will join in for 2011. This will range from food trucks, street food and restaurants.

There are many lists for 2011 trends for the foodservice industry. It will be interesting to see which trends make it and which ones don’t. We’ll follow up on these to see what rises in popularity.

Everyone at Central wishes you and yours a very safe and happy 2011.