Tag Archives: Taste of Home

water, image from morguefile

5 Ways to Keep Customers Cool

Temperatures have been holding at record-breaking heights this summer in the United States.  In fact, according to The Weather Channel, it’s actually been as hot as 117 degrees, recorded in Childress, Texas on June 26.  That’s not even counting the humidity which can make the heat index rise even higher.   With all of these thermometer busting days, it’s tough to find ways to keep customers cool.  To quell the complaints until snow begins falling again, Central’s got just what you need.  We’ve compiled a list of tips, tricks and recipes to keep patrons chilly and maybe even allow them to enjoy outdoor dining without the fear of melting!

water, image from morguefileHydrate Through Water

We all know that it’s important to get enough water into your system even when it’s  scorching outside.  Thankfully, this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep your guests (and staff) healthy and happy.

Product Tip:  Water Coolers can be a great investment to keep staff from overheating while a pretty glass can help make water a bit more appealing to guests.

Try this twist to add a little flavor: Lemon & Cucumber Water from Food.com

 Hydrate Through Food

If filling guests up on water sounds like an opportunity for money loss, rest assured there are also other ways to keep them hydrated.  Foods like watermelon and cucumbers are also full of H2O and are in prime season during these hot months.

Try these tasty recipes:  Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho from Epicurious
Minty-Watermelon Cucumber Salad from Taste of Home

Don’t Forget the Ice

It may not be a great idea to encourage customers to fill up on frozen margaritas while they’re out in the 100°+ heat.  In fact, alcohol actually speeds up dehydration according to the U.S. Army Medical Department.   Instead, you can cool them down by offering a slushy, non-alcoholic alternative (if they’re tasty enough diners may not even miss the alcohol).

Product Tip: Instead of crushing the ice yourself or burning out the motor on your food blender, try using an ice shaving machine like the Hamilton Beach Revolution Ice Shaver.

Try this sweet addition:  Pear Green Apple Raspberry Granita also from Hamilton Beach

chili pepper, image from MorgueFileBeat the Heat with Spice

It may sound crazy, but spicy food actually helps cool you off.  Think of the weather in places like India and Mexico, then think of the different types of food they eat.  Items like curry and chili pepper are so popular in these places because they increase sweat.  According to The New York Times, “If you are living in a hot climate, the increase in body temperature (when eating spicy foods) can make you feel cooler by diminishing the difference between you and the surrounding air and by inducing sweating, which cools the body when the perspiration evaporates.”  So why not use the heat as an opportunity to try out a few new spicy recipes for patrons, while educating them on the benefits of using heat to cool off?

Product Tip: Don’t forget to have anyone preparing these spicy items wear gloves, especially while cutting up and handling peppers.  Cut Resistant are good to prevent chopping accidents while non-latex and vinyl gloves are great options to help ensure excess seeds and/or juices don’t end up getting rubbed in worker’s eyes.

Try these spicy recipes:  Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry from Food Network
Thai Stuffed Chili Peppers from About.com

Eat your Greens

While eating a salad may sound like just the trick due to the cold veggies (or even just the thought of iceberg lettuce), there is actually more to their cooling effect.  FoodRepublic.com suggests, “Green, leafy vegetables—like spinach, kale and broccoli—are packed with calcium, which is crucial to your body’s thermoregulatory abilities.”  In plain English this means that the calcium helps keep your brain in contact with the rest of your body to make sure you don’t overheat.  Salads are also a great idea for restaurants in the summer months because so many different fruits and vegetables are in season, making them a bit cheaper, yet fresher tasting.

Product Tip:  After washing your lettuce and any other vegetables, throw them in a Salad Spinner or Dryer to make sure they’re dry and will grab hold of any dressing you might use.

Check out veggie versions or opt to add fruit: Roman Summer Salad from Food Network
Strawberry Summer Salad from All Recipes

 

If these five tips still have guests sweating (remember that’s supposed to happen with the Curry), there’s always the hope that Fall is just around the corner (September 23) and hopefully with it will come cooler weather.  In the meantime, kick back, relax and let the fan be your guest’s best friend.

Have a fail-proof recipe or idea for staying cool in during the sweltering summer months?  Share your thoughts with us below.

Image from MorgueFile

Central’s Guide to Summer Grilling

The tradition of grilling has really been around since man discovered fire.  However, over time it has gone from an essential cooking method to a weekend pass time and in current years it’s even evolved into contests and cultured cuisine.   Just as the entire idea of cooking outdoors has progressed, so has the tradition within the United States.  In a Salon.com article on grilling it is said that George Washington recorded all of the barbecues he attended/hosted mentioning that he may have in fact been responsible for creating the “first presidential barbecue.”

Image from MorgueFileAs time went on, grilling out seemed to regress back into the survival mentality with Food Network saying, “Until well into the 1940s, grilling mostly happened at campsites and picnics.”  Then in 1951, the world of grilling experienced a huge change, bringing barbecuing and grilling into virtually everyone’s backyard.  According to a piece of trivia in the San Matteo Daily Journal, 1951 was the year that the first kettle-shaped barbecue grill was designed by George Stephen, a worker at Weber Brothers Metal Works near Chicago.  Not only did this invention make is much easier and cheaper to grill on a more frequent basis, it also made way for grilled food to become a common entrée at even the trendiest of restaurants today (including a chain of its own design, Weber Grill).

So with this rich (and tasty) history in mind, Central now shares with you our guide to summer grilling complete with mouth watering recipes that will get the word out that your restaurant has the best grill in town!

Prep/Safety:

  • Temperature safety:

ο To prevent frivolous flipping and ensure cooking temperature use a
meat thermometer like this Dual-Sensing Probe
Thermometer/Timer
and/or a grill thermometer.  Eating
undercooked meat could cause salmonella.

• 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.

ο After meat is cooked, do not leave it outside any longer than two
hours when the temperature is lower than 90°F or one hour if the
temperature is above 90°F.

*Tip* – Always pre-heat your grill (both charcoal and gas) to
ensure that the temperature is stabilized so food is not
cooked unevenly.  Whole Foods Market’s Grilling Guide
suggests, lighting coals at least 30 minutes before beginning
to cook on a charcoal grill and at least 15 minutes before on a
gas grill.

  • Do not cook on outdoor grills indoors or under an awning:

ο  If you would like to grill indoors, it is safe to use a Charbroiler
instead.  Using an outdoor grill inside could cause a fire or
even Carbon Monoxide poisoning (when using charcoal).
Always keep water, a fire extinguisher and a burn kit on hand
in case a fire does break out.

  • Be aware of cross-contamination:

ο Be prepared with two plates: one for raw meat and one for
cooked meat.

ο Keep fresh marinades and sauces on hand to use on cooked
meats instead of using those that have been used with the raw
meat.

Image from MorgueFileCharcoal vs. Gas Grilling:

  • Convenience = Gas wins since it’s as easy as turning the knob to get cooking.  Charcoal involves a longer wait, stacking charcoal briquettes or lumps, lighter fluid levels, etc.  Charcoal also requires a little more attention to make sure that the coals are staying hot while gas usually stays at a steadier temperature and can be regulated by a knob.
  • Expense = Charcoal grills are usually less expensive initially, but do require new coals more often whereas a tank of propane can last for a while.  However, with gas prices at +$4/gallon, charcoal may be the winner this summer.
  • Cleanliness = Overall gas is a cleaner burn.  It does not produce much in terms of air pollution due to smoke levels and there is less waste from the actual coals and fluid bottles.
  • Taste = While it is a matter of opinion, there are definitely more options when it comes to a non-gas grill.  In a charcoal grill, briquettes could be used or even different forms of wood chips to add a smokier flavor.  But the only true difference is that a charcoal grill can reach a higher heat which creates a sort of crusting on the outside of the meat, sealing in flavor more easily. However, according to the Amazing Ribs site, “If you use strong flavored rubs, marinades, and sauces, you will never notice taste differences because they hamper browning.”  So all in all it mostly comes down to personal preference.

How to bring it all together:

Once your grilled meal is all prepared, this final thing to always remember when grilling is the importance of a great presentation and marketing!   While you’re wonderful smelling/tasting barbecue may be enough to get most people in the door, invest in a barbecue sign to assure customers that yours really is the place to go for the best barbecue in town.   Once guests are in the door, vinyl tablecloths lend a fun, picnic type vibe to the meal.   As an extra added bonus they are also easy to clean with a damp cloth and are resistant to stains so guests can really dig in without any fear of ruining the table coverings.  To add to the outdoor food vibe you can also serve up all of your delicious food in some rectangular plastic food baskets, which are great for everything from barbecue to fries to just about any other side.   While you’re at it you might want to look into an iced tea brewer to make your guests some sweet tea to wash it all down with!    And although it’s often overlooked, guests full on barbecue will appreciate you placing a toothpick dispenser out once plates have been cleared.

Recipes to try:

Now that you have everything from the past to the dining appearance and all that goes in between down, there’s nothing left but to grab your grill and fire up a few dishes for your anxiously awaiting customers.  We’ve gathered a few for you to try that will be sure to have them coming back for more.

Sweet & Spicy Sauce and Rub: Hank’s Barbecue Sauce (Simply Recipes) & Meathead’s Memphis Dust (Amazing Ribs)

The Classics:  Beer Can Chicken (Simply Recipes) & Barbecued Pork Ribs (Delish)

Something Different: Aussie Burgers (Martha Stewart) & Ancho Chili and Cinnamon Shrimp (Grilling Companion)

For the Veggie Lover: Grilled Eggplant Panini (Eating Well) & Corn n’ Squash Quesadillas (Taste of Home)

Tasty sides:  Bacon and Corn Stuffed Peppers (Taste of Home) & Fire Roasted Artichokes with Herb Aioli Sauce (Razzle Dazzle Recipes)

For your Sweet Tooth: Grilled Bananas Foster (Better Recipe) & Grilled Nutella and Pecan Pound Cake Sandwiches (L.A. Times)

What’s your biggest grilling secret?  Do you have the best sauce recipe around?  Share with us in the comments below.