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December 6, 2017

Not Your Grandmother’s Fruitcake

By Emily Caldwell Fruitcake

‘Tis the season for love, joy, and satisfying sweet cravings. After dinner is done, serve your customers the best gift of all, the cookie and dessert tray! Include holiday classic favorites like spiced gingerbread cookies drizzled with rich royal icing, buttery shortbread, or sugar cookie Christmas cutouts, all perfectly complemented with a tall glass of rich eggnog. But most importantly, don’t forget the fruitcake!


This quintessential Christmas cake follows a vintage recipe stuffed with fruits, nuts and filled with spirits — literally! The once iconic loaf was a celebrated treat enjoyed at weddings, birthdays, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges. Tales from the Middle Ages recall that early crusaders would pack a few slices of the sweet loaf to nourish them on their long travels. As time progressed, so did the fruitcake. In 18th century Victorian England, plum cakes were the new replacement being served with tea. Although the American version stems from the English and their plum cake, the origins of the infamous cake dates back to the ancient Romans. Since these early forms of the holiday cake, we have seen a globalized adoption and adaptation of the recipe from other countries. From the Spanish and Mexican pastry ring of Rosca de Reyes to the Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) rolled neatly in France, each country bears their own fruitful tradition.

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November 1, 2017

Accommodating Vegan and Gluten-Free Holiday Guests

Vegetarian meal small

By Emily Caldwell

Fall is here! But even though the weather is getting cooler, the kitchen is heating up! It's the start of the holiday season and people are beginning to come home to celebrate the festivities with family, friends, and loved ones. But as your customers gather around your dinner table to give thanks and revel in the mouthwatering feast you have prepared, it is crucial to remember your customers and their dietary needs. By providing vegan and gluten-free options during the upcoming Thanksgiving season you can be the holiday hero and give everyone something to be thankful for.

Many customers are adopting vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free lifestyles for health benefits and ethical reasons. Although their diets may be restrictive, they still want to be able to indulge on the same comforting dishes that are featured on your menu. Good thing most classic holiday dishes can easily be adjusted with a variety of convenient ingredients.

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October 3, 2017

Squash the Competition

Squash_competition_soup

By Emily Caldwell

Fall into the season by including winter squash into your menu. Whether you are preparing a specialty holiday dish or want to warm up your customers on a frigid fall night, traditional gourds provide a variety of flavors that will draw clients to the comfort of your establishment.

These hearty vegetables will attract vegetarians and loyal diners alike, with their nutrient rich ingredients. According to the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, “winter squash are exceptionally rich in carotenes… and are loaded with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and insulin-regulating properties. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and B1, folic acid, potassium and dietary fiber.” Best of all, they are versatile vegetables that you can use in your soups, salads, side dishes, and desserts! 

The most popular and well-known are Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, and Pumpkin. Not sure how they taste or how to use them? Here is a guide to help you discover how to incorporate these flavors into your fall menu.

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August 2, 2017

Tastes Like Home

Nostalgia

By Emily Caldwell

Take your customers on a trip down memory lane by incorporating flavors in your menu that can be found in their childhood favorite meals and experiences. Give them a twist on Mom’s brown-bag classics to reminisce over lunch. Remind them of dinners at Grandma’s filled with smiles and Sloppy Joe’s. People tend to associate food with sentiments from their past — foods that taste good can make us feel good too.

As the years go by, we often reflect back on old memories and can develop a sense of nostalgia or a longing for the past. Seen in recent movie and television reboots, games and clothing, nostalgic marketing is taking over various markets and industries. *Forbes explains that this nostalgia tactic embodies the idea of tapping into positive cultural memories from previous decades. Although originally adapted to attract millennials to specific products, it is now seen as a successful strategy to engage with all age groups. Through nostalgic marketing, businesses can connect to their audience through cross-cultural and generational appeals. People love sentiments from their past — from the colors, packaging, smells, and taste, they appreciate the positive emotions that it can evoke.

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July 3, 2017

Complements for your Cocktails

Bar_snacks

By Piet E. Jones

Your customers are having drinks at the bar and need a little something to snack on, so offer up some old time bar snacks. Something salty and crunchy that is bursting with flavor and easy to eat. Include dishes that not only complement your bar beverages, but help entice your customers to order more.

Nuts are an easy choice, but pre-made nut mixes can be a bit pricey and not very exciting. Bulk raw nuts, on the other hand, can be bought for much less and can easily be custom roasted in-house to create your own signature nut dish. Almonds are great for such a snack - especially if peeled. You could create your own honey roasted almonds with honey, balsamic vinegar, demerara sugar and sel gris. Or go for something more exotic, by tossing the almonds with za’atar and olive oil.

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May 30, 2017

Butter is Better

Shutterstock_250461964

By Piet E. Jones

The five mother sauces - Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Sauce Tomat, Hollandaise. The basis for French cooking that has influenced international cuisine for generations. Learn these, as nearly every chef does very early in their career, and you have a skill that will allow you to imitate or pioneer most any dish. Once the base was made, one could modify or enhance any of them to fit the dish they were intended for - be it a thyme infused Béchamel for the perfect mac-n-cheese or spicing up your eggs with a Sriracha Hollandaise. These were the sauces that set apart the truly great dishes from the might have beens. Or at least they used to be. 

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April 26, 2017

Veggie Noodles are Here to Stay

Zoodles

By Piet E. Jones

Culinary trends are constantly on the move. Some pop big with lots of buzz and perhaps a bit overuse, like sous vide, before settling into becoming a somewhat commonplace technique used effectively for some dishes. Others, like foams, devolve into culinary punchlines. 

Spiralized vegetables, or zoodles, looks like it might be on track to have some staying power. Typically made from zucchini, hence the Z, zoodles have crossed the boundary from restaurant to home kitchens cementing their popularity. Part of that is driven by the gluten free and reduced carb trends; the rest is that they are both tasty and versatile.

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March 29, 2017

There's a Hot New Ingredient in Town

Fried-egg-burger2

By Piet E. Jones

Nope, it’s not some rare plant with an odd sounding name that’s only available on alternate full moons. Nor is it some high end heritage meat with a genetic line that exists only on some remote mountain farm. The hot new ingredient is actually one of the oldest ingredients of all - the egg. Now, it’s not an unusual egg that’s hot. Quail, goose, duck, even ostrich eggs can be found on menus all over but that’s not what the buzz is about. No, it’s your garden variety chicken egg that’s showing up on the hottest dishes in town.

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March 1, 2017

Pollock – America's Other White Fish

Gray pollock2

By Piet E. Jones

“Monday fish hardly worth elevating to Friday.” That was how James Beard award winning British food writer, Jane Grigson, dismissed pollock in her 1973 tome, Fish Cookery.  “Tasteless” and “muddy” were some of the other words she used to describe the poor, lamented pollock.

But that was many years ago, tastes change and what was once out is now hot.  Diners today don’t want strong, fishy seafood.  What Grigson called “tasteless,” today we describe as “delicate.”  The “muddy” color that offended her?  Our eyes see a beautiful ivory fillet.  Don’t forget, in colonial America indentured servants in New England demanded a clause in their contracts not to be fed too much lobster - a burden many of us today would gladly welcome.

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February 1, 2017

Make the Most of Valentine's Week

Make the Most of Valentine's Day
By Piet E. Jones

Valentine’s Day. One of the roughest days of the year for many a restaurant. Some call it “amateur night,” filled with high expectations of a quiet, romantic dinner that is at odds with the reality of barely controlled dining chaos. Look around, do you see any of your regulars? Probably not. Maybe they stopped in for a quick drink before it gets busy and then flee the scene. Most of the people you see are new faces. Some you may be able to capture as new regulars, others are out for a very rare dinner. That’s all great, take good care of these people, it’ll give you a nice bump in an otherwise slow month but there is still so much more potential you can get out of this day.

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