I know I keep going on about the strange and downright weird things that go on a restaurant, but I thought I would talk this week about some of the other stresses of being a restaurant owner or full-time chef.
The last post I made, I remember talking about a fun way to propose involving a diamond ring in the tiramisu, which almost never fails, if you happen to be thinking of asking somebody to marry you.
But, while that is one of the fun things that can happen in a restaurant, most of the stress goes on in the kitchen, and particularly over pieces of equipment that fail without giving any notice whatsoever. When the deep fat fryer packs in just before you cook 50 orders of french fries, your chef is likely to have a small heart attack or embolism.
The secret to cutting down on on this type of event is to buy decent equipment in the 1st place, but finding impartial reviews is almost impossible. The manufacturers tend to flood the forums or discussion groups with positive reviews of their equipment so you can never find the actual truth, unless you have used the equipment yourself. And–that can get very expensive, very quickly. Testing and trying out every single piece of equipment on the market is expensive, so–what is the point of this post?
The point of this post, is the fact that I found somebody who seems to do a genuine review of kitchen products, and is not being paid anything by the manufacturer to track you into believing he’s tested something when he has not. This is an example of one of his reviews, although I don’t know his real name, because he goes by the name Prokitchen, presumably in order to protect his identity – Commercial Griddles Reviewed - go check him out, because that’s the 1st honest review of commercial kitchen equipment I have seen on the Internet.
Now–you might think I’m crazy for writing this article but I would like to bet that 90% of all wedding proposals but done in a restaurant. Now I haven’t actually researched this and cannot provide any hard and fast facts but my gut feeling is that this is the case. Although there are lots of websites specifically devoted to “heartwarming proposals” which take place in unusual situations, I’m fairly sure this is not the norm.
Most people don’t bother to going to so much trouble to create elaborate marriage proposals because they are simply too busy to do anything like that. it’s all very well for proposing on the big board a football match, but that a lot of trouble, so most people simply do it over dinner.
In any case, I thought make a list of what I consider to be the most romantic types of restaurant to propose in. When she gone to the trouble of buying a diamond ring then you need to pick the setting to propose in. These are my top 3 choices:
French restaurant. This there’s 2 ways about it, of all the European restaurants generally French restaurants have the most romantic atmosphere, combined with exotic and interesting foods and a good range of French wines, a French restaurant is sure to impress.
Italian restaurant. The Italian restaurant come 2nd only to France as a romantic setting.
Indian. You might not think it but exotic spices and strange foods, make for a romantic combination, and in my experience–proprietors of Indian restaurants only to happy to help out and organize the setting for you. The same cannot usually be said for European restaurant owners.
That is not so there are not other possibilities, but I would say any of these 3 are a safe bet. Clearly–if your intended is a vegetarian, the chances are likely that the 3rd option would be the best choice–French and Italian cuisine rarely offers vegetarian. Over the Tiramisu will almost never fail.
There are as many ways to make a pesto as there are cooks. Partly because a great pesto starts with fresh ingredients. Wonderful cooks always look for the freshest ingredients, so when they move from parts of the country or to new countries, their recipes change out of necessity. Sometimes the ingredients don’t change by name but they do taste differently, because of the different soil composition. I was raised in an Italian family. My Nonna came from Finale Emilia a small town outside of Modenna, known for its wonderful food. Nonna always bemoaned the fact that her basil just didn’t taste the same as it did in the Old Country.
I love adding spinach to a pesto because of the flavor and nutrient value. The combination of spinach and basil is one of my favorites. The cook in the video above suggested adding garlic and Parmesan Cheese, Balsamic vineager, salt and pepper which are quite traditional. Then she shook it up a little by including Cayenne Pepper. At first I was horrified, but then reminded myself that I was searching for new pesto ideas.
If you don’t like spinach or you have other greens, feel free to use them. My Nonna used to use pesto as a creative and delicious way to clean out the refrigerator before things would spoil. Mustard greens or dandelion greens were favorites of hers to keep things tasting too sweet.
I usually add some black olives. This actually was something that I started doing after I visited New Orleans for the first time and fell in love with their Muffaletta sandwiches. I always thought of this as a French region. But these sandwiches are really Italian because they have layers of Italian meat and the best olive tapenade. But I have to be careful because I’m making a pesto and not a tapenade. It’s not good when all of your dishes start to taste a like.
Unless you consider arming yourself with a Medifast coupon and ordering protein bars online as grocery shopping, you probably indulge in Italian-inspired foods on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many of the Americanized versions of the more traditional dishes are less than diet-friendly.
Here are a few ideas to help keep calories at bay while you continue to enjoy your favorite Italian meals.
The next time you chow down on pepperoni pizza, keep in mind that each slice is almost 300 calories, with a whopping 12 g of fat. Most of pizza’s calories are in the crust and the cheese, so slim down your pizza by using a very thin whole-wheat crust and switching to low-fat or fat-free mozzarella. Experiment with pizza toppings that are lower in calories than pepperoni, such as grilled chicken or turkey meatballs.
Fettucine Alfredo remains as popular as ever, despite its 500+ calories and 25 g of fat per serving. If you’re determined to have pasta for dinner, make sure the pasta is whole wheat and use light, fresh sauces instead, like checca sauce. Pasta primavera, for example, has only 300 calories per serving, and pasta puttanesca has even less.
Lasagne is another pasta dish that you should avoid in its traditional form, as it comes packed with more than 500 calories and 26 g of fat per serving. If you feel you must indulge, use ground turkey instead of ground beef, low-fat mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Better yet, make vegetable lasagne. It not only has roughly half the calories, but it’s packed full of nutritional vitamins.
Remember that most of the calories in many traditional Italian dishes come from the cheese and the fats used, so adjust your recipes accordingly. Use olive oil instead of butter when cooking chicken piccata or chicken marsala, use low-fat chicken broth when making chicken cacciatore and low-fat mozzarella cheese when you make chicken parmigiana. Always try to make your own sauces, use fresh ingredients and keep fats to a minimum and you’ll see your waistline slimming down in no time.
I grew up in the Northeast, where authentic Italian food is in our blood, pizza is cooked in traditional brick ovens and the people actually know how to pronounce pasta e faglioli. I remember when my company transferred me to the Miami office. I dutifully headed down there for a house-hunting expedition and had planned on staying with a coworker’s family who had made it down there before I did.
Since she was a working Mom, she had ordered pizza for dinner. “Don’t worry,” she said, “You’re going to love this pizza. It’s wonderful!” With that, the deliveryman from Papa John’s rang the doorbell. Ugh.
The Italian restaurants in our part of south Florida were nasty, so I had to cook at home. I tended to go on binges with the cooking, so all too often, my kids were subjected to an entire week of nothing but Italian food. The weekly menu looked something like this:
Monday – Chicken piccata over risotto; roasted asparagus
Tuesday – Lasagna, made with a traditional bechamel sauce; side salad
Wednesday – Cioppino; fettunta
Thursday – Lobster ravioli; garlic bread; side salad
Friday – Seafood scampi over homemade fettucine; sauteed broccoli with olive oil, lemon and crushed red pepper
Saturday – Pasta alla carbonara; caprese salad
Sunday – Sunday Gravy (aka homemade tomato sauce) with meatballs, Italian sausage and pork; polenta; garlic bread; antipasta salad
All of the dinners were yummy; unfortunately, most of them can wreak havoc with your waistline. They’re not necessarily unhealthy, particularly if you use high-quality olive oil as your fat, but they’re definitely not for anyone counting calories or who’s following a low- or no-carb diet.
If you are trying to drop some pounds but are craving decent Italian food, you should try the Bistro MD meal delivery plan. Each Bistro MD meal is designed by a professional chef and signed off on by a doctor to ensure that it is healthy, nutritious and low in calories. They have several choices of Italian cuisine, including chicken marsala, penne a la vodka and cheese ravioli.
If you think back on your childhood and remember the most memorable dishes that make you feel good, the odds are that amazing pasta will play a part in some of them. Italian food is the ultimate comfort food, very much like snuggling down on a supcious duvet with lovely clean and warm bed linen. Italian food can be all things to all people – whether it’s creamy, spicy or light in texture, it fills the stomach and brings a smile to your face. Comfort food should be easy to prepare, have few ingredients, fill you up and taste great. Almost every Italian dish fits this bill, and you can easily create them yourself in very little time.
Marry the guilty pleasure of fried foods and the comforting flavor of pasta, cheese and marinara, and you’ll get the unique taste of fried ravioli. Whether you serve small servings as a appetizer or snack or indulge in a larger plate for a meal, this dish covers all the basis. Dip frozen ravioli squares into beaten egg and then cover them in seasoned bread crumbs. Deep fry them in batches, making sure you leave plenty of room in the fryer so the ravioli can move as they cook. Allow the finished squares to drain and cool just a bit, then dip them in warm or cold marinara sauce.
Rustic food is hearty and filling, filled with large rough chunks of flavor. There are no small and precise cubes in these dishes, so they are easy for even beginning cooks to prepare. Bold flavors rule and delicate touches are not required. Begin by broiling your favorite Italian sausage links until they are golden brown. Use sweet sausage, hot links or a combination of both. Chop red, green and yellow peppers into bite-sized chunks. Slice the cooked sausages into coins and place them in the bottom of a saute pan or deep frying pan. Add the pepper chunks and cook them until they are just beginning to soften. Add cooked bow-tie pasta, rigatoni or another large pasta shape and cover the mixture with the marinara sauce of your choice.
Lasagna may be ultimate Italian comfort food, because it’s so versatile. There are as many lasagna recipes as there are Italian cooks. The basic recipe is simple, and you can change or add to it as you desire.
Cook lasagna noodles until they are al dente. Place a thin layer of sauce in a baking pan, then cover with a layer of noodles. Top the noodles with meats, cheeses or vegetables, add more sauce and repeat. Finish with a final noodle layer and some cheese, and bake it in an oven until the entire dish is cooked through.
When most people think of rice, they think of Asian-inspired dishes. But there’s one classic Italian recipe that is well-known in the culinary world. While many of the best rice dishes come from Asian cultures, you can’t ignore risotto either. It brings a whole new texture and taste to rice in a way that is different than anything else. It’s also one of the greatest measuring sticks to determine the skill of a chef. In fact, in many classic chef schools across the world, preparing a perfect risotto is a prime requirement. In order to graduate to the next level, you need to be able to do it like a pro.
Despite its stature as one of the best dishes around, it’s also something you can put together easily at home. While you might not reach the level of a professional chef, there’s no reason why you can’t try your own version. When done properly, risotto is creamy and loaded with flavor – and it’s the perfect side dish to go with any type of meat. Or if you choose to add a wide variety of ingredients, you can even serve risotto as the main dish itself.
The process starts off by choosing the best rice available, and most people like to go with Arborio. Keep in mind you won’t be working with regular white rice for this recipe. You need something that is high in starch that won’t become mushy with extended cooking. You also need a grain that will be able to absorb liquid while adding as much flavor as possible. There are lots of different grains such as the ones listed at allthingsrice.com, but Arborio is the safest choice possible.
Once you have your rice, measure it carefully and determine what type of flavor you want to go for. Remember, since you’ll be cooking it over a long period of time, flavors will concentrate quite a bit. You don’t want to put too much salt or bold flavors in the beginning because they will just get more intense. This is something you want to ease into the process, adding different levels of flavor as you go. You can usually start off with the simple chicken stock because be stock might result in a product that’s too salty. Of course if you’re preparing a seafood-themed risotto, you can also go with a fish broth.
One of the advantages of preparing risotto is being able to adjust as you go. At the same time, you always need to keep a careful eye on the process so that things don’t get out of control. You want to add enough liquid to cover your rice and then gently simmer it until it evaporates. When the water level is low enough, you’ll add more broth and repeat the process several times. This gives your risotto chance to absorb all that natural flavor, and you can add even more interesting ingredients like herbs and spices towards the end.
When you’re looking for the perfect side dish, there are lots of ways to enjoy rice and risotto is one of the most flavorful. You can find different recommendations and variations on recipes across the internet, or you can use your own ideas. A classic risotto works well with all kind of meat ranging from beef, chicken, to seafood. Once you know how to prepare a basic variation, you can fine-tune the primary recipe to create something absolutely fantastic.
Appetizers are great ice breakers for almost any social situation. Setting out some appetizers gives your guests an opportunity to chat and get to know each other, and will keep them satisfied until the main course is served.
You don’t have to be an expert cook in order to make tasty, easy appetizers. Many appetizers are simple to make and will still create an impression on your friends and family. Below are two suggestions tasty, easy to make appetizers.
Spinach Dip – There are a ton of easy spinach dip recipes out there, and most include simple ingredients such as cream cheese, sour cream and frozen spinach. You can also add some chopped red peppers or garlic for a bit more flavor.
Bruschetta – Bruschetta is a delicious Italian dish made with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil. It goes great on toasted Italian bread and a glass of red wine.
Antipasto Platter – When you are in a rush, you can grab most of what you need quickly and easily at an upscale grocer on your way home from work.
These are only three examples of the easiest and most popular appetizers; there are hundreds of different combinations you can dream up. All you need is 30 minutes and a little creativity.
Giado De Laurentiis, of course, makes a killer antipasto.
You’d most likely never think of lasagna and other types of pasta dishes as zero calorie foods. If you’re thinking along those lines, that’s because you’ve never tried the amazing Miracle Noodles. Miracle Noodles don’t have any calories, so they’re perfect for low carb diets. The no-carb noodles can be used along with meats and cheeses that don’t contain any carbohydrates, either, making for a delicious low carb or no carb meal. Okay, you’re probably wondering about the sauce, right? Typically, most sauces for lasagna are based on tomato sauce, which can be fairly high in sugars and carbs. If you use a zero calorie pasta sauce from Walden Farms, however, you won’t add any carb grams to the dish. Are you interested in creating your tasty lasagna that contains very few carb grams? Follow along!
First of all, you won’t be able to use lasagna-shaped no calorie noodles – they’re not an option. Instead, I use the rigatoni-shaped no calorie noodles. You might prefer using the no calorie fettuccine noodles, instead. You’ll need several packs of the noodles, depending on how big you want your lasagna to be. Spray a casserole or baking dish with cooking spray. Rinse the noodles under hot water, dry them on paper towels, and place them in the dish. Combine Walden Farms no calorie tomato-basil pasta sauce with fresh minced garlic and Splenda, to taste. Add ground beef or ground sausage that has been browned and drained. Pour it over the noodles. Mix ricotta cheese with a beaten egg and salt, and spread it over the noodles. Top the dish with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese has melted and casserole is firm. Allow the dish to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
You’ll end up with a hearty, delicious pasta dish that’s extremely low in carbs and high in protein. The dish is also rich in healthy soluble fiber, thanks to the noodles.
Americans love coleslaw, and there are more coleslaw recipes than you could ever imagine. Well, perhaps you could imagine them, but there’s no way you’d ever have time to make them all, even if you used a new coleslaw recipe every day for the rest of your life. What’s your favorite type of slaw? Do you like just cabbage as the base, or do you prefer adding purple cabbage, radishes, celery, onions, or carrots? Some people like their slaw creamy, while others might prefer it tangy, sweet, crunchy, or spicy. Sometimes I sort of like mine to possess all these traits.
The following recipe is wonderful! The sweet, tart cranberries really go well with the creamy dressing, and the walnuts give a nice crunch. If you don’t like sweet slaw, you might want to reduce the amount of sugar. For a sugar-free version of the recipe, you can substitute granulated Splenda for the sugar. And for a super healthy dish, use fat-free mayonnaise.
Cranberry-walnut coleslaw recipe
16-ounce bag slaw mix (cabbage only)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Add the slaw mix to a large mixing bowl that has a tight-fitting lid. Pour in the chopped walnuts.
In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the dried cranberries and the vinegar. Allow the cranberries to soak in the vinegar for ten minutes. Add the mayonnaise, the garlic, and the sugar. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it down some with a little milk, but just add a tablespoon of milk at the time. Pour this mixture over the cabbage and walnuts and toss. Add salt and pepper and toss again. Cover bowl of coleslaw with lid and place in refrigerator. It will be ready to serve in two hours.