After School Programs

Savory Baking – Any Time of Year

When Chefsville programs have baking in them, most participants are amazed that there is “Savory Baking”. The thought never occurred to them that not everything needs to be sugar, sugar and more sugar. The exceptions are breads and yeasted loaves. Everyone knows about those savory items.

Many bakers and chefs enjoy “savory baking”. There are so many things that can be made. Here are a few:

  • Quick Breads
  • Scones
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Tarts & Galettes
  • Batters that bake well
  • Crackers
  • Flatbreads
  • Rolls
  • Breadsticks and more
  • Yeasted loaves

For this kind of baking, flavoring opportunities are almost endless. A baker may use herbs and spices, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds. Even cheeses and meats are a welcomed blend in savory baking.

While baking savory, one can learn the difference and uses between baking “soda” and baking “powder”. Also, celebration baking comes into play here with incredible scones, loaves of bread, and different uses for pastry doughs like puff pastry and phyllo dough. Many cuisines can be celebrated when savory baking.

Savory baking can also be done using a dutch oven or cast iron skillet.

Depending upon what is being made, learning to make food taste wonderful with a world of techniques is just amazing. At Chefsville, we tell our program goers that cooking is about shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Certainly, the world of savory baking opens this exploration opportunity up for us.

Baking is also about shapes, sizes, colors, flavors and textures.

Other than the actual baking, we can have lots of fun deciding and making things that add to our savory baked items. Such as compound butter. Compound butter is room-temperature butter to which flavors are added. For example, take a stick of butter and add to it 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs, and/or the zest of lemon, lime, or orange.

Did you know that Martha Washington (wife of George Washington) would make orange butter and biscuits? People would come from all over the country to where they lived to purchase her baked goods and the butter she made. More on Washington’s chefs can be learned from our program “Celebrate African American Cooking Greats” which is available to classrooms and assembly programs to schools.

Celebrating the seasons through baking is wonderful for educating, exploring and discovering how to bake especially with family.

With savory baking you can spice things up, use herbs and butters, cheeses, meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and get saucy with thicker sauces for that oozy, yummy, dipping crave that makes food fun and interactive.

Please let us know what you can come up with and your favorite things that go under “savory baking” topic.

Vegan Baked Product Problems and Tips

With the rise of vegan cooking and baking, I get out and about to see what people are making.

Sometimes I run into restaurant owners, chefs, cooks and clients. What I have found is that most places are not aware of the cooking basics to make premium products. This means that consumers are paying premium prices for low-quality products. That bothers me.

Over 20 years ago, food science and research and development became quite the fad. A major example is America’s Test Kitchen. International cooking schools also have online classes to teach the basics. Online with YouTube, there are many videos as well.

The main topic I want to discuss is that for many vegan and vegetarian baking, there is so much oil and grease on my hands or plate.

This is really gross when considering I am not eating a broken sauce, but a pastry item such as bread or muffin.

The basic that got missed is that establishments that make these products aren’t keeping in mind the temperature of the mixtures they make before they bake them. If the dough is too hot, oils and butter will not incorporate correctly. If the dough is too cold, the internal temperature of the final product is not correct for the item to be “done” properly. Also with many doughs, the purveyor doesn’t allow the proper time for the dough to rise. This means I am purchasing a really dense item. If the price is by weight, then I get ripped off.


Baking Tips

Tip 1: Allow time for the dough to rise;

Tip 2: Freeze the butter or fat; then use a box grater to grate the fat. This will make pie dough flaky and chocolate can even be grated to help cool down chocolate that is being tempered.

Tip 3: To handle cakes easier, bake your cakes and freeze them anywhere from 24 hours to seven days.
Freshly baked cakes crumble too much plus they often break and tear when you are working with them. When you are ready to start working on them remove them from the freezer and let them thaw halfway.

Tip 4: When the cakes are semi-frozen it is easier to make straight cuts through them and you will not create anywhere near as many crumbs as you would with a freshly baked cake. Cakes with higher percentages of fat will not be affected by the cold temperature as cakes low in fat will be, such as angel food cake. Always wrap the cakes with food wrap.

Tip 5: Bon Bons – consider the filling and chocolate outside. For fillings that have a mild or medium flavor profile, use a white or milk chocolate couverture for the shells. For a filling that either has a strong flavor profile or is sweet, choose a dark couverture.

Longer Lasting Strawberries

Who loves Strawberries?

I do!

The biggest concern I have when I buy lots of them is using them before they spoil. They spoil fast.

Here are a few tips for making them last longer:

Farmer’s markets are the best. Especially during the strawberry season which is from Spring and Summer.

When bringing these beauties home from the store or market, get a bowl and add 1 part of vinegar to 3 parts of water. Remove any dirt or mud and mold spores from the strawberry and drop them in the solution. A few minutes won’t even change the taste. Also, unlike other fruits, strawberries do not continue to mature after they have been picked.

 

Swirl them in the vinegar wash to wash them. After a quick soak, let them dry before putting them away.

 

Another idea is to line a salad spinner with paper towels and give them a spin.

 

Store strawberries that are dry on a paper toweled lined container that prevents trapping moisture.

 

These steps will slow the aging process and reduce fast spoilage.

Lastly, if you are freezing strawberries, hull them. Next slice them into the shape you want then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop them into the freezer. After they are frozen (1-4 hours) place them in freezer bags or freezer-safe storage containers.

Enjoy your wonderful strawberries!

Please comment about your favorite way of using strawberries are. Share with the Chefsville community.

 

 

2022 Restaurant Predictions and Trends

The pandemic has definitely changed what and how we eat either at home or at a restaurant or on the go. Innovation and new tech tools put consumers in the driver’s seat.

Photo by FDATA ROBOT on Unsplash
  • Robots are coming. Both front and back-of-house. This means robotic bartenders, and 3D printing of plant-based burgers are being automated. Robots can prepare your burgers, tacos, pizza, and salads at this time. Restaurants are going for these inventions to solve much of the Great Resignation. The question is this, how long until there is a return on investment for the restaurants. The shorter, then the more robots may be desired over hiring employees.
Photo by Femoree on Unsplash
  • Menu trends –
    1. bold-flavored drinks are on the rise. Robust flavors could provide reassurance to people they still have, or have recovered, their senses.
    2. Extreme hummus variations – adding citrus, Kalamata olives, or roasted mushrooms with garlic chips, new ways of serving hummus is on the gain.
    3. Plant-based chicken – being tested now at Burger King, A&W, Panda Express and KFC amongst other chains
    4. Singaporean Cuisine – several movies have come out hailing a dish called Singaporean curry noodle dish laksa to be totally awesome.
    5. Caribbean Cuisine – from conch fritters and barracuda steaks to goat stew, whole roasted hog, mofongo and callaloo – these are some dishes worth trying.
    6. Agave spirits – raicilla, bacanora, sotol and different cactus types are distinctive enough to be interesting are gaining popularity to these types of liquors.
    7. West African Cuisines – stretching from Mauritania to Cameroon are being explored in restaurants sharing the distant heritage of the African diaspora. And this should be celebrated. Suya and joloff rice which is probably an ancestor of Jambalaya are appearing on menus. Spice blends and egusi (melon seeds) are included.
    8. Fermentation of all kinds is on the rise. These are living foods, not preserved foods, Kimchi is among them, being included as something more than just a family condiment.
    9. Wagyu – “Japanese beef” that is rich in marbling and gets a premium price tag with it. This type of beef is becoming more and more common for the average American consumer.
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

 

  • Technology Trends –
    • 1) Ghost Kitchen space is about to get quite competitive.
    • 2) Technology-enabled pickup solutions – temperature-controlled delivery boxes that keep hot food hot and cold foods cold are en route for delivery. The rising number of complaints about “soggy food” has resulted In packaging technology innovation being a priority to keep the growing percentage of restaurant delivery customers satisfied.
    • 3) Drop-in high-end dining – “Less fussy fine dining” – hospitality CEOs and founders of restaurant hospitality groups have noticed that in New York City, casual concepts are more in vogue. Many high-end dining establishments in New York City used to require dinner jackets for men. Now there is only one place left with that requirement.
    • 4) Cuisine variety – As more and more people eat at casual dining venues the need for “Eat the World” offerings has also become very popular.

Pickled Red Onions

A most helpful condiment


When I go to help a restaurant that may be re-branding itself, one of the easiest things to do is help them change their condiments.

This is one of the most versatile condiments as it goes with so many cuisines like Mexican, Chinese, Korean, American, Greek, and Indian foods.

Photo by Nigel Cohen on Unsplash.com

Chefsville will be filming a video on how easy it is to make this. Making pickles in the kitchen with kids is a great way of teaching them about preserving foods. Preserving foods has a rich history. There is a difference between just preserving food and fermenting foods.

My research found by far the best information and how-to article is Best Article Ever on Pickled Red Onions. We wanted to share it with you. This is the starting point for making great pickles. change the recipe and make it your own based on your personal preferences and where you live. Please tell us what you use pickled red onions on.

Also fermenting foods. Fermented foods are gut-healthy foods for humans. The fermentation process allows for microbial growth conversation of food components through enzymatic actions.

Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut (German), miso (Japan), kimchi (Korea), kefir(North Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea), and kombucha(China). There are many more.

Fermentation allows for potential probiotic health benefits since the fermentation process is derived from the production of bioactive peptides and other naturally occurring processes that benefit our gastrointestinal health.

Please excuse me while I go and make a batch of this using agave nectar as a sweetener for my family. Don’t forget to comment below on your favorite use of pickled red onions.