Want to see how easy it is to make three staple ingredients (Cheese Sauce, Gravy, and Ranch Dressing) and ignite those creative juices? Watch our chef!
Restaurants, K-12 schools, healthcare and college dining halls have diverse menus and making fresh sauces and dressings from scratch can seem unimaginable. Grabbing a RTU jug and pouring it into serving containers seems like the easiest and most efficient use of time and definitely the safest choice when it comes to flavor and outcome. Agree? Not altogether. Plus, depending on your culinary staff, you might be depleting morale by limiting their freedom in the kitchen. There’s a better option. Utilizing a dry mix can capture the essence of scratch cooking yet save time and not harness your culinary professionals’ creativity and experience.
Want to see how easy it is to make three staple ingredients (Cheese Sauce, Gravy, and Ranch Dressing) and ignite those creative juices? You will discover just how customizable dry mix products can be with the simple addition of herbs, spices or vegetables. Made fresh fare is perceived as higher quality by customers and they are willing to pay more for it. Therefore, taking the 60 seconds to combine these mixes with water, or in the case of Ranch adding mayonnaise and buttermilk, is totally worthwhile. We like to call it – Speed Scratch.
For example, ranch dressing can be transformed easily into over 45 delicious recipes. From fresh salads to unique sandwich toppers, ranch rates on the top of the popularity scale for chefs and diners alike. To spark your imagination think Thai Ranch Dressing, Mojito Ranch Dressing, and Sriracha Honey Ranch. The same goes for cheese sauce. Everything is better with cheese, right? Just ask your food friends in the pantry and fridge waiting for the popular add-in or topper: potatoes, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, tortilla chips and fresh vegetables, among others. Lastly, instant gravy mix takes the most difficult part of mixing gravy out of the equation; getting the flour to butter/oil and water mixture consistent each time (not to mention the flavor). The guess work is removed as minutes turn into seconds for a finished product and the amount of recipes that utilize gravy mix is mind-blowing. Check out these ideas.
Predicted foodservice trends tell us that consumers want healthier foods and fast. One product that can help chefs satisfy consumer demand is dry salad dressing mix. Dry salad dressing mixes like Ranch, Caesar, 1000 Island and Lido Italian are not just for green salads. Mixes can be used to make robust marinades, gourmet dipping sauces for appetizers, savory spreads for sandwiches, flavor enhancers for potato dishes, and delicate sauces for fruits and melons.
Currently, we are offering a rebate for our Ranch Salad Dressing mixes (V400, V402). The promotion goes through May 31 and offers operators a $2 rebate per case (up to $200) on Ranch Dressing Mix products, plus a FREE first case of Blue Cheese, Lido Italian, 1000 Island/Honey Mustard, and Caesar Dressing Mix when you complete the rebate coupon. If you haven’t tried our V400 Ranch Dressing Mix or our V402 No MSG Ranch Dressing Mix, please leave your contact information below and we’ll send you a sample.
As a leader in foodservice manufacturing, it’s our job at Foothill Farms to stay on the forefront of what people crave. So we took a look at which of our products have been flying off the shelves, where the overall industry is moving and what our customers are requesting most. Here are the five trends that bubbled up to the top for this year.
1. Reinventing Ranch
Ranch is the “girl next door” of dressings. Friendly and familiar by day and surprisingly irresistible when prepped for a night out. “Ranch has an incredible opportunity to be redefined and made (or modified) in house. It can be completely reinvented and used to spice up an old favorite or familiarize a new concept,” Jorge Cespedes, research and development chef at Food IQ, told Flavor & The Menu. And it’s not just about taking salads to the next level. An upgraded ranch dressing can be your signature sauce offered on sandwiches, as a pommes frites or kale chip dip, drizzled over soups or as a taco topping.
The possibilities for ranch dressing mix-ins are endless, but going with of-the-moment flavors is an easy way to get noticed. Add some locally grown mint for a refreshing twist, or blend in a superfood like avocado. Give it a hot hit of wasabi or go bold with regional barbecue sauce. Find inspiration and recipes for Curry Ranch, Thai Ranch, Mango Habanero Ranch and more here.
2. Comfort Meets Adventure
Asian and Latin cuisines have trended for years. Why? They infuse a sense of comfort with an invitation to explore. Brothy pho soothes. Slow-cooked carnitas are the epitome of soul food. Meanwhile the exotic marriage of spicy and sweet or smoky and herbaceous lures our palates east and south. In 2015, look for the breakout of Korean, mainstreaming of Vietnamese and upscaling of ramen noodles, according to Technomic. And ever-popular Latin flavors will see in uptick in breakfast offerings, predicts the National Restaurant Association.
It won’t just be ethnic restaurants capitalizing on this love affair with Asian and Latin flavors. They’re hitting the mainstream with huevos rancheros on breakfast menus and ramen nights at corner restaurants. Any operation can get in on this trend with the right sauces and seasonings. Get tips on easily adding Sweet Thai Chili condiments, Mandarin Orange Chicken and more to your menu here and find Charro Beans, Orange Chile Brownies and others here.
3. DIY Health
“What do you have that’s healthy?” Is this person looking for something that’s gluten free? Fat or preservative free? Farm-to-table? Made with whole grains or superfoods? Low sodium or high nutrient? Real food? Today what is considered healthy can vary drastically from person to person. It may be about food they think is good for their bodies or food that makes them feel good about themselves. That’s why 2015 is all about a DIY approach.
According to Food Genius, the better-for-you movement has yet to lose steam and is now being complemented by another Millennial-driven trend: customization. So let diners choose from a variety of offerings that cover one or more health concerns. Some of the dishes you already serve may work perfectly as-is. Just start calling out their benefits on your menu (eg, That mac and cheese is already vegetarian). Another quick way to get (and stay) on the radar of today’s health-conscious guests is using sauces and seasonings like Flavorwise to help meet health concerns without sacrificing flavor.
4. Back to Scratch
Get ready for a sweeping movement back to scratch cooking. It’s all about balancing food and labor costs with preparing home-style dishes back of house. Particularly look for schools to go in this direction as they cut back on reheating processed foods and do more themselves. The challenge will continue to be labor restraints.
There are various schools of thought on overcoming this challenge. Some believe that it’s about investing in new equipment. Others, like the principal of Food Systems Solutions LLC Kate Adamick, say “Most school district food service departments don’t need a bigger labor force to return to scratch-cooking, they need a better trained labor force.” Some combination of equipment, labor, training and the right products is likely where the sweet spot lies. Check out Foothill Farms sauces and seasonings to quickly and affordably transform whole foods into mouthwatering, scratch-made dishes.
5. Think Small
From tapas to dim sum, small plates are still big news. Diners will continue to order them instead of entrées this year, making their meals three plates instead of one. The low-commitment, high-flavor bites satisfy cravings for variety and create a social, sharing experience. They also allow chefs to stretch their legs and dabble in a variety of global flavor palettes.
One innate challenge of small plates is that the variety of menu options may mean a need for additional prep and ingredient storage areas. Depending on the complexity of the dishes, more staff may be required too. That’s why sauces and seasonings that bring a big dose of flavor to small plates with little prep or storage will be your best friend in 2015. For small plate ideas, click here.
Melissa is a food and fashion freelance writer currently based in Milwaukee, WI. Since 1998, she has written about up-and-coming food trends, shadowed chefs, participated in focus groups and tasted her way across the country in search of the best bites. If you have a question for Melissa or Foothill Farms, please leave us a comment below.
Karen J. Peterson, SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) provides our readers with helpful tips to lessen the frustration and challenges facing K-5 kitchens.
We are privileged to have Karen J. Peterson, SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) provide our readers with helpful tips to lessen the frustration and challenges commonly faced in K-5 kitchens. Karen is a 25 + year veteran of the foodservice industry. She is currently serving as founder and president of Lunchline, Inc. a company dedicated to the K-12 market channel.
Tip #1 – Sometimes K-5 students need encouragement to eat their veggies! There are always the perennial favorites: ranch dressing, salsa and hummus. But how about some fun? Broccoli easily transforms into baby trees or dinosaur food and cauliflower becomes brains – PERFECT for Halloween!
Tip #2 – Picky eaters are a real concern in foodservice. After all, it attributes to less kids buying school lunch and/or throwing much of the lunch away and going hungry for the remainder of the day. Trying new foods needs to be about nutritional benefits. Associate fun symbols with foods so kids will understand why they need to eat them – calcium for stronger bones, beta-carotene essential for vision, fiber for digestive health, and lower sodium for a healthy heart.
Tip #3 – Does K-12 menu planning have you fussy? Planning healthy, nutritious, attractive and compliant menus are more challenging today than ever before. If there is no access to a third-party system, try the old-fashioned buddy system with neighboring districts, manufacturers, or state resources. Collaborating is COOL!
Tip #4 – There are many benefits to K-12 cafeterias cooking from scratch, however, how practical is it given the time, budgetary and quantity limitations? The benefits to scratch cooking are numerous and convincing: lower food cost, eye appeal, ingredient control, allergy concerns, student input, local trends and employee morale. The challenges sometimes outweigh the benefits: employee training/skill level, labor cost, cooking equipment, time, food safety and consistency. My advice is to investigate speed scratch dry-mix products like gravy and sauce mixes. These items are mixed with water and ready in seconds, saving you time and eliminating consistency worries. They are also sodium conscience as well as being gluten, shellfish and nut free. Check out Foothill Farms Flavorwise product line http://foothillfarms.com/k12/about_flavorwise.cfm.
Tip #5 – Want to increase your participation in your schools? Take a hint from Costco (or other similar retailers) and have sample days. Kids look forward to visiting mall food courts and big wholesalers on weekends because they know the sample stations are in full operation! How often do you end buying whatever is tasted? What an excellent way to introduce new foods to your students!
Tip #6 – Cafeteria theme days are fun and easy implementations for school lunch. What comes to mind when you think about your days at summer camp (other than pesky mosquitoes)? Good old fashion fun along with a hearty appetite for breakfast, lunch and dinner! After all, there isn’t much snacking at summer camp! Turn your elementary lunchroom into “base camp cafe” with each classroom creating a camp flag. Display the flags in flag holders mounted on the wall if indoors or on stanchions if outdoors.
Tip #7 – Are the new regs causing pressure from parents, administrators, as well as students? People often react to what they don’t know or understand. Consider hosting a “food show” where everyone can see and taste the food currently on the menu and evaluate possible new additions. Input is a powerful equalizer!
Tip #8 – Accommodating special diets can be overwhelming. You’ve collected all the paper work – now what? For inspiration, visit your local hospital’s dietary program. Meet with the people responsible for menu creation and gather ideas that can translate into your operation. Also, consider setting aside a small prep area that is used for special diets only.
Karen holds an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has also earned her SNS (School Nutrition Specialist) credential from SNA. If you have a question for Karen or Foothill Farms, please leave us a comment and we’ll get back with you soon.
Foothill Farms® redesigned their packaging to help operators distinguish between its traditional foodservice product line and the brands healthier, lower sodium product line, Flavorwise™.
The new look of Foothill Farms® products will help keep your dry storage in your commercial kitchen organized in delicious ways. Red and green will be popping up in foodservice commercial kitchens everywhere. Some Foothill Farms products will feature a bold red band for traditional offerings or an easily distinguishable bright green band indicating the trademarked Flavorwise™ healthier options. A Flavorwise label means products have 310 mg of sodium or less per serving, fat free or low fat, have 0g trans fat and contain no cholesterol or added MSG. In addition, both packages will have highly visible identifiers, such as “gluten-free,” “fat free,” or “no MSG” as special markers on the packages in efforts to provide customers with information to help them make informed choices about the products they purchase and serve to their customers.
Inside the new packaging, are the same quality ingredients which have helped commercial kitchens embrace speed-scratch concepts to prepare delicious, consistent results time after time. Our endeavors to create an easily identifiable packaging system mirrors the concept of the actual products themselves, providing foodservice solutions to commercial kitchens.
The evolution of our new packaging streamlines the consolidation of two former brands, TUF® and Milani®, now simply under the Foothill Farms umbrella of products. This merging has nearly tripled the amount of Foothill Farms mixes which encompass salad dressings, seasonings, gravies, cheese sauces, and desserts to name a few. The new packaging will be phased in gradually.
So whether you are reaching for Foothill Farms® Ranch dressing or a Flavorwise Chili Seasoning Mix, the right product will always be at hand. Our mission is to help simplify your commercial kitchen and your dry storage with quality easy-to-organize products. Red or green, the choice is sure to make a flavorful dish!
Cheese sauce instant mixes are easy, flavorful additions to hot dog and hamburger recipes. Create 18 new recipes for foodservice hot dog menus.
There will always be room on the menu for hot dogs with the traditional ketchup and mustard toppings. Imagine turning everyday beef hot dogs into extraordinary “haute” dogs with the addition of ingredients like a wide variety of cheese sauces, roasted poblano chiles, fried okra, or roasted purple cabbage, to name just a few.
Let’s start with a few soon-to-be favorites like the Carolina Dog and the Philly Dog. The Carolina Dog features pulled pork, sautéed onions, fried okra, and Carolina Cheese Sauce made with Foothill Farms® Cheese Sauce Instant Mix. Using the same cheese sauce instant mix, take a quick trip to Philadelphia for a Philly Dog loaded with cheese sauce, sautéed peppers, onions, and hot sauce. Why not add a “steak roll” bun to complete the Philadelphia experience? Our dry mix cheese sauces keep the preparation and execution of recipes easy, while still allowing an endless variety of tempting recipes.
Feeling like spicing up the hot dog menu a little? Heat things up a bit with our Chipotle Dog with its roasted pablano chiles, red onion, and chipotle cheddar sauce made with Extra Sharp Cheese Sauce Instant Mix. You can also prepare the Mariachi Dog with the same extra sharp cheese sauce, adding chili con queso to the recipe to keep this dog dancing with flavor. Using the same dry mix base helps keep the menu versatile while keeping tabs on cost control, which is something every foodservice operator can appreciate.
Change mac & cheese from just a side dish to a new hot dog sensation with the Blues Dog featuring blue cheese cheddar sauce made with Three Cheese Mac & Cheese Sauce Instant Mix, blue cheese and bacon. Using the same mix with perhaps a younger diner in mind, make our simple, yet delicious twist on traditional macaroni and cheese via the Mac & Cheese dog. Two simple concepts combine: hot dogs and delicious mac & cheese!
Now that you have turned your hot dogs into something special with different toppings ideas and cheese sauces, why not do the same for your burger menu? “Haute” burgers, anyone? All of these recipes can be used for your burger menu, too and were pulled from our 18 Haute Builds For Hot Dogs flyer. Foothill Farms® offers the cheese sauce products and recipes to turn the everyday dog into an unexpected culinary delight. Whether your menu is sweet, spicy, cheesy, light or hearty, there is a “haute” dog for the occasion and a cheese sauce that steps up the recipe.
For chefs, creating a signature macaroni and cheese menu item can be intimidating because of its known popularity and strict critics. With a little imagination and some simple ingredients, Foothill Farms helps you create unique recipes that appeal to every appetite.
You have grown up but has your “Mac & Cheese”? Macaroni and cheese is thought to have been around since before 1769, according to an article by SmithsonianMag.com. From its simplest form as plain macaroni noodles coated in melted American cheese to the introduction of additional ingredients, “Mac & Cheese” is still a staple on U.S. menus.
For chefs, creating a signature macaroni and cheese menu item can be intimidating because of its known popularity and strict critics, some of which are under 10! The sauce consistency is important – not too thick and not too thin. Some desire a mellow flavor while others like to taste something unique. Our Three Cheese Mac and Cheese Sauce mix was designed to give those wanting to stay the course a delicious, satisfyingly simple pasta dish. For those ready to indulge, adding extra ingredients like bacon, vegetables, varieties of grated cheeses, and using a different sauce can turn a simple Mac & Cheese dish into a rich memorable experience. A perfect example is Lobster Mac & Cheese. It incorporates chunked lobster meat, béchamel sauce and white cheddar to make a luscious sauce that combines with your choice of pasta noodles and bakes with a Caesar bread crumb topping.
Macaroni and cheese doesn’t have to stay in the bowl! Some chefs are beginning to experiment with this 2 ½ century old staple. Traditionally, bread is served alongside pasta but what about serving pasta between bread? Our Chef Martin has created a recipe that does just that – Alfredo Pepperoni Mac ‘N Grilled Cheese! The recipe starts with an Alfredo based macaroni and cheese and incorporates spicy pepperoni that is placed between two slices of Texas toast and griddled until golden brown. The results are nothing short of outstanding!
Don’t forget the newest hot trend – Sriracha sauce! The benefit of using a dry mix is that you can easily kick up a sauce mix by adding extra ingredients like steak sauce, hot sauce, and BBQ sauce. In fact, a signature version of “Mac & Cheese” can be made using any of our unique cheese sauces recipes: Cheddar Cheese Steak Sauce, Chipotle Cheddar, KC, or Memphis Cheese Sauce to name a few.
With a little imagination and some simple ingredients, you can create unique recipes for macaroni and cheese that appeals to every appetite. What do you think about Mac, Cheese & Waffles?