Five Ways To Salsa For Cinco de Mayo – By Chef Martin

Salsas are a fantastic addition to any menu. They are quick and easy to make, they taste fresh and have health appeal. Most Americans consider it part of the regular condiment lineup. Salsa has appeared on menus in the US for years, and not just at Mexican eateries. In fact, salsa flavors grew by 26% across US menus between 2011 and 2014.1 The average consumer has grown used to seeing the tomato-based product in every grocery store nationwide, too.

I love the versatility of a salsa seasoning mix. It allows chefs to customize dishes to a patron’s liking, which is good since 61% of consumers say it is important that a restaurant customizes their order exactly how they like it.1 With salsa seasoning mix, other ingredients can be incorporated such as beans, corn and pineapple to offer spicy and sweet options. With imagination the dish can be incorporated into a variety of vegetarian foods. Don’t forget to add different heat levels for on-point flavors and trends. Think outside the box. With just one salsa seasoning mix SKU, you can create multiple choices.

  1. Breakfast: Offer salsa as an accompanying choice for eggs. Mix it with black beans and corn for a breakfast burrito. Lunch:  A must with taco salads. Dinner:  Create a cranberry salsa that can be served with roast turkey.

    Chef Martin Experiments with Flavor
    Chef Martin, Corporate Executive Chef for Kent Precision Foods Group
  2. Salsa bars: Salsa bars are a great way to tap into the popularity of made-to-order flavors. In fact 43% of consumers say they will try a dish if they can customize the sauces and spices. 1 Create your salsa bar with different ingredients and heat levels, such as fiery habanero salsa or salsa verde. Offer vegetarian options with the proteins from beans and lentils.
  3. Accompaniments: There is a great opportunity to serve pineapple or mango salsa with a pork taco by adding spicy heat to the dish, or with pico de gallo and shrimp.
  4. Vegetarian:  Salsa mixes let you incorporate beans into the menu by offering wholesome dishes such as Cowboy Caviar.
  5. Snack: Add salsa to sour cream to create a flavorful dip with snacks. You can also add heat to chips to complement the freshness of salsa.

If you’re looking for a delicious, fresh-made salsa seasoning for your foodservice operation, Foothill Farms offers a seasoning mix that helps you get the most out of just one SKU. Contact us for more information or to place an order.

 

1 Mintel

 

 

When To Use An Unclaimable Cheese Sauce On School Menus

I must admit that I used to be firmly in the “if it doesn’t count towards something I’m not using it camp” and then two things happened – I came face to face with high school students and I started writing recipes for Child Nutrition. That is where my transition started.

Secondary students are basically adults that can eat more than we can on any given day, which makes them hungry all of the time. Look at a serving of macaroni and cheese using a 2 M/MA sauce and 2 whole grain ounce equivalents it is underwhelming in size. However if you use a flavorful cheese sauce that doesn’t count you have the same portion size but then add 2 M/MA such as diced ham, fajita chicken or BBQ pulled pork and you have something worthy of their appetites with little added cost. The same goes for vegetarian options. Change up the spice profile and add peppers and beans and you have something new and different to offer.

Another option, staying with the mac and cheese example, is to use it simply as a grain. When the menu calls for another whole grain it is easy to just add a dinner roll or breadstick. However a side of mac and cheese using a non-claimable cheese sauce accomplishes the same thing and works wonderfully, for example, if serving bone in chicken. Looking to the South, pulled pork doesn’t have to be served on a bun. Imagine a plate with pulled pork, mac and cheese, and greens. It all fits into the guidelines and you have a terrific comfort food lunch!

Do I hear “what about the added sodium?” Foothill Farms has cheese sauces that are moderate in sodium – around 220 mg per serving – in their Flavorwise line of products. Since the sodium target is weekly, with planning, these cheese sauces can fit into your menu. In elementary programs sodium is occasionally an issue but I don’t find the struggle when working with secondary programs. Since students would enjoy the addition of cheese sauce it takes some planning but isn’t anything to shy away from.

Getting Creative with Cheese Sauce

There are so many ways cheese sauce can enhance menu items. The simplest being as a dip for raw or cooked vegetables. There are vegetables that your students prefer and it is a struggle to present them in a different way so that they continue to eat them every day. I am not saying to offer cheese sauce every day however it is an alternate to Ranch Dressing. By adding Sriracha or chipotle to the cheese sauce you have a new dipping sauce that will get kids talking.

Getting creative, another example that comes to mind is the Chicken Nachos. It is a simple recipe with tortilla chips, diced chicken, cheese sauce and salsa and check out the sodium – 498 mg. You can easily offer toppings without negatively changing the overall nutritional profile such as diced red and green peppers, green onions, black olive slices and, if you wanted to add a vegetable component, either black or pinto beans – whole or refried. As you can see very doable!Chicken Nachos.png

And for the possible doubters out there here is a full day’s menu including the refried beans so, yes,FHF.png it can be done! While you may want some additional fruit and vegetable choices, it shouldn’t impact the sodium noticeably.

Another option that I really like – Mexican pizza! Layer on top of the whole grain crust refried beans mixed with salsa as the “sauce” and top with taco meat. Bake and, immediately before serving, top with chopped lettuce and tomatoes and drizzle with cheese sauce. Excellent flavor with crisp vegetables and the cheese sauce completes the entrée with a splash of color and flavor.

I could keep throwing out ideas but you can see that I have become a believer! Everything you use does not have to count toward the meal pattern. To me, it is more important to bring students back to our programs with interesting, tasteful foods that show we can meet the guidelines while being innovative!

 

8 Helpful Kitchen and Culinary Tips for Foodservice Pros

Chef Rob Corliss, a 3x James Beard House guest chef and culinary consulting company owner, provides foodservice professionals with helpful kitchen and culinary tips.

ATE's passionate daily goal: connecting people to their food, environment & wellness.
ATE’s passionate daily goal: connecting people to their food, environment & wellness.

The search for predicted food trends, kitchen shortcuts and new sales strategies correlates with the beginning of a New Year. Foodservice professionals never slow down, especially not during the holidays. Now it’s March and possibly you’re ready to start working on efficiency, new recipes, and boosting check averages. We asked Chef Rob Corliss, a 3x James Beard House guest chef, to provide our readers with helpful kitchen and culinary tips.

Tip #1 – Maximize efficiency by organizing dry food storage by categories – menu categories or 5 tastes categories (salt, sour, sweet, bitter, umami) labeling shelves, grouping similar items together, storing goods in the same location every time, storing most used goods in the most accessible area and following FIFO. For safety, place heaviest goods on lowest shelves.

Tip #2 – Versatility coupled by heat with flavor is the real story behind the mega-success of sriracha. Consumers crave bold flavor with complexity and the American palate demands more than just heat. Leverage these attributes and look for savory-sweet-spicy sauces to be the next big thing!

Tip #3 – A focused slimmed down menu, strategically developed and executed, can address and deliver on the growing consumer demand for variety. The key is to creatively optimize SKU’s/flavors across menu categories, creating bold and diversified menu offerings. Incorporating seasonal flavors and/or LTO’s is another menu strategy to bring perpetual “new news.”

Tip #4 – The key to reducing food costs takes a multi-faceted approach and constant attention. Track and address your cost of goods, food storage, inventory management, prep levels, waste & proper food costing. Optimize menu positioning and pricing by evaluating the stars, dogs and workhorses on your menu, then drive sales!

Tip #5 – Health and indulgence can strategically coexist on a menu, as life is about balance and so is menu development. Consumers now expect it! They are driving the trend towards health/wellness to be elevated to deliver quality, authentic, craveable on-trend flavors. Independents and the fast-casual segment are leading this innovation.

Tip #6 – Trends ebb and flow, but classic comfort foods are always in style because they strike a deeper, nostalgic emotional connection with consumers. Menuing a comfort food as is for retro appeal or staying relevant with an updated regional, global or healthy twist can be a recipe for success.

Tip #7 – The guest experience, value and consistent food quality are integral tools for driving check averages. Additional tactics are bundling, educating FOH staff, training on upselling, competitive pricing structures, menu verbiage, variety with menu price points, maximize and feature beverages, leveraging trends and using seasonal LTOs to generate traffic.

Tip #8 – FLAVOR is what everyone craves! Craveability = understanding + executing the art & science of flavor. Flavor = complementary appeal (visual impact of food, actual & expected temperature, texture contrasts, opposing attractions, emotional connections) + aroma (80% of flavor) + taste (balancing sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami).

Corliss has over 20 years of experience across multi-disciplines that include running world class resort hotels, launching new restaurant concepts, working in top foodservice marketing agencies and currently owning his own culinary consulting company, ATE – All Things Epicurean http://www.7ate9.biz.

It has always been a vivid source of imagination, growth, inquisitiveness and nourishment over a 20+ year career. ATE is the culmination of Rob’s creative spirit, love and appreciation of the culinary arts and the romance of “all things epicurean.”
Rob’s passion in life (aside from his family) is the culinary arts.

Cheese Sauce Instant Mix Gives Hot Dogs 18 New Ways to Attract Customers

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.

Cheese Sauce Can Be the Key to Building the Perfect Dog
18 Ways to Excite Your Hot Dog Menu

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.

Macaroni and Cheese: Upscale Experience at an Affordable Price

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.

From traditional to gourmet, Mac & Cheese is evolving!

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.

Lobster Mac and Cheese
A creamy, indulgent, comfort food with a rich lobster flavor.

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.

What about on a sandwich?

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.

Perfect Monterey Jack Mac & Cheese
Perfect Monterey Jack Mac & Cheese

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?

Move over Meat: Vegetables Take Over the Center of the Plate

It’s apparent that customers want vegetables on the menu for health, ethics, or simply just to indulge in a delicious vegetarian recipe.

Meatless doesn't mean "less"!
Meatless doesn’t mean “less”!

Demand for vegetarian dishes are on the rise.  The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast” says meatless or vegetarian menu items are a growing trend.  Why are vegetables taking a more central role on the plate?  Conversation in the industry suggests that an increased price of proteins have given chefs the opportunity to introduce new vegetable dishes to the menu while Technomic reports the total menu incidence of vegetables has risen over 11% in the last three years.  It’s apparent that customers want vegetables on the menu for health, ethics, or simply just to indulge in a delicious vegetarian recipe.

Bread & Butter is a simple, satisfying vegetarian side.
Bread & butter is a simple, satisfying vegetarian side.

How do you meet this demand? Try an easy crowd pleaser like Mediterranean inspired Hummus served with pita chips or toasted bagel chips.  This smooth, delicious bean based appetizer has long been a staple in a vegetarian menu for its universal appeal. A second appetizer idea is Bruschetta with Italian Salsa. Fresh basil, minced Kalamata olives, red onion, green pepper, and buffalo mozzarella cheese on top of sliced French baguette bread gives those wanting a heavier appetizer a vegetarian choice.

Soups and sides are another great area to innovate. Beer Cheese Soup is a nice menu item to feature especially if you have your own in-house brewed beer or regional preference. Our recipe includes cheese sauce, diced onions, BBQ sauce, pretzels, and works with an ale of your choice.  Serve this with pretzel bread or sticks and you are sure to have a crowd-pleaser. Want a lighter soup? Pair a grilled cheese sandwich with Tomato Basil soup. This soup is easily made with our Instant Brown Gravy Mix, tomato paste and fresh or dried basil.

Corn salsas are easy vegetarian sides
Corn salsas are easy vegetarian sides

What about sides? Think roasted vegetables topped with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and you’ll be thinking deliciously!  Broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus all become the “center of the plate” stars topped with this easily prepared creamy gorgonzola sauce.  This sauce is so versatile it can be used with your choice of vegetables, prepared in any way desired: grilled, roasted, pan seared, or broiled.  Let’s not forget about Mexican vegetarian side dishes, always popular on the menu.  Charro Beans and Corn & Black Bean Salsa are both a great venue for vegetables and are made of pantry staples which are easily kept on hand.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Asian Stir Fried Rice
Vegetable Stir Fry with Asian Stir Fried Rice

Round out your vegetarian menu with vegetarian entrees. Asian inspired dishes like Vegetable Stir Fry with Asian Stir Fried Rice are good choices because of the variety of vegetables and sauces that can be combined and served over rice or Asian noodles. Italian pasta dishes also fair well for vegetarians. Try offering a Vegetable Lasagna with White Sauce or cheese tortellini tossed in cream sauce with peas and mushrooms.

Vegetables are moving from a side dish to the center of the plate:  make sure your menu is ready to move, too!  Vegetarian diners, or those simply wanting meatless options, are broadening out this formerly niche market.  Bringing new vegetable dishes to the table will keep your food menu on trend and customers coming back for more. Foothill Farms® offers vegetarian recipes you can easily prepare for your guests:  just search “meatless” in our recipes.

 

Gluten-Free Infographic Helps Foodservice Operators Offer New Menu Items

Foothill Farms® created an infographic titled A Foodservice Guide to Gluten Free. The infographic informs restaurant owners about the importance of offering gluten-free menu items. It contains relevant data from leaders in the foodservice and research industries illustrating trends in dining behavior, popular gluten free menu items, and tips to ensuring a gluten free dining experience.

The gluten-free eating trend is on the rise and restaurant owners and chefs are taking note. More and more people are eliminating gluten because of dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices. One in every 133 Americans has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming gluten protein. Because of this statistic, we created an infographic titled “A Foodservice Guide to Gluten-Free“. The infographic informs restaurant owners about the importance of offering gluten-free menu items. It contains relevant data from leaders in the foodservice and research industries illustrating trends in dining behavior, popular gluten-free menu items, and tips to ensuring a gluten-free dining experience. The infographic also details a new FDA regulation that determines how much gluten can be in a product before it can legally be labeled gluten-free as well as details on cross-contamination in kitchens.

FDA regulations enforce proper gluten free labeling
Celiac Disease Statistics

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If a person with Celiac or gluten-sensitivity chooses a dish at a restaurant that is labeled gluten-free, they do so for health reasons. If they get sick with symptoms similar to a gluten reaction, they will likely not return for a second dining experience. Secondly, if a family member is gluten-sensitive or has Celiac Disease they are likely to influence dining decisions. We offer 67 gluten-free products, including mixes for dressings, gravies, sauces, soup bases, cheese sauces, seasoning and desserts. Recently, our marketing staff created an easy reference sell sheet for operators wanting to offer gluten-free menu items which is located under the resources/marketing materials tab on our home page. For K-12 customers, our gluten-free sell sheet has been expanded and targets a wider scope of dietary restrictions. The “Kids’ Allergens, Intolerances and Special Diets” sell sheet features Flavorwise™ products in an easy chart that showcases gluten-free products as well as products free from nuts, crustaceans, lactose, HFC, no added MSG and vegetarian products. It is also housed under the resources/marketing materials tab on our website.

We hope that our infographic is helpful to you! That’s why we created it!

Increase Sales with Gluten Free Menu Items
Trends in Gluten Free Menu Items