Getting Back to Scratch Cooking

Learn the three steps that will help get you a head-start with the scratch cooking trend.

At culinary school or technical college, none of us made big plans to fill our menus with pre-made foods. We didn’t dream about one day microwaving our way to the top. We also never could have known just how impractical it is to make everything from scratch with real-world time and labor constraints. Bravo to those who do, but for the rest of us, we’ve learned to pick our battles and find secret weapons that help us get close to scratch.

Step 1: Experiment with Speed-Scratch Products

It’s not a new term, but as “house made” and “scratch” continue to pique diners’ interest it’s good to remember that there’s help at hand. According to Mintel, creating exclusive menu items is a key strategy, since they provide consumers something they cannot get elsewhere. Over the past three years, menu item claims such as “signature” (15%), “original” (10%), “homemade” (25%), and “house” (67%) have all risen. From par-baked crusts to pre-mixed seasonings, cooks can find convenience ingredients that are either partially prepped, pre-measured or primed-for-use that simplify turning out signature, house-made dishes. It’s just a matter of finding the products that do enough of the work without encroaching on your creativity.

Taking speed-scratch products for a test drive is well worth the time. Sauces are a good place to start. They can be challenging to make consistently every time depending on your staff. So experiment with good quality dry mixes that allow you to just add water and a couple other back-of-house ingredients to make them your own, like red pepper flakes for heat or roasted garlic for authenticity. You’ll find that you can significantly cut time, elevate flavor and turn out once-demanding dishes easily.

Step 2: Factor in Versatility

Some prepared products can help you get to a finished dish fast, but are one-trick ponies. You’ll want to avoid these in order to maximize your budget. For example, I’ve found that I don’t like using pre-marinated chicken because I can only menu it in one or two ways. If I get that same flavor profile in a seasoning blend or sauce mix, I can use it to create multiple dishes, including chicken, soup, pasta and more.

Customer satisfaction is a top priority which is why using prepared products to turn out quality food and a customized menu are important. But, there’s a sweet spot in the cost-effectiveness of speed-scratch products, and versatility is a big part of it. Dry mixes that you can menu in multiple ways offer significant advantages over scratch and ready to use (RTU) products every step of the way, from purchase and storage to preparation and finish.

ScratchCooking

Step 3: Consider Equipment Investments

Making a strategic equipment investment is another way to leverage the made-from-scratch trend as demonstrated by Chandler Unified School District Food and Nutrition Director Wesley Delbridge who told Foodservice Director, “It’s hard with schools to start literally from scratch, but it’s the perfect setting to do finishing touches.”

After putting pizza ovens in cafeterias and having the staff assemble prepared ingredients and bake off pizzas on site, sales skyrocketed. “It’s the same pizza as before. But the smell and seeing the pizza come out of the oven doubled participation,” Chandler says. While the up-front cost of equipment may be high, consider the long-term impact on sales.

Where there’s a will there’s a way, so don’t shy away from the scratch trend. Get a head-start with smart, multitasking products and equipment.

Find affordable and efficient ways to get closer to scratch cooking with Foothill Farms.

 

Foodservice is Getting Back to the Ease of Scratch Cooking

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.

Ready. Set. Go!
Learn how to mix our most popular products in just a few easy steps.

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.

These videos have their own page on Foothill Farms’ website at http://foothillfarms.com/resources_videos.cfm

For the LOVE of CHEESE! New Cheese Sauce Recipes Added

It’s easy to find new cheese sauce recipes from Foothill Farms® by simply entering “cheese” in the search box within the recipe link on our website.

Searching for what’s new in the world of cheese sauce? It’s easy to find new cheese sauce recipes from Foothill Farms® by simply entering “cheese” in the search box within the recipe link on our website.

Our chef at Kent Precision Foods Group (KPFG)  is constantly whisking up delicious recipes and providing new concepts targeting foodservice professionals. He knows what is trending and focuses on helping you reach new heights in the food that comes out of your kitchen as well. (Read more about Chef Martin and his food philosophies.) Some of his recent cheese sauce recipes are Sriracha Jack Queso Sauce, Monterey Spaghetti, and Spicy Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup. These recipes, as well as many others, were assessed in the test kitchen and will complement many foodservice kitchens.

Cheesy Foothill Farms Recipes
For the love of CHEESE! Sauces, dips, soups, nachos, queso, entrees and sides

Dry mix cheese sauces add value and consistency to your menu by employing the speed scratch concept: make how much you need from a dry mix product with the addition of other fresh ingredients. Speed scratch products deliver the best combination of maintaining product predictability while still delivering your guests remarkable taste every time. Time and money…sauce mixes will save you both by allowing you to easily make only what you need.

Foothill Farms Potato & Cheese Soup Recipe
Foothill Farms Potato & Cheese Soup Recipe

So if you’re looking for new cheese recipes that are crave-able and innovative, we’ve got you covered with our variety of cheese sauce recipes at Foothill Farms®. Remember, just search for “cheese” and our products and recipes will help you do the rest, easily and affordably.

 

Salad Dressings Offer Mixing Alternatives for Creating Unique Recipes

With more than 80 dressing recipes online, Foothill Farms® offers operators unique salad dressing, sandwich spread and dipping sauce inspiration to satisfy patron cravings while allowing operators to make top dressing menu claims including—freshly made, signature and house.

Think of everything that tastes better with Ranch Dressing? Wings, salad, wraps, sandwiches, raw veggies, pizza…The applications are endless. Expand dressing variety to Caesar, Blue Cheese, Italian, Honey Mustard and 1000 Island and you can envision the possibilities! With more than 80 dressing recipes online, Foothill Farms® offers operators unique salad dressing, sandwich spread and dipping sauce inspiration to satisfy patron cravings while allowing operators to make top dressing menu claims including—freshly made, signature and house.

Super Wow Dipping Sauce
Super Wow Dipping Sauce

Recently, Foothill Farms tapped into Pinterest, a popular social media site known for showing off unique ideas, beautiful photography and culinary creations. With over 20 boards and 280 pins, the recipe collection is vast and designed to help chefs find taste-tested recipes quickly and easily with just a couple clicks of the mouse. Just added are recipes using Foothill Farms 1000 Island / Honey Mustard Dressing Mix #V405. Find recipes for Wow Sauce, Super Wow Sauce and Asian Dressing on the Dressings board.

Asian Salad Dressing
Asian Salad Dressing

Most Foothill Farms® salad dressing dry mixes are designed to be mixed with buttermilk and mayonnaise. If a chef doesn’t want to use this ingredient, no fretting necessary! Our dry mixes are versatile and can also be mixed with a combination of sour cream, mayonnaise and water without compromising flavor. Another non-existing compromise is shelf and refrigerated storage space. Dry mix is known for allowing operators to only mix what they need when they need it. The expiration date on the dry mix packaging is 12 months.

We’re slightly biased but we would love to hear your feedback on our dry mixes. Please let us know your culinary experiences with dry salad dressing mix. Feel good making your dressings from “speed scratch”.

Latin Sauces take the Express Track…Destination: Big Flavor!

Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix
Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread

For a Latin sauce with flair, just add water.  It really can be that simple!  As food professionals, we know better than to overlook the importance of a quality accompanying sauce.  It elevates the main dish and turns great into extraordinary.  However, the reality of creating the perfect sauce from scratch for every individual recipe can translate to losing valuable prep time and drive up expense as the list of ingredients increases.  Can the solution be as easy as adding water?  It actually can be that simple if you are using Foothill Farms® instant mixes which include delicious cheese sauces, ethnic sauces, classic sauces, and specialty sauces.  Within the line of sauces, there are low sodium options from our Flavorwise™ product line.  Foothill Farms® mixes create reliable, delicious flavor that still offer options to customize recipes and showcase your individuality as a food artist.

Red Enchilada Sauce Mix
Enchilada Sauce with Cheese Rolls

Our Latin sauce mixes embody the trending concept of speed scratch, which incorporates ready-to-use food products to expedite prep without sacrificing flavor.  Foothill Farms® products are allowing food professionals to save time, money, and create consistent dishes with much less fuss and increasing menu possibilities.

Versatility? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix can take you from Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice to Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread without skipping a Latin beat.  Spicy Chili Orange Sauce gives a signature flavor of sweet and spicy to wings, chicken and ribs without spending valuable time on prep.

Healthy? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Classic Red Enchilada Sauce Mix with Guajillo Chiles-Reduced Sodium keeps an eye on nutrition for your healthful menu items without compromising flavor. It is a part of our Flavorwise™ product line and contains no added MSG, no partially hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors, low in sodium and preservative free.  Using this one sauce mix can expand your menu at least three times with Beef Enchilada Empanadas, Cheese Enchilada Mini Pierogies, and Carne Asada Sauce.

Beef Enchiladas
Beef Enchiladas

Cheese, please? Yes.  Foothill Farms® has 16 cheese sauce mixes to explore ranging from traditional cheddars, to creamy whites, to spicy nacho cheese, to exceptional specialty cheese sauces. Serve Chipotle-Cheddar Cheese Sauce alongside fresh baked bread or onion rings as a specialty dip, compliment juicy burgers with a rich creamy cheese experience or mix it with pasta for a unique mac n’ cheese. Don’t forget the chips and dip! Pepper Jack Queso gives a little menu twist and livens up this popular appetizer staple.

Standard Fare? No.  We are constantly adding new recipes to provide a spectrum of dishes to keep adding to your food repertoire.  Adding new twists with innovative recipes can keep the menu fresh while keeping costs in check with the mixes that will become a staple in the kitchen.

Foothill Farms® will keep the Latin sauce movement alive in your kitchen and help keep your focus on easy flavor with lots of versatility.  Latin heat just got easier.

Pepper Jack Queso
Pepper Jack Queso

It All Starts Dry! Versatility Is Where You See The Difference

Tacos and Rice

FOODSERVICE SCENARIO

The first of the month is approaching and it’s time to place orders and reorders. You’ve seen what is working and you know what isn’t. The menu can be tweaked but with menu changes comes new products to purchase. Your foodservice broker introduces you to a dry mix product that correlates to your menu change. WAIT! Did you say “DRY MIX”?

YES WE DID! NO NEED TO FEAR CHANGE…IT ALL STARTS DRY!

One of the benefits of using a dry mix is that customers receive a mixture of the basic ingredients rather than having to purchase each one of them individually and possibly, mince and dice multiple ingredients before ever starting to cook. Dehydrating vegetables and blending fresh, dry seasonings along with smart packaging, opens the door to a world of menu VERSATILITY. This is where the possibilities become endless! For example, a container of Chipotle Flavor Taco Seasoning Mix isn’t just for making the obvious; it can easily be combined with cream cheese, mayonnaise, rice, ranch dressing or brownie mix (yes BROWNIE mix) to make many culinary concoctions. In fact, one package of dry mix can be used for as many as 50 servings and in at least 10 different recipes.

Another strong attribute of dry mix is the capability to adjust the strength of the flavors or alter the thickness of the sauce or gravy. When the mix starts dry, you can make the product according to package directions or slowly add liquid until the desired thickness or flavor is reached. This closely resembles “cooking from scratch”. Although, cooking from scratch exudes craftsmanship, it also means additional prep time and expense.

There is a trendy, culinary term that backs the concept of dry mix called “speed scratch”. Speed scratch is loosely defined as the process in which a chef utilizes a prepared mix in replacement of individual basic ingredients and then adds a handful of additional ingredients to make the creation signature and to finish the dish – FAST!

Versatility isn’t just a matter of menu expansion or culinary art, it also helps restaurants and foodservice providers make more profitable meals. How? Dry mix is lighter and less bulky than RTU products, which translates to “more for your money”. It also allows more flexibility for food storage since refrigeration is not required.

Dry mix lends itself more to menu versatility, higher profits, less storage worries and more time for doing what you LOVE to do!