Category Archives: Foods

Assessing Soft Drink Choices in American Restaurants

More Than One Choice..

Why do restaurants not pay attention to the needs or wants of consumers more? Case in point: Only one choice of diet drink for customers.

How often do you go into a restaurant and have a choice of more than one diet soda or other diet drink (water excluded of course). In a day and age where nearly one in four Americans are being diagnosed as diabetic, you would think that restaurants that want your business would be a bit more sensitive to your needs.

I have asked many managers of restaurant establishments why they don’t carry more variety and I always get the same answers. 1.) They don’t have any input into such decisions and 2.) The cola companies often own the machines and dictate what can and cannot go into them.

My answer is, ok, it’s time to start holding someone accountable. No more passing the buck. If people would start asking for the manager of such restaurants and demanding that they offer more than one choice of soft drink in a diet version, it would happen in no time. It’s not that such items don’t exist. Practically any soda flavor has a diet formula counterpart. It is simply that unless pushed, the soda companies are going to do what they’ve always done, limit you to what they want to put in the highest profit, lowest cost and minimum selection necessary.

How would you ask a manager in a nice way if they couldn’t offer more than one diet soft drink choice? Between those with health issues, those on diets and those with religious views that do not allow for caffeine, I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before we would all have much more in the way of choices offered to us. Do you have any ideas of ways to promote the use of choice by restaurants more? Do you think it would be advantageous for restaurants to offer more in the way of juice, coffee or tea varieties as these enjoy growing popularity in the USA? Are you perhaps a person from a foreign country whom has visited the US and thought of something that you expected to see on the menu and did not? Share your opinions with us here.

Reference:
1. Food choice
2. Restaurant foods, sugar-sweetened soft drinks, and obesity risk …

Characteristics of a Good Bartender

The beer is important. The pub is important. But most important of all is the Pub Landlord! In the world of bar tending, this surely is the highest form of the art!

But why do so many British pub landlords get it wrong? The problem is that running a pub is seen by outsiders as the easiest job in the world. Get a well established hostelry, employ a couple of attractive bar maids then step back and watch the money roll in!

Wrong, wrong wrong!

The pub landlord is born, not made. He needs to be loud and outgoing by nature. He needs a wicked sense of humour. He needs to be well informed and up to date with latest bad taste jokes! He has to be an entertainer, an entrepreneur and a master of ceremonies. Keep them laughing, keep them entertained and they’ll keep drinking!

Kids in pubs. Love them or hate them, if you make families unwelcome, you are missing out on a client base that accounts for up to 25% of pub business in the UK. Children have to be tolerated and families made welcome. Get a few colouring books. Provide a decent kids menu. Bribe them with lollipops! Provide a fun filled play area. It’s so important to get it right.

Make families feel uncomfortable at your peril.

Background music. It’s so important to get it right. Supermarkets learned years ago that they can control their customers buying habits by using the right music at the right time. It ain’t rocket science! Set the mood appropriate to the time of day. Slow music, fast music, soft, loud. Constantly monitor the atmosphere and react accordingly.

The biggest mistake of all is to sit on the sidelines. Get right in front of the customers. Get involved in their conversations. Start new topics and no matter how boring the discussion is, pretend to be interested in theirs.

It’s equally important to know when to stand back. Some conversations are not for public consumption and you need to know when to make yourself scarce.

Then there’s the no-no’s. No politics. No religion and no chatting up your best customers’ girlfriends!

But with the best will in the world, if all of the above does not come naturally, you’ll never succeed.

You can’t fake personality. If you’re not the life and soul of the party you’ll never have a thriving bar.

Reference:
1. Top 10 Qualities of a Great Bartender | Advertising Schools
2. Characteristics of a Bartender | Chron.com

Choosing Sutainable Fish

As you consider what delicious piece of fish to buy for tonight’s dinner you probably don’t think that you might be eating an endangered species. Unfortunately many of the fish species still commonly available in supermarkets are seriously threatened.  As you probably don’t want to be eating an endangered animal that evening here are some guidelines to choosing guilt free fish.

Canned 

This is easiest as labelling is compulsory.  It won’t tell you whether the fish you choose is from a sustainable source or not but some simple guidelines will.  Tuna is one of the most popular and while some kinds of tuna are nearing extinction the species sold in cans usually aren’t.  The key words to look out for are ‘line caught’ or ‘dolphin friendly’.  These mean that the fish were caught in ways that did not put other sea life at risk.  With salmon you should avoid farmed but if you are splashing out on caviar do the opposite and avoid wild.  

Fresh 

Provided you are getting the fish you ask for (this is not always a given, even in supermarkets) you simply need to do some homework beforehand.  Decide what kind of fish you’d like, with a couple of reserve choices, and check to see if they are sustainable.   Credit card sized guides are available that you can print out to see at a glance the sustainability of your choice.  For the States,  click here and for the UK here.  Whatever fish you choose, don’t buy one that is unusually small for the species.  This means it didn’t have a chance to breed and help to replenish stocks.   

Frozen 

The fish to avoid in frozen products is hake in particular.  This is now a very endangered fish and should be avoided altogether.  Cod can be OK, if caught by line methods rather than trawling.  If your frozen fish or fish product is not clearly labelled you might want to email the manufacture asking where they obtain their fish. 

What to do if you see a seriously endangered fish on sale 

Chances are this is not illegal.  However if you see them being openly sold you could contact the supermarket.  They are there to make money and want to keep customers happy.  If enough people complain about endangered animals being sold the chances are the supermarket will stop.  With a large chain this could make a big difference.  You may wish also to consult with local or national conservation groups.  Consumers have power and the future of fish could depend on what we choose for dinner.

Reference:
1. Sustainable seafood
2. Seafood Watch – Official Site of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's …

Albert Hotel Kirkwall

The Albert Hotel is located in the centre of Kirkwall, on Mounthoolie Lane. The main food area of the hotel is the lounge bar, and having visited the Bothy Bar (also part of the hotel) for a drink, we decided to try the lounge bar for food.

We arrived at around 7pm on a Thursday evening, and were very lucky to get a table – although normally open all evening, on that particular evening they were hosting a large booking at 8pm and so did not take any more customers after us.

The lounge bar is comfortable, clean and in good condition, but somehow outdated even though nothing looks old. The decor reminded me very much of Scottish pubs as they were in the late 1980s/early 1990s when I was a child and we would go for a bar meal. It was a very comforting feeling and I instantly warmed to the place.

The service was attentive and very friendly, even though the young waitress was obviously a little flustered by the large party soon due to arrive. She made a mistake with my starter, bringing the wrong dish but this was quickly rectified and not a big problem.

To drink we had the same as we had had in the Bothy Bar, and in fact my dad’s pint of Raven Ale came from through there. I was happy with my Tennents and my mum with her ginger beer and lime.

To start I had smoked mackerel paté (once I got the right thing) which was absolutely delicious. I’ve never had it before, I loved it and will have it again. My dad had breaded Orkney cheese, and it was a rather stingy portion – although very nice there were not many pieces of cheese and they were very small. I didn’t try it as there wasn’t really enough to go round, but I thought the breaded coating looked a little hard.

For the main course I had scampi, which was good and I certainly enjoyed it, but I have had better. No complaints as such about this one, it just wasn’t the best. The breading was a little hard, but it wasn’t so bad as to make it unenjoyable – but having had melt-in-the-mouth scampi in the past, I can’t count this as one of the best.My mum had the Orkney lamb, which she had mixed feelings about. She thinks she liked it, but she’s not sure –she said it had a strange taste to it so we suspect it might have been seaweed fed lamb which Orkney is known for. My dad had Cajun chicken and was perfectly happy with it. We decided against pudding.

All in all, the lounge bar at the Albert Hotel provided us with a very nice meal. The bill came to around £47, which seemed to be the standard for a meal for the three of us, including drinks.

Reference:
1. The Albert Hotel: Home
2. Albert Hotel (Kirkwall, Orkney Islands) – Hotel Reviews – TripAdvisor

Christmas 2007 Gift Ideas for Cheese Lovers

We all remember the commercial where the family awakes to find the tree surrounded by glamorous, glitzy, large, dreamy gifts, and the innocent little girl claims that she left Santa Cheese in lieu of cookies. Hence, “Behold, the power of Cheese” became quite familiar to us. What makes us remember that? Ah, yes, we remember it so fondly because when ever we heard the phrase, or watched the commercials, we would nod affirmatively and agree. We all love cheese! Cheese is one of those foods that has so many varieties, and we tend to enjoy almost every type! And it goes with nearly ever other type of food! Why not give it as a gift, then? If you know a cheese connoisseur, here are a few great gifts that they aren’t used to seeing under the tree.

~A Fondue pot. Not only is this an essential for your cheddar enthusiast, this gift is perfect in so many ways. You can melt any kinds of cheese in it, and you can dip anything into the yummy cheese! These pots usually come with a handful of dipping forks, and the forks are different colors, or shapes so that you don’t use the same dipper as your neighbor has already slobbered all over. There are several different recipes for different dips (you can even buy a recipe book!). And you can dip to your hearts content the greatest foods! Pepperoni, breads, sausages, potato chips, tortilla chips, french fries, vegetables, you name it. And you can use it during parties, get togethers, dinners, and the fella’s will love it when they come over for the ball games!

~A cheese and sausage basket from Hickory Farms. This is a classic, classy gift, people have been hip to this for ages! It can come from anywhere (not just Hickory Farms), and it usually has inside of the package some mustards and or crackers. This is a perfect gift to take along to the home of whomever is hosting the family get together. With all of the running around, and stress at Christmas, give them a gift they can enjoy and relax with, something to nibble on without having to cook. And that, my friend, is a present in itself.

~Package of cheese dips. There are a variety of new cheese dips that are growing popular recently, you can purchase packets to make your own dips, or buy those that are already made. There is a bacon-cheddar dip that is so delicious your guests will want to eat it with their bare hands! There is also cream cheese based dips, as well as a garden style vegetable dip. These would be perfect for that cheese loving Hostess that is so hard to buy for.

~Cheese of the month club. This is perfect for that lover of cheese that wants to try it all. This features a different cheese from a different country each month. If you can’t travel the globe, why not bring the world to you? This also offers an introduction to which wines to pair with the feature of the month.

~The All American Cheese and Wine Book by Laura Werlin. This book reads like a who’s who in wines, and cheese’s, and then which go together best. It offers tips on which to buy, and also charts to make it easy on the wine and cheese novice. It also offers fifty-five recipes from hors d’oeuvres, and pizzas, to desserts. It offers a complete list of wine and cheese makers, and where to find them, and how to order from them, as well.

~Cheesecake. Do I really need to elaborate on this one? Everybody loves cheesecake, and receiving a couple purchased from a snazzy bakery will put a glow to anyone’s face this winter.

Pick up a couple of bottles of wine to go with your gift basket, and add a movie, and a few wine flutes. Your recipient can make an entire evening out of your thoughtfulness. Throw in a gift card for a local shop that specializes in cheeses, or a gift card from a fondue restaurant. And don’t forget to stick around for the tasting yourself after all that shopping!

Reference:
1. 25 Christmas gift ideas for the cheese lover in your life – Cosmopolitan
2. Popular items for cheese lover on Etsy

Foods High In Folic Acid

What is folic acid? What does it do to our body? What are the foods rich in folate? It is important to know the kinds of vitamins vital for our body to function healthily. One of these vitamins is folic acid or Vitamin B9. Read on.

Also known as Vitamin B9, Bc or folacin, it is a type of Vitamin B that is soluble in water essential for cell growth and the creation of new cells. It is the main component for the red blood cells production and anemia prevention. The vitamin is likewise essential for the production of DNA synthesis and metabolism of protein.

Folacin is most important to women’s health, especially the pregnant women since it helps to make the fetus to develop as it should be and therefore, prevents birth defects. This does not mean though that men do not need it. All cells in our body regenerate, thus everyone needs this vitamin. There are many health benefits of folic acid, it is also helpful for the brain and lessens chances of strokes because it lowers cholesterol.

The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for folacin is 400 micrograms daily. But for pregnant women, it is higher by 200 micrograms per day. This is easy to attain if you ensure to include one or two foods high in folacin in your meal every day. Learn to understand nutritional facts on food labels. The labels indicate the Percent Daily Value (%DV) to guide us what we are getting from food stuff. Thus, if DV is 5% or less, it means the food is low in folate. If it has 20% or more, then it is assured to be high in it. This is helpful to know how much intake of the vitamin we are getting per day because making a habit of eating large quantities of it can also impair absorption of Vitamin B12.

Aside from food supplements, the better way to get it into our body would be through natural sources of food. It is mainly found in leafy vegetables such as celery, lettuces, spinach, turnips, and cabbage. Among other vegetables that have high content of folacin are sunflower seeds, dried beans, asparagus, okra, collards and broccoli. Most vegetables retain it if eaten in the form of salads. Other foods are wheat germ, peanuts and fortified cereals. In fruits, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes and other melons are good source of this supplement.

Cake Recipes

Christmas Fruit Cake

I am a Guyanese and we love to celebrate Christmas in grand style especially with food. So our foods are rich and this recipe has traditional roots but I have changed some things over the years to suit my family’s tastes.

Ingredients

1lb of butter, granulated sugar, flour-sifted.
Dark caramel, use 1-2lbs of brown sugar
2-3 bottles of sherry wine (sweet wine)
Dried fruits 4ozs each of raisins(dark +light coloured)
prunes
cranberries
currants
mixed peel
Nuts 8ozs peanuts or walnuts or both
Lime rind, mixed essense
Eggs 12
Baking powder 1tsp
Baking soda half tsp

Method

Fruits, this is usually prepared months ahead for best results but on numerous occasions I do same day. Grind 3/4 of fruits and nuts together using the wine as liquid until smooth. If done in advance then good place in jar cover with wine and and leave it cover jar keeping until baking day . Chop remainder nuts and prunes small do not grind these with remainder fruits will be added to give chunky texture.

Make Caramel before, days or hrs since must be cool. To do this place a thick pan/ pot on stove and put brown sugar in leave on high heat until the sugar has melted and darkened. Turn heatas is darkening since wil begin to smoke. the darker the better do not worry about bitterness. then slowly pour water to make it into a pouring consistency.Ideally you can use wine but be care ful with the alcoho causing fire so I suggest if new at this use water first until less hot then pour wine. Leave to cool. if gets sticky no worry just get it hot again and add liquid.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time mixing well also mixed essence and lime rind.

Add ground fruits and mix well then other friuts.Then add caramel for desired colour.

Sift flour baking powder and baking soda together and add to cake mixture folding in do not over mix

Place in two prepared -floured and lined 1lb cake pans

Bake in oven turned on at 350F 15 mins before bake for 1+half to 2 hrs until cake is firm since tester may not always be clean since cake is moist.

Keep in pan and pour wine on top of hot cake as soon as out of oven. leave over night in pan.
Then remove from pan in am and place on rack or turn it in pan- top at bottom now
pour wine again. this can be done for 2-3 days if have time. wine keeps cake moist.

I know this may seem like a long process but it is worth the effort I bake this every christmas and for my husband’s birthday and we love it. The amounts of this receipe will yield two lbs or more of cake so doubling this gives me the opporunity to give 3-4 half pound cakes to my friends for christmas as gifts.
Do enjoy.

Reference:
1. Cake Recipes – Allrecipes.com
2. Cake Recipes – Betty Crocker

Cheese Souffle

I generously give you my priceless recipe for cooking a fabulous, impossible-to-fail cheese souffle. Here is a recipe given to me, a good many years ago, in France, by a dear friend whose kitchen was always an aromatic delight of wondrous cooking. I learned an immeasurable amount of skills in those years. My friend used to produce this cheese souffle as if by magic and it was some time, and a lot of careful observation, before I was able to work out how she did it! Quite simply, there was NO last minute preparation.

If the method is carefully followed, an absolute novice can produce a stunningly impressive dish. It is commonly thought that a souffle is for ‘show off’ cordon bleu cooks or those with a high level of culinary skill but this one is an exception, and exceptionally good.

Even more startling you can make this in the morning, keep it all day in the fridge and then pop it into the oven in the evening for dinner. Yes, you really can! I’ve done this many times with 100% success. This makes this particular recipe an absolute boon for the busy working wife who doesn’t have many hours available to prepare meals. .

INGREDIENTS:

6 eggs 1teaspoon salt

180g cheese 1 teaspoon paprika

90g margarine dash of cayenne pepper

90g plain flour 412ml milk

METHOD:

Butter a large souffle dish. Separate the eggs into 2 bowls. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over a low heat, stir in the flour and seasonings and cook together for a few minutes. Add the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Now add the grated cheese and stir it into the mixture until it has melted. Next, stir the egg yolks into the mixture and blend it all thoroughly.

Beat the egg whites stiffly and pour the cheese mixture over them, folding carefully until all the egg white has been well amalgamated. Pour this mixture into the prepared dish.

If this souffle is to be cooked immediately, place into an oven pre-heated to 180C and bake for 45 minutes.

If you plan to save the baking until later, cover the dish with foil, put it into the fridge.

When you are ready to cook the saved souffle, put it into a COLD oven [ yes, cold!] turn the oven control to 180C and bake it for 50 minutes.

Unlikely as it may seem, the souffle will turn out beautifully risen and as impressive as the one baked immediately it was prepared.

This is a most suitable dinner party dish, especially as you can prepare it such a long time in advance, because it means that, at the crucially busy time just when you are needing to be occupied with the other items of the meal, the main dish needs no further attention.

This is truly the only recipe you will ever need for a never-fail cheese souffle.

Go on – invite the boss, or your mother-in-law for dinner!

Reference:
1. Classic Cheese Soufflé recipe | Epicurious.com
2. Cheese Souffle Recipe : Alton Brown : Food Network