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Archive for March 25, 2015

TIP OF THE DAY: Leftover Grains As A Soup Garnish

When we have leftover cooked grains—barley, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, rice, etc.—we start using them the next morning in breakfast omelets. By the time lunch comes, we’re ready to make grain salad.

If we don’t have enough for a salad, we add the grains to soup. They can make quite a handsome garnish, and most grains go with any type of soup.

In the photo, Brazilian steakhouse chain Texas de Brazil topped a mound of rice with a shrimp garnish.

But you can use the grain plain, with a simple sprinkling of green herbs or something equally colorful (halved cherry tomato, sliced jalapeño or bell pepper).

Or, take the occasion to use up leftover proteins to top the grain: bacon, fish, seafood, poultry, steak. It’s a great way to repurpose small bits of leftovers you can’t do much else with.

Vegetarians can substitute a cube of grilled tofu, a cherry tomato, olive or leftover steamed vegetables.

And, you can use leftover beans and pulses (chickpeas, lentils, peas) instead of the grains.

Whatever you choose, a sprig of green—shredded basil (called chiffonade) or a small basil leaf, rosemary or parsley sprig, cilantro, chives, chopped green onions (scallions) or microgreens–is the final crown on what started out as a conventional bowl of soup.

 

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Turn rice into a base for even more garnishes. First mound the grain in the center of the bowl, then carefully pour the soup around it. Photo courtesy Texas de Brazil.

 
It’s a nice change from croutons.

Here are 20+ more ways to garnish soup.

  

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TRENDS: Restaurant Focus For 2015

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No more waste: In restaurant kitchens, everything can have a second life. Citrus peel
is turned into marmalade. Photo courtesy Lola Loves Green.

 

What are the top culinary concerns for restaurateurs this year?

According to a survey by Nation’s Restaurant News, the top five focus on gluten-free and sustainability.

1. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Safeguarding natural resources is a growing concern across the globe, and the number one culinary issue cited in a survey of American chefs. It’s not just with fine dining: Fast casual concepts like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sweetgreen have been on the bandwagon since their inception. Chipotle recently stopped serving pork when it couldn’t find enough sustainable meat!

 
2. NATURAL INGREDIENTS/MINIMALLY PROCESSED FOODS

“Clean” labels and minimally processed food appeal to more and more customers. Chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association named natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a major theme. Last year, fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s took the concept mainstream, adding an all-natural burger to the menu. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts have responded to consumer complaints by doing away with additives.
 
3. HYPERLOCAL SOURCING

Locally sourced and house-grown food are becoming more and more important to customers. “Hyperlocal” fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in restaurant gardens. Some restaurants have beehives as well. We’ve even seen chickens strutting around rooftops (fresh eggs!).

 
4. FOOD/WASTE REDUCTION MANAGEMENT

Food costs are rising and consumers are growing more concerned about how what they eat affects the planet. Both have become major concerns among the dining public.

Chefs are practicing more “root-to-stem” cooking, the logical next step to “nose-to-tail” cooking, in which restaurants utilize the entire animal (or vegetable). It’s an effective way to avoid waste and manage costs.

Chefs have long used bits and scraps—in soups, chicken salad and so forth. But now, they’re making marmalade from citrus skins and bitters from plum and peach pits. This parallels the new law in Seattle, which as of January 1st ordered no more food waste in the garbage. Instead, residents are expected to recycle and compost.

5. GLUTEN-FREE CUISINE

Fewer than 7% of Americans are sensitive to gluten; about 1% of people worldwide suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten consumption can cause life-threatening intestinal damage.

Yet, 63% of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they believed following a gluten-free diet would improve their physical or mental health*. About a third of those said they buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten.

Gluten-free cuisine was the culinary theme chefs pointed to fifth most often in the NRA survey. Restaurants are responding with a growing array of gluten-free options, including gluten-free burger buns.

 
*Note that no scientific studies to date confirm or deny a positive impact of gluten-free diets among condition-free consumers.

  

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