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Indian Cuisine At Home: Easy, Flavorful And Healthy

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

If you’ve ever been impressed with the rich variety and layers of flavor at an Indian restaurant, you’re in luck, because now you can recreate that experience at home. Here are some tips and a traditional Indian recipe to get you started. The Benefits of Indian Cuisine Indian food is as varied as the many regions and languages in India. In addition to being tasty and healthy, Indian food can also be very quick and easy to prepare, and inexpensive, as well. If you keep key ingredients in the pantry, you’ll always be able to whip up a number of dishes. This list alone will let you make three different chicken entrees (Chicken Korma, Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka): chicken yogurt basmati rice lemons onions tomatoes cilantro cucumbers scallions fresh ginger fresh garlic cooking oil green chiles desiccated coconut spices: chili powder; coriander seeds and powder; salt; pepper; cloves; cumin seeds and powder; cardamom; cinnamon; turmeric The Flexibility of Indian Food Indian food has a reputation for being very spicy, but there are mild dishes, as well. Much of the fire can be tempered by the amount of pepper added, or by the addition of yogurt and rice. Indian cuisine also features a great many soups and appetizers–little pancakes and fritters are very popular and sometimes sold as street food, too. Because so many people in India maintain vegetarian diets for religious reasons, there are a vast number of recipes with no meat. And many other recipes can be adapted to suit a vegetarian diet. Once you get comfortable cooking Indian food, you will enjoy the flexibility of being easily able to swap out one ingredient for another. Shopping for Indian Ingredients Lovers of Indian food used to have to import their ingredients from India. Now many items can be found in the West, at large traditional grocery stores, specialty and health food stores and Indian grocers. Breads are particularly easy to find; naan, chapatis and poppadum are mainstays of Indian meals and are available in take-and-bake forms at many grocers. If you are having trouble locating Indian ingredients, try asking your local Indian restaurant where they buy their supplies. An Indian Dinner You Can Make Tonight: Chicken Tikka Mix together in a bowl: 5/8 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon ground coriander and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Add 1-1/2 pounds cubed chicken (white meat) and marinate in the refrigerator all day. Put the chicken on skewers and cook under a hot broiler or on a grill about 6 minutes, turning frequently. Take the chicken off the skewers and serve over a platter of cooked basmati rice with slices of onion, tomato and lemon as garnish. Serve raita on the side: Slice 4 ounces of cucumber very thin, sprinkle with salt and place them in a colander for 30 minutes, then dry them with paper towels. Mix 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt with a pinch of salt and add cucumbers, 5 thinly sliced scallions and 1 finely chopped seeded green chile. Garnish with cilantro. Store-bought naan rounds out the meal, along with tea or a traditional India Pale Ale. Mango ice cream for dessert will leave your family and guests thinking they...

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The 10 Most Important Questions To Ask Your Prospective Catering Company

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

Your big day is just around the corner and you don’t have a caterer booked yet. Finding a catering company can be one of the most important decisions you make because the food served at your wedding can make or break the event. With so little time and such an important decision to make, it’s a good idea to know exactly the right questions to ask your prospective caterer. Here is a list to get you started. Are you available on the date we have chosen? Availability is a good question to start with because the wrong answer will immediately delete them from your list of prospects. How is the pricing broken down? Between the food, the bar, the tax and the tip, it’s a good idea to know exactly how you will be billed and when, as well as what the expected tip is. Overtime fees are another important factor in case the reception runs longer than expected. Do you have a cancellation policy? Also, do they provide refunds on deposits? Obviously no one wants to think about a delay in their wedding, but knowing the cancellation policy just in case is always a good idea. Do you have any recent references? If you have the time, call references. They will always give you a more unbiased view of the catering company. Are you licensed to serve alcohol? If you plan to serve alcohol at your reception, this is a very important question to ask. Given my event location and theme, do you have any food recommendations? Caterers that have been in the business for a long time can give you a pretty good idea on what menu choices would go best with your reception. Listen to their ideas carefully because everyone has different tastes, and they can give you a menu that is varied enough to please almost everyone. Do you have packages? Some caterers offer event packages and some do everything separate. If you’re in a time crunch, it’s a good idea to purchase a package so you do not have to make every little decision on your own. Can you provide menus with a theme? If you are doing a theme wedding, such as a luau or a barbecue, the theme of your menu is very important. Find out if they can accommodate. Do you have rental equipment? Another way to save time and energy would be to find a catering company that will provide the tables, chairs, linens, plates, glassware and flatware. Also be aware that some companies use plastic disposable dinnerware, so be sure you ask about that so you know exactly what you’re getting. Do you provide cleanup? Some companies offer this service, and some do not. Also be sure you have in the contract exactly what cleanup means. If you’re renting a location, it will be your responsibility to ensure the place gets cleaned, so know exactly what it means when they say they provide cleanup. You don’t want to be stuck cleaning instead of off with your new spouse celebrating. There are so many details to be taken care of when you’re planning a wedding. Having a catering company that takes care of all your catering needs can take a huge load off of you. For more information about the...

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The Dungeness Crab–Worth Its Weight In Gold

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

The Dungeness crab is named after Dungeness, Washington, USA, where it is fished off the western coast. It is recognized in many places around the world as a delicacy, known for the tenderness of its flesh and its distinctly sweet taste. It is sold by weight (usually the weight of the whole live crab) though only about one fourth of the entire crab is edible after removing its shell and internal organs. But most people agree that the Dungeness crab is worth its weight in gold–even much more, in some places–and it is worth the effort afforded to clean, cook and pull out every small bite. These are the most common ways that Dungeness crabs are cooked. Boiling Whole Boiling a Dungeness crab is very simple. Bring water to boil in a large pot, and drop the live crab into the boiling water. When the water resumes to roil, let it continue to boil another fifteen minutes. Then, pour out the hot water and fill the pot again, the crab still inside, with cold water so that it can be cooled and cleaned. Half-Backing In half-backing, the whole, fresh crab is turned upside down and split in half from head to tail, giving you access to remove the inedible parts, such as the gills and guts, before the crab is cooked. Many chefs prefer half-backing over boiling whole because they claim that the sweet flavor of the crab meat remains unaffected by organs and any toxins they may contain. Half-backed crabs also require a little less time to cook; in fact, they can even be steamed instead of boiled at all. Getting to the Meat Most of the edible meat in the Dungeness crab will be found in its legs. (It has ten of them!) But it requires some effort, and picking a whole crab is time-consuming. Every shelled part of the crab must be cracked open using special pliers made for that purpose. Generally, every delicate morsel must be hand-picked. When entertaining, the process is compounded by the fact that so little comes from one crab–maybe 4 or 5 ounces. Dungeness crab meat is used mainly in appetizers in restaurants, like Lotus Inn Restaurant, or at most, a main ingredient in some more complex entree. It is often seasoned and used as a salad-topper, or added to a seasoned mayonnaise base and served atop crackers. But it is tasty enough to enjoy on a fork with a simple dip of melted...

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Get Your Sweet On With Dessert Pizzas

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

The words “pizza” and “dessert” don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but the duo works exceptionally well. Rather than serving dinner guests a typical tomato sauce and mozzarella pie, treat them to a surprisingly sweet pizza for dessert. You can get as creative as you’d like when preparing the tasty treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started: Apple Pie Pizza Put a creative twist on a typical apple pie by serving it pizza-style. Simply slather sweet cinnamon apple pie filling onto a pizza dough. Bake until the filling is hot and bubbling, and top it off with a bit of icing if you desire. You can make the filling from scratch by sauteing fresh apple slices with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar until the fruit is tender. Chocolate Pizza Chocolate and pizza, what’s not to love? Make this decadent dessert by baking a 9-inch-thick round pizza crust round in the oven until it’s crisp and lightly golden brown. Slather a chocolate-hazelnut spread over the crust and sprinkle milk, dark, or white chocolate chips–or a combination of all three–over the top. Bake the pizza just until the chocolate melts and cut into triangles to serve.  Blueberry or Strawberry Pizza For a dessert pizza that resembles the real thing, create a sweet and savory treat using fresh fruit and mozzarella cheese. To make the simple recipe, spread a cream cheese and cinnamon mixture over a ready-made pizza crust. Then, spread an even layer of either blueberry or strawberry jam over the cream cheese. Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella cheese over the jam and top with either fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and cut into triangles. S’more Pizza The ideal summer dessert that kids will love making as much as eating, a s’more pizza is as delicious as it sounds. Start by baking a 9-inch-thick round pizza crust until its just golden brown and then sprinkle it evenly with mini marshmallows. Follow with dark or milk chocolate chips, depending on your preference, and bake the pizza again until the marshmallows start to get puffy and brown and the chocolate melts. Finish the dessert by sprinkling crushed graham crackers over the top.  Fresh Fruit Pizza Another perfect summer dessert, a fruit pizza makes a light, cool treat on warm night. To create it, spread sugar cookie dough evenly on to a square cookie sheet and bake until its just golden brown. Allow the crust to cool and spread a marshmallow fluff and cream cheese mixture over it. Top with a generous assortment of seasonal fresh fruit, such as sliced peaches, berries, and...

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Make A Meal Of It – The Benefits Of Buffet Meals

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

Planning an event involves making a lot of decisions, including how and what you are going to feed the guests. The first decision you’ll need to make, especially if you hire a catering service, is whether you want a buffet meal or a sit-down meal or perhaps just appetizers passed around on trays. There are a lot of benefits to having the food served buffet style, whether you are just serving appetizers or providing a full meal. Cost One of the major considerations of any event is the cost. If you don’t have a large budget, a buffet is the way to go. Buffet service is less expensive than passed appetizers or a sit-down meal because it requires fewer staff members. The caterers will increase the cost of the meal based on how many staff they have to hire for the event. Variety With a sit-down meal, you can’t offer a lot of variety to your guests. Typically, guests will have a choice of one, two, or maybe three plated meals. This makes it harder to accommodate everyone’s dietary preferences. With a buffet, you can offer more options for both main dishes and side dishes while staying within your budget. Consider a vegetarian dish, a chicken dish, a beef dish and a seafood dish. Also consider any potential allergies or food intolerances your guests may have, and make sure that there will be something to eat that is suitable for people who can’t eat seafood, nuts, soy, gluten or dairy. The catering company should have some suggestions to help with this. The Social Aspect Buffet meals tend to be more social than sit-down meals, as people run into and talk to people who aren’t sitting at their table as they are making their way to and from the buffet. With a buffet meal, you can also allow people to sit wherever they would like rather than assigning seats, making it less likely people will wind up sitting next to people they don’t know or don’t want to talk to. A Full Guest Is a Happy Guest A buffet meal allows people to take as much or as little of each dish as they would like and to return for more food if they are still hungry. At a sit-down meal, guests have to deal with whatever is on the plate put in front of them and may wind up leaving the table hungry if the food isn’t prepared to their liking or if the amount of food on the plate wasn’t enough for them. For more information, contact Tacofino Cantina Inc. or a similar...

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5 Etiquette Guidelines To Follow When Eating At An Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

When you first step into an authentic Chinese restaurant, you may feel as though you’re stepping into a foreign land. These delicious eateries are a far cry from the tiny Chinese takeout restaurants that serve up cartons of sweet and sour chicken and beef with broccoli. While most authentic Chinese restaurants in North America are used to serving a wide array of patrons from various cultural backgrounds, it’s still important that you adhere to certain etiquette guidelines when ordering and enjoying your meal. Doing so not only shows respect for the restaurant’s owners and employees, but also adds to the authenticity of your dining experience. Share Several Dishes It’s considered proper to order an array of dishes and share them with others at the table. The waiter will place the dishes on a lazy Susan in the center of the table, and give each of you plates on which you can place your own helpings. Don’t Leave Your Chopsticks Standing Up in Your Rice This is considered bad luck in Chinese culture, since it symbolizes the burning of incense in honor of the deceased. Always remove your chopsticks from your food and lay them on the side of your plate when you step away from the table or take a break between bites. Don’t Split the Bill It’s is considered polite for one person to foot the bill. Generally, the person who invited the others to dinner should pay. The guests should still offer to pay for politeness sake, but the “host” should turn them down and pay considerately. Serve Yourself with the Backs of the Chopsticks Some Chinese restaurants provide serving utensils, but others do not. If you are not given serving utensils, use the backs of your chopsticks to serve the food. This prevents introducing your saliva to the shared dishes, which is considered poor manners. Let the Host Order and Serve The Food The person who invited the others to dinner is considered the host when dining out at a Chinese restaurant. Let this person place the order with the waiter, and also serve the food once it arrives. The host should also pour the tea, starting with the oldest person at the table and ending with the youngest. Dining at an authentic Chinese restaurant is a great way to experience a different culture and some highly delectable cuisine. If you follow these guidelines, the waitstaff and restaurant owners will appreciate your attention to detail, and a good time will be had by all. Other restaurant types like Restaurant La Perle will have different etiquette standards, so be sure to do your research before dining...

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Low-Key Alternatives For A First Date

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

For your first date, you could go all-out with fine dining, an evening at the theater or a series of upscale martini bars. You could even try getting creative with a balloon ride or afternoon of volunteering. However, if you’re trying to impress a potential new love interest with something other than your wallet or zaniness (which can come later), consider a low-key first date option. Steakhouse Steakhouses afford you and your date a delicious meal with wine. They’re typically quieter than a bar and grill, which allows you to actually talk to your date. Yet steakhouses aren’t as fussy as, say, a French bistro. Plus, for some people, how you order your steak is a deal-breaker – or the key to their heart. One company that offers beefy deliciousness is Bardi’s Steak House. Outdoor Movie According to Life Hack, going to the movies is a go-to for first dates. However, during warm months, outdoor movie showings are a unique alternative. You don’t have to be quiet during the showing. Plus, you and your date can cuddle on a blanket if the evening turns chill. Minor League or College Hockey Game NHL games tend to be pricey and crowded. However, going to your local minor league, college or juniors game provides a way for you and your date to bond over hockey. How people cheer for sports also offers insights into their character, such as a tendency to chirp opponents or scream for the home team. Bowling Not everyone feels comfortable participating in group sports. However, most people can roll a ball at some pins. Bowling alleys tend to be low-stress, so both you and your date will feel comfortable. Plus, just like with cheering for sports, how people react to competition is insightful. Cooking Class Gain some insight into your potential love interest’s culinary know-how by attending a cooking class together. Whether you’re the next Iron Chef or someone who burns toast, the two of you can laugh through filleting a fish or dicing potatoes. Shopping She Knows actually suggests going house-hunting as a first-date idea. While it’s true you can learn about your date’s real estate preferences – thus your possibilities for the future – house-hunting isn’t really defined as “low-key.” However, consider hitting your local farmer’s market or tapping your date to help you buy a gift for a loved one. Aquarium or Zoo The animals and fish offer conversational points in case the two of you get stuck while taking your leisurely stroll. Plus, you get a feel for if you’re on the same track regarding wildlife-hunter vs. animal-lover, for example. First dates don’t need to be stressful in the planning or in the implementation. The key is to plan an activity that keeps you both entertained while allowing you to get to know each other. So, whether you opt for a steakhouse, hockey game or cooking class, keep things casual so your potential connection takes center...

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Turning Off Your Cell Phone In Restaurants May Enhance Your Dining Experience

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

A Craigslist post by a New York City restaurant owner went viral in the summer of 2014, with many people taking an interest in this tirade against cell phone use. Although the stats given in the post may be exaggerated and a bit satirical, the writer makes a definitive point. Would you be willing to turn your phone off when you go to your favorite restaurants? Can you see how that would improve the dining experience for you and your companions? The Problem for Restaurants In his post, the NYC restaurant owner said that excessive cell phone use has added a full hour to the average time customers spend at their tables. Instead of simply reading the menu, placing an order and eating, they: ask to move to a table or booth where the WiFi is better talk on the phone or go online before opening the menu ask the wait staff to take pictures of the group take pictures of the menu take pictures of their food take pictures of each other use the phone while eating This behavior may cause some issues for restaurants, but does it cause any issues for you and your dining cohorts? The Problem for You & Your Companions Some restaurant owners feel that you don’t truly enjoy your dining experience — including the delicious food and mealtime conversation — if you’re goofing around with your phone. You’re not in the moment — your mind is somewhere else. If you’re out with someone who doesn’t use a phone at restaurants, he or she has to sit there while you talk or text with another person. If both of you are using phones, you’re not paying attention to each other. That in itself may reduce the positive aspects of having a meal together. Just the presence of a companion’s cell phone within view reduces satisfaction with interpersonal conversation, according to a study released in 2012. The person doesn’t even have to use the phone for this to happen. The Problem for Everyone Around You People tend to talk louder on their phones than they do during normal in-person conversation. That can be obvious and annoying to other customers in the restaurant. In addition, a study published in 2013 has found that hearing a one-sided phone conversation is more distracting to other individuals than hearing two people conversing.  Considerations So the next time you go to a local restaurant such as Sawmill Prime Rib & Steak House with other people, shut your cell phone off. Consider whether it seems to enhance your dining experience. Do you notice more satisfaction with your food and more connection with your in-person companions? It might drive you a little nuts the first time, but you may discover the benefits after two or three attempts. If you really dislike the disconnect, you can always keep your phone on in the future — except at certain restaurants. Some have banned the use of cell phones, and the trend could easily...

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How To Earn Mega Tips As A Food Server

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

If you have been in the food and beverage business long enough, the following scenario is likely all too familiar: You wine and dine a party of guests, bust your hump to acquiesce to their every last whim, and provide what you believe is top-of-the-line service. They drink and eat merrily and seem to leave happy and full, saying they can’t wait to come again. Then, you pick up the tab and see that the 20 or 25 percent gratuity you believe you have earned isn’t there; in its stead is a meager 10 or 15 percent tip that clearly doesn’t reciprocate the quality service that you believe you provided. What, you wonder, went wrong? It’s possible that they are just cheap people — nothing you can do about that. But before you write it off as a simple case of frugality, ask yourself the following questions to make sure that the service you provided really was top-of-the-line: If the guests sent food back to be recooked, did you handle it correctly? Most people are pretty forgiving (and often even apologetic) when they send a dish back to the kitchen to be recooked or replaced. What irks them is hearing their server lay blame on the kitchen staff for the folly. Guests don’t care whose “fault” a mistake was and they don’t want to hear you bickering about your coworkers, which puts them in an uncomfortable position and makes you look unprofessional as well. Next time, simple apologize and assure them that “we” will fix the problem right away. They already know that you personally did not char their chicken or under-cook their prime rib. They just want you to fix it. Were you friendly and smiling the entire time you were visible on the dining room floor? Psychological research has determined that guests at restaurants are naturally more inclined to tip more generously when their server flashes big smiles and exudes an overall aura of happiness. Be sure to smile and be friendly not only when you approach the table but also the entire time you are working the “front of the house.” If you stalk around the dining room scowling, then flash a large smile as soon as you reach your guests’ table, they will think you’re being fake. Think of yourself as an actor whose role is to play the bubbliest and brightest person in the room, and your tips will improve dramatically.  Did you slack somewhere? Especially in the fine dining industry, employees often have specific roles on the dining room floor. One employee might be in charge of pouring water, another might be the plate clearer, food runner, etc. Guests generally don’t know that, and they don’t really care — so if you see a dirty plate, get rid of it, and if you see an empty water glass, refill it. Otherwise, your guests may get the impression that you think you are too good for such menial work or that you aren’t a team player, which won’t bode well for your pocketbook.   It’s no secret that the mighty tip is the cornerstone of a food server’s income. To give yourself the best chance to rake in the big bucks in the restaurant industry, always emanate amiability, which will help create a feel-good vibe for...

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How To Enjoy Italian Food Without Adding To Your Waistline

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Food & Cooking | 0 comments

It is no secret that Italian food is delicious. But it can be your worst enemy if you are worried about your waistline. Even though many people gain weight while eating Italian foods, that doesn’t mean that all Italian food is unhealthy. Here are some ways to still enjoy the foods that you love, without worrying about gaining weight. 1. Opt For Soup Italian soups are full of vegetables and antioxidants. A tomato based soup is great for you and can be very filling. When most people think of appetizers for their Italian dishes they think of the breads. Although a good garlic bread is delicious, if you eat too much it can cause weight gain. That is why you should opt for soup as an appetizer rather than bread. 2. Half The Cheese The cheese in Italian dishes is what give them a rich flavor and great texture. However, you can cut back on the cheese and still enjoy the great flavor with half of the calories. When eating your meal, try not to add extra cheese to it after it has cooked. Many Italian restaurants will offer cheese when they bring the meal out. It doesn’t significantly change the flavor, but it does add calories. 3. Skip The Cream Based Sauces Although many people think of Italian food consisting only of Alfredo and creamy cheese sauces, they are many other great alternatives. In fact, many Italian dishes are served with olive oil. Olive oil has some amazing health benefits. There is a common misconception that all fats are bad. This is not the case. There are some good fats for your body that can help to raise your good cholesterol and lower the bad cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the fats. Thus, you can enjoy a great pasta dish with an olive oil based sauce rather than a creamy sauce. In addition, try using olive oil and spices for your salad. There are great Italian salads, such as a caprice salad, that is full of vegetables that only use oil and vinegar as dressing. 4. Eat Slowly One reason the Italian people are able to maintain a healthy weight while still enjoying great food is because they do so leisurely. They take time to enjoy their food so that they don’t overeat. If you take more time to sit and eat slowly, you will be better at portion control. In many cases, how much you eat is more detrimental than what you eat. Thus, take a tip from the Italians and slow down. By doing these things you can still enjoy Italian food without adding to your waistline. Be sure to dine at various restaurants such as Naples Pizza to get a feel for what menu options you...

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