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Archive | July, 2013

Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

Summer and grilling share a symbiotic relationship, and neither is truly complete without the other. So, whether you’re grilling outside (where grilling is meant to go down), in your kitchen, or just ordering a grilled meat at a restaurant, remember these helpful tips to get your meat just the way you like it.

Chicken

Approximately two-thirds of chicken in America carries salmonella, so you need to be extra cautious when cooking chicken. Although it may be one of the most potentially dangerous meats, it is absolutely delicious and is perfectly suited for grilling. When grilling chicken, make sure the heat isn’t too high, or you risk burning the outside, while leaving the inside raw.  Cook chicken on a lower heat and try to keep it away from direct heat until the center has been cooked through.

One way to bolster any grilled chicken is by stuffing it. Cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, peppers, meats, and rice are all tasty options to stuff in chicken breast. Stuffing is pretty darn simple too. Just slice the breast down the middle, cram in your choice of extras, tie it up with baking string, and toss it on the grill. Get creative, and do something different every time by experimenting with different foods, flavors, and spices.

Steak

The perfect medium rare steak requires a close eye and careful attention. If it’s left on the grill for just a minute or two too long, you could be chewing on an overdone hunk of meat. Some people prefer to use a meat thermometer so they know when it’s done just right, but if you don’t have one follow this tip.

You’re going to want to mostly cook the steak on one side, and when you prod it and notice it’s getting more firm, flip it over… but not for too long. Once you flip the steak, you probably only want to leave it on for another minute or two, eying it often to make sure it doesn’t get overdone. Don’t forget that meat continues to cook after it’s off the grill, so take it off before you think it’s the right temperature for you – in a matter of minutes it’ll be exactly what you‘re looking for.

Fish

Nothing is better than fresh fish on a hot summer day: it’s refreshing, healthy, and full of flavor. The most effective way to make fish taste amazing is grilling on a plank. Soak the plank in water for a couple hours, and then set it on the grill with the fish of choice on top of the plank. This indirectly cooks the fish, making it smoky, firm, and juicy. Try cooking salmon on a plank with a little salt, pepper, olive oil, and brown sugar.

Another way to make your fish delicious is by giving it a quick sear. This is especially good for really meaty fishes, like tuna. Get the grill plate really hot and cook the fish for only a few minutes on each side. The edges will be crispy and the inside will be naturally textured, juicy, and a deep rare. If you have any concerns about the quality of the fish, it is not recommended to consume it rare, but if you get high quality, fresh fish, there is nothing better than a quick sear and a rare interior.

Cooking Temperatures

To know for sure if food is cooked thoroughly, we’d advise following Foodsafety.gov’s recommendations in the following chart:

Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

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Fixing Commercial Fryers [Video]

With almost 300 comments on our Repairing Commercial Fryers post, we figured it was time to get a video out there to better illustrate how easy it can be to fix a fryer yourself.  In this video, Chris Tavano, walks you through calibrating the thermostat, bypassing the hi-limit, taking out the thermopile, taking out the combination safety gas valve, and other troubleshooting tips for commercial fryers.  Please note, before fixing any kitchen equipment, you should ensure the power and/or gas is off first (in the example below, you’ll calibrate the thermostat before turning off power and gas).

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.

Transcription

Hello, welcome to Tundra Restaurant Supply.  I’m Chris Tavano and I’m here to troubleshoot some fryer maintenance today.  Common problems we tend to see are thermostat controls and calibration; in other words, your pilot light won’t stay lit, your burner won’t ignite, your oil is too hot or is too cold.  A lot of common problems associated with that are the gas burner safety valve, as well as, the hi-limit control and thermopile [Chris said thermopiler, but it is indeed formally called a thermopile].  Today, we will be using our Frymaster MJ35 for our example maintenance.

Calibrating the Thermostat: Checking the Oil Temperature Against the Fryers Thermostat

Alright, so first thing we’re going to talk about is the thermostat and how to calibrate the thermostat to help calculate exactly what the problem is.  So, a lot of times you’ll have your thermostat, and your hi-limit shutoff is around 450⁰.

So, what you want to do is set your thermostat to 350⁰, get a thermometer and put it in the oil basin itself, and you want to make sure that, that comes up to the temperature of 350⁰. At the same time, when that temperature has reached on the thermometer, you’re going to lower your thermostat down to about 250⁰ until it clicks off.  And then you’re going to turn it slightly up, and let the oil cool down.  And when that valve kicks back on for the fire, you’re going to make sure that, that temperature on your thermostat is also what’s reading in the thermometer that’s sitting in the oil.

Hi-Limit

Once you’ve identified the problem of your thermostat being off from the actual fryer oil temperature, the first place to look is your hi-limit switch.  And what the hi-limit does is a safety precaution saying that it’s going to turn off your fryer at exactly 450⁰, and never go higher than that. 

What we’re going to do in here is, you take your two-wires that go to your hi-limit switch, and we’re just going to unscrew them, and switch them in place to bypass that [we’re bypassing the hi-limit switch here].  We’re going to take the one that gives us the source to the thermopile.  This one is our actual limit, and we’re just going to bypass it and go instead to the thermopile.  Really, all you need to do is get the one that connects back to the thermopile so we have a constant source again of that flame.

Thermopile

Alright, if you found out that your hi-limit switch is not the problem, the next place to look is your thermopile.  A thermopile converts your thermal energy into electrical energy.  It is the source of your thermostat.

Back in this corner here we have our pilot light and our thermopile. The thermopile is the rod that is connected to this snaked wire.  Takeout [usually unscrew] the probe itself and there’s your thermopile. [The thermopile needs to be checked for corrosion or broken wires and replaced if damaged.]

Combination Gas Safety Valve

If you’ve found out that the hi-limit and thermopile are not the culprit of your thermostat controls, the next place to look is the combination safety gas valve.  That is not an easy thing to replace, it is not a quick thing to replace, and it’s not necessarily cheap, but it is something that needs to be done, and it’s much better than buying a whole new fryer itself.

If you look at this particular model, the whole unit of the [combination] safety gas valve itself cannot be removed from right here, so what you’re going to do is find your closest joints.  Unscrew those, and your other one right here.  And your actually going to pull out the entire device with all of the component pipes associated with it.  Once you pull that out, you can replace these pipes [take the pipes off of the combination safety gas valve] so that way you have the actual safety gas valve itself.  And then you can get that replaced, you can hook it back up to your previous pipes, and then again, you can screw that back on to the actual gas lines themselves.

Thermostat

Alright, so your last troubleshooting tip would be the thermostat itself.  If you find that you’ve gone through all of that stuff, and your pilot light is staying lit, but however, you aren’t holding temperature through what you had calibrated earlier, and it’s not being consistent, odds are the thermostat itself is bad and needs to be replaced.

Other Common Problems

Alright, so other common problems to try and troubleshoot with your fryer tend to be [small] explosions, it’s too hot or metal fatigue.  A lot of times, you’ve got to check the basin of your fryer itself, and make sure that there are no thin spots, worn out spots or any holes within the basin.  If that exists, you have to get a new fryer.

Other places you need to look are in your exhaust manifolds and in the flume burners themselves.  A lot of times they get caked with grease and excess runoff, and over time, those just don’t get cleaned out the same way that the oil basin itself gets cleaned.  So you’re going to want to check those on a monthly or quarterly basis, and try to clean out the soot.  If it’s caked in there, odds are you might need a new fryer as well.

Another common mistake is liquid propane to natural gas conversions.  Those are one-way valves, so to convert from natural gas to liquid propane, there’s one valve for that.  To go from liquid propane to natural gas, there’s a different valve for that.

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.

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6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

No questions about it, people eat with their eyes.  Once a plate is sat down in front of a guest they have already passed judgment on how that food is going to taste.  They look at the plating, they look at how the food is arranged, and they look at the flatware and glassware.  They haven’t even tasted the food yet, but they have already formed an opinion on what the food is going to taste like.

At this point, we think you could agree that having some sort of presentation with the tableware is as important as making sure the food tastes good.  But you don’t necessarily have to go overboard to make a great presentation.  Here are our top 6 tips for bringing a little pizazz to the table:

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

1. Use larger plates and bowls.  When there’s a lot of empty space, it helps the food speak for itself.  It puts emphasis on the food, much like a solo artist under the spotlight – all eyes are on them.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

2. Stack food.  If the food goes well together, try stacking it instead of having everything spread out.  You don’t have to opt for mile-high towers, but a little height looks nice.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

3. Wipe up dribbles.  Unless it’s artfully done, dribbles are distracting and take away from the main attraction.  Wipe up spills and keep the dish clean.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

4. A dash of color.  Sprinkle on some chives, parsley, or micro greens to add a dash of color to food that may otherwise look plain.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

5. Make the right cut.  Think of other ways you can cut the food.  Doing big chunks of vegetables on a plate looks much different than thinly sliced, peeled, and shredded food.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6. Learn to swoosh.  Spoon swooshes are a great way to add a little oomph to a plate.  But take our advice on this one: never, ever touch a swoosh twice (things will get messy if you do).

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Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud-Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your BusinessHow many times as a kid did you hear your mom yell, “Get what you need and shut the fridge door already!”  Well, turns out that mom was right, studies have showed that refrigerator door openings account for 7% of fridge energy use.  Now, think of that number with a walk-in refrigerator that’s average cubic feet is easily more than twice the size of a home refrigerator (yikes, that’s a lot of energy wasted), and what if that same walk-in refrigerator was accidentally left open all night.  Now we’re looking at an entirely different type of loss: lost energy and lost food.

But accidents like this can be prevented.  Cloud-based monitoring systems are quickly changing how restaurant and food service owners are able to accurately monitor temperatures.

What is It?Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Cloud-based monitoring essentially means that information is sent wirelessly from sensors to an online system, and that information can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  The information that can be sent is limitless, and is used in many different ways.

For cloud-based temperature monitoring systems, like NotifEye, the information being sent is temperature degrees ranging from -40⁰ to 257⁰F. Sensors are placed in different locations (wet or dry locations) throughout the food service establishment and they gather temperature readings that are then sent to a secure online system.  The data sent over can be viewed anytime of the day, but even more importantly the software monitors the readings and will alert you when a temperature is off, like the refrigerator door being left open, the fryer not keeping oil hot enough, the holding case losing temperature, etc.   Notifications can be sent to you via email or text.

What Kind of Temperatures Could I Monitor?

It’s up to you.  The standards are walk-in refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, and dry storage area, but we found uses for temperature monitoring in just about every area of the restaurant.  What if the heater was set way too high in the dining room and blasting 90⁰F all night?  You could walk in the next day and find out about it, or you could be notified about it as soon as readings are gathered.

Why is it so Important?

There are multiple reasons why it’s important to monitor temperatures on a regular basis. Every year there are thousands of businesses in the food service industry that lose valuable inventory or get fined by the local health department because temperatures are inadequate.  Monitoring temperatures ensures that equipment is running how it should, and saves your business from potential risks.

It helps prevent health violations and harm to your customers, and it helps save your business.

Is it Pricey?

All cloud-based temperature monitoring systems are priced differently, but we’ve seen plenty that are very reasonably priced.  Many restaurant owners that have installed the systems have reported return on investment in less than two years.  And since temperature monitoring seems to be one of the core values in the 7 steps of HACCP, we see it as an investment that could save your business one day.

What Are The 7 Steps of HACCP?

Glad you asked, HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a list of seven recommended food safety rules originally written for NASA, but has since been adopted in the food service industry by the FDA and USDA.  The 7 steps are:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis. The hazards are grouped into 3 categories: biological, chemical, and physical.
  2. Identify the critical control points, including cross-contamination, cooking, cooling, and hygiene.
  3. Set up actions to ensure safety is maintained at all of the critical control points defined.
  4. Establish monitoring procedures for the critical control points, and make sure to use the right signs, tools and training materials to make sure they are monitored accurately.
  5. Establish corrective actions for the critical control points.
  6. Set-up recordkeeping procedures to log information, like with flowcharts and temperature checks.
  7. Verify that the system put in place is working: validation, ongoing verification, and reassessment.

By the way, HACCP is pronounced “hassip.”

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Infographic: DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

Picture this, it’s right before dinner rush and something breaks in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it’s not the time to run out to get the part needed to make the repair, and improvising is all-to-often the go to quick fix that stands in as the substitute. Whether it’s pliers to turn knobs, a steam table pan to replace a broken caster, or duct tape as a temporary door latch, we’ve been in multiple kitchens and seen the same problems.  Yes, these quick fix tools will do their job through dinner rush, but with extra parts on hand, and a little DIY knowledge, keeping the kitchen going can help save on a lot of other issues in the long run.

We get an unbelievable amount of questions from people on how to fix different kitchen appliances, and a lot of you are definitely willing to give the repair a try yourself.  The good news is that a lot of those repairs may look challenging, are actually quit simple and only require a little elbow grease.  So, in an effort to spread some DIY love, our team got together and came up with this infographic, which we hope will help get you started on your own repairs.  This infographic will help you learn about parts and repairs for refrigeration, oven ranges, and fryers.

Note: To enlarge the infographic, simply click on the image below and a small box will pop-up.  In the top right corner there will be a button where you can expand the image.

Infographic: DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

Want to have this infographic on your own site to help your customers?  Well we’d love for you to share the DIY love, just use the code below and paste it in the html of your site.  If you need more help with getting it on your site, just leave us a message below.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

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