Off The Menu: A Cookbook Explores “Basic Cooking Truths”


A restaurant chef who aspires to a high degree of professional competence must master three areas.

The first of these is, unsurprisingly, the technique, the practical skills that are taught in every kitchen and culinary school.

A second essential area that he or she should be comfortable with is the flavor affinities that govern good cooking – what goes with what of pairing the ingredients.

Finally, a first-class cook understands how technique and ingredients interact. Examples are the basic processes by which flour and water become bread or how eggs and fat can be emulsified into mayonnaise.

Technical competence has always been a prerequisite for successful cooking, and in recent years, thanks to authors like Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg and thesaurus-like volumes such as their book The Flavor Bible, knowledge of how flavors complement each other has become more accessible. .

The third manifestation of food preparation expertise, the dynamics of how ingredients come together to create a dish, often remains a mystery to those who work with food.

An understanding of how ingredients and technique successfully interact, however, is available in the form of “Ratio,” a slim volume of culinary wisdom from cookbook author Michael Ruhlman.

“Ratio” deconstructs the art of cooking into a series of key ratios that govern how ingredients and technique lead to finished dishes. Knowledge of these ratios, says Ruhlman, frees a chef from the tyranny of recipes, allowing him to create new culinary experiences almost at will.

Ruhlman was first inspired by an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Uwe Hestnar, who had, for his basic skills course, reduced recipes to a series of ratios that fit on one page.

Using Ruhlman’s ration approach, bread, for example, can be described as a ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts water, plus yeast and salt. Knowing this relationship and the dough working techniques allows the chef or baker to successfully create a wide range of bread products.

In his book “Ratio”, Ruhlman defines and develops ratios for a range of cooking and baking essentials – custards, broths, soups, dressings, and more. – and, in doing so, defines what he calls “the fundamental truths of cooking”.

It’s an enjoyable read from which any cook or chef, regardless of their level of experience, can gain understanding and inspiration.

Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio” is published by Simon and Schuster.

The Log Cabin Banquet and Meetinghouse in Holyoke, in collaboration with Rock 102 Radio, will host a “Bacon & Brews” event on Sunday, November 14, from noon to 3 pm.

The “B&B” experience will include a range of bacon-inspired “bites” created by the culinary staff at Log Cabin. A cash bar with a selection of craft beers will be available for the enjoyment of participants.

Entertainment will include live music from the James Paul Band and #doubledoseofdave. Games and other fun activities are also planned.

Participants must be 21 years of age or older; a positive ID will be required,

Tickets cost $ 26 plus a ticket broker’s fees. They can be ordered at eventbrite, com / e / bacon-brews-2021-tickets-162074957561.

With winter not far away, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) began to lobby mayors and other city CEOs to expand and promote alfresco dining in the coming months.

In a letter to the president of the United States Conference of Mayors, Mike Whatley, vice president of state affairs and popular advocacy for the NRA, called on mayors who are members of the conference to expand access from restaurants to exterior sidewalks and street spaces, to streamline the required authorization processes. , and provide public funds for outdoor dining infrastructure.

According to data collected by the National Restaurant Association, two-thirds of full-service restaurants currently derive more than 20% of their income from outdoor seating. The Association therefore recommends that access to these seats be authorized indefinitely.

Domino’s Pizza offers a new assortment of baked dips; dips are served with parmesan twists or chain garlic bread.

Available flavor combinations include Cheesy Marinara, a layer of marinara sauce and processed cheeses, and a Five Cheese that incorporates Asiago, Cheddar, Parmesan, American and Pizza cheeses.

Domino’s has also developed a dessert-focused baked apple dip that incorporates sweet baked apples. It is served with twists of cinnamon bread.

All three baked dip creations are promoted by Domino’s as permanent menu offerings.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews has, for a limited time, added three new items to its menu.

They include a Cheese Bacon Fondue Burger, a classic cheeseburger served with a bacon and cheese fondue. Also available separately as a side dish, fondue is a melted cheese sauce with folded bacon crumbs.

Two more items, an ultimate grilled cheese pizza and traditional-style mozzarella sticks, are popping up in late fall and early winter on the Red Robin menu, where they should stay until late. end of January 2022.

There are Red Robin locations in Holyoke at Holyoke Crossing Mall and Enfield on Hazard Avenue.

Of all the supply chain grunts plaguing the restaurant industry today, perhaps none is more frustrating than shortages of take-out packaging.

In a study last July on problems in the foodservice supply chain, research firm Dataessential found that the majority of restaurants had difficulty obtaining take-out containers and packaging.

To make matters worse, the prices of paper catering items, when available, have risen sharply.

The reasons for supply problems can be attributed to the usual suspects – lack of transportation and blockages in the distribution system. The impact of these issues is compounded by the surge in takeout sales triggered by the COVID pandemic, which in turn has increased demand for takeout containers.

The characteristics of the disposable product manufacturing industry are also a factor. The production process is capital intensive, so companies tend to refine their operations in order to keep factories running at full capacity. Inventories of paper products are large and therefore expensive to store, so manufacturers only earn what they hope to sell. If demand suddenly increases, supplier safety stocks are limited to fall back on.

Particularly frustrating is the non-interchangeability of most on-the-go containers – caps from one brand of tumblers will not fit other brands, even if the capacity of the container is the same. With widespread shortages, some restaurants, for example, have found themselves with a lot of takeout but no lids to suit them.

Industry insiders expect paper and plastic supply chain problems to persist until 2022.

The Table 3 group in Sturbridge has put together several dining options for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

The Duck and Avellino are planning an all-inclusive menu for that day. The program will include starters, a choice of four main courses and a dessert option. Several complementary aperitifs will also be available. Reservations can be made by calling (508) 347-232.

A buffet dinner will be presented in the reception area of ​​Table 3, The Barn at Wight Farm. Chief-led stations will be the primary form of service. There will be appetizer and salad stations, a carving station topped with roast turkey and prime rib, and a selection of classic Thanksgiving sides at a hot food station. Serving desserts will also be part of the dining experience.

Call (774) 241-8450 to reserve a spot.

Plus, the casual Table 3 venue, Cedar Street CafÇ, has Thanksgiving dinner take-out options like roast turkey, side dishes, salads, and pies. Takeout orders can be placed by calling the Café at (508) 347-6800.

Enfield’s Figaro Restaurant will present a tribute show titled “Neil Diamond Meets Soul Queen Aretha Franklin” on November 7th.

Starting with Charlie Lask and La Dawn Owens, the evening will begin at 7 p.m. with tickets priced at $ 25.

Dinner, which is not included in the price of the show, starts at 5.30 p.m. In addition to the regular menu selections, the Figaro offers a pre-show Italian-American buffet, with a cash bar also available.

Call (860) 745-2414 for information or reservations.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at [email protected]


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