Wood Fired University - 50th Milestone
The Mile High City of Denver Colorado will be the
host of this winter's Wood Fired University. This
premier culinary event consists of three incredible days
of hands-on, wood-fired cooking instruction, demonstrations, tastings and panel discussions by world-class notables such as, Restaurateur and Award-Winning Pizza Chef - Tommy Garnick, Author and Renowned Executive Chef for Panhandle Milling - Stephanie Petersen, Award-Winning, Executive Producer of Culinary-TV - Dr. Bill Rogers, and President of Fire Within and the Wood Fired University - Ajith Dharma.
The Wood Fired University held in Denver is the largest culinary school in the United States for wood-fired cooking. This will be the 50th class held in Denver and this session will be a grand celebration. Class size is limited but a few seats remain available, check their website for more details: www.FireWithin.com.
“Being immersed in a chef’s thought process and culinary vision is wildly entertaining but it also gives everyone a greater appreciation and understanding how to make adjustments in your own operations to suit the needs of your specific vision," states Dharma.
Chef Tommy Garnick will be leading the discussions on
advanced skills of wood-fired cooking for meat, poultry,
whole suckling pig, fish and seafood, in addition to advance
Fire and Oven management techniques (using the same oven
for both low and high heat temperature cooking).
Chef Tommy will also be covering the use of "clean ingredients"
and how it is an essential part of the culinary equation.
Chef Stephanie Petersen from Panhandle Milling will be
teaching and directing a couple of workshops on the ancient grain of Kamut.
Kamut is an ancient wheat prized for its nutrition, ease of
digestibility, sweet nutty-buttery taste and firm texture.
Compared to most modern wheat it has more protein, amino
acids, vitamins and many minerals, especially selenium, zinc
and magnesium. Chef Stephanie will be showing us how to
use Kamut to expand our menus and offerings to our clients.
We'll also learn that not all Kamut is created equal.
Kamut is a variety of wheat and thus has gluten. However,
many people with sensitivities to modern wheat report being
able to eat Kamut with no difficulty and as a result it has
become a very trendy grain and flour in the culinary world.
Panhandle Milling offers milling, blending and private
labeling of a host of grains and flours. Panhandle Milling
offers milling, blending and private labeling of a host of grains
and flours. Panhandle Milling offers traditional flour, organic
flour, ancient grains, specialty wheats and more.
The February Wood Fired University will be a special 50th celebration, February 21-24, 2020. Friday evening is a meet-and-greet. Monday is a half day and concludes at 1pm. Advanced registration is required. You can learn more about the classes, schedule and registration on the website at: www.FireWithin.com
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Fun With Food (November 2019)
How to Start a Successful Mobile Pizza Business
In recent years, the food truck industry has seen a rise in the popularity of a lightweight yet innovative and high-tech product: the mobile wood-fired pizza oven. Typically wagon-mounted, these movable pizzerias have become popular with “foodie” entrepreneurs wanting to tap into America's love of pizza.
The mobile pizza ovens can be employed at brick-and-mortar restaurants, but, more commonly, are used to serve pizza and other food items at farmers’ markets, festivals, picnics, parties, brew pubs, restaurants, catered events, and other venues. Entrepreneurs, nine-to-five business people, and even retirees looking for a profitable hobby have discovered that a mobile pizza business can provide an independent lifestyle and the ability to work as much or as little as desired.
They have embraced the mobile pizza oven concept since it offers a relatively inexpensive but potentially lucrative business opportunity for those who are motivated to succeed. But potential owners should know that running a mobile pizzeria does require hard work, planning, and some financial resources. Owners need to be able to manage all aspects of running a food business.
• On the culinary side, a mobile pizza business involves cooking, catering, recipes, fire, dough, ingredients, and more.
• On the business side, factors to consider are budgeting, planning, staff, customers, workflow, health regulations, and trailer safety issues.
Ajith Dharma, president, and owner of Fire Within, the nation’s leading manufacturer of mobile wood-fired pizza ovens, says that potential owners should carefully consider the following 14 factors before deciding to purchase:
• Determine if you have the budget not only to purchase the trailer but also to operate the business.
• Be sure you've got the interest and expertise in food service/catering and business – or a willingness to learn - to be successful in a mobile pizza business.
• Find the right oven by asking if the oven manufacturer:
Offers culinary instruction as well as guidance on how to run a mobile oven as a business
Offers ongoing support after the sale
Has a good reputation for quality
• Find the right trailer by asking: Does the trailer manufacturer have a proven track record of quality and safety? Does the trailer meet all Federal Highway Safety Standards and is the trailer engineered to carry the weight of the oven?
•Find a commissary kitchen with adequate cold and dry storage, as required by health department regulations, and that has a dough mixer if you want to make your own dough. Note that co-op food orders are sometimes available through the commissary and this can help to cut costs.
Before You Start
Your area needs to support your mobile pizza business, with plenty of events or other sales opportunities. So before you invest in equipment, research your event possibilities:
• Learn the market: Get a clear understanding of the advantages or disadvantages of different types of events and their profit margins. Profit margins for public events versus private catering events can be vastly different.
• Form a clear vision of the events available to you in the area you want to target, from farmers' markets and festivals to fairs and corporate parties. Working with individual event planners will help mobile pizza business owners be successful. A planner can help by giving you an idea of what type of volume you may expect out of an event, the best location to attract the most customers, and an understanding of who the competition is at an event.
• Ask about power: Do the events provide power or do vendors need to provide their own power? Is there cold storage available for free or for rent at large multi-day festivals or state fairs?
• Understand Health Department Licensing: Be sure you have the licensing to operate the business the way you want to. The two licenses available are generally called the Temporary Event License or the Mobile Food Vending Permit.
• Get insurance: Be sure your business, vehicle, and mobile pizza oven are all adequately covered.
• Food/dough management: Do I know what days food will be delivered to give myself plenty of time to make the dough and let it proof before the event? Do I have a go-to supplier in the area that can provide extra dough, food, and dry goods if I run out of supplies when participating in a large event?
• Understand pricing and menu design so you can consistently create products that appeal to your customers. For example, providing bottled beverages, desserts, fruits, and salads can complement the pizza and create a complete meal with a higher profit margin.
• Create contingency plans for any changes in circumstances such as bad weather, unexpectedly large numbers of customers, change in venue, and set up problems.
• Connect with non-competing vendors in other markets to ask questions and share your advice and success tips.
These tips give you a taste of the rewards and benefits of a mobile pizza business. Want to learn more? Fire Within hosts five annual workshops that, together with providing a proven business plan, give participants hands-on instruction in working the ovens and preparing delicious pizza and other food items.
What type of Snacker are you?
Do you need gluten-free snacks, or are you just looking for healthy snack ideas packed with protein and not too much sugar?
Whether you’re a purist who only eats whole foods, a foodie looking for new ideas, or a busy on-the-go professional, there’s a healthy snack on this list for everyone.
And you can filter through the list of healthy & filling snacks to find the best ones for you.
The best healthy snacks on the list:
• Apple slices with almond butter
• Avocado and Salsa on Ezekiel Toast
• Banana, Peanut Butter and Honey Roll-Ups
• Celery Sticks and Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip
• Chef’s Cut Buffalo Style Chicken Jerky
• Cucumber Hummus Boats
• Healthy Egg Muffin Cups
• Mini Pita Black Bean Quesadilla
• Oatmeal Cookie Energy Balls
• Parmesan Garlic Oven Roasted Chickpeas
Through Thick and Thin
Sept 2019 - Recent Research from the CIA
Do you like ice cream? Maybe chocolate milk? Gummy bears? Okay, maybe something a little healthier like a salad—with your favorite dressing? Do you ever wonder how those gummy candies are gummy? Or how the chocolate milk and ice cream coat your
mouth oh so decadently, or why salad
dressing coats each little leaf of
lettuce? Well, the source of those
delicious aspects stems from the
addition of gelatin, gums, and stabilizers.
The main function that causes this
gumminess is gelatin. Now…here’s
where things get a little weird. Gelatin
is derived from animal origins; not the
delicious pork chop or T-bone you may
be imagining, but collagen to be exact.
Collagen is a soft protein found in an
animal’s connective tissue -the stuff
that connects bones, tendons, muscles,
and skin. All the scraps of the animal butchering process that are left behind—like, ears, hooves, and skin—are used for collagen extraction. Don’t worry, this process has some history behind it, and modern practices yield a
completely pure form of gelatin that is free of any impurities. This pure form of gelatin is refined and dried into either sheets or a powder at different strengths; these strengths are known as “bloom”. The difference in bloom is basically the strength of the gelatin. Some products that have gelatin are marshmallows, Jell-O, puddings, yogurts, cream cheese, and frostings. There are plant-based gelling gums and thickeners too, like xanthan, carrageenan, and alginates.
The workhorse of the food processing and other industries is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is derived from the fermentation of a plant-loving bacteria. Since 1950—when xanthan was discovered by a USDA scientist—it has been used for thickening all types of manufacturing processes. It is so widely used for its range of viscosifying properties and can hold up at various pH levels and temperatures.
Xanthan is used to thicken products like soups, sauces, salad dressings, and even toothpaste and some cosmetics. It is also used a lot in gluten-free baking as its gelling properties can mimic those structural aspects of the absent gluten strands. Just be careful if you’re using xanthan to thicken when cooking; if overused, it can yield mucilaginous or synovial slimy textures. But if used properly, xanthan takes the cake and it's gluten-free.
While methylcellulose might sound scary, it’s gelation properties are very stabil. This is yet another plant-derived thickener, thinner, or stabilizer. However you want to categorize it, methylcellulose does something the previous gels mentioned can’t do - it gets thicker when it is heated and liquefies as it cools. It falls into a category of gels known as thermo-reversible gels, meaning it forms a gel at one temperature but can change to a liquid state at another. Usually, thermo-reversible gels like gelatin turn from a solid to a liquid when heat energy is applied. Well, methylcellulose does the exact opposite. It is used in manufacturing some food items like, for example, oven or microwavable chicken pot pies. When the pot pie is heated, the liquid center becomes a more solid gel to prevent it from boiling over, but once heat is removed, the center turns back into a liquid. Another interesting recipe that can use the properties of methylcellulose is “Hot Ice Cream” where an ice cream is served hot and begins to melt as it cools.
More Culinary News
The Past will unlock a healthier future!
by Bill Rogers
Many ancient grains, or heritage grains, are gluten-free and versatile. From amaranth to spelt, ancient grains are loaded with trace vitamins and protein to keep you going. This particular group of grains is revered for its age and history: Greeks and Romans offered spelt to the gods; Aztecs considered chia seeds worthy of tribute, and farro is noted in the Old Testament. A resurgence of the old and the antiquated has made these grains once again shine in the spotlight, but what are they really?
Ancient grains are more than just relics from the
past that have stood the test of time; they are
cereals and seeds that have a robust texture and
stellar nutritional profile.
“They contain lots of essential vitamins, particularly
B vitamins, minerals like magnesium and potassium,
more amounts of iron and they also contain
protective elements like fibres and antioxidants,”
said Chris Chapman, a nutrition project officer with
the Grains, Legumes and Nutrition Council, “They’re nutritionally similar to grains…but they’ve got a little more bit more, which is unique and that is part of their popularity.”
Quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, teff, freekeh, chia seeds, farro, spelt and Kamut all qualify as ancient grains. The latter three are not gluten-free, but some people with gluten or wheat sensitivities can tolerate them.
The health benefits of these grains range from a high omega-3 content to a hefty amount of B vitamins and zinc. A serving of farro or emmer wheat, for example, is high in protein (7 grams), fiber (7 grams), and iron (12%), plus it’s an easily digested strain of wheat. 10,000 years ago, farro was cultivated in the Fertile Crescent at the dawn of the agricultural revolution where it spread to Asia, Europe, Northeast Africa, India and Arabic peninsula. This variety of hulled wheat was said to have sustained the Roman army, but it is not sustaining health foodies and the health curious alike. But, farro’s story is not unique: all ancient grains have their place in history because their nutritional profiles, packed with complex carbohydrates, landed them a spot in it, just look at these three grains below.
The alkaline, complex carbohydrate and prebiotic, millet, is a staple of the Himalayan Hunzas, a people who have enjoyed superb health and longevity. The grain also contains serotonin for stress, niacin for cholesterol, and magnesium for migraines. Composed of 15 percent protein, millet is an excellent way for vegetarians and vegans alike to obtain sufficient protein requirements, plus it contains antioxidants, is gluten-free and hydrates the colon to ease constipation.
Hailing from Africa, this staple of Asia and West Africa is grown today in many countries, including the United States, India, and Nigeria, for it is the fifth most important cereal crop. Nutritionally, sorghum is high in fiber, protein, and B-complex vitamins. It is often used where conventional wheat is used.
This fun-size, quick cooking grain is super tiny and ideal for nomadic life, especially in the areas of Ethiopia and Eritrea where it has long-established ties. Teff can withstand many environmental conditions: it thrives in waterlogged areas, high altitudes, dry heat, droughts, and is not prone to plant diseases. Free of gluten, one cup of teff alone packs in 123 mg of calcium, a high dose of vitamin C, iron, protein, fiber, and resistant starch. Because teff is so tiny, it cannot be processed, so eating it in its whole form is necessary.
Ancient grains can be used in a multitude of recipes that traditionally call for wheat or rice. Pick up some freekeh, and make this delectable salad with earthy beets, crisp cilantro, and juicy lime. Vandana R. Sheth, RDN, CDE, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims that this freaky freekeh is “higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and lower in glycemic index.”
Try some amaranth in a to-die-for baked goods with bananas, maple syrup, and flax seeds. Or, fall back on some quinoa and make a crunchy pizza crust that is sure to please.
Final Thoughts. . .
Don’t put ancient grains on a pedestal, and don’t be scared to try them. Journey on over to the local health food store and pick some ancient grains and relive the past and look forward to a healthier future. CTV
More Culinary News
Put the Fun in Fungus!
by Bill Rogers
Mushrooms are fungi. That truism alone lends substantial credence to any argument about it being the weirdest food we consume on a regular basis. The argument doesn’t even include the fact that you may die if you start munching on one freshly plucked from a
field (don’t do this, by the way).
However, such weirdness comes
with a wealth of reward for those
that indulge in the safe,
picked-by-a-pro variety. The
dense earthiness packed into
each bite of delicious fungi
instantly adds a dimension of
flavor complexity virtually
unmatched by any other
ingredient. This mighty power
makes it a tremendous asset to
any dish or even all on its own.
There are several ways you can
discover their singular goodness
of mushrooms featured in the
dish won’t harm you. However, they may leave you wanting more.
Mushrooms and Salmon
The look of an edible mushroom isn’t just limited to the round-capped, skinny-stemmed version that readily fills your local grocery store’s vegetable aisle. Chanterelles may provide the most definitive, delectable proof of that axiom. These golden-hued, horn-shaped mushrooms possess a nutty, herbaceous flavor with a slight tinge of pepper, making them a perfect match for a wide range of dishes. This is demonstrated rather well in a Crispy Skin Salmon dish I've sampled. Add some leeks, corn, harissa and Laurel crème into the mix, and you have a killer dish that’s worth its weight in gold.
Mushrooms and Short Ribs
There are certain main dishes that mushrooms were seemingly made for pairing. Braised short rib is one of these entrees, and their intertwining flavors are so ideally suited for each other, they can be enjoyed in virtually any setting. This is even the case when the hearty duo is served up with a heaping helping of wild mushrooms along with walnut gorgonzola ravioli, it’s the kind of dish that may appear to be an exercise in cognitive dissonance when you glance out at crashing ocean waves. However, it’s so absurdly flavorful, you won’t mind.
Mushrooms and Pasta
When we think of pasta dish toppings, you may gravitate to obvious choices like meatballs or a tangy marinara sauce. But mushrooms are a sneaky good addition to any plate of pasta, as they offer a near perfect textural and flavor balance to properly prepped noodles. The wonders of the wondrous pairing is the driving force behind the Mushroom & Spinach Cannelloni dish you can make by hand-made pasta tubes which are generously stuffed with fabulous fungi and fresh ricotta and accompanied by spinach and a rich parmigiano fondue, resulting in a dish that’s great.
Mushrooms and Pizza
Of course there’s going to be a pizza on this list. And with good reason, too – the combination of earthy mushrooms, gooey cheese, and rich tomato sauce is pretty terrific, even if you’re not much of a fungus fan. This trio of ingredients can be a stopping point at some pizzerias, but it’s just the beginning for you to try at home with Portobello and Pancetta Pizza with Black Truffle Oil. The naturally intensified flavors of the famously oversized mushroom are tempered by the smoky flavors and fragrant aromatics of the pie’s other two stars, making each slice consumed taste more like an indulgence rather than a mere treat.
Mushrooms and Burgers
Mushrooms make outstanding burger toppings. Yet a truly pleasurable meat and mushroom inner-bun experience rests in the quality of the beef. Try making a Filet Mignon Sliders. Yes, the duo of sliders is not a classic burger per se, but that’s a moot point. What really counts is the fact that these babies feature fire-grilled beef tenderloin topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. You'll love it after the first bite.
Bill Rogers has been covering culinary trends since 1986 when he and his wife were the stars of the Restaurant Review which aired on MTV. An avid lover of food, he revels in the diverse nature and multi-cultural influences of a worldwide table of foods, and will pretty much try anything at least once. And while his profession has enabled him to humbly enjoy some remarkably exquisite epicurean adventures, he always finds great joy in the simple pleasures that a perfectly cooked hamburger, a pizza and root beer float brings to his palate.