Every year, members of the Industry segment of the School Nutrition Association gear up for what we call “school show season.” We travel from state to state and participate in each association’s annual School Nutrition Conference. We set up our booths, catch up with our industry peers, mingle with our customers, and try to “sell our wares,” as my friend Joey says. But as a member of the Equipment delegation of Industry, often we find that state shows are more about food than our hardware. It’s understandable, considering that food makes up the largest expenditure for every school nutrition operation. Still, it can be frustrating because as sales people we are at the mercy of that goal we have to hit.
For years, I have heard about the Georgia Equipment Academy, a three-day conference occurring every other year that focuses solely on equipment and technology. In 2016 I was finally able to attend my first GEA to see what all the buzz was about. I have to tell you, I was blown away. We were lucky enough to be selected in the Hoodless Cooking class (each conference is broken up into categories voted on by need) and were able to conduct five 30-minute sessions over the three-day period. Each session is attended by about 20 decision makers. Not only are we allowed to educate about our equipment, we get to perform live demonstrations to show the “proof in the pudding,” so to speak. Local food vendors donate food for demos and dealers, reps, manufacturers, and the Georgia School Nutrition Association work hand in hand to make the conference a unique experience. Honestly, for what we do, it is the best show I’ve ever participated in, and for the directors, it allows them to truly learn about technology that can advance their programs without any distractions.
Winston Foodservice was proud to participate in the 2018 Georgia Equipment Academy. We are debuted our new CVap RTV Retherm Oven in the Hoodless Cooking category. Hope you had the opportunity to participate!
There are so many sensory delights to appreciate in a properly roasted turkey. The skin should have a consistent golden brown hue and a crisp texture that is audible when met with a knife (or a pair of fingers trying to filch a tidbit before it goes to the table). The breast meat should be tender and juicy while the dark meat should be succulent and toothsome. The aroma should be rich and intoxicating, filling the kitchen with a scent that is tangible and evokes memories of Thanksgiving or holiday feasts.
Brining is an option many cooks exercise though we don’t do it every time we roast a turkey. When we do, a couple of our favorite concoctions include salt + sugar + paprika + granulated garlic + granulated onion + peppercorns + water or salt + sugar + aromatics (onion, carrot, celery) + thyme + rosemary + Italian parsley + bay leaves + water. The benefit of brining a turkey is to impart additional flavor to the bird and to add moisture. Of course, if the turkey is cooked correctly, brining is unnecessary! In the tests we did for this post, the birds were not brined. Nor were they stuffed. While stuffing a turkey may be a tried and true part of cooking a Thanksgiving feast for many, we discourage the practice. In order to get the stuffing inside the bird to a safe endpoint temperature, you risk sacrificing the moistness of the white meat by overcooking it.
In one test, we roasted a 10 lb. turkey in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven (CAC) with the Food Temperature set at 190°F, Browning Level at 8, and we cooked it for three hours with Constant Cook ON.
In another test we cooked a bird in a CAC at 180°F with a Browning level of 6 for five hours with Constant Cook ON. As you can see, this test yielded skin that was not as brown or quite as crisp as the other test.
An alternative suggestion might be to cook a turkey at 175 + 0 to end point doneness and then either flash fry or flash roast it to brown and crisp up the skin. Using this method will yield extremely tender and juicy meat.
No matter which of these methods you use, the moral to this story is that a perfectly cooked turkey is something to be very thankful for!
Mark your calendar! Your opportunity to apply for the 2018 Winston Equipment Award is December 1, 2017!
The award provides ten pieces of Winston Foodservice equipment to a school district in need of improving its school meal kitchen facilities through a competitive grant process.
The winning school district can choose any ten pieces from Winston’s product line of CVap Holding Cabinets, CVap Hold & Serve Drawers, and CVap Retherm Ovens.
Winston works closely with the grant winner to determine needs and assist in the final selection of equipment. Winston also arranges delivery of the equipment to the district. Depending on which models are ordered, it could mean over $50,000 in new equipment for your district!
To apply, you must:
- Be an active SNA director-level member, who has been a member of SNA for at least one year.
- Be the person responsible for directing the school nutrition program for the school district.
How can I apply?
The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) will open the 2018 Winston Equipment Award application process on December 1st, 2017. The deadline for the application is January 15th, or once the first 75 applications have been received (whichever comes first). The application spots usually fill up quickly, so don’t delay in applying!
Want to hit the ground running? Prepare your application ahead of time by downloading the Application Preparation Worksheet. Responses may be copied and pasted from the worksheet into the online application. Visit https://www.schoolnutrition.org/equipmentgrants to learn more.
Best of luck to all of you!
Saturday, September 2 is one of the most important days of the year – International Bacon Day! What’s not to love about bacon? It is true that there are a few folks who don’t like bacon, but do you really trust them?
Sure, there are easy ways to enjoy this savory treat; BLTs, crumbled into salad, or with a couple of sunny side eggs. But why not try something that kicks it up a notch? What could be better that Bacon-Wrapped Breadsticks?
- Bacon – 1 lb. (or about 24 strips)
- Refrigerated breadstick dough (2-tubes, 11 oz. each)
- Parmesan Cheese – 1 cup (grated)
- Garlic Powder – 2 tsp
- Butter -1/2 cup (melted)
If you prefer, frozen yeast rolls may be substituted for breadstick dough. Allow frozen dough to thaw, and follow same directions as for breadstick dough.
Roll each section of dough into thick strings. Bring both end of the strings together. Place a strip of bacon on the doubled string and gently twist, making sure the bacon wraps around the strings of dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each twisted piece onto the sheet, allowing space around each piece.
Preheat a CVap thermalizer oven on channel 4.
Place breadsticks into oven. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the breadsticks are baking, combine cheese and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Melt butter in a separate bowl.
Remove breadsticks from oven. Brush with melted butter.
Roll warm breadsticks in cheese mixture.
Plate and serve.
Yield will be two dozen. Your bacon breadsticks will be salty and savory, with just the right about of chewiness, and the added kick of bacon. Enjoy!
Yum! Yum! Walking down the street and peering into the local cupcake shop, I often wonder, is that a sweet treat or a piece of edible art work? Mouthwatering cupcake shops have popped in every major city and in many small towns. If you want to use your CVap Cook/Hold or Thermalizer to rival the cupcake shops, we can show you how!
Just take your favorite cake recipe and set the Cook/Hold or Thermalizer to the below settings. CVap makes a moist and light cake that will be a hit for any occasion.
With endless variations and recipes for cake, use your favorite recipe. Or if you need a quick and easy cupcake, here is a modified box recipe that I personally love to use:
Take your favorite standard size box mix and use 4 eggs, ¾ cup oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup sour cream and ¾ cup sugar. Mix and bake.
Constant cook ON
Food Temperature 165
Bake at the recommended time listed for your specific cake recipe.
Cook for recommended time and check mid-way through cook cycle
As for icing, buttercream is my favorite. Italian buttercream is made by cooking sugar and only using real butter. Cooking the sugar gives it a smooth texture and the butter gives it a rich flavor. Below is my recipe 🙂
Buttercream Icing Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- Pinch of salt, optional
*Makes buttercream for 12 cupcakes.
- Combine sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Increase heat to medium-high and allow syrup to come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or in a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer, and beat until whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
- Cook syrup until it reaches 235°F, then immediately remove from heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling: don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl; instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
- Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
- Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and salt. The mixture may start to look as if it’s separating, but don’t panic: just keep mixing and whipping until the buttercream comes together and becomes smooth and gorgeous.
- Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container or a zipper-lock bag in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to two months. To use buttercream that has either been refrigerated or frozen, first allow to come to room temperature then beat until smooth and spreadable again. Cakes or cupcakes decorated with buttercream generally keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve buttercream at room temperature.
Thanksgiving may be the time for tradition, but for us we decided it was time to shake things up! This year, we not only roasted and fried turkeys, but we also cooked the infamous turducken. In case you aren’t familiar, that is a turkey, duck, and chicken all rolled into one. Sound too good to be true? Honestly, we thought so too!
Let us warn you, this isn’t a task you take on unless you are fully committed. Time and patience are your friends during the time you are preparing the most delicious turducken.
1. Debone all meat – turkey, chicken, and duck. We did this the day before to save some time on the day of. Depending on your expertise, this should take about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
2. Make stuffing to place in-between each layer of meat. This is the list of ingredients we used, but feel free to put your own spin on this favorite. We also made a double batch for each turkey to ensure we had enough for each layer.
- Stuffing mix of your choice, we used corn bread
- Chicken Broth (or Vegetable broth)
- Fresh Parsley
- Fresh Sage
- Minced Garlic
Now for the turducken!
- Season each piece of meat with salt and pepper
- Lay turkey out ready for the stuffing
- First layer of stuffing on turkey
- Chicken thighs placed on top of turkey, and chicken breast on lower half of turkey
- Second layer of stuffing
- Duck placed in middle of stuffing layer
- Last layer of stuffing
- Begin to pull up sides of turkey to secure everything inside with twine or skewers
- Season outside of turkey – we used paprika, salt, and pepper
The other turkey was cooked on high yield at 170 doneness and 4 level browning for 6 hours then held overnight for 8 hours at 150 doneness and 1 level browning.
One turkey was staged at 165 and 0 browning over night for 14 hours and then finished in the Collectramatic fryer for 3 minutes.
Roasted turkey – 82% yield
Staged & fried turkey – 84% yield
I was recently scheduled to do a demo on one of our CVap Thermalizer Ovens at the Tift County School District in Georgia. I was looking at their menus for that day to see what we would be cooking when I saw the words: NO SCHOOL/PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE. A frightening thought entered my mind that no staff would be there and we would need to reschedule. Actually, my first thought was, YES! No School!, a juvenile reflex, I guess. So I sent a note to Kogi, one of the Assistants to the Director, and asked if they would be in that day. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a student holiday, but still a work day.” Awesome, not only will they be in, but I’ll have their complete attention while doing my demo. But, will they be in a bad mood? Not these lunch ladies!
When I walked in the kitchen, it was humming. Every staff member was busy cleaning and organizing. I announced my arrival to the manager, and she gathered her flock around the CVap Thermalizer Oven for my demo. And just as I had thought, I got their complete attention. They were engaged, asking questions, even had smiles on their faces. We cooked our frozen pizzas on Channel 3 for about 12 minutes and they came out great. The ladies ate and we talked some more, but then they went right back to the deep clean, smiles still on their faces. I was borderline astonished. Not only are these ladies doing the job most people hate (imagine deep cleaning your kitchen and multiply it by 10), but they also have to listen to me, the company gasbag, trying to tell them how to cook in our oven. But, not these lunch ladies!
A little background on what lunchroom staffs do each day. Nationwide, these workers prepare and serve over 30 million lunches and 14 million breakfasts daily. Some even provide meals at night and through the summer for their communities. They greet rambunctious kids with a smile and perhaps the only nourishment they will receive that day. Then they clean and scrub and, for a lot of them, it’s off to the next job. Let’s face it, it’s not the most glamorous in the world and it’s certainly not the highest paying. Many of them have a second occupation and they are most likely the ones cooking and cleaning at home. It’s a thankless job and it would’ve been so easy for the staff at 8th Street Middle School to mail it in and be crabby, thinking about what they could’ve been doing had they not been at work. But, not today. Not these lunch ladies!
Remember to tell your lunch staff thanks for the delicious food they prepare and all the hard work they do for you each day. Trust me, they will appreciate it more than you know!
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about what’s being served in school cafeterias around the country. Take it from me, the best way to find out what’s being plated in K-12 is to actually go to the schools and have lunch yourself. I work with schools around the U.S. and let me tell you there is some wonderful food around the country with creative ways of serving happening every day!
I suppose you could give an example based on new regulations that are taking place. But really those healthier options, even before the new regulations, have been putting school foodservice at the forefront of tasty recipes from one of the most demanding groups of customers there is – your kids.
The K-12 market segment food manufacturers have done a marvelous job with reformulating and reinventing a lot of the tasty treats your kid’s love to eat. Add in scratch cooking that’s being done in many of the nation’s schools and well, you’ve got some great recipes for healthy well fed students that get kids ready to learn.
So here’s my challenge to you. Would you try a dynamic and delicious made from scratch school food recipe at your next outdoor cookout?
Believe me when the side dish is Tantalizing and Tasty Ranchero Beans from a district like Brantley County Schools in Georgia, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s what I did and I’ll show you how. I took the original bulk recipe from School Nutrition Director Laura Lynn’s Brantley County School District and honed it down for an at home gathering with family. I’m sharing the original with you along with my version.
Number of Portions: 43
Size of Portions: ½ cup
CAT509 – CVap Thermalizer
HA4522 – CVap Holding Cabinet
1 cup, 8 fl oz water
2 tsp low sodium ham base
1 #10 can/18.5 ct/.5 cup beans, canned, drained, rinsed
1 can #10 tomatoes, diced, canned
1 cup frozen diced onions
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp salt, table
1 tsp pepper, black
¼ cup mild banana pepper rings
Pre-heat your CVap Thermalizer by pressing Channel 6.
Place can of tomatoes, drained beans and onions in a 2” deep hotel pan. Add 1 cup of warm water mixed with the ham base. Add Italian seasoning, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix well and place pepper rings on top. Once it’s pre-heated, place in the CAT509 and cook for 30 minutes. Then place in HA4522 Holding Cabinet with a food temperature of 155 degrees and a food texture of +10 degrees until ready to serve. Serve students with #8 scoop or ½ spoodle.
Home Style Version
½ cup of water
¼ tsp of low sodium ham base (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
2 cans 15.5 oz unseasoned pinto beans drained, rinsed
2 cans 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
¼ cup frozen diced onions (I used Kroger brand)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning (I used McCormick brand)
¼ tsp of cumin
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 or 8 mild banana pepper rings
Mix all of the ingredients together in a half size aluminum hotel pan and then use a CVap CAC503 Cook and Hold set to 90+9 for 30 minutes on high yield so it will drop into an automatic hold of 150 following the heat cycle to warm.
If you don’t have one at home…
I then served this to friends and family, including my two year old granddaughter Penelope (minus the mild banana pepper rings) and asked them all what they thought.
The adults loved it and Penelope asked for more. Then the big reveal… I told them it was school food!
This made Penelope ready for kindergarten immediately!
Check out this wonderful dish and try it at home. Take heart in knowing that schools all over America are serving great dishes like this to your children which have been cooked fresh in Winston Thermalizers and held at just cooked quality in Winston Holding Cabinets with the one and only CVap technology.