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 a 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…
Combine the ingredients in a gallon or so pot, reserve the mild banana rings for topping. Heat on medium on top of the stove, covered until warm, then put the banana pepper rings on top for serving.
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.
I love food! And I mean all types of food. My absolute favorite style of cuisine is Hispanic – more specifically, Mexican, with its wealth of tradition and depth of flavors. What’s not to like?! I have a group of friends I meet every Sunday at our local South of the Border establishment for lunch and a margarita or three. (If I’m being honest, the food is decent, but the margaritas are the real draw!) I decided to mix it up one Sunday and order one of my favorite traditional Mexican dishes: carnitas. They were less than spectacular, and I asked my friend Sergio why he thought they weren’t very good. He replied that too many people really only want fajitas on the hot plate, and this restaurant’s preparation just wasn’t traditional. To be fair, one look around the room proved that he was right. It looked like a sauna with the steam rising from every table. I was a victim of demand.
I wasn’t about to settle for this disappointment, however. Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cuisine and I mean, c’mon, it’s PORK! I decided to take matters into my own hands. There are many ways to prepare carnitas, but traditionally it is shoulder meat (or leftover parts of a butchered hog) slow braised for several hours in pork lard confit style. Once the pork has been broken down enough, it is taken out and either pulled apart or cut into cubes. It then goes back into the lard with the heat turned up, and it is fried to add texture. Now, there are many twists and variations of this dish, and the part of the country you are from usually defines what ingredients and flavors your carnitas might have. For this recipe, I’m combining the old with the new and adding a splash of CVap.
2 Lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
2 small bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
½ medium onion
½ Mexican beer, preferably dark
2 Lbs. Lard or Cooking Oil
In a large vacuum or re-sealable bag, combine all ingredients.
Place bag in CVap Cook and Hold oven at the settings below. Drink the other ½ of your Mexican beer!
CVap Cook and Hold Settings:
High Yield Mode: OFF
Time: 8 hours
Once the timer goes off, pull the bag out of the CVap and separate the pork cubes from the other ingredients.
Place lard or oil in a fryer or large pot on the stove and set to 350 degrees or medium-high heat. Drop the cubes into the oil and let fry until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Now comes the easy part: eat the carnitas! I usually enjoy them over a bed of rice and beans with a little salsa on top. I also like them in a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Then again, sometimes I just eat them right out of the pot because it’s fried pork and I’m impatient. There is no right or wrong here, just enjoy!
Did you know that June – not November – is National Turkey Lovers’ Month? And not only is it National Turkey Lovers’ Month, it’s the time of year when thoughts turn to burgers of all sorts. So what does that mean? That’s right – turkey burgers! But not just any turkey burgers – these burgers started with CVap Staging.
First a question: do any of you get frustrated when someone describes turkey burgers as being dry, flavorless, or dull? With the abundance of techniques we have at our disposal, and the enormous variety of flavor combinations to choose from, there’s just no excuse for it! And of course we love turkey as a starring protein because it is a lean, versatile option.
For this post, we experimented with two different approaches, though our base mixture was the same for both. We combined ½ lb. of ground turkey with 2 beaten eggs, ¼ cup of Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce, ½ of an onion (minced), 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs. Once the mixture was gently combined, we formed 3 ounce patties and put some on a parchment-lined half-size sheet pan.
We took the other half, placed them in pouches for vacuum-sealing, and then added a little smoke for an extra dimension of flavor. It was just enough to give the burgers a subtle smokiness without it being overwhelming.
All of the patties then went into a CVap Cook and Hold Oven with Constant Cook ON, a Food Temperature (Doneness) setting of 145° and a Food Texture (Browning) setting of 0, for 30 minutes.
To finish the patties, we pan seared them for texture and brought them to a finished temperature of 150° to 155°F. CVap Staging and then finishing in this manner yielded extremely well-textured, moist, and flavorful burgers.
The patties that were vacuum-sealed wound up being the perfect size and shape for the toasted ciabatta rolls we were using. We dressed those simply, with fresh torn cilantro and a chipotle salsa (fresh pico mixed with pureed chipotle peppers) that complimented the slight hint of smoke in the patty.
After pan-searing the more traditional patties, we treated a ciabatta bun to Sriracha mayonnaise on one side and an explosively delicious mixture of pureed onion, Bourbon Barrel Soy Sauce, and minced ginger and garlic on the other side. We finished it off with a mixture of tender baby lettuce and torn, fresh cilantro.
While the first, Latin-inspired burger was extremely tasty, the Asian-influenced burger was off-the-charts delicious. We can’t wait to make it again!
So what exactly is CVap Staging? Using this process, food is brought to the exact internal temperature desired and then held there – without overcooking or drying out – until it is time to finish and serve the dish. This means that the final flavor-enhancing and texturing touches can be made just moments before the food is served. Imagine how much faster you could push plates out of a kitchen!
For more information about the complete line of CVap products, please visit our website at http://www.winstonindustries.com
We are indulging a lobster fetish right now and the timing couldn’t be better, considering the current market value on what has been considered a luxury food for quite some time!
But this wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that lobster became popular in North America, and it wasn’t until the 1950s that it came to be regarded as a “fancy” food. In fact, there was a time when lobster was considered a trash food fit only for the poor and the crustacean was considered the “cockroach of the ocean.” Read on for more about ‘How Lobster Got Fancy!’ http://bit.ly/1eKAg5m
In addition to its inherent deliciousness, another plus for lobster is that it is a heart healthy food, being lower in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat than lean beef, white meat chicken, pork, and even shrimp. Grilled, steamed, boiled, poached… no matter how you cook and serve it, nothing can top properly prepared lobster!
For the dish featured in this post, we went with a very straightforward preparation in order to let the lobster’s sweetness really shine. We butter poached lobster tails with thyme and lemon in a CVap at 200 + 0 for 12 minutes. The cooked tails were seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon butter, and served with a spring vegetable medley of fresh asparagus and sweet baby carrots steamed in CVap. Tasted like a plate full of seaside sunshine!
We also tested butter poached lobster at two different settings in a CVap Cook & Hold Oven – see results below:
Looking for a different way to showcase lobster? Consider some of these serving ideas:
- Spread pesto on a pizza crust and top with chunks of lobster tail meat, grilled or roasted corn and asparagus, dot with small bits of brie and bake – how decadent!
- Drizzle sesame, ginger, and lime over Vietnamese-style lobster and vegetable spring rolls in rice paper wrappers.
- Serve citrusy lobster ceviche with avocado and yucca chips.
- To heat things up, sauté lobster in a spicy tomato sauce and serve over pasta for Lobster Fra Diavolo.
- Substitute lobster for Canadian bacon for the most indulgent Lobster Eggs Benedict imaginable.
- Ditch the chicken and go all out with Lobster pot pie!
- Take your lobster bisque in an Asian direction with a hint of curry and curried croutons for topping.