Monthly archives of “March 2015

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What is a Proofer?

toa-9451-hp12cdnHave you ever made bread from scratch? One part that puts off many people from baking bread at home is the rising times. Many recipes call for the baker to “set dough to rise” one or more times during the preparation.

Letting the dough rise gives the yeast time to create pockets of air that change the texture of the dough before it is baked. The last rise before baking is called proofing. It’s the last test for the baker to know whether the bread is ready for baking. The dough is shaped into the correct loaf type and sits until it doubles roughly in size.

In commercial bakeries, there is a piece of equipment that helps create the right conditions for the best final raise. It’s called a proofer. It is a special chamber that holds unbaked loaves for their final rise and provides the right temperature and humidity for optimum rising. Each chamber can be adjusted as needed for each recipe. When the proofing is done, trays of bread go into a lower holding cabinet before baking.

A proofer lets bakers prepare lots of loaves all at once and keep them ready for baking. It’s an absolutely indispensable part of a modern bakery. We carry models by Moffat, Vulcan, Toastmaster, Carter Hoffmann, and Intermetro. Browse our listing for more information or give our sales offices a call to learn more about how to choose the proofer for your needs.

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Are you a Slicer or a Chopper?

download (11)If you’re a chef looking for a particular kind of knife, one big factor of your selection is how you like to use your knife. Some chefs prefer to slice things, while others prefer chopping. The purpose of either cut is the same, to cut a narrow piece off of a larger one, but the way it is done is very different.

Let’s say you want to chop an onion. First, cut a section of it so that it can rest flat on the cutting board surface. Hold the onion with your non-knife hand, keeping your fingertips away.  Bring the knife near the hand holding the onion and rest the side of the blade against your knuckles. The entire blade is off the board.

Your knuckles are going to serve as a guide to how much you will chop off the onion with each stroke. Press the knife down and slightly forward to chop, then bring the knife back up. That’s chopping.

Slicing is very similar to chopping, but with important differences. The food and the hand holding the food are done in the same way, but the way the knife moves is different. In slicing, the tip of the knife rests against the cutting board and the side of the blade rests against your knuckles. Pull the blade backward keeping the tip on the board until the blade slices partially into the food. Then press down and forward using the full length of the blade until your slice is complete. Repeat the action while keeping the tip of the knife on the board at all times. The knife will make a circular motion.

Chopping is more seen with Asian forms of cooking, where their style of knives is more suited to lifting and dropping. Slicing is what you probably learned in cooking school. Either technique gives you the same result, but which one do you prefer? Let us know!

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Learn how to cut Chiffonade

The proper use of knives is a fundamental cooking skill. One of the things that sets home cooks apart from chefs are their knife skills. In this post, you’re going to learn about the chiffonade cut, a decorative cut that is excellent for turning leafy vegetables and herbs into attractive garnishes and soup ingredients.

The word chiffonade means “made of rags” and turns leaves into thin ribbons. The basic procedure is this:

  • Take your leaves and stack them into a neat pile. About ten will do. If you’re cutting a large leafy vegetable like kale, cut out the center stem first.
  • Roll the leaves into a tight cigar shape, then roll it so the seam is against the cutting board
  • Take your sharpest knife and slice across the rolled leaves. The finer the slices, the finer the final garnish will be. If you’re cutting for soup, go with larger slices.
  • Fluff up the chiffonade and use immediately.

Chiffonade vegetables and herbs are best used immediately. The cutting technique causes the edges to quickly darken. The technique is best suited for broad-leaved plants that can roll well. It would be very difficult to try this cut with something like parsley, which has a very irregular leaf. You can even chiffonade unexpected things like crepes. This goes great in savory soups as an unexpected treat.

The key to a good chiffonade is good rolling and thin slicing with a sharp knife. If you need a knife or a sharpener, well, you know where to turn to! Take a look at our stock at Restaurant Supply.

Ice Machine Mechanical Knowledge
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Maintaining Your Commercial Ice Machine Without Mechanical Knowledge

Your restaurant ice machine tirelessly works in the background, churning out pound upon pound of ice to your servers, bartenders, and staff.  If you’ve got no mechanical aptitude, what are the three biggest things that you can do to help keep it running?

Read the manual

The single most important thing that you can do to help the function of any mechanical item like a commercial ice machine is to read the owner’s manual.  Here, you can find operational parameters for the machine as well as recommended maintenance schedules and other useful items.  This is the lifeline to the machine, and should be read from cover to cover.

Observation

Look at the machine.  Take in the sounds and the meter readings.  Are these readings coming out a little high?  Is the machine making sounds that you’ve never heard before?  Is it sounding a little clunky when it’s dumping ice, or is the ice that your ice machine is producing not up to par?  That might be the indication that there’s a problem brewing… you might want to schedule a service appointment.

Cleaning

After you’ve read your manual, you’ve got a good idea of the cleaning substances that you can use for your commercial ice machine.  It’s time to put in the elbow grease and get the inside of your ice machine bin cleaned out and sanitized.  With a sanitized bin, you’re preventing all types of nasties from getting a hold of your ice machine.

While we do understand that the owner’s manual for ice machines are boring, it helps to have a good understanding of how the machine runs so that you can observe it and clean it.  These three tips will help you get far.

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When is it Time to Upgrade your Equipment?

Your old equipment has served you well, but when do you know it’s time to upgrade your equipment? Most restaurants can’t afford to wait until a piece of equipment breaks completely for a big item, and replacing smallwares can be tricky. Here are some things to look for that tell you that it’s time to update.

  1. Spending too much on repairs

Most restaurants have a service contract for their larger equipment. If you’re calling that service line a lot, it may be time to look for a replacement. All machinery will eventually wear out and need replacement. Talk with your service tech to see if there might be a better option than waiting for that new compressor. Again.

  1. Changing concept

Restaurant concepts can change over time in subtle ways. Perhaps you’ve attracted a different sort of clientele that would appreciate different place settings. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a new dish that will need different smallwares to reach presentation perfection. This is also a sign to upgrade.

  1. Cookware wearing out

The term smallwares also includes all of the cooking and baking vessels your cooks use. If your pots and pans are getting banged up it can affect how well they can cook the food.

  1. More efficient cooking

You will also receive better cooking efficiency by upgrading or expanding your equipment. You may just need more space to cook, or want to branch into a form of cooking that needs specialized equipment.

New equipment is coming out all the time, equipment which can make your cooking experience much smoother or more efficient.  By studying your options, you will be able to get the most for your restaurant supply needs.

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