Monday, December 30, 2013

CHEF TALK, Part 2


CHEF TALK

FROM ME TO YOU
My aim in CHEF TALK is to share some of my cooking experiences with you and to provide insight and ideas as to how and what to do when choosing products you may not be too familiar with and also how to work recipes.
With that in mind I will also explain how to make best use of a vacuum sealer.
Many home cooks often see a recipe that looks fantastic, appetizing, delicious, and has a pretty picture and decide to cook that to surprise the family.
I also try to surprise the family when I cook. Then the most exciting part of cooking is to see happy faces around the dinner table. Besides getting the results you desire of course.
Finding a recipe is easy, finding a good recipe is another story. The same goes for reading recipes which require a decent knowledge of cooking.
Some people only need the idea, which a nice picture often provides, but most of us will still need the ‘how much of this and how much of that’ part.
It can be quite tough however to see or read from a recipe (if you are on the right track, replacing parts of the recipe or omitting ingredients). Stacks of recipes from the internet are not workable, many are good, no denial, but which is which.
What do you do with leftovers if the quantities given are too large?  
Best is to start with an example and work through that recipe.
I love crackling pork. Millions of people love crackling pork, the sound alone makes your mouth water.
Crackling pork is a must have meat dish to have on a regular basis especially for Australian and British meat lovers. 






FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT, CHOOSE THE RIGHT CUT OF MEAT:

There are basically two types of crackling pork, one made from bone-in cuts, like pork loins with ribs and whole pork shoulders, the other one made from bone-less cuts of meat, like pork belly or pork loins without ribs.
Choose the cut of meat that suits your family best but make sure that your cut of meat has the skin intact.
In order to get that lovely ‘crackling’ effect, you need to score the skin of the meat, preferably vertically in one direction and about the size of a finger apart from each other.
This type of scoring makes it easy to slice the meat after cooking, because you can follow the score lines and is essential to get the crackling right.
Pork skin is pretty tough and you will need a really sharp knife to achieve good scoring, make sure that only the skin is cut, the scoring should not go all the way through and reach the lean meat.
A Stanley knife works well. Another good tool is your butcher, he will be pleased to help you out. It is a good idea also to tell your butcher how you want your cut of meat.  
Now you have the right cut of meat and you are almost there.
You only need to cook it. Sounds simple and it is, because you started on the right foot.
The recipe for crackling pork is maybe the simplest you have ever seen.
It is comprised of the scored cut of meat and crushed rock salt. That’s all.
Next pressure points to look at are your oven temperature and the cooking time.
Rub crushed rock salt on the skin side of the meat. Make sure the salt penetrates the score lines. 
When you do this, the salt extracts moisture from the fat under the skin and the fat will start bubbling around the whole piece of meat.
You can rub the salt a day before cooking, but that is an option not a necessity.

TIMING:
Your cooking time should be: 35 minutes per pound of bone-in meat.
25 minutes per pound of bone-less meat.

NOW THE CRUCIAL PART:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 F or 240-250 Celsius. You need this heat to get the crackling going.
Place the meat on an oven tray and position the tray in the center of your oven, allow roasting for about 30 to 35 minutes.
You should now see that the skin is getting blisters. When that is the case, lower the heat to 325 to 350 F or 180 to 200 Celsius and continue roasting as per the given time.
Likely your piece of meat will be about 1 ½ to 2 kilos, if your meat is boneless you need 1 hour to an hour and a half of total cooking time.
Check with a meat thermometer to be sure that the roast is cooked. The thermometer should point at 170 F or 74 Celsius. 
Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice and serve.
To accompany the roast, choose roast potatoes, garden vegetables and apple sauce.
What you have achieved is a great dish, because you had: 
The right recipe
The right preparation
The right cooking method


NOW THE VACUUM PACKING PART:




http://vacupack.com/vacuum-sealers-home-style/vacupack-vacuum-sealer/vacupack-elite-vacuum-sealer-home-unit.html






From a good butcher you will get the best cut of meat you are looking for but you may not use the meat the same day you purchase it.
If so, vacuum seal the meat and it will stay in perfect condition, up to 4–5 days chilled.  If you need to keep it longer, vacuum seal and freeze  it and it will stay in perfect condition for at least 3-4 months.
I mentioned earlier that your piece of meat will likely be 1 ½ to 2 kilos so it may well be that you have some balance.
If so, let the roasted meat cool through completely, best overnight, slice it (without the skin) as thin as you possibly can.
Portion the slices and vacuum seal in smaller vacuum bags, the roasted meat becomes an extraordinary sandwich filling. You can store the sliced roasted meat chilled and keep up to two weeks.
Use your vacuum sealer for raw/fresh produce but also for cooked produce. 

Ensure that you work clean. Good hygiene lengthens storage time and product freshness significantly.

Enjoy the ‘Crackling Pork’ !! 







Written for PMG
By (Professional Chef) Marinus Hoogendoorn 
Culinary expert in recipe development.  

www.vacupack.com
1-800-227-3769
  
          
         



   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

TO ALL CHRISTMAS DINNER COOKING HOME CHEFS, PART 2

CHRISTMAS IS COMING SOON

When you have read part 1 of Christmas is coming soon, I assume that you are convinced that pre-preparation of your Christmas dinner with the vacuum method works. 
There is usually a bit more to a Christmas dinner than a main course, even though your main course is and should be the highlight of the evening.
But you will most likely also have one or two starters and a dessert to complete the menu and to make Christmas dinner a true feast and memorable to look back at.
Let me refer back to some parts of part 1 of my Christmas article.
I mentioned that we all tend to overdo Christmas dinners and make them  lavish. It is perfectly okay to be lavish during Christmas though but if you put in a lot of effort and your efforts result in being futile, there is no gain for anybody. 
I would like to  therefore give you some tips to choose your menu wisely and proportionately.
An average adult consumes between 700 grams and 1 kilo of food during a dinner with a starter, main course and dessert.
This fact is calculated per meal segment. 
Starter 150 grams
Meat (or other protein) 175 grams
Vegetables 200 grams
Potato (or other carbohydrates) 150 grams
Dessert 150 grams
Drink 150 ml
These segments combined total up to 975 grams.
But it is Christmas and we are allowed to indulge our self. Enjoy the occasion and be merry and happy, so keep the above list just in mind when you shop.

If you plan for ten people for example, this list will help you not to break your wallet .
A turkey will give you between 50 and 55% of meat in a raw state, cooking loss will be 
10 to 15 %.
So for ten people you need approximately 2 kilos of meat, which a 5 kilo turkey will give you and you do not need an 8 kilo turkey because you are afraid that you do not have enough.
For hard vegetables like the parsnip, Brussels sprouts, carrots and red cabbage you can calculate a weight loss of 10 to 12 % from the raw weight due to peeling and cleaning. Cooking loss is negligible for these types of vegetables.
Same percentage of weight loss can be used for the potatoes.

Now back to my menu.
Whole Roast Turkey with a Sauce of mixed Berries and Port Wine
Garden Herbs infused Roast Potatoes
Assorted Garden Vegetables
Roasted Chestnuts
Christmas stuffing 
Having done your pre-preparation with the vacuum method as explained in part 1, all you need to do on Christmas day is to place your turkey in the oven and you need about ½ an hour to finish the condiments, roughly 1 hour in the kitchen.
So there is time to complete your dinner with a starter and a dessert.
Let’s fill in some ideas.
When planning a menu one should always keep variety in mind, when your main course is meat choose a starter with vegetables or fish.
Think also about shapes, color and textures of the dishes to serve.

It happens to be that I am in charge of the selection of dishes in this article and I love fish. So I choose a surprising fish based starter.
Quite easy to make and best of all it can be made in advance. I keep in mind that chefs also celebrate Christmas

My starter:  
SMOKED SALMON SOUFFLE   (serves 6)
Soufflé always sounds a bit scary but do not worry about this recipe.
INGREDIENTS:
40 Gr Butter
25 Gr All purpose flour
300 Ml Milk
85 Gr Philadelphia cream cheese
2 Tsp Chopped dill
3 Nos Egg
85 Gr Smoked Salmon (chopped)
Zest of ½ Lemon
To Finish:
6 Tbsp Crème Fraiche
6 Small Smoked Salmon slices
Twigs of dill, some color full winter salad leaves



METHOD: 
Place the butter, milk and flour in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring on medium heat.
When the mixture boils lower the heat and add the cheese bit by bit and the chopped dill, mix well to incorporate.
When the cheese is incorporated turn off the heat and add the eggs one by one.
Add the chopped smoked salmon and lemon zest.
Pre-heat an oven to 180 -200 Celsius or
Grease six ramekin moulds and cover the base with grease paper.
Divide your mixture over the six mould about ¾ full.
Place the moulds in an ovenproof tray and place in the oven, fill the tray half way full with hot water.
Bake for 15 minutes uncovered.
You will see that the mixture rises above the edge of the mould.
Remove from the oven and let cool, the mixture will now sink somewhat, that is ok.
When the soufflés, have cooled down cover them and store with the moulds in the refrigerator.
You can do this up to two days in advance.
To finish the dish before you serve: 
Remove the soufflés from the moulds. If needed move a small knife around the inside of the moulds. The grease paper on the bottom of the moulds will help the removal.
Pre-heat your oven to 180– 200 Celsius or between 350 and 390 F
Place the soufflés on a baking tray, top with a tablespoon of crème fraiche each and bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until the soufflés puff up.
Place some of the color full leaves on a plate, then the soufflé, top with a slice of smoked salmon and a twig of dill
Serve warm.           
      
Main course:
Best is to follow the cooking instructions given by the turkey supplier, some have a pop-up pin and sometimes there are cooking times given.
I explained how to finish the vegetables, sauce and potatoes after you have pre-prepared and vacuumed them in part 1.
That leaves us with a dessert, personally I prefer to use something easy, something that you just have to place on the table.
Remember that you will be also somewhat poofed after the main course.
Besides, desserts are usually quite tedious and time consuming to make. 
I advise therefore buy a nice Christmas cake or log.
After or with that coffee, some pralines and the whole family, including you, can lean back very satisfied.
You will have a great Christmas dinner this way.
Pre-preparation and vacuuming an important and time consuming part of your dinner has saved you a lot of time on Christmas day. 
Go for it.  

Written for PMG 
By Professional Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn 
Culinary expert in recipe development. 


   

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Heard of Sous-vide? Tasty, Juicier Food Made Possible by Vacuum Sealing

Heard of Sous-vide? Tasty, Juicier Food Made Possible by Vacuum Sealing

Some of you might be intimidated by the fancy name sous-vide, which is becoming a quite popular method for cooking food. However, cooking by this method is easier than its name. The sous-vide method of cooking food involves enclosing the ingredients of a dish in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag and placing the bag in a water bath, a combi oven, or any other appliance that can maintain a target temperature. 

The sous-vide method of cooking food takes a long time to cook the food thoroughly before it can be eaten; however, it results in juicier and tastier food. The concept is based on the fact that because the ingredients are packed in a vacuum-sealed bag, moisture from the ingredients is not depleted. In addition, as the temperature of the water is kept to be hot enough so that it cooks the food thoroughly while killing any food borne pathogens, there is no drying out of the food. The result is tastier and juicier food that cannot be obtained by other conventional methods of cooking.

The food variety best suited for the sous-vide method of cooking is meat and fish since they are sensitive to high temperatures. Cooking difficult meats like flank steak and turkey breasts can be made tastier if they are cooked using the sous-vide method. The method is best suited for cooking meat because it does not alter the texture, a feature very important when cooking meat. Most of the times when meat is cooked using conventional methods, it is overcooked. But, with the sous-vide method, the temperature remains the same while the meat is tenderly cooked with its juices remaining intact.

Pros of Using the Sous-vide Method

  • Evenly cooked meat and fish is obtained when using the sous-vide method
  • With sous-vide method of cooking, one can avoid the dried out, overdone meat as the final temperature can be controlled
  • The food is safe to consume as the long cooking hours taken by the sous-vide method kill the pathogens that may be present in the food or the plastic bag. 
  • The texture or quality of the dish being prepared remains intact with the sous-vide cooking as a uniform temperature is maintained throughout the process of cooking
  • Vacuum sealing of the food ensures that decay of the food by water is prevented 


The sous-vide method of cooking can be used to get tastier, juicier meat and fish. There are special ovens and cookers that help in cooking by the sous-vide method. The computer controlled heater ensures that the water set at a low temperature is maintained for hours, if required. This method of cooking has an important benefit in the sense that it frees the cook from continually watching the food cook, freeing them to handle other aspects of the meal while the meat or fish is cooking in the sealed bag. With traditional cooking, there is little margin for error as the temperature can be high or fluctuate, leading to overcooked food in case of slight inattention. With sous-vide, you can have evenly cooked, juicy, flavorful food every time.







Written for PMG 
By 
Professional SEO Writer
Sipia Mahajan 




Monday, December 2, 2013

TO ALL CHRISTMAS DINNER COOKING HOME CHEFS, Part 1


                                    CHRISTMAS IS COMING SOON

                           TO ALL CHRISTMAS DINNER COOKING HOME CHEFS 

Part 1 

By the time this article reaches you, thanksgiving is history for 2013, sure hope you had a great celebration.
So what’s next, Christmas is around the corner, one of the scariest events for many home cooks to look forward to.

Planning a menu, get your supplies, trying not to break the bank, preparing a guest list, all lovely subjects to get your brain cracking.
It is my personal opinion that when you have guests on a once a year occasion like Christmas, do not cook something you have no experience with. Cooking a dinner you are familiar with, will almost certainly result in a dinner table full with happy people.
The reason why I think that way is that we all tend to overdo our Christmas celebrations, we plan to make too many dishes, side dishes, snacks and desserts.
By doing so we end up in the kitchen most of the day and forget that Christmas is actually also for us, the chefs.
Christmas is a family gathering for everybody to enjoy. 
First remember that you are at home and you cook Christmas dinner for family and friends.
So your menu planning should be based on beating the clock, not breaking the clock, getting all worked up and placing oneself out of enjoyment of the family gathering Christmas should be.
Let me help you a little bit and give some tips how to make your Christmas dinner a lot easier.
Traditionally Christmas dinners must have a roast, the choice of which type of roast is all yours, a leg of lamb, goose, turkey, game or whichever roast you are comfortable with.
The highlight of your dinner should be a big platter with a roast for everyone around the table to share.
Now here is your first time saver, instead of making individual plates with vegetables and potatoes, and have the plates scattered all over the kitchen because you are not a restaurant and also likely not equipped to accommodate individual plating for a large group of people, place all your vegetables and potatoes around your roast, it looks great, grand and impressive as a centre piece.  
Let’s say you have chosen to cook,           
Whole Roast Turkey with a Sauce of mixed Berries and Port Wine
Garden Herbs infused Roast Potatoes
Assorted Garden Vegetables
Roasted Chestnuts
Christmas stuffing 
Many of the components in this menu can be made in advance, let’s have a look.

Potatoes, choose Russet or Maris Piper potatoes, leave them whole, wash and boil in water with salt for ten minutes, rinse under cold water, peel the skin off, cut into the size you like, a bit chunky is nice for a dish like this. Drain and cool.
Place the potatoes in a vacuum bag, add some olive oil, a few sprigs of rosemary and parsley. 
Vacuum and store in your refrigerator.
You can do this two or three days in advance, the oil and herbs will give a lovely flavor to the potatoes during the storage time.



Now the vegetables.

Say you choose carrot, parsnip, Brussels sprouts and red cabbage.
After cleaning and cutting to shape, keep the vegetables chunky as well, cook,

Carrots and parsnip Blanch 12 minutes  - cool in ice water
Brussels sprouts Blanch 8 minutes  - cool in ice water
Red cabbage Cook 1 hour with your spices, e.g. vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaf, red wine, salt and sliced apples. Cool (no ice water)
After the vegetables are cooled, drain and vacuum pack, store in your refrigerator
You can do this also 2 to 3 days in advance. NO FREEZING.
If you are not too comfortable vacuuming the red cabbage, store this item in a container, it will be fine or even better, because the flavors have time to develop, for 3 to 4 days. You can however vacuum the red cabbage, stay in front of your vacuum sealer and when the liquid comes  half way up the seal strip, press seal. It works but be careful. 
Buy pre-cooked chestnuts, like the canned type.  


The sauce. 
You can perfectly use frozen mixed berries for this, add 100 grams sugar and half a cup of port wine to 500 grams of berries, bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix with a whisk. If it is too thick, add a bit of water.
Store this also in a jar, you can vacuum many components, but there are some that a not so suitable for vacuuming. Do ensure that your jars are very clean, best is to boil them a few minutes before use.
The sauce will stay fine for a few weeks, similar to marmalade or jam.
Major advantage, besides a relaxed Christmas day for yourself, is that you can make a mistake, if major you have plenty of time to redo the item.   
Well you are almost done and it is not even Christmas eve.
Last but definitely not least, the turkey.


If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure that the turkey is well thawed, depending on the size this may take up to 2 days.
Season the turkey by placing cut oranges, rosemary, salt and pepper in the cavity.
Do this 1 day in advance, cover the turkey with cling wrap or a wet towel and store  in your refrigerator. Remove from your refrigerator on the morning of serving, this allows an even temperature in the bird and with that a better finished result.
I believe that is works better to have the stuffing separately cooked from the bird, unless you have a de-boned turkey.
Everybody has his/her own preference for a stuffing, so choose one you like.
Prepare the stuffing preferably one or two days in advance, so the flavors can develop as well.
If your stuffing is fairly firm in consistency. Vacuum, this works perfect with bread and also meat based stuffings.     



Christmas day:
You wake up without the feeling that you have a tough day ahead, feels good right.


You can still spend a bit of time on some snacks, the not to be missed sausages with bacon and maybe a starter and a dessert.
Based on your cooking time and the roast you have chosen, when you have chosen a turkey like in the sample menu, plan such that the turkey is 45 minutes ready prior to serving time .
Remove the turkey from the oven and cover with aluminum foil.
Remove the potatoes from the vacuum bag, place your potatoes in a baking tray, drizzle with some olive oil and roast in your oven for about 30 minutes at 325 F.
Heat some oil in a frying pan add the carrots and parsnip, season and fry for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fry the Brussels sprouts with the chestnuts similarly in another frying pan.
If you did vacuum the red cabbage, the easiest way is to heat the whole bag in a pot with hot water for 15 minutes or so. No scare that it will burn.
You can heat the berries sauce in the microwave, you need this item warm, not boiling hot.    
Now you are ready to serve.
Place the turkey in the centre of a large serving plate, half of the parsnip, carrot, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and the roast potatoes on one side and the other half on the other side of the turkey.
The stuffing on the cavity side and the drained (do not forget to drain off excess liquid) red cabbage on neck side.
Place your sauce in a separate bowl.
WOW. Success guaranteed.



Written for PMG 
By Professional Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn 

 Canada www.vacupack.ca

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

HOLIDAY TIME-SAVER COOKING IDEAS

HOLIDAY TIME-SAVER COOKING IDEAS

Holiday cooking is a chore that must be done but it doesn’t have to be a bad chore.  With a few time saving ideas, it will go smoothly and allow more time for family and friends.With the holiday season fast approaching, my thoughts are running with anticipation of the time spent with out-of-state loved ones who will be visiting.  There is a lot of prep work to do, which usually is not a problem, but on the actual holiday, cooking time steals from my family time.


This year, I got busy early.  I mixed my stuffing ahead of time and vacuum sealed it with the Vacupack Elite.  I put it into the freezer and now all I have to do is cook it in the bag in boiling water and it will be just as tasty and fresh as if I made it that day.  I also put aside cookies and pies the same way.  I can simply take the cookies out of the freezer the night before and thaw for serving the next day.  The pies can be taken from the bag and popped into the oven to quickly bake them just before serving so that they are hot, fresh and flavorful. 


Fresh vegetables are pricey during this time of year and waiting for sales is tedious.  I simply use some of the fresh vegetables that I vacuum sealed and froze during the harvest season.  I thaw them out for salads and vegetable dip trays. 



 All of us groan at the thought of eating leftovers for days and days.  If you vacuum seal your leftovers, you can freeze them and use them for meals later.  Frozen turkey leftovers will make excellent soup later in the winter when you crave a hot and healthy meal.  Or, make the soup now and freeze it for heating later.  Individual serving packages make hot soup a convenient lunchtime idea instead of the old, tired sandwich and chips.


Turkey can be vacuum sealed and frozen for sandwiches, too.  You can make individual serving sizes and just take out what you need when you need it.  Leftover stuffing might taste good the day after the holiday meal but it can get a little tiring after that.  Instead of wasting it, vacuum seal it, freeze it and use it another day!

I usually start my holiday shopping and cooking about a month in advance and having a vacuum sealer is a valuable time saving tactic.  I cook a lot of things (like pies, cookies and stuffing) ahead of time in large batches and divide them up, one package for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas.  



The Vacupack Elite is a top of the line vacuum sealer built for durability.  It has a moisture trap that diverts moisture away from the pump, which makes for a tight bag seal with no leaks.  It cannot be beat for sous-vide cooking, which is becoming more and more popular in the United States.  Instead of canning food, storing it for sous-vide cooking is a safer and more reliable way of storing food.  Purchasing large quantities of meat and poultry when it is on sale and cooking it in the sous-vide method for storage will save money and free your time for other activities.




From the PMG crew to you and your family, we wish you all the very best Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.  







Written for PMG

By Jacqueline Moderson 
SEO Professional Writer

Find the Vacupack Elite online at www.vacupack.com
Instock in Canada at www.vacupack.ca

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sous-Vide Cooked Meals. The Basic Understanding of the Process.

Sous-Vide, exactly what is it? 


Used in many gourmet restaurants, sous-vide is a modern cooking technique which involves cooking food that is vacuum sealed in airtight plastic pouches at a very consistent, precise temperature for long periods of time. The basic nature of this cooking technique allows you to prepare food to perfection while, at the same time, eliminates anxieties about overcooking.The sous-vide method yields better and different results than conventional cooking. The textures and flavors developed by this unique cooking technique cannot be replicated using any other conventional cooking technique. Apart from producing extraordinary results, sous-vide method is tremendously simple and foolproof. Capturing the true aroma and food flavors, it retains the nutritional value, gourmet taste, and natural juices of the foods.

To cook food with the sous-vide method, you can vacuum seal food in sturdy plastic bags certified for this purpose. Drop the bags into specifically controlled water bath. However, this method can vary from 20 to 30 minutes for food items like scrambled eggs and lean fish, and it can go to as long as 72 hours for items like tough meats such as spareribs. The time taken to cook a given portion of the food to be brought to its desired temperature depends on its thickness and not overall weight. Tender food items like beef or pork tenderloin, shellfish, fish, and lamb chops are required to come to desired temperature to be luscious and ready to eat. Tender steaks and chicken breasts normally take one to two hours cooked sous-vide, depending on thickness. The best part of sous-vide technique is that, unlike other cooking methods on the grill, oven, or stove, sous-vide is forgiving. Many times, food is left undisturbed for much longer in the water bath, yet still retains the texture, flavor, and appearance of these food items.

Although any kind of meat is perfect for sous-vide, it works well with delicate or tender foods, such as lamb, beef, pork, or fish, ensuring that these items are not overcooked. You can also use this method to prepare béarnaise sauce, cheese, yogurt, and custard-style ice cream base as well. Basically, anything that needs precise temperature can be a contestant for sous-vide cooking. Moreover, as the sous-vide process locks in natural flavors of your food, you can apply seasonings with a light hand.Many foods like one-dish meals, fruits and vegetables are delectable straight from the bags. Meat items, such as fish and poultry, are also ready to eat, but may do well when browned on the grill, under the broiler, or sautéed in a skillet. Consider, for instance, grilling or broiling steak. You normally cook a steak at temperatures ranging from 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 Celsius to 500 F or 260 C. As a result, the steak becomes charred on the outside while the inside can still be uncooked. Thus, your steak could be overcooked when exposed to such high temperatures.

However, with the sous-vide method, your food will be cooked precisely and gently at the desired temperature. In this example, your steak can cook at 134 F or 56 C for perfect medium rare. This is because the water transmits heat to the sealed food 10 times more proficiently than air does, thus imparting complete safety to the food. 

Writing for PMG 

Sipia Mahajan  
SEO Professional Writer. 

Professional Marketing Group Inc. 
www.vacupack.com

Friday, November 22, 2013

Saving Money, while Enjoying Great Holiday Meals!

Saving Money, while Enjoying Great Holiday Meals!

For some the holidays are a great time to celebrate and enjoy the season.  For others it can be a daunting task to embrace the season on limited budgets.  

Usually the grocery stores offer wonderful sales.  It can be hard to resist the frenzy surrounding the holiday season, this includes grocery shopping.  Most of the year our fridge is pretty manageable.  A few days of meals available but plenty of room for air space and wondering what there is to eat.  

Then comes a holiday and the expected guests.  We all want to be that great host that has plenty of the favorite traditional dishes.  We prepare and plan, think and cook, bake until we have enough food to feed an entire city. Or so it seems looking at the spread. 
Does your fridge look like this, with not an inch of available space? 



Of course everyone enjoys your meals. The best food all year. But realistically, they have not eaten more than the usual meals day in and day out.  What do we have left? Food and more food and more food to deal with.  

This is the time to make sure your VacUpack vacuum sealer is on the counter and handy to use.  www.vacupack.com  
Stock up on bags now so you are prepared the day of.  www.vacupack.com
Being prepared for the holiday meals will save enough money to pay for the bags you will use all year long. The best time to pack up lunches, quick dinners and snacks all from the left over holiday feast.   We don't want to see you like this, finding the hidden treasure in the back of the fridge weeks later.  

Rotted food is the #1 largest increase in our food budgets today.  Vacupack your fresh, cooked, frozen or cupboard foods and hold back the cost of increasing food prices.  The amount of food wasted after a holiday can be staggering.  Don't let this happen to you.



 Separate the left overs into meal size portions, vacuum seal and either freeze or refrigerate.  An organized fridge all vacuum packed will keep for extended time. Allowing the consumption of the foods in the days and weeks following the holiday.  Open and reseal as needed.  

 

Go ahead buy that extra tasty treat. You are prepared with a secret weapon to save money. Taking full advantage of your Vacupack, saving your holiday food budget from disaster.  

Happy Hollidays 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

CHEF TALK, FAST FOOD AT HOME

CHEF TALK  


FAST FOOD AT HOME

Many among us love fast food, just pass by at the drive – through and pick up your favorite burger, pizza slice or hot dog, a regular practice for many of us.
 There are bad fast foods, very bad fast foods but also not so bad fast foods available in the market, but I think that you can make something better than that.
I do not have any intention to tell you here not to eat fast food or lecture you about health issues related to eating fast food, many chefs, a hundred times more famous than me, are touching that subject in and out, so I leave that to them.
Fast food companies do not cook, even though they make it look they cook like a celebrity chef, they purchase products from a food processing company and basically just re-heat the products they serve. 
I have worked for such a food processing company as product development chef for several years and dare to say that I pretty well know how the fast food industry works behind the counter and in their ‘kitchen’.
To give you a peak, we made, among others, burgers for a famous burger giant, good burgers, well produced, HACCP proof, super fast frozen, tip top product. They, these burger guys, have in every outlet around the world a special, only available to them, designed oven where staff places the burger on the base of the oven and your perfect burger drops, at the other side of the machine, on your bun after four minutes and twenty five seconds.  
 Sounds like magic? It is not, you can do the same at home, quality patties and even better quality fries and buns      
With increasingly worrying stories about the health aspect of fast food, heart diseases, obesity and what not, making fast food at home becomes more and more popular.   
The best thing about making fast food at home is that YOU choose the products to use.
Meat from a trusted butcher, buns from your favorite bakery shop and maybe you like to make your own sauce and fries.
Now here is the problem. I know. I hear them too often.
“I have to start making everything from scratch every time and I hate that”.
Here is your solution, make batches at a time, vacuum pack what you make and freeze it. If you have a family of four, pack four burgers per bag, no waste. 
Buy fast food ingredients on offer, you may save money as well, minced meat, chicken wings, sausages, vacuum pack and freeze.
When you freeze potatoes they will turn sweet after a while but you can freeze homemade French fries.  Cut potatoes in French fries shape, fry at 170 degrees Celsius or 338 F. for three to four minutes until cooked, drain, cool, vacuum and freeze. When you use them, just fry golden and crispy at 180 degrees Celsius or 356 F and you have the perfect fries.   
Vacuum packing and freezing prolongs the shelf life significantly and your products retain its freshness. 
The burger patties I spoke about earlier have NO seasoning whatsoever, if that works for them it works for you, just form the patties, vacuum and freeze.
Below a very easy, but tasty, recipe for fried chicken wings that you can use for the vacuum/ freeze method. Season the wings, vacuum and freeze is all you need to do to have a great fast food snack in your freezer. Give it a try. 

FRIED CHICKEN WINGS
1 Kg Chicken wings (cut in half, drummet and wing)
1 Nos Large onion (cut into rings)
1 Tbsp Turmeric powder
Salt and crushed black pepper
Oil for frying
Method:
Season the chicken wings with the turmeric powder, salt and pepper.
Heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius or 356 F and fry 4 to 5 minutes.
Check for doneness
Drain the fried wings on kitchen paper.
Fry the onion rings in the same oil for two minutes 
Top the chicken wings with the onion rings and serve hot with a sauce of your liking, ketchup, mayonnaise, tomato sauce or hot sauce.
Note: You can use other small cut chicken parts as well, like I did in the picture.
Oh, if you still decide to go to the drive- through, don’t forget to ask them to include these wings in their menu.    



Written for PMG 
By Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn
Culinary expert in recipe development and proof reading.

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