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Thursday, January 13, 2011

“Professional Foodservice Discussions, Part III: Controlling Labor and Food Cost Discussion, #3 PLUS Soup Seminar I featuring Minestrone alla Romana Soup—a Great Way to save Money!” by Chef Stinkbug


We continue offering albums by one of Britain’s greatest bands, Fleetwood Mac, a band with a long history and a much-longer list of musicians going through its ranks.  Their thirteenth album, “Penguin,” came out in 1973 and saw a new line-up of sorts.  Bob Welch was now clearly running the band, along with Mick Fleetwood, and Christine and John McVie, all three long-term members, but he was the undisputed musical guiding light.  Dave Walker, late of Savoy Brown, had joined the band along with second guitarist, Bob Weston, both brought in to augment the band's sound.  This is a worthwhile album to purchase so you can buy this album at Amazon.com by using the convenient link above!





COUNTDOWN TO THE END OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR

 

 

Here is the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 698 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!

 


STINKBUG 2011

 

 



Chef Stinkbug

END Commentary 01-14-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 2,939.

 

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CULINARY POLITICS

 

ELEMENTALNEWSOFTHEDAY.BLOGSPOT.COM-STINKBUG—THE HEADLINES

Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Friday, January 14, 2011 by Chef Stinkbug


 

PROFESSIONAL FOODSERVICE DISCUSSIONS, PART III

Professional Foodservice Discussions, Part III: Controlling Labor and Food Cost Discussion, #3 PLUS Soup Seminar I featuring Minestrone alla Romana Soup—a Great Way to save Money!” by Chef Stinkbug
 

 
 
Bakersfield, CA, 01-14-2011 F: Over the past three days, we have done two articles on controlling labor and food costs and one brief political article and in our effort to bring the most important foodservice issues to our readers’ collective attention and will continue in that vein today.  One of the worst things a chef can do is to buy convenience foods and not to find creative ways to rid oneself of leftovers.  Nowadays most leftovers go down the garbage disposal taking hundreds of dollars if not thousands annually with them.  Once again, the unwise chef, in a desire to have minimal labor costs, hires illegal aliens who know absolutely nothing about American ways instead of utilizing leftovers and buying wisely—stop hiring illegals! Why do we do this? We do it because, like I said, we are looking at labor’s bottom line so we get a guy who can read directions, bring in frozen soups, and throw our valuable leftovers out!  Does this make sense to you? It would be better to get a few good cooks who can make money for the house and who know how to do it by utilizing what’s on hand and this is where soup is such a valuable money-maker.  Soup is the endgame in controlling leftovers as we can move our leftover meats, vegetables, pasta, even cheese once in awhile depending on the soup. We can also use it to process dairy products and to do so with minimal additions of new food to make it work and today, we are going to make one hell of a soup, tasty, thick Minestrone, that is a delight to eat and a wonderful moneymaker!

Therefore, this will be the beginning of our Soup Seminar, which is always a good series whenever we have run it in the past, as soup is the ultimate moneymaker in the business. You can get rid of virtually everything in the house that needs to be gotten rid of with the minimal cost in new ingredients in order to make it palatable.  When I worked at my first country club, practically everything that was “long in the tooth” underwent transformation into scrumptious soup over which, the membership raved.  Unfortunately, many of the membership used to have gastrointestinal problems due to their consumption of our soups and chili as sometimes the foods were not in tip-top shape but the Chef said, “Do it!”  He always had the best food costs and the members had to supply their own stomach medicines to take the sting out of them. I remember my ex-wife, Roxanna, foodserver extraordinaire, bitching at the kitchen crew for poisoning the club’s members so we always had to placate her and reassure her that “No, these were all good foods!” Did she believe it? No! Of course not, but she never ate a bowl of soup or a cup of chili in the ten years that we worked there.  What a woman! Let us begin!

SOUP SEMINAR, PART ONE—MINESTRONE ALLA ROMANA SOUP

MINESTRONE SOUP ALA ROMAŇA
 
I mentioned awhile back that I would give you my Minestrone soup recipe that I consider special.  “Now, what’s so special about minestrone soup?” you might ask, “Everybody in town and his brother makes minestrone soup, right?”  Wrong! Only the “uninitiated” view minestrone as nothing more than an Italian version of vegetable soup when in fact, it is not.  No, it’s a thing imbued with a personality all its own! 

Seemingly having originated as a way for Italians to rid their kitchens of leftovers, minestrone has no one particular form.  Instead, it appears in a variety of styles, each as unique as the chef who prepares it. Furthermore, it also plays host to an often-eclectic assortment of ingredients and which might, on occasion, include shellfish or seafood giving it an aura of a POOR MAN’S cioppino! 

I learned the art of making minestrone at an early age watching my grandmother make it in the kitchen from afar.  If I could, I would get up on a soapbox or a milk crate and lend a hand in peeling of the vegetables and if I could, I would take my place at the stove in the stirring of the thick, rich soup.  My goal was clear—I wanted to be the first to taste the first succulent spoonful before anyone else so if I could help in peeling the veggies or stirring the bubbling cauldron’s contents, I was there!

We are using Stinkbug’s personal recipe for this fantastic soup, Minestrone ala Romaňa or “Minestrone Soup in the style of the Romans” which is as good at work as it is at home.  His and mine are a lot alike and he also has a perfected recipe that he ran in his culinary column years ago, “What’s Cookin’” in The Bakersfield Californian newspaper back in the 1980s.  He says that this soup took several years to perfect but not being an abashed culinarian, I will not spend time telling you how fantastic this spectacular soup is!  Come on, let’s get our aprons and hats on and go to work! Remember—the idea is to use ALL leftovers you have on hand so wherever you have something on hand, insert it into the recipe. Also, note—this is the size of a home recipe so you would have to multiply it out, in order to get the appropriate amount for a foodservice operation.   Okay, let’s begin:

(#0552) MINESTRONE SOUP ALLA ROMANA

 

This soup is one of the very first I developed from others taught me earlier in my career.  I came up with it when I became a head chef at the age of twenty and found it to be quite successful as it allowed me to utilize leftovers in the walk-in refrigerator, thereby lowering my food cost and increasing my profit.  You and your customers will love this one!

Yield:  about two quarts / Mis-en-place: 2-2.5 hours:
 

 

Qty.
Measure
Item
Other
The Basic Tomato Stock:
3
Cups
Chicken stock
First measure
2
Ounces
Diced ham
 
1.5
Cups
Diced tomatoes with juice
 
3/8
Cup
Tomato puree
 
1
Teaspoon
Better-than-Bouillon ham base
 
The Mirepoix:
.125
Cup
Clarified butter
 
.125
Cup
Bacon fat
 
.75
Cup
Diced celery
Rinsed
.75
Cup
Diced carrots
Rinsed
.75
Cup 
Diced yellow onions
Rinsed
.25
Cup 
Diced leeks, both white and green parts
Rinsed
1.25
Cups 
Diced green bell peppers, hulled, stemmed, and de-ribbed;
.5
Cup
All-purpose flour
 
The Legumes:
1.5
Quarts
Chicken stock
Second measure
.25
Teaspoon 
Kosher salt
 
.25
Cup
Pinto Beans, rinsed, triple-cleaned, picked over again by YOU!
The Pasta:
1.5
Cups 
Chicken stock
Third measure
1
Ounce
Rigatoni or cut spaghetti
 
1.5
Teaspoons
Olive oil
 
.5
Teaspoon 
Kosher salt
 
The Garnish Vegetables:
.25
Cup
Chopped broccoli
Blanched
.5
Cup
Ripple-cut zucchini
Blanched
.25
Cup
Sliced cauliflower
Blanched
.25
Cup
Ripple-cut carrots
Blanched
.5
Cup
Fresh spinach, stemmed and sliced
Blanched & pressed
.5
Cup
Shredded green cabbage
 
1
Tablespoon
Freshly minced parsley
Rinsed & dried
Spices and Herbs:
.25
Teaspoon
Kosher salt
 
.125
Teaspoon
Black pepper
 
.75
Teaspoon
Minced fresh garlic
 
.75
Teaspoon
Whole sweet basil
 
.75
Teaspoon
Whole thyme
 
1
Teaspoon
Whole oregano
 
.75
Teaspoon
Whole marjoram
 
.25
Cup
Roland red pimientos
Drained
2
Each
Bay leaves
 
.5
Teaspoon
Ground cumin
 
.25
Teaspoon
Summer savory
 
.125
Teaspoon 
Whole Italian seasoning
 
The Finish:
.125
Cup
Freshly shredded parmesan cheese
 
1
Cup
D’Aquino Chianti Italian wine
Flambéed
Cornstarch slurry
If necessary

 

Method:

1.     Mis-en-place: have everything ready with which to work as this is the ONLY way you can make this soup in a reasonable amount of time.  Normally, a soup such as this is one that utilizes already existing leftovers within the kitchen thereby allowing the chef to use them up, which increases profit and lowers food cost.  Therefore, you can prepare it in varying ways depending upon what you have/do not have on hand at any one time.  Proceed:
 
2.     Combine the first FIVE ingredients in large soup pot over medium-low flame.  Push it onto the back burner while you make the other necessary items. 
 
3.     In a large rondeau sprayed heavily with food release spray, combine the clarified butter with the bacon fat over medium heat.  When it begins to sizzle, add the vegetables and sauté over medium-low heat.  Take care to stir them frequently so that they do not overbrown in the process.  When they show signs of tenderness and the air is fragrant with their aroma, add the flour. 
 
4.     Cook the flour over medium low heat, stirring almost frequently.  Form and cook the roux for several minutes until it thickens and shows signs of being “blond” or lightly tanned in color.  Pull it, too, off the heat and cover with wax paper as you complete the remaining tasks.
 
5.     As you do the preceding steps, do the rest of the recipe, too, such as combining the beans and kosher salt with the second measure of (boiling) chicken stock in a large saucepot atop medium-high flame.   Cook the beans for 35-45 minutes OR until they show signs of tenderness but as with everything else—DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM! As soon as you have cooked them, pull them from the stove, drain (reserving the liquid), and transfer the beans into a hotel pan filled with ice water.  Immediately CHILL them so they continue to cook no longer thereby keeping them firm.  When cold, drain and discard the cold water, setting them aside until needed.
 
6.     In addition to the preceding item, cook the pasta in the THIRD amount of chicken stock to which, you add both the vegetable oil and the salt, for 8-10 minutes OR until al dente-tender, meaning just until “cooked” but still firm.  Drain and discard this batch of stock and immediately plunge the pasta into a bowl of ice water.  Once chilled, drain it, throw away the water, and if you have a salad spinner, spin the pasta until it is dry.  Note: a manual salad spinner—sanitized, of course—works best.  Cover it when dry with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.
 
7.     Now, as for the garnish vegetables, if you cook fresh, be sure to cook them in boiling salted water or steam them over boiling, salted water.  The moment they show signs of being al dente-tender, pull them out and immediately plunge them, too, into ice-cold water.  As soon as they are chilled, drain them and spin them if you have the spinner and if not, transfer to a colander and allow them to continue draining and drying.  Note: try to minimize as additional liquid added to the soup as it reduces ultimate flavor.  Overall, do the best you can to avoid these common soup-making pitfalls.
 
8.     Finally, combine the spices together in a bowl including the pimientos.  Take great care to rinse and dry the parsley but AVOID using dry as it simply does not look the same—it gives the impression of “canned soup,” what we want is to make it look appetizing, wonderful, and mind-blowingly delicious!
 
9.     Have the cheese grated—using only fresh, never powdered or canned parmesan, only a fresh wheel of aged parmesan.  Finally, to end the preparation part, have the Chianti handy but do not flame it yet—save that for the conclusion!  Now, let us return to the soup preparation:
 
10.  Return the ROUX pot to the flame, medium is good while at the same time bringing the TOMATO STOCK to a boil.  As soon as it is boiling, begin whisking the stock into the roux, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.  Take care to use a kitchen spoon to get bits of roux out of the corners as you attempt to blend it sans any stray bits of roux.  Continue whisking over medium-high flame, adding the stock until it is gone, and continue whisking until it looks smooth, “creamy”-red, and combined. Lower the flame and allow it to perk over low flame, taking care to stir it as it cooks.
 
11. Remove two quarts of the soup and combine it with the contents of the spice bowl, whisking well, to disperse everything evenly.  Then, whisk this mixture back into the main soup pot, and again, whisk constantly until you have combined it exceptionally well.  
 
12. Now, add the beans and whatever bean liquid necessary to make a properly thick soup.  Do not overdo it making it too thick and do not under-do it leaving it too thin.  Check the flavor, readjust it as necessary, and then add the cheese.  Disperse it throughout the soup, as well, and at the same time, heat a small skillet over medium-high flame and when hot, add the Chianti, allowing it to flame up and then die down.  Pour this into the soup, too, and now it is ready for one of TWO things:
 
13. To serve the soup LATER: immediately pour it into two-inch hotel pans and place on slatted shelves in your walk-in refrigerator.  Cover each pan with a piece of wax paper, sprayed with PAM or some such other food release spray, and sprayed side-DOWN to prevent skin formation.  When very cool, pour it into sanitized airtight containers with tight-fitting lids.  Label, date, and refrigerate at or below 42°F.  Put the cooked pasta in foodservice bags and store alongside the soup.  Use it within 3-5 days. 
 
14. Serve it immediately is the OTHER choice: transfer what you need to 2.5-gallon soup containers and keep warm in the soup wells at least at 140°F.  You can stir in pasta prior to placing it there or you can have your servers ADD it as the customer’s order it.  This keeps the pasta from swelling up, thereby soaking up a great deal of liquid causing you to add more as the evening goes along.  On the other hand, if you are super busy, add the pasta the moment you have cooled the soup and heat it up a pot at a time atop boiling water in Bain Maries.  Figure out what works for you and follow your procedure.  NOTE: if necessary, use the cornstarch slurry to thicken it should it be too thin.  Normally, this isn’t necessary but if it is, use cornstarch mixed with water by whisking it into the bubbling soup.
 
15. For health and sanitation reasons, NEVER return used portions to the main batch in the walk-in.  It is best to use them up and throw out whatever little bit is left.  Never hold it for longer than FOUR hours at serving temperature; always replenish with a fresh pot to keep things safe and tasty.
 
This is one of my best all-time soups.
 

--------------------------------------------

As always, we have a great time around here and that is why we want all of you to become a part of the organization by submitting articles to us for inspection and full-credit.  It is a great thing if you would do this, as it is a symbiotic relationship: we give you the space to share your recipes and in return, you send us more and more people who will become dedicated followers of the END.  Currently of multi-diversity across the Internet, it is important that we hear the voices of more and more people from all walks of the foodservice profession —join us. We urge our readership to write to us, leave comments, and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously do not pay anything but give YOU full byline and that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it will be fun! Expect that when all of us have run through our cycle, we will be introducing some brand-new talent or so Stinky says.

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people do not care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It is sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

A final word about our soup today: the soup is a complete meal in and of itself and all it needs are French bread and butter. Leftovers may be stored in airtight containers when completely cooled and note when you reheat it, you will probably need to add more liquid at the beginning of the process.  Note, you can alter ingredients depending upon what you have leftover and what you need to move and normally, you shouldn’t have a great deal of leftovers, which is good, if you’re working with leftovers to begin with.  Soups such as this are handy to have on one’s menu as it allows you to keep moving out all leftover bits and pieces that need using up and quickly.                               

Anyhow, let us close with this impassioned plea—please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by Fleetwood Mac and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com—we want to make some money here so help us out by buying something!  Allied with them, we are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!  

Thank you!

Stinky

Stinkbug
American Bakers’ Association, ACF, CWC

This is a photo of me back in the 1980's when I was the sous chef of a large foodservice operation in Bakersfield, CA. I began my cooking career in the 1960's when I apprenticed underneath a great chef, Master Chef Ulysses S. Paz.  I have lived and worked in Hawaii, Washington State, Arizona, and California.  Even though I am in my late 60’s, I am still actively involved at a hotel here in Bakersfield, CA.

Stinkbug writes from OILDALE, CA.

 

---30---

The END Commentary for Friday, January 14, 2011 by Chef Stinkbug

 

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.

REFERENCES:

The one-and-only Chef Stinkbug wrote this original essay.

Stinkbug. “Minestrone is Vegetable Soup imbued with a Personality all its own.” The Bakersfield Californian.  20 June 1985: Food D 14.

RECIPES created by Chef Stinkbug on May 25, 1975 Bakersfield, CA.

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Thank you for joining me today at the New Elemental News of the Day, I appreciate your company and hope that you bring your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and relatives the next time you visit!

 

 

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The Chef’s Culinary Nightmare: the end is indeed coming soon so beware of December 21, 2012!

 

 

 

 

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