Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Save on Your Food Costs With Home Preservation

No food connoisseur will deny the scrumptious taste of fresh fruits and vegetables even throughout the winter season. But purchasing produce from your local grocer during this time can be a pricey venture. Luckily we have the option of applying for financial assistance to increase our budget and there are several methods by which you can cut down rather significantly on your monthly food expenditures by simply employing traditional and even primitive methods of home food preservation. Whether you grow your own food during the warm season in your back garden, or whether you come across a surplus of apples, gooseberries, or peas from a friend or grocer, it is easy to use canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting or pickling to put away large amounts of fruits and vegetables during the season of abundance to save for later times of need.

Using Canning and Freezing to Keep Food Fresh
If you have a great quantity of produce that you would like to store for months or even years, both canning and freezing are excellent ways to keep your food with its full flavour profile and texture. Canning is a fairly simple process that you can accomplish in your home kitchen with just a few key pieces of equipment including wide mouth glass jars with lids and rings, a pot large enough to place several jars in, and a canning stand to go within the pot. By sealing the jars with heat from boiling water, you will contain the freshness of the food within the glass and prevent the fruits or vegetables from spoiling for years.  For shorter term storage, freezing is a good option to consider if you have the space. Most vegetables and fruits will need to undergo some steps of the blanching or other preparation process in order to keep their qualities in the freezer. Freeze pre blanched fruits and vegetables in tightly air sealed plastic bags or storage containers. This makes for easy recipe preparation when it comes time to use a handful of thawed berries or a quantity of summer squash in a dish.

Food Fermentation and Pickling
Another ancient practice of food preservation for the winter months is done by making the food alive, quite literally, with good bacteria. Often using salts and vinegar to create a brine, pickling and fermentation keeps food and makes it even more nutritious by essentially cooking it in its own liquid. There are many resources through books and online for detailed instructions on fermenting ingredients like carrots and cabbage to make sauerkraut, or cucumbers to make pickles. Fermentation of a large volume of produce takes just a few hours of work in the kitchen which will allow you to enjoy your produce in a unique form in the months ahead. Not only will you save money by storing your fresh food in this way, but you will also improve your health by leaps and bounds by consuming these fermented foods, which will save you money on expensive vitamins, supplements and probiotics, and other health related costs.

Dehydrating Your Food to Save
Dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables are generally quite pricey when purchased from the supermarket. But by drying your own produce that you have an over abundance of, you can save money and eat well at the same time. Dehydrating machines are a relatively inexpensive and worthwhile investment to acquire if you are intending on drying a large amount of food. Or, you can use your home oven at a very low temperature to accomplish the same process in a different amount of time. Whether you decide to freeze, can, ferment, or dry out your harvest to preserve your food, you will be saving big when you pull out a can of pears or a store of frozen corn in the winter and therefore avoid buying expensive pre packaged goods.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ramen Plus from The Maya Kitchen

Japanese Master Chef Seiji Kamura chopped and sliced, simmered and boiled as he shared tips and secrets on how to cook various ramen at The Maya Kitchen recently. Miso Ramen, Shoyu Ramen, Hiyashi Chuka and Yakisoba were all presented with that special touch that only a Japanese cuisine expert can lend. 

Try your hands in preparing this flavorful Hiyashi Chuka in your own kitchen.

140g noodle
1 pc Japanese cucumber sliced into strips
60g chasu (meat)
1 pc crab stick
egg (crepe eggs)
10g wakame (seaweed)
5g sesame seeds (toasted)

Boil noodles for 3 minutes. Transfer in iced cold water then drain. Plate noodle, garnish with cucumber, egg, chasu, crab stick, and wakame. Just before serving, sprinkle sesame seeds and drizzle with hiyashi chuka dressing.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Ayala Triangle Project - BonChon Chicken

Apple Caramel Crispy Crepe, Php 60

BonChon, which means “original village” in Korean has been so mysterious to me.  I've been hearing a lot of buzz about their garlic-and-soy chicken and I was dying to try it for over a year but never realized until last weekend when my brother and I decided to meet up in Ayala Triangle Garden branch to discuss family matters.  

BonChon Chicken is a contemporary Asian/Korean-American QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) cuisine that highlights the Korean–style crispy fried chicken claimed to be super crispy yet light and not greasy, with hot moist juicy meat, sauced with its classic soy garlic or spicy glazes. 

The Korean franchise is the only fast-food restaurant in the strip of restaurants in the garden.  A typical fast-food restaurant, it occupies a clean and fresh ambiance with artworks adorn the walls, there's an al fresco area facing the lush garden for a more fun dining experience.

 Iced Tea, Php 30

Apart from the highly anticipated Korean–style crispy fried chicken, quirky winners on the limited and packaged to order menu includes Fish and Chips, Bulgogi Noodle Soup, and the newly introduced Apple Caramel Crispy Crepe. 

Fish and Chips, Php 125

Although it does take a little while for the chicken to cook, we ate our appetizers in the meantime. We had Fish and Chips, the deep fried cream dory fish was too hot and very spicy but the fries are great.

Bulgogi Noodle Soup is a must try, very tasty!

Bulgogi Noodle Soup, Php 60

Served with rice, my perception of its well-known chicken when I finally got to try it was met with its pungent sweet-savory soy garlic sauce, moist juicy meat and crunchy texture. Portions are smaller and prices are little more expensive than Mcdonald's and KFC though.

2pcs. (in Soy Garlic) Thigh Ricebox, Php 149.00

We also tried their pork chops, looks good but nothing spectacular when it comes to taste. The pork slices were too thin and a bit expensive at Php 149.00 for 2 pcs. Minimal table service was extended in spite of BonChon a fast-food and self -service restaurant. 

2pcs. Chops Ricebox, Php 149.00

Ending our brunch with Apple Caramel Crispy Crepe made our dining experience sweet and appreciable. 

Food Quality

The project's criteria are; Food Quality, Ambiance, Service, and Cost/Prices, where  Five (5)   indicates "Exceptional Experience", Four (4)  indicates a place "worth a come back", three (3)  means "a casual place to eat", two (2)   means "acceptable", and one (1))   means "poor".

The Ayala Triangle Project:

Kanin Club
Amici and Caramia Gelateria
Chef Laudico's Bfast
Golden Spoon
Poco Deli
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Wee Nam Kee

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Save Money by Shopping at Food Co-ops

Food co-ops (the word is an abbreviation of co-operative) are organisations in which consumers band together and purchase food of good quality at reasonable prices, arranging their own sources of capital, supply, and delivery. If your finances are completely overstretched you could try to alleviate pressure on your wallet.  If you've ever pooled resources with a few friends to take advantage of a cheap bulk buy that comes in a quantity too large for one household, that's an informal co-operative, and it's an excellent savings strategy.

Are co-ops a new development?
The co-op is by no means new, as the first one sprang up in Rochdale (near Manchester) in 1844.  Called the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, it was formed by a group of workers who clubbed together to stock a few staples in a storefront for sale to members, with the business to be owned by members of the society.  The Co-operative Group (usually referred to as The Co-op), which employs over 100,000 people, is descended from the Rochdale Society, and while the company is struggling with financial restructuring, the principles underlying co-op food sales are alive and well, embodied in many locally owned co-ops across the UK.  The co-op movement experienced a renaissance when natural foods became popular in the 1970s, and a number of modern co-ops date from that era.

Which co-ops are still open for business?
The recent recession was unusual in severity and duration, and although food sales normally don't suffer during an economic downturn, this event did slow down sales at many food co-operatives, including The Co-op.  However, the co-op model is very popular indeed, and new ventures are always being formed.  Here are hints on how to find co-ops, including some of the best-known survivors that are still offering food at low cost to members.

Handy maps and databases showing your choices are available on numerous sites.  The database created by Sustain hasn't been updated since December of 2012, so you'll need to double-check entries, but it contains a large number of listings.  There's a site just for Welsh co-ops, with about 300 suggestions.  If you're taken with the co-op concept but you can't find one nearby, it's easy to find instructions on starting your own group.  Many co-ops are very small offshoots of other community groups, held in schools, church halls, and other gathering places.

The Co-op, industry stalwart boasting a store in every postcode.  The traditional image of a co-op is a small local food shop focusing on healthy foods and regional produce, but The Co-op is a conglomerate, a group of co-operatives that covers lines of work including, but not limited to, food sales. Its food sales network covers the country, and its wide assortment of foods includes a premium range of more expensive products (Truly Irresistible), a budget-priced line (Simply Value), and a healthful selection (Good Life).  Profits are distributed to members twice each year in the form of points, and if you remain within The Co-op's network of service companies you can probably find everything you need to buy with that membership discount.

Fareshares, located in London  
Fareshares is loosely structured as a spontaneous group project, open for several hours on three days each week.  You'll bring your own bags, collect your own items, and tot up your bill, then give your money to the volunteers on duty that day.  Anyone can come in and buy, and in return you'll be expected to volunteer to help.  You can tidy up when you stop in to buy, or you can arrange to restock shelves or work a shift collecting money.  It's a great way to meet people, and the shop runs on the slenderest of margins, tacking on just enough in order to keep the lights on and the doors open.  As a result, your purchases will be cheap, and most of the stock is organic.

Ipswich Food Coop
 The Ipswich Food Coop also operates on a self-service model, but it's for members only.  The markup for full members is only 6%, and the market is open every other Saturday.  You'll need to bring your own containers, including bottles for liquids, with one exception:  brown bags for dry bulk items are supplied.  The market includes a fairtrade cafe which gives members a place to socialise after their shopping is done.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dalandan (Sour Orange) Juice

Dalandan or Sour Orange is still in season and priced at just Php 20 per kilo at the market yesterday. I bought 2 kilos of fresh Dalandan for juicing. It is high in Vitamin C and help boost the immune system, perfect defense for contagious sore throat and flu in the office brought by the unpredictable weather.

Wash 10-15 pcs Dalandan fruit very well, slice fruits in half and squeeze in vintage glass pitcher. Add syrup or white sugar to desired sweetness. Add 1 liter of cold water, stir it up and serve over lots of ice.

Keep Calm and Be Awesome. Happy Wednesday!

Valentine at Chef Jessie Restaurants

It’s the Valentine indulgence that only Chef Jessie Sincioco can create. 

Have a memorable sit down dinner of Organic Garden Salad in Passion Fruit Vinaigrette Dressing, Baked Cape Cod Jumbo Scallops  in Miso Sauce, Cream of Roast Red Capsicum Soup with Cheese Crostini, Pan Fried Sea Bass with Goose Liver  in White Tomato Jus and Raspberry-Honey Sauce,  Strawberry Sorbet enhanced with Champagne, Grilled U.S. Black Angus Tenderloin Steak in Truffle Sauce  and  Grilled Tiger Prawns in Garlic Hollandaise  served with a Timbale of Wild Rice Vegetable Risotto and Sautéed French Beans. Dessert is a Trio of Supremo Chocolate Mousse, Pistachio Heart Pavlova and Cherry-Cheese Clafouti with coffee or tea and Petit Fours. End the meal with a toast of Moet & Chandon Brut.  The sit down dinner is Php2,500++ per person at Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie and 100 Revolving Restaurant.

For a more casual Valentine evening, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club also offers a buffet at Php2,000+ 10% per person. Start with freshly baked Chef Jessie’s Ciabatta Bread and rolls. Salads include the exclusive Alugbati Salad with Dulong in Bagoong Vinaigrette Dressing, Smoked Salmon Caviar Pie with Croutons, Heart of Palm Salad in Tamarind Vinaigrette Dressing, Tomato Kesong Puti Salad in Pesto Vinaigrette Dressing, Parma Ham with Melon, Spicy Tuna Salad with Tanuki and Mesclun Greens with a choice of Raspberry, Balsamic or Blue Cheese Dressing. 

Hot dishes include Carvings of U.S. Black Angus roast Beef Au Jus, Roast Suckling Pig, Roast Chicken in Garlic Thyme Jus, Barbecue Pork Spareribs, Pan Fried Cod Fish Fillet in Tomato Herb Sauce, Baked Salmon in Salt Crust with Dill Hollandaise Dressing, Grilled Tiger Prawns in Thermidor Sauce, Brown Rice Vegetable Risotto, Homemade Mashed Potato, Fettucine Al Pesto with Grilled Vegetables, Sauteed Vegetables in Season.

Those with a sweet tooth will swoon over Strawberry Cream Torte, Rare Cherry Cheesecake, Chocolate Decadence with Butterscotch Sauce, Assorted Panna Cotta, Crepe Samurai, Croquembouche Caramel, Fruit Salad Italian Style, Chocolate Kiss, Princess Carmen, Pudding Tartlets. 

Make your reservations now. Chef Jessie Rockwell Club is at the Ground Level, Amorsolo Square, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati, 890-7630, 890-6543 or 450-2996, Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie is on the 34th Floor, Citi Bank Tower, Paseo de Roxas, Makati, 750-5810-11, 100 Revolving Restaurant is on the 33rd Floor, MDC Building, C5 corner Eastwood Drive, Quezon City, 962-1016, 962-5654, 

Press Release: This means that this material is fully and directly from the company issuing the press release. This also means that this website is not the author of the statement being read. The Cuisineuer is simply providing the information for readers who may be interested.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dine In and Save

Though cost of living prices keep increasing it seems as if work wages fail to rise along. Fortunately many find a pay day loan helps them through difficult financial times.  It can be incredibly challenging to keep good quality food on-hand, especially for families with several mouths to feed. A breakdown comparing the cost of dining out versus cooking meals at home may not initially seem glaringly different for those prone to fast food establishments. Yet the long-term savings incurred by planning nutritious meals at home cannot be disputed. Some savings may be difficult to factor at first, yet added health benefits of home meals should be considered as part of the equation. With simple and affordable ingredients a world of dining possibilities are at hand; best yet, there will be no question of the healthfulness of meals prepared at home. Switching the mindset from fast to slower, more beneficial fuel for one's body will, in time, show many improvements—both in one's budget and health. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to save whilst taking the great positive step to dine in.

Coupons are no new thing. Yet it's remarkable how many forget to use them. Grocery stores offer them, as do individual food makers. There are also a number of ways in which one can save such as immediately at check out, upon return of a product label, or by mailing in for a rebate. That's old news but what may be much more surprising is just how easy coupon collecting has become. Yes the old school paper clippings still exist but digital coupons are catching up fast in terms of popularity. Look online to see if your regular store is tech savvy. If so there will most likely be options of discounts being downloaded to a loyalty card presented at checkout and the option to print some coupons, if desired. The grocery store should also have a digital copy of the weekly ad on hand and the most progressive even offer a mobile phone app as an added bonus.

Shopping multiple locations can be very beneficial but there's a caution to this type of saving's plan. For one, the travel time and transportation costs should be factored in to see if it's worth the trouble.  Are the savings big enough to warrant all that effort? It can be habit-forming, finding good deals—so make sure that truly is what's being found. Another thing to be wary of is the possibility of overbuying. Well you've come all this way, right? Unless there is an excellent deal, the duplicate items are non-perishable and can be stored, or it's a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity then don't let the extra travel time looking for savings extend the budget. That said, if planning more exotic meals it would be wise to look into markets for specific cuisines such as Latino, Vietnamese, etc. as the prices should be much better and the selection considerably broader than in your own standard grocery store.

Comparison shop
Thanks to the internet this can be done quite easily without ever leaving the house. It's well-known that some stores offer a deal for one particular item one week and then others may follow suit or have their own deal. Though one offer may be a discount for the purchase or one, a deal somewhere else may be particularly good for buying three or more. Does it take a bit of detective work? Yes. But it's a great feeling finding the real deals, and those savings can be turned around into purchasing more quality ingredients.

Shop together
This tip is particularly handy for singles and smaller families. Say you find a great deal on tangerines but know you and your family will never eat them all in time. Buying a large number of items and then letting them go to waste is not saving. So join forces with friends and keep an eye out for each other.

Saving money can become habit-forming, particularly when long-term good health is one of the positive side-effects. Yet when one gets into the game of saving and finds joy in it, it's a big win all across the board.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trusting Relationships - The Key Ingredient To Restaurant Success

Any good relationship requires trust. Restaurants rely on trusting relationships. A regular customer trusts that he or she will be provided with good service and a quality meal. They have no control over who prepares their meal or the ingredients that go into it. They trust that management has trained the staff properly, are overseeing the food preparation and have done a good job in procuring wholesome food. When you realize how much trust it takes for guests to put food in their mouths, that came from sources unknown to them and handled by strangers, it is a wonder why we have so many restaurants. It is also one of the reason so many restaurants fail, because they lost the trust of their customers for one reason or another.

On the other hand, management trusts the employees to do their jobs as they were trained to do. For employees with access to money transactions, such as wait staff and bartenders, even more trust is put into these people to handle each transaction properly. The employees must trust that management will provide a safe work environment and that they will be paid each and every pay period.

Trust must be earned before it can be given freely. You don’t simply let a new employee handle food or money without training and supervision.  A kitchen manager or chef will verify that the cooking staff is trustworthy to produce a quality product before it is delivered to the customer.  The owner or general manger must verify that the chef is sending out meals that meet the standards.

Ultimately it is the guest who must place his or her trust in your establishment the first time they order. Once your restaurant has proven itself you have gained some trust. If they return you must provide the same quality experience consistently to increase their trust in you. It only takes one “bad” night to send a customer away, never to return.

When it comes to handling money, “trust but verify”, is the phrase that pays. Good restaurant bookkeeping systems and restaurant accountants help keep everyone honest and trustworthy by verifying the veracity of each day’s transactions. Security cameras strategically placed can help people do the right thing. Once trust is lost from intentional mishandling of money it can never be regained. From restaurant accountant to server that person has no more credibility and must be fired immediately to prevent further loss.

Likewise with food handling, should any cook or prep disregard policies and standards they jeopardize the quality and integrity of the entire establishment. Most times retraining is all that is needed but in the event that employee shows no improvement they must be let go in order to preserve the delicate trust your guests have in the restaurant. Even management must be held accountable for proper money handing and service standards. Owners cannot afford a bad manager to infect the restaurant with blatant disregard for quality, standards or even outright theft. Checks and balances from accountants, restaurant consultants or secret shoppers keep everyone on their toes doing the right things to keep the public trust.

About the author
CFO Business Growth Solutions, LLC provides Nationwide Restaurant Accounting, Restaurant Bookkeeping Services, Menu Engineering, POS Business Intelligence, Menu Writing and CFO Restaurant Consulting Services.  For more information go to

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