Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2011’

Silence is golden?

By: Craig Munhall, Executive Chef
Have you ever noticed how sometimes people are very quiet when eating around the table?  Or the exact opposite, people are carrying on and loud?  I can remember a plated dinner with my favorite professor of all time, Dr. K., and some other students.  When the food arrived and people began eating it became uncomfortably quiet.  Dr K. said, “aaah, the angel of silence has passed over the table.”   He followed that up by asking everyone how the food was.  Most everyone said “okay.”  However, I was not too pleased.   The food was okay but it didn’t taste the way it looked, the presentation far exceeded the flavor.   On the flipside, I remember a meal in Miami with my mother and her colleagues (all professors) at “Justa-Pasta” where I couldn’t hear myself think they were carrying on so much.

Alcohol didn’t play a part in either of these two meals I mention…so, is it the chemistry of the people, the situation, the location?  I think it’s the food!  When the food’s good good people are loud and jovial and when it’s poor people become quiet and don’t want to say much.  Anyone agree?  I used to do plated lunches/dinners for 10 people and during the meal if it was quiet I would say to myself –“they’re enjoying the food” and if it was loud I’d say – “they’re enjoying the food”.  Not much difference there, however the more I did these meals I noticed that the better the food, the louder the meal.   When the food meets the expectations of the guests, they tend not to focus on the food and extend themselves outwards towards each other.  When there is doubt about the quality of the food, people go inward and have an internal dialogue or critique of the food.

The good news is that during the last plated dinner we did, the guests were so loud there was no doubt that the food was good!  The not so good news was I could tell it was louder than last time (boo).  Maybe there is a science to this noise theory and it could be quantified.  I could start bringing a noise meter and start a collection of recipes based on their noise quotient.  Here’s the proof though, has anyone ever served a meal where no word was spoken (other than my colleague Phyllis Turnage Morris who shared her silent retreat experience in A Quiet Kitchen)?  And then you find out a few days later that the food you served was at the top of their dislike list?

A Very Special Celebration

February 28, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

My sister & I recently put our heads together to plan a very special celebration for our parents 50th wedding anniversary. We started out by flying my niece, Aja, in from New Orleans for as a surprise. She’s my parents' only grandchild (well, their only 2-legged grandchild - they have a couple of the 4-legged varieties), and therefore the apple of their eye. I wish I’d been able to snap a picture of their faces when she walked through the door!
The second surprise was a dream come true for my mom. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard her talk about riding in a ‘chauffer driven Rolls’. Well, lo & behold, Prestige Limo service in Roanoke has one - a 1956 Silver Cloud Rolls Royce to be exact. It is an absolutely beautiful car! My mom was over the moon about it. She’s talked of little else since.

The Big 5 in Nutrition Labels

Recently I was teaching my college nutrition students how to read a food label. Given that it is a science-based nutrition course, we were getting more technical than the average label reader usually does. I was afraid that food label reading was going to be too basic for them, so imagine my surprise when they revealed to me how little they know about translating a food label into making smart choices. Granted, the food label does contain a lot of information that can be confusing to the average consumer & requires more “sifting” than one may prefer to do when making food choices. The government is in the process of revising the label, but one never knows how long that process may take. So it was very timely that I came across this article that listed the top 5 items to look at when reading a label. Helpful information – happy reading!

1 and 2. Serving Size & Servings Per Package: Without looking at what a “serving” is supposed to be in the package, everything else on the label is irrelevant. This is the one thing that most consumers completely overlook until they realize that they just ate two, 450-calorie servings of pizza. Oops.
Many packages that appear like they would serve one, may actually have two or more portions. (This is one of the pet peeves of the FDA and IOM have about current packages that they want to change.) Having “servings per package” and “calories per package” boldly present on the front panel would help solve this issue.

3.Calories: That’s obvious. Many of us are overweight and virtually everyone has to be aware of calories, so be sure to look at it before buying. As a general rule, consider that meals should be 450-650 calories and snacks less than 200 calories.

4. Saturated Fat: Try to choose foods that provide low numbers for saturated fat. Most women need no more than 15-17 grams sat fat per day. Full-fat cheese is the number one source in the US diet, followed by pizza so keep that in mind.

5.Sodium: You’ll quickly find out that the less processed a food, the lower the sodium will be. Watching sodium will automatically improve your diet as you’ll be eating more foods that are less processed or naturally fresh and sodium-free.


Dietary Guidelines You Can Digest

February 14, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian 

“The Dietary Guidelines, does anyone care”? This was the title of a recent article referencing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as simply a regurgitation of “the same old same old” recommendations from our government. Nonetheless, as a nutrition professional, I do care and my job is to (hopefully) get others to care too. Granted the guidelines are not exactly exciting in today’s world of social media, but with about 1/3 of our population being defined as obese & young children falling prey to “adult” diseases we need to take notice. Here's my summary of the basic recommendations:

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March Featured Recipe: Carrot & Ginger Soup

12 servings

1/2 T - olive oil or butter
1/4 cup - onion, diced to 1/2”
2 cups - carrot, evenly sliced into thin rounds
1 T - fresh ginger, minced 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp orange zest

1. Heat oil or butter over medium heat.
2. Add onion, carrot & ginger.
3. Sauté until vegetables are soft (6-8 minutes).
4. Add remaining ingredients, except orange zest.
5. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, simmer 15 – 20 minutes until carrots are very tender. Add more broth if needed to keep carrots covered.
6. Puree soup in blender or food processor.
7. Add zest just before serving.


Super Bowl Weekend Qpons!

Get your Q Super Bowl Coupons (become a fan of Guilford Dining on facebook; click at the “Qpon1″ and Qpon2” tabs to redeem coupons)!
Coupons also can be picked up in the dining hall thru tonight (Friday night). …while supplies last!

More Tao of Cooking….

By: Craig Munhall, Executive Chef
For this cooking subject – The Tao is time.  Common question:  “how long does it take to cook?” Like you have a roast beef and you want to cook it in the oven.  The first question would be what temperature to set the oven on.  But the second question would be, how long will it take?  After you have your answer, has the item ever been over or under cooked?  You followed the directions but it didn’t come out right? Well what’s up with that? There are many different variables that go into applying heat to food.  Almost all heating sources vary to some degree.  Even elevation/altitude can have an effect on cooking times (and how far a baseball travels – but that’s another subject).  Because of these variables in a professional kitchen you will often hear things like “cook it till it’s done” , or my favorite, when someone says “How long should I cook this?” and the chef says, “till it’s ready”.   This is the Tao of cooking that every chef adheres to.  We cannot say that something will take x amount of time to cook.  What we WILL say is something like check it in 20 minutes or take the temperature in an hour.  Approximations in time are something that we learn through experience.  When we don’t take this fluid approach thinner cuts of meat get overcooked and larger ones are rare, sauces and stocks don’t have the right consistency and flavor.  Just as important as how long – is when to stop.  For things like stocks and sauces, vegetables, and baking there is a need to arrest the cooking at the correct time.  Again, the food will tell you when it’s ready (and your thermometer will confirm).  You cannot blindly go on time, you need to pay attention to the food and care of it.

February Featured Recipe: Wheatberry Salad with Dried Fruit

12 servings

1 cup - uncooked wheat berries
1/2 cup - minced shallots
1/4 cup - cranberry juice
2 T - vegetable oil
3 T - raspberry vinegar
1 T - balsamic vinegar
2 tsp - dijon mustard
1/2 tsp - ea salt & pepper
1/2 cup ea - chopped dried cranberries & cherries & currants
1/2 cup - diced Gouda cheese, (2 oz)
1/3 cup - chopped green onions
1/3 cup - slivered almonds, toasted

1. Cook wheat berries according to package instructions then drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Combine shallots and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Toss wheat berries, dried fruit, and remaining ingredients with vinaigrette.
4. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

*Notes: Make this salad in advance so the flavors have time
to mellow. This salad is high in fiber, flavorful, filling and
easy to pack.