Holiday Fruitcakes for Your Restaurant Menu

Discover the secret to making rich fruitcakes and attract holiday consumers.

Fruitcake season is here, and with it, a golden opportunity for your restaurant to feature far out fruitcakes and attract the masses of holiday consumers to your eatery. While no one knows exactly how the dense, candied, nutty, sweet, and booze-soaked dessert became associated with the Christmas tradition, the fact is that customers wait all year long to indulge in the traditional treat. At the same time, they are ready and eager to sink their teeth into new and updated recipe.

From Fruitcake Classics to Flavorful Twists

Typically eaten by the slice and popularly given away as holiday gifts, new flavorful twists on the age-old dessert include recipes for fruitcake cookies, bars, mini-bites, shortbread, and even fruitcake waffles and donuts! Decadent no matter how they are prepared, let’s learn more about the culinary science and art of making magnificent fruitcakes. To do so, take off your apron, take a load off your feet, and prepare to take a journey into the past as we indulge in some fascinating fruitcake history…

History of Fruitcakes Across the Ages

Did you know that the modern-day fruitcake has been making the global rounds for millennium? Food historians have determined that the placing of cake loaves on the tombs of loved ones was customary as far back as ancient Egypt, over 3,000 years ago (perhaps as nourishment for the afterlife). But it was not until ancient Roman times that the fruitcake became popular and really took off. Touted for its portability and long shelf life – and hence frequently brought to the battlefields by Roman soldiers – the first fruitcakes were made of a pomegranate-pine nut-barley mash that was molded into a ring-shaped dessert.

Similarly, during the Middle Ages, fruited breads were widespread among Crusaders travelling the world and featured the addition of preserved fruits, spices, and honey.

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Your Guide to Working with Different Types of Pastry Dough

Last updated on December 24th, 2019

Discover the fine art of pastry making with this easy-to-read pastry dough guide.

If the perfect pastry is what your customers are craving, you have come to the right place! In fact, if you work anywhere in foodservice, and especially if you own a bakery, patisserie, or café, the following guide on how to make the perfect pastry is your recipe for success.

At their essence, all pastries are doughs made from fat (usually butter), flour, and water (with the occasional egg). Remarkably, it is from these few simple ingredients that some of the globe’s most decadent and beloved desserts are born including pies, tarts, croissants, eclairs, strudels and more. Similarly, on the pastry menu, are favorite foods such as baguettes, quiches, meat and mince pies, (just in time for the holidays), souffles – and so on.
So, let’s set out to explore the wonderful world of pastry and learn the art of making crusts and crafting recipes that pamper the palate with their buttery flavor and crumbly, flaky texture. On the way we will sink our teeth into the different types of pastries, learn about the history of pastry dough, learn about less familiar pastry doughs and share some secret tricks of the trade…

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Why Okra Should Appear on Your Foodservice Menu

Nutritious and delicious okra, okra seeds, and okra water appearing on menus

If Okra, Okra seeds, and Okra dishes are not part of your restaurant’s current offerings or something your catering service provides, it’s time for you and your chefs to learn why okra should appear on your menu and how you and your customers can benefit from its many nutritious and tasty properties.

Let’s begin with the basics: What is Okra? A longtime favorite in Southern cooking and originally brought to the U.S. by Ethiopian slaves, Okra is a vegetable that comes from the same plant family as cotton and hibiscus. Also known as “ladies fingers” due to its unique finger shape, it has earned a reputation as a health food and has even been recommended as a way to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

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How to Cater to Your (Sugar-Reducing) Baby Boomer Customers

Restaurants cater to Baby Boomers interested in lowering their sugar intake.

Attention all foodservice providers: Did you know that over 53% of baby boomers plan to significantly reduce their sugar intake this year and are committed to selecting products and menu items with no sugar added? Moreover, did you know that baby boomers have more purchasing power than any other age group in the U.S.? The demographic (aka “the 50-plus crowd”, born 1946-1964) also eats out more and travels more than any other generation.

This may surprise you, given that the millennial population has captured much of the limelight in recent food industry news. However, while the latter are considered the industry’s future big spenders, it is baby boomers who still constitute the largest group of buyers – and when it comes to food choices, health concerns are a major factor in their decisions. Specifically, according to C+R Research and nationwide surveys, baby boomers are most likely to “respond positively to health related products” and especially prefer foods that are free from sugar, fat, and sodium.

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Naturally Sweeten up your Menu with In-Demand Maple Flavors

Last updated on October 27th, 2019

Add maple flavors to your recipes and get a sweet increase in revenues.

Maple season is back and with the falling of the leaves comes a great opportunity for your catering service, bakery, or restaurant to add maple’s sweet flavor to your customers’ favorite dishes. And if your current use of maple still falls within the ‘maple-syrup-on-pancakes-waffles-and-French toast’ paradigm, it’s time to update your recipe repertoire to maximize maple’s full palate-pleasing potential.

Maple Beyond the Pancakes

With maple’s popularity on the rise, global markets are soaring with new products such as organic maple waters that are being used as flavoring agents in foods or as a replacement for liquids called for in recipes. Meanwhile, chefs around the world are dabbling in adding the natural sweetener to sauces, toppings, desserts (think maple pecan coffee cake smothered in vanilla ice cream drizzled with maple syrup…), baked goods, energy drinks, and even cocktails.

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Beyond Maple Syrup: Discover Birch and Walnut

Discover the latest in syrups: birch and walnut, and how to add your menu.

Did you know that there are multiple varieties of syrup beyond maple that you can offer your customers the next time they order pancakes, waffles, or French toast? Although sales of maple syrup are booming, also rising to the top of the popularity charts are a diverse menu of alternatives. Birch syrup and walnut syrup, for example, are made from sap tapped directly from the tree (just like maple), while other trees that can be tapped are elder, box elder, hickory, basswood, sycamore, beechnut, butternut, and more. Thanks to technological advancements, there are also syrup hybrids such as earthy tasting maple-walnut and nutty flavored maple-birch.

To treat your customers to an expanding menu of syrups teeming with taste and nutrients, enjoy the following guide to the birch and walnut types. As you will discover, although they are made using the same tools for tapping as sugar maples, each variety boasts many unique characteristics and can be used in cooking and baking to create novel dishes and add a savory twist to your customers’ favorite recipes.

Tapping the Value of Walnut and Birch Trees

For the past decade, teams of organic tree sap specialists (such as those at the Cornell Maple Program), alongside food technologists and manufacturers, have been researching the commercial potential of tapping walnut and birch for syrup. Among their key objectives has been determining the best tapping methods (i.e. the old-school bucket-hung-on-a-tree method where gravity pulls the sap from the tree vs. the more modern vacuum tube method where tubes are hooked up to the trees with a pump); the best times of year and climate conditions; the expected sap flow and yield; the comparative sugar levels; and the value of blending sap varieties. Last on the list: Taste tests to determine the potential of the new food products. In the words of Michael Farrell, co-founder of New Leaf Tree Syrups: “Part of the fun is seeing how people like it. Everybody loves maple, and we’ll have to see how they like these.”

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New Water Beverages Compete for the Top Spot

New, improved, and pioneering water beverages are in high demand.

If you thought you were up to speed with what’s new in the water beverage industry – think again! The oldest and most natural drink in the world has been given a modern-day facelift – and not just a makeover. In recent years, water has been experiencing a seemingly endless stream of modifications, additions, enhancements, and embellishments.

Competition in the water industry is on the rise. On one end of the spectrum, food-and-beverage moguls are busy trying to one-up each other in the realm of innovation, while smaller, local foodservice operators are stocking their refrigerators and updating their menus with a plethora of diverse water offerings.

No matter what type of restaurant, catering service, bakery, coffee shop, pizzeria, ice cream parlor, food truck, bar, fast-food joint, or other eatery you operate, staying competitive in the biz means keeping abreast of what H2O varieties your customers are craving and what ingredients and flavors your chefs can add to take your offerings to a new level.

A Waterfall of Varieties

Attributed in large part to the health-and-wellness movement and consumers’ shunning of artificial, synthetic, and sugar-laden products, the functional beverage sector (i.e. drinks that offer benefits beyond quenching your thirst) has experienced unprecedented growth and expansion. Walk down any supermarket drink aisle or scan a 2019 beverage menu and the choices are continually expanding. From bottled to canned, flavored, sparkling, collagen-infused, vitamin-infused, mineral-infused, protein-infused, alkaline-infused, carbonated, sweetened, and even chemically altered to increase the oxygen or hydrogen content, it is clear that the recent title wave of activity is more than just a trickling fad.

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How To Incorporate Figs in Your Restaurant Menu

Discover how you can add healthy figs to your restaurant menus.

Sweet and Healthy Figs Play a New Role on Restaurant Menus

Fig season is here and will continue through mid-November. If you work in foodservice and have not yet discovered the amazing flavors, textures, and array of colorful figs, it’s time to clear your plates and make room for a large serving of all thing’s fig-tastic. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the history of figs, fig fun facts, fig nutrients, fig varieties, how to cook and bake with figs and dried figs and enjoy some recommended recipes.

Figs in the Food Industry

Did you know that the edible fig is thought to be the first plant ever cultivated by humans? Eaten fresh, dried, cooked, or added to baking recipes, figs are naturally sweet, a rich source of fiber, and contain trace amounts of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Dried figs are especially packed with dietary fiber and provide 26% of the recommended daily value of manganese.

While previously the fruit has been overlooked by chefs, fig flavors and dishes are growing in popularity and are increasingly appearing on restaurant menus. Recently, they made headline news when the Swiss company Firmenich named fig the 2018 “Flavor of the Year,” while Internet searches for fig wedding cakes have seen a 500% increase in recent seasons.

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The Rise of Probiotic Beverages

Discover gut-friendly probiotic drinks and start adding them to your menu.

If you work in the beverage business, it’s time to drink in the latest buzz word in the biz: Probiotics. Whether you are a caterer, restaurant owner, or operate another type of eatery, probiotic drinks are dominating the market. In this update for foodservice pros, we’ll delve into why the fermented products are being included on multiple “top beverage trends for 2019” lists, and why you should be adding them to your menu.

The Dish on Probiotic versus Prebiotic

If you recall, we previously visited the topic of probiotics in our blog “How to Cater for Clients Who Want Gut-Friendly Foods,” where we learned that the body is full of ‘good’ bacteria that serve as digestive aids, that help prevent disease, and that provide a plethora of other health benefits.

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An Insider’s Update on Outdoor Catering

Discover the latest ideas in outdoor catering strategies to meet demand.

Great news for caterers! With the popularity of cafes, casual restaurants, and outdoor dining on the rise, there could not be a better time to be in the foodservice business. Whether you already work in the industry, are embarking on a new career as a professional caterer, or whether you want to expand your restaurant operation by going mobile, now is the time to be in-the-know and learn how you can capitalize on the opportunities to seize the market.

The Proliferation of Catering Venues

If you are looking for a lucrative opportunity in the competitive food-and-beverage space, this is it! Over the past few years, the range of events being catered has exploded, including adult and children’s birthday parties, sweet 16 celebrations, corporate catering, sporting events, art exhibits, music festivals, street food events, beach parties, and more. Moreover, in addition to craving new culinary experiences, consumers are hungry for unusual locations that stand out from the crowd, leave an indelible memory, and that are Instagrammable to boot. While terraces, patios, gardens, and parks remain popular outdoor catering picks, some of the new kids on the block include the likes of famous art museums, landmark historical buildings, private yachts, and even the zoo!

Catering Headline News

To give you a taste for what’s been cooking on the grand-scale, elite side of catering, check out the following headline news items. Then sink your teeth into some more practical, down-to-earth tools and strategies that you can use to promote your small business or local catering company.

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