Lojay’s Foods

Lojay's Foods

It has often been said that “All good things come to those who wait” which in a lot of cases is true however in the world of enterprise the correct saying should be ” All good things come to those who bust their ass to make it happen” and since launching my attempt to start a small business I am finding the latter statement to be so very very true.

Lojay’s Foods is the business I have started in an effort to bring Craft, Artisinal, Small Batch condiments and sauces to the people of the region where I live by means of utilizing the four Farmers Market we have.

Now normally one would think that the hardest part of starting a food related business is coming up with the recipes for the items you wish to sell but you would be oh so wrong…… it is the endless amounts of paperwork that is involved. There are Business Plans to draw up, Marketing schemes to devise, Advertising, Web Sites, Financial issues to resolve, Equipment to update or purchase etc etc and all of this has to be put in place long before you can even begin to think of starting production.

So why then would I even think of entering the looney tune world of food production/sales? Easy….. people love this stuff and who am I to disappoint.

I will attempt to keep you up to date on the goings on with this venture providing of course that I can stay out of the nut house.

Until next time……..

                                 Bon Appetit

 

New Venture

New Venture

It’s often been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well I’m happy to say that this idiom has long outlasted it’s usefulness as this “old dog” is about to embark on a new venture that will, to say the least, be exciting.

Now before I unveil what this new venture is I wish to supply a little background information.

I only started serious cooking in 1997 after my wife was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t cook anymore due to her illness. At the time I didn’t know how to do anything except BBQ burgers and boil water so the whole idea of cooking for her and 5 kids was rather daunting however I found my savior in the T.V. show “Essence of Emeril” and my culinary career took off.

Fast forward a few years and my wife is fine, I’ve retired from my regular job and have graduated from Culinary School (at the age of 60) and I am preparing for the newest chapter of my life.

So what then is this new venture?

I am going to attempt, at the age of 63, to bottle and sell my own line of Condiments based on recipes I have developed over the years and ones that people love. It may take a while to get going but with luck and some hard work I can get to the point where I will have a booth at our local farmers market and my company will be a success.

I will try  to keep you updated on how things go.

Until next time…….

                           Bon Appetit 

Burger Essentials

Burger essentials

Burger Essentials

The warmer weather is finally starting to appear and with that comes thoughts of flowers, the smell of fresh cut grass and of course….. BBQ’S. 

Now everyone has their favourite food to make on the BBQ and I’m no different but for those days that are really busy and I want something tasty my fall back is Burgers and as I have said before for every person who makes burgers from scratch there are different recipe ingredients but what is often overlooked are the utensils used to make the patties.

This then is my take on the three most important implements/utensils needed to make burgers from scratch.

First:  A good old fashioned Ice Cream Scoop. Over the years I have found that your normal everyday ice cream scoop holds an ideal 5 ounces of burger meat which means you don’t require a scale.

Second:  Patty Paper is one of those things that are generally only used in restaurants when making burgers however they are just as important to the home cook for the simple reason that the paper makes it easier to thaw and separate the patties come cooking time.

and……

Third:  A Patty Maker saves time and aids in forming patties of equal size and thickness which makes for more even cooking.

There you have it another “Simple but awesome tip from my kitchen to yours.”

Until next time………

                            Bon Appetit

Spill Clean Up

Spill Clean Up

Spill Clean Up

If you are like me and have the occasional “klutz moment” in the kitchen you generally know how to clean it up really quickly however there is one mishap that quite a number of people encounter but don’t have the foggiest idea how to fix…. Spilling cooking oil on the floor.

Having spent years working in commercial kitchens I encountered this particular “hazard” many many times and found it odd that seasoned line cooks would immediately reach for the bucket of water and a mop in order to clean it up all the while not remembering that the water will simply spread the oil because, as we all know, oil and water don’t mix.

So you may ask what is the correct way to clean up such as mess? Plain old Kitchen Salt poured on the oil and left to dry. 

Now I don’t know the science behind this but I guarantee it works. Once the salt has dried simply sweep it up and no one will ever be the wiser.

So there you have it another “simple and easy kitchen hack from my kitchen to yours.”

Until next time……

                            Bon Appetit 

 

Tefal Actifry

Actifry

Tefal Actifry

 

I used to have a Bravetti™ Deep Fryer, you know the kind…. took four liters of oil to fill it then it took forever to heat up and depending on what you were making it could be hit and miss on the doneness. The other pain was the clean up….. It was a mess to drain because you had to filter the oil into a container without spilling oil all over the kitchen, store the filtered oil somewhere and then clean the appliance without damaging the heating elements and not to mention the fact it was a big appliance and took up a bunch of counter space.

Well I finally got tired of the Bravetti™ and after cleaning it up I donated it to Value Village and then went on the hunt for a replacement.  I am happy to say that the Actifry™ is head and shoulders above what I used to have. Not only is it a healthier alternative as it uses 2 Tablespoons of oil and HOT AIR but once you close the lid and set the timer it is instant start and the timer goes off when your food is done. The clean up is a snap as all the parts come apart very easily and soap and water is all I have ever needed. I have used this machine for French Fies, Chicken Fingers and Shrimp with great success and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Oh and…. it fits in the corner of my counter thereby leaving me work space.

So if you are looking for a deep fryer I would highly recommend giving this one a whirl…. you won’t regret it.

Until next time……..

Kitchen Hack

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Kitchen Hack

I was cleaning up the other day when I came across this long lost Cast Iron pan and was sad to see the shape it was in.

In days gone by this guy would have been tossed however with the cost of things these days it was worth looking for a way to rescue it. Enter the Internet and a whole slew of ideas on how to bring it back to life. This particular hack seemed to be the easiest and since I was feeling a bit lazy I went with it.

I’m here to tell you this works and works very well……. In my  case it took less than 5 minutes to transform the above to this……..

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AND…. I used TWO simple ingredients—– Kosher Salt and half a Potato. That’s right!!!! Salt and a Potato… who’d a thunk it.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • Kosher salt
  • Potato
  • High heat point Cooking Oil – Corn oil or Canola Oil

Putting it all together:

  1. Put a thin layer of salt in the bottom of the pan and, using the potato, scrub the pan with moderate pressure.
  2. Rinse the pan and repeat if necessary.
  3. Rinse out the pan with warm water and dry thoroughly.
  4. Re season the pan by heating it over a medium low heat and when hot enough brush on a thin layer of the high point oil and “cook” for about 20 mins.

There you have it. This may not be a “simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond” but it is a kitchen hack that will last a long time.

Until next time……

                           Bon Appetit

Electric Griddle

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My very first kitchen job was as a prep cook for a chain restaurant and they had a rather large menu so we were kept hopping all day and time was a factor. One of the menu items was a “Chicken Taco” using seared and oven cooked chicken breast. One day I asked my trainer how come we were searing the chicken breast, in batches, in frying pans instead of using the flat top thereby getting it all done in one shot and her answer was “because someone would have to clean it” ????? Needless to say this answer completely floored me. Thankfully the subsequent places I worked at used their flat tops and it made life so much easier and with that memory in mind (also because I can’t afford a commercial flat top) I purchased an Electric Griddle. 

The one I bought, after comparing various models, is the Starfrit™ The Rock family size and it works very well.

Here then is my review on this product.

Pros:

  1. Heats up quickly
  2. Cool touch handles
  3. Large size – 19 x 13 cooking surface
  4. Non-Stick surface
  5. Removable grease tray
  6. Easy read temperature dial
  7. Cleans up with just a little soap and water
  8. Reasonable price tag –  $60.00

Cons:

  1. The only real drawback to this product is its size. It takes up a good amount of counter space when in use and finding storage space when it’s not being used is a bit of a hassle.

All in all I would rate this product 8 out of 10 and I would recommend it to anyone.

Until next time………

                            Bon Appetit

 

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Getting older

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Getting Older

I have just celebrated my 60th birthday and with the help of my family, particularly my wife and daughter, it has been an absolute blast but it also brings home the fact that, yes, I am getting older and that is not something I can do anything about.

Now in the restaurant/restaurant kitchen environment this can, despite experience or training, ring the death knoll for someones “career” aspirations of working in a kitchen and cranking out killer food to appreciative customers. Also there is absolutely NO WAY a hiring manager will tell you your age is stopping you from getting hired because it’s against the law to discriminate based on age.

So what, then, is a body to do especially when they have spent month after month in a class room learning to be a better cook?

The most logical answer is to “keep swinging for the fence” in hopes of landing a job and therefore making the hard work and stress of school life worth it. There is an other option however…..  START YOUR OWN PLACE…… 

Now I know this option is not ideal for the majority of us who want to work in a commercial kitchen, especially since we don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to get off the ground, however it is an option and maybe, just maybe, the kitchen gods will smile down on you and say “here’s your chance now what are you going to do with it?”  What I mean by this is that there is a small restaurant near me that is currently up for sale. It’s not very large which suits me just fine however they have it extremely overpriced for the type of place it is and the amount of business it does. On the plus size this particular establishment has been in business for close to 40 years and the current owners are only the second set of owners this place has had so it definitely has something going for it.

Looking at all of this I now have a clear plan of attack, at least for the immediate future, and that is to put together a Business Plan with the intention of purchasing the small restaurant once the price comes down and in the meantime I’ll keep “swinging for the fence” and hope I land a full time job in a kitchen.

That’s it for now my friends and until next time……….

BON APETITE

 

 

I’m baaaaack!!

Chef Paul

 

It’s been a little over six months since I last posted anything here and it’s not because I don’t like you folks anymore it’s just that between School, Work and Home I don’t have more than five minutes to myself these days and, yes, you did read that right SCHOOL.

For the past six months I have been in Culinary school Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. which meant getting up earlier than I was used to (I’m semi retired), doing homework which I haven’t done in over 40 years and then juggling my home life and my part time job…. can you say BUSY?

Our last day of class is March 10th and we need to do a co-op before we can graduate in April and get our certificate that basically says we are a certified COOK and we are qualified to work in a restaurant kitchen. Now I have been to two places that, due to the cuisine on their menu, gets my engine all revved up—– if you know what I mean. Both of these establishments do Southern U.S.A. BBQ and Smoked meats along with the various and sundry side dishes one would expect in a southern style restaurant. You know the stuff—- Braised Collard Greens, Mac N Cheese, Red Beans and RiceEtouffe (just the mere mention of these dishes gets my mouth watering) . So far I have not heard back from either one but I’m still hopeful and if all else fails then the hours that I have accumulated at work since the program started can be used for my co-op hours and I can then look forward to graduating in September.

If the latter happens and my co-op gets finished early then I will go look for a better job and do what I love to do—— COOK!

That’s it for now my friends and my next post should not be another six months in the making—– I hope.

Until next time……….

BON APPETITE

 

FoodSaver 2000

Food Saver 2000

The song by the Boomtown Rats —- “I don’t like Mondays”—- has been playing in my head most of the day and this is because, well, it’s Monday. Now normally I would wholeheartedly agree with the title of the song however today is a bit of a different Monday for me because I have been able to play with a new kitchen gadget—– my FoodSaver 2000™. 

For those not familiar with this particular gadget it is simply a food vacuum sealer. You know the kind—- place the food in the bag and vacuum seal it so your food stays fresher and longer in the freezer and when I say longer I aint whistling Dixie. For instance the reference guide that accompanies the product states that beef,pork and lamb under normal storage has a freezer life of 6 months but with the FoodSaver™ it’s 2-3 years!!! If this is the truth and not simply marketing hype…. and I don’t think it is hype…. then I don’t know why I didn’t buy one earlier.

These things are so easy to use. Simply measure out the length of the bag you need, cut on the dotted line and seal the bag. Put whatever you are freezing in the bag and follow the instructions printed on the inside lid…… it’s a can’t miss procedure as is evidenced by the Bahn Mi Pork Butt chops I sealed for future use. The best part is this one is relatively inexpensive at around $114.00 (that’s Canadian dollars).

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I have a feeling this little gadget is in store for some heavy usage around here because now I will be buying in bulk and freezing all kinds of things and as the product reviews I have read indicate this machine will last between 5 and 8 years so it’s already looking to be a smart investment.

If you don’t have one I would recommend you make the investment and cut down on food waste and your grocery bill…. you won’t regret it.

Until next time…….

                        Bon Appetit