January 29th, 2018

Food Trends: Comfort Foods

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Trends

2018 Sees the Trend Towards Comfort Foods

2018 Food Trends

2017 was the year of ethnic food trends. Gochujang, poke, curry, and sriracha everything, just to name a few. While 2018 will see a continued energizing of global foods, it will also see us hearkening back to our roots with regional comfort foods.

Now, don’t get caught in a box and think I’m going to start talking about macaroni and cheese, even though it’s a staple and it will never go anywhere. I’m looking at food traditions like meatloaf, hush puppies, regional BBQ flavors, and stews.

Comfort Foods Trend

But comfort foods aren’t limited to simply the regions of the US. Our country is a patchwork of global representation. 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants from all over the world are influencing and cooking the foods we eat. Therefore, don’t be surprised to see a rise in items like goulash, halo-halo, and artisan falafel.

We know that ramen, a Chinese/Japanese comfort food, has been intensely popular over the last few years, but are you familiar with jjigae, it’s Korean counterpart? You probably should be as it’s a unique blend of the sour, spicy, and umami flavors pack a major punch and simply make the world right when it’s cold outside.

Food Trends 2018

Also, 2018 could prove to be the year we finally see an uptick in flavors from arctic countries. Heavily smoked and salted fish, fermented root vegetables, and house-milled heirloom grain breads are examples of comfort foods you should keep on your watch list.

I’m excited to see what 2018 is going to bring and can’t wait to see how restaurants and food producers will adapt to the new trends. Drop a comment and let us know what trends you’re running into out there.

Here’s to eating our way through a new year!

Cheers!

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January 15th, 2018

Clean Label Movement

Posted in Consumer Trends, Educational, Retail

More Companies Moving Towards Clean Label in 2018

Clean Label

Consumers are continuing the march for clean label products moving into 2018. According to PMMI’s 2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations Market Research Report, 37% of consumers find it important to understand the nutrition facts label, while 91% of consumers believe that foods with recognizable ingredients are healthier.

Clean and transparent practices in food production include easy to understand food labels, responsible agricultural practices, and the use of natural ingredients. Clean labels have become so important to customers, we’ve seen the call make it all the way to the steps of the White House. With the upcoming implementation of a new nutrition facts label, the nutrients of food  products will be displayed in a manner that makes cleaner options much more visually attractive to a consumer.

Clean Label Opportunities

Clean Label Restaurants

This generates a huge opportunity for food producers to get ahead of the legislation and move toward clean labels voluntarily. QSR and fast food restaurants, such as Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Taco Bell, have been early adopters of such practices. Just this week Dunkin’ Brands and Baskin-Robbins announced they will be removing all artificial colors from their products.

Campbell’s is making a big push with their new line of Well Yes! soups featuring wholesome grains and vegetables. Additionally, Rich Products Corp., Pamela’s Products, and General Mills have begun distribution of more decadent clean label products like cheesecakes, cookies, and layered nut bars.

What’s Next?

Clean Label Food

This is only a snapshot of the current clean label movement. It will be interesting to watch the trend spread into other, less glamorous markets such as full service gas stations and entertainment vendors (like BaseBowls’ Poke Bowl in Dodgers Stadium).

Jump in the conversation and let us know what you see coming in the clean label movement and we push ahead into 2018.

Happy New Year!

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January 1st, 2018

Sambal, Your New Favorite Hot Sauce

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants, Trends

Look Out, Here Comes Sambal…

The unique funky-chile-citrus flavor of sambal is starting to garner some serious attention, and for those of us who have been graced with the opportunity to try a sambal glazed chicken wing, we know why.

Sambal

Hailing from Southeast Asian islands like Malaysia and Indonesia, sambal is a spicy blend of chili peppers, acids such as lime juice and/or vinegar, and funky umami flavors of shrimp paste or fish sauce. It gives the sauce a round, zesty flavor that is as intense as it is refreshing.

Perhaps this is why restaurants nationwide are beginning to adopt it on their menus for an adventurous update to familiar dishes. As Flavor & The Menu have pointed out in their recent article Field Notes: Everybody Sambal, “Sambal is a sexy hot sauce. The name alone seduces with the promise of faraway adventure.” I couldn’t agree more.

Sambal Chili

In Austin, TX, DFG Food Truck serves an incredible dish called the scholar, which consists of marinated vermicelli noodles tossed with spicy ham, pork belly, and vegetables, topped with fried egg and a generous scoop of sambal sauce to bring it home.

Hip nightlife chain Bar Louie features the chile sauce in their spicy Voodoo Pasta, complete with andouille sausage and sautéed onions and peppers. I’d buy that for a dollar!

Denver’s Linger, a mortuary turned restaurant (cleverly dubbed an “eatuary”) jumps on the train with a fried chicken bun topped with kimchi, Togarashi Ranch, and honey sambal sauce.

Sambal Sauce

It’s safe to say this is only the beginning for sambal as hot sauce sales are expected to hit a record $1.37 billion in 2017 according to the market research firm IBISWorld. This trend doesn’t look to be slowing down with forecasts of $1.65 billion within the next five years (1).

In what places or ways have you seen this chili sauce used? We’d love to hear about it in our comments section below.

Happy eating!

1. Zlati Meyer. USA Today. “Hot sauce industry sets tongues — and sales — ablaze.” July 30, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/07/30/hot-sauce-industry-fire-supermarkets-mcdonalds/519660001/

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December 18th, 2017

Food Truck Series: Regal Ravioli

Posted in Food Trucks, Italian, Organic, Pizza, Restaurants, Trailer/Street Foods

Regal Ravioli Food Truck Review

Regal Ravioli Austin

I grew up in a middle class family with two working parents. This meant lots of solo time to be adventurous and get into some (good natured) trouble, and it meant more than one microwaved dinner fresh from a can.

My personal favorites at the age of 8 were Hormel Chili with Beans and Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, each of which I usually finished with a bit of Cheddar cheese (don’t judge me, I was 8). The culinarians reading along are probably shuddering internally, but the truth is at the time, I loved those foods, and they were something my parents could have on hand to ensure I ate dinner.

Now, here I am 25 years later, sitting at Austin’s very own Regal Ravioli, having weird Chef Boyardee flashbacks. Now, don’t misunderstand me here, these are no canned, preformed pasta squares. This is gourmet, handmade shells stuffed with things like beef brisket and winter squash. This is ravioli elevated! But it feels comfortable and reassuring.

Run by Chef/Owner Zach Adams, who hails from Washington D.C., Regal Ravioli proves to be a truly special food truck on the Austin landscape. What makes it special? You mean aside from the fresh pasta made by hand daily, the locally sourced organic ingredients, the unique ravioli twists like roasted beet, or the prevalence of hearty vegetarian options on the menu like mushroom ravioli or sweet potato gnocchi? How about the fact that Regal has been running strong since 2011 and still holds a monopoly on ravioli trucks in Austin.

Their business is so consistent, as it turns out, they’re in the process of working on a pizza truck to fill the vacant space near them in their park. You can rest assured I’ll be stopping by to try that out. But let’s talk about what really matters, the food.

Sausage Ravioli w/ Tomato Marinara and Veloute Sauce

Sausage Ravioli

An instant classic. Pasta on the ravioli is a perfect al dente, nice fennel-y sausage on the inside with touch of pepper, and a bright, fresh tomato sauce made with fresh, aromatic basil.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Bolognese Sauce

Gnocchi Austin

Good flavor on the gnocchi, however they went past cooked and into mushy, which is a shame. However, the Bolognese sauce is a real treat. Fresh and bright yet still meaty and savory, simply delicious.

Mushroom Ravioli w/ Pecan Pesto

Mushroom Ravioli

This was a real showstopper. So much flavor in such a little pillow. Fantastic mushroom and herb filling with a hint of truffle to really get the nose going. The pecan pesto is creamy and nutty while maintaining a cheesy quality that’s divine. I need more thumbs to put up for this dish.

Roasted Beet Ravioli w/ Caramelized Red Onion and Orange Zest

Italian Restaurants Austin

Let me lead with the fact that I don’t like beets, however, I love culinary risk takers. This dish was definitely a risk taker. While I thought the dish could have benefited from additional sweet/tangy flavors (i.e. Balsamic vinegar), the execution was perfect. Everything was cooked well, fit the profile, and was absolutely unique.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Caramelized Onion, Poblano Pepper, and Gouda Veloute

Italian Food Trucks Austin

There’s something decidedly wonderful about the combination of winter squash and smoky peppers. And, apparently, if you take those two items and stuff them in pasta and smother it with Gouda cheese sauce it goes from wonderful to amazing. Great combination, unique twist, all around outstanding.

Handmade Meatball

Italian Food Austin

I’ve long felt a good ruler for quality when it comes to classic Sicilian Italian fare is the meatball. If I use that rule then Regal is doing great. Flavorful meatball, not too dense, not too salty, nice herbs and garlic, and definitely more meat than binder. Cuts with a fork but doesn’t crumble. Nailed it!

Broccolini

Quick Italian Austin

Hey, after all that pasta I needed some fiber, and Regal’s broccolini is a complete win. Charred just enough to compliment the bitter notes, cooked nicely with a bit of crunch left, and served with roasted garlic and a wedge of lemon. I could’ve eaten 3 orders of this easy.

So there you have it friends. Another Austin food truck, another delicious meal. Thanks Regal Ravioli for being the standard bearer of what delicious, home-style Italian cooking should be. I’m looking forward to seeing what you can do with a pizza (don’t sleep on the broccolini).

Until next time,

Cheers!

Regal Ravioli
1502 S 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704
https://www.regalravioli.com/

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December 4th, 2017

Green Tomato Dashi Recipe

Posted in Educational, Food Trends, Japanese

Green Tomato Dashi Recipe

Dashi Recipe

One thing we love to do here at Paradise is eat, and eat well. Therefore, we want you to eat well too! And to help you along, when we find a great recipe we just can’t help but share.

Today’s recipe is for green tomato dashi, and oh is it a winner!

Dashi is a traditional Japanese cooking stock or soup made most commonly with kombu (edible kelp) and dried fish (i.e. bonito flakes or katsuobushi). It makes for a very flavorful, exotic broth great for soups, poaching seafood, or steaming clams. See what other great uses you can come up with for this savory, umami packed broth.

Green Tomato Dashi: 32oz

  • Water – 18qt
  • Kombu Sheets – 8ea
  • White Soy Sauce – 1/2 C
  • Salt – As Needed
  • Bonito Flakes – 4 C
  • Green Tomato – 1 ea
  • Vegetable Oil – As Needed
  • Black Pepper, ground – As Needed

Directions

  1. Combine water, kombu, white soy sauce, and salt in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove stock from heat and add bonito flakes, rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
  4. Toss tomato in oil, salt, and pepper and smoke for 2hrs at 225*F. It should be very soft and wilted.
  5. While still hot, blend 3 parts dashi to one part tomato until smooth. Thin out with more dashi if necessary.
  6. Strain once more through fine mesh if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

Soup Recipes

A special thanks to Plate Magazine for the awesome recipe.

Thanks for reading along and let us know what awesome uses for the green tomato dashi you found.

 

Cheers!

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November 13th, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipes

Posted in Educational, Food Trends, Recipes

Festive Thanksgiving Recipes

Nothing beats the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate turkey day then with some fun, delicious new Thanksgiving recipes!

Thanksgiving is a favorite for most chefs and foodies. It’s a whole day dedicated to feasts and gratitude. How can you beat that? So whether you’re cooking for the entire extended family, or just a small group of friends, check out these ideas to update your traditional menu.

Thanksgiving Food

Photo courtesy of platingsandpairings.com

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Check out this awesome twist on a classic Thanksgiving vegetable side. The cranberries and balsamic offer and perfect sweet and sour flavor to balance out the roasted bitter notes of the sprouts. See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Recipes

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Squash Soup with Chile Puree

Here’s an exciting Southwestern flip on a classic fall soup. The chile puree offers an inner warmth to the squash soup that can’t be beat. Even the skeptics will find themselves surprised by this new flavor. See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving food

Photo courtesy of epicurious.com

Peking Style Roasted Turkey

Looking for an Asian flare on your traditional roasted turkey? Look no further.  Roasted in the Peking style, this turkey combines that flavors of soy, molasses, orange, and ginger to make an enticingly unique bird. See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving desserts

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Ancho Chile Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without at least 1 pumpkin pie. And this one’s a zinger! Ancho-chiles (I’d recommend a puree over dried powder for more flavor) are added to the mix for a smoky, somewhat fruity pepper taste. See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these recipes help inspire you to twist up your Thanksgiving menu this year. From all of us at Dish-Bliss and Paradise Tomato Kitchens, happy Thanksgiving!

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October 31st, 2017

Spooky Halloween Recipes

Posted in Educational, Recipes

I Scream, You Scream, for Halloween!

Happy Halloween Dish-Bliss readers! It’s that time of year for witches and goblins and vampires (oh my!). Here at DB and PTK we’re ready to dance the night away with Winifred Sanderson and The Pumpkin King.

But all that excitement is bound to stir up your appetite for more than just brains. We’re here to help you avoid the sugar coma induced by gorging on candy with three fun Halloween recipes. These are bound to please a whole murder of crows, or just a couple spooks resting their bones at home for the night.

Halloween Food

Photo Courtesy of plainchicken.com

Pizza Skulls

Check out these easy to make stuffed pizza skulls for a delicious handheld meal fit to quench that cannibal craving for meat! See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Treats

Photo courtesy of womansday.com

Spider Dipper

Look out for fangs on this eight-legged freak. Instead, tear off a leg for a savory snack that’ll satisfy your lust for carnage, and bread sticks! See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Recipes

Photo courtesy of thegunnysack.com.

Meatball Pumpkins

All the festivities without the fright. These meatball pumpkins are the perfect Halloween food for all the monsters in your life. See the recipe here.

 

 

 

 

 

From all of us here at Dish-Bliss and Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Happy Halloween everyone!!!

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October 2nd, 2017

Food Truck Series: Dee Dee Thai Food

Posted in Food Trucks, Restaurants, Reviews, Trailer/Street Foods

Food Trucks:
Dee Dee
Northern Thai Food

Thai Food

 

It’s time for a new Food Truck review and I’ve got a taste for Thai food today, lucky for me, Austin is always there to satisfy my whims. With all of the great Thai in town (seriously, there is some GREAT Thai food here), I wanted to venture somewhere new to me, but popular among the people. That’s what led me to Dee Dee.

Owned and operated by husband and wife team Justin and Lakana, Dee Dee (which translates to Good Good) focuses on serving street-style Thai food from the country’s northern region. Apparently, they’re doing a good job, because only 20 minutes after opening the line was 15 people deep and running a 45-minute wait on food.

So, let’s look at the food.

Moo Ping

Thai Food Austin

These expertly grilled pork skewers were tender, fatty, and full of flavor. As great Thai food does, this dish balances sweet, salty, spicy, and fishy umami flavors wonderfully. Fresh citrus and cilantro cut through all these flavors for a clean finish.

Pad Ka Pow

Thai Food Trucks Austin

Aside from being fun to say, the Pad Ka Pow packs a fragrant punch with ground pork stir fried with Thai basil and homemade chili paste. The perfect flavor comes with a combination of the fishy pik nam pla sauce and the runny fried egg for a bit of rich fattiness in with the pork and rice. This is my kind of comfort food.

Somtom

Best Thai Restaurant Austin

I truly love complex flavors, especially when you’re not expecting them. The somtom fits that bill perfectly. What looks like a simple vegetable dish is actually packed with sweet, sour, citrusy goodness that’s balanced perfectly with crunchy blanched peanuts. Super fresh and irresistible.

Om Gai

Food Trucks Austin

Ok, to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed when I saw this dish. At first glance, this one is a little bland, but once again, Dee Dee proves to be all about the flavor. The dill and lemongrass bring fragrance and elegance to a hearty, fatty bone broth garnished with zucchini and thinly sliced chicken. The side of sticky rice for dipping in the broth is a great touch.

Mango Sticky Rice

Great Food in Austin

This is a very simple dish, but executed very well. Sweet but not too sweet sticky rice cooked perfectly topped with bright, ripe mango, and finished with a drizzle of sweetened coconut milk. This didn’t disappoint, but I also thought it could use something to make it more unique. A fun spice, a crispy garnish? Maybe both? Room to improve here.

Dee Dee Thai Food: Conclusion

Dee Dee performs even better than its name describes, more like Great Great. Fresh, vibrant ingredients, complex yet well-balanced flavors, and expertly prepared sticky rice make Dee Dee my new go to restaurant for comfort food (don’t worry Ramen Tatsuya, you’re still up there too).

Feel free to comment below on your favorite Thai foods or places in Austin you think I should visit. I’m always looking for my next favorite meal.

Cheers!

 

Dee Dee
Northern Street Thai Food
1906 E Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78702
http://www.deedeeatx.com/

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September 18th, 2017

Chile Pepper 101

Posted in Educational

An Introduction to Chile Peppers

Chile Peppers

Let’s kick this right off by covering a little spelling and grammar. Chile, the proper noun, is a South American country that lies between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Chili (notice the “i” on the end), is a stew made of peppers, meat, sometimes tomatoes, and depending on the side of the argument you’re on, beans. Finally, a chile, is a fruit of the plant from the Genus capsicum. There, I’m glad we cleared that up.

Now we can talk about chile peppers and all their glory. Recently, we posted a blog titled “Hot Sauce 101”, which was, as the title suggested, an intro to how hot sauce is made. So, we thought it would be appropriate to post a “Chile Pepper 101,” discussing the finer points of this wonderful fruit.

Chile

Chiles are native to the New World and were originally dubbed “peppers” by Christopher Columbus, however they are unrelated to peppercorns. Chile peppers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they get their heat from capsaicin, a chemical stored in the plant’s placental ribs. Hot, dry conditions yield peppers higher in capsaicin, and as a rule of thumb the smaller the pepper the hotter it is.

Chile pepper scoville

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/scoville-scale-for-spicy-food-2013-11

The heat of capsaicin is commonly measured on the Scoville Scale (developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912), a subjective rating designed to measure the perception of capsaicin in chiles. The scale ranges from 0 (bell pepper) to 16,000,000 (pure capsaicin). The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

Asian, Indian, Latin American, and Mexican cuisines rely heavily on chileschili peppers, which makes sense considering the climates of these countries. They can be used fresh, whole, chopped, stuffed, roasted, dried, ground, re-hydrated, pickled, or pureed. They are versatile in heat, flavor, and application.

A word of caution. When working with chiles, especially the hotter ones, be sure to wear gloves. The last thing you want to do is rub your eyes (or a more sensitive area…) after dicing up a fresh habanero. I can promise you, that does not end well.

Thanks for reading along, now go forth and eat!

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September 4th, 2017

Chef Tip – Thermometer Calibration

Posted in Tips

Re-calibrate Your Stem Thermometer

Cooking Tips

No matter if you’re a professional chef, or a home cook, more than likely you’re using a stem thermometer once in a while (especially on your chicken I hope…). They’re inexpensive, accurate, and compact. Plus, they don’t need batteries!

But ask yourself, when’s the last time you calibrated your thermometer? Have you ever?

Well, if not, or if you just need a refresher, it’s an important task to ensure you’re getting an accurate reading on your foods. They should be calibrated weekly and always after being dropped.

Let’s take a look at how to effectively calibrate your stem thermometer.

  1. In a perpendicular fashion, insert the stem of the thermometer into the hex shaped hole on the end of the pocket case.

  2. Fill and glass with crushed ice. Add cold tap water until the glass is full. Insert the thermometer stem into the center of the glass, using the pocket case as a rest.
    • Note: Try to prevent the stem from touching the bottom or sides of the glass. This could slightly effect the reading due to the variation of ambient temperatures.
  3. Allow the stem to rest submerged until the needles has fully stabilized. This could take up to a minute. At this point, turn the head of the thermometer against the walls of the hex mount in the pocket case in order to move the needle. Turn either left or right until the needle is on 32*F (0*C).

    Thermometer diagram

  4. To double check the accuracy, follow the same procedure except with a pot of boiling water. The temperature should read 212*F (100*C).
    • Note: Water boils at 212*F (100*C) at sea level. Areas of high elevation will have a lower boiling point. For more information on this subject see the USDA guide on High Altitude Cooking and Food Safety.

That’s it! Now you can rest assured that you’re serving safe, perfectly cooked food to your family, friends, and/or customers.

Thanks for reading along, now go out and eat some food!

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