Restaurant Cleaning 101: Hire a Hood Cleaner

Every restaurant owner knows that cleanliness is one of the most important aspects of running a highly-rated restaurant. Health inspectors never go easy on you, so you have to keep everything as clean as possible whenever you can. A sparkling fresh restaurant leads to the coveted “A” health grade that causes customers to flood through your door.

From the dining area to the kitchen, cleanliness is key. In the dining area, clear plates and drinks when customers are done, and make sure an employee is walking around sweeping and picking things up off the floor during any lulls in patronage.

The kitchen is the most important area to keep clean. Leaving a mess can cause a fire or a serious health code violation. Most kitchens contain grills, fryers, ovens, microwaves, and a number of other cooking elements that require heat. All of these need to be scrubbed and rinsed at the end of the night, every day of the week. As cooking oils burn, vapors travel through the air and land on everything. This greasy residue creates a sticky mess that’s not only disgusting, but also flammable.

The easiest way to ensure the place stays clean without having to pay your employees overtime is to simply hire a local hood cleaning company. Hood cleaners are trained and certified to use sanitizing agents to wash down all your restaurant equipment and ensure they’re sparkling and ready to go for the use again. Most restaurants use hood cleaning companies on a quarterly basis, but if you can afford it, have them come in weekly.

During the week, employees can use a simple method of washing and scrubbing, which will remove most of the dirt and grime. Then, every other weekly or once a month, you should hire a commercial cleaning company to come in an sanitize the kitchen exhaust, the vent hood, and all of the heating elements. Queens Hood Cleaning Pros has a great explanation about the importance of cleaning. Visit their site to learn more about why sanitizing is so crucial to a restaurant’s survival.

Classic Baking Recipes for Beginners

You get all the baking supplies any baker will ever need, you get the enthusiasm and the passion for baking, you get all of your supportive family and friends to feed with your delectable baked goods. So, what else is missing? Oh, right – the baking recipes, of course!

When you are just starting out with baking, you can get quite ambitious with the baking recipes you want to follow. Why not first try out your baking hand at these four classic baking recipes? These timeless and delicious baked treats are easy to make and easy to love.

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies

This childhood favorite originated in Massachusetts and was invented by Ruth Wakefield in the 1930s. You can never go wrong with a good, chewy chocolate chip cookie (especially when dipped into a cold glass of milk). Check out the baking recipe below:

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

⅓ cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

6 oz. chocolate chips (dark or milk)

Tools: baking sheets, lined with baking parchment

Procedure:

  1. Mix together the butter and the sugars in a large bowl.
  2. Beat the egg into the mixture and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add your dry ingredients into the bowl. First, sift over the flour. Next, add the baking soda and salt. Mix them all together.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips into the mixture.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for at least two hours before baking.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  7. Roll the dough into tiny balls with your hands and place them in your baking sheets. Tip: you can also use an ice cream scoop to form the balls.
  8. Flatten each cookie dough ball and pop them into the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until baked.
  9. Let them cool and then serve.

2. Madeleine Cakes

These shell-shaped darlings are light, lemony, and are perfect companions for hot tea. Check out the baking recipe below:

Ingredients:

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

6 & ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 lemon (for zest and juice)

Tools: Madeleine pan, greased and floured

Procedure:

  1. Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a large bowl until mixture is light and frothy.
  2. Add butter and salt into the mixture, sift over the flour and baking powder, then gently whisk again.
  3. Stir the lemon zest and juice.
  4. Let the batter sit for at 30-40 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  6. Slowly pour the batter into the pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Let them cool and then serve them right away. Tip: Madeleines taste best right after they are baked.

3. Chocolate Brownies

Hailing from Chicago way back in the late 1800s, the chocolate brownie has gone a long way and still one of our favorites up until this day. Check out the baking recipe below:

Ingredients:

8 oz. dark chocolate, broken into pieces

2 sticks unsalted butter

½ cup & 2 tsp muscovado sugar

½ cup & 2 tsp granulated sugar

4 eggs, beaten

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

⅔ cup rice flour

⅓ cup & 1 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

3 & ½ oz. milk chocolate

Tools: square cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment

Procedures:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave. You may also melt the two in a heatproof bowl suspended over a simmering pan of water.
  3. Whisk the sugar, salt, and eggs in a large bowl until the mixture is light and creamy.
  4. Add the combined chocolate and butter mixture and vanilla extra into the bowl and whisk again.
  5. Sift over the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix them all together.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips into the mixture.
  7. Pour into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is no longer sticky when poke with a toothpick.
  8. Let the pan cool and cut tiny brownie squares to serve.

4. Blueberry Muffins

You do not need any special occasion to treat yourself to a yummy blueberry muffin – it can be enjoyed even at breakfast or any time of the day for that matter. Check out the baking recipe below:

Ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk

6 & ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

 1 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 & ⅓ cups of fresh blueberries

Tools: muffin pan lined with muffin cases

Procedure:

  1. In a large cup, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.
  2. In a large bowl, sift over the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Then, add sugar and salt. Mix them all together.
  3. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the mixture in your bowl. Use fork to gently combine the ingredients.
  4. Chill the batter overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  6. Fold in the blueberries into the chilled batter.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the batter has risen and the muffins are golden brown.

Let them cool and then serve just in time for breakfast.

Preparing Your Shop For an Inspection

When you’re going to be selling cakes to customers, or any food for that matter, your shop needs to be in top shape. Everything needs to be as close to perfect as possible. The inspector should have paid you a visit to give you your rating, which we always hope comes out as an “A”. Here are the things you need to pay attention to if you want a top score:

  1. Paperwork is in order. That means that you need to have all of your licenses and documentation on hand and ready for review any time an inspector steps in the building.
  2. The bakery is clean. When your shop is a mess it not only puts out a bad vibe for the customers, but it endangers them as well. Dirty bakeries are a breeding ground for sickness. Make sure to wipe down all hood and baking equipment and to use disinfectants and powerful cleaners to ensure a sparkling shine.
  3. There are no pests. Rodents running around your kitchen as a huge red flag. Find a pest control service as soon as possible to remove the mice, rats, termites, and more so you don’t get a fine or your license revoked. A quality exterminator is a necessity.
  4. The employees are capable. Many people experience labor shortages and simply hire whomever they can find, thinking “Ah, well just train em. No big deal.” Yes, it is a big deal. Choose only those people with experience in the food industry. The less training you have to do, the better the customer experience will be from the start.

The food establishment guidelines set forth by the government are meant to safeguard consumers, but that includes you. Follow them closely and you’ll never have a problem you can’t solve.

Why is America Obsessed with Cupcakes?

Americans are fascinated with cupcakes, and it’s easy to see why. They’re a small, personal version of the standard cake, and they are positively adorable.

Not only are they the focus of a large number of TV shows, but they can be frequently found as fashion statements as well. Shirts, purses, and accessories like earrings and necklaces–cupcake love is alive and well.

But how did the hype for these tasty little cakes begin?

No one is sure when the cupcake craze started, though there’s a few who take credit for leading the way in cupcake culture.

Some say it all began in 2000 when Miranda and Carrie from “Sex and the City” ate cupcakes from a bakery named Magnolia’s Cupcakes. After this episode aired, the bakery was flooded with tourists and customers, until it closed its doors in 2010.

In 2003, California-based bakery Sprinkles Cupcakes started selling cupcakes for $3.50. While this seems steep for a single cake, it didn’t deter patrons from buying the tasty treats. Sprinkle Cupcakes claims their gourmet cupcakes led to the start of the fad.

Then, 2009 and 2010, cupcakes became the star of numerous TV shows, beginning with Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” People tuned in to watch bake-offs and admire the bakers who turned ordinary cupcakes into works of art.

Since then, the number of bakeries across the countries continues to grow, though customers are beginning to turn away from chains like the once mega-popular Crumbs Bakery in favor of local stores.

However, the desire for cupcakes hasn’t diminished. Many bakeries continue to invent fun and exciting new flavors to satisfy Americans’ hunger for cakes.

Although cupcakes remain a fashionable and trendy commodity and bakeries devoted to this item continue to thrive, people are starting to veer away from chains and spend their money at smaller local shops. So, while cupcakes still draw in consumers interested in them, the focus is no longer on large, well-known bakeries.

The small, convenient portions of cupcakes are another reason behind their appeal. People are turning away from traditional cakes and opting for the ease of cupcakes instead.

Not only do they take away the chore of cutting a cake, but they’re also a great way to make a statement at a birthday party, wedding, or any other occasion. Plus, they make it easier to give a choice of flavors as opposed to a single cake.

According to Business Insider, cupcakes are something referred to as “an affordable indulgence,” or something that consumers are willing to spend money on even if they are on a tight budget. Cupcakes offer a feeling of joy and a sense of better times. That’s why for many, it’s easy to spend $5 on a cake.

The cupcake has seen a surge in popularity in pop culture over the last several decades. Thanks to many fan-favorite TV shows and the rise of cupcake-focused bakeries that opened shortly afterward, this yummy treat has been given a spotlight that continues to shine.

A Short History of the Cupcake

The cupcake has come a long way in the last several years. Once sidelined as food for kid’s parties, cupcakes have skyrocketed to one of the most famous deserts today. Bakeries devoted entirely to cupcakes have sprung up all over the world, and the amount of TV shows focusing solely on this tasty treat is growing.

While it seems like cupcake popularity is at an all-time high, this isn’t the first time these mini cakes have had the spotlight.

When cupcakes were first invented, people preferred them over regular cakes as the confection of choice for early 19th century bakers and home cooks. This is due in part to the fact that they baked quicker than full-sized cakes and had easier ingredient measurements.

The history of the cupcake gets a little foggy in the beginning, as 19th-century cookbooks have a distinction between cupcakes and cupcakes. At times it is difficult to tell if the term “cupcake” is referring to the treat as it is known today, or using cups to measure a cake in smaller tins or cups.

Early cupcakes were sometimes referred to as “number cakes” because of the simplicity in remembering the number of each ingredient when measuring. This was especially beneficial for a population that was still mostly illiterate.

It’s unclear who came up with the idea of cupcakes, but one possibility is that bakers poured leftover batter from cakes into small clay cups and baked the smaller “cupcakes” alongside the full-sized cake to make the most use of a hot oven when fuel was limited.

Because hearths and early ovens cooked irregularly, standard cakes often emerged burned. Cupcakes faired much better because of their smaller size.

The early 20th century brought the first cupcake tins, and from that point on, cupcakes were an item for mass production, albeit in on a smaller scale than today.

In 1919, Hostess emerged with the “CupCake,” a personal, snack-size cake. Around this time, the first cupcake bakery opened in America.

The modern cupcake craze began in the early 2000s, though no one is exactly sure how it started. In 2003, Sprinkles Cakes began selling gourmet cupcakes starting at $3.50, and they credit themselves as the primary instigators of the fad.

Others say that public interest ignited after an episode of “Sex and the City” where Miranda and Carrie ate cupcakes from Magnolia’s Cupcakes. The show was the start for various trends in fashion, so its no surprise that a culinary fad emerged from this popular show, as well.

A slew of reality TV shows centering around baking and cupcakes emerged on a variety of stations looking to cash in on the craze during this time. While many of these shows were short-lived, viewers continued to eat up anything cupcake-related. From its humble beginnings as a ramekin to an icon in American culinary television and pop culture, cupcakes have remained one of the country’s favorite treats, and will probably remain so for years to come.

8 Most Popular Cupcake Flavors in America

Cupcakes are a favorite pastry, and no matter what flavor is available, it’s hard to turn one down. There are hundreds of flavors for cakes, but of course, everyone has a favorite.

Here’s a list of the eight most popular cupcake flavors in America.

  • Vanilla

What may come as a surprise for many, vanilla is a favorite flavor, despite its reputation as a plain-Jane flavor.

While many think of vanilla as boring, many find its subtle sweetness comforting as a familiar flavor.

Vanilla can also have a complex profile, sometimes soft and mellow, and at times,     rich and decadent. It also makes a perfect complement to many other flavors for a delicious treat.

  • Red Velvet

It’s hard to say no to red velvet, which is why this indulgent flavor is perfect for a cupcake. The portioned size of a cupcake makes it easy to enjoy this delicious flavor without going overboard.

Additionally, there is something to be said about the cream cheese frosting atop a well-made red velvet cake.

  • Peanut Butter

Peanut butter, much like vanilla, is a flavor that can hold its own or pair well with another flavor like chocolate.

Peanut butter cupcakes are super tasty and satisfying, especially if the cake in question has a surprise peanut butter filling on the inside.

This flavor is a fun alternative to traditional cupcake flavors if someone is looking for a change of pace.

  • Chocolate

A list like this one wouldn’t be complete without chocolate. As timeless as vanilla, this flavor can be done a dozen different ways–double chocolate, chocolate chip, you name it.

The versatility of chocolate also makes it a tasty choice for cupcake lovers. It pairs well with just about every other flavor out there, but still holds its own as a     tried-and-true classic.

  • Carrot

Carrot cupcakes might not be the first choice for many, but it remains a favorite among Americans.

The cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of nuts on top add complexity to this treat that will delight and surprise from the first bite.

  • Funfetti

Of all the flavors on this list, funfetti may be the one that brings the most joy.     There’s something about a white cake dotted with sprinkles that makes one feel like a kid again.