Chef's Special - Recent News

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

How to use a Knife Correctly

By properly using a knife you can avoid those annoying and sometimes painful cuts. By following these six steps you will have more control over the knife and keep the fingers holding the food out of the way.

1. Hold the knife in your right or left hand.
2. Place your index finger on the knife blade and your 3 remaining fingers on the knife handle.
3. Tighten your grip on the handle and place your thumb on the opposite side of the blade from your index finger.
4. Finger tips should grip the food item and are tucked slightly under the knuckles.
5. The side of the knife blade remains in contact with the knuckle so that the left hand (for right-handed cooks) acts as a guide for the blade.
6. The right hand does not steer the blade at all - the left is moved to position the blade for the next cut and the blade will naturally follow the knuckle sideways.

Rules for Handling Food

Always buy food from a clean, reputable purveyor.

Wash your hands, clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces before, during and after handling, cooking, and serving food.

Handle food as little as possible. Use tongs, spatulas and disposable gloves when practical.
Use only clean, sanitized equipment and worktables.

Use different dishes and utensils for raw foods than you use for cooked foods.

Defrost frozen food in a pan either in the refrigerator or in a microwave, but not on the counter.

Cook food immediately after defrosting.

Clean and sanitize cutting surfaces and equipment after handling raw poultry, fish or meats and

before working on anther foods.

Clean as you work.

Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

When removing product from the refrigerator, never bring out more than you can process in an hour.

Do not let perishable foods remaining the temperature zone for more than one hour.

Don’t mix leftovers with freshly prepared foods.

Chill all ingredients for salads before combining them.

Taste food with a clean spoon, not your finger.

Keep cold food cold at 40° F or cooler. This is especially important during picnics and buffets.

Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.

Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Cool the food before wrapping or placing a lid on the container.

Cook foods to above 140°F as quickly as possible.

Most bacteria are killed when subject to a temperature above 165° F for 30 seconds. When reheating food, cook it to at least 165° F. Also use the sanitize setting on your dishwasher to boost the water temperature sanitizing your dishes and utensils.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Proper Food Storage

In food storage our goal is to both prevent food contamination and prevent bacterial growth.

  • Store foods in a cool dry place off the floor
  • Keep all containers tightly closed to protect from insects, rodents and dust.
  • Keep frozen foods at or blow 0°F
  • Keep all perishable foods below 40°F
  • Use containers to prevent contaminating other foods or kitchen surfaces.
  • Label and date all items
  • Regularly clean and disinfect the refrigerator/freezer walls and shelves.
  • Store raw and cooked items separately if possible
  • If raw and cooked foods must be stored in the same refrigerator, keep cooked foods above raw foods. If cooked foods are kept below raw foods, they can become contaminated by drips and spills.
  • Do not let any unsanitary surface, such as the bottoms of other containers, touch any food.
  • Chill food as quickly as possible in a refrigerator or over ice. When cooking food, the thickness of the food should be less than 4 inches.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What do bacteria need to multiply?

Food Source– Some form of food is a basic requirement for bacteria to grow.

Moisture – Water is required for bacteria in order to ingest their food. Dry foods will not support bacterial growth. As well, foods with very high salt or sugar content make bacteria unable to use the moisture present. For example, bacon is a potentially hazardous food, but when cooked crisp, most of the water is removed and the remaining sugar and salt in the bacon tie up the rest of the available moisture, thereby limiting bacterial growth. Although dry foods do not support growth, any bacteria present is still alive. Proper storage and handling of foods, along with proper preparation must still me maintained.

Temperature – Bacteria grow best at warm temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. This temperature range is what we call the “food danger zone”. Ideally bacteria enjoy the same temperatures as we do.

Air – Most bacteria require oxygen to grow, but not all. There are some exceptions, one type of bacteria being botulism. Those who need oxygen are call aerobes and those who can survive without oxygen are called anaerobes. Anaerobe bacteria grow in vacuum-sealed jars, in cans, or in a large pot of food.

Time – When bacteria are introduced to a new environment, they need time to adjust before they start to grow. This time is called the “lag phase” and last about one hour. After the lag phase, with the right conditions, bacteria multiply very quickly. Then the bacteria reach the growth period, which is called the “log phase”. When the bacteria have increased to such large numbers that they compete for space, they no longer multiply so rapidly. This period of competition is called the “stationary phase” The final phase, or “decline phase”, is when bacterial cells begin to die because of lack of nutrients.

Neutral pH - Foods that are either acidic (with a low pH) or alkaline (with a high pH) will not support bacteria growth as well as a neutral pH. For example, distilled water has a pH of 7.0, which is considered neutral. Lemons have a pH of 2.4, very acidic. Ammonia has a pH of 11.2, very alkaline in nature. Most bacteria will not grow well at pH levels below 4.6. Although many micro organisms can survive in the pH range between 4.6 and 9.0, most grow best at a pH between 6.6 and 7.5. While adding an acidic substance to a food item can be a protection against bacterial growth, one should not rely on pH to stop bacteria from growing. For instance commercial mayonnaise has a pH of 3.0 which makes it safe by itself, but when you add other ingredients such as chicken for a salad, the ph level will most likely be raised making it possible for bacterial growth.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Welcome

Welcome to "Chef's Special" Blog. Please post any comments or questions you might have. Chef Richard