In The Kitchen

2009 April: Heat it Up

2009 April: Heat it Up

Jalapeños bring heat to pizza while keeping the flavor profile of the pie firmly rooted in the Western Hemisphere. That still leaves an open ethnic range to play in — from Mexican to the broader Latin and from Southwest to Cajun. Although chipotles (dried and smoked jalapeños) may be hogging most of the media limelight,More »

2009 March: Spinach Special

2009 March: Spinach Special

Love it or hate it, spinach has the potential to be a big hit on your menu and can be utilized in appetizers, pizza, pasta and entrées. I have loved spinach since I was a kid. In sixth grade, at recess, when most kids went across the street with their pocket full of change toMore »

2009 February: Going for a Dip

 By: 
2009 February: Going for a Dip

Pizzerias across America have traditionally offered very few creative appetizers on their menus, preferring instead to focus on the pizza itself. In an effort to boost revenues and remain competitive, however, operators say that by offering more appetizers, utilizing ingredients they have on hand, they are able to offer variety without sacrifi cing food cost.More »

2009 February: Fried and True

2009 February: Fried and True

The appetizer section of menus has taken a beating in the many Chicago restaurants I visit every day in my role as chief restaurant critic for the Chicago Sun- Times. I see customers moving away from expensive appetizers (and, believe me, the price of apps have gone through the roof) and moving directly to anMore »

2009 January: The Meat is On

2009 January: The Meat is On

As one of the basic staples of any Italian menu, a flavorful meat sauce makes the difference between an okay dish and a top seller. That’s why most operators don’t mind the time and effort it takes to make a savory meat sauce or a richer alternative, Bolognese. Many recipes for Bolognese call for veryMore »

2010 November: Mama Mia!

2010 November: Mama Mia!

From Messina on the Northeast corner of Sicily to Trapani on the west coast, Sicily has, over many centuries, felt the infl uences of Greek, Roman, and Spanish culture. That minestrone of civilizations has had quite an impact on the cuisine of this fabled island. Often the term cucina povera, or the cooking of theMore »

2010 November: Dough Doctor

2010 November: Dough Doctor

Q: We are having a problem with our dough growing in the cooler.         A: There are a number of things that can result in the dough “blowing” in the cooler. The first cause could be excessive amounts of yeast in the dough. Most pizza doughs perform best when the yeast levelMore »

Oversized pizzas can bring in big profits

2010 October: Perfect Pies

There’s something to be said for an over-sized pizza: It’s big. How big? The average size for pizza these days is 14 inches in diameter. Anything around 18-inches in diameter or above is generally considered “oversized.” That said, pizza doesn’t always need to be round. When working with an over-sized pizza, consider going rectangular byMore »

2010 August: Perfect Pies

2010 August: Perfect Pies

There are so many ways to slice this pie –– using fresh tomatoes –– I am not sure where to begin. Is there anything more glorious, sweeter or sensual than biting into a dead-ripe tomato? I did that throughout the summer months in my youth. Those 100-plus tomato plants in our backyard garden never stoppedMore »