2010 January: Simple Ideas

Thin is In
Thin-crust pizza is popular –– and subjective. From fl at and crispy to chewy and oversized, thin-crust pizza certainly has its fair share of versions. Dough Doctor Tom Lehmann says a high protein, high gluten content fl our will produce the greatest potential for crispiness in the oven. He suggests tempering protein content down to 12 to 13 percent. Water content plays a part as well, but not by reducing it; instead, by increasing the water content, the dough can become softer and expand in the oven. Test different dough formulas until you hit the perfect thin-crust dough.

Perfect Paninis
If you’ve got sandwiches on your menu, why not take them a step further and offer paninis? A panini press can be a great addition to your kitchen and can take your sandwiches beyond the lunch menu. Most restaurants look for a panini grill that envelops the sandwich and grills both sides at once to speed up the cooking process. Some versions even heat the top and the bottoms of the sandwiches at different temperatures –– perfect if the sandwich has cheese on only one side. And don’t cheapen your panini product by serving it with plain old bagged chips. Consider a premium pasta salad or a crispy fruit salad for a perfect panini plate!

Serve Safely
When the weather turns cold, customers tend to belly up to the bar for entertainment. Over serving your guests is hazardous to both your customers and your business. The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation offers these tips to safely serve your customers: ? Train servers to track how many drinks customers have had, including the alcohol content of different drinks. ? Check IDs. Although some restaurants card if a patron looks under 30, don’t stop there –– train your servers to card anyway if they’re unsure. ? While training can be effective, establish a written policy and put it in the employees’ handbooks. Consider posting it for patrons to see. ? Coordinate with a local taxi cab company for reduced rates in return for gift certifi cates or food. By having a policy in place, and with proper training, you’re protecting your patrons and your business.

BLTs meet pizza
If you’re going to offer a BLT pizza, you’re going to need to improvise a bit to get the necessary fl avor –– after all, lettuce and the oven don’t walk hand-in-hand. Instead, consider making a salad-like pizza. Chop lettuce –– iceberg, leaf, romaine and even spinach –– and tomatoes and mix with mayonnaise in a bowl. Bake dough topped with mozzarella and chopped bacon. Top with the lettuce mixture before serving. If you want to mix it up a bit, consider using pancetta, or substituting a light ranch dressing in place of the mayonnaise. Try it out as a limited time offer fi rst and make changes as needed.