February 3, 2013 |

2010 May: Ask Chef Jeff

By Jeffrey Freehof

Q: We recently started serving freshly baked bread in the dining room with bottles of olive oil for dipping. We didn’t realize how expensive it would be going through a lot of oil. Is there a way to cut this cost?




A: An alternative to buying smaller bottles for each table is to buy cases of gallons of oil that will bring you a better value. You can find some nice glass bottles to put your oil in with a pourer in the top. If this is still too costly, I suggest using a 25 percent olive oil blend with 75-percent soybean or canola. One of these should work for you.

We want to add fried mozzarella sticks to our menu, but we really want to make our own. How do we go about preparing them?

You want to find a nice loaf of low moisture mozzarella, cut into ½ inch- to ¾ inch-thick slices and then cut the slices into the same size sticks. Use the standard breading procedure (fl our, then egg wash, then bread crumbs). Freeze for five to 10 minutes, then put them back in the egg wash and into the breadcrumbs. That second coating of crumbs will prevent the cheese from oozing out of the breading while frying. Freeze the sticks until ready to fry.

Business is down and I want to add delivery. There is a particular neighborhood where the crime is high and I wouldn’t want to send a driver there, but I’m also worried about being accused of discriminating. What’s the best way to handle this?

Adding delivery is a great idea. But, remember, it usually takes time to build. Don’t worry about people accusing you of anything. You decide where you will deliver and that’s it. You can reply to anyone accusing you of discrimination that you have added delivery to neighborhoods that will positively impact your business. Let them know that their neighborhood doesn’t fi t the criteria for delivery. You can also be very honest and say that because of the crime rate, you have been advised that is would be a poor decision to send drivers there. It shouldn’t be a problem.

We saw a demo you did at Pizza Expo and you used pesto in a couple of dishes. Can you tell me how you used it and where can we buy it?

Pesto can be used straight tossed with pasta or in a nice pasta salad. You can also mix it with some Alfredo to make a creamy pesto sauce or add a little bit of marinara to that to create a new pink pesto or pesto Rosa sauce. It’s so versatile and can be used in many different ways. Basting grilled chicken is a very nice touch; or adding pesto to chicken salad puts a nice twist to things. I make my own: fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan and salt in a food processor works perfectly! ?

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.