Lemon Parmesan Baked Perch

I usually fry my perch, however, today I was looking for a healthier alternative.  Wanting the crunch of fried without the fat was a small challenge that I took on and won.  This lite baked version was a perfect blend of flavors and crunch.

Baked PerchLay 4 Perch fillets on a plate skin side down and drizzle with olive oil.

On a separate plate add:

  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Pat the side of fish with olive oil in the coating.  Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Sprinkle the remaining coating on the fish.

Bake at 425°  for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your fillets to an internal temperature of 145°.  Do not over cook.  Many do not realize that over cooked fish will have a more “fishy” taste.

I served with a lemon wedge on the side for those that like that extra lemon flavor.


Food Poisoning vs. Foodborne Illness

1 in 6 Americans will become affected by Foodborne Illness every year.  Please note that I said, “Foodborne Illness” and not food poisoning.  Although most people refer to upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea after eating a suspect food as food poisoning it is not an accurate statement.

I bring this up because I often see blogs that write very authoritative articles on how to prevent, treat and today I read one packed with inaccurate information about when to seek medical care.     The FDA has this statement when asked,  “What is the difference between food poisoning and foodborne illness?

Both terms, foodborne illness and food poisoning, are often used interchangeably by consumers. However, both have different meanings. Foodborne illness is an infection or intoxication that results from eating food contaminated with viable (live) microorganisms or their toxins. Foodborne illness also includes allergic reactions and other conditions where foods act as a carrier of the allergen. Food poisoning is a form of foodborne illness and is caused by the ingestion of preformed toxins.”
So why does it matter what you call it?  You the consumer can call it whatever you like. However, if you are relying on information on the web to make decisions like, “When should I go to the doctor?”.  please make sure the website you are getting the information from is using the correct term.  A knowledgeable site or blog will use the proper terms.
 If you think you have become ill from food you ate at a restaurant you owe it to the rest of the community to get diagnosed.  One of the most common causes of foodborne illness is from Norovirus. It spreads rapidly and fast.

The CDC estimates show that 58% of foodborne illness is caused by the Norovirus pathogen.  Although the illness associated with Norovirus is usually resolved within a few days to a week in MOST cases, individuals that have had Norovirus can still spread the virus to others even after they are symptom free.  Some reports have found Norovirus in feces for up to two weeks after symptoms have ended.   This is why if you suspect any type of foodborne illness you should seek medical attention immediately.  Although your symptoms my seem manageable you should get an official diagnosis.  Norovirus is one of 5 pathogens that must be reported to the local heath department.

Be sure you are getting your information from a reliable source.  You can also ask your question directly to the FDA via Ask Karen.




Opening a new food service facility – you can do it!

In 1998 I entered the food service industry.  I was a green as you could be!  What I did have in my corner was two things: a desire to make it and a good business background.  After many bumps in the road and opening several new facilities I finally figured it all out.

I regularly meet people attending my classes that are currently running home based businesses from cake decorating to catering.  I want to first say that there is NO jurisdiction in the state of Maryland that allows catering from your home, there are cottage laws that do allow limited items to be made at home.  Most foods must be produced in an approved licensed facility and you must follow the law.

Here are the basics of what you will need to consider before opening up your first food service business.

  • How much cash do you have available to get the business going?  Remember you may not turn a profit for a while so don’t think of this as a get rich quick scheme.
  • What is going to be the legal form of your business? Consult your lawyer AND tax person on this – each has a different perspective when it comes to corporations, LLC, sole-proprietorship, etc…
  • What is going to be on your first menu? What do you envision for 1 year, 2 years and even 5 years from now?  Don’t dream to big here but be realistic about what you are going to expect to be serving as your business grows.
  • Who are your customers going to be?  Describe them.  Demographics, income level, etc.
  • Take a food safety manager training class.  Yes do this now!  It may open your eyes up to all that is involved and you may change your mind.  Better now than before you start a build out and paying fees.
  • What equipment do you need to produce the food you are going to serve?
  • Make a list and start a budget for what you think your equipment costs, building costs and operating costs will be for 6 months.  Add 20% to that number and you should have that much on cash on hand or financing to cover it.
  • Will you look for an existing similar business to purchase or start from scratch?
Now that you have thought all that through and your ready to take the plunge you will need to do the following:
  • Find your location and negotiate lease.  Make sure you ask for free rent period during build out. 90 days is fairly standard on a 5 year lease.
  • Sketch out a plan and contact an architect.  Most jurisdictions now require stamped drawings to be submitted for permits to be issued.
  • Contact your local health department.  Ask for Planning.  Since each county is different follow the information they provide to you. You should be prepared to show them drawings and proposed menu.
  • Contact contractors and make sure they have experience building a food service facility.  Get references.  Make sure the contract has a penalty if they do not complete project on time.
  • Contact food suppliers – don’t forget about sourcing from smaller local companies if you are just getting started.  Take advantage of the knowledge food sales reps have.  Most have been in your shoes before.
  • Contact a pest control company. Get a contract.  You will need this for Health Department.
  • Contact equipment maintenance company.  Get a contract with someone you trust to maintain your equipment.  This should include regular preventive maintenance visits.
  • Get your HACCP plan together.  This is a state of Maryland requirement.
  • Receive your use and occupancy permit and final health inspection!
  • There are a lot of other administrative duties to be taken care of between conception and completion but these are the big items you must have before you serve your first customer.
If this sounds a little to overwhelming to you, maybe you are not ready to enter into a full facility.  The good news there are options.  Consider contacting your church if they have an approved facility and rent space there.  Many taverns have kitchens for rent – consider that as a first step, but again don’t plan on a getting rich.  Go Mobile!  That is how I got started.  The mobile trend has never been so popular.  There are also ads in popular online listings for kitchen space.  But beware of something that sounds to good to be true.

SMF Training and Consulting  offer a variety of consulting services including restaurant start up. If you are considering opening your own facility and would like a free consultation please call the office at 410-687-1015.  We will be happy to help.

Giving credit where credit is due: Five Guys Inner Harbor

When Carl Fisher, the Owner of the Inner Harbor, Five Guys ® Burgers and Fries franchise,  contacted me for training I thought he would be just another satisfied customer.   Over several months I have trained many of  his employees.  What I didn’t know was the opportunity he  offers to his employees. Read on – this man deserves some credit.

I have had the pleasure to have several conversations with Mr. Fisher when he personally brings the students  to my classroom and picks them up after class.   We have talked about offering youth opportunity and working hard for what you have.  The same values I possess.   What I didn’t know until today is that  Mr. Fisher offers all his staff an opportunity to take the ServSafe ® Food Manager training – at his cost.

You may be asking yourself the question,  Why is he training so many staff when the city requirement is only one person per shift?  He does this simply to offer his employees an opportunity of individual growth.  He said, “I will crack the door for them, it is up to them to walk through it.”  What does he ask for in return? Simply that the employee follow the rules, come to work ready and on time and stay in his employ for one year.  Then they are free to take the certification on to other hospitality facilities where bigger opportunities would be available to them.  Without the certification these doors would otherwise be locked.   Today he mentioned, most of the staff did not even know that this certification is available and even after years in food service no other employer has ever offered this to them.   This is a big opportunity for these young employees and can open up doors normally closed.   I have a feeling that they are also receiving more than a paycheck at the Inner Harbor Five Guys!

Why to go Carl – you are the first recipient of my Way To Go!  Award.

Avocado Spread for Sandwiches and more

Avocado spread for sandwiches to be used as a replacement for mayonnaise
1 Avocado Diced
1 tbl of lime Juice (can use less if you like)
1/2 Roma tomato diced
1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt.

Combine ingredients. You can add salt to taste. I use a pinch of Sea Salt.

Store in a zip type baggie so you can compress air to avoid discoloration of the Avocado.

I used this the other day in my tuna salad and it was fantastic, it is also wonderful on turkey and chicken sandwiches.

Enjoy and please let me know how you like it!

FDA introduces food safety guides for those most at risk

The FDA has produced some very informative brochures about food safety.  They are written specifically for high risk individuals.  Click this link to be redirected to the FDA site.  They have downloads for people in all high risk groups. Including Cancer, Pregnant woman, Diabetes, Older Adults, HIV/AIDS and Transplant recipients.

If you are high risk or just want to learn more about food safety basics I am offering a 2 hour seminar on food safety August 29.

You can register here . The class cost is $25 and include informative handouts.