Food Lab

Celebrate the Taste of New Orleans with King Cake!

King Cake PicThe King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a party, as pastry, and a plastic baby baked in a cake. Really, that’s it. As the tradition goes, a small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake; the person who gets the slice with the baby baked inside is the party host the following year.

It’s no secret that I love sweets, but I’m an average baker – at best. Below is a super awesome recipe I found some years ago, it’s easy enough and tastes great. This recipe makes a standard 8 serving cake. You can double the ingredients if you’d like to make more than one cake. If you have a favorite recipe, send it my way. I’d love to try something new too!


1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour


1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup melted butter


1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons water


Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours, then punch down the dough.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup raisins. Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

Roll dough out into large rectangle (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. Place the ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. Sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.

Note: Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow!

A Jigg’s Dinner Recipe for Beginners

St Patricks Day CatAh, St. Patrick’s Day! Is there anyone that doesn’t love this holiday? This year, I’ve decided to retire the green bear and shamrock shaped sunglasses, for a traditional Jigg’s Dinner. For those of you who don’t know, Jiggs’ Dinner – also known as boiled dinner – is a traditional meal that consists of salt beef, various root veggies, pea pudding, and more often than not, some kind of dessert.

In light of my ignorance to the whole affair, and with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to see what it was all about. I mean, “boiled dinner,” how hard could it be? As it turns out, much harder than you might think if you want the real Newfoundland version. In addition, I have a strong aversion to meat that comes in a can, as salt beef does.

Luckily, I found a New England version that requires just one pot and consists of corned beef or plain beef brisket with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Below you’ll find the very beginner-friendly recipe I intent to follow this St. Paddy’s Day.


1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (3 pounds)

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium carrots, quartered

1 medium onion, cut into 6 wedges

1 small head green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges

Prepared horseradish or mustard, optional


  1. Place the brisket and contents of spice packet in a Dutch oven. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves and enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is almost tender.
  2. Add potatoes, carrots and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cabbage, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Discard bay leaves and peppercorns. Thinly slice meat; serve with vegetables and horseradish or mustard if desired.

Yield: 6 servings.

New Label Regulation for Gluten-Free Foods

GlutenFor those who suffer from gluten intolerance or are among the estimated 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease – or preparing food for someone afflicted with this chronic illness – there is a new tool that will make food shopping easier. In August 2013, FDA announced a regulation that defines and standardizes the term “gluten-free” for food labeling.  The new definition ensures that gluten-free claims on products are consistent and standardized across the food industry.

  1. Why “Gluten-Free” Labeling is Important: Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. It gives breads and other grain products their shape, strength, and texture. But when someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, his/her body’s natural defense system triggers antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This limits the ability to absorb nutrients, and can lead to other very serious health problems, too.
  2. Definition of “Gluten-Free”: FDA has set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods that carry the label “gluten-free.” This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods, and most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. The regulation also requires foods labeled “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”
  3. Timing for Label Compliance: Many foods that were labeled as “gluten-free” prior to the new regulation may already meet the new federal definition. Otherwise, manufacturers have until August of 2014 to make whatever changes are needed in the formulation or labeling of their foods bearing a gluten-free claim in order to legally market them in the United States.

How to Plan a Mother’s Day Celebration

BrunchMother’s Day is right around the corner and you know what that means? Food!

My brother, sister and I celebrate Mother’s Day with our respective families, and then we head over to our parent’s house to celebrate our mom. We literally feast the entire day. I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate being a mom.

Thinking about celebrating the fabulous lady in your life? Here are a few steps for planning the best brunch, lunch or dinner before the weekend:

  1. Scout out recipes. My family loves brunch so I love to Pin recipes that we haven’t tried or start digging through my cookbooks in advance. I like to offer something sweet, and salty, and tater tots…with my family there is always tater tots. Check out Burkett’s Pinterest Board for weekend breakfast ideas. Also, I’ve included two recipes that will be part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year at the bottom of this post.
  2. Plan your menu. Once you’ve bookmarked, dog-eared, and pinned all the delicious recipes you can find, pick 3-4 options you want to make. I like cooking, but my sister prefers her kids cook for her. There are plenty of meals that are easy for kids to help make. Add one or two to your menu.
  3. Develop a meal prep timeline. There is nothing worse than not being able to enjoy yourself during a party or gathering because you’re stuck in the kitchen. Develop a plan of attack and start getting tasks out of the way a couple of days ahead.  Serving drinks? Make the mix the day before. Sausage patties? They can be frozen one or two days ahead. Baking a cake? Store it unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Get yourself organized so you can enjoy the day!

Ready to start shopping? Get to the grocery and pick up the necessary ingredients. Ensure you have the appropriate kitchen supplies as well. Burkett Restaurant Equipment carries all the baking supplies, catering equipment and cookware you could ever need. Now get your mother some flowers and get to work!

As mentioned above, here are two recipes from my Mother’s Day brunch this year.

Tex-Mex Migas:

Migas con huevos is a delightful and simple Tex-Mex breakfast made of scrambled eggs and tortilla strips. Don’t be intimidated by this list of ingredients. I like mine chock full of veggies, but you can tweak it to meet your preferences.

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1 medium jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
8 eggs, beaten
4 large handfuls of tortilla chips, lightly broken up
kosher salt
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Add pepper, green onions, and jalapeño and continue to cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Lower the heat to medium-low, add the eggs and stir to incorporate. Add tortilla chips and gently stir breaking up the eggs to create a scramble. Season with salt, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Giant Chocolate Chip layered cookie cake

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart here.

4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 heavy cream
2 cups chocolate chips
2 pounds (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and brown and granulated sugars into mixer bowl; mix on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, eggs, and yolks. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the cream. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. For each of the 5 layers, drop 1 level cup batter onto center of a baking sheet lined with parchment (keep unbaked dough refrigerated). Using a small offset spatula, spread into an 8-inch circle. Bake until edges are pale golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Use offset spatula to reshape circle. Return to oven; bake until edges are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack; let cool. Can be stored airtight up to 1 day.
  3. Mix cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in clean mixer bowl on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Spread onto 4 cookies. Stack cookies, placing unfrosted cookie on top. Refrigerate until frosting is set, at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Thanksgiving Eve: The Biggest Bar Night of the Year

The biggest bar night of the year, Thanksgiving Eve, is just around the corner. It’s a night when families, friends, and neighbors return to the place where they grew up to talk about the past year, declare what they are thankful for and just have an all around good time. Since very few people have work the next day you can expect customers to stay out longer and drink more than usual. Thanksgiving Eve will no doubt be a fun and wild night.

If you own a bar, you’re going to want to pull out all the stops to ensure that your establishment will be the busiest bar in town. Schedule the best bands to entertain customers all night and of course you’ll need great drink choices and specials.

Nothing says Thanksgiving (and Christmas is almost here) as much as Mulled Wine. Also known as Glühwein in Germany and Glogg in Scandinavia, it’s immensely popular in Europe and it’s gaining in popularity here in the US. Served hot, Mulled Wine is made using Red Wine, spices, and almonds or raisins and it’s rather simple to make.

Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine

• 2 clementines
• peel of 1 lemon
• peel of 1 lime
• 250g caster sugar
• 6 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• 1 whole nutmeg
• 1 whole vanilla pod, halved
• 2 star anise
• 2 bottles of Chianti, or other Italian red wine
1. Put sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg.
2. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
3. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup to create a wonderful flavor base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine.*
4. When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and both bottles of wine.
5. Gently heat the wine and after 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

*It’s important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

Feeling especially daring? Add a shot of Brandy or Cognac to give Mulled Wine an extra kick!

Vitamix Recipe: Gazpacho

No one needs to remind you or your customers how HOT summertime can be- especially this year. You definitely are not going to see hot soups like Cream of Asparagus and Minestrone being ordered like hotcakes this time of year. Instead, give your customers a more refreshing soup, like Gazpacho.

In honor of July’s Product Palooza, it’s only right to give you a recipe for Gazpacho that requires the use of a Vitamix Blender (although you can use any blender to make this of course).

Gazpacho (Makes 15 Cups)


  • 9 C Fresh Tomato Juice
  • 1 C Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 C Olive Oil
  • 6 Large Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 Cucumbers, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Small Onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Sweet Green Bell Peppers, seeded and quartered
  • A few dashes of Hot Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garnishes: Sour Cream, Chopped Bell Peppers, Cucumber Spears

Vitamix Vita-Prep 3 Food Blender


  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix Vita-Prep 3 Food Blender Container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 5.
  3. Blend for 30-45 seconds.
  4. Stop machine and season soup.
  5. Serve in a chilled Rolled Edge Cup and garnish with a cucumber spear, chopped bell peppers and dollop of  sour cream.


Vitamix Recipe… Spinach Artichoke Dip

Looking for a tasty appetizer to put on your menu? With the Vita-Prep Food Blending machine you’l be able to whip up this delicious starter dish for your restaurant. Enjoy!

Spinach Artichoke Dip


  • 1 C Light Mayonnaise
  • 1 C Light Sour Cream
  • 2 Lemon Slices, peeled and seeded
  • 20 oz Package of Frozen Spinach
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 C Artichokes, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • French Bread & Pumpernickel Bread, lightly toasted and sliced or Tortilla Chips or Pita Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Place all ingredients, except artichoke hearts, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  3.  Select Variable 1.
  4. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 4.
  5. Blend for 15 seconds. Remove the lid plug.
  6. Add artichokes through the lid plug opening.
  7. Blend for an additional 5 seconds.
  8. Pour into an oven-safe dish and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
  9. Serve with chips, pita bread, or pumpernickel bread.

Vitamix Recipe: Frosty Basil Lemonade

It’s been a sweltering couple of weeks in much of the United States, and the perfect time to serve your customers a refreshing beverage. With a Vitamix Blender, you can make just about any kind of drink to satisfy even the pickiest drinkers. We’ve spent some time checking out Vitamix’s recipe section on their website and this recipe made us drool! Prepare it this weekend.

Frosty Basil Lemonade

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1 1/2 Lemons, peeled, seeded and halved.
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1 C Ice Cubes
  1. Place all ingredients into a Vitamix Blender Container in the order listed and secure lid.

    Vitamix 1230 Bar Blender

  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 1 minute.
  5. Garnish with fresh basil and a wedge of lemon.

Andes Creme de Menthe Cheesecake Recipe

Andes Creme de Menthe Cheesecake Recipe

Made by Sales Consultant and Chef Jeff Hussar, this is a favorite dessert for everyone at Burkett. Make this decadent dessert for your customers and they’ll surely order dessert every time they visit. To perfectly create this dish, follow the advice of Chef Jeff when making it.


  •  15 Oreo Mint Creme Cookies
  •  1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
  •  1-3/4 Cup Sugar
  •  1 – 11.5 oz Bag Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  •  4 – 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, (Room Temperature)
  •  1t Vanilla
  •  2T Cocoa Powder
  •  4 Eggs
  •  3/4 C Heavy Cream
  •  3 – 4.67oz Boxes Ande Mint Wafers
  •  1/2 – 12 oz Container Non-Dairy Whipped Topping
  •  Non-stick Vegetable Oil Spray


  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Process Oreos in Waring Food Processor until finely ground. Remove, and pour into a bowl. Add 1/4 C of sugar and mix with fork.
  3. In a microwave, or in a pan over the stove with low heat, melt the butter. Add butter to remaining crust ingredients and mix.
  4. Spray bottom and sides of a 10″ Spring Form Pan with non-stick spray. Pour crust ingredients into the Spring Form Pan and spread evenly on bottom. Press ingredients down evenly to form crust.
  5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, and place on counter to cool slightly while preparing rest of cheesecake.
  7. With an Immersion Blender, blend the cream cheese and remaining 1-1/2 C sugar. Add vanilla, and cocoa powder, and mix. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until throughly blended. 
  8. Pour 3/4 of the 11.5 oz bag of chocolate chips in a pan and melt on stove, over VERY low heat, (or double boiler if preferred). When just melted, add to cream cheese mixture, and blend.
  9. Unwrap one of the boxes of Andes, and coarse grind in food processor, using pulse setting. Fold Andes into cream cream cheese mixture.
  10. Re-spray sides of the pan and pour cream cheese mixture on top of crust.
  11. Bake cheesecake at 350 for one hour. (Chef Jeff’s Tip- I always like to take a 4″-1/2 size food pan, about half filled with hot water and place it on the spare rack under the cheesecake while baking. This incorporates some moisture and a little steam in the oven, which helps the cheesecake from getting too dry and cracking on the surface.)
  12. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Place cheesecake in Refrigerator, and allow to cool and set overnight.
  13.  Take a paring knife, and run it along the insides of the Spring Form pan, releasing any of the cheesecake that may still be stuck to the sides. Release the clasp on the pan and gently remove the collar. (Chef Jeff”s Tip- At this point, you can also remove the base if you prefer to place on a cardboard cake circle. I always use a carving knife and carefully separate the crust from the base and slide onto the counter.) 
  14. Pour the heavy cream, remaining 1/4 bag of chocolate chips, and 1 box of unwrapped Andes in a small saucepan. Heat on stove, stirring constantly, over low heat until all are melted. 
  15. Pour the “Andes Mint Ganache” over the top of the cheesecake, and spread evenly over the surface. Allow Ganache to cool and set. Using a pastry bag and star tip, decorate the cheesecake with the whip topping and remaining box of Andes.

Ooey-Gooey PB&J Cupcake Recipe

Ooey-Gooey Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake

Ooey-Gooey PB&J Cupcake

Who doesn’t love an ooey gooey peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It’s a satisfying treat that’s delicious and easy to make. One of our favorite cupcake shops in Toledo and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars winner, Cake in a Cup, took the PB&J to the next level by transforming it into a cupcake! That’s right they took the gooeyness of the simple sandwich, baked it and created the most delectable gourmet treat you’ll ever eat!

Here’s a recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes that I’ve modified to create PB&J Cupcakes.

Ooey-Gooey PB& J Cupcake Recipe

Makes: 16 cupcakes 

Cake Batter Ingredients:

  • 1 C Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 1 3/4 C Cake Flour (do not use self-rising flour)
  • 1 1/2 t Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1/4 C Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 C Full-Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/4 C Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 T Pure Vanilla Extract, do not use imitation
  • 2/3 C Whole Milk
  • 1 C Grape or Strawberry Jelly
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 (8-ounce) Package Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 4 T Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C Creamy Peanut Butter, we like Jif Natural
  • 1 1/2 C Confectioners’ Sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. In a small bowl, combine Sugar and the Seeds from the Vanilla Bean. Make sure to break up clumps of seeds to get better flavor. Set aside.
  3. Using the Vollrath 7Qt Counter Top Mixer, mix cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.  (Since there is little butter, the batter will be a very fine crumb texture.)
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. (The batter will be liquid.)
  6. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full. Bake for 14 minutes and then test with a toothpick (the toothpick should come out without wet batter stuck to it). Do not allow them to turn golden brown!  If they are not done, retest every two minutes. When done, remove immediately from the Muffin Pan and let them cool on a cooling rack.
  7. While cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Beat until well combined, then add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until well incorporated.
  8. When cupcakes are cool, use a melon scooper to scoop out the inside of the cupcake from the top. Using a pastry bag with an icing tip, stuff with 1 T of Jelly, and allow some of the jelly to overflow (should look like a dome). Swirl a generous portion of Peanut Butter Frosting around the jelly.

We’re sure that your customers will love a PB&J Cupcake just as much as we do. Guten appetit!

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