The Great Hall
Ideas for a stoveless kitchen The Great Hall: Ideas for a stoveless kitchen
By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 01:31 pm: Edit

I have a friend who runs a cafe in another business. The "kitchen" was converted from the shipping room.

There's a small sink and commercial dishwasher up front, where the coffee orders are filled. But the kitchen itself has no running water, and even more critical, no stove. It has a commercial 2-burner electric whatzit that sits on a counter, so she has to stand on a stool to stir her pots. She also has a commercial oven and a microwave, and I think she has a portable roaster.

In spite of that, she turns out wonderful soups, salads, and sandwiches, and about twice a week, a dinner service with two salad, three entree, and two dessert choices.

I helped her out one day last week and was amazed at what she can do under those circumstances. I also know that she spends hours every week trying to find or adapt recipes that don't require browning first. Most chicken recipes are out of the question because of that. She does some browning in the oven, but it takes too long to do often or in quantity.

So does anyone here have any ideas I can pass on to her for recipes that she can use that don't require direct heat?

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 07:12 pm: Edit

For the browning porposes of the chicken......what she might want to do, and I have never done it but it might work, is put a cast iron skillet or a sheet tray in the oven and let it get real hot then put what ever she wants to brown on the pan.......and finish as needed. Worth a shot I guess.....does she not have room in the place for a gas hookup??....too expensive to get a hookup??

By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 08:31 pm: Edit

There really isn't much room for one, there are no hookups, and it would cost a lot to buy all the equipment and have it all installed per code. She meets all the health code requirements with flying colors, but installing a stove and hookups requires a whole other level of compliance.

I'll pass on your suggestion - thanks.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 11:19 pm: Edit

How about a small electric griddle plate?
^ Thats the 24" pictured, so imagine half the size. Sorry I cant get the blasted thing to work as a hyperlink copy/paste pls :)

Could so some nice fish fillet recipes with that and the oven, just on the grill for a minute and let the oven do the rest, along with a nice garden salad and a vinigarete or holondaise.

Thin cuts of meat for nice cafe steak burgers, marinated chicken fillets, you can do alot of cafe style and nice lunches with a plate really, I think that the addition of a grill plate to the oven would allow for some nicer meals, chuck the microwave if theres no space... :)

I'm not sure on compliance with one of those, it is a commercial grade appliance and might need to be hard wired or simillar, I'm not sure.

By Tortesrus (Tortesrus) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:20 am: Edit

As long as she has the two burner unit she could use a grilling pan-(the type with the ridges to make the score marks) Get the pan really hot, spray a non stick vegatable spray on it, and sear the chicken or meat-it gives the illusion of grilling. It seals in the flavor of whatever marinade she uses.Then she can chill it down and later finish baking it off in the oven to doneness to each order. She will need to have a fan going and an open window for some ventilation during this process.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 01:48 pm: Edit

Those are good ideas. I've never heard of a free-standing grill, and I'm not sure what the ventilation requirements might be, bit I'll pass the idea on to her. I know that she's done the browning thing on her 2-burner, and it took until 4:00 am to do 300 pieces of chicken, so she's trying to get away from having to brown things. But most recipes call for browning the meat before roasting or braising. That's why I'm looking for non-browned recipes for her, if there are any.

Her lunches are cafe-style, and she handles them OK because one grilled chicken breast can make several salads or sandwiches. It's the hot dinners that she's concerned about; those aren't cafe style, but regular restaurant meals.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 07:08 pm: Edit

I think that this is a problem that really cant be solved by technique or recipes. Torterus's idea is good but the problem really is the lack of equipment, not lack of technique.
^ I'm assuming your friend has one of these by your description. With only two plates no matter what technique you use it will still take an extended amount of time.

I think a plate is a good idea in the way it will give a bit more surface area and free up the two hot plates, but admitedly I forgot about the ventilation required (im used to it just being there) I'll try and put some more thought into this problem today.

I dont know about skipping the browning stage altogether though (but Ive only ever worked in places with flat and char plates, never really worked anywhere with minimal equipment, so its good to try and think about I guess).

By Tortesrus (Tortesrus) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 10:19 pm: Edit

What about a rolled stuffed chicken breast-it could be pounded, stuffed w/(anything really) procuitto, basil, cheese etc, rolled up in saran and poached gently in chicken stock, sliced and served w/ her sauce of choice. No browning involved. Actually- look for poached or blanquette recipes...or oven "frying"- dredging, breading and brushing with melted butter then baking it in a hot oven. It creates a nice crust- no need to pan fry each piece. You can mass produce the item. It works on a large variety of proteins. I hope this helps...

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 10:57 pm: Edit

I don't understand. "...She also has a commercial oven..." " that don't require browning first...""... She does some browning in the oven, but it takes too long to do often or in quantity."

Braising is done in an oven. Roasting chicken is done in an oven. Roasting anything is done in an oven. Turn the MF up to 550�. put in a pan. let it get hot and brown the F out of it.??? What am I missing?

Hell I can scramble eggs in an oven. Poach fish, make an awesome onion soup. Ovens are great. Rather have and oven than a stove top if it came down to choosing one or the other.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:10 pm: Edit

Tortesrus, what a good idea - I never thought of that. I'll pass it on to her.

Tim, the issue is that a lot of roasting recipes require that the meat be browned first, and that's her problem. She can do it, but not in bulk and that's what she needs for her dinners.

I'll pass on these ideas - thanks!

By Tortesrus (Tortesrus) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:28 pm: Edit

I agree, you can do just about anything with an oven- but it's really hard to take a 4-6 ounce boneless skinless chicken breast, cook it in a 500 plus oven and not have it look anemic-or taste dried out-unless you marinate the heck out if it or inject it- even then it can be marginal. I think that the thread started on a request for chicken recipes. OK- Any chicken with skin can be roasted- boneless whole legs are cheap and stay moist when roasted and stuffed with a duxelles, then poeleed with butter...there's your oven browning necessary.
(forget the poached chicken breast idea- if it's too time consuming to pre-grill the breasts- then the prep in that recipe would definately be too labor intensive)

By Adelie (Adelie) on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:38 pm: Edit

"Poeleed"? That looks like a typo, but I'm not knowlegeable enough to know for sure...

Good suggestions, though!

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:22 pm: Edit

I am with Tim on this one. If she wants that seared look or effect, like I said before and Tim said........put a sheet pan in the oven, get it real hot, sear your protein on it, only sear it, finish the rest of the cooking application later.......that could be her before shift prep. I can cook about 20 grilled cheese in the same manner and quicker than on a flat top anyday.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:33 pm: Edit

I can't believe you guys are actually responding to this!!!!!...seriously even!?!?!?
A kitchen with no running water, mention to this to the health inspector next time he/she comes in and post what they tell you!!!!
How does wash, rinse, sanitize, air dry happen???
Why does this person not make the investment or split the cost with the business if they want the cafe there in making the place legal??????????
Another option is to cook somewhere else and rethermalize on premises.
All the ideas and suggestions are good as a temporary solution, like a catering situation or the equipment dies during service but, as a permanent solution it should not be used!!!!!!
It's only a matter of time until somebody gets seriously sick and the cost will really be high compared to compliance now.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:41 pm: Edit

Well, the cafe has been in existence for at least 18 years that I know of. And it has passed every health inspection with flying colors - the only comment on the last one was that the internal temp of one of the fridges was one degree too high. So the health inspector doesn't have a problem with their standards of hygiene. My friend is obsessive about that.

They use the commercial dishwasher in the cafe and then bring the dishes back to the kitchen. They meet all the wash, rinse, and sanitizing requirements.

The place is legal and has been for many years. No one has ever gotten sick, let alone seriously, and they are in full compliance with all health regs.

Sorry, Manny.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:49 pm: Edit

18 years and they can't build a real kitchen????
Why?....especially if it makes money!!!
If you look at the FDA Model Food Code, all food service establishments need a three compartment sink, a dedicated hand sink, a utily sink for trash cans and mops.
Just because a particular district or inspector allows something it does not mean it's legal. Some people with operations like this tell the inspectors there is "no cooking" on premises, it is done in a "legal kitchen" and they get away with that, I have seen those operations....and some do cook on premises and some get all deliveries from a commissary.
Additionally the Food Code states that all kitchen must have running water to operate, if not food production must discontinue until running water is established or re-stablished.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 01:51 pm: Edit

Where does the smoke go, the grease fumes, is there a hood system at all????

By Adelie (Adelie) on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 02:44 pm: Edit

Well, many inspectors have come and gone over the years, and there haven't been any problems with any of them, so it's not as though a friendly inspector is in cahoots and is letting things go. There is obviously cooking going on there, as the inspectors know because of the burner unit and oven.

There is running water, but it's not directly in the kitchen, but in the small cafe kitchen a few feet away.

The cafe is in a book and classical record store, which in itself isn't a money-maker, but the cafe, while just making it, partially supports the record store. There's no extra money to invest in it, but they are looking for angels to invest.

I'm sorry if you don't approve; it certainly isn't my idea of a professional kitchen, either, but it's what they've got and they've made the best of it for a long time. The food is creative (of necessity,) delicious, and safe. The health inspector/s who have inspected it over the years have never had a problem with it.

Now, could we get back to recipes?

By Jonesg (Jonesg) on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 01:34 pm: Edit

You can use a tabletop fryolator with no extractor hood required,
get a panini press too for hot sandwiches.
Restaurant depot sells pre-seared chicken.
Some veggie burgers are useful also.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 06:24 pm: Edit

I didn't know about the pre-seared chicken. I'll pass that on to her. Thanks!

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