Did you know that 50 % of all food that hits the landfill is avoidable? This means that half of what we throw away is food that has past the point of being eaten, money we have literally just thrown in the bin, and also a significant cost to the environment.
In the commercial environment it makes economic sense to reduce food waste to the minimum as this is money that can be spent on other things like staff wages, new equipment and of course profit.
Today I'm going to share some tips to help you reduce food waste and your weekly shopping bill.
1. Plan it
You are far less likely to overspend on groceries if you plan dinner and lunch ideas for the week. Get the whole family involved and ask everyone what they might like to eat this week. In our family we choose about 9 days worth of meals, as sometimes the weather may dictate what you want to eat. We then make those other items a priority the next week.
2. Freeze it.
Don't wait until something rotten and then throw it out. With meat items that are getting close to their use by date, either freeze them whole, or chop them up with vegetables and herbs for a pie filling. At a later date you can pull them out and defrost in the fridge over night for a fast meal. If you are not going to eat it all at once divide into containers and date.
3. Blend it.
My favourite way of using left over vegetables at home is to make a soup. Chop up an onion and sweat it off. Add the leftover veggies, (this works with left over roasties too), and simmer in stock. Add some spices, herbs and/ or nuts for a nutritious soup. When the veggies are cooked through, cool down then blend. This is also a great way to hide stuff veggies from the kids! You can also use up those bits of veg like the ends of broccoli that would otherwise be thrown away.
4. Roast it.
Roasting is a great way of using up tired old veg, and you can roast more than you think. Parsnips, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli are all delicious roasted, then added to some leaves and nuts or seeds for a nutritious salad. If you are skipping the dressing, a squeeze of lemon is just beautiful.
5. Get saucy.
We repurpose lots of tired old fruit, veg and herbs by making our own sauces, chutneys and pestos. Soft tomatoes add a beautiful freshness to a tomato sauce. Fruit that is past its eating best and a little soft can be beautiful when made into a compote.
6. Pickle it.
Instead of buying expensive pickles from the supermarket, invest in some simple ingredients and make your own. Places like pinterest have an absolute ton of recipes to try.
7. Batch cook it.
The easiest way to make sure you use everything up is to make a big batch of something. Tomato sauces, cottage pie, pasties, applesauce, and muffins can all be frozen for a future date. At home I will often make double the amount of mashed potato for dinner, then use it to make shepherds pie the next day.
8. Wrap it.
Our favourite thing for lunch in the Sugar Sisters kitchen is to use up all of the leftovers from lunch service in a wrap. There is always a sauce and vegetables., sometimes some protein. The rule is just leftovers, in any weird combination. Some of our best flavour ideas have originated this way.
9. Bake it.
Homemade muffins using leftover fruit, crumbles, granola bars and pies are much nicer than the supermarket versions and healthier for you. as you can moderate what goes in. In the age of convenience we often forget that baking and cooking are important life skills.
10. Eat it.
Savour and appreciate every mouthful. Taste it, enjoy it and use it all!
We get asked this question a lot! This is the first in the series of how things work behind the scenes. Being a cake decorator is a wonderful career. Its creative, fun, and very satisfying to be able to make something really beautiful. Nothing compares to the look of wonder on a small child's face when they see the cake you have made for them. It's also very stressful. Working to deadlines, regular late nights and long hours, and the anxiety of ruining someone's special day if something goes wrong.
1. Commercial kitchen costs
Making food for sale is an expensive business. We have rent, power, telephone bills, internet, pest control, contents and liability insurance, accountants fees, bank fees, vehicle costs, health licenses, equipment to buy and maintain, to name a few. This is before we even purchase a single ingredient and sell anything.
2. Food costs
Buy in bulk and you get things cheaper right? Not necessarily. The wholesale cost of items is often more expensive than the prices you pay in a supermarket. Supermarkets buy everything by the truckload and can discount as its spread across all of the stores. This may not be as easy for the farm who supplies your eggs, or the fruit and veggie supplier who provides your carrots and lemons.
To make your cake taste really beautiful we also buy really high quality ingredients. Good quality butter, free range eggs, real vanilla extract with seeds, and high quality chocolate are not cheap. Can you taste the difference? We think so. The difference between a packet mix and the real thing is like trading your 10 year old car for the top of the range new model.
In professional kitchens we spend a lot of time cleaning. I mean, a lot. Cleaning ovens, mixers, sinks, worktops, sweeping, mopping floors, and washing dishes. All of this can take around a third of your day. That third of your day not making cakes still has to be accounted and paid for. With minimum wage on the rise, many kitchens do not have the luxury of a kitchen hand to do dishes for them.
Like fashion, the style of cakes and trends change. Along with that are the tools to go with it. If you are wanting something different or sophisticated we may need to buy in tools to do the job. Impression mats, air guns, etc are all neat tools that make a massive difference to the final finish of your cake. They also cost a truckload of money.
In addition to the tools, there are the foundations that keep your cake supported. There are cake boards. The boards to support each tier and a cake board underneath. Ribbons to edge the boards, and supports between tiers to stop our creations combusting before they get to the party. There is also grip mat to stop your cake flying.
For finishing your cake there can be a decent amount of fondant, flowers, toppers, edible gold leaf, and all the other bits and pieces that make your cake gorgeous, and expensive.
Time is the enemy of every cake maker. Underestimate your time and it can cost you far more to make a cake than you have charged your customer. For a three tier cake we can spend a day of labour before we even start on decoration. That time is taken up by baking, weighing out ingredients. making buttercream & ganache, assembling the layers, smoothing the outsides of each layer and stacking cakes. Angles need to be straight and level, and everything set up at the correct temperature.
7. The tax man
15% of what we charge you goes straight to IRD as GST. If we make profit on your cake, we pay tax on that too.
Your cake maker is skilled in their craft and often it has taken many years of experience and culinary school to get to the level where they can sell a cake. As such labour costs need to be charged at a level where they can work for more than minimum wage. Many cake makers work alone and absorb all of the costs we have already talked about. By this point their real wage is more likely to be comparable to a sweat shop, or worse, nothing at all.
The necessary evil of every job these days. Taking telephone calls, photographing work, updating a website, sending invoices and generating quotes. They all take time, which costs money.
How can you help to keep costs down?
A good start is to decide how much you realistically you are prepared to spend. We cannot make a cake like either of these above for $100 or anywhere near. It is good to share what this budget is from the outset, so that your cake maker can work on the best option for you.
Also helpful for us to know is how many people need to eat the cake, any special diets and the flavour you want. A picture says a thousand words and can also help us to work out a cost for you. But do not send us 10 cake pictures and ask us to quote each. Choose either a design, or a budget you want to work with and we can take it from there.
We are so excited to be part of the team offering the most amazing prize - a free Wedding.
All of this could be your and more!
We are giving away a free wedding, you get the whole 20 person package for free (valued at $4000). The catch is that the wedding has to happen on the 27th of November 2016. If you are interested click on the link for details on how to enter. http://www.allyouneedislove.co.nz/index.php/all-you-need-to-say-i-do-competition/
What a scary pair! We thought we would have a little Halloween fun and share our dark sides for this spooky photo shoot.
Our healthy Halloween treat. Spooky spider smoothies. A delicious combination of banana, orange, strawberry, passion fruit and coconut water.
Not forgetting some sweet treats! Frankenstein & Jack o Lantern fondant cupcakes.
We hope you have some fantastic Halloween fun, just like us!
Things are a little scary in the kitchen this week. We are helping you get set for some Spooky fun with Halloween cupcakes.
Available in chocolate and vanilla. So grab your broom Wellington, and fly across to the Cupcakes page to order your Halloween treats while stocks last.
Christmas is just around the corner and it’s time to party. Our head chef Jo has been inspired to create a fantastic Christmas menu melding the best seasonal ingredients and holiday tradition. Why not try our new ‘Mini Turkey, Ham, and Cranberry Pies’ or ‘Mulled Wine, Pear, and Blue Cheese Tarts’. Got a sweet tooth? We have put a Christmas twist on our classic Friands and are offering up ‘Summer Fruit Tarts with Vanilla Crème Patissiere’. That will surely hit the spot.
Whether you need catering for a work function or at home with family and friends we can offer a selection that is sure to make your mouth water. Head on over to the new section of our website and check it out!
Be sure to check back regularly because we will be adding more tasty treats and ideas in the coming weeks. Keep a special eye out for Jo’s range of Christmas themed cakes which are shaping up to be truly amazing. Happy Holidays everybody, we hope you have a good one.
Operation Sugar is a New Zealand Non Profit Organisation that provides free Custom made Celebration Cakes to children who are impacted by critical illness and require frequent hospitalisation. The organisation was founded in 2012 by Mum Rachel Jenkinson and is based on similar organisations across the world. The original concept started in America with Icing Smiles. The idea is simple: Rachel matches volunteer bakers to families in their area. The baker designs a cake based a simple idea from the family.
We registered as Bakers around 18 months ago and we were excited to receive our first assignment. The concept behind this is very special to me as my own journey as a professional baker started with gifting birthday cakes so that my son with a special diet wouldn't miss out on getting some cake.
Here is the cake we designed for a Special girl on her 9th Birthday with a love of the gym. Seeing the smile on your face when the cake was delivered was the best feeling in the world and something we can't wait to do again in the future. For more information on Operation Sugar and their incredible work go to www.operationsugar.org.nz
.Congratulation to Shalvi, Sugar Sisters Trainee Pastry Chef for being awarded a Silver Medal at the National Hospitality Championships. She represented Sugar Sisters at the NZChefs 2016 National Salon, at the Auckland Food Show on the 27th July 2016
Shalvi competed in the Live Dessert Challenge in the Trainee Category. Competitors had just 60 minutes to produce four identical desserts featuring fruit. They were judged on the standard and quality of their food, and the efficient use of energy in creating the dish. We loved Shalvi's recipe so much we thought we would share it with you.
Spiced Apple Streusel with Blackcurrant Mascarpone Cream, Blackcurrant Coulis & Apple Crisps
Granny Smith Apples 350gm
Cinnamon Stick 1
Star Anise 1
Ground ginger 1 tsp
Caster Sugar 35gm
Water 2.5 tsp
1. Dice apples; Put them into a pan along with cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, caster sugar and water.
2. Cover the pot, bring it to boil and then down to simmer.
3. Cook for 5 minutes until water has evaporated. Add more water if the mix is dry to prevent caramelisation of apples. Cook apples to just tender.
4. Let it cool in a colander to sieve out excess water. Place in a ring or rectangular mould.
Standard Flour 25gm
Brown Sugar 20gm
Ground Cinnamon ½ tsp
Rolled Oats 20gm
Whole Almonds 20gm
Ground Ginger ½ tsp
1. Melt butter.
2. Chop Almonds and mix all the dry ingredients.
3. Add melted butter to dry ingredients and mix.
4. Bake at 170C in a lined baking tray for 6-8 minutes until golden.
The streusel can either be baked on top of the apples or deconstructed and served cold like Shalvi. Both are delicious!
Frozen Blackcurrants 300gm
Water 140 ml
Caster sugar 75 gm
Lemon juice (optional) 2 tsp
1. Cook blackcurrants water and caster sugar together until berries release their juices.
2. Let it cool and mix in blender until smooth.
3. Pass through sieve and reduce in saucepan if required to achieve the correct consistency. 4. Add more sugar or lemon juice to taste.
Mascarpone cream 80gm
Blackcurrant coulis 50 gm
Vanilla 1/2 tsp
Smoothen the mascarpone and whip cream with black currant coulis until firm. Adjust sweetness with icing sugar if needed.
Make it Dairy Free & Vegan:
Make it Gluten Free:
Make it Nut Free:
Last week we were honoured to provide the Catering for the Launch of Sally Eagles 2017 Dusk Collection. Sally Eagle is a Wellington based Wedding Dress Designer, who creates vintage inspired wedding dresses, from her Central Wellington Boutique.
Her dresses are breathtakingly beautiful, and we were slightly distracted from our own role of setting up the food on arrival! Everyone woman who wears one of Sally's dresses must surely feel like an absolute Princess on her Wedding day. See her stunning creations on her website www.sallyeagle.co.nz
Pictured here is Sugar Sister Jay, with Sally and her exquisite dresses in the background.
We set up a wedding canapé table, with dusky colours to complement the event. All of the photos were taken by the amazing Billie Brook Photography. Billie specialises in Wedding & Portrait Photography. See some more of her wonderful work at www.billiebrookphotography.co.nz
The weather is cooling and it's a perfect time to play with new cake recipes and ideas. The team have been busy making and testing a new range of cakes to bring everything into 2016. We have a rule in the Sugar Sisters kitchen - everything we make has to have you reaching for more. More salad, more sandwiches, more cake!
In conventional baking we rely on eggs a lot for lift and flavour. In our vegan baking we replace these with oil and sometimes applesauce to attempt to create a similar texture and crumb. Our vegan chocolate cake is a tried and tested favourite, and so our new range starts with this great base, but we are adding some new frosting flavours and a some modern styling.
Our first creation is inspired by a fabulous recipe in Donna Hay Magazine for peanut butter popcorn. We have taken the base flavours peanut butter & maple syrup, and translated them into frosting which complement our chocolate cake recipe perfectly. For version two we made a chocolate drizzle cake. The great thing about oil based cakes is that they do not suffer too much from refrigeration, which can dry out conventional cakes. Vegan frosting can be less stable than conventional frosting at room temperature and for ease of slicing you probably need to store them in the fridge. If anyone has any vegan cravings for a flavour of cake, or a beautiful recipe you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.