Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mistakes You're Probably Making In The Kitchen

It is easy to develop bad habits in the kitchen, especially if you have been cooking while you are in a rush. 
So, let’s take a look at some of the common mistakes most people make in the kitchen…
Substituting dried herbs for fresh – If a recipe calls for fresh herbs, use fresh herbs. Dried tarragon cannot substitute 
the fresh version. In fact, the fresh version of tarragon adds a light flavour, while the dried version is much more powerful.
 For other herbs, the opposite can be said, for example, with basil and parsley, the dried versions have much less flavour.
Purchasing cheap pots and pans – A pot and pan set may not seem like the sort of purchase you should splurge on, but
 quality really is important. While you do not need to spend a fortune, you should avoid going for the cheapest pans 
available for sale. Poor quality pots and pans will cause the food to burn and stick to the surface.
Overcrowding the pan – This is an easy error to make. After all, you are in a rush, and you have many mouths to feed. 
However, overcrowding the pan can ruin the food, especially when cooking meat.
Grilling meat straight from the fridge – You can ruin a steak the moment you place it in the pan if you have not allowed it
 to get to room temperature before cooking it. This is because the steak will not cook evenly. The best thing to do is take 
your steak out of the fridge 20 minutes before you intend to cook it.
Cooking meat without a thermometer – Estimating when a piece of meat is cooked can be a nightmare. You will 
almost always end up overcooking it because you are worried about eating raw meat. This is where a thermometer 
shows its worth.
You don’t taste as you go – You may assume there is no point in tasting as you go because you have followed the recipe 
to perfection anyone. However, everyone has different palates, and tasting as you go gives you the chance to season the 
dish to your liking.
Turning your food too often while cooking – While it can be tempting to turn your food to ensure a consistent bake on 
both sides, this can be detrimental for foods such as pan-fried chicken and steak, as you won’t develop the delicious crisp
 crust you are aiming for.
You start cooking before you have read the entire recipe – This is a mistake that a lot of people make. There is nothing
 worse than finding out that what you thought was a simple Ragu is going to take two and a half hours to cook because
 it involves gradually adding ingredients while the mixture simmers.
So there you have it: some of the most common kitchen mistakes people make. Are you guilty of committing any of the 
cooking sins mentioned above? If so, use the advice that has been provided to right these wrongs!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Entertaining and Events: The Best Food to Serve!

As someone who loves food and loves to cook, chances are you’re always looking for an excuse
to feed the ones you love. So whenever there’s an event- whether it’s a birthday, wedding, family
reunion or any other kind of occasion it will be you that steps up to the plate to provide the food.
If you have a number of different events coming up this year, here are some ideas for different kinds
of foods you could present and serve.

Finger Food Buffet
A buffet is good for just about any special event. Most people can find something they like to eat from
 a buffet, and there are lots of tasty finger food items you could put together. Sandwiches, homemade
quiches, sausage rolls and pies all go down well. You could marinate some chicken and serve chicken
drumsticks, or cover mini fillets in breadcrumbs and serve some tasty goujons. You could serve chips
with dips, cakes, pastries and other sweet treats. And best of all you can choose what items you want
 to make and what you want to buy in ready. For example, you might want to bake your own cupcakes,
 but buy in things like gateaux which is more complicated to make. You could make all of your favourite
 finger foods, then bulk up the spread with some pre- bought items to save time if needed.

Pizza Party
If you have a small group of friends coming over for food, throwing pizza party at home is a fun and
 interactive way to feed everyone. If you have a bread machine, it’s easy to whip up a few portions of
pizza dough with no hassle. The machine will mix, knead and prove the dough for you, then you can
wrap it in cling film and rest it in the fridge until you need it. Put out a selection of grated cheeses,
meats and veggies on a table or work surface, and let everyone stretch their own dough base and
add their own sauces and toppings to make their pizza exactly how they want it. If you have a pizza
oven in the garden you could pop them in there, they only take a few minutes each. Otherwise, buy
a pizza stone and do them in the oven. You can all try each other’s creations and it’s a fun and
informal alternative to a dinner party.

Afternoon Tea
A selection of canapes, finger sandwiches and other tasty nibbles- what’s not to like? When the sun
 is shining, getting outside for an afternoon tea is one of life’s little pleasures. A elegant way to serve
food, it would make for a lovely birthday idea especially for a female relative. Fill some helium balloons,
 and wrap dainty flowers around the strings for a pretty way to decorate. Pop some LED tealight
candles into mason jars, and use cake stands and mismatched china to serve your cakes and tea.
If your afternoon tea is a celebration then you could pop open some champagne or prosecco too.

Is there anything better than tasty grilled food on a scorching hot day? Fire up the grill and serve
guests a selection of carefully marinated meats, homemade burgers along with beautifully prepared
salads and grilled veggies. There are lots of ideas online for additional recipes you could add if you
wanted to take it to the next level, from grilled fruit to smokey casseroles cooked over the grill and
much more.

Curry Night
Flavoursome, vibrant and all round delicious, curry is always a crowd pleaser. Cooking a selection of
different curries might feel like a big job, however you can start off with the same base so it’s not quite
as complicated as you might think. Caramelising onions then adding garlic fresh tomatoes until pulpy
can be the start of many wonderful curries. Wait until the mixture is cool, blend it and divide it into as
many dishes as you want to create. You could add different fresh and dried herbs, spices and spice
blends to each dish to get a very different taste each time. Some curries could have cream or yoghurt
added to them, some could have marinated chicken pieces, others marinated lamb. You could quite
easily create four or five different variations for an incredible curry night, and best of all they store well
 too. So it’s something you could do a couple of days in advance. Serve with naan breads, onion
bhajis, poppadoms and rice. Just be sure to make your curries at varying spice levels so that there’s
 something for everyone.

Professional Caterers
If it’s going to be a large event, with more people than you can comfortably cook for yourself then
why not get in professional caterers? They could provide the bulk of the food, and then you could do
 the fun, extra things and dishes you could enjoy cooking the most. For example, companies like
Boos Philly offer catering for parties- you can get more info here. That way you can provide everyone
 with cheesesteaks, then perhaps you could cover starters and desserts? You could even use your
 local pizza joint and order in a tonne of pizzas, and do the extra things like chicken and other sides
yourself. If it’s more of a formal party then professional caterers could put together fancy dishes for
 you. As you’re only relying on them partially it will be less expensive, and you still get the fun of
cooking just without all the pressure.

Pot Luck
If you’re on a bit of a budget or just want to do something fun and exciting then a potluck party is
always good. Assign a starter, main dish or dessert for your guests to make and bring, and then
when everyone arrives you have a nice selection of different foods. Because you’re not making all
of the food yourself if works out a little cheaper and you get to experience your friends and family’s
recipes too so could find something new!

Monday, November 20, 2017

4 Fun Ways To Jazz Up Your Morning Coffee

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and most of us accompany it with a cup of coffee. I hate to admit it, but I’m quite a religious coffee drinker. I like my morning cup, but sometimes it can feel a bit repetitive and boring. So, I came up with a few fun ways you can jazz up your morning coffee, adding some excitement to your mornings!

Start your day with a happy cup of coffee. Credit

Add Some Flavored Syrup

If you’ve a coffee-lover, then the taste of a fresh brew is enough to send your tongue to heaven. However, if you want to take your coffee to the next level, why not add some flavored syrup? All the big coffee shops have syrup that you can add to your drink (usually for an added price, I’m not sure why) and you can buy them for home too. There are so many flavours, including pumpkin spice, which is great during fall, along with a more Christmassy gingerbread. A teaspoon in your coffee is all it takes to give you some extra flavor every morning.

Try A Different Roast

Coffee comes in many different roasts, using different coffee beans. Most people tend to find a roast they like, and stick with it. A typical breakfast coffee tends to be a medium roast, so if you’ve been drinking that all your life, now’s the time to switch it up. You can go for a lighter roast or a darker one. Personally, I say give dark a try as some of the best dark roast coffee is made by Italian companies, and Italian coffee is superb! Obviously, if you’re a dark roast kinda gal, why not switch things up and change to medium or light for a few days per week? It gives you a chance to experiment with different flavors!

Make A Fancy Coffee

When I make coffee for myself, it’s usually something quite boring. It’s either a filter coffee or a standard americano, sometimes I just have it black. But, you can add some extra spice to your mornings by making a fancy little flat white, latte, or cappuccino. All you need is something to froth up and heat milk, and you’re good to go. There are loads of tutorials online to help you make any of these drinks, it just adds some extra fun to your mornings.

Have It Ice Cold

What about this; you make your normal morning coffee, then you shove it in a blender with loads of ice cubes! Just like that, you’ve got yourself an iced coffee! Add some extra milk or cream to the mix, and you can turn it into a milkshake of sorts too. A fun little idea to help wake you up even more with a jolt of coldness. Also, the perfect morning drink during the hot months of the year too.

Try each of these ideas during the week, and you’ve already got four alternatives to your normal morning coffee! Break the mold a little bit; have some fun first thing in the morning.

The Secret's Professional Chef's Learn In The Industry

When it comes to food, everyone has an opinion and a preference. It’s arguably more diverse than politics, religion or any other hot subject. Everyone, no matter who they are, will have their own edible tastes and prefer to experiment within certain parameters. Of course, good food and bad food still exist, and there is an objective determinant of quality. However, when it comes to becoming a better cook, it can be difficult to learn where to start.

What cuisine should you specialize in? How do you learn new techniques? How do you approach that new ingredient you’re hesitant to try? Well, some of the best ways to learn is through the experience of those who have worked in professional kitchens. We’ve managed to secure some of the best tips they learn, which can hopefully inform your own time in the kitchen to a significant degree.

Without further ado:

Always Keep Your Station Clean

Obviously, in this situation, our ‘station’ is likely going to be our kitchen countertop. However, just because you haven’t a screaming head chef following your every move, the benefits of kitchen hygiene should not be ignored. Not only does it help you keep everything organized, but it’s much safer. Dropping a piece of heavy equipment, or cross-contaminating is much less difficult when you regularly wipe down your countertop with a disinfectant. Not only that, but cleaning as you go helps you eschew the dread of a huge dish-pile to take care of at the end of the session, allowing you to focus more on the meal you’ve created stress-free.

Learn Online

Of course, there are many places you can learn about cooking. Sometimes, the best place you can learn is from your grandmother or close relatives, especially if they know old methods which your culture have preserved for years. Carrying on a family recipe could be an important privilege to hold. However, that doesn’t mean learning online can’t be immensely resourceful.

Not only do you have a wondrous repository of online recipe books, and video tutorials provided by sites like ours and celebrated television chefs, but specialist websites such as Fire Food Chef allow you to diversify your interests in knowledgeable directions, such as meat-specific cooking or vegan focused alternatives. Even the best chef’s will look at their iPhone during service to make do without ingredients they might be lacking, or to top off their menu with that little-added flair. Information is everywhere, so be sure to use it.

Timing Is Crucial

While cooking is a skill with seemingly endless possibility, there are some steadfast rules that anyone embarking on a pursuit within the kitchen should learn. For example, one of the most important things to understand is that timing is crucial to know. A mastery of timing getting a feeling for the different cooking requirements of certain foods will help you masterfully pull your dish together. You can use the best ingredients in the world, but an undercooked or overcooked feature of a dish can ruin the whole experience. For that reason, experimenting, experimenting and experimenting could be for you. Try to memorize the time and temperatures of certain implements instead of simply relying on looks, and you’ll have a sharp tool in your arsenal to contribute to the fight of making beautiful food.

With these tips, you’re sure to be a little more skilled in your ambition, approaching the same level of the chef’s you would gladly pay to cook for you.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Easy Lunches to Bring to Work

We have all been in this scenario; it gets to the middle of the day and your stomach starts rumbling. You realise that you haven’t brought anything to have for lunch, so you head out to buy something. And when you are hungry, you often come back with way too much unhealthy food.

To combat this, in this article, we are going to talk about a few easy lunches to cook and bring into work. Not only is this the much healthier approach as you can control exactly what goes inside, it is also the more cost-effective choice. And, here are some coolers worth the money that you can bring your healthy lunch in with. So, let’s begin!

Interesting Salads

Salads are a classic lunch option, but they can get a little boring over time. The trick is to vary things up over time. Why not try an avocado chicken salad with some yoghurt and lemon juice? If you are a vegetarian, you could replace the chicken with chickpeas so you still get your source of protein. Looking for something with a little more spice? Then go for a chorizo and tomato salad with some tangy cherry vinegar.

Super Sandwiches

Rather than your boring old ham and cheese, you should try to be a little more interesting with your sandwich-making. For example, who could resist a crunchy peanut butter wrap with some chopped apple and granola? A nice simple option (it only needs four ingredients) is a red pepper, goat cheese and fresh mint wrap, with just a pinch of salt. If you have a little bit more time on your hands to prepare a really great lunch, go for a sweet potato, chickpea and quinoa veggie burger.

Something Different

If you are sick to death of the usual sandwich and salad options, you could instead try something a little different. Check out this buddha bowl recipe, packed with protein to keep you going through a long day at work. Another great healthy option is a chicken and asparagus lemon stir-fry, where you can transform some relatively bland basic ingredients with lemon juice, garlic, and soy sauce. If you feel like having a bit of brunch at work, you could go for some mini frittatas.

Slow Cooked Options

A nice, affordable option is to make things in bulk and enjoy them during the course of the week. If you have a slow cooker, now is the time to dig it out. During the winter months, there is nothing like a nice stew - beef and barley is a fantastic choice or you sausage and bean is another nice one. Alternatively, you could go for some handmade soup such as tomato lentil or vegetable. These are very cheap and can last you a long time. Another great option is a vegetable curry complete with sweet potato and chickpeas.

Hopefully, you are now inspired to create yourself some lovely work lunches which are great for your health, your tastebuds and your wallet!               

Thursday, November 2, 2017

In Your Twenties? Let’s Learn How To Get Into Cooking

OK, guys, the party’s over. It won’t be long until we’ve left university behind and find ourselves out there in the big, bad (but also awesome!) world, and it’s high time we learned how to take care of ourselves. All the goods things in life happen when we’ve got the essentials in place, which means looking after ourselves, getting enough exercise, and eating well. But how do we achieve the last part if we’ve been eating noodles for the past three years? Below, we take a look at simple ways you can get into cooking and make it a part of your life.

pexels-photo-326278 (1).jpeg

Look Up Simple Recipes

We’ll save the three-course Sunday dinners for another time. To begin with, look up those simple, easy to make delicious meals. There are plenty of nutritious options out there that you can whip up in no time. This will just get you used to spending time in the kitchen; once you’ve got your bearings, you’ll be able to tackle more advanced dishes.

Affordable, Tasty

One of the biggest misconceptions about cooking is that good food has to be expensive. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Good food is all around and never has to cost too much. Fill your cupboards with lentils, beans, hummus, and all the other delicious kitchen staples. If you have them and some Smithfield Meats, you’ll be able to create a healthy and tasty meal that won’t put a dent in your post-student life budget. So the next time your friend tells you they opt for inexpensive ready meals because they can’t afford to eat anything more nutritious, tell them they’re wrong!

Have a Tidy, Well-Prepped Kitchen

We’ve all been in some pretty horrific student digs. Indeed, this is one of the reasons students are known for not cooking: it’s impossible to find all the cooking utensils! Having a tidy kitchen, one that has all the essential cooking supplies and equipment, will make you much more likely to spend some time getting to know the art of cooking. Also, it’s just more hygienic!

The Power of Leftovers

One of the best things about cooking is the leftovers! If you make one great pot of curry or chilli, you’ll be able to eat for days. And you’ll also discover that these types of foods only become more flavoursome if they’re stored overnight. If you’re in the mood for a warming, hearty dish that’ll feed you for days, look up the best autumn chilli recipes.

Make It Fun

Like anything in life, you’ll be much more likely to get stuck into the habit of cooking if you find it enjoyable. So make it fun! Playing music, dancing around, or enjoying a glass of wine as you prepare food will show you that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore.

Final Thoughts

The motivation for a takeaway will always be there, but at some stage or another, you’re going to have to cook for yourself. Start today, and begin your journey towards a healthy lifestyle!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Making the Most of Fall and its Harvest


Fall is with us. The leaves are falling from the trees, the temperature is dropping, and harvest is coming to an end. This is the time of year that can really come to be defined by its edible offerings. Just think of how many people wait in anticipation of pumpkin spice lattes throughout the year. But there’s so much more to try out than mass-produced, commercialised beverages. Hearty, warming food is where it’s at this season, and we’re here to help you make the most of it! Here are just a few ideas to get your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling.

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables should form the foundations of most of your main meals this season. Why? Well, they’re stodgy, packed with energy and will keep you full and functioning through the colder, shorter days. There’s so much you can do with them. But a firm favourite of ours is a chunky vegetable stew. This meal will take a while to make, but it’s surprisingly easy and is definitely worth the wait. All you need to do is fill a huge pot and leave it simmering with vegetable stock. Then roughly cut wholesome root vegetables such as white potato, sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, onion and garlic, and throw them into the pot. Guarantee the good quality of these ingredients by purchasing from renowned suppliers such as Smithfield Food. You don’t need to be precise with your slicing. The rougher, the better, as it will give the final dish a more authentic, rustic feel. Store any leftover stew away in Tupperware in the fridge. It could last you for a few filling and hearty meals.

Sweet Treats

While savoury options spring to mind at the mention of harvest vegetables, you should bear in mind that there are delicious sweet treats that can be made from humble ingredients such as the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is an autumnal staple and is something that everyone should try their hand at making at some point or another. After all, what’s better than home baking? It fills your home with delicious scents, and there’s something oh so rewarding about making your own baked goods. For pumpkin pie, use fresh pumpkin rather than tinned pumpkin. This will give you the best final taste and texture. Scoop out the stringy portions and ensure that the remaining pumpkin flesh is rinsed of seeds. Cut the flesh into chunks, then boil with water in a saucepan. Drain it, then mash. Place in a blender with evaporated milk, two beaten eggs, and 175g of brown sugar. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Blend. Next, prepare your pastry as usual, or invest in ready-made store-bought pastry if you have a little less time on your hands or are a little less confident in your pastry making skills. Gently press your pastry around a pie dish. Fill with your blended pumpkin mix and bake for 40 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees celsius (gas mark 6).

This is the best time of year for the produce that will make these recipes, so make the most of it!