Tips for Cooking on an Electric Stove

12 06 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Joelk75

If you have just made a long-awaited switch from gas to one something along the lines of a electric cooker, you would be wrong to think both are the same to cook with.

There are benefits to both, an electric device, for instance, is easier to clean and a steady cooking surface makes it harder to know pots over. On the other hand, controlling temperature with a  gas cooker is far easier. But before you jump in with both feet and burn your food – or even worse, ruin your cooker – there are some things you should be aware of.

Control the heat

The temperatures an electric cooker is able to reach are much higher than those of a gas burner – this means food will heat up more quickly and will burn if you are not careful. You should begin by using lower heat settings while you learn to use the hob properly.

Because of this, you should be sure to use the correct pans. The ones that suited your gas cooker may not work here. Metal pans – like aluminium – conduct heat very well meaning food will sear much faster. You should consider switching to a copper coated cast iron pan


Save energy

Even though your new electric hob will heat up a lot quicker than anything you have been used to in the past, it will also cool down at a far slower rate. This means you can conserve a little bit of energy by turning the hob off for the final few minutes of cooking.

It is important to remember that the cooking surface will stay hot for a lot longer once you have finished cooking. Trying to clean it too soon can be dangerous and result in a burn. Most appliances have an indicator to inform you when it is safe to return.

Two burners

While they heat up fast and cool down slow, controlling the temperature is difficult on an electric stove. If you are cooking something that requires you to change heat settings at regular intervals the two-burner method might help. Simply turn on two burners, each to a temperature you are planning to use. If you need something to boil and then reduce quickly to a simmer, place the pan over the hotter hob before quickly moving it to the second.

If using this method it is important to be careful around the hob without a pan. It can be very easy to forget and burn yourself.

Be safe

A lot of a Rangemaster electric cooker’s features are safer as there is no need to work with gas but there are a few things you should look out for. Never store items on top of the stove, even when turned off. It is very easy to accidentally turn on a dial without noticing. It can heat up and create a very dangerous fire hazard.

Also, if you have a power cut, make sure everything is turned off correctly. You may leave the stove as it is, but once power returns it can heat up without you knowing about it.

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Five Unusual Soup Recipes That Taste Great

7 06 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from moohaha

Soup is delicious and can be very good for you. It is also really simple, you just shove a load of ingredients in your Waring soup maker and you’re virtually ready to eat. It is a process there is little point in complicating unless you’re a top chef.

Vegetables, soup’s main components, are low in fat and full of vitamins, helping you to your all-important five a day. If you’re after just a basic soup that is good for you, you could do a lot worse than Mediterranean vegetable. Red peppers are full of vitamin C and tomatoes contain lycopene – an antioxidant that helps to fight heart disease. You should also add a bit of oregano which is known to be an anti-bacterial.

But, as is the case with many things, people take great joy in complicating and subverting the easy – the most obvious example being extreme ironing. It is true that the combinations of ingredients you can chuck into soup are almost limitless – something some people find it far too easy to take literally.

Crazy doesn’t always mean disgusting, though. Here are some of the most unusual, yet delicious, soups from around the world.

Kiburu soup

Mud soup anyone? This strange broth from the foot of Kilimanjaro is a mix of sweet bananas, beans and dirt. That dirt includes leaves, branches, twigs and soil – according to the locals it gives the soup a salty taste. It is also said to have a very positive effect on the health of those who eat it.

Bird nest soup

One of the world’s most expensive soups, this is made from the edible nest of the swiflet, a bird native to south east Asia. The saliva melts down to a gelatinous solution in water and is known by some as the “caviar of the east”. The first people to eat it are thought to be Tang emperors who existed around the eighth century. It apparently has many health benefits.

Shirako Soup

This delicacy from Japan and China is known colloquially as cod’s milk soup. Nature enthusiasts will know that the cod does not produce milk. The males, though, do produce sperm – this soup is made from the sac it is stored in. It can be raw or cooked – when cooked, the sac melts down and becomes creamy, a little like the consistency of custard.

Menudo

A Mexican speciality, menudo is made from cow stomach. This is stewed up with chillies, onions and oregano for up to ten hours. Its fans say that by the end of its huge cooking time, the trip is so tender it just melts away on your tongue. The dish is sometimes served with tortillas on the side.

Incidentally, Menuo was also the name of a Puerto Rican boy band formed in the 1970s.

Supu Soup, Tanzania

In these straitened times it is better to waste not want not – this Tanzanian soup does just that. Supu, in Tanzanian, means soup and this is a basic staple of the country’s diet. It uses pretty much every bit of a goat possible, including its lungs, heart, liver, head, intestines, tongue and stomach. Strangely the soup is eaten as a breakfast meal, but that may have something to do with its supposed ability to cure hangovers.





How To Put Together An Interesting Menu For Your New Catering Business

13 04 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from soyculto

Have you recently opened a café or restaurant? Or perhaps you’re planning to make your big break in the food industry and hope to become an award winning Michelin star chef? You may simply want to turn your passion for cooking in to your everyday job. Whatever your motivations for starting a catering business, one aspect that is really important to get right the first time around is the menu. People don’t go to a café just to soak up the atmosphere – they go for the tasty food and drink available. Read on to find out how to put together an interesting menu for your new catering business.

Choose a colour scheme to match the style of the establishment

If your restaurant is fancy and you’re serving up haute cuisine, you may wish to opt for dark colours on your menu to convey a sense of seriousness and professionalism. A casual restaurant calls for warm, muted colours that make it look inviting and enticing, while a restaurant aimed at younger clientele calls for a brightly coloured menu with a wackier theme. Making your menu match the style of your restaurant and age range of your expected clientele is a safe bet.

Order your menu logically

It may be obvious but make sure that the order in which you display the dishes you offer is logical. That means that any breakfast dishes must come first, followed by lunch and then the evening should be split into starters, main and desserts. It’s traditional to list drinks last with specialty drinks such as wine or cocktails being listed on a separate card.

Visually section your menu

Break up the different food categories using large and simple headings. Alternatively, list each category of dishes on a separate page. As well as main sections such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, you may require subsections too, such as fish, poultry, vegetarian, pasta, salads.

Make it visually appealing

Add images to your menu to make it visually appealing and show the customers what they can expect from the food you serve. Try not to include too many pictures as they can make a menu seem less elegant. However, if you offer a truly show-stopping dessert, be sure to include it on the dessert section of your menu to entice customers to leave room for pudding.

Price carefully

You want to make sure you take home a profit but you also have to be careful not to overprice your food, or you’ll lose out on customers. A good way to gauge your pricing is to estimate based on food cost and portion control. You could also check out the competition, and if you do happen to have seemingly too high prices, you can use it as an excuse to put on a special happy hour offer on drinks.

Specialty Menus

When the time comes for seasonal holidays, make sure you show your customers that you have their best interests at heart by planning a specialty menu for the occasion. Mother’s Day is a great time to use a specialty menu in addition to your regular menu. You’ll find that many households want to give Mum the day off from cooking a big meal on Mother’s Day. You could even increase customer numbers by giving each Mum her meal for free.

Menu covers

Think about the style of restaurant you’re opening. Will it attract customers with younger kids? In which case, it may be wise to cover your menu so that it is water resistant and can be cleaned easily if any food items drop on it. Protect the edges so that there is no risk of the cover getting torn off and child proof your menus by ensuring they are not sharp cornered.

Make it really easy for customers to order food in your restaurant by placing your selection of menus in a menu holder on each table. UKPoS menu holders are a useful way to store your menus so that your customers have access to all of the food and drink options available in your establishment.





How to Marinate Foods for Extra Flavour?

2 02 2013

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Image from Flickr creative commons via Dplanet:

Chicken, steak, shrimps, peppers and aubergine – just some of the foods that are delicious on their own, and fantastic when marinated. So what is marinating? Essentially it is the act of soaking food in a liquid during the cooking process to help infuse it with various flavours and colour that would otherwise have been absent. Put simply, a marinade can help to turn it from a standard dish into a taste sensation and can ensure that people are talking about your incredible prawns or amazing steak a long time after the meal has finished.

Think about a boneless, skinless chicken breast. On its own it’s a perfectly good meal that can be cooked in a number of ways and added to anything from pasta to a salad. However, with a bit of preparation you can quickly and simply turn a chicken breast into a juicy and mouth-watering dish that is perfect for barbeques or preparing inside on range cookers. What’s more, the taste will ensure that marinating becomes your new favourite hobby in the kitchen! Balsamic vinegar, thyme, oregano, rosemary, onion powder and mustard can be combined to make a great little marinade for instance. Something a little more adventurous such as an orange, ginger and sesame marinade can produce a fantastic dish too.

Oil tends to be used as the basis for marinades and there are plenty to choose from. Think about olive or sesame, peanut or perhaps walnut oil. Alternatively you could use a dairy product such as milk, yogurt or perhaps even coconut milk. If you are concerned about using too much oil because of health reasons then substituting it for something like coconut milk is a great idea.

Keeping an eye on the clock is important when you are marinating as you do not want the process to spoil the food or affect its flavour in anything but a completely fabulous way! While something like beef is fine to marinate for 24 hours, you only really want to be bathing something like seafood for less than an hour. Any more than that and you risk the chance of it becoming mushy as a result of the acid in the marinade.

Safety is important when you are marinating food too. Always marinate in the fridge as doing so at room temperature with raw meat can allow bacteria to multiply quickly. And remember to use a container made from glass or food-safe plastic as metal dishes can react with the food.

Reusing marinade is not recommended, although it is possible to take a marinade that has been in contact with raw meat and then boil it for a few minutes to destroy harmful bacteria. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the finished dish then either make an extra portion, or separate out some of the marinade before adding raw meat.

The only limitation when it comes to creating marinades is your imagination. Trying new flavour combinations is all part of the fun and while you might end up with an absolute stinker of a concoction, with a bit of practice you might come up with a recipe that will end up getting passed down through the generations!