Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yes Chef! The Ultimate Kitchen Guide


Cooking is something we all do, in some shape or form, every day.  It has become the heart of our TV viewing and celebrity cookbooks are showing no sign of slowing down in the popularity ratings.

This it is one of the reasons the kitchen is usually the heart of the home.  So, how do you ensure you have the greatest kitchen of all to impress and warm the hearts of your family and friends?  We’ve turned to the professionals for the best top tips!

Firstly let’s take a look at the most important part of every kitchen.  Hygiene.  How many of you know how you should be stocking your fridge?  

Refrigerating your food correctly is vital for keeping produce safe and ensuring you aren’t putting contaminated goods into your body.  If done in a safe way you will get a longer shelf life and less chance of harmful bacteria using your dinner as a breeding ground.  Follow this advice from the environmental health experts and you’ll have a professional standard fridge to rival any catering outlet.

Top and Middle Shelf.

Here is the home to all ready to eat foods.  Starting on the top shelf it is best to kick things off with your dairy products.  Cheese, yogurt and cream.  Moving down to the middle shelf we find cooked meats and prepared salads.  All ready to eat foods should be packaged and sealed, especially cooked meats.  Storing these foods at the top of the fridge prevents them becoming contaminated by your raw meats.

Bottom Shelf

Fish, Poultry and raw meat should all be kept at the bottom of the fridge where they cannot drip or touch other foods.  Keep each individual item wrapped and sealed.  It may also be useful to store this on a tray which can be removed and cleaned to help reduce raw meat contaminating the shelf above your salad drawer.  

Salad Drawers

Whilst the location of the salad drawer isn’t ideal, it is the best way of making the space in a domestic fridge work.  Make sure all vegetables and salads are washed before storing and ideally wrapped, either in their packaging or in brown paper bags, protecting them from any contamination whilst allowing them to breath.  A trick with unpackaged fresh herbs is to wrap them in slightly damp kitchen towel.  This helps feed the herb and prevents it from drying out.

Your fridge should be set at a temperature between 0 and 5 degrees.  This temp slows down the development of germs and maximizes the length of time it is safe to store food.  

Make sure you clean regularly using either bleach or a product such as Dettol. This will help ensure no bacteria are left from older foods and will help keep your fridge and family safe.  Have a look at this link for e-coli information and get to know your germs.  Understanding how diseases and bacteria spread throughout your home will insure the health of your children and yourself!

So, you’ve mastered the cleanest fridge stage let’s take a look at what you should arm yourself with to become the next Gordon Ramsey.  The Kitchen Equipment.


Jamie Oliver recently gave the world his ultimate guide to the Kitchen.  Reading through his books there is a theme on what he favors.  Another fine British Chef, Nigel Slater, tends to favor the more humble collection of utensils.  His focus is on the feel of the food, the enjoyment in making it and that extends from the end product to the texture and visuals of each step of the making process.  He has a collection of olive and walnut spoons and forks which he swears are all a human needs to make any meal.  He also loves a well baked in ceramic dish for the oven.  Something that shows the scars of its previous edible inhabitants.  

You don’t have to break the bank filling your kitchen with all the latest gadgets.  For an in-depth view check out our blog Kitchen Utensil Must Haves.  But for now let’s take a peek at the celebrity chefs collective guide to stocking your cupboards.

Basic essentials.  This list will get any kitchen set up and ready.  The bare necessities.  It’s up to you if you are a practical chef or a more romantic emphatic chef like Nigel.  

Extra-large, nonstick frying pan
Set of thick-bottomed saucepans (large, medium, small)
Good, sturdy sheet pans
Nest of mixing bowls
Knives (chef's knife, serrated carving knife, small paring knife)
Can opener
Vegetable peeler
Pestle and mortar
Weighing scales and measuring cups
Large colander
Large measuring cup
Box grater/Microplane grater
Strainer
Potato masher

Brilliant add ons. The best thing about the kitchen is that you can slowly add little gems to your armory.  Again if you are a chef who likes to textualize start thinking about the way things feel.  Do you like to feel weight when you lift your knife?  Or do you like the visuals of large cast iron pans?

Large grill pan
Extra-large casserole pan.  This is also known as a Dutch Oven.
Wok
Metal tongs
Wooden spoons
Metal whisk
Ladle, slotted spoon and slotted turner
Plastic spatula
Rolling pin
Varied size strainers - you can use fine sieve like ones for ricing potatoes.
Salad spinner
Thick, sturdy wooden chopping board and a small plastic chopping board
Food processor

Depending on if you are the next Mary Berry or not, you may want to consider specialist equipment to enhance your kitchen.  There are a few ideas of cool gadgets below.  Well worth considering for your home

Slow Cooker - perfect for cooking stews or roasting joints all day
Pressure Cooker - speed up the process of cooking stews!
Bread Maker - Fresh bread every morning! Yes please.
Yoghurt Maker - A really great gadget for making milk into yoghurt as needed
Thermometer - always useful for jam making or checking meats such as pork

It will take you time to build up the kitchen you want and also will depend on what style of cooking you enjoy the most.  We just hope you have plenty of cupboards for storing it all!

Finally, the store cupboard.  Ok, whilst we have no idea what your taste buds are like or even your culinary culture, we can tell you a few staples every kitchen should have.  Whether you stick to home style cooking, soul food, spicy masterpieces or are a fusion chef, most cultures have a similar stock of dry goods which can be combined in unique and exciting ways.  Some prefer to use chickpea flour to plain flour and others uses spices over herbs.  Enough talking, let’s get to it.



We’ll start with the spice rack.  Again, add your flare to our basic list but with these essentials you will always have a useful flavor to get your dinner going

Ground cinnamon
Chilli powder and Crushed Chillies
Dried oregano
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Curry powder
Smoked paprika
Five-spice powder
Sea salt - you could use pink salt for a healthier option
Black peppercorns



Moving into the pantry, we’ll warn you, it’s quite a list.  Again consider the style you use to cook and adapt it to your taste but most of these ingredients should be on hand in your stock reserves.  That way you can whip up any meal, any time with no fuss or desperate trips to the stores.

Whole grain mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil Sesame oil
White wine vinegar Bread flour
Whole wheat flour Baking powder
Dried yeast Superfine sugar
Brown sugar Confectioner's sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder Chow mein noodles
Canned cannellini beans Canned kidney beans
Canned tuna Canned coconut milk
Anchovies Quick-cook couscous
Basmati rice Brown rice
Oatmeal Honey
Maple syrup mixed nuts
Mixed seeds Chicken broth stock
Jarred pesto Ketchup
Tabasco sauce Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard English mustard
Olive oil Canola oil
Red wine vinegar Balsamic vinegar
All-purpose flour Cornstarch
Dried pasta Canned garbanzo beans
Canned tomatoes Baking powder
Soy sauce Worcestershire sauce
Plain crackers

The last place to arm yourself with a rolling stock is the freezer.  We suggest always having these items on hand for quick lunches and dinners in a dash

Peas
Green beans
Sweetcorn
Fruits
Raw Prawns or Shrimp
Frozen par baked bread.

Again, this is just a guide to give you some ideas on how to get your kitchen up to scratch and make it a really important part of your home.  If you have children you’ll know how much time you spend in the kitchen, it seems somebody is always hungry.  Don’t just use it as room to cook food in. Create it into a passionate and exciting place to be, social and warm with a constant waft of heavenly smells coming out of it.  

The only thing we can’t help you with is the cooking itself! So if you aren’t sure about your culinary expertise, get yourself down to a local cookery school and learn the tricks of the trade.  You’ll have fun, meet new people and then impress the socks off all your guests.

Bon Apetit!

xoxo,
Therese
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