By Linda Parker
Is it wrong to be slightly underwhelmed by GBBO this time round? I think I have a bake overload. And since when did everyone refer to a cake of a plate of biscuits (not cookies) as a ‘bake’…
Perhaps I’m over-egging the pudding a bit, but I think it’s all getting a bit obsessive. Even Facebook seems to be full of yummy mummies selling cupcakes and cookies. I think perhaps we should be encouraging our offspring to be eating more fruit’n’veg rather than stuffing them full of cakes.
On the other hand though, I have just ordered this cake…
…for my mother’s 80th birthday celebrations – so I will report on the deliciousness of that at a later stage.
I think it’s hardly possible to go wrong with white chocolate, dark chocolate cream and vanilla sponge. And full marks to Patisserie Valerie for a super-efficient website and ordering system. And yes, I should have made a cake or got the good ladies of the WI to make one for me but frankly, I’m all done with cake-making for now and will re-charge my baking batteries by admiring young Martha’s Mini Lemon & Thyme Drizzle Cakes instead – I really hope she continues to do well throughout the series, we’re #teammartha all the way here!
I’ve spent a fair amount of time this month trying out the fabulous DeLonghi Multifry multi-cooker, and it has pretty much lived up to expectations. I spent a while last year without the use of an oven, and we all managed admirably with the hob, microwave, steamer and halogen cooker. But, had I been able to use the Multifry, that would have been a super-efficient alternative to the halogen oven.
My only slight gripe with the multi-fry is that it’s not that speedy – but I’m pretty certain that my time-judgment has gone awry recently as it’s now ingrained that food has to be fast and instant (thanks very much Mr Jamie Oliver and your 15-Minute Meals concept). Having said that, I’ve used a couple of JO 15 Minute recipes recently – The Best Fish Baps with Mushy Peas and Keralan Veggie Curry with Poppadoms, both of which were excellent, well-judged recipes but I can’t quite get the timing down to 15 minutes… (and there’s always at least 60 minutes of mess to clear up afterwards!!!)
Anyway, back to the DeLonghi Multifry … first up… chips!
We can all cook chips, but to be able to cook them without worrying about heating up a vat of oil is a joy. I’ve only cooked small amounts, but the Multifry can cook up to eight portions, with a cooking time of 40 minutes – smaller quantities take far less time. My lot were delighted with a bowl of piping hot fresh French fries, a scoop of mayonnaise and a side salad, for a simple, fuss-free summer holiday lunch. Chips and salad is healthy, surely?! And, it only used a smidge of oil. Rising to the #MultifryChallenge we then went to make Toad In The Hole (delicious, with the caramelized onions making a ton of difference), although I must emphasise that it’s vital to beat the batter properly and not skimp on that bit.
Chicken Cacciatore was less successful, but I think the wine I used may have been slightly past it’s best. When in doubt, blame the wine. There are lots of appealing recipes on the app, and some slightly strange ones on the website (Stuffed Cuttlefish sounds odd and looks even worse …). But all in all, this is a fab gadget, and I’m impressed with the number of dishes it can produce. Risotto is particularly successful, as the removable and revolving paddle ensures that nothing sticks. But … even if we only use it for fries, it’s by far the easiest and nicest way getting perfect results! If you get a chance to try one or watch a demo, jump at it.
One item that I’ve been praising to the skies this month is the Digital Measuring Jug from Heston Blumenthal’s Precision range by Salter.
This has already become one of the most-used-items in the kitchen… We’ve seen similar things before, but this is very slick, automatically converts dried and liquid ingredients from weight to volume and generally takes the guess-work out of anything to do with sauces and batters – which are always more successful (unless you’re already a super-chef) when the measurements are accurate. So if anyone is looking for a useful ‘going-to-uni’ housewarming gift for a nouveau chef, this wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
And my final recommendation this month is a look at the Ideal Life Collection Essential DVD Guides… with an eclectic range of subject matter (from Keeping Bees to Wine Tasting and Keeping Chickens via Meat: Cut It, Cook It, Carve It) there are some serious life skills to address here.
I’ve just watched Meat and although I thought I had fairly good ‘knife skills’ I can now see that they leave a lot to be desired, and I’m vowing to try harder. And of course, a neatly sliced and presented platter does seem to go an awful lot further than the currently uber-trendy ‘tear it up’ style of presentation.