Linda’s latest kitchen gadgets…
By Linda Parker
I feel all warm and happy, having had a delicious TV evening in the company of the incomparable Mary Berry. I was mesmerised by the ease and grace she exudes whilst whipping up a variety of cakes, some jam and a plate of scones (please note, Mary’s pronunciation is ‘scone’ as in ‘gone’ – and they will be …so I am taking that as the definitive from this date forwards…)
The new series, Mary Berry Cooks (8.30 BBC2 from 3rd March) is a selection of her favourite recipes, which have now been tweaked and updated for today’s enthusiastic home chefs. We started with Afternoon Tea, which includes simple, classic recipes for Lemon Cake, Orange Butterfly Cakes, and aTray bake with fondant icing.
It was wonderful to see Mary Berry doing her thing, but possibly a little slow paced for today’s cooking shows… but if you want to do some easy-peasy cooking with youngsters, that’s the way to go. I fully intend to have a baking session with my littlest niece, Lois, as the recipes are foolproof, simple and absolutely yummy.
It made me think that perhaps we need a few more straightforward recipes in our lives … although Mary’s instructions for making sandwiches were pushing the boundary a little. I would like to think that we don’t need to be shown how to make a sandwich but many children today probably do … And may also need to be shown how to boil an egg too. (Use the sainted Delia’s foolproof method, which is to bring a pan of water to the boil, gently put the egg in, leave to simmer for one min, then remove the pan from heat and leave for seven minutes for a perfect soft-boiled egg)
So, after the baking binge I think it’s time to pause and look at some new ideas…
I love home-made pizza, but very often get side-tracked into buying ready-made ones … as long as they have a very thin base and room for more toppings. I am absolutely beside myself with anticipation for the arrival of this little gadget though!
The G3 Ferrari G10006 Delizia Pizza Oven will cook frozen, fresh and home-made pizzas, making sure the base is crisp and won’t stick. It will cook a pizza in just a few minutes, so it’s easy to cook and serve for several diners at once. It also looks very chic and retro at the same time, perfect for those of us who insist on having an interesting looking kitchen!
Stop Press! I have just tested the Pizza Oven and can confirm that it is a brilliant gadget, very simple to use and produces crispy-based pizzas like magic. My chef’s tip would be to not cook from frozen unless you absolutely have to, results are best at room temperature.
At the other end of the kitchen equipment spectrum take a look at one of the latest oven launches from AEG. The ProCombi SousVide oven, is a professional-style built in oven that will provide all the SousVide skills, but with the advantages of built-in design and without having to find surface space for a separate gadget.
The appliance vacuum seals, then steams the ingredients, but the oven can also steam, roast, grill and bake – making it a healthy investment for serious home chefs. It’s not available until June 2014, which gives us a few months to save up – the AEG ProCombi SousVide oven is £1400, and the Vacuum Sealer is £1600.
I can’t resist adding another recommendation of a sound system … it’s the Panasonic SC-NA10 portable wireless speaker system, with up to 20 hours playback time and very simple connectivity – it uses the Panasonic Music Streaming app.
Sound quality is powerful and clear, it looks neat and stylish, perfect for moving around the kitchen whilst you’re experimenting with recipes. Find out more here
And another foodie suggestion … since cutting down my ‘added sugar’ intake dramatically, (only having a tiny taste of our home baking experiments, honestly!) and becoming a bit of a bore regarding labelling and hidden sugars and sweeteners, I’ve been on a mission to find alternative condiments and flavourings…
It comes in three versions – Mint and Lemon in addition to the Natural version. It has an incredibly intense effect but contains 75% less sodium than normal table salt … one or two ‘spritzes’ on a dish (think leg of lamb for the Mint version, or savoury pancakes for the Lemon version) is all that’s needed. I’m trying to resist so many flourishes with the sea salt grinder now, restricting myself to a mini-spritz of A’Rom instead, and looking forward to some real spring weather and fresh, green and minty springtime recipes.
Linda Parker, Food Fan and Freelance Interiors Journalist