4 Great Reasons You Should Start Cooking From Scratch

4 Great Reasons You Should Start Cooking From Scratch

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Food is one of the most important aspects of human life. Without the right nutrition, our bodies simply won’t work in the way that we desire. Moreover, diet plays an integral role in our appearances.

In today’s fast-paced society, cooking can feel like a chore. As a result, it’s easy to fall into the routine of eating ready meals and processed rubbish. While the odd quick cheat meal is fine, you don’t want to fall into the trap of taking the unhealthy eating lifestyle.

Besides, cooking from scratch can be very rewarding. Here are four great reasons you should rediscover your love of the kitchen.

It’s Better For You

The primary reason for choosing to cook your meals from scratch is that it gives you better nutrition. It’s as simple as that.

Feeding your family with the most nutritious food should be a priority for everyone. It’s hard to achieve this when you don’t even know what preservatives are added to your supermarket bought meals.

Growing your own fruit and veg, for example, has to be better for your family. It’s hardly the only benefit either…

It Tastes Better

While food should primarily be viewed as a way to fuel our bodies, it’s also important that we delight our taste buds. Let’s face it, a freshly cooked meal will always achieve this in a better way than a quick oven meal.

You don’t have to be a Michelin style chef to create amazing meals, especially with today’s modern kitchen tools. Sous vide equipment will ensure that you get the perfect meat time and time again. Better still, it’s often even less hassle than cooking your supposed quick and easy meals.

Your taste buds will be left satisfied, and your plates will be left empty.

It’s Cheaper

One of the main excuses that many families use is that cooking from scratch is too expensive. However, if you do it smartly, taking this option could actually save you money too.

The key is to make the most of the available ingredients before they go out of date. Even if it means cooking an extra portion and freezing it, the reheated meal will taste better than a ready meal.

Moreover, treat meals like pizzas are extremely cheap to make if you buy a dough base and decorate them yourself. This is additionally a great way to enjoy a group activity with the kids while teaching them the benefits of healthy eating.

It Will Impress Dinner Guests

There are few things in life more satisfying than entertaining your guests with a great dinner party. However, the evening will hardly stand out if you present them a plate of chicken nuggets and oven chips.

If you’re already used to cooking your meals from scratch, you’ll boast a repertoire of great recipes ready to wow your visitors. Combine it with a winning wine selection, and you’ll be set for the perfect evening of great food and entertainment with your friends.

Not producing great food won’t necessarily ruin the night, but it will remove some of the shine. Besides, it’s a great way to show off your culinary skills.

Planning A Stylish Dinner Party

I recently had a fantastic dinner party with my friends and family. The reason I think it was so good was because I was able to take part in the majority of the fun, eating and drinking, not been stranded as hosts usually are, in the kitchen. Below I am going to share some of my top dinner party tips, so hopefully you can replicate it and have a fantastic evening too.

A stylish dinner party doesn’t have to be all about trying to out do another host, or spending five days learning how to create the perfect swan from a napkin. It’s about time, and how much of it you can devote to your guests. That is the true key to the whole event. If you don’t spend enough time with the people, you invite you may as well have not invited them in the first place.

Theme

Chose a theme for your party. If the majority of your friends work in the city in the week, give them a break by doing something a little more fun like a fancy dress party. I chose an Oscars themed event where the boys came in suits, and the girls wore dresses. It set the tone for the evening. This allowed me to choose the correct add ons for the table and dining room, as well as the music – I chose some classic movie soundtracks from iTunes. If you don’t want to be bothered with venue dressing, you can get companies to help you do it.

Plan

If you want to have a stylish evening and you are feeling creative why not make some handmade invitation letters, they are fairly simple. However if creativity is not really up your street, you can buy some ornate and fancy ones from places such as Etsy. Another great tip is to ask if anyone has any dietary requirements on the invite. This way you won’t find out mid-way through your starter than one of your friends can’t have milk. Buy lots of candles or tealights, they are much more stylish than standard lighting and make the evening seem more intimate.

Food

Now you know how many guests to expect and what foods they will/won’t eat its time to decide on the food. My best advice is to select things that you had made before and made well. Many of my friends have tried to accomplish something crazy they saw on a cookery show, only for it to go wrong and end up ordering take away. Chose something that you know how to make well, and if possible pick something you can prepare/make the previous day to maximise your time with your guests.

Drinks

Drinks are a tough one to get right. I usually let the theme dictate it somewhat. For our Oscars evening, it was all champagne. On one of my other evenings, punch was more fitting. If in doubt though, let your guests bring a bottle, at least the will have something to drink that they definitely like.

 

My Kitchen Saviours: Don’t Cook Without These

My Kitchen Saviours: Don’t Cook Without These

If you love spending time in the kitchen, you should be interested in this post. I love spending time in the kitchen too, and over the years I’ve come across some gadgets I don’t think I could live without. The following items are my kitchen saviours…I won’t cook without them:

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A Griddle Pan

The griddle pan is great for cooking just about anything. You can cook your bacon, chicken, steak; whatever meat you’re eating that day. The great thing about it, is that it locks in all of the flavour while getting rid of lots of the fat. This makes the meat much healthier than frying!

A Slow Cooker

The slow cooker is a great tool for days when you’re just too busy to cook. Simply throw everything into the slow cooker and later on you’ll have your meal ready made. There’s no need to do anything else. Simply enjoy the aromas filling the house and get on with your day.

A Sturdy Grater

Whatever you’re grating, whether it’s cheese, garlic or fruit; it needs to be a sturdy grater. I’ve had graters that snap when you apply the slightest bit of pressure.

Kitchen Scales

Kitchen scales make sure you aren’t going to cook too much and end up wasting perfectly good food. You’ll also make sure you get the amounts of your recipes perfect, so you can cook every dish down to a T.

A Great Set of Knives

With a great set of knives, you can chop through just about anything at lightening speed. Vegetables, meat, fruit…you name it. Blunt knives and regular knives that we eat with aren’t as sharp for a reason. They aren’t made for the job. You won’t regret treating yourself to a set of these!

A Herb and Spice Rack

The more herbs and spices you have in the house, the better! You can buy most if these complete with a rack too. Herbs and spices transform a boring dish into something spectacular.

A Hand Blender

Strong hand blenders can be hard to come by. However, it’s one of the most useful kitchen gadgets. If you can find one that has no trouble blending ice and frozen fruit, you’re on to a winner! Many of the cheap ones will get too hot when they are being used for this kind of job.

A Pestle and Mortar

The pestle and mortar not only looks great when displayed in the kitchen, it’s great for mashing up ingredients. When a recipe calls for crushing garlic, for example. It’s fun to do too!

Heavy Set Pans

Heavy set pans are quality pans. Cheap pans that feel flimsy and light won’t last a very long time and will become scratched easily. Not only that, they are never as ‘non stick’ as they claim. Real, heavy set pans are an amazing addition to any kitchen.

Now you know what you should have in your kitchen, here are some fantastic cooking tips. Let me know if there are any kitchen gadgets you couldn’t be without. Thanks!

How To Cook The Perfect Sunday Roast

How To Cook The Perfect Sunday Roast

Everyone has their own idea of the perfect Sunday roast, right? Most of us think our mothers or grandmothers made the best meals, but today I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how to perfect this dish. You’ll obviously want to slightly alter my advice to pander to your own preferences, but I’m pretty confident if you follow this guide to the letter, you’ll create something all your friends and family members will love. After all, British people have been eating this dish on a Sunday for generations, and so it’s important we all understand how to create it. We wouldn’t want yet another of our traditions to fall to the wayside now would we?

These days, a lot of people don’t bother sitting down to eat together at the weekends, and I think that’s a real shame. For that reason, you should print this guide off, and any recipes you find online to ensure you have the right information and motivation to get your clan together on this most special of days. So, without any more delays on my part, here’s a short guide to cooking the perfect Sunday roast. Enjoy!

Choosing Your Meat

Traditionally, the great British Sunday roast would have either chicken, pork, beef or lamb. However, I firmly believe (and so do many others) that chicken or roast beef should always be the meat of choice. It doesn’t really matter where you get it from, as it’s possible to get good quality free range chickens in supermarkets these days, but you should definitely go down this path.

Cooking Your Vegetables Properly

Very few people actually manage to cook their vegetables properly and so I thought it might be wise for me to give you some handy tips. Always check your greens before serving, as this is the only way you’ll know if they need more time in the saucepan. You want them crispy, but not too crispy, and you need to ensure they’re not soggy in any way. If people wanted to eat soggy veg, they’d get it out of a tin!

Making Your Mash

Lots of people simply boil their potatoes, and then mash them until there’s no lumps left. While this is a great way to start, there’s a lot more you can do to make them taste fantastic. For instance, you can add a knob of butter and some milk to make the potato more creamy. This will obviously make it taste a little more like instant, but in the view of many people, this is far tastier.

Serving With A Smile

Like it or not, the goal of a Sunday roast is to put as much on your diners plates as possible, and so you’ll need to learn some adequate stacking skills. Even so; service with a smile is nearly always welcomed, especially with a dinner so delightful. So, when you reach this stage, just put the food on the table and call the family down to start tucking in. Watch their faces!

So there you have it my friends. Now you know how to cook the perfect Sunday roast, I don’t want to hear you’ve settled for one of those microwave meals ever again.

Cheers!

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Top Tips For Throwing An Awesome Dinner Party For Your Friends

Top Tips For Throwing An Awesome Dinner Party For Your Friends

If you’ve never really thrown a dinner party for your friends before, but you really want to start doing it regularly in the future, then it’s vital you learn how to become a good host. To keep your friends and associates returning time and time again, you’ll need to make sure the food is top notch and most importantly; they all enjoy themselves. With that in mind, I’ve taken some time out to write this short article today in the hope of giving you some handy tips that should ensure you don’t make any basic errors. At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping people entertained, right?

So, spend the next few minutes reading through the tips I’ve listed below. If you need to print this article off or take notes that’s fine, just make sure you give me your full attention and I guarantee your dinner party will benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably come last on a TV show like “Come Dine With Me” due to my terrible cooking skills, but hopefully you’ve got the food side of things sorted. Otherwise, why would you even throw a dinner party in the first place?

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Make Your Own Centerpiece

No dinner table is complete without a cool centerpiece made by yourself. Many people choose to use flowers and similar items as they tend to have a great effect whilst also being incredibly simple to put together. Of course, if you’re feeling a little more ambitious then you should try something a little different. Just go mad with this one, whatever you make, your guests will love it.

Cook 3 Courses Minimum

As you’ve invited people round for a dinner party, simply providing them with one meal seems a tad lazy, so you really need to work on a minimum of three courses if you want to impress them. There are many websites online which provide menus for gatherings like this, so make sure you use them instead of spending lots of cash on cookery books.

Hire A Celebrity Motivational Speaker

There are currently lots of agencies around that find work for celebrities at private functions, and so long as you can afford their prices, there’s no reason why you couldn’t book someone like Julia Bradbury or Jimmy Carr to come and entertain your guests. This is sure to make an amazing impression.

Select A Perfect Wine List

Lastly, if you really want your dinner party to stay in people’s minds for a long time, then making sure you select a perfect wine list in essential. We all like a drink, especially when eating a hearty meal, so spend some time reading through advice websites online to ensure you find out which drinks would be most suitable considering the food on your menu.

So long as you utilise these tips and follow my advice, there’s no reason why your guests won’t be coming back for more every single month. Good luck with the dinner party guys, although, I don’t expect you’ll need it.

See you soon!

Pairing Wine with Spicy Food the Easy Way

Pairing Wine with Spicy Food the Easy Way

All of us enjoy a bit of spice with our food every now and then, whether it is home cooked or from the local takeaway. However, most of us will reach for a beer or soft drink when eating a curry, as opposed to opening a bottle of wine. There’s a common misconception that wine and spicy food do not mix; we disagree! Here are some quick and easy tips for pairing that delicious food with an equally delicious wine.

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Sweet Wines

If you want to tame some of that spiciness tingling on your tongue, then look for some sweet wines. A sweeter wine will balance some of the hotness from your chosen spicy food; so as not to create a clash of flavours on your taste buds. The residual sugar in rose or an off-dry white works perfectly to combat the heat, as it coats the tongue. You don’t need to invest in a bottle of dessert wine to get that sweet fix, try Riesling, or something similar, for a wine that works perfectly with spicy food.

Low Alcohol

The high alcohol content in wine is going to react with the spices in your food, and cause a burn on the tongue that is far from pleasant. A low alcohol wine that has been chilled in the fridge will help to cool down the heat and means you can drink it quicker than a high alcohol wine, which tends to be sipped. Taking a nice glug of low alcohol wine will cool you tongue quicker than sipping a high alcohol alternative. Crisp, low percentage wines should be the order of the day with your next spicy dinner.

Sparkling Wines

This seems to be the most popular opinion between wine experts; sparkling wines are the best to drink whilst eating spicy food. The bubbles in sparkling wine provide a nice contrast on your taste buds, which are trying to cool themselves down after the super hot sauce you’ve just consumed. The tang in certain champagnes and sparkling wines will offset the tang of your meal and create a wonderfully pleasant sensation on your tongue. Plus, everyone loves an excuse to drink a bit of sparkling with their dinner.

Crisp Red Wines

Everyone is worried about combining red wine with spicy food, normally because of the tannin and alcohol content. However, you don’t need to avoid red wine altogether when enjoying a nice curry; just be wary of the ones you choose. A low alcohol content, crisp, red wine will taste delicious with your meal. If you’re out searching for a nice bottle of red to serve then look for those that are either fruity or spicy, with a good level of acidity. Avoid favourites such as Merlot or Shiraz and opt for a Barbera or Zinfandel instead.

Pairing wine with spicy food doesn’t have to be difficult, especially not now you have all these expert tips! However, if you’re still stuck for ideas then try visiting a wine merchant and asking an expert what they suggest. Let them know the food you’re cooking, and the particular spices involved, for a more personalised recommendation.

Secrets To Selecting The Most Appropriate Wine For Your Dinner Party

Secrets To Selecting The Most Appropriate Wine For Your Dinner Party

No matter what kind of person you are, holding dinner parties can be a great way of socialising with your friends and colleagues regularly. Although some people may not have enough time in their busy schedules to go around visiting associates just to be friendly, we’ve all got to eat, right? And so sending out invitations offering some free grub is bound to go down well. Even so, there’s a lot more to think about than food when planning something like this, as I will explain in a moment.

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Making a good decision on the wine selection can make or break an evening event like this, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a connoisseur to get things right. All you need is some good advice and the chances of you selecting the right bottles will be greatly increased. You see; certain types of wine are designed to compliment certain types of food, so as long as you learn the basics, you’ll stand in good stead. You’ll need to purchase one of the products available from Cranville Wine Racks if you intend to make this a regular thing, but that’s a minor detail really.

Champaign For Nibbles

Let’s face it, most champagne tastes pretty bad, but it does have a high alcohol content, and it tends to go straight to your head thanks to the amount of bubbles. This is why it’s perfect for the first drink of any dinner party, as it often helps people to relax and start enjoying themselves. Just make sure your guests don’t drink too much of it, or else they might need to book a taxi home sooner than they’d planned.

White Wine For Appetizers

Your first course should always be served with a light and flavoursome white wine, especially is your doing a starter of soup or something similar. Anything from the Loire Valley in France is preferable, because this region is renowned for producing some of the least heavy and most fruity beverages in the world. Don’t stress too much about buying expensive bottles, you can actually get good quality whites from the supermarkets these days for less than £10.

Red Wine For Main Meals

It’s essential that you swap to red wine when serving your main course because you want to avoid fizzy solutions. This is because your guests will have a hard time eating all their food when it’s accompanied by something that contains so much gas. If you’re not a massive fan of red, then maybe you should see how rose goes down. I would advise that you always keep a bottle of red on hand though, because some of your more traditional diners may prefer this.

Sweet Wine For Dessert

No matter how sweet your dessert menu may be, it’s important that you always compliment it with sweet wine. It doesn’t really matter whether you opt for white, red or rose; just make sure your guests are happy, and everything should be okay.

So, there you have it my friends. They were the secrets to selecting the most appropriate wines for your dinner party. Now you’ll be able to wow your friends and ensure they always come back for more.

Have fun!