Regular readers will know I am a *little bit* obsessed with storage containers. I know, sad but true. But they’re just so practical. And varied in shape. And with interesting little sections and snap-on lids. Who needs the Tiffany diamond department when you’ve got Robert Dyas’ plasticware section??
Recently the lovely folks at Joseph Joseph caught wind of my love of storage containers and sent me this beautiful nest of coloured containers to test. Well, obviously I love them. They don’t only look stylish, they work really well. The lids are colour coordinated with the container part via a little coloured dot so there’s no risk of mixing them up, and for those who are tight on space, the lids snap together for almost-flat storage, and the containers stack inside each other, making for a neat and tidy cupboard.
The containers are air-tight with silicone seals, see-through (handy) and über stylish. Look!
So it’s bye-bye to the sad old Tupperwares inherited from my mother, and the shambolic cupboard full of plastic boxes with missing lids (or never the right lid…), and hello storage heaven… The corner cupboard in my kitchen has never looked so smart. At £40, it’s the perfect Christmas gift for any stylish foodie!
Disclaimer: I was sent the Joseph Joseph Nest Storage 6-piece container set for free to try out.
As mentioned in a previous post, I absolutely love summer berries and fruit – from strawberries and raspberries to blueberries and cherries – there’s just so much to enjoy! So when I was given the chance to try OXO’s new Strawberry Huller and Berry Bowl Set as well as some delicious Sweet Eve Strawberries I was delighted to test them. And what’s more, OXO have given me a set to give away to one lucky reader! Scroll down for info on how to enter and for my Summer Berry Cream Pots recipe.
The colander in the Berry Bowl Set is just the right size for a punnet of fruit – so rather than having to get out the large colander just to wash a few berries, this a great compact version. What’s more, once you’ve washed them, there’s no more dripping water everywhere, you simply sit the red colander in the white bowl – complete with rubber-grip base – and because it all looks so nice, you can take it straight to the table. If you don’t eat all the berries, you can tip them into the bowl, and store in the fridge with the lid on. I think this is a brilliant bit of kit. Perfect for Wimbledon fans 🙂
The Strawberry Huller is designed to easily remove the stalk from your strawberry. It is completely amazing – you just stick it into the top of the berry and twist, then pull out the whole stalk. If your strawberries are firm, it works a treat. Would be particularly useful if you were making jam or similar, and needed a lot of berries.
Berry Cream Pots
I used my berry kit to make Berry Cream Pots, very easy and very delicious! Littlest and I ate them outside in the sunshine. Summer heaven.
The lovely folks at OXO UK have given me a Berry Bowl Set and a Strawberry Huller kit to give away on the blog. If you’d like to win one, please comment on this post. To be in with a chance of winning a berry kit, you have to leave a comment below telling me your favourite way of serving strawberries – include pics!
OXO have other bloggers giving away berry kits, too, and once they have ALL the winners in, those winners will go forward to get the chance to win a year’s supply of strawberries! (This part of the competition will be administrated by OXO.)
THE GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED NOW AND I WILL BE SELECTING A WINNER SHORTLY.
Good luck and happy berry eating!
With thanks to Oxo UK for the prizes. All opinions on the blog are my own.
The small print:
1. Entry in to the prize draw will be deemed as acceptance of these rules.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident, aged 18 or over, who leaves a comment below telling me their favourite way of serving strawberries.
3. The competition ends at midnight on 15 July 2014.
4. One winner will be selected from all valid entries. The winner’s name will be given to OXO who will supply the prize and put the winner’s name forward to win a year’s supply of strawberries.
5. One entry per person.
6. The prize is one OXO Berry Bowl Set and one OXO Strawberry Huller.
7. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable, and there is no cash alternative.
8. The prize will be posted to the winner’s home address within 30 days.
9. If a response is not received by the winner within 30 days they will forfeit their right to the prize.
10. No purchase necessary.
It’s time to celebrate another hero gadget – something I truly could not get by without in the kitchen. It is time the spatula got its moment of glory. I like a spatula. I like scraping out every last bit of mixture, every last drop of soup, it makes me feel thrifty; I don’t like waste. Spatulas can be used one-handed. Spatulas are colourful. They are cheap. They are friendly. God bless ’em.
I have five spatulas: one big yellow one made by Oxo Good Grips, which is perfect for scraping out every last bit of cake mixture from the bowl, and flexible and slim enough to lift and turn omelettes and pancakes. The two medium-sized ones – one red Le Creuset one with a wooden handle, one cheap and cheerful all-plastic – are both frequently grabbed at critical moments while cooking, for turning, scraping out the food processor bowl, or folding in an egg white or two. The fish-slice spatula (not pictured) I have is this beauty made by Chef’n – it is razor-thin and makes flipping burgers, fish, fried eggs etc a doddle. But my most favourite spatula is my tiny turquoise one. It measures no more than 15cm but is super-flexible, and so tiny it can be used to extract the last bit of jam from the jar, or the last bit of yogurt from the pot.
I also have a spoonula (yes, this is a word – apparently) which is a heat-safe silicone spatula with rounded edges and has a scoop like a spoon. Hurrah for the spoonula.
I looked online for spatulas. Wow. There are mini icing spatulas, double-ended spatulas, pastel-coloured spatulas, spatulas with faces, spatulas that look like fried eggs – they come in every shape and size. I think I am in love with this set of mini ones from US company Williams-Sonoma… (oh dear, what has happened to me?)
No one-handed cook should be without one – they are truly the mother of all utensils.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid or sponsored to feature any of these delightful spatulas – I just find them very useful and wanted to share!
It’s been a while since I featured a Hero Gadget on the blog. It suddenly struck me that I had not yet featured my beloved Microplane grater, and I’ve been writing this thing for almost a year (er, how the hell did that happen?). So it is time to put things right.
Put simply, any kitchen worth its salt has to have a Microplane grater. For a start, it works. Every time. It doesn’t bend. It won’t buckle. It is rigid and unyielding (a bit like my six-year-old when it comes to eating broccoli). It looks good; it is robust; it is multi-functional. It stays sharp. It goes in the dishwasher. It is the king of graters. This is truly a gadget for a time-pressed parent who just needs things to work.
I have two Microplane graters: a fine one and a coarse one. The fine one is brilliant for grating Parmesan, or any other hard cheese, nutmeg, chocolate etc. It is also completely brilliant for zesting oranges, lemons and limes. The coarse one is also good for Parmesan, but can also be used for fruit and vegetables – onion, celery, carrot, apple – all have seen the rough side of the grater in my house.
Now of course, it is physically impossible to grate something one-handed. So this is a gadget to use quickly, while baby or toddler is content and occupied. Pop him or her in the bouncy chair or the sling, and pick up your Microplane. It won’t let you down, I promise. In fact it will work so well, the only thing that might let you down is over-zealous grating… watch those fingers, folks.
In other news, the oldest one goes back to school tomorrow. Where oh where have six weeks gone? Yes, I was that mum frantically buying school uniform in my lunch hour today. Amazingly, they had trousers in his size. Nothing like leaving things to the last minute…Oh lordy, now I need to sew a name tag on them…
Happy Back to School everyone 🙂
Buying my first very own Le Creuset felt like a giant leap. Having grown up with a Francophile French teacher mum, Le Creuset was a name I had known all my life. On holidays to France, mum would make a trip to the quincaillerie, or hardware store – for this was about the only place the heavy orange enamel pans were sold in those days – and stock up on heavy lidded pots. And so, buying a large red Le Creuset casserole at the age of 25 or so, marked a milestone for me. No longer a student, earning money, living with my boyfriend in London, owning a Le Creuset. I was a grown up! (How did that happen?) And now I have two children, and the red Le Creuset has a little brother, a smaller blue one, and I couldn’t live without (any of) them.
They are expensive, I admit, but boy, do they last. And boy, are they versatile. Which is why we love Le Creuset, and why these amazing enamel, heavy duty pans get a mention on the blog. Every busy mum – or dad – trying to get dinner on the table needs a Le Creuset, I think. I use mine all the time, and can’t imagine what I’d do without them. Whether it’s to make soup or a stew (the heavy enamel base conducts heat really effectively), to make Bolognese sauce (get all your ingredients in, in the usual way, bring to a simmer and then transfer straight from the hob to the pre-heated oven for 45 mins), or for casserole that goes straight from oven to table, they are simply unbeatable. Perfect for the one-handed cook … Yes, you can even stir them one-handed – they don’t tend to move when they’re on the hob – they’re so darn heavy!
To buy or not to buy a Le Creuset: weighing up the options
– Heavy, solid, a Le Creuset is a quality bit of kitchen kit that will last you for decades (they make a great wedding gift)
– Transfer your dish straight from the hob to the oven, and back again if needs be, and then straight to the table (less hassle, fewer dishes to wash)
– They conduct heat really efficiently
– Le Creuset pans look really attractive and come in an array of beautiful hues to match any kitchen colour scheme, including yellow. (And if your enamel chips, they look even more rustic!)
– They have their own Pinterest page! www.pinterest.com/lecreusetuk
– They weigh a ton. Not for the feeble.
– They are pricey, but they do last for ever, practically (see above).
So there you have it. Le Lowdown on Le Creuset.
I know I am a bit late for Shrove Tuesday, but then, given I usually have two kids in tow, I am often late for a lot of things… Anyway, today I bring you pancakes. Who doesn’t love a pancake? Warm from the frying pan, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar, they are manna from heaven. When I went travelling in Thailand many moons ago (pre-children) banana pancakes made in tiny little pans over a gas flame in the street became almost a daily staple for body and soul – served, as they were, with a swirl of chocolate sauce and a beaming smile.
I was lucky enough to be sent a Pancake Kit by the lovely people at Oxo Good Grips, who produce fantastic kitchen tools, it has to be said. My kit comprised an Oxo Good Grips batter bowl, an Oxo Good Grips Silicone Balloon Whisk and an Oxo Good Grips Silicone Flexible Pancake Turner. I was particularly excited about the batter bowl, because one of the things that is tricky to do one-handed in the kitchen, while holding baby in one hand, is stir something in a bowl because invariably the bowl will move. Not with this bad boy. It has a non-skid base to stabilize the bowl when mixing. Genius. Now, Oxo may not have designed this bowl with the one-handed cook in mind, but boy, is this one-handed cook happy about it!
I made my pancake batter – see below for recipe – using my lovely batter bowl and gave it the one-handed test, with my whisk in my right hand and, not a baby this time I confess, but a cup of coffee in my left. This is how I did it: I put the batter bowl on my platform scale and weighed the flour straight into it, put it back on the kitchen worktop then added the pre-cracked egg and the extra yolk, the pre-melted butter, a pinch of salt, started whisking, and then added the milk bit by bit until I’d made my lovely mixture. The bowl holds 2 litres, and has high sides, making it splatter-proof, too – very handy. The handle makes it comfortable to hold, and it has a wide lip for easy pouring. I can see this becoming my go-to mixing bowl for cakes.
As you can see from my One-Handed Cook logo, I am a big fan of the whisk! The Oxo Good Grips balloon whisk is also a lovely thing to use – for me, what makes it different is the fact that the handle is shorter than most, which actually gives you better control, and the rubbery handle feels really nice and doesn’t slip out of your hand (hence the ‘good grip’ bit – keep up). I also love it because it’s red, and if you know me, you’ll know I like a colourful kitchen gadget. The pancake turner is super-flexible and very thin, so perfect for turning not just pancakes, but anything really, because it’s large and helps prevent things falling apart – you could use for omelettes, fish, burgers etc. Finally, the other good thing about all these Oxo Good Grips items is that they all go in the dishwasher once you’ve finished. Result.
See below for my tried-and-tested pancake recipe and filling ideas. I am a bit addicted to this lovely crunchy sugar from Barbados at the moment – it’s called Plantation Reserve Barbados Amber Sugar, it’s a traditionally produced cane sugar and the crystals provide the most wonderful crunch and contrast beautifully with the soft pancake or soft banana. Honestly, you have to try it – it’s the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of things, such as porridge, pancakes, puddings – in fact, all things beginning with ‘p’…
Make the pancake batter at least half an hour in advance of cooking, and then they can be cooked one-handed at tea-time, I promise. I know, I’ve done it. Note that the first pancake often goes a bit wrong, but once you find a rhythm and your pan’s nice and hot these are a cinch to make. Plus the mixture will keep, covered, overnight in the fridge – more for breakfast! Yum.
What you need
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
50g melted butter (I use microwave)
What to do
1. Put all the ingredients bar the milk into your bowl and whisk together with a balloon whisk. Gradually add the milk, whisking as you go. Pour through a sieve into a jug and leave to stand, as above.
2. Using a 15-20cm frying pan, heat a small knob of butter on a high-ish heat, and once it’s sizzling hot, add a small ladleful of batter mixture to just cover the base of the pan. ‘Swoosh’ it round the pan by picking it up and moving it around.
3. Use a pancake turner to lift the mixture away from the edge of the pan a little and once the edges turn pale brown (after 30-60 seconds), use it to flip the pancake over and cook for a further 30-60 seconds.
4. Tip out onto a plate or some greaseproof paper.
5. Serve with lemon juice and sugar. Or sliced banana and Nutella. Or squeezy honey and blueberries with Greek yogurt. Or whatever takes your fancy!
These are absolutely yummy and take me back to my own childhood. Grate some cheddar cheese and chop two slices of decent-quality ham. Once you’ve flipped over your pancake, add the cheese and ham mixture to the middle, in a line, and fold the two sides in and over the mixture. Cook for about 30 seconds and then flip the folded pancake back over for a few more seconds, to ensure the cheese is well and truly melted. Serve.