RECIPE: Traditional Apple Crumble

crumble mix

One of my go-to desserts is an apple crumble. If I need to make a pudding fast that is a crowd pleaser, then this is always my recipe of choice. I make it so often that I do not need to look at the recipe myself now as it is so easy to make. For crumble novices, here is how to make a traditional apple crumble. 

Crumble Mix Recipe

  • 8 oz/ 225 g plain flour
  • 4 oz/ 110 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 60 g caster sugar

Apple Filling Recipe

  • 1 lb / 450g apples
  • 2 oz/ 50 g unrefined brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Pinch of cinnamon 

How to Make a Crumble Mix

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. 
  2. Weigh out the flour and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Weigh the butter and cut into cubes before adding to the flour.
  4. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers to create ‘crumbs’.
  5. Weigh the sugar and add to the mixing bowl.
  6. Continue to rub the mixture together.
  7. Peel core and chop the apples into small pieces.
  8. Put the apple pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir so all the apple pieces are coated. 
  9. Transfer the fruit mix to an ovenproof dish.
  10. Cover the fruit with the crumble mix.
  11.  Put in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the crumble mix is golden.

 

 

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Unnecessary Kitchen Gadgets

gadgets

Recently, I realized the number of completely unnecessary kitchen gadget there are available. This realization came to me as I was wandering down the seasonal offers aisle in Aldi and I spotted an omelette maker and genuinely couldn’t think of the benefit of owning one of these gadgets.

I am a big fan of buying things that make your life easier, save you time or improve a particular aspect of cooking. I mean, who can imagine life without a food processor? Even items that only come out of the cupboard once in a while have their advantages. For example, I don’t use my pasta maker often, but when I do, the pasta I make is definitely thinner and evener.

My issue with the omelette maker is that I can see absolutely no advantage to owning one. Omelettes are something that I probably cook about once a month, so the rest of the time it would sit gathering dust on a shelf or take up space in a cupboard.

This is one of the simplest and quickest meals you can make so I cannot imagine why anyone would need this gadget in their lives. You still need to create the omelette mixture, so it is saving no time or effort at all.

I have similar feelings of frustration towards egg slicer. How often do you want to slice a hard-boiled egg and how difficult of a task is this anyway? Another item on my list is electric can openers, although these are fantastic for people who struggle to use their hands, Beyond gadgets, I have equal levels of irritation about pre-sliced mushrooms. Why pay more to save one minute of time? 

Is this just me or do other people not see the use of these things?

RECIPE: How to Make Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Depending on how you serve them, pancakes are perfect for breakfast, savoury family dinners, and desserts. It might surprise you just how easy pancakes are to make. Here is how to make perfect pancakes.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

Cooking Pancakes

  • Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  • Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  • Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  • Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  • Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.

10 Things to Make with Nutella- Just for Fun!

nutella

Nutella is a popular chocolate and hazelnut spread that many people across the globe adore. While most people serve this on hot, buttered toast, there are a surprising number of ways that you can use this spread as an ingredient. Just for fun, here are some things you can make with Nutella. 

  1. Chocolate and Nutella cake– Add two heaped spoons of Nutella to your chocolate cake mix before baking. When your cake has cooled, slice in half horizontally and add a layer of Nutella to the centre.
  2. Banana and Nutella sandwiches– Nutella is delicious on a sandwich and sliced bananas just add extra tastiness.
  3. Nutella filled pancakes– An alternative to traditional pancake fillings is to spread on a layer of Nutella.
  4. Nutella cheesecake– Add three heaped tablespoons of Nutella into your usual cheesecake mix for a completely new taste.
  5. Nutella topped cupcakes– If you enjoy baking cupcakes, trying icing Nutella onto the top and adding colourful sprinkles or mini marshmallows. 
  6. Nutella crispy cakes– This is one to make with the kids. Stir either cornflakes or rice crispies into a mix of melted cooking chocolate and Nutella. Separate into fairy cake cases and leave to set.
  7. Nutella dipped fruit–  Chop fruit into large pieces and dip one half of each piece into Nutella. This works particularly well with bananas and strawberries.
  8. Nutella and yogurt dip– Create a mixture of yogurt and Nutella to make a dip. Serve this with pieces of fruit, chopped cake, and biscuits for dipping.
  9. Nutella sundaes– Layer vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, and large blobs of Nutella. Top with whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with chopped nuts.
  10. Nutella pizza– Sweet pizzas are a relatively new concept but they are becoming very fashionable at the moment. Make a pizza base, or use a ready bought one, and add Nutella. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

 

Cooking Conversions Confusion

scales

One of the things that I find the most confusing about following recipes from the Internet is the different measurements used. Some are imperial, some in metric and others in cups.  I always want to ask if it is a big cup or a small cup?

This isn’t something that bothers me too much as I am not a strict follower of recipes. I have more of a tendency to use my senses, such as taste, sight and touch, to decide if a recipe is going well or not. I also have enough cooking experience to tell if the processes look right and if the quantities will do what they are supposed to be doing in a dish, whether this is adding flavour, thickening a sauce or changing the colour. 

To make things easier for other people who use recipes off the Internet, I thought I would add in this simple guide for cooking conversions.

Volume

  • 250 ml = 8 fl oz = 1 cup
  • 180 ml = 6 fl oz = 3/4 cup
  • 150 ml =5 fl oz = 2/3 cup
  • 120 ml=4 fl oz =1/2 cup
  • 75 ml = 2 1/2 fl oz = 1/3 cup
  • 60 ml = 2 1/4 fl oz = 1/4 cup
  • 30 ml = 1 fl oz = 1/8 cup
  • 15 ml = 1/2 fl oz = 1 tablespoon

Weights

  • 1/2 oz = 15 g
  • 1 oz = 30 g
  • 2 oz = 60g
  • 3 oz = 90 g
  • 4 oz = 110 g
  • 5 oz = 140 g
  • 6 oz = 170 g
  • 7 oz = 200 g
  • 8 oz = 225 g
  • 9 oz = 255 g
  • 10 oz = 280 g
  • 11 oz = 310 g
  • 12 oz = 340 g
  • 13 oz = 370 g
  • 14 oz = 400g
  • 15 oz = 425 g
  • 1 lb = 450g

The US cup measurements are more complex for weights as it depends on the ingredient. You can find an easy online guide here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/how-to/44/cooking-conversions.aspx

RECIPE: Easy Crumble Mix

crumble mix

It surprises me when people say they can’t make any puddings as there are some that are really simple to make. One of the easiest puddings of all is a fruit crumble and this is my ‘go-to’ pudding when I do not have a lot of time on my hands for food preparation and baking. This is a dessert that even a novice in the kitchen can make and there are so many variations you can try. Here is an easy crumble mix recipe that takes just minutes to make.

Crumble Mix Recipe

  • 8 oz/ 225 g plain flour
  • 4 oz/ 110 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 60 g caster sugar

How to Make a Crumble Mix

  1. Weigh out the flour and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Weigh the butter and cut into cubes before adding to the flour.
  3. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers to create ‘crumbs’.
  4. Weigh the sugar and add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Continue to rub the mixture together.
  6. Add the crumble mix to the fruit of your choice and cook for 40 minutes, or until the crumble mix is golden, at 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. 

Further recipes for various crumbles will follow on this blog. 

Tip

Savoury crumble mix– you can also make a crumble topping for savoury dishes. Remove the caster sugar from the recipe and replace with a good pinch of salt.

The Benefits of Cooking with Children

s in the kitchen

Meet my three youngest children, the mini chefs, (from left to right) Freddie, Nathan, and Alfie. 

I was recently criticised for allowing my children to cook with me as I was told it is a waste of time, money, effort and food allowing the children to get involved in the kitchen. However, I completely disagree as I think there are many benefits for children in joining in with food preparation. Here are just a few reasons why I believe that teaching children to cook is important.

Life skills- Cooking is one of the most important life skills that you can teach your children. There are many different cooking processes and techniques to learn, so the sooner you start teaching them, the better.

Social skills- Developing social skills is one of the biggest benefits of cooking with children. They can learn to communicate effectively, listen, share, take turns, and work as part of a team as well as using their own initiative. 

Science- Many aspects of cooking involve scientific processes taking place. For example, liquids becoming solids, temperature changes taking place, and so on. Cooking is the ideal way to introduce these concepts to your child in a fun way.

Literacy- While some kids love reading, others hate it and refuse to so much as pick up a book. Cooking is one way of getting them to read without thinking of it as a literacy activity. Reading recipes or instructions from packaging is an important part of the cooking process. They may also extend their vocabulary in the process. 

Maths- Cooking can make maths fun for kids. There are many mathematical concepts used in cooking that you may not have even realized. Just some of the topics you can teach your children about when cooking include temperature, weight, volume, and time. 

Safety- Some of the equipment used in the kitchen is potentially dangerous. There is always a risk of burns, scalds, and cuts when working in the kitchen. However, rather than looking at this as a negative, use it as an opportunity to teach the children about safety and hygiene in the kitchen. If you are always supervising the children in the kitchen and you choose age-appropriate activities for them to get involved with, then the risks are greatly reduced. 

Bonding- Day-to-day responsibilities often get in the way of a busy family spending time together. Making meals is one of the tasks that can detract you from spending time with the children. Instead of this happening, use the food preparation time as a way of enjoying an activity together.

Creativity- Most children love to get involved in creative activities, especially ones that involve any level of mess-making. Cooking is definitely a creative activity, from preparing the ingredients to presenting a meal on a plate. 

Fun- Last but most certainly not least, cooking is a fun activity that most children enjoy. Having fun together as a family is just as important as all the educational benefits of cooking with children.