A few days ago I picked up a copy (for less than half price) of The Ultimate Recipe Book produced by the BBC Good Food magazine, written by Angela Nilsen.

I read almost all of it through the same night.

Nilsen has picked 50 classic recipes and not only researched the history of each one but looked up as many recipes and variations as she can, sought advice from top chefs and experts and then tried out different options until she’s achieved her ultimate version of each dish.

I love the way that each recipe includes an introduction to the dish, comments from various chefs and experts and then feedback on some of the steps she took during the trial process which really helps understand why she’s gone for the final ingredients and steps she provides for the final recipe.

Most, but not all have photos of the finished dish.

I’ll be trying out recipes soon!

Feb 262008
 

Pete and I are definitely becoming kitchen equipment geeks. Hence this long and rambling post about our new pans, ice-cream machine and food processor!

A few weeks ago we (well, Pete mostly) decided we wanted to replace several of our very aged and cheap pans with some really decent new ones. We weren’t fussed about getting a set, just getting the best pans for the job.

We decided to keep a few existing pans – our non-stick stock pot with glass lid, a large cast aluminium (heavy) Berdes Aga saute pan and our existing wok together with one or two other pans. But we wanted some new saucepans and a new small shallow frying pan.

Being quite anal I started thinking about our main criteria and then asked for feedback on a food chat board. Lots of people gave me recommendations for various brands/ models as well as a few warnings against others. And so I did what I always do in such situations, I made myself a document listing all the various makes in the running, looked up their technical specs online and added those to the document and then copied the various quotes from all the people into the document against the relevant brand/ model.

Which left us with one clear winner for the stainless steel category and one in the non-stick category.

Of course, having expensive tastes, we had settled on Meyer Anolon Commercial Clad (which has a 3-ply construction with an aluminium core sandwiched between s/steel exterior and interior). Eeek, expensive! But, aware of some of the good deals we’d found recently, we checked out 3 TKMaxx stores (one near us, one on the way to my parents’ house and one near where I work) and to our delight found 3 pans in the Commercial Clad range for not very much at all – firsts, not seconds. This was about a month ago and Pete (who does the majority of the cooking) is extremely pleased with them and is looking after them with slightly alarming tenderness.

Our choice for the non-stick was SSK Titanium range which one poster on the food chat board described as “bullet-proof pans which even metal utensils just don’t scratch”. He also postulated that the Titanium range sold by Professional Cookware were made by SSK. They look identical apart from the brand logo and when he asked Pro Cookware they said their pans were made by a German company to the same design as their own but using rebranded castings for the logo. We couldn’t find any of these pans at a particularly reduced price anywhere so went to the Professional Cookware shop in the Hatfield Galleria this weekend and asked outright whether their pans were made by SSK. Yes, she said, adding that we really knew our pans! No, I just know the right people to ask for advice! We went ahead and bought just one small frying pan. And Pete seems to be in love with it so far.

Also a few weeks ago we went ahead and bought a Magimix Le Glacier 1.1 Litre ice-cream machine. I’d decided on one for my birthday but the model I initially decided on became unavailable (Amazon cancelled my order several weeks after I made it) and it took me a while to decide upon which model to go for next. Anyway, it’s one of the inexpensive models which require the bowl to be pre-frozen for at least 12 hours (preferably 24) before use but we’ve used it a few times so far (on low-fat fruit yoghurts since I’m trying to lose weight again) and we’re pleased with it.

Completely coincidentally, this weekend we also purchased a Magimix Cuisine food processor. Our extremely old Braun processor (must be about 20 years old) died about a fortnight ago so I did my anal, online research plus posted on that food chat board again. Given our main criteria the most recommended option was a Magimix though we weren’t sure whether to get the 3200 (said to be suitable for feeding 3-4 people), the 4200 (for 4-5) or the 5200 (for more). Also there was the standard lid or the XL variation (with larger feed tube) to choose from. We did a search for the best prices we could find online and then went to John Lewis to see all the models ourselves. The 3200 was definitely too small. The 4200 and 5200 weighed the same and had the same footprint and yet the bowls for the 5200 were bigger so it was an absolute no brainer to go for the 5200 in the end. Especially as the model has three bowls, a large one, a medium one and a small one which still makes it easy to process smaller volumes when necessary. We liked the range of included attachments too. And, whilst JL prices for most of the models were abou £10-20 above the best online prices, their price for the white 5200 was £11 less than the best price we’d found anywhere. So we bought it!

We’d arranged to cook an Indian meal for some friends on Monday night. Because I’m a moron I hadn’t realised my mobile wasn’t on so we didn’t get their message on Saturday morning that they couldn’t make it. So we bought all the ingredients. We decided to go ahead and cooked the entire feast eating half on Sunday night and half on Monday night. During the preparation we really tested the food processor and you can colour us very impressed indeed. If we had any doubts about paying so much for a food processer we now understood that you really do get what you pay for! We chopped a large volume of onion, finely and quickly grated small volumes of ginger and garlic, julienned a cucumber, chopped a mix of herbs and spices which we then mixed into minced lamb, created a coriander and green apple fresh chutney… and later we whipped left-over egg whites and made meringues. We still have the dough attachment and the citrus press to try. Oh and I like the way that this processer actually comes with a storage box for the various accessories.

So there you have it, the story of Pete & Kavey: Kitchen Equipment Geeks!

 

On Monday I met a friend for dinner. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Mestizo which was an interesting experience. Not the nicest of immediate locales, though perfectly safe and only a 2 minute walk from Warren Street tube station. The food was better than most Mexican I’ve tried in the UK (which is usuallyTex-Mex rather than Mex). Quite meat and cheese heavy but I enjoyed it and it was very reasonably priced too. They also have a tequila bar which a very extensive tequila menu, for those interested.

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