Friday, 30 January 2015

Marrying style and function in a modern kitchen

Any cook or baker worth their salt understands the importance of having a good kitchen. A decent cooking area does not have to be big, elaborate or full of state-of-the-art appliances. It should, however, be laid out in a logical manner, have adequate storage space and be kitted out with the essentials. If you spend your evenings and weekends crafting culinary feasts for your family and friends, you will no doubt want this room to be comfortable and inspiring too. After all, who wants to whip, knead and stir for hours on end in a space that is drab and unappealing?

If you haven’t quite struck a suitable balance between beauty and usability in your cooking space, we have some suggestions to help you get this right.


Whether you want to completely transform your space by fitting a brand new bespoke solid wood kitchen or you’re simply looking to add a lick of paint and reorganise your cupboards, a dollop of willingness and a sprinkling of imagination will take you a long way when it comes to creating an alluring and hardworking kitchen.

Time to research, plan and make changes is also essential. Depending on your requirements, a big budget is optional. If you can’t stretch to a completely new fitted kitchen, there are a variety of low-cost changes you can make to improve appearance and functionality.

Add some flavour to your walls

If you tend to get a little Jackson Pollock in the kitchen, you might find that your walls still wear the stains of last night’s spaghetti or last Christmas’ brandy sauce. To protect these surfaces, why not add some splashbacks around your cooking areas? These handy features not only catch all your cooking and dishwashing splashes, they also serve as an effective way to add colour and character to dull or unsightly walls.

Everything but the kitchen sink

The importance of good hygiene when preparing food cannot be overstated. This is where the kitchen sink really comes into its own. Visually, too, a new sink can have a striking impact. If everything in your kitchen works well and looks good except your sink, the overall performance and aesthetics of your space can be greatly diminished.

From vessel sinks, to troughs, to seamless sinks, there are a wide range of styles on the market today. When choosing the size and style of your sink, consider the size of your family, how much crockery you use when you cook and how often you wash up. If you have a big family and cook elaborate dishes regularly, you might consider a deep, farmhouse trough basin or a double bowl sink to help you multitask. If you have a large kitchen and multiple cooks in your household, you might consider adding a secondary prep sink for added convenience and a touch of character.

The icing on the cake

If you are looking for a quick and affordable way to spruce up the look of your cupboards and make them easier to use, why not add some stylish new handles or knobs? For such small features, new handles can make a massive difference to the overall appearance of your room. From chrome to solid timber, handles are available in a wide range of materials so you are sure to find something that will complement your kitchen. It’s essential that you take function into account too. Where possible, test these products out before you purchase them as there’s no point in getting a drawer handle or door knob that is uncomfortable to grip or unpleasant to touch.

Don’t stop yet…

These are just a few of the ways you can make your kitchen more practical and inviting. If you consider style and function carefully in every aspect of your kitchen design, you are sure to create a space that looks stunning and is a pleasure to use.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dutch Boterkoek (Butter Cake)

Its now been several months since we updated our Amsterdam Live Blog from our last visit. (Which you can still read here) To bring back some of those fantastic memories we decided to make Dutch Boterkoek. So tasty and super simple to make.

Boterkoek is a simple, traditional  yet delicious Dutch cake. The cake itself, as the the name suggests contains a high proportion of butter. The Dutch love showcasing their amazing dairy products in their cooking and this is no exception. The cake is dense and flavoursome with richness coming from the butter and the amazing flavours from the almond extract. Because of the wonderful flavours already incorporated into the cake we prefer this cake served as is, no almond paste or frosting. A wonderful Dutch classic.

The Ingredients:
160g Butter
210g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
200g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
2tsp Almond Extract
0.5tsp Baking Powder

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 170c
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
Beat in the egg.

Beat in the almond extract.
In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder together.
Fold the flour into the wet mix stirring just enough to combine all ingredients.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 mins.
Leave to cool for 10 mins before turning out to cool completely.
Cut into slices and serve.

You're Done!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Skinny Banana Oat Muffins

Following on our healthy eating theme for January we have a great alternative muffin recipe that will have you doubting how it can be healthy it tastes so good. This recipe combines the wonderful flavours and textures of bananas, oats and chocolate chips (a naughty but necessary addition).

These are great to grab as an occasional breakfast treat or a mid morning snack. They have no sugar or bad fats.

The Ingredients:
2tbsp Natural Honey
2 Ripe Bananas
250g Greek Yoghurt
2 Eggs
180g Rolled Oats (Preferably Quick Cook)
1.5tsp Baking Powder
0.5tsp Bicarbonate Soda
90g Dark Chocolate Chips

Recommended Equiptment:
Food Mixer (Recommended Bosch MUM46A1)
Pyrex Mixing Bowl
Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 180c.
Beat the natural honey, mashed bananas and Greek yoghurt on high speed until smooth.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Sieve the baking powder and bicarbonate soda into the rolled oats and toss together to evenly distribute.
Mix in the rolled oats mixture into the muffin batter mixture.

Mix through the chocolate chips ensuring they are evenly distributed. 
Lightly grease a muffin pan or line with paper cases and 3/4 fill each muffin case with the batter.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
Store in an air tight container once completely cool.

You're Done!