Tag Archives: cookware

Restaurant Enamel Plate Supplier

enamel plate supplierWares of Knutsford is all about celebrating our clients’ personal cooking achievements, but we also serve a large professional consumer sector. Small businesses and restaurants have found our wholesale service and quantity discounts suit them very well. Apart from our large, bulk packs of jars and bottles, Wares of Knutsford is building a place as a restaurant enamel plate supplier, particularly from our extensive range of traditional enamelwares.

White and blue enamel plate supplier

The iconic white enamelware with a blue rim by Falcon has found a number of uses over the years. Popular with campers and on picnics as much as in the home and for baking, Wares of Knutsford stocks one of the widest ranges of enamelware in the UK. In the traditional white with a blue rim you’ll find coffee and tea pots, mugs, jugs, plates, pie dishes, pans and roasting tins, plus bread bins and a billy can.

The style and colourway of this range is instantly recognisable, and popular not just for its simple good looks but also for its durability and functionality. Details of the range include round or oval pie dishes in sizes from 18cm to 26cm, with a quantity discount available for order of four dishes or more. The plate range is available from 20cm to 26cm and includes rice plates of 18cm to 24cm and soup plates of 22cm to 24cm.

Enamel baking and roasting tins can be bought open or lidded, again in a variety of sizes.

Cream enamel plate supplier

If you’re looking for the same classic design you can also choose from our cream and coloured enamelware stock. An edited range of our most popular white and blue enamelware products can also be bought in cream, again with the traditional blue rim – there’s a bread bin, pie dish, lidded roasters in 22.5cm and 30cm sizes and a selection of baking and roasting pans.

Our enamel jugs, mugs, tea and coffee pots can be bought to match or you can go for bright blue, red or black, plus there’s a vibrant red jam pan by Kilner.

For serious cooking, consider also the black vitreous enamel department for grill pans, lidded roasters, baking and roasting pans and trays and a Yorkshire pudding tray.

If you are considering Wares of Knutsford as a restaurant plate supplier, please do contact us to ask about wholesale rates and delivery. Wholesale orders require a £450 minimum order and are delivered on pallets. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be pleased to help you organise your wholesale requirements.

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Christmas Cookie Cutter Set

christmas cookie cutter

You may think it’s a bit premature to be preparing for Christmas in October, but think again! Shops are already stocking up with festive goods and those who prepare their own Christmas cakes in the traditional way will have had their fruit soaking in brandy for some time already.

If heavy, alcoholic fruit cakes and the accompanying teeth rotting combination of marzipan and icing aren’t for you, there are plenty of lighter baking options to exploit for the festive season. One of the simplest and most useful involves Christmas themed cookies. Get the kids involved too and experiment with a variety of flavours and decorations. Invest in a set of Xmas cookie cutters with shapes including Santa’s hat, an Xmas tree, a bell, a sleigh, a holly leaf, a star, a present, an angel and a stocking shape. Not only are these great to share, they can also be used to decorate your tree!

Basic recipe for Christmas cookie cutters

To make 24 biscuits:

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together until light, fluffy and creamy. Gradually add the egg and vanilla extract, beating in well until fully combined.

Fold in the flour so the mixture forms a soft dough.

Lightly flour a work surface, turn out the dough and roll to a thickness of about 1cm. Use your Xmas cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough and place them carefully onto the baking tray. If you are planning to hang the decorations from your Christmas tree, make a small hole in the top of each biscuit before baking.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave the biscuits for about 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

Decorating biscuits made with Christmas cookie cutters

You now have some wonderfully festive shaped biscuits, but that’s not enough! You now have to decorate the biscuits in suitably Christmassy fashion.

To make a basic icing for this quantity, sift about 400g icing sugar into a large bowl and gradually add the water, stirring in well, until you have a smooth consistency. For two or more colours, just separate the icing mixture into separate bowls and add your food colouring very carefully, drop by drop.

Spread the icing onto your biscuits with a palette knife then decorate with edible glitter or other cake decorations.

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Enamel Soup Plates

enamel soup plates

Enamel soup plates have been traditional camping gear for a long time, but actually make great serving dishes in as well as outside. If you’re planning a Hallowe’en or Bonfire Night feast, the Falcon enamel soup plate set is ideal for tucking in around a campfire.

Hearty pumpkin soup in enamel soup plates

To serve 6:

  • 1 medium sized pumpkin, skin and seeds removed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
  • 400g bacon lardons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 400ml double cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Cook the pumpkin with the onion in a large pan of boiling water for about 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, gently fry the bacon with the garlic and curry powder until it starts to crisp at the edges.

When the pumpkin is cooked, drain and blend until smooth. Add the bacon mixture and cream, stirring well to combine. Reheat and season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Serve in enamel soup plates with some crusty bread.

Chilli Con Carne in enamel soup plates

If pumpkin soup is a bit too predictable for you, try a chilli con carne. It’s so easy to prepare, works equally well around the campfire and is a universal favourite.

To serve 4:

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin, chilli powder, paprika and Cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

Fry the onion with the beef in a large pan on a medium heat until the meat is browned. Stir in the spices, garlic, kidney beans and tomatoes. Bring to the boil then cover and allow to simmer for about 90 minutes. Serve with a baked potato, rice or crusty bread.

Finish the feast with a pumpkin pie and some marshmallows on sticks toasted around the fire!

Pumpkin pie in enamel soup plates

To serve 6:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 375g fresh pumpkin, pureed
  • 350ml evaporated milk
  • ½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger and salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 sheet shortcrust pastry

Preheat the oven to 230ºC and line a pie dish with the pastry.

Beat together the pumpkin, sugar, flour, spices, salt, golden syrup and the egg. Stir in the evaporated milk slowly then fill the pie dish with the mixture.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC and cook for a further 30 minutes. When the pie is cooked, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Finally, for the real Halloween campfire feel serve in enamel soup plates with lashings of whipped cream and ice-cream.

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International Soup and Stew Recipes

soup recipes

Stew and soup recipes are one of the best things about winter – warming, comforting and nutritious. Ring the changes and avoid predictability by looking internationally for inspiration.

Classic Eastern European soup recipes: Borscht

This is one of the best known hearty soup recipes, usually based around beetroot, potato and cabbage. Variations are made with spinach or tomato and all these soup recipes can be eaten hot or cold with sour cream or yoghurt. Many Central and Eastern European countries have developed their own national versions of the traditional recipe, but the version given below makes a good starting point. Leave out the sausage for vegetarians.

To serve 10:

  • 450g pork sausage, cut into cubes
  • 3 beetroots, peeled and grated
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 150g tomato puree
  • 180ml water
  • ½ green cabbage, cored and shredded
  • Half a 400g tin chopped tomatoes, drained of juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 125ml soured cream
  • Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Fry the cubes of sausage until cooked then set aside. Add about two litres of water to a large pan and bring to the boil, add the sausages and then the beetroot, cooking until the beetroot has lost its colour. Stir in the potatoes and carrots and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cabbage and tomatoes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry the onion in the oil until soft and translucent. Add the tomato puree and water and combine together well. Add to the vegetable pot along with the garlic, then remove from the heat and allow to stand, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Season according to taste.

Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley.

Exotic soup recipes

The Caribbean has a rich repertoire of soup and stew recipes, full of exotic spices. Callaloo originates from ingredients brought East from Africa.

To serve 6:

  • 450g callaloo/spinach leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1½ litres chicken stock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 225g salt beef, without fat and diced
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 shallots, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 green chilli, cut in half lengthways
  • 100g okra
  • 225g crab meat

Add the callaloo leaves, chicken stock, onion, beef, pepper, shallots, thyme and crab to a large pan. Simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes or until the beef is tender. Add the okra and cook for a further eight minutes. Remove the chilli halves and run the soup through a blender until smooth. Season to taste.

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Winter Casserole Recipes

casserole recipes

One of the best things about the approaching winter is the excuse to eat delicious, warming comfort food – rich casseroles, stodgy desserts and hearty soups. Every cook needs a repertoire of casserole recipes, they’re just so rewarding to cook: simple, nutritious and convenient to prepare in advance. They work for simple family suppers or more sophisticated dinner parties and many tick the ‘one pot cooking’ box, meaning that if you use an attractive oven to tableware type pan, there’s very little washing up!

Beef casserole recipes

Tougher beef cuts are at their best when stewed long and slow. Even beginners can’t mess up simple beef casserole recipes like this one, with most of the hard work done by your oven.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • 6-8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 carrots, cut into medium sized chunks
  • 1.5kg stewing beef or chuck steak in 3cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 250ml red wine
  • Grated zest of half an orange
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Heat the oil in a large, heat proof casserole dish on a medium heat and cook the bacon for a couple of minutes. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook for another 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beef and then stir in the flour to coat. Add the stock, wine, orange zest, thyme and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Cover and transfer to the oven for three hours, stirring occasionally. To serve, scatter with the parsley and season to taste. Best with mashed potatoes, French beans and crusty bread to soak up the delicious gravy.

This recipe also makes a great pie filling. It’s easy to create variations on this theme, by changing up the herbs, adding different flavouring or adding some root vegetables.

Chicken casserole recipes

Chicken lends itself well to a number of more exotic and sophisticated casserole recipes. This tagine is subtly spicy and sweet.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • Half a teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, paprika and cinnamon
  • 75g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 40g raisins
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 75g couscous
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a heat proof casserole and brown the drumsticks. Stir in the spices and cook out the rawness for a minute or two. Add the apricots, raisins, tinned tomatoes, 400ml water, some seasoning and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the couscous, stir and simmer for another five minutes until the chicken and couscous are cooked. Serve sprinkled with the chopped fresh coriander.

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Choosing Kitchen Knives

kitchen knives

A set of kitchen knives makes the basic kit list in any kitchen. While you can invest a substantial amount buying a smart kitchen knife set, it’s worth doing a bit of research into what you really need, considering your cooking habits in addition to your budget. Many people find building up an individual collection of knives to suit their own specific needs is more useful to them than a kitchen knife set – although these are useful if you’re starting from scratch.

What to look for in kitchen knives

There are a number of features to consider when buying your kitchen knives. Most important of all is material. Blades are created from a number of materials, each with different properties. Stainless steel is easily the most popular. It’s affordable and simple to sharpen at home. Carbon steel is a lower maintenance alternative – it needs less sharpening but is more expensive. Ceramic is prized by professional chefs for its light weight but exceptionally durable finish. Titanium is similarly desirable for the same reason and even more costly!

The sharp end

You’ll also need a range of different cutting blades. Scalloped and serrated edge blades are used for bread knives, thanks to their ability to cut the crust and bread inside cleanly. Straight edged blades are the all rounders of the kitchen knife set and should be sharpened regularly to maintain keenness. A useful alternative is a straight edged blade with fluted indentations along the side. These form tiny air pockets as you cut that stop food clinging to the blade, ideal for cheese and for very delicate slicing.

Basic sets

Most kitchen knife sets come with a range of good all rounders, knives that cope with everyday kitchen tasks, to which you can add specialist kitchen knives depending upon your cooking habits. Among them you will usually find a small paring knife for fruits and vegetables, a serrated edge utility knife, a large bread knife, a flexible bladed carving knife and a cook’s knife for larger chopping jobs.

Specialist kitchen knives

Task knives are those specifically designed for certain jobs, such as meat cleavers, filleting or boning knives. If you prepare or eat a particular ingredient regularly, it’s worth investing in a knife designed to make that job easier – meat lovers should consider a good set of steak knives, healthy types a grapefruit knife and those who entertain would surely find a cheese knife handy. In the same way, oyster knives and pizza slices are more than decorative. Their design means they make their particular job easier to accomplish.

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Good Quality Pans

good quality pans

There’s no need to spend a fortune on kitting out your kitchen, with masses of good quality pans and equipment available at affordable prices. However it’s worth giving some consideration to the best pans to buy for cooking, as different materials have different conducting properties and not all are suitable for all kinds of hob. As an example, induction hobs will not work with pans that do not have any ferrous content. While celebrity chefs may extol the virtues of heavy based copper or traditional cast iron, these aren’t necessarily the best pans to buy for every situation – something lighter and easier to clean many be more appropriate.

Good quality pans can come in different materials

Stainless steel is one of the most commonly used in good quality pans and a good all rounder. Its interior coating is compatible with cooking all kinds of foods, it’s dishwasher safe and affordable. It’s heavy enough to feel solid and durable but light enough for easy handling. However, lighter versions aren’t the best heat conductors, so have a wide range that includes some heavier based pans.

Pans with a vitreous enamel coating are also useful. This easy care material is non-stick for easy cleaning and can be used in the oven and dishwasher.

Cast iron is an attractive, traditional material. The same weight that means it can take a while to heat up also distributes that heat well for even cooking and is very durable. It can react with foods, imparting iron content, which can be useful in certain cooking but cast iron doesn’t work so well with acidic foods. It retains heat well for simmering and browning foods but can be more difficult to clean.

Good quality pans shapes and sizes

A good pan collection should ideally be made up of various different materials but also a varied selection of sizes and shapes. A standard set of four or five would usually contain a small milk pan, then various sizes up to large stockpot. In addition to this you’ll need frying pans in small and large sizes, while a heavy griddle pan is as stylish as it is useful. Matching lids usually come as standard – glass ones are particularly user friendly, allowing you to see what’s going on inside.

Regular and adventurous cooks should also consider more speciality items such as fish or egg poachers. Pasta pots or steamers are useful, effectively containing built in colanders. Cute poacher rings can be useful for neat eggs or crumpets and also come in novelty shapes for a sense of occasion. Consider your cooking habits and invest accordingly.

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Crinkle Cut Chip Cutter

crinkle chip cutter

They’re a food that’s been give a bad reputation by shoddy fast food restaurants but there’s nothing quite like a homemade chip, whether you eat them with ketchup or mayonnaise or just dusted with salt. Good old fashioned wavy potato chips were a Fifties favourite and are a cute way to dress up the humble chip today. Oven chips are just as delicious as deep fried and much healthier.

Using a crinkle chip cutter

To serve four you’ll need about six large potatoes (roughly 1.5kg) of a floury variety – try Maris Piper, Desiree or King Edward and a tablespoon of sunflower oil.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel your potatoes and use a crinkle chip cutter to cut them into long chips. They can be thick and chunky or long and thin, but keep the thickness fairly uniform for even cooking. Rinse the chips in cold water and use a clean tea towel or some kitchen roll to pat dry.

Spread the chips over a baking tray and toss in the sunflower oil. Aim for an even layer and use a large tray so the chips aren’t overcrowded.

Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes and turn the chips occasionally. The cooked chips should be golden brown on the outside and light and fluffy in the centre.

Serve immediately with a griddled sirloin steak and a fresh green salad or with a piece of crispy battered cod and some mushy peas.

Variety from your crinkle chip cutter

Add a kick to the flavour by cutting the chips with the crinkle chip cutter as normal, but then put the cut and washed chips into a plastic bag with the oil before cooking and add two teaspoons of Cajun seasoning and one teaspoon of chilli powder. Toss the chips in the oil and seasoning in the bag before cooking in the same way.

You could also try tossing the potatoes in a bag to coat in a paste made of 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 4 tablespoons of tomato puree, half a teaspoon of chilli powder, one tablespoon of water and some freshly ground black pepper to make chilli tomato flavoured chips.

You can also give your chips an Indian touch by the same method, this time tossing the potatoes before cooking in a flavouring made of 4 teaspoons of sunflower oil with two teaspoons of cumin, one teaspoon of turmeric and one teaspoon of ground coriander.

Apart from the traditional potato, sweet potatoes also make delicious chips, cut with your crinkle chip cutter and cooked in exactly the same way as usual.

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Red Kitchenware

red kettle

Red is the boldest and most vibrant of colours and using it to decorate your home adds impact to any room. From rust to pillar-box to cherry, red will lend warmth and depth to any home décor scheme.

If you’re brave you can go for large bursts of red on the walls, floor and furnishings. Surprisingly this often works well in a smaller room, such as an office, where it gives a cosy, enveloping feel. Too much red in a large room can simply appear overpowering. If you’re not quite ready to embrace such a dramatic scheme, adding one distinctive item such as a vintage dresser painted a warm scarlet can add a touch of glamour to a neutral room.

When it comes to the kitchen, neutral is often the best policy as replacement furniture and worktops are expensive and labour-heavy. Sticking to traditional whites, blacks, creams and greys for the major installations allows you to accessorise with other tones on a budget and change the colour scheme at will.

Start With a Red Kettle…

In a smart, chic, monochrome kitchen, a red kettle will provide an eye-catching focal point without adding clutter for those who prefer a simple look. If you love red but prefer a minimalist scheme in your kitchen, you can splash red on the accessories that are usually hidden away in cupboards and drawers. However once you open up the doors, red kitchenwares will give a refreshing explosion of brightness – think red colander, scales, tea caddy and mixing bowls. However if the minimalist look is not for you, building up the red accents can give a very traditional, homely feel.

To Match Your Red Kettle, a Red Breadbin?

The sky’s the limit when it comes to accessorising with red. If you’re the type of cook who likes to keep their cookware to hand for regular use rather than tucked away, then red is universally fashionable – it works with ultra-modern or vintage schemes. Once you’ve added the classic worktop elements such as a red kettle, red breadbin, red mug tree, teapot or cafetiere, you can get even more creative. Consider painting unexpected areas such as the insides of cupboards and shelving units bold scarlet, or painting the kitchen chairs or table legs fire engine red. Co-ordinating linens such as tea towels, tablecloths and curtains looks great in different patterns such as checks, spots and floral. Rather than clashing, if you keep them all to the same shade they look rich and interesting.

The lovely thing is it’s up to you. A red kettle standing alone in a white kitchen looks amazing yet at the other extreme by accessorising to the max you can get that extremely bold look without spending a fortune replacing your whole kitchen.

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Home Baking in Bread Tins

bread tins

There’s nothing like the smell and taste of home-made bread. While bread makers free up a lot of time, your loaves are limited to the shape of the tin that comes in the machine, so if you want something different you’ll need to use the machine’s dough programme then shape and bake your loaf in an appropriate bread tin. Similarly if you don’t have a bread maker or simply prefer to do it the traditional way, you’ll need to consider investing in some bread tins. The market has plenty of choice so here’s how to make your way through the minefield.

Non-stick bread tins

Greasing a bread tin is a tedious but necessary chore. Butter or lard is better than oil to avoid frying your bread but it can be tricky getting it evenly spread, particularly in the corners. Your grandmother may have sworn by a traditional metal bread tin but non-stick pans are a simpler solution and are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Simply dust the surface of the tin with flour before adding your dough and baking. Legend has it that bread pans don’t need to be washed, but even good non-stick pans can benefit from some maintenance every now and again. Wash by hand in hot, soapy water before greasing and leaving for at least 24 hours before using. Dust the tin lightly with flour, as usual, before adding the dough.

Silicone bread tins

They’re not tins exactly, but silicone bakeware is a popular option in modern kitchens for its low-maintenance, non-stick properties. However it can be too soft to maintain the correct shape when using with soft doughs such as bread and can bulge out at the sides. Keep your eye out instead for silicone loaf tins specially designed for bread, which have a rigid frame at the top to solve this problem.

Glass bread tins

Forget it! They look attractive but are too rigid to be able to manipulate the bread out of the pan easily and are prone to sticking, no matter how liberally you spread the grease.

If you bake a lot of bread, it’s worth getting a couple of different sizes and shapes of bread tin for different kinds of loaf. Apart from the standard bread tins, consider baguette trays, which are specially shaped to free up room and help the baguettes hold their form while baking. A square tin is useful for focaccia share and tear style breads, mini loaf tins are great for a dinner party bread basket, while some crumpet rings are useful for indulgent treats.

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How to Make Pastry

pastry cutters

With so many good, prepared pastries available in the supermarket, making your own can seem an unnecessary chore, but the taste comparison between home-made and shop-bought pastry reveals a vast and unmistakeable difference in both flavour and texture. The idea of making pastry seems daunting to many and, while varieties such as puff and choux pastry are more complicated, even the most novice chef can knock up a delicious shortcrust dough without too much ado.

Shortcrust is the easiest and most versatile pastry, making a great base for both savoury and sweet recipes. Some variations use egg instead of water to bind the dough for a richer texture and flavour, or add sugar for dessert dishes.

Some guidelines to remember when working with pastry are to keep the mixture, utensils and kitchen cool during preparation for a light and crisp texture and to use a light touch – overworked pastry is tough textured.

Recipe for a 300g shortcrust dough:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter, cubed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of cold water

Put all the dry ingredients into a large, clean bowl and rub them together between your fingertips until the mixture starts to resemble fine breadcrumbs. You can do this in a food processor if you prefer. Add the water gradually until it binds the mixture together. Wrap the lump of dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 15 minutes before working with it.

Pastry cutters and other equipment

You will need various items to work your dough:

  • Rolling pin
  • Flour dredger
  • Pastry cutters
  • Sharp knife

You will need a clean, cool worktop and hands. Flour the worktop, rolling pin and your hands to avoid sticking and roll your pastry out evenly, giving it quarter turns regularly to maintain a consistent thickness. Press the dough when rolling rather stretching it for a lighter result.

At this stage if you are making a pie you will want to roll the pastry up gently on the rolling pin and unroll it over your prepared baking dish. If you are making tarts, tartlets or more creative shapes you will need to use pastry cutters. Press the pastry cutters firmly into the dough and lift off, without twisting the pastry cutters.

If you are inexperienced at working with pastry it’s best to build your confidence with simple recipes. You can’t go wrong with apple pie, jam tarts or a quiche, for example.

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Sunday Roast

roasting tin

Sunday lunch is a quite special meal for many Brits, with the traditional Sunday roast being a favourite of both children and adults. It’s quality family time.

A roast can feel like an awful lot of hard work and can seem full of pitfalls to the novice cook, but the key is in the timing. However a little organisation and preparation beforehand makes all the difference in cooking.


A good oven is important for a decent roast, as it needs to be able to get hot enough to produce crisp, golden roast potatoes. Make sure it is fully preheated to the required temperature before cooking.

Be prepared

Make sure all your peeling, slicing and chopping is done in advance.

Roasting tin

Preheat your roasting tin for a good five minutes in the preheated oven before adding the meat. Having the fat preheated helps the meat browning process.

Resting the meat

All meats are made more juicy and tender by being allowed to rest. Time your cooking carefully to ensure the meat comes out of the oven a good half an hour before you serve, transfer to a plate and leave it covered in silver foil to rest.

During the resting process

After removing the meat from the oven you can increase the temperature to cook the roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.

Roasting tin gravy

While the meat is resting you can use its juices to make a flavoursome gravy, an essential component of any Sunday roast. Use a wooden spatula to scrape the lovely caramelised bits from the sides and base of the roasting tin, being careful not to scratch the surface of non stick cookware. Place the roasting tin on the hob on a low heat and when the juices start to sizzle, add a tablespoon of plain flour then, using a balloon whisk, blend the flour into the juices by whisking very quickly. As the flour cooks the mixture will form a smooth paste, at which point you can start to add hot stock or wine, very gradually, whisking thoroughly all the while. Turn the heat up and allow the mixture to simmer until it reaches the required thickness.

Vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, peas and carrots should be cooked at the last minute to avoid the traditional British overcooked texture.

Try to use non stick cookware as it makes the clean up process much easier. Warm the plates before serving. Carve your meat at the table rather than serving it sliced, on plates. It adds a traditional and entertaining touch.

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A Fondue Party


Fondues are a classic Swiss, French and Italian dish which, after a surge in popularity in the 1980s, fell out of fashion for a while in the UK. However, like so many things, fondues appear to be making a comeback – and a very welcome one! Fondue is a hugely versatile dish, with a number or different recipes based around the same basic premise. It’s suitable for sweet or savoury recipes, meat-based or vegetarian. Fondue is also a great choice for dinner parties as it’s a very sociable way to eat and involves only low-level preparation and clean-up. Simply arm yourself with a fondue set and experiment with a variety of classic recipes, plus some creations of your own.

Classic Cheese Fondues

The sauce in this recipe is based upon Swiss cheeses, but you could substitute alternatives – try a mixture of parmesan, mozzarella and dolcelatte.

To serve 4:

  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 300ml white wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 225g grated emmenthal cheese
  • 225g grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Cubed bread for dipping – try a flavoured mixture such as foccacia, olive bread and breadsticks.

Rub the inside of the fondue bowl with the garlic halves. Put the pot on the heat and bring the wine and lemon juice to the boil. Lower the heat and add the cheeses to the pot. Stir occasionally until the cheeses are completely melted and the mixture combined. Mix the cornflour with a little water, stir into the cheese pot and cook gently. Don’t allow to boil or the mixture will burn. Serve using the prongs from the fondue set to dip the bread into the mixture. Cold meats, boiled new potatoes, crudites and pickles are an ideal accompaniment.

Sweet Fondues

Chocolate works just as well as cheese in a fondue pot and the addition of fruit lends an air of virtue to what is in fact a gloriously indulgent dessert.

To serve 4:

  • 100g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 400g good quality plain chocolate, broken into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • A selection of fruit cut into bite-sized cubes, try orange, pineapple, mango, strawberry, banana and grape

Using a heavy based saucepan heat the sugar and water together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Melt the chocolate very gently in the fondue pot, then stir in the golden syrup and gradually add the sugar syrup, stirring regularly until you reach a smooth sauce consistency. Allow to cool for a good five minutes before serving with the fruit platter.

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Victorian Afternoon Tea

sugar tongs

Afternoon tea is a peculiarly British ritual that developed around the 1840s as a way to fill the sometimes rather long gap between lunch and a dinner that would usually be held at around 8pm.

An initial popularity among the social climbing ladies of the day took on a greater significance when Queen Victoria took up the habit, heralding the fashion for large, fairly formal occasions that became known as ‘tea receptions’.

These were no small affairs, taking place between 4-7pm and with up to two hundred guests, a trend that is being revived today for tea-party themed weddings, birthdays and baby showers. However a smaller event, carefully planned, could have just as much impact.

Sugar tongs and cake stands

When hosting an afternoon tea, the style is as important as the content. Make sure you’ve got the loose-leaf tea and the home-made sweet treats by all means, but don’t neglect the traditional tea strainer, flowered porcelain, cake stand, sugar tongs and cake forks with which to serve. Not everyone has a handy grandparent with a hoarding fetish from whom to inherit heirlooms such as silver sugar tongs, but fortunately the current fashion for all things nostalgic means modern versions of these old classics are easy to find in the shops. Above all you’ll need a pretty tea dress to suit the occasion!

The afternoon tea menu:

  • A selection of finger sandwiches – choose from the classic fillings of cucumber, egg mayonnaise with cress, smoked salmon with cream cheese, coronation chicken, ham and mustard.
  • A selection of cakes – Battenbergs, Bakewell tarts, fairy cakes and other bite-sized versions look cute but you can’t beat a good Victoria sponge for traditional value.
  • Scones, jam and clotted cream are optional, as is a glass of champagne.
  • A selection of real, loose-leaf teas – Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong for example.


  • Enough matching cups and saucers to serve everyone present
  • A matching set of small serving plates
  • Elegant matching teaspoons and cake forks, ideally real silver
  • A teapot or two
  • Tea strainer
  • Milk jug and sugar pot
  • Sugar tongs
  • A good table linen set including a table cloth and real napkins
  • A cake stand or two
  • A cake slice

Set the tone with some fresh flowers, some classical music and make sure you keep plenty of milk, sugar cubes and lemon quarters to hand so that everyone can take their tea as they like it and plenty of boiling water ready for top ups. You don’t have to spend a fortune but some attention to detail such as silver teaspoons and sugar tongs will make for a really special occasion.

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Cooking Meat

meat thermometer

Properly cooked meat is a matter not just of personal taste but also safety. While connoisseurs may prefer their steaks ‘blue’ or even raw as in the case of steak tartare, meats such as chicken must be thoroughly cooked through to avoid causing serious illness.

Do you need a meat thermometer?

There are many cooks who are confident in cooking their meat perfectly without the aid of a thermometer. While a meat thermometer is not so necessary with smaller pieces of meat like chicken fillets, large cuts such as a roast joint can be harder to judge without the aid of this handy gadget.

With chicken and turkey, for example, the rule tends to be that the meat is cooked when the juices run clear if a skewer is poked into the deepest part of the meat. However it can take some experience to get right, as cook just a little too long and your meat will be dry. Beef and lamb dishes in particular can benefit from the use of cooking thermometers to reach the desirable point of rareness.

Bear in mind that roast meat should be allowed to rest out of the oven for a while before serving and during this time the internal temperature can rise by a few degrees, so for a suitably juicy roast it’s worthwhile removing your meat well ahead of time.

How to use a meat thermometer

There are various kinds of cooking thermometers available so make sure the one you buy is suitable for use with meats and poultry rather than sugar, for example.

Some thermometers have a useful temperature guide that will alert you if different kinds of meat have reached the correct temperature. Always use the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat but make sure the probe is not touching bone. Consider also that uneven shaped joints of meat may not cook evenly throughout, so always use your thermometer in two different places to gauge an average.

Using cooking times as a guide, inserting a meat thermometer just before the end of the programmed cooking time will tell you if your meat has reached the desired internal temperature, which for beef and lamb is as follows: well done is 75ºC, about 60ºC for medium and 50-55ºC for rare.

Poultry needs to reach an internal temperature of 80ºC and if it is stuffed the stuffing must also reach this temperature. A meat thermometer can also be used to determine that reheated food has reached a sufficient temperature.

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Mashing Potato

Mashed potato is the simplest of foods yet surprisingly easy to get wrong. It also spans the gamut from nursery food to fine dining. A basic recipe makes a comforting and warming feast, while more sophisticated versions can be dainty and decorative when served up using piping bags. This recipe is not diet friendly but gives a deliciously creamy finish when using a hand held potato masher.

Mashed Potato Using a Potato Masher

You will need:

  • Potato peeler
  • Sharp knife
  • Steamer saucepan
  • Potato masher

To serve 4:

  • 900g potatoes (Desiree or King Edward varieties are best for mashing)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of salt
  • 50g butter
  • 300ml hot milk
  • 1 heaped dessertspoon of garlic and herb flavoured cream cheese

Peel the potatoes as thinly as possible and cut into medium sized chunks. For the best results, sprinkle the salt over the potatoes and cook in a steamer for about 25 minutes. Pierce with a skewer to make sure they are cooked in the centre to avoid lumpy mash.

When they are ready, add to a saucepan with the remaining ingredients and mash firmly until you reach a fluffy and creamy consistency. If the mixture seems a little stiff or dry, add a little more hot milk or a generous dribble of olive oil to soften up.

You can also make your mash more interesting by adding other vegetables – add sweet potato, swede, carrot or various other vegetables to your basic ingredients or try something Irish: there is colcannon, which is mashed potato with onion and cabbage, or champ, mashed potato with spring onions.

Potato Masher Shopping

potato masher

Basic ingredients aside, the key to the dish is in the mashing. Some people like to save on elbow grease by using an electric whisk to mash their potatoes. This gives a very soft, completely lump-free finish, as do potato ricers, but the texture achieved by traditional potato mashers is more interesting. However if you are planning to serve your mashed potato decoratively through piping bags, the softer texture you get from electric whisks or ricers is easier to work with.

When it comes to classic potato mashers, pretty much the same end result is gained from most different kinds, so probably the most important thing to look for is a masher that fits your grip comfortably. Stick with something sturdy as some pressure is required while mashing to get a smooth finish. Always rinse the potato masher thoroughly as soon as you have finished using it, as trying to clean a masher full of dried up potato is no fun!

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Kitchen Gadgets

kitchen gadgets

Working in the kitchen is like any other pastime, you need the right tools for the job. Fortunately for lovers of gadgets, there is an endless array of tools to facilitate any kitchen task. However this can be an expensive hobby, so it’s a good idea to conduct some research to work out which kitchen gadgets are really worth investing in.

Traditional Kitchen Gadgets

When something has been consistently used for a long time, it can be said to have proved its worth. Nonetheless not all kitchen gadgets suit every chef – does a vegetarian really need a meat tenderiser? However, no kitchen would be complete without the following simple and inexpensive basics: a tin opener, vegetable peeler, spatula, box grater, chopping board, colander, potato masher, knife set, mixing spoons, mixing bowls, pestle and mortar, oven gloves, a citrus reamer and a whisk. A set of mechanical scales is less accurate than the digital alternative but more reliable. After this, you start getting into the more expensive realms of pots and pans, baking tins and trays and electrical items.

Modern Kitchen Gadgets

One of the newer and more original kitchen gadgets on the market is a sushi maker. Sushi bought in shops is incredibly neat and well-dressed. While it’s great fun to make at home, not everyone has the nimble fingers necessary to achieve the same chic result you find in the shop-bought product. It is used to make ‘maki’, which are small rolls of sushi rice and nori seaweed around a selection of fillings. The maki roll is traditionally made using a bamboo mat to form the rolls, but the sushi maker forms and presses the rolls for you.

To make 40 maki:

  • 250g sushi rice
  • 55ml mirin (a Japanese sweetened sake or rice wine)
  • 340g sashimi tuna, sliced into long thin strips
  • 5 nori seaweed sushi sheets
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 5 long pieces
  • 5 spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi paste

Rinse the rice well under cold water, then drain and place in a lidded saucepan. Add a pint of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed, then put the saucepan aside with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Tip the rice into a large tray and trickle over the mirin and stir gently into the rice. Leave the rice to reach room temperature, then use your sushi maker to form maki rolls filled with the tuna, cucumber, spring onion and wasabi paste. Serve with light soy sauce and some slices of pickled ginger.

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Mortar and Pestle

mortar and pestle

This simplest of kitchen tools is used to crush and grind ingredients such as spices and similar aromatics to make customised herb and spice mixes for all sorts of recipes.

Basic mortar and pestle uses

The mortar is a small bowl accompanied by a small, heavy club, the pestle, used to pound ingredients to release flavours. They are usually made of fairly robust materials, such as the traditional granite mortar and pestle, but ceramic, glass or marble versions are also popular.

Certain ingredients respond best to the gentle crushing or grinding motion of a mortar and pestle, while others need a firmer hand. The essence of whole spices is most easily accessed by grinding them to a powder form with the pestle, but the method can also be used to crush nuts or create flavoursome sauces or dressings. Grind the aromatics with some salt to form a paste, then add the acidic element (usually lemon juice or vinegar) and work gently together. Slowly add the olive oil and combine with the paste until you have reached the best consistency and strength of flavour for your sauce.

Your pestle and mortar should not be washed in a dishwasher but should be gently washed with hot, soapy water and a soft brush, then rinsed and left to air dry.

Mortar and Pestle Pesto

While this traditional Italian sauce is often made in a food processor, using a granite mortar and pestle gives a richer flavour and more rustic texture. Green basil is the standard ingredient but if you can find it, try purple basil for an original twist.

To serve 4:

  • 1 small clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon quarter

Toast the pine nuts by adding them to a frying pan over a medium heat and tossing regularly. They are done when they start to turn golden brown around the edges.

Place the garlic, a pinch of sea salt and the basil leaves in your mortar and gently grind (you may have to add the basil leaves bit at a time if they don’t fit easily into the bowl all at once). Once these are well combined, grind in the pine nuts.

Add the mixture to a bowl and mix in the Parmesan cheese, then gradually stir in the olive oil until you reach the desired flavour and consistency. Season and add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice.

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Traditional Hardware Shops

wares of knutsford

Having fallen out of fashion for a few years, traditional ironmongery and hardware is undergoing a resurgence in popularity. With creaking wooden floors, floor to ceiling wooden shelves and a jangling bell when the door opens.

The beauty of the traditional hardware shop was the sensation that you could buy absolutely ANYTHING, while basking in the aroma of 3 in 1 oil, key cutting and fertiliser. These days traditonal goods have bridged the gap between the olden days and the modern world extremely well, with thriving high-street outlets defying the recession and a strong online presence to back them up. Wares of Knutsford is a classic example.

Enamelware from Wares of Knutsford

The kind of enamel mugs omnipresent on camping or fishing trips are available with matching teapots, plates and other accessories in the classic white with a blue rim or a range of other colours. Enamelware pie dishes and roasting pans are a way to access the trend if you’re not so keen on outdoor adventures.

Household Care from Wares of Knutsford

The smells of Antiquax, grate polish and Bar Keeper’s Friend evoke an earlier time but their cleaning properties have rarely been bettered by their modern equivalents. Bar Keeper’s Friend in particular can be used for an infinite number of household chores. Wicker baskets, traditional candles, jug mops and wooden dolly pegs can all have a helpful place in the modern home and can be found at traditional hardware suppliers like Wares of Knutsford.

Jars and Bottles

For jam jars Knutsford has the full range, both of preserving bottles and jars in addition to maslin pans and all the accessories you might need for preserving. You can buy individually or take advantage of bulk buy rates for larger orders, which is handy if you’re cooking up a large batch of jam or chutney to give as gifts or you have a glut of a particular fruit to use up. Don’t forget a thermometer, funnel, jar covers, labels and a strainer. Apart from preserving kits and jam jars Wares of Knutsford has baking equipment including the Mason Cash and Kitchen Craft ranges, plus traditional storage jars such as Mason, Kilner and Le Parfait jars.

The household section is full of wood, wicker and galvanised items, the traditional materials your grandparents would have used, while kitchenware is based around pottery and cast iron, but often given an update with modern, bold colours.

The products might be steeped in tradition but the internet is proving the ideal place to maintain the classic domestic rules and values.

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Step Into The Kitchen

cooking utensils

The most modern lifestyle trend at the moment is good, old-fashioned nostalgia. From the clothes we wear to the way we decorate our homes and the foods we cook, the hot and fashionable have been turning to the past for inspiration. Nowhere is this trend more apparent than in the kitchen. Home-made is hot and your kitchen styling and cooking utensils have to match.

Kitchen Equipment

You only need to look at the Metro range by Kitchen Craft to see that traditional accessories and cooking utensils are leading the way in both form and function. You may not be able to afford to revamp your whole kitchen but you can style it up with some funky cookware. Decant your grocery staples into Kilner or Parfait jars and add chic labels, mix up your cakes in a Mason Cash Jubilee mixing bowl like your Grandmother used to have and make your tea with a farmhouse kettle to get the retro look. Cast iron and enamel oven-to-tableware both look the part and perform the job.


Raves have given way to tea parties, giving you a great excuse to indulge in some real leaf tea, strainers, sugar lumps served with tongs and milk from a jug – not forgetting that teapot essential, the tea cosy. You can serve finger sandwiches and traditional tea party delicacies such as scones, Battenbergs and Victoria sponge cake from cake stands, all arranged on pretty doilies and served in flowered porcelain.

Cooking Utensils

The beauty of this trend is not only that it looks good, it also works. Pasta makers, pestle & mortars and cheese wires have been around so long simply because they are so effective. Electric juicers, tin openers and other modern equipment may be very desirable in principle, but the rubber spatula, wooden honey dipper and ceramic pie funnels of old are masterpieces of design. It’s very difficult to follow baking and other cooking trends without the correct cooking utensils, so invest in a few traditional accessories to make life easier.

Live Up to Those Cooking Utensils!

Did you ever see your Grandmother working in the kitchen without an apron? To achieve modern domestic goddessness you have to both look the part and act it. To really embrace the trend is to live it as well as decorate with it. Consider not only baking your own cakes and biscuits but also making jam, bread and pasta. Pickle your own, home-grown onions, cabbages and beetroot and grow some kitchen herbs on your windowsill to really give Nigella a run for her money. As a desirable and rewarding lifestyle choice, you could find this trend is here to stay.

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