Cooking and Recipes · Food

Tips For Deep-Fat Frying Food

Photo by Pixzolo Photography on Unsplash

In today’s health-conscious environment, deep-fried foods often take a backseat to lower-calorie options. Every so often, however, it is fun to live a little and enjoy some of these delicious foods. As long as you are indulging in a deep-fried treat, you may as well ensure that it tastes perfect. These tips for deep-fat frying will help you get excellent results every time.

Interestingly, deep fat frying falls under the category of dry heat cooking. Even though you use oil, the cooking process doesn’t require water like simmering or poaching, which is why it is considered dry heat.

The tips below will help keep you safe while at the same time allowing you to get delicious results.

One of the keys to successfully deep-frying food is to choose the right oil. Ideally, the oil that you choose should have a high smoke point so that it won’t deteriorate when it reaches the high temperatures required for deep frying. The best oils are sunflower, peanut, canola, or safflower oil.

Your choice of skillet is also important. A deep, heavy-duty skillet is best. Put oil in the bottom of the pan, leaving at least a couple of inches of space at the top. This is important from a safety standpoint. If the pan is too full, the oil could easily bubble over after adding the food. This is why a purpose made deep fat fryer is a better idea. If you want to know more about what to look for then use this detailed guide to choose the best deep fat fryers.

Thoroughly dry the food you are frying before putting it in the pan. You can either set it out on paper towels to allow any moisture to evaporate or you can cover it with a dry coating of bread crumbs or flour. Make sure the coating on the food is dry, as well, by allowing it to sit for about 20 minutes before putting it in the oil.

Once the food is prepared, you can heat the oil. A medium-high heat setting is best. Ideally, you should use a thermometer that is designed for deep-fat frying. The oil temperature should be between 350 and 370°F. You can estimate the temperature of the oil even if you don’t have a thermometer available by cutting a 1-inch piece of bread and putting it in the oil. Time how long it takes for the bread to brown. If it takes approximately a minute, that means that the oil is about 365°F.

Avoid putting too much food in the pan. Make sure there is plenty of space around each item that is cooking. This will give you more even results. If you pile too much food into the pan, it will lower the temperature of the oil. Then, instead of getting crisp, the food will soak up the oil.

Keep a close eye on the pan while the food is cooking. If necessary, adjust the temperature so that the oil stays between 350 and 375°F. As soon as the food is browned, it is ready to take out of the pan. Use a slotted spoon to remove it so that any excess oil will drain. Make sure the spoon has a long handle. Set the finished food on a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil.

If you have more frying to do, try putting the finished food in the oven at a temperature of about 200°F. This will keep it from cooling off while you finish the rest.

From a safety standpoint, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t mix oil and water. Never place water in hot oil. Adding water to the mixture will lead to an explosion. If the oil starts smoking or if the pan catches on fire, place a lid or cookie sheet over it to douse the fire. Sprinkling baking soda on grease fires may also help. Just use caution so that you don’t cause the flames to spread.

Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher available in your kitchen. Make sure you know how to use it so that you can respond quickly in an emergency.

Cooking oil should not be reused despite what some people say. Even if you strain it, the oil has already been partially broken down by exposure to heat. This causes trans fats and other unhealthy compounds to form. The best option is to allow the oil to thoroughly cool and then to throw it away

Adulting · Food

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

Coffee is a very popular drink, but one with a high environmental and ethical impact. How your coffee is grown, the carbon footprint of flying it to you and the waste generated by coffee pods and takeaway cups all cause a problem. With these small changes to your caffeine habit, you can make your coffee drinking more sustainable.

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

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  1. Don’t use takeaway cups. One of the biggest problems with coffee is the volume of non-recycled waste that is produced by takeaway coffee. Paper cups, cardboard sleeves, plastic lids and plastic straws often end up in landfills, even when they can be recycled. Instead of using these, take your own reusable cup. You can even buy ones that collapse flat to take up less room in your bag. Buy a fun cup and get in the habit of carrying it with you.  
  2. At home, don’t use single serve coffee pods. These pods are incredibly popular, but most can’t be recycled. Even the ones that can be usually aren’t, as they usually need to be sent back to the supplier and can’t just be put out with the rest of your recycling. Instead of using pods, treat yourself to beautiful fresh coffee, like Third Wave Coffee, and make a habit of drinking fantastic coffee at home.  
  3. Swap single use filters for reusable ones. Paper filters are often bleached with chlorine, so as well as creating more waste, they’ll also leak chemicals when they reach landfills. Instead, use a reusable filter, like a metal one. Less waste, and your coffee will taste better. 
  4. Treat yourself to a manually brewed coffee. Auto-drip coffee machines are cheap for a reason. They use a lot of plastic, and break often, meaning all that plastic gets thrown away. A manual option makes your coffee more of a routine, and is kinder on the environment. 
  5. Read the packaging carefully. Look for information on whether you can recycle the packaging. Check for symbols to confirm the coffee is organic or fair trade. Do some research into your preferred coffee brands to make sure they’re paying growers fairly, and doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.   
  6. Don’t waste leftover coffee grounds. You can add coffee grounds to your compost heap or straight onto your plants. The nitrogen in the coffee grounds acts as a great fertilizer for your plants. If you add the grounds around the flower beds, the nitrogen also acts as a natural bug repellent, keeping ants and other creatures away from your plants. The smell of coffee can also work well to discourage neighbourhood cats from using your garden as a litter box. 
  7. Don’t use a coffee pot with a warming plate. The plate is left on for long periods, which uses up a lot of energy, wasting electricity. Consistently warming your coffee also over-brews it and can end up burning it, making it taste worse too. For better tasting coffee that doesn’t waste energy, buy a thermal coffee pot instead to keep your coffee warm for longer. 
Advertorial · Family · Food

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With? #MustBeWalkers

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With?! Picture the scene – it’s 1996. Euro ’96 is in full swing. Neon clothes and Adidas tracksuits are all the rage, and a group of feisty women called “Spice Girls” are topping the charts with their high-kicking, zig-a-zig-ahh-ing hit ‘Wannabe’. The whole world is thinking about whether David Beckham is going to score, both on the pitch and off with Posh Spice.

It’s the summer between year 7 and year 8, and with a year of senior school under my belt, I think I know everything there is to know about being a grown up. My Nan and Grandad had moved to Lowestoft, but brought their caravan to a site in Essex for the summer, where we’d visit them and spend the day playing outside the caravan. I remember vividly asking if we could listen to the chart show on the radio and dancing to Wannabe with my cousin Laurie, each choosing a Spice Girl to emulate (if I remember rightly it was Baby for me and Sporty for Laurie!).

Nan always made the BEST picnics whenever we went on days out together- homemade ham rolls, cartons of Um Bongo and she’d only ever pack Walkers Crisps. She had very high standards, my Nanny Rene!

Spice Girls music evoke a lot of memories of my early teenage year and this day is one of my favourites. I can’t quite believe that was 23 year ago, and now that my grandparents are no longer with us, it’s all the more precious.

Spice Girls have teamed up with Walkers Crisps, 22 years after the first time, to create a new advert, which you can see here:

Despite his love of Walkers, the Spice Girls superfan jut cannot bring himself to share his crisps. I won’t lie; I’d find it hard to share them too! Aside from the people I love, there are very few people in the world who’d get my Walkers. Here are a few of them:

Jeremy Corbyn

We all know how much I love our Jez, so I’d definitely share my crisps with him, and luckily enough almost all of the Walkers flavours are suitable for vegetarians, so I wouldn’t need to worry about him not eating meat.

Keanu Reeves

Keanu is basically the coolest guy on the planet. As a family, we have a huge fondness for Keanu and he definitely deserves to share my Walkers!

Helen Sharman

Helen was the first British astronaut and the first woman in space. She’s got honorary doctorates from no fewer than 11 universities and she’s a HUGE inspiration to females, especially in the STEM fields. Plus, I bet you can’t get any decent crisps in space!

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With?!

Walkers is looking for a GENUINE Spice Girls superfan – The campaign will run on TV and digital throughout the summer schedule from 2nd June until the 21st July 2019. Check out some of the top entries we from the challenge leading up to the ad premier. For more information visit www.walkers.co.uk/besteverfan.

Cooking and Recipes · Food

Recipe – Herby Lamb Steaks #MeatMatters

Herby Lamb Steaks*This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here: https://www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/*

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a meat-lover. Steak is one of my favourite meals and my mother-in-law’s lamb stew is basically my all-time best comfort food. Lamb is something I love to cook and eat but I do tend to favour the ‘low and slow’ method of cooking, which means that dinners around lamb usually have to be carefully planned and executed.

So when BritMums and Simply Beef and Lamb challenged me to come up with a recipe for beef or lamb which could be cooked in under 30 minutes, I thought this would be a great opportunity to make something quick and easy with lamb. Lamb is such a great meat for the family to enjoy; it’s packed with protein and provides four essential vitamins and minerals which help reduce tiredness and fatigue.

I wanted to pair our lamb with ingredients which were both seasonal and packed a nutrition-punch, so here’s what I made:

Herby Lamb Steaks with Spring Greens and New Potatoes

Recipe – Herby Lamb Steaks #MeatMatters
Recipe Type: Lamb
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A tasty way to enjoy lamb in under thirty minutes.
Ingredients
  • Lamb steaks (we allowed two per adult and one per child)
  • Garlic – five cloves
  • Rosemary – half a cup, finely chopped
  • Sea Salt – one tablespoon
  • Spring greens – Two heads, shredded
  • Olive Oil – one tablespoon
  • Shallots – two, finely chopped
  • Mustard seeds – one tablespoon
  • Apple cider vinegar – two tablespoons
  • New potatoes – 500g
  • Knob of butter to serve
Instructions
  1. Boil a kettle and cover the new potatoes with boiling water on the hob, allowing them to simmer for around 20 minutes.
  2. Crush the garlic cloves and combine with the chopped rosemary and sea salt on a plate
  3. Lay each lamb steak on the herby mix on each side to coat
  4. Place herby lamb steaks under a pre-heated grill on high and cook for around 5 minutes on each side for medium rare (7 minutes on each side for well-done if you don’t like any pink inside your lamb)
  5. While the lamb and potatoes are cooking, add the olive oil to a pan and gently start to heat the shallots until they’re translucent.
  6. Add the mustard seeds and stir
  7. Add the shredded spring greens to the pan and allow to wilt for five minutes, turning frequently so that the shallots mix in and don’t start to catch
  8. Once the greens have wilted down, add the apple cider vinegar, stirring through quickly before taking off of the heat.
  9. Drain the potatoes and stir the butter through until melted
  10. Serve

I could tell this recipe was going to be a hit as Husband shouted down “dinner smells AMAZING!” while I was cooking, and the girls kept asking for minute-by-minute updates on when it would be ready!

Having a dinner which centred around lamb ready from fridge to plate in under 30 minutes was fantastic and the whole family agreed that it was one of the tastiest meals we’d had in a long time. It was absolutely jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals, so I felt extra happy about feeding it to my family and the fact that it was all made using products which were in season was an even bigger bonus as it meant that the meal was super fresh.

The meat was grilled and only the tiniest amount of oil and butter were used to create the side dishes, making this a really healthy, well-balanced dinner. The girls love lamb steaks because there are no bones to deal with and they were so tender and juicy after being grilled – I think this may even be my new favourite lamb dish.

If you’d like to see the other beef and lamb dishes that people have created for the #MeatMatters challenge, head over to Twitter or Instagram and search for the hashtag.

Food · Review

Caribbean Flavours at Turtle Bay

When we first found out that we were going to be reviewing Turtle Bay, my first thought was how happy Husband would be as he’s a HUGE fan of Caribbean food. My second thought was “will the kids cope with the spice?”. It has to be said, my kids aren’t total chilli wusses, BB has been asking for sriracha on her food since she was about 2 and Sausage copes with things like hot wings, so I figured we’d just see how they fared – besides, there was a kids menu to choose from.

Turtle Bay Collage

The Turtle Bay we visited was in Chelmsford, just outside the High Chelmer Shopping Centre and in a nice location with an outdoor seating area. The first thing you notice about Turtle Bay is just how vibrant and beautifully styled the whole place is. From the bright colours that scream Jamaica to the wall of guitar amps and the reggae playing in the background, the restaurant felt themed in a way that managed to avoid the pantomime-y feel of other themed restaurants.

We did the usual ‘sit down, peruse the menu, give our drinks order’ and were informed that cocktails were currently 2 for 1, so mine and Sausage’s virgin cocktail orders meant we’d be brought two drinks each – quite a bonus and one to remember next time we’re out for dinner and I’m not driving!

While we were waiting for our food, we were given colouring stuff for the girls, but also a Connect4 game, which made the time between ordering our food and it arriving pass really quickly. Not only did we love the fact that the kids were catered for, we loved the implication that this wasn’t a place where kids had to be seen and not heard, that they were allowed to have fun and be kids.

BB ate from the kids menu, and her main arrived at the same time as our starters, which worked well as she’s a SLOOOOW eater! Serving it this way meant that by the time we’d eaten our starter and mains, she was just about finished too.

Caribbean Flavour at Turtle Bay

In terms of the food, here’s what we ordered:

 I’m not going to bore you with a description of every single morsel of food that we ate (ALTHOUGH, the prawns I had for my starter were TO DIE FOR, and I said to husband that I could quite happily have eaten it ten times over), but every single one of us loved all of our dishes. The jerk chicken and ribs were SO beautifully seasoned and spiced, not so much that it blew your head off, but just enough to make you feel warm down to your flip flops. Husband’s curry goat and my ribs were so tender, the meat melted in your mouth and all of the desserts were perfect and sweet, after such a savoury meal.

The meal was, in fact, such a resounding success, that the whole family declared it the best place we’ve ever reviewed, and we’ve been to a LOT of restaurants in the last eight years! Unless you’ve got kids who are exceptionally fussy with what they eat, please don’t think you can’t eat as a family at Turtle Bay because there are plenty of dishes which cater for those with more delicate taste buds, and everyone else gets to enjoy the deep flavour of Jerk wonderfulness!

It would also be an amazing place for dinner and drinks with friends (not least of all because the cocktails are 2-for-1!), and the decor and atmosphere would really lend itself to relaxation and socialising. All in all (for three starters, three mains, a kids meal, four desserts, four virgin cocktails, two pints of Red Stripe and a soft drink) our meal would have cost £82.60, which I think is excellent value.

As we were leaving, the manager mentioned to us that a new Turtle Bay is going to be opening in Southend, which is even closer to us, and all I can say is, I really  hope he’s correct!

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