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How to Select a Wood Fire Oven for Home

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How to Select a Wood Fire Oven for Home

A wood fire oven can be a great choice in any chef’s kitchen or for use outdoors. The wood brings an extra flavor to foods that are cooked in the oven and which you won’t experience with standard electric or gas ovens. While pizza may be most often cooked in a wood fire oven, you can also cook turkey and other fowls and anything you can fit into a roasting pan. Note a few tips for choosing a wood fire oven for your home. 1. Choose the largest size A wood fire oven needs a certain amount of space for the oven area and the chimney vent, but you don’t want to choose the smallest one available just to save on cost. This is because even a small fire can overwhelm a small oven so that food quickly gets burned as you try to control the flames and level of smoke. Your food may wind up being grilled rather than smoked; the outside may be charred while the inside is still raw if the wood fire oven is too small.  If you’re worried about a larger wood fire oven because you don’t want too much heat to escape into your kitchen, choose one with a smaller mouth or opening so that less of the warmth makes it out of the oven itself. If you’re not sure that a larger oven will fit your intended space, note that you may want to have one custom built with concrete or masonry blocks rather than buying a kit or prefabricated oven. This will allow you to create the best, largest size oven for your kitchen or outdoor space. 2. Vent location Wood fire ovens usually have two possibilities for vent location; one is directly above the oven, in the middle. The other is to one side or the back. Both will then be connected to a chimney or outside vent, however, the middle vent is usually preferred by professional chefs and those more concerned with the overall flavor of their foods. This is because the middle vent will pull air and smoke up through the middle of the oven so that it then evenly smokes the food inside. A side or back vent will pull air to that side so that you may notice an uneven flavoring of your food. If you’re looking for a truly authentic taste from your wood fire oven, choose the middle vent if...

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3 Steps To A Cleaner Diet

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Steps To A Cleaner Diet

As more and more people learn about the dangers of eating chemical-laden, processed foods, there’s been an increased interest in eating a clean diet. This simply means consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible, and clean eating comes with a range of health benefits. Ditching the processed junk and eating clean has been linked to improved mood, enhanced brain function and better sleep, so here’s an overview of three easy steps you can take to clean up your diet: Be Intentional When Buying Produce Switching to organic produce will greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides, but eating a 100% organic diet isn’t always possible due to the increased cost and limited availability of a wide-range of organic produce in some areas. One compromise is to use the Environmental Working Group’s list of clean and dirty conventional produce as a guide. Items from the clean conventional produce list contain minimal pesticide residue, while those from the dirty conventional produce list have a high level of pesticide residue and are best replaced with organically grown varieties. Filter Your Water Would it surprise you to learn your tap water contains a number of pesticides, traces of harmful heavy metals and bacteria? Cooking with and drinking unfiltered water exposes you and your family to dangerous chemicals such as chlorine, which has been linked to a rise in birth abnormalities. Filtering your water is an effective, easy way to reduce your exposure to toxins, and home water filters aren’t expensive. If you are happy to filter your tap water 1-2 litres at a time, a jug filter might be a good option for you. You simply fill the jug with water and it passes through a filter containing activated charcoal before reaching the main water storage compartment. The charcoal draws out impurities, but you’ll need to change the filter every few months. If you want constant access to filtered water, an under the sink model is ideal. These filters connect to your water pipes and, depending on the model, use either activated charcoal or reverse osmosis to remove toxins from the water. An under the sink water filter ensures you get freshly filtered water every time you turn on the tap, and most models are easy to fit, so you won’t necessarily need the help of a plumber. Ditch The Refined Sugar Refined sugar seems to be present in just about every type of packaged food you can buy, but it adds no value to your diet and has been linked to a number of health problems including liver damage, heart disease and a decrease in cognitive ability. Ditch the refined sugar for a couple of weeks and see for yourself what a difference it makes in how you feel. Worried about satisfying your sweet tooth? Experiment with using natural sugars in place of refined sugars. For example, sweeten your muffins with mashed bananas, or stir homemade apple sauce into your morning porridge. Don’t risk becoming overwhelmed by implementing all of these steps at once. Pick the one that speaks loudest to you and go from...

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Planning your party: estimating drinks

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Planning your party: estimating drinks

When you’re planning a party or function, you need to avoid the embarrassment of running out of drinks. A professional caterer can give you an accurate estimate of how much you’ll need to serve your guests, but if you want to make a rough calculation you can do it by following a few simple rules.  For the purposes of this calculation, assume that a ‘drink’ is any one serving — a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail. Obviously, these drinks are actually different sizes, but this pattern holds roughly true for all of them. Most caterers estimate that an average guest will consume about one drink per hour over the length of the party. The only exception is the first hour, when consumption is higher; a typical guest will drink two drinks during this period.  Ideally, then, you’ll need one drink per guest plus one drink per guest per hour of the event. If your party lasts for four hours and you have 20 guests, you’ll need five drinks per guest for a total of 100 drinks. Add a few on for a margin of error if you feel unsure, although do remember that most events have less than 100 percent attendance — invited guests often don’t turn up, while uninvited guests rarely do.  Now that you know how many drinks you’ll need, it’s time to translate that into stocking your bar. A standard 750-ml bottle holds five typical restaurant servings of wine; simply divide the expected number of drinks by five to get the required number. The more choice you offer, though, the more complicated things can get. You’ll need to estimate what proportion of your guests you think will want to order different types of drink; will people prefer red wine to white? Wine to beer? If you’re serving cocktails, what mixers will you need? Even if you simplify by limiting yourself to just one or two types of alcoholic drink, you’ll need to offer a non-alcoholic alternative of some kind. It can be tricky to estimate the number of non-drinkers among your guests, so allow extra as a margin for error. This is where the experience of a professional caterer can be very useful. Visit a site like to learn about the services a professional catering company can provide to help make your event run more smoothly. Event planning presents a lot of challenges; if you’ve never done it before, it can be difficult to estimate the demand for everything from food and drink to space and parking. Once you’ve done a few events, you’ll have the experience you need to estimate accurately and...

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What Should You Leave the Babysitter for Dinner?

Posted by on Jun 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Should You Leave the Babysitter for Dinner?

You’ve finally got a babysitter organised so you can enjoy a date night with your husband, and then you realise you need to leave them something to eat for dinner. Here are some options you can consider. Assemble ingredients so they can cook from scratch While this looks like a great idea on the face of it, it has a few flaws. First depending on your babysitters cooking skills, everyone could easily end up with a burnt dinner. Equally in all likelihood you’ll end needing to wash all the pots and pans that get used, which isn’t that much fun after a night out. You also risk your children not eating and throwing a fit over the food. This is a relatively easy option, although you’ll probably still need to plan what you think that they can cook with the food, just in case you are missing some vital ingredient for any common recipes. Reheating a frozen meal If you are well prepared, you maybe to able to rustle through the freezer and turn up a frozen container of spaghetti sauce or similar. This is often popular with teenagers and younger children and requires less cooking skills, and hopefully the kids should eat it up as it’s a familiar meal. You may still be left with some cleaning up if red sauce ends up all over the kitchen, and you still have a slight risk of burning the meal even when reheating in the microwave. This is an easy and cost-effective option as you already have the food on hand. Ordering takeaway pizza Leaving the babysitter some money to organise takeaway pizza for themselves and the kids is a great idea. It’s a super popular option for kids of any age so should be eaten, and makes a night with the babysitter seem like more of a treat from the children. The babysitter can choose something that suit’s their tastes as well as the children’s tastes and you shouldn’t have to clean up much beyond throwing the pizza boxes in the recycling bin the next morning. Who knows, there might even be some spare slices when you guys get home as well. While there are pros and cons for each option, leaving some money for the babysitter to organise takeaway pizza is an easy, stress-free and popular option for dinner for both the children and your babysitter. Learn more about delivery deals by contacting local options like Pizza Inn...

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Have Your Cake & Eat it Too: 3 Ingredient Substitutions to Look for When on a Diet

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Have Your Cake & Eat it Too: 3 Ingredient Substitutions to Look for When on a Diet

Obesity is becoming a worldwide epidemic and concern, and the rates of Australians that are overweight or obese continue to rise. Shockingly, almost 2/3 of adult Australians, or 63%, are considered to be overweight and obese. Choosing healthier food options and identifying healthier ingredients that can be used as a substitute are key components to weight management and weight loss. If you want to enjoy eating foods like cakes, here are 3 substitute ingredients that you should look for when on a diet. Stray Away from White Carbs & Opt for Whole Wheat Alternatives White carbs are made from refined starches and are high in calories. They basically play the same role as sugar when they are ingested and interfere with your body’s blood-glucose levels. This can cause you to gain body weight. Cakes that are made from whole-wheat flour rather than white flour can help you better manage your weight. Cakes that substitute 1 cup of whole -wheat flour for every 7/8 cup of white flour contain extra fiber that will aid digestion. In addition, some studies have indicated that a whole wheat diet can decrease the production of proteins that cause inflammation in the body by 38%. Opt for Cakes that Substitute other Ingredients for Butter Omitting butter from the cake recipes can greatly reduce the amount of calories, fat and cholesterol that are being ingested. There are countless healthier substitutes and alternatives that you can replace in the place of butter. Most of the time, you won’t be able to taste the difference in the cakes. Common substitutes include replacing: Replace half the amount of butter in the recipe with applesauce or even all of the butter with applesauce. If you choose to replace all of the butter with applesauce, the cake will be much denser and moist. Replace canola oil with unsalted butter. Canola oil can be substituted for recipes that require melted butter, as it contains much less cholesterol, sodium and unsaturated fat. Replace butter with prune puree. If the recipe involves chocolate and cinnamon, prune puree can be used as a substitute for butter. Most of these substitute are low in fat and calories, and can help you better manage your body weight without having to forgo cake altogether. Choose Cakes Decorated with Fresh Fruits Rather than Sweets Rather than fondant, icing and other types of chocolates and sweets, some cakes adorn fresh fruits instead. These cakes also tend to be a healthier alternative, as the fresh fruits not only add sweetness to the cake, but also contains a lot of fiber that aids digestion. Just because you’re on a diet, it does not necessarily mean that you have to forgo cake altogether. There are many bakeries that offer healthy alternatives by substituting ingredients that are lower in calories and saturated fat without compromising the taste of the cake. Learn more about healthy options by consulting locations like Cookies and...

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Culinary Celebrations | 3 Eclectic Ideas For Throwing a Fabulous Sushi Party

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When you enjoy cooking, chances are entertaining has always been part of your agenda. If you’ve decided to throw a sushi party at home, you’ve got your work cut out for you – but the effort of cooking up a storm and sharing homemade fresh sushi with friends is worth it in the end. Applied creatively, a sushi party is a surefire way to keep things interesting by celebrating birthdays, milestone events and holidays with the people you care about the most. Get your supplies from a local store or through a local sushi catering service. But first you’ll need to know what type of sushi party you want. Here are some eclectic ideas for throwing a fabulous sushi party. Hand Roll Sushi Party Sushi hand rolls are a popular snack – so planning a hand roll sushi party is bound to be a grand success. Sushi rice is set on a crisp nori (edible seaweed) sheet and topped with some fillings. The nori is wrapped like a cone and is eaten immediately with no knives and chopsticks necessary. You’ll need a large bowl of sushi rice along with other ingredients set in the middle of a large dining table. Choose fillings that are easy to prepare – plan a few seafood items like shrimp and crabmeat, vegetables like carrots and mushrooms and meat like beef and chicken. Include an assortment of sweet and spicy flavours for more variety. Guests can make their own hand rolls based on their personal taste. A hand roll party is an excellent choice for early evening get-togethers.  Sushi and Cocktail Party A sushi and cocktail party is an excellent idea for a nighttime celebration – consisting of dazzling cocktails and a variety of sushi appetizers that appeal to every palate. A sushi and cocktail party works best when the sushi is prepared ahead of the party or ordered from a sushi catering company – so the host and guests can enjoy a lovely evening soiree mingling in celebration. DIY Sushi Extravaganza   If you have a set of adventurous friends who like getting their hands a little sticky, then a DIY sushi party is just for you. To get things rolling, set up your sushi station – with all the ingredients. Include step-by-step instructions for preparing different types of sushi and sashimi, so your guests can try their hand at different varieties. Again, select ingredients that are easy to prepare. Keep dinner plates, chopsticks, soy sauce and wasabi close at hand, so you can serve the sushi to everyone sitting around the table right after it’s made. A DIY sushi party is best for a small group of friends to enjoy together. A sushi party is an excellent choice for a celebration, because it infuses fun, entertainment, learning and a chance to try a different cuisine. Depending on the type of party you’re planning, you may need to buy all the ingredients from a local Asian store or you can invest in the services of a sushi catering company....

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Practical Tips For Checking The Hygiene Standard Of A Restaurant

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When eating out in a restaurant, it is important to know that the standard of cleanliness is of critical importance to the staff and servers working there. It can help you to relax and put your mind at ease if you see that the restaurant maintains a high level of hygiene. Although it is very difficult to physically enter the kitchen to inspect the conditions there, there are a number of other checks you can make to infer that cleanliness is maintained throughout the whole running of the restaurant. Fortunately, these checks can be carried out discreetly, and can help you to relax and enjoy the meal. On the Way In If at all possible, approach the restaurant from the rear side before entering through the front entrance. As you pass the rear of the restaurant, look at the condition of the area around the back door. It should be neat and tidy, with no overflowing garbage in bins or rotting food on display. Processing and dealing with waste should be as important to the restaurant as the quality of food it serves. Additionally, the back door of the restaurant may be open, allowing you to have a quick look inside and get an idea of the tidiness of the kitchen. On the Way To Your Seat As you approach your seat, make sure you visually inspect the other tables as you pass them. Look for liquids or dried foods stuck on menus or the tablecloth, and have a quick look underneath the table as you pass from the correct angle. Restaurants who pride themselves in being hygienic and clean will not miss these small details, and the table areas will be kept scrupulously clean. If your seat allows you to pass the kitchen, see if you can have a quick glance inside as you approach your seat. Again, if you get a good glance, you should be able to see a clean and well organized kitchen. Visit The Bathroom Before The Food Arrives A sterling indicator of a clean and hygienic restaurant (like Currambine Bar & Bistro) is the condition of their bathrooms. Not only should these areas be pristine and clean, they should have full stocks of paper towels and other amenities. There should be no leaks in the toilet facilities, or any pools of gathering water. Any restaurant that struggles to maintain their public bathrooms should probably be avoided. You can also visually inspect the member of staff who serves you, checking that their nails and hair appear to be clean. Make sure they handle your cutlery correctly – they should not touch the end that goes into the...

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Catering for the footy grand final

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

If your club is catering to the footy grand final, you’ll need to work out how to feed and water the hungry masses as quickly as possible. If you’re tired on being on the sausage sizzle why not try a spit roast caterer this time? Here are some reasons it can work out easier for the club. Staffing You can get spit roast caterers such as Victorian Golden Roast to provide servers, which mean you don’t need to work out a roster of volunteers to man the barbeque. This means you can sit back and enjoy the day rather than spending all day behind the barbeque if people don’t show up when they are supposed to be cooking. Safety As OH&S requirements are getting stricter for community organisations like football clubs, you now need to train people on how to prepare food safely if you are going to be selling food you have prepared on site. By using a spit roast catering company you leave all of the training and safety requirement with them. Equipment and food storage The caterers bring all of their own equipment so you don’t need to organise the barbeque and worry about running out of gas part way through the day. You also don’t need to worry about buying the food before the grand final and storing it all somewhere beforehand. You also don’t have to worry about washing all of the trays and tong afterwards, which no one is in the mood for after a long day of cheering on your team. Variety The caterers can bring a range of meats so that people have some option of the roasts that they like the most. You can also get a variety of salads provided. They can also provide drinks if you need but you may already have a supply of drinks from the season that you want to use up for grand final celebrations. Cost Spit roast catering works out very economically, and is competitive with most sausage sizzle type functions as the companies can buy their meat in bulk and get a much better price than you could when buying for a single event. As a result you can run the event as a fundraiser as well, and make a small profit on the tickets to fund the football clubs ongoing costs. As you can see, getting an external company in to run a spit roast for the grand final is an easy and effective catering...

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3 Must-try Dishes from Kerala

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

India is a vast country, and the largest democracy in the world. Within this huge expanse of land, there are people who have many different religions, speak many different languages, and have completely different cultures. This diversity is also reflected in the food of India, and each region has its own type of cuisine and specialty dishes. Most of the Indian food that travels abroad is from the north and the Punjabi region in particular, but South Indian cuisine is on the rise in Indian restaurants in Australia and beyond. The southern state of Kerala has unique flavours that simply must be sampled. Here are three Keralan dishes that you have to try the next time you are in an Indian restaurant. Idli and sambar. The combination of idli and sambar is most commonly consumed at breakfast time, but truly, it can be consumed at any time of the day, either as a snack or a meal. Idli are fluffy, delicate pancakes made from a batter of fermented black lentils and rice. Although they look deceptively simple to make, to create some idli from scratch would take around ten hours, and so it is well worth letting the best Indian restaurant in town to do all the hard work for you. These spongey pancakes are then served with sambar, which is a thin and slightly spicy gravy served with vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, squash, and okra. Coconut is abundant in Kerala so a truly Keralan sambar will have coconut grated into it too. Fish molee. Kerala has a beautiful coastline, and so fish dishes are extremely popular in the region. The most popular of all, without a doubt, is fish molee. A robust, white fish is the ideal choice for this kind of curry, so that it stays together and doesn’t completely flake into the sauce when it is cooking. The fish simmers in a sauce that contains ingredients such as mustard seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, and green chilies. And again, because of the amount of coconuts in Kerala, coconut milk is used as the base of this particular gravy. Puttu and kadala. This is another popular breakfast dish, but something that can be enjoyed at any time. Puttu are cylinders made from steamed coconut and rice flour. The result is something that is pretty dense (ideal if you need to fill your stomach), and that takes on the flavours of other dishes very well when it is dipped into them. The most popular dish to go with puttu is kadala. Kadala is essentially a black lentil curry, which is flavoured with chillies, turmeric, coconut, curry leaves, and fresh...

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4 Tasty Chinese Meals Containing Fruit

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Depending on the region of China, a range of fruits is used in cooking. Some traditional fruits include peaches, lychees, longans, pineapples, bananas, coconuts, rambutans, apples, dates, pears apples, apricots, pears, and persimmons. So next time you frequent your favorite Chinese restaurant, why not choose a the meal that includes fruit? Not only will you enjoy great taste, but your body will love you for the vitamins and antioxidants present in most fruits. Here are 4 tasty meals to consider containing fruit, and the health benefits of each fruit. 1. Crispy Orange Beef In this tasty dish, a sauce is made from orange rind and ingredients such as garlic, pepper and oil. The fried thin stripped beef is then sauteed in this spicy concoction. Health benefits of orange peel: Orange peel is packed with flavanones, powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Orange peel also has compounds which have a histamine-suppressing function and so is helpful to allergy sufferers. 2. Pineapple Fried Rice Alternatively, try this rice treat in which pineapples are mixed with ingredients like ginger, garlic, onion, shrimp curry and soy sauce into a yummy concoction. Health benefits of pineapple: Pineapples contain bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme, which may be able to help with arthritis pain. Bromelain is also soothing to the stomach and so helps digestion. 3. Lychees Duck This dish combines slow roasted duck with plum sauce and lychees. Health benefits of lychees: Lychees are packed with vitamin C, the B-complex vitamins, and phytonutrient flavonoids which help protect the body from free radicals. Lychees also contain an ample amounts of potassium which helps with the heart and blood pressure. 4. Mango Sago Desert The main ingredients of this taste sensation are sago, either coconut or evaporated milk and mangos. Health benefits of mangos: Mango is a great source of vitamin A, which is good for your eyes. The fiber, pectin and vitamin C in mango help with cholesterol. It also said to alkalise the body due to a beneficial acid present. So choosing meals with fruit not only provides great taste, but all the benefits that fruit provides. Don’t forget to try some tea with your meal. Both black and green tea are full of antioxidants, and Oolong Tea is reputed to have multiple benefits including aiding digestion and promoting healthy hair. You can try these recipes at home, or visit a local Chinese restaurant like Sun Wah Restaurant & Function...

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