6 tips to effectively manage your busy schedule

Time management image

 

The simple, unpleasant truth is that we are now probably busier than we have ever been and stress has been so commonplace that it is seen as a way of life. We’re always in a rush, talking too fast and are constantly nagged by the idea that we have forgotten to do something; only we are not sure what it is.

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5 top Thai must do’s this Winter

Are you planning a holiday this Winter? Do you see yourself lying on one of the pristine beaches Thailand has to offer? Or what about strolling through the bustling back streets of Bangkok snacking on chicken satay?

Ko Phi Phi Le Beach-2

As we’ll be taking you on a culinary journey through Thailand next week (22 May) we thought we would share with you our 5 top Thai must-do’s when you plan your trip.

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11 Christmas entertaining tips

Have you put your hand up to have everyone at your place for the main Christmas meal? There are a lot of things to have to think about to ensure that everything is pulled off smoothly and our guide will be helpful in your attempt to pull off the best Christmas dinner ever.

christmas-setting-2

  1. In January set a reminder for the following dates: 25 November and 1 December. The first date is a reminder for you to make your Christmas cake – if you decide to undertake the mammoth task. This gives you plenty of time to let the fruits macerate prior to mixing the batter and it also gives you time to let the cake “mature” prior to Christmas. It is kept fresh by being fed with a couple of tablespoons of brandy sprinkled over the surface every 10 days up to a week before Christmas.

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Guide to gluten-free eating

Going gluten free involves a diet that has no gluten in it. Seems rather obvious but often people underestimate just how prolific gluten-containing ingredients and their derivatives are in our food.

Gluten is a generalisation for the protein that can be found in the following:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats

According to Coeliac New Zealand, oats can never be considered truly gluten free even if they are labelled as such. There is a more in-depth explanation as to why on their website. Continue reading “Guide to gluten-free eating” »

Top 5 Tips to organise the perfect summer BBQ

The sun is out and the birds have been calling for a few hours now. You open the window and the distinct smell of jasmine filters into your nose. Something inside you changes. Gloom disappears and a warmth that can only be described as happiness enters your spirit. Summer is here. The forecast is good. Great even. So a text goes out: BBQ at your house this evening.

A couple of hours later you realise. OMG. BBQ at my house this evening. Now what?

steak on bbq

Picture: Christopher Aloi

1. Plates and cutlery

Even if you have asked your guests to bring something, it never hurts to be prepared. If you are planning to use your own plates and cutlery, you can never go astray if you have some disposable items at the ready. Continue reading “Top 5 Tips to organise the perfect summer BBQ” »

Instagram 101

If you are obsessed with food and don’t have the photo sharing app Instagram you are missing out on a whole community of people who understand your language. No longer appearing exclusively in ponsy lifestyle magazines, food photography has unleashed itself on the world in a big way thanks to Instagram.

Foodies all over the world are documenting, filtering, captioning, hashtagging and uploading their photos at the rate of thousands a minute, and there is no stopping it. Goodness knows, we foodies love our food and we love having it shared with us just as much as we love sharing it. Asides from providing an immeasurable amount of food envy, sharing food photos and using the appropriate hashtags can garner encouragement, advice, recipes and even the odd get together with other like-minded Instagrammers.

If you are just starting to navigate your way through Instagram, or you are a seasoned pro, here are a few things that we have found that work in uploading the optimum food photo.

Using Instagram when dining out

dining out instagram 1

There are a lot of people who take to Instagram to share everything they cook and eat. Continue reading “Instagram 101” »

Top 5 Food Movies

In no particular order here are the top 5 food movies according to WOOP.

Julie and Julia

Julie and julia

In her tiny kitchen in modern day New York City, Julie Powell (Amy Adams) attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking in a year. In post World War II France, Julia Child (Meryl Streep) is living in Paris with her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci). Continue reading “Top 5 Food Movies” »

How to chop onions (without crying)

Why do onions make you cry when you cut them in the first place? Is it retaliation for being cut? Perhaps in some beliefs. The science says:

When you cut an onion you break cells releasing their contents. Amino acid sulfoxides form sulfenic acids. Enzymes that were kept separate now are free to mix with the sulfenic acids to produce propanethiol S-oxide, a volatile sulfur compound that wafts upward toward your eyes. This gas reacts with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Fresh bulbs of onion

There are enough unpronounceable words in that paragraph to make you cry. So maybe we should stick with “they just do” and start looking at ways to prevent it from happening. Continue reading “How to chop onions (without crying)” »

How to cook the perfect steak in a frying pan

When you cook a steak you must begin with a good frying-pan.

There are shelves and shelves of frying pans available, all promising to make your home culinary meals restaurant-worthy, but the truth of the matter is, unless it is heavy or heavy-based you may as well toss it out with the steak you are about to ruin.

(It’s not you, it’s the frying pan.)

Heavy frying pans will heat steadily and evenly. They won’t warp after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and even though they cost a lot up front, they will literally last you a lifetime.

Just like a frying pan, not all steaks are created equal. Fortunately with steak, depending on your personal preference, a thick or thin piece can have equally satisfying results.

 

rumpsteak

 

Cooking thinner steaks

For your thinner cut of steak, heat oil in your heavy frying pan until it is hot.

Season one side of your steak well with salt. This will also help to develop a rich brown crust on your steak.

Put your steak salt side down onto the pan. There should be the gratifying sound of sizzling.

Now season the side facing you.

For a rare steak, a minute each side maximum. Medium rare, 2-3 minutes per side, medium to well done, 3-4 minutes and for a fully cooked piece of steak…..longer.

 

Cooking thicker steaks

A thicker piece of steak obviously requires more cooking time, even if you are after a medium rare finish.

You will still need your frying pan to be hot, but at more of a medium heat.

There should still be a sizzle when you place your piece of steak down, but it will not be as dramatic.

If you pan is too hot, the outside will cook too quickly, or even burn, before the middle has a chance to cook.

 

Resting the meat

Finally, REST YOUR MEAT!!! This is such an important part of creating a perfect steak.

The results from letting your steak rest for about 5 minutes is worth it. The improvement in taste and texture is noticeable.

Your jaw will thank you for it.

 

Meat temperature

There is a lot of talk about taking your steak out to let it rest at room temperature before cooking.

Some swear it makes a difference to the cooking and others swear that it doesn’t.

However, it is almost nauseating to think of cooking up a piece of meat that has been left out long enough to reach the same temperature as the room you are cooking in.

A suggestion is that you take the steak out of the fridge first, and then get your pan out ready for heating. At least in that way, the chill from the meat is gone and you can be secure in knowing you won’t get food poisoning.

 

Seasoning the steak

Steak has an amazing quality where its natural flavor is enhanced when just seasoned just with salt.

If you want to get a bit adventurous, try mixing in some herbs with your salt before putting it onto your meat, (thyme and rosemary are excellent red meat herbs) or making a quick rub by adding some spices to the salt.

There are also some great marinade recipes out there to try also, check out the New Zealand Beef and Lamb website for some great recipe ideas

Kiwi people like their personal space and so do kiwi steaks. Don’t overcrowd your pan.

The temperature of your frying pan drops slightly with each piece of meat you cook and therefore needs to recover that heat.

The meat won’t sear or brown on the outside, nor will it cook through the inside how you want it to. Chances are it will start to leach out juices and you will soon be simmering your steak rather than frying it.

And the final, final note…don’t stress! A good steak dinner is comforting and satisfying. Cooking it should be too.