Since the temperature dial of an oven has not become completely universal yet, it is often a challenge to get an idea of it, when people talk about in terms of the gas mark, Celsius or Fahrenheit. In order to deal with this seemingly-trivial issue, I am going to give provide you with a programme to do the conversion easily. In addition, you can even download the image in .pdf form for further reference, especially when you are not online. You can download the above image free of charge by clicking on the button below:
Temperature Converting Programme
Housewives, occasionally, have to deal with trivial tasks like converting the
temperatures from one scale to another – Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa. The following programme helps you do it in a split second, without compelling you to go through cumbersome mathematical calculations.
You just have to type in the temperature to be converted in the relevant box; the answer automatically appears in the other. Isn’t that cool?
Type in the temperature inside a box:
This one-pot Pilchard fried rice is a real feast!
A great choice for someone looking for a healthy version of meat-free special rice dish for lunch. Also, the aroma and the flavours of pilchard fish, tomatoes, potatoes and sauces will deliver a very satisfying meal indeed!
Make sure you buy Pacific pilchard in tomato sauce for this recipe as it is the ideal choice to give the best results.
🧡💛💚💙💜🤎Get ready with these items:
|Pacific Pilchard in rich tomato sauce||1 small tin 155 g|
|Rice (White basmati)||1 & 1/2 cups|
|Ginger and garlic grated||1 tbsp|
|Coriander leaves and stems||1 cup|
|Fish sauce||1 tbsp|
|Soy sauce||2 tbsp|
|New / Baby Potatoes||6 cut into chunkes|
|Cumin seeds and mustard seeds||1 tsp each|
|Salt||1/2 tsp or to taste|
🧡💛💚💙💜🤎Let’s Make it:
- First, wash the rice until water runs clear. Drain water and keep aside
- Chop onions, tomatoes, grated ginger and garlic and cut potatoes. Open the tin of pilchards and drain the sauce into a cup. Leave aside the tomato sauce and fish pieces separately. Chop coriander leaves and stems. Keep everything aside
- Heat up olive oil in a wide pan. Sprinkle cumin seeds and mustard seeds, let them splutter.
- Add the sliced onion and lightly brown it
- Add the following ingredients and fry after each one
Salt, ginger-garlic paste, coriander leaves and stems, chopped tomato, tomato ketchup, tomato sauce from the tin, soy sauce and fish sauce
- Fry everything until a thick and juicy sauce is formed
- Add potatoes. Keep frying
- Drain water from the rice and add to the pot. Fry the rice for a min or two
- Next, pour warm water just above the rice
- Give a good stir to bring everything together, cover and cook on a very light flame. Cooking time usually takes 10 – 15 mins
- After 10 mins, open the lid, drop the fish pieces
- Adjust the taste
- If the rice is not cooked enough and there is no more water left, sprinkle hot water to the sides, cover tightly and lower the flame for allowing it to cook a bit further
- Finally, garnish with chopped coriander. Cover and keep the flavours to settle for about 10 mins
- You can serve this dish on its own or with Chinese chilli paste or any pickle on the side
- Yummy !!!
This easy recipe will bring your dumplings dream true! Make them at home, keeping the authentic Chinese taste intact and you will never seek them from restaurents!
I must say that our numerous visits to various restaurants in the China Town, in Central London, just to taste their authentic dumplings, have always been tantamount to a massive disappointment. They never lived up to our expectations and I found the outermost layer delicate and moist but the inner filling had no flavours and very little in quantity too.
So, while experimenting with dumpling-making for a while, I came out with such exciting results which surely became an instant hit with my family as well as with friends. As a matter of fact, the overall taste is completely based upon the filling, so, take all the ingredients fresh and of good quality. Minced pork is best for this recipe but if you do not prefer pork opt for chicken mince.
So let’s get on with making dumplings!
Ingredients needed for the dough and for the filling :
Enough for 30 – 35 dumplings.
|For the outer cover|
|Boiling water||1/2 cup|
|Warm water(enough to knead the dough)|
|For the filling|
|Pork mince or Chicken mince||300 g|
|Spring Onion – Class A – 120 g||1 bunch|
|Soy sauce (dark)||4 tbsp or more|
|Blended sesame oil||4 tbsp|
|Brown Sugar||3 pinches|
|Ginger – shreded||1 inch root|
|Corn flour||4 tbsp|
|Rice vinegar||1 tbsp|
|Cabbage – shredded||1 cup (optional)|
Let’s get started:
1) Make the dumplings cover;
- Place 300g of plain flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.
- Now, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into the well
- Immediately, cover the bowl and let it rest for 5 mins
- Open the lid and run through a wooden spoon. Again cover and leave for 10 mins.
- Now pour 1/2 cup of warm water gradually while kneading the flour with your hand.
- Add more warm water if needed and knead until the dough becomes soft to touch and not sticking onto your fingers. Cover and let it rest for 30 mins.
- In the meantime, make the filling.
2) Make the filling;
- In a large bowl add minced pork
- Then add chopped spring onions
- Drop sugar and chopped ginger in
- Now, add soy sauce, sesame sauce, and vinegar
- Drop cornflour in
- Bring all together using a fork or chopsticks
- The filling is ready!
3)Let’s make the dumplings and steam them:
- Divide the dough into equal size balls
- Lightly flour the surface of the kitchen worktop or a wide chopping board. Place a ball of dough and roll it to a flat round disk, using a rolling pin
- Place a tablespoon of meat mixture on the middle
- .Bring both sides together and pinch on the pleat making them tightly clasped.
- Make enough for one round of steaming. While one batch is in the steamer, you can go ahead making the next batch and place them on a flour-dusted surface
- The final step is to steam the dumplings. Brush oil on the bottom of the steamer and arrange dumplings without sticking to each other. Now, steam on high flame for about 5 – 6 mins. You will see the colour of the outer cover change and start glistering when cooked enough
- Switch off the flame and take out dumplings one by one, very gently, with the help of soft-edged tongs and place them on a plate
- Your delicate dumplings are ready!
Let’s make the dipping sauce
What you will need:
- 2 tbsp – dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp – warm water
- chopped coriander leaves
- a few pieces of chopped red chili for a fiery blend. (avoid chili when serving kids)
Whisk all together and serve in a separate bowl next to dumplings with chopsticks, a fork, or a spoon. In place of this sauce dipper, you can opt for Chinese chilli oil or chilli paste which are ideal dippers for these dumplings.
This is my mum’s signature dish in which she poured a generous amount of love while making it, so, needless to say, that it always came out the best! However, she only made it on special occasions or on Sundays as a special treat for the family or friends who stopped by.
Unlike the usual biryani dishes, the cooking process is very simple and easy; any novice could come out with the mouthwatering results in his/her first attempt.
Mint chutney and chicken gravy are the best accompaniments for this dish and mint, being a medicinal food digester can work wonders. Recipe of these are given below;
So let’s make this is real winner of hearts for today’s lunch!
Ingredients required for 4 very hungry people :
|Chicken||Whole small chicken or 350 g of chicken legs cut into medium size pieces|
|Basmati Rice||2 & 1/2 cups|
|Plain Yoghurt||1/2 cup|
|Knor or Maggi Chicken soup cubes||1 and 1/2|
|Roasted curry powder or garam masala||2 tbsp|
|Ginger and garlic||2 tbsp grated|
|Cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms, cinnamon||5 each crushed|
|Turmeric powder and pepper powder||1 tsp each|
|Green chili||3 slit|
How to make:
- Massage the chicken pieces thoroughly with yoghurt, roasted curry powder, turmeric, grated ginger and garlic, salt, turmeric powder, pepper powder, slit green chilli and the crushed soup cube
- Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.
Prepare the rice
- Wash the rice until water runs clear, drain, then keep aside for 20 mins. This will allow the rice to stretch during cooking.
- Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide brim pan. Add the whole spices; cloves, peppercorns, cardamoms, cinnamons and let them crackle
- Add grated ginger and garlic or the paste of it
- Add the onion slices and slightly brown them. Drop a handful of curry leaves
- Now add the rice and quickly stir through, not letting it to stick to the bottom of the pan. Fry the rice for about 2 mins or until well coated.
- Now add the chicken with all its the marinade
- Mix rice and chicken thoroughly while turning them constantly for 2 – 3 mins.
Add warm water
- Add warm water, just above the level of rice.
- Give a good stir
- Adjust the taste at this point
- Cover the pan with a tea towl and then tightly close the lid
- Cook under very low fire
- Open after 10 mins and bring the bottom layer to the top and mix gently
- Cook until the meat is tender and rice is cooked properly
- Switch the flame off and let the pot rest for 15 mins for flavours to adjust
- Serve with mint chutney and chicken gravy
How to make:
- Take a handful of mint leaves and drop them into the jar of the hand blender
- Chop a few shallots and drop into the jar
- Thinly chop one or two small green chillies and add into the jar
- Thinly cut the root of a ginger piece and add with a few pinches of salt
- Now, crush everything into a pulp using the hand blender
- Squeeze half a lemon into the pulp and mix it with the fingers until everything comes together
- Taste and add more salt or lemon, if needed.
- Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger and garlic paste, chilli powder, pepper powder, slit green chilli, salt, turmeric, roasted curry powder and 2 tbsp of plain yoghurt
- Heat oil in a wide pan
- Add a few crushed garlic cloves, curry leaves and chopped onions and fry
- Drop 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder and a few drops of turmeric into the oil and fry
- Now drop all the chicken and fry a few minutes until well coated
- Cover, lower the flame and let the chicken cook for 5 mins
- Add warm water and inch above the chicken, cover and cook
- Add 1tbsp of coconut milk powder or thick coconut milk for flavour
Make these juicy beef burgers for kids coming all hungry from school or after bouncing hours in the playground! They will simply love to tuck into these and shower you with compliments! Be ready with some extra burgers in case!
Wrapped nicely in a foil, these could go into anyone’s office or school lunch pack too. The best news is that you can tuck into these home-made burger buns, without a guilt as they are free from all kinds of preservatives or processed ingredients. You can wrap the extra burgers with a cling film, place them in a plastic box and store them in the freezer which could come quite handy on a later date.
So, let’s make them;
Get ready with the following ingredients;
|Minced lean beef||300g|
|Burger buns||8 -10|
|Large onion||1 very thinly chopped|
|Tomato Ketchup||3 tbsp|
|Soy sauce||2 tbsp|
|Coriandar leaves||A handful choppped (Optional)|
|White bread slice||2 grate into crumbs|
|Salt||1/4 tsp adjust according to your taste|
- Chop the onion very thinly (any larger bits can cause the burger fall apart while frying)
- Grate the bread slice into thin crumbs
- In a large bowl add all the above ingredients; mincemeat, chopped onion, bread crumbs, chopped coriander, egg, salt, pepper and both soy and ketchup and mix thoroughly using your hands.
Test the taste
- Now, take a small potion from the mixture, make a ball, flatten it and fry both sides on a heated and oiled non-stick pan or a griddle
- Taste it and check if you need to add anything more. You can add more soy sauce, ketchup, salt or pepper and adjust the taste at this stage.
Make the burger pattis
- Now the taste is just right, take equal sized balls from the mixure and flatten them thickly. Wet your hands to make this process easier
- Place them on a tray and cover with a cling film
- Refrigirate for 1 hr
- Next, spray olive oil onto a non-stick frying pan or a griddle and place the pattis around it
- Fry one side and then slowly turn over to the other side
- Never press them down with your spatula. If pressed down, all the juices will run out, making it dry and crumbly.
- When both sides are properly cooked, place them on a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Proceed with the rest of the pattis.
- Place the bottom sides of the buns on the same frying/griddle pan
- Quickly place the burger patties on top of each and top them with slices of cheese singles/slices and leave for a min for the cheese to melt slightly
- Take out from the pan and squeeze a dollop of burger sauce, ketchup or mayo on top
- Arrange slices of tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce
- Cover with the top part of the bun and press down gently.
- Wrap in foil paper and stack them on a tray
- Serve warm
These spongy, sweet pancakes is a delightful start for the day. My son wakes up on Saturday mornings and races into the kitchen to make these on his own; I am sure you can understand his enthusiasm! He gobbles them up happily with Golden syrup, runny honey, strawberry sauce or simply dipping them into Nutella chocolate spread.
Encourage your kids to make these on their own under your supervision. They will be delighted to watch how the white batter forms into a lovely, golden pancake under sizzling butter. They will love to munch a few strawberries dipped in Nutella along with their pancakes. There are numerous ways to make them look extra special and taste even better! Simply follow your tastebuds!
What you need to make these: ( Easy to use measurements in cups are given for making these on a daily basis)
|Self-raising flour(this make very soft pancakes. You can use plain flour with a bit more baking powder||150g (1cup)|
|Milk||150g (4/3 cup)|
|Caster sugar||30g ( 2 tbsp)|
|Baking powder||1/2 tsp|
|Butter for frying|
- Into a mixing bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together
- In a jug, add the egg and milk and whisk them together and add sugar. Rapidly whisk until the sugar dissolves
- Pour the milk, sugar and egg mixture into the flour and beat gently with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter is formed without any lumps
- Place a flat non-stick pan on medium flame and melt butter until bubbly
- Now ladle two or three spoonfuls of batter into the frying pan in three different places, a bit far from each other
- Fry the pancakes for 2 mins and flip to the other side
- Once both sides are golden, take out from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter
- Serve with maple syrup, runny honey, bananas or chocolate spread on the side.
There is no better way to spice up your dishes than adding your home-made curry powder to your cooking; on one hand, you know for sure what goes in it; on the other hand, it will measurably enhance the taste, appearance and aroma of the dishes that you love to make.
Once, experienced the obvious difference, you will never go for the ready-made packets in stores. The good news is that it will only take about half-an-hour for the whole process of making it and you only have to be careful not to let the spices burn up while roasting them in the pan.
You need the following whole spices :
|Coriander whole||2 cups|
|Cumin whole||1 & 1/2 cups|
|Dried red chili whole||6|
|Black pepper whole||1 tsp|
|Cinnamon quills||4 broken into small pieces|
|Raw rice||1 tbsp|
|Curry leaves and Pandan leaves||A handful each|
Let’s make it;
- Heat up a wide pan on medium flame and add coriander; slowly, dry roast while constantly running a wooden spoon through. When the colour changes into darkest brown, immediately empty it to a foil sheet.
- Now add the cumin seeds and roast until its colour also changed into darkest brown. Empty it to the same sheet on top of coriander and let them cool down.
- Finally, add the rest of the spices and roast them, while tossing and turning them continuously. Add them to coriander and cumin. Now that the spices are roasted, let’s grind them up.
Set your grinder to full speed (A coffee grinder is perfect for the job)
- Add a handful of roasted spices and grind until smooth, empty on to a sheet of paper and then slowly fill into an airtight spice container
- Continue this process, taking short intervals, as over-heating could damage your grinder
- Tightly close and store away your spice container until needed
The whole process of baking a beautiful cake is indeed a therapy! From measuring ingredients to stick the batter in the oven, the whole process requires your undivided attention and of course, Love!
Never bake cakes when you are under stress or in the middle of a hundred chores as something can always go wrong, making you utterly disappointing. It could be very discouraging. Hence, chose a free time that you will not get distracted until the cake it safely out of the oven!
I have mentioned here, crucial tips and techniques of baking a flawless cake and I am sure they will be helpful.
If anyone is interested in baking this might be the first cake to get right. Once, you master this basic pound cake, baking all other fancy cakes will become a “piece of cake”
Recipe for the simple pound cake:
1) Use the right equipment:
- To cream up the cake batter, use an electric hand mixer for best results. My choice is the Kenwood brand which has 2 or 3-speed options and a very durable motor. I have been using mine for the past 20 years without any worries!
- Make sure you beat the batter, clockwise with an electric hand mixer in order to get the right consistency. Mixing will take about 3 – 5 mins at high speed. You need to beat continuously until the yellow colour of the batter turns into pale white. Beating more than 5 minutes can cause the cake to collapse or not rise properly while baking. So, you need to pay attention to stop beating the batter as soon as the right colour and the fluffy consistency is achieved
2)Measure ingredients accurately:
- For a perfect cake, all ingredients should be measured with 100% accuracy as specified in the recipe. The best equipment to facilitate this particular need is a digital scale rather than a normal kitchen scale
3)Use the best ingredients :
- It’s very important to use the best brands for your cakes to achieve delightful results. Hence, never compromise on the essential ingredients needed for a cake. All ingredients should be kept at room temperature, before making the cake batter
Make sure you use Class A medium eggs that are kept at room temperature. Take the eggs out of the fridge 1/2 hour early or if you are in a hurry, drop them in a bowl filled with lukewarm water for 10 mins.
I personally do not prefer using butter, as the cake goes stiff after a few hours in cold climates. Before using, however, you need to soften up the butter, which gives you an extra task to attend to. There are very good spreads available in supermarkets, specially made for baking purposes, which are naturally creamy and stay creamy in the fridge too. Because margarine is less dense than butter, it helps in rising cakes quickly and contributes to a lighter and spongier texture.
I use Stork, especially for cakes tub, which has never let me down; it rather helped me bake such glorious cakes.
Remember to keep the tub of margarine or butter under room temperature before using it. In case you forget this, just a 50-sec turn in the microwave will soften it.
Opt for the best self-raising flour for cakes, unless suggested otherwise in the recipe. Sift the flour and baking powder together, holding the sieve, well above the cake batter. This will allow the air to escape from the flour, giving a very light, soft texture to your cake.
Make sure you use a wooden spoon to co-ordinate flour and batter together, never the electric hand mixer. Lightly, fold flour bringing from the sides and dropping to the middle, and going around gently until all comes together as a soft and fluffy batter.
Caster sugar is ideal for cakes as it dissolves quickly when mixed in the batter. The mixing time will take up to 2-4 mins for caster sugar. However, you can use granulated sugar, which gives the same results. The only difference is that you have to extend the mixing time up to 4-5 mins, up until the sugar granules break down and dissolves. The best way to use granulated sugar is to grind it before adding it to the batter
- Baking powder is a key ingredient, as it helps the cakes to rise. Use a good brand and never use too much. Excessive baking powder will make the cake taste bitter, leave a sunken cake and a wrinkled surface.
- Also, remember to keep the container always closed air-tight. If the cake does not rise, check the quality or the expiry date of your baking powder
4)Choose the right Baking tray:
Choose the right size for your cake is very important. If you have a large tray, you can divide it by using a thick strip of cardboard to fit for a smaller quantity of batter. Always, line up the trays with baking paper/parchment paper so that the cake will not burn from the sides and could easily be lifted out. Remember, never to fill the trays to the brim as the cake doubles its volume while rising. Always leave enough space from the top for the cake to rise freely.
As for cupcakes, use cupcake trays to place the cupcake cases filled with batter so that they do not spill out and stay intact while baking. Silicon cupcake cases are great for handling and they could be re-used after a quick wash with warm water.
Lining the tray: Use parchment paper to line up the tray. Do not worry if you have run out of parchment paper; you can use white blank sheet paper, cut into the shape of the tray and brush butter all over, dust the surfaces with flour and shake off the excess.
5) Taste enhancers:
Use a good brand of natural vanilla essence.
Dropping just a few drops of lemon juice into your cake batter will instantly quash the raw eggy smell and bring a very pleasant aroma as well as enhancing the taste in a great deal.
Most of the modern recipes do not include salt in theirs. Yet, salt used as a vital ingredient for baking since Victorian times. Just a pinch or two salts will help to incorporate the flavors beautifully and heightening the taste. Hence, do not forget “salt”
Which ovens are best for cakes? Gas or Electric?
Gas ovens are usually the preferred oven for baking since it often requires the oven to preheat and to provide moist air. Electric ovens can dry out the moisture in cakes to some extend. To solve this problem, you can dip the tray with the cake batter in a larger tray filled with water and bake your cake.
Pre-heat the oven
Set the oven to 180C, 15 mins before you place the cake in. Usually, the middle shelf of the oven is the best place to bake your cake. However, to be on the safe side, baking on the bottom shelf is advisable as the possibility of the cake burning out is very less.
Stay in tune with your oven
It’s very important to be in tune with your oven. This is a very simple tip to test your oven if it is newly bought or you are new to it.
Make the usual simple batter for pound cake with;
- 150g Caster sugar
- 150g Margarine
- 250g Self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 3 pinches of salt and 3 drops of lemon
- 2tbsp of milk
Make the batter
- Beat margarine and sugar together until creamy
- Add eggs one at a time and beat after every addition a couple of rounds
- Add in milk, salt, and lemon
- Sift the flour on to the batter and combine with a wooden spoon until all comes together as a smooth batter
- Your batter is ready to use now
Tip: Divide the batter into two trays. Place one tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake. Take the cake out and leave it to cool.
Then, the other tray must go on the bottom shelf and bake. Check which one is baked best and how much time is taken. This way, you know exactly on which shelf to bake your cake.
- Do not open the door of the oven in the first 10 mins of baking as it will drop the cake in the middle
- Shut the oven door very slowly after placing the cake in the oven. If the oven door is bang shut the air in the oven suddenly gets disturbed and it will cause the cake to drop from the middle
- Baking time varies according to the setups in ovens or depending on the cake. The normal baking time is 15 – 25 mins
- Do not forget to alert you with a timer
5) While baking:
- Place the tray with the batter in the oven and close the door gently. Never bang it.
- Remember to set the timer but do not forget to peek a few times
- Never open the oven door during the first 10mins
- Wooden skewers: Stab a thin wooden skewer in the middle of the cake after 15 mins of baking time. If the skewer comes clean, your cake is ready! If the skewer is soggy with the batter stuck to it, shut the door gently and bake for further 5 – 8 mins.
- If the cake is browning from the top but soggy in the middle, cover the top with a sheet of foil or baking paper and bake for further 5-8mins
- take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray itself for 10mins
- Then, gently lift and drop the tray on the kitchen top to loosen the edges of the cake. Take the cake out and leave it to cool on a wire rack
- Cooling: Leave the cake in the tray for 10 mins to cool off. Slowly pull from the sides of the parchment paper and take the cake gently out and leave to rest on a cooling rack
- Your cake is ready to serve
- You can serve the cake straight after cooling, all fresh and with that, “melt in the mouth” effect!
- If you are planning to frost the cake with buttercream, it is advisable to place it in the fridge for better handling
- Place the cake in an air-tight container for keeping the moisture intact
Cutting the cake: Dip the knife in hot water, wipe clean before cutting the cake to prevent it from crumbling
Serve the cake : Store the left overs in an air tight container. When serving next day, microwave the cake pieces on a plate just for 5 seconds and serve beautillyfully warm. You can easily fool everyone believing that the cake came straight out of the oven!Continue reading “Cake Baking tips, Equipment, and Techniques”