How to Buy a Fridge

Your fridge is one of the most important pieces of kitchen equipment you can own, so when you’re looking to buy a new one, there are lots of things to consider.

What type?

Do you need a fridge with a combined freezer or ice box? If not, consider buying a larder fridge – there’s more capacity inside and it will automatically defrost itself. If you do want a fridge-freezer, look for the star ratings – the higher the rating, the longer you can store frozen food (but do check the food safety label too!).

What style?

An integrated fridge has a front panel that matches your kitchen panel, so with the door closed the fridge is ‘hidden’. On the other hand, you could go for a refrigerator that really stands out. Designer fridges make an impact and add a lot of style. If you’re not much of a foodie, compact fridges are perfect for slotting into a small kitchen.

What features?

It’s not just about keeping things cold! Sectional climate control can help keep foods fresh for longer. Some fridges have a wine cooling rack and even vacuum crispers for your lettuce. Ice-makers, water dispensers (some now even dispense hot water!) and antibacterial coating are all on offer. If you want your fridge to be more helpful, invest in smart technology which can tell you when your food is about to go off, tell you when you need to go shopping and remind you that you’ve left the door open.

Energy efficiency

Look for fridges that are free of CFCs and HFCs, which damage the ozone layer. If you’re keen on saving pennies, a more expensive fridge may be a better bet. Smart fridges can help you maximise energy efficiency in the home with clever features like slide out compartments that mean the fridge door stays shut. Little savings add up to a big difference.

Entertainment

If you really want your kitchen to be all-singing and all-dancing, you’ll find a range of fridges that come with integrated LCD touchscreens, speakers and wireless technology. The prices are at the top of the range, but you’ll never be bored in your kitchen again!

A Foodie’s Wish List of Gifts

Buying for a foodie can always be a tricky task. Unlike most gifts, there isn’t much by way of food that can be bought far in advance, and it’s not always edible gifts that are wanted, or are enough, for a special occasion. Here are some great ideas for gifts for foodies.

1. A restaurant gift voucher. This might seem obvious but pick a restaurant that’s perhaps not immediately obvious. Kurdish cuisine is growing in popularity and a good restaurant is worth a drive. Alternatively, book a table on a certain date for a certain time and put restaurant vouchers in an envelope with driving instructions on the front. Tell the recipient the dress code, how long the journey will take and what time their booking is and let them go. Ban them from searching in advance where they’re going and hopefully the mystery tour will just add to the fun.

2. Some beautiful tableware. A silver decanter, made with pure mouth blown crystal, will look stunning on any dining room side table. Prefilled with a vintage port, any wine buff would be delighted with such a thoughtful gift. Likewise, silver candlesticks will help complement the bespoke table settings and handmade linen at the next dinner party. Specialist suppliers JA Campbell even have silver centrepieces for truly grand dinning halls, for when a posy of flowers just isn’t enough to accentuate the meal.

3. Cookery lessons. Try selecting a food type that’s not what the lucky person would usually cook; if they’re all about Thai cuisine and east Asian one pot meals, how about a lesson in cooking a classic Sunday roast? Vice versa, for someone who’s very stuck in their habits for classic cuisine an experimental class in making sushi might prove a real eye opener. As well as new recipes, there will be new cooking techniques learnt, meaning the skills will be transferable to all their cooking.

4. A foodie mini break. The ultimate foodie market is Borough Market in London, presenting the finest quality produce found anywhere in England’s fair isle. Only a few minute’s walk from the historic George Inn, once frequented by Charles Dickens, Borough Market will delight anyone who’d rather spend their pennies on edible treats than material ones. Situated near the beating heart of London, buy gift vouchers for a local hotel and enclose with an open train ticket and spending money to enjoy the market. It’s a gift that’ll be truly appreciated, and remembered, for years to come.

Party Packaging

When throwing a party one of the most important things to consider is how to keep everybody fed and watered. Hiring in outside caterers, or arranging the party somewhere with its own catering can often remove this hurdle, however it may result in compromises on quality or variety. Anyway, part of the fun of throwing a party is planning everything, and the food should be no different.

Of course another big advantage of having DIY catering is the cost. With advance budgeting and a disciplined approach 5* food can be created on a 1* shoestring budget. The easiest way to start to think about a menu is by tailoring it to the party’s theme. For formal events it’s best to stick to the classic three course, with additional amuse-bouches and appetisers if it’s really a special occasion worth splashing out on.

For family occasions, with many different generations all under one roof, classic dishes will be best received: prawn cocktails, roast beef and black forest gateau rarely fail to please, and leave older guests reminiscing about the great dinner parties they went to in the 1970s. With friends or informal gatherings the catering can be more of a buffet style. Investing in professional quality food packaging means that a buffet can prepared and safely stored in advance – nobody wants food poisoning to be the reason their party is remembered for years to come.

Similarly, with daytime parties save washing up piles of hired glasses and offer guests barista made speciality hot beverages in disposable coffee cups. By choosing catering disposables the work after the party is minimised as everything can be chucked into a big bin bag ready for recycling. Which leads into the idea of making sure that volunteers for setting up, serving and tidying have been designated well in advance.

If the food is being cooked and prepared in a home environment it’s worth establishing roles for people and making sure one person has an overseeing role as head chef. Unless there’s clearly one point of contact between everyone involved, work risks being duplicated or overlooked – a classic error.

Avoid amateur mistakes though by creating an achievable timetable and making sure it gets thoroughly stuck to. Make sure that the food is included in the timetable so that if food needs defrosting at a certain time or bread needs baking it gets sorted when it’s supposed to. Then sit back and watch the guests be suitably impressed when they ask who your caterers were and you can reply ‘me’.

Throwing a Dinner Party? Make Sure You Know What you’re Getting Yourself Into

Dinner parties are always a great occasion to reunite the entire family or group of friends, enjoy a delicious meal and, of course, some good laughs. Any successful thing involves a little bit of planning, so that you have at least some control to the avalanche that will befall you when you announce that you’re having a party. Once the news of the party is out there, you will be caught in a wave of telephones, RSVPs and lots of planning. Here are some important aspects you should take into account when planning a party.

1. The guests

Some guests need to be announced in advanced, other a few hours before. Just make sure that the people you’re inviting work well together and that there are no conflicts between some of them. Be prepared for the fact that the number of people you think will show up, almost never matches with the number of people who actually show up.

2. The neighbors

Make sure you tell your neighbors you’re having a party, so they can expect to hear louder music and noise. The last thing you need is an upset neighbor that will call the police on you.

3. The house cleaning

Before the actual day of the party, you should give your house a nice cleaning, so that everything looks perfect. The day of the party, try to arrange the furniture, so that your guests have enough room to socialize.

4. The food

If you’re one of those brave party planners who wants to do the cooking, you’re more than welcomed to give it a try. However, ordering food will save you lots of time and the quality is guaranteed. Choose a place of assorted cheeses and meats, seafood and delicious desserts that will satisfy even the most squeamish guest. Discover other great party foods on FoodyDirect – who knows?, you might even decide to order in some catering after all.

5. The drinks

Drinks have to be enough for when the last guest believes it is time to stop drinking. From the experience gained from other parties, you already what you need to invest in: beer, wine, vodka, gin and tonic, whiskey, soda and water. You can also add champagne, if you’re celebrating something. Another party favorite is the drunken watermelon, which is very easy to make: cut a hole at the top of a watermelon and fill it with vodka. Keep it a couple of hours in the fridge and then simply cut it and eat it.

6. The music

It’s a well known fact that at parties, music is never going to please everybody. Some will start dance frenetically, while others will admire family pictures around the house. Don’t worry about it: at some point everybody will enjoy the music, but in the meantime, you can try something neutral, which keeps the party lively. And as we all have a friend who is more skilled in the music business, you can kindly ask him to deal with this issue.

The next day is going to be a total mess so you better make a few guest promise they will help you with the cleaning. There will be lots of dishes to wash, so you’ll need all the extra help you can get. Dinner parties require a little bit of planning, but if you learn easy tips that will make your job easier, you can actually enjoy the party you have just organized.

Types of Cookies to Fill Your Gift Baskets

Gift baskets are a great, easy way to let a friend or loved one know that you are thinking of them. A gift basket can be used to express congratulations or condolences, say thank you, or to celebrate a birthday or event. If you’ve decided to gift a cookie basket, you can either make your own or go to www.cookiesbydesign.com to purchase one. If you plan to make your own, the following are some different types of cookies you can choose to fill your basket with.

Drop Cookies and Bar Cookies

Drop cookies are the most common type of cookie and the easiest to make. After the dough is made, it is formed into balls and dropped onto a cookie sheet to bake. Common types of drop cookies include chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. Bar cookies are generally formed from the same recipes as drop cookies. However, instead of forming the dough into balls, it is spread in a rectangular pan to bake. After it has cooled, the pan is cut into squares, creating cookie bars.

Molded, Pressed, and Rolled Cookies

While sometimes categorized separately, molded, pressed, and rolled cookies are all similar because they are formed into shapes and designs. Molded cookies are formed into shapes by hand or using kitchen items such as spoons or drinking glasses (e.g. Peanut Butter cookies). Pressed Cookies are formed into different shapes when the dough is pressed through a cookie press or pastry tube. Some common types of pressed cookies are ladyfingers and spritz cookies. To form rolled cookies, the dough is chilled, rolled out, and then cut into shapes using cookies cutters, knifes, or pastry wheels. Sugar cookies are the most common types of rolled cookie.

No-Bake Cookies

The final type of cookie you can make for your gift basket is the no-bake cookie. These cookies are made from ingredients that can harden on their own and thus need only be chilled and not baked. These are a great alternative during the hot summer months when you don’t want to turn on the oven. No-bake cookies often use chocolate, peanut butter, and honey as sweetening agents and are often formed using oatmeal, cereal, and event nuts. To see some great examples of gift baskets you can give your loved ones, visit www.cookiesbydesign.com.