Claire Evans

Here's how Claire is finding the challenge

week 6

Claire - Week 6

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole

Claire L

Week six, and the prospect of the end of the competition has arrived all too quickly.  I feel sadder than I imagined but happy with the progress I have made to this point, even trying some recipes a second and third time.  My cooking challenges have been met with both trepidation and excitement (the former being those used to my culinary disasters!).  My takeaways on speed dial have been used hardly at all....

This week’s Toad in the Hole - once explained to my son as Yorkshire pudding with sausages - was met each day with "is it nearly Friday yet?" by my son who loves both.  My first dilemma was what size cup to measure the ingredients in, but I settled on large as the baking tin I had seemed huge.

Everything went in to the Kenwood Chef Titanium and it performed its magic to leave me with a lovely batter.  The sausages had gone in while this was being done and I poured the batter over them. It went straight into the oven and I turned my attention to chopping onions and rosemary.  I fried them until soft and added a glass of wine – then, not wanting to waste the bottle, I had a sip or two - let’s face it the whole bottle went!
Once reduced, I poured in the stock and simmered whilst steaming some vegetables for the side dish.  45 minutes later, my son salivating in the kitchen.

I took out the most enormous Toad in the Hole I have ever seen and managed to take a picture before it was devoured by the waiting pack of starving people. 

 

Post a review

Plum Upside Down Cake

Claire - Week 5

Plum Upside Down Cake

It was all going so well.......

Right, week five and my nemesis - the Victoria sponge. The last memories I have of cooking this ended with a flat, round coal like stone. A real-life nightmare of taking it out of the oven with my family standing round expectantly and me standing there red faced and humiliated. 

I decided this week would be different. Ingredients to the ready and K Beater attached to the Kenwood Chef Titanium, I began. I had even left the eggs and butter out of the fridge to reach room temperature. The butter and sugar were whisked to a light and fluffy texture and the eggs were added one by one, with a little flour each time. I put in a dash of vanilla and ‘hey presto’ the sponge mix was done. I used my newly learnt skill to make a cartouche for the baking tin and then placed the plums skin down on top. I scraped all the mixture over, careful to wipe the sides and then put it in the oven for the allotted 30 minutes, as directed.  This left me time to get ready for work with the intention of bringing it with me so I wouldn't end up eating it all myself.

After half an hour I took a look and it was still very gooey so I made the decision to leave it in for another 10 minutes.  Not wanting a repeat of the last burnt offering I took it out at that point and turned it upside down.

My initial elation at what looked a decent and tasty creation ebbed away.  The result was not a disaster but not great either. The middle had not cooked properly and sank immediately and my euphoria went with it.

Either my oven was really on the way out or the cooking time given was incorrect. 


Learning points - leave more time to ensure cake is cooked and take as long as necessary with a temperamental oven. And trust my instincts when I believe a cake isn't done. I am disappointed after all the other challenges have gone so well, but better luck and skills next time - and no I didn't take it to work!

Post a review

Week 4

Claire - Week 4

Sunblush Tomato Bread

Week 4 - Roll up, Roll up!

Claire 4 L

Another week and another recipe challenge, this time sun blush tomato, rosemary and garlic rolls.

Claire 4 P

The first set back was that there was no video to help and follow step by step, and no picture of what the rolls should look like. So it was all down to me. I hadn't realised how much the videos had helped put me at ease previously, until they were gone!  

I managed to wait for them to cool down so I could taste one - the texture was good but I think I added too much garlic and rosemary.  I'll be breathing fumes over everyone for days!

I began by measuring out the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and added it to the Kenwood Chef Titanium mixer bowl. I attached captain Dough Hook and turned it on. While the captain got on with the dough, I chopped up the rosemary, garlic and tomatoes and put them in the fridge for later.  The recipe didn't give exact amounts so I had to guess.

The dough was ready by this time and I put it in the airing cupboard to rise. I then set about looking for a tray to cook the rolls on. I did not have a flat one so I decided on a cake tin I had bought on a whim when dreaming of being the next Mary Berry and which had then remained forlornly in the cupboard.

After an hour of pacing and tidying up, what seemed like white powder all over the kitchen, I peered into the cupboard and saw, with relief, the dough had risen. I gave it another mix with the extra ingredients and split it into the six holes in the tray - another 25 minute wait and they went in the oven to bake.

The smell was gorgeous and pretty soon it was time for the big reveal - they looked ok if a little pasty.  I managed to wait for them to cool down so I could taste one - the texture was good but I think I added too much garlic and rosemary.  I'll be breathing fumes over everyone for days!

Post a review

week 3

Claire - Week 3

Vegetarian Pizza

Pizzalicious!

Claire 3 L

I was looking forward to this week’s recipe - a great excuse to eat pizza without feeling guilty and mulling over calories. I rationalised that, if it was home-made, it must be healthy and good for us to eat...

Claire 3 P

What I have learnt, up to now, is the importance of having all the equipment and ingredients prepped and ready to go before I start cooking. So, I managed to put together the other components of the Kenwood Chef Titanium; in other words, attach the Food Processor attachment to the top. I admit I was a little flummoxed at first until I found a key piece I had not thought important when excitedly pulling out the parts. I was reminded by my boyfriend about the benefits of reading instruction manuals and this time I couldn't argue. My son calls them "destructions" and I generally agree when in my hands in the kitchen!

I measured out the flour, sugar and yeast. I mixed the yeast with warm water and the sugar and left it for 10 minutes to react. I then put the rest of the ingredients in and reached for the remainder of the warm water so my new favourite kitchen companion could bring it together to form a dough with what I have termed "Captain Hook."  Panic stations - my son had used the water to fill up his nerf gun. Argh!  I had to guess how much water to put in the bowl and turned Captain Hook on and crossed my fingers.  I was soon rewarded with a sponge like dough and covered it with a tea towel.  Being one of the hottest days of the year, a warm room was not hard to find and I left it to rise for an hour while I made the pizza base sauce.

With the cheese, garlic and onion chopped in record time, I set about making the tomato sauce and not a tin of tomatoes in sight. I even managed to use some fresh oregano from the garden, which had been there for purely ornamental purposes previously as well as the nice white flowers it produced. I'm not particularly green fingered but find herbs fend for themselves and need little, if any, watering!

With the sauce made I turned out the pizza dough and rolled out half into a sort of round shape and then cut it in to a circle with a knife.  I put the toppings on and added some chicken to keep the carnivores at dinner happy.  It looked great and I couldn't resist a picture of it in case it went wrong in my oven - a bit temperamental at the best of times.  The smell, after 15 minutes, was amazing and once again I was really chuffed with the outcome.

I love my Kenwood Chef and how easy it is making cooking for me rather than a chore I am dread at dinner times. My son is also showing signs of attachment - I caught him polishing it with the tea towel!

Post a review

Week 2

Claire - Week 2

Eton Mess

Eton Mess - Not So Messy

Claire 1

Week two of the challenge called for the making of meringue - something I have never attempted before as I assumed it was too complicated.

On Saturday, I watched the video for the recipe and checked that I had all of the ingredients.  I was feeling pretty confident as there didn’t seem much to it but when I went to turn the oven on to preheat it, my heart sank.  My ancient gas oven did not have a temperature low enough - I braced myself for failure and another burnt offering.  Still, nothing ventured and all that, so I made a start.

I have become quite competent at putting together the component parts of the Kenwood Chef Titanium and put the big whisk "thingy" on. I had my son separate the egg whites for me as he likes to muck in and make a messy process just that little bit messier. As the whites were tipped into the mixing bowl, we turned the machine on low and waited for the stiff peaks to form before putting in the caster and icing sugar. 

Claire 2

 

The result was a gloopy emulsion (I've always wanted to say that word regarding food) after a long period of time so I thought I probably had the mixer on too low

 

 

Owing to my previous disaster, my son insisted he supervise and he had greased and lined the baking tin. We dolloped the mixture onto the baking tin and ended up with far bigger meringues than the dainty ones on the ‘how to’ video.  Crossing our fingers, they went into the oven. I didn't like the idea of a tea towel wedged in the door (fire hazard with a small child) so I just opened the door every 15 minutes to let the steam out and cool the temperature. Two hours later the alarm sounded and out the meringues came - two very big grins happy with a morning’s work.

We left them to cool in the oven and went out for the day to celebrate. Sunday was the day to make the Eton Mess. The cream was whipped and the strawberries chopped but then came the problem of what to put the Eton Mess into but we settled for a glass tumbler as that was the nearest to a posh dessert bowl in the cupboard.  We smashed up the meringues and layered it all up. The taste test was volunteered for by my son and the result was an empty glass and a child high on sugar for the next hour - but so very worth it! 

Learning points –
1. Put a dip in the meringues in the middle to cook all the way through as they were a bit soft
2. Buy dessert bowls
3. Buy a new oven.......

Post a review

Week 1

Claire - Week 1

Spicy cheese and pepperoni slice

Challenge One Done

I set up the Kenwood Chef and figured out how to use it! Then the ingredients arrived on Thursday and I thought to myself all weekend to make the recipe gave me loads of time - I forgot that I had to work for some of it. 

Clare 1

So, I split it into two parts and prepared the ingredients on the Sunday (the easy part is chopping) and cooked it on Monday morning. The Kenwood Chef made the making of shortcrust pastry easier than I thought. I added the butter and flour with a little salt and within minutes had the basic dough which I wrapped and placed in cling film in the fridge. I got up extra early in the morning to roll it out, cut the shapes with my tape measure (I am a tad OCD) and before I knew it the slices were made and in the oven.

Claire 2

Then it all started to go wrong.........  my son got up and chaos reigned as we both got ready - him for school and me for work. Brought back to reality by the smell of burning and my son saying "mummy what are you burning for breakfast, please can I have cereal?"

I raced down and sure enough four burnt slices. Not having much time left I fell back on the emergency pack of pastry and remade the slices with the rest of the filling which I had not used and this time set the alarm and watched them cook for 30 minutes.

Et voila - very proud of my spicy slices, which came out smelling and looking yummy. Took them to work and they went down a storm. So, not all my own work but a good start. Learning points - most of my problem is rushing and lack of concentration on one thing. If I get that right then the rest should follow!

Your reviews

  1. A familiar tale!! ;-) The slice looked great- looking forward to this week's challenge!

    Posted: 19/07/2013 07:55:41 / Nicolas Card

Post a review

Claire Evans

Claire's unfortunate attempts to cook have always resulted in a culinary disaster and when it comes to having friends over to dinner – she will end up ordering a takeaway.  Her biggest kitchen disaster was when she tried to create a simple Victoria Sponge for her father’s birthday and ended up burning it in front of her entire family.

Claire is desperate to learn how to cook, just so she can win back some credibility among her family and friends, not to mention so she can create healthy meals for her five year old son Harrison.