There are four main types of hob: gas, electric, ceramic and induction. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, and much of the decision process when buying a new hob will depend on your personal preferences. Cases can be made for each kind so weighing it up in your own mind is essential. Here is our brief guide:
Gas: this is the most popular hob type, and it is probably the most versatile for cooking purposes. You have full control over the heat, and you can turn it up and down in an instant. The only real downside is that gas isn’t the most cost-effective option.
Electric: more old-fashioned than the other kinds of hob, an electric appliance will take a long time to heat up and cool down. It won’t look as sleek and professional as other kinds either. The main reason why people choose an electric hob is the cost – it will probably cost less to buy in the first place, which is why many landlords opt for electric.
Ceramic: ceramic hobs are perhaps the most stylish option. Sleek and minimalist, they will look good in almost any type of kitchen. They are also very responsive and will heat up and cool down quickly, unlike an electric hob.
Induction: similar in appearance to a ceramic hob, these hobs work using magnetic induction. The hobs itself doesn’t get particularly hot, making it quick and efficient to use and clean. However, you will need to use certain kinds of pans so make sure that you invest in compatible ones. You may also need more space underneath the hob so think about where you’re fitting it.
Eggs Benedict is a delicious breakfast dish consisting of poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce on top of a sliced muffin. There is usually some kind of meat used on top of the muffins as well, often ham, bacon or salmon. For a vegetarian alternative, try large sliced field or portobello mushrooms.
Of course, the key to making the perfect Eggs Benedict is getting the poached eggs right. You want them to be runny in the middle but firm enough on the outside. Some people may choose to crack them directly into boiling water but this can be difficult to get right. There are lots of products on the market which help you to cook the perfect poached egg and they’re usually very cheap, so it might be worth the investment. They’re usually small pouches which need to be stood up in boiling water with the eggs inside.
You may also choose the make your own Hollandaise sauce, but again, this is challenging. It will taste just as good if you buy a ready-made one and it will be far less labour intensive as Hollandaise sauce requires a good deal of whisking. You will need to heat the sauce up, either in a pan or in the microwave, and serve it warm.
Cooking rice to perfection can be a difficult skill to master. It’s easy for it to come out slightly undercooked, or at the other end of the spectrum, overcooked, stodgy and sticky. Follow our guide to help you cook light, fluffy rice every time.
Rinse the rice thoroughly first to get rid of any excess starch. If you’re cooking older rice or basmati rice, you might want to soak it for around 30 minutes as this will help the grains to expand.
The absorption method is the ideal way to cook your rice and the key is using just the right amount of water. Use the ratio one part rice: two parts water. Place the rice in a heavy-based pan to prevent it from burning and sticking to the bottom. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and the correct amount of cold water.
Bring the rice to the boil then turn the heat right down and cover the pan. The cooking time will vary depending on the type of rice so check the instructions on the packet.
Once you’ve finished cooking the rice, allow it to sit for a while. Leave it in the pan with the lid on but remove it from the heat. This will allow the moisture to balance out so that you have a more consistent texture. It will need at least five minutes, potentially more.
Following Christmas, everybody is a little bit short of money. It’s even more important to make sure that you’re able to get good deals, otherwise your money just isn’t going to go as far in the month of January. Here are some tips for finding yourself cheap cooking equipment:
- Look around for sales. January has become known as a month when lots of retailers will have excellent deals available, so this could be the perfect time to purchase that kitchen mixer or cake stand which you didn’t get for Christmas.
- Search for vouchers. You may get vouchers in store for similar products when you buy certain pieces of equipment, or you may be able to find vouchers online.
- Get an in-store credit card for your favourite kitchen equipment seller. You will be able to earn rewards every time you use it, which will often involve money off when shopping.
- Carry out some price comparisons. Don’t limit yourself – sometimes the high-end shops will come out cheaper for lots of kitchen products.
- Take your time. If the slow cooker or pan set which you’ve been wanting for months isn’t available at a price you’re willing to pay, wait a little bit longer. It will almost definitely be reduced at some point.
If you are entertaining a vegetarian this Christmas, or if you just fancy a change, it’s good to be able to cook something fresh rather than relying on shop-bought dishes. Here is an idea for a vegetarian wellington which contains plenty of Christmas flavours:
- Cook 3 onions and 2 cloves of garlic until they are lightly golden. Once they’re almost ready, add in a handful of freshly chopped herbs – sage will provide a very festive flavour.
- Chop a tin of cooked chestnuts and mix with 50g dried cranberries and any other nuts and seeds which you want to include.
- Add in a sprinkling of breadcrumbs before combining the mixture with the onions, garlic and herbs. Mix in one egg to bind.
- On a baking sheet covered with grease-proof paper, lay out one sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry. Spread out the nut mixture down the middle.
- Top it with cheese of your choice. Goats’ cheese is particularly delicious – you’ll need about 150g in total.
- Wrap the pastry around the filling, or try plaiting it for form a lattice if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s not too difficult and there are plenty of video instructions which can be found online.
- Beat one egg and brush it generously over the pastry. Bake at 180° for around 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden colour.