Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Get away from the norm with a combination of homemade rolls, a selection of cereals with milk and a touch of sugar or honey. Add an assortment of fruits served with your favorite beverage to kick-start your day with all the energy you need. Nothing seems to challenge the amateur cook more than bread-making. Even the daring ones would try their luck with cakes, but for some reason will be intimidated when presented with the mixture of flour, water and yeast; which is basically all that bread is. However, it is easy and fun so go ahead and try it, you might just like it.
• 1 kg/2 lb strong plain flour
• 50g/2 oz fresh yeast or 25 g/1 oz dried yeast
• 300 to 500 ml/½ pint lukewarm milk
• 50 g/2 oz caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Pinch of nutmeg
• 1 egg
• 50 g/2 oz butter, melted
• 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons single cream to glaze
• Sugar crystals for decoration
• Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. In the well, dissolve the fresh yeast in the lukewarm milk. Alternatively, dissolve the dried yeast in a bowl with the lukewarm milk for 10 minutes or until frothy, then place in the flour well.
• Cover this mixture with a thick layer of flour, cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling foil and leave until the flour layer shows distinct cracks. Stir the salt, sugar, nutmeg and egg into the melted butter. Stir this mixture into the yeast then work in the flour. Beat until you have a smooth, firm dough, and then knead well for about 10 minutes.
• Leave the dough to rise once more for 2-2½ hours then divide into 50g/2oz pieces. Shape into balls and cover with a moist cloth or oiled cling foil. This will prevent them from drying out and make the dough easier to shape. Use the balls of dough to make desired shapes.
• Transfer them to a baking sheet, cover with cloth and leave to rise again for about 45 minutes. Beat the egg yolk into the cream and brush over the rolls. Sprinkle the sugar crystals over the rolls then bake in hot oven (220oC, 425oF, gas mark 7) for 10–15 minutes.
When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn’s natural sweetness.
Take caution with chemicals In addition to foodstuffs, there are a lot of chemicals in the kitchen. It is important to handle chemicals safely in the kitchen.
Below are some chemicals commonly found in the kitchen and tips on how to handle them safely.
• Drain cleaners, bleaches and strong acids can be dangerous.
Never mix different types of these products; explosions or dangerous gases may result. Make sure these are always used strictly according to the directions on the package, and make sure that the containers are properly sealed when not in use.
• Carbon monoxide results from incomplete burning of fuel. Monoxide poisoning can result from improperly adjusted or poorly vented gas appliances. Occasionally, have your equipment checked professionally. Also, never use charcoal briquettes or the like to cook or heat indoors.
• Volatiles, such as cleaning fluids, gasoline, kerosene and such are often flammable, can easily cause fires and explosions, and should never be stored in a kitchen.
• Pesticides such as bug killers, roach poison and rodent bait should be considered dangerous. If you get them on your hands, wash them off. When you use them, make sure there is no uncovered food they can get into. Ensure they are not accessible to children or pets. Store carefully, and preferably not in the kitchen.
• If you must store cleaning chemicals and other possibly toxic non-food items in the kitchen, always store them on shelves below foodstuffs, so if they leak, they can’t get into your food.
Slips and falls
Soapy water, grease and oils, and things like the traditional banana peel are standard in kitchens and are all slippery. Here are a couple of ways to keep slips and falls to a minimum.
• If you spill something on the floor, clean it up immediately. Keep a mop or cloth handy for this purpose.
• Often, when you are working in the kitchen you are moving fast. Do not leave boxes, stools, bags of groceries or anything else out on the floor where they can trip up a fast moving cook.
• Glazed floor tiles are beautiful, but dangerous. Not only do glazed tiles guarantee that anything breakable dropped on them will break, but also a thin coating of oil or soapy water can make them slick as ice. If you have a choice, avoid glazed tiles for your kitchen floor.