The Crazy Kitchen: May 2017

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Wednesday 31 May 2017

Slow Cooked Chinese Style Ribs

When you think of BBQ food you may often think of charred sausages, undercooked chicken and dried out burgers, but with a little forward planning it doesn't have to be this way. Meat can be pre cooked beforehand in the oven, slow cooker or sous vide and then finished off on the bbq for that bbq taste, without the risk of making your guests ill!

We have a gas bbq which is great for all year round cooking, and as it's the type with lava rock it really does taste as though it's been cooked on a charcoal bbq. Bbq's in our house don't have to be a major event, and I'll quite often cook dinner outside when the weather is nice, which can save on a lot of washing up!

Pork ribs are delicious on a bbq, but they can often be tough if they haven't been pre cooked, or dried out if they've been on the bbq for too long. This recipe for Chinese style ribs produces moist meat that's full of flavour and comes away easily from the bone. I've pre-cooked them in the slow cooker, coated with sauce and then finished off on a hot bbq.

Sticky Slow Cooked Chinese Style Ribs

The ribs in the large bbq pack from Great British Meat Co, are perfect for this recipe. 1kg of ribs contains around 10 ribs; enough as an appetiser for a family, or a meal for one or two.

Sticky Slow Cooked Chinese Style Ribs

Slow Cooked Chinese Style Ribs

2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1cm fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp honey
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Chinese five spice
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (optional)
1kg pork ribs

  • Mix together the soy sauce, hoisin, ginger, honey, garlic, balsamic and Chinese 5 spice together
  • Coat the ribs in the sauce and add everything to a preheated slow cooker
  • Cook on high for 2 hours, or until the meat comes easily away from the bone, but doesn't fall off when touched
  • Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and add the liquid to a saucepan
  • Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for approx 10 minutes, until thick enough to coat the ribs - if you like your ribs spicy then add the sweet chilli sauce now
  • Coat the ribs with the thickened sauce and cook on a hot bbq for a few minutes each side, ensuring they are heated through thoroughly

Sticky Slow Cooked Chinese Style Ribs

I've got quite a lot of bbq recipes & tips on this blog, which can all be found here.

I was provided with a large bbq pack free of charge. The pack is currently on offer at £32.50, and contains enough meat for for 8-10 people.

10 Things to Think About Before Opening Your Own Café

The UK is steadily moving towards the kind of café culture that France and Italy are famous for. Most high streets have a branch of Costa or Starbucks, but there are also a good number of independent and boutique cafés offering customers a cosy place to sit and read, or work on their laptops.

If you’re thinking of becoming part of the café culture and opening a business of your own, there are 10 things you need to think about before making the commitment.

10 Things to Think About Before Opening Your Own Café

1.     It takes time to set everything up

Even if the café you’ve bought is in great condition, you can’t start trading immediately. Why? Because the person selling the business is leaving and that might be because customers were unhappy with the service, the coffee, the food, or just the look and feel of the place. You need to find out what the problem was and deal with it. Your approach needs to be different from the previous owner, and you’ll probably have to make some changes to entice customers back to your new-look café.

Because of refurbishments and the installation of equipment, the average time it takes to open a café is between three to six months from when you start renting the space. (It’s a good idea to try to negotiate a rent discount for this time.) Delivery times of a new espresso machine are around 4 weeks, cups and saucers 5 weeks, a customised counter top and tables and chairs 8 weeks and outdoor seating approval up to 12 weeks.

2.     Your business plan

Your business plan in which you estimate the café’s monthly turnover, cost of materials, staff costs, and so on, is key to your success. (Tip: Increase your costs by 20%, and, if on-paper, you still come out ahead, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed.) Always confront your business plans realistically. If your bills exceed your estimates, then do something about it right away.

3.     Shop design and research

Apart from the design and the interior décor, you’ll have to research new food recipes so that your café offers something different and unique. Customers are very discerning these days and know exactly what they want. Mediocre service, food and drink is not an option.

4.     It’s a hands-on business

Unless you intend to hire someone to run the café, you’re going to have to do everything yourself, which can be a daunting task. If you do hire staff, you’ll need to train them properly and monitor their work ethic and customer service skills. (You’ll also need to be trained in the art of coffee-making and become a skilled barista – but maybe that’s the fun bit!)

10 Things to Think About Before Opening Your Own Café

5.     Paperwork and administration

There’s a lot of boring but necessary paperwork to complete – setting up the payroll, calculating payroll taxes, complying with food hygiene regulations, filing the day-to-day accounts, and preparing the work roster for your staff. Check out cloud based services and software to help you. For instance, Planday software simplifies the staff roster process.

6.     Liaising with suppliers

Try to develop a good rapport with your suppliers. They’re your support team, and it’s important that they always deliver your food ingredients, coffee beans and so on, on time – the last thing you need is to run out of some ingredients and disappoint your customers.

7.     All day every day

Be warned, running a cafe is not easy. You need to be there every day from opening time to closing, and this means you won’t have much free time for yourself or your family. And until you have staff who are fully trained and who you can trust, you won’t be able to take a day off or go on holiday.

8.     Staff … keeping them on board

Being a chef or serving coffee and food to customers is not the most glamourous of jobs. Realistically speaking, it doesn’t pay well either. Very few people are happy working in the food and beverage industry, but for you to succeed you need to try to find good dependable staff. In this industry, many jobs are part-time and people come and go, so it’s important to retain good staff, especially if you’ve spent time training them.
10 Things to Think About Before Opening Your Own Café

9.     Motivating staff

An equally challenging task is keeping your staff motivated. If you think just because you’re the boss, the staff will do everything you say, watch out, because they won’t! However, when they’re unhappy, they will look to you, their café guru, to motivate them. Good luck with that!

10.  Handling customers with aplomb

Unlike a lot of other businesses, you will be dealing with customers face to face, and they can be very demanding and difficult at times. But no matter what, try to be helpful, positive and friendly … and keep smiling!

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Rhubarb Cake Traybake

Well that was a bit of a typically rubbish bank holiday with the weather. It's May but we spent much of the weekend wrapped up in winter coats watching football. Where we should've been sitting on blankets in the sunshine, we instead had the blankets over our knees to keep warm!

Thankfully the sun came out on Monday afternoon allowing us to spend a couple of hours in the pub garden, catching up with friends who we somehow only seem to see when the sun comes out and we bump into each other over a pint. The best kind of friends!

I hear the sun is shining in Portugal, and as that's where I'm heading next week for a break with old friends I'm happy that I will be able to wear my flip flops at long last.

Rhubarb Traybake

This weekend did mark the arrival of our rhubarb though, which does make me happy, as I bloomin' love rhubarb, firstly because it doesn't require me to have any green fingers to grow it, and secondly because it makes a mean crumble. On Sunday I cooked a roast dinner (which is a bit of a rarity here), and followed it with a home made crumble  and a rhubarb cake. I started to panic when I checked the baking cupboard & realised that the girl teen had used up all the caster sugar making her speciality chocolate mug cakes, but had thankfully left me 3 eggs, which was enough for the cake. I used soft brown sugar instead of caster, but it would work equally well with caster, albeit a little paler in colour.

Rhubarb Traybake
Rhubarb Traybake

It's a lovely moist cake, and it can be served warm or cold, on its own or with custard or vanilla ice cream. It's also great for packed lunches and picnics, and keeps well for a few days in an airtight container.

Rhubarb Traybake

Rhubarb Cake Traybake

Hijacked By Twins

Celebrate Star Wars Day with Swagbucks Collectors Bills

In honour of Star Wars Day, Swagbucks has a special one-day-only collector's bill available exclusively through Search! It's an 8 SB bill available all day long - and here's the best part: If you get it, you'll get an automatic 20 SB bonus as well!

If you aren't already a member of Swagbucks, it's a site where you earn points (called SB) for Searching the web, shopping, discovering deals, taking surveys, and watching videos. Then you redeem those points for gift cards to places like Amazon, PayPal, New Look, M&S, Debenhams, and more! They've awarded hundreds of pounds in free gift cards already in the UK, and I've personally earned over £400 in gift cards since November, which I've used to buy clothes, gifts, electronics and more!

What are you waiting for? Sign up for Swagbucks now

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