Choosing new cooking equipment can be a bit of a minefield, there is so much choice out there. It is definitely worth spending a bit of time looking at various options and thinking about your own individual needs and the type of cooking you do prior to purchasing.
There are various types of hob available, either forming part of the cooker or being sold as a separate piece of equipment. The latter gives more choice on how the kitchen can be designed as the hob and oven don’t have to be together in one space.
As a general rule, choice will often be dependent on budget with an electric solid hotplate at the less expensive end and induction hobs at the higher end.
Solid Hotplates – tend to be slower to heat up and are more difficult to control as they take longer to cool down too. These are often the cheapest on the market though, so they can be great for those on a budget.
Ceramic/Halogen – quite quick to heat up and easy to clean but the heat distribution around the pans isn’t as good as with gas or induction.
Gas – Instant heat and easy to control. Lots of professional cooks/chefs tend to opt for gas. If mains gas is not available (as in my village) it is possible to convert the hob to use LPG which is stored outside and piped in.
Induction – More energy efficient as it only heats the pan and you’re less likely to get burns as the surrounding area doesn’t get hot. You do need to be sure that you have compatible saucepans designed to be used on induction hobs.
When choosing, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, the sales person is there to help you make the right decision.
With rising fuel bills it is worth really thinking about how to make the most of the hob and one of the best ways to do this is with one pot cooking. I have recently invested in a deep sided sauté pan which is perfect for cooking family meals. Make sure you choose the right size hotplate for the job which is not bigger than the pan you are using to avoid wasting energy. With gas, keep the flame under the pan rather that letting it lick up the sides. Cooking with the lid on saucepans means that heat can be turned down so saving money on energy bills.
Below is a recipe for Spanish style chicken, this is a really tasty dish which can be adapted according to budget. Chicken thighs are a very inexpensive cut of meat and have a great flavour. Chorizo adds a bit of Spanish authenticity and spice but can simply be left out if you prefer not to use it and the same applies to the olives if you prefer not to use them. Wine can be substituted with chicken stock.
1 tbsp oil
8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
75g chorizo, sliced into 1cm slices
2 red or yellow peppers, seeds removed and cut into large chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 small wine glass of red wine
50g stoned olives
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a deep sided sauté/frying pan and fry the chicken on all sides, add the chorizo and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the peppers, potatoes, herbs, tomatoes and wine. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer for 35-40 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through.
- Add the olives and season to taste, cook for a further 2 minutes to heat the olives and serve in bowls with crusty bread.
Wendy Strang has been working as a consultant Home Economist/Food Stylist for over 20 years for a variety of food and appliance manufacturers, writing recipes, styling food for stills photography and film for advertising and editorial purposes. Wendy also gets involved with cookery demonstrations for appliance and houseware companies. Prior to working on a freelance basis She was Head office Home Economist for Iceland Frozen Foods and before that for Kraft Foods. Wendy has recently been on the judging panel for The Grocer Own label Food and Drink Awards.