Found: The Prodigious Remoska

Hello readers, I hope you’ve all had a good weekend.  Today we are hearing from the lovely Domestic King on one of his recent finds and if that wasn’t enough, he’s sharing with us one of his favourite recipes as well!  Thank you Domestic King.

“What on earth is a Remoska?” I hear you say! If you’re guessing it’s a Russian song or dance you’d be wrong; if you’re thinking it’s something Eastern European, you’re on the right track. It is in fact, an electric cooker with a difference, and quite frankly an amazing piece of kit! What it’s not, is a slow cooker. I think once you’ve read this post you’ll be tempted to buy one. It’s certainly added a degree of magic to my very ordinary culinary skills! Image

The Remoska is available exclusively to Lakeland , in the UK, one of the most popular and respected brands in the country. Its website describes it like this:

“Cooking better than an oven, the Remoska is positively miserly with electricity – in fact, they’re so versatile your oven will hardly ever need to be switched on.

It’s the Czech Republic’s best-kept secret…

The Remoska has been around since before the Second World War, surviving 40 years of nationalisation until being rescued in 1990 by two Czechs, who scraped together all they had to buy the machinery.

Each Remoska is individually made and tested by skilled workers in a small Czech factory; there’s no production line. The stainless steel lid, which houses the element, does all the work, controlling the venting of steam developed during cooking. You can see what’s going on through the glass window and you’ll be impressed by how clean it is in use, with virtually no cooking smells either.

The pan is coated with Teflon® Classic for easy release. Being so compact, it is frequently packed up and taken anywhere there’s a 240V electricity supply, which makes it just the thing when cooking away from home. Pans are dishwasher safe. Recipes included.”

Versatility

The claim that it’s compactness enables it to be taken anywhere is absolutely true. On a walking holiday in the Lake District last September with a couple of friends, we stayed at Underscar Manor, a luxury self-catering complex in the shadow of Skiddaw. The Remoska did us proud and it traveled extremely well! Grilled sausages, caramelised onions and jacket potatoes was a particularly memorable dinner devoured at the end of a strenuous walk up Grisedale Pike! You can increase its versatility by plugging an electric timer into the power socket and setting the Remoska’s start and end cooking times. Great if you’re out at work all day and would like to come home to a meal ready to eat. And of course, the range of meals you can cook is endless; everything you can cook in an oven, the Remoska can handle with ease. I don’t know of any other cooking device that is as useful and versatile as the Remoska!

Healthy eating

I mostly eat a low carb, low sugar foods (Domestic Princess:  look out for a future post about this) following the excellent advice and guidance of Dr Briffa, a qualified doctor and nutritionist. In this respect, the Remoska is an unrivalled asset in helping me to cook meals that fit my eating regime.

Accessories

There are some accessories that the dedicated Remoska cook will want to acquire.

  • A stainless steel rack, which raises food closer to the lid’s heat source for faster cooking.
  • A pan separator that fits inside the Remoska allowing different foods to be cooked separately.
  • Shallow pans are available to replace the deep pan that comes with the Remoska enabling the cook to warm up foods and snacks very quickly.
  • An essential buy for me was the cookbook, “Remoska Cooking”, which has 200 recipes, tips on using the Remoska, and suggested cooking times. After trying some of the recipes my confidence grew as a home cook. And the great thing about the Remoska is that you don’t have to watch it slavishly in the way that one has to when using a conventional oven or stovetop cooking. Just pop on the lid and relax!

Miserliness

According to Lakeland, the standard Remoska uses 80% less energy than an average electric oven. When you consider that many people use the oven simply to heat up supermarket ready-made meals, or grill three or four rashers of bacon, or bake a couple of jacket potatoes, they are using excessive quantities of electricity compared to that consumed by a Remoska. Lakeland says that an average oven uses around 2500W of energy versus the Remoska’s 470W of energy.

Here is one of my favourite recipes when using the Remoska.

Country Lamb Casserole – adapted from “Remoska Cooking

The lamb in this dish is absolutely delicious and so tender, resulting in a tasty, filling and full flavoured casserole!

Ingredients

Serves 4 using a standard Remoska

  • 500g boneless lamb chops
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g potato, cut into cubes
  • 8 small onions, finely chopped
  • 175g French beans, chopped
  • 1tsp ground cloves, or to taste
  • 1 x 320g tin of condensed mushroom soup
  • 150ml lamb stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Sweet paprika to serve  

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the garlic and onions, and fry until golden brown and then put in the Remoska.
  2. In the same pan, seal the lamb on both sides and pop in the Remoska.
  3. Add the cubed potatoes, beans, cloves, mushroom soup, stock and seasoning.
  4. Cook for approximately 1 hr and 15 minutes in the Standard Remoska, or 1hr 45 minutes in the Grand, until the lamb is tender. Sprinkle with a little paprika before serving.

Domestic Princess:  If you’re not lucky enough to own a Remoska, use a casserole dish instead, double the quantity of stock and pop in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours on 150C.  This can also be made in a slow-cooker as well.  

Final word ….

I can confirm I’ve also grilled incredible sausages with mouthwatering caramelised onions, roasted succulent whole chicken, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, baked sweet potatoes to perfection, and roasted belly pork to die for! At the end of the process, washing up is not a big chore because the non-stick surfaces are extremely effective. The pan is dishwasher friendly for anyone preferring this cleaning option, and the lid only requires to be wiped down with a damp cloth. Anyone keen on pursuing a healthy eating regime based on fresh ingredients and wishing to do so as effortlessly and economically as possible, should invest in a little Czech magic and get yourself the Prodigious Remoska from Lakeland!

Thanks Pappy!  And if you’re carb conscious too, then swap the potato for a sweet potato, or leave out completely.

I’ll be back on Friday with a new recipe.

With much love
The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Laundry 101: My top 20 hints & tips

There was a reason I called this blog The Domestic Princess….one was my love for all princess type things, and the other was my love of all most things domestic.  I really enjoy being a housewife – seeing the house tidy and in tip top shape gives me no end of pleasure (I’m sad, I know!).  So, when I say I am slightly obsessed about our laundry, I’m not exaggerating.  I think The Domestic Prince would go as far as to say that I am militant about it.  I’m not sure where this obsession came from, but I’m thinking it’s not such a bad thing to be obsessed about.  Who doesn’t want to have their clothes looking pristine?!

So, without trying to tell “Grandma how to suck eggs”, here’s my laundry 101.

  1. Always read the garment’s sewn-in care label prior to washing.
  2. Always examine for stains before popping the clothes into the machine.  If any stains are found, treat in the appropriate way. (Look out for a future blog post on stain removal).
  3. Sort clothes into similar colours.  So anal am I about our laundry that I tend to do all the colours separately.  NEVER EVER wash anything apart from whites in the white wash.  Greyish whites is my number one bug bear when it comes to laundry.
  4. Prepare laundry for washing:
    • Check all the pockets for tissues, clips, money etc etc.  Confession time: I have been known to forget to do this…but I definitely learnt from my mistakes!
    • Remove any forgotten collar stays or cuff links.
    • Undo all buttons on shirts, this helps prevent tearing of the button holes.
    • Turn t-shirts, jumpers and delicate items inside out, as this will help prevent piling.
  5. Use the appropriate detergent for the different types of washes.  For example, use a biological* one for whites and a dark/coloured one for your black and coloured washes.  Your whites will be whiter and your colours will retain their brightness.
  6. Don’t put fabric conditioner in when washing towels, as it creates a film and stops them being absorbent.
  7. If you don’t want to exfoliate when drying off after a bath or shower, then soft and fluffy towels are what you’re after!  To get them soft and fluffy, just dry them in the tumbler dryer with some dryer balls.
  8. If you don’t own a tumble dryer, or are loathed to use it unless it’s raining, use only the tiniest amount of fabric conditioner when washing your towels.  Alternatively, you could make your own fabric softener by adding around 60ml (1/4 a cup) of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  9. Wash towels separately from everything else, as otherwise you run the risk of your clothes being covered in lint.
  10. Bed linen and towels should be washed once a week and always on a full cycle, on a hot wash (60c and above), which will ensure all the germs are killed.
  11. As well as being a natural softener, white vinegar also has brightening properties.  If you don’t use a manufactured whitener like this, or this, and want your whites to always be dazzling white, then add 120ml (1/2 a cup) of white vinegar to the wash cycle.  For smaller items, boil 3.5l of water with 120ml of lemon juice.  Take off the heat and add the items you’re looking to brighten to the vessel, and leave for at least an hour.  After soaking, wash as usual.  N.B. do not soak silk in vinegar or lemon juice.
  12. To help keep our whites, white, I always wash them on a 40C wash with the addition of a whitener.
  13. Wash dark denim inside out and on a cold wash.  Lightly stretch them vertically before air drying out of direct sunlight.  This will help prevent fading and abrasion and lengthen the life of your denim.
  14. Ideally, underwear should be laundered by hand, but if you live in the real world, then go ahead and pop it in the machine (I do), however, put it in mesh bags.  This will help protect your bras and also the machine, should an underwire work its way loose (this has happened to us before I discovered the mesh bags!).
  15. Do not tumble dry bras.
  16. Wash delicates (wool, silk etc) with a mild detergent.  I love this one.
  17. Pre-treat the collars, cuffs and arm pits on work shirts, even if you can’t see any stains.  This will help prevent any stains occurring.
  18. To be as energy efficient as possible, always load the machine up to its capacity.  However, do not overload it, as otherwise your clothes won’t get cleaned nor rinsed properly.
  19. Talking of rinsing, another tip I’ve picked-up over the years, is to add baking soda to the rinse cycle.  By doing this, it helps
    • clothes to rinse more thoroughly
    • resist stain build-up on clothes
    • the laundry detergent work better
    • act as a deodoriser
  20. Clean your washing machine and tumble dryer regularly (I do mine every month).  I use a specific washing machine cleaner and run an empty load on a 95C wash.  However, 120ml (1/2 a cup) of vinegar in place of the washing machine cleaner will do the trick just as well.  You will just need to do another hot wash after it.  Don’t forget to clean the detergent drawer as well.  A clean washing machine, free from detergent build-up, lime scale and rust, can decrease your energy bills by up to 25%.  I think that’s incentive enough to get cleaning!

*Use a non-bio detergent for babies’ laundry.

Hope you find this helpful.  Please post in the comments section below any specific laundry questions.

With much love
The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Stylish Summer Entertaining

I really enjoy entertaining during the summer months.  There’s something special about sitting outside when the weather is balmy, enjoying something nice and cold.  When it came to designing our garden, it was super important to us that we created a great space for entertaining.  Unfortunately we only got to use the garden for entertaining once before we jetted off to our new life in India.   Now, we’re lucky enough to be able to entertain outside pretty much 365 days a year.  It’s just those pesky mosquitoes stopping us!  So, lovely readers, you heard it here first, I’m vowing to entertain outside more.  In fact, I’m hot footing it into town now to buy some storm lanterns that I’ve had my eye on!

Here are some ideas and suggestions on entertaining outside and some things I’ll definitely be trying out.

There are a few things to consider when entertaining, whether entertaining inside or out, but the first thing you should consider is the atmosphere that you’re looking to create.  With this in mind, you can turn your attention to the following:

Images: Napkins & Trifle Bowl/The White Company; Firepit/John Lewis; other images Google Images

Setting the scene is so important.  Think, linen napkins and tablecloths, fresh flowers in an array of different size jam jars, vases and mason jars will look fabulous.  Carafes of water with fruit/herb ice cubes will add a new dimension to just plain old water.  A bowl with lemons and limes piled high provides a great centrepiece.  Tea lights and hurricane lamps on the table will create a cosy environment when night falls.  Oh, and how about a lovely glass dish with some floating candles?

Images: White table/The White Company; Floor Cushion/Cox & Cox,

Ensure that there are plenty of seats for everybody to take a pew.  If you don’t have enough, then borrow from your friends and neighbours.  Take the inside out if you can!  Large scatter cushions look great and will help create a relaxed environment.  Dot around small tables for people to place their glasses and plates on.

Images: Storm Lanterns/The Nordic House; all other images Google Images

Lighting has the ability to set the mood of a party.  Soft, glowing candles in storm lanterns, strategically placed around the garden will look very chic.  Tea light holders hanging from branches and lantern crooks, together with an array of storm lanterns will truly light-up your evening.  Think about putting two storm lanterns either side of your front door and some hurricane lamps leading the way along any paths.  Twinkling lights in trees and bushes will add instant warmth and ambience to your party.  My friend Alice, is a dab hand at this!

All images Google Images

Make your life easier by opting for seasonal, simple dishes.  Think salads, antipasto, dips – easy to prepare and easy to serve.  If you’re thinking of serving pudding, then how about a bowl of fresh strawberries with cream or ice cream?  And talking about ice cream, maybe make pudding an ice cream bar, where people can make their own sundaes.

Summer is all about fresh flavours, so try to offer a few drinks that utilise ingredients typically available during the summer months.  Frozen cocktails always go down a storm too.  Ensure any wine and beer you’re planning on serving is icy cold.  Make drinks look pretty and inviting.  And don’t forget about your non-drinkers.  Create some interesting and different soft drinks, instead of the usual fare of juices and fizzy drinks.  Homemade ginger beer or a lime, cucumber & mint cooler would be delicious on a warm summer’s day or evening.

And finally, music.  Music can make or break a party, so make sure you give it careful consideration.  We tend to create playlists in iTunes and then hook our iPod up to either the speakers or in the docking station, so we’re not having to faff about changing CDs.  Background music is what you’re looking for, with maybe something more uptempo as the evening progresses.

Domestic Princess tips

  1. Prepare as much as you can in advance before your guests arrive.  That way, you’ll only have finishing touches to do on the day.
  2. Offer guests a drink as soon as they arrive.  If you have a group of people who don’t all know each other, this is a great icebreaker.
  3. To quickly chill wine, wet a tea towel, wrap it around the bottle and pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Set a timer to make sure you take don’t forget to take it out!
  4. If you want to make a visual impact, cluster lots of candles together in different areas of the garden.
  5. Have a bowl of mosquito cream available for guests to apply once witching hour hits.  Also, don’t forget to light citronella candles to help deter the pesky mites away!
  6. Make sure you have ice, ice and more ice!
  7. If hanging candles from trees, make sure that they’re in deep containers, so that the wicks are a good few inches lower than the rims.  If you’re worried about naked flames, invest in battery-operated candles – there are some great authentic ones available these days.  Solar lights are another good option too.
  8. If serving dips, place the bowl of dip, especially if dairy, in an iced bowl of water.  This will help keep it chilled.
  9. When entertaining outside, treat your outside space as an integral part of your home.  This was our aim when we designed our garden; we wanted the garden to feel like an extension of the kitchen.
  10. Have sun cream on hand and some blankets for guests to use if it gets a bit chilly.
  11. More than anything else relax and have fun!  If your guests see you having fun, then they will too!
Do you love entertaining outside?  Have you any hot tips or suggestions on entertaining outside that you can share?

With much love

The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Home is where the heart is

I love shopping for homewares.  Interior design is a real passion of mine, so putting this post together has been an absolute dream!  Below is my edit of the various homeware sales that are on at the moment.  Enjoy having a nose!
  1. Edberg Large Sofa, was £1,200 now £840 from John Lewis
  2. Circles cushion, was £35 now £17.50 from John Lewis
  3. Cashmere cable knit throw, was £310 now £217 from Heals
  4. Star by Julien McDonald layered crystal disc lamp, was £65 now £32.50 from Debenhams
  5. Ercol for John Lewis Pilgrim 6 drawer cabinet, was £999 now £699 from John Lewis
  6. Pure magazine rack, was £30 now £21 from John Lewis
  7. Waltzer Bocaccio love seat, was £1999 now £995 from Heals
  1. Harrison dining storage, was £450 now £360 from Habitat
  2. Contrast napkin, was £4 now £3 from John Lewis
  3. Luigi Bormioli Veronese glassware, were £6.25 now £5 from Heals
  4. Vinum Sauvignon Blanc glass, was £19 now £15 from Heals
  5. Acacia tray for 3 dishes, was £20 now £10 from Heals
  6. Rochester 44 piece cutlery set, was £260 now £130 from Heals
  7. Bodal double glass triple pendant light, was £200 now £100 from Heals
  8. Magppie Eolo wine cooler, was £70 now £35 from John Lewis
  9. Le Creuset plastic champagne stopper, was 310 now £8 from Selfridges
  10. LSA midi champagne sauce, was £29 now £23 from Selfridges
  11. Rocha.John Rocha Etch 16-piece dinner set was £120 now £96 from Debenhams
  1. Luxury Hotel Collection 500 thread count bed linen set, was £630 now £237 from House of Fraser 
  2. KAS elk cushion, was £25 now £20 from Selfridges
  3. White single duck feather and down four seasons 9 & 4.5 tog duvet, was £85 now £68 from Selfridges
  4. French Lille armchair, was £645 now £299 from Decoholic
  5. Crystal ball table lamp base, was £145 now £116 from Heals
  6. Brinkhaus exquisit pure new wool mattress topper, was £159 now £127 from Selfridges
  7. Renata cushion, was £25 now £12.50 from John Lewis
  8. Tribeca double bed, was £845 now £655 from Feather & Black
  1. Smoke mirror, was £45 now £22.50 from John Lewis
  2. Thames bathroom beaker, was £6 now £4.20 from Habitat
  3. Stone bath mat, was £18 now £14 from Selfridges
  4. Arctic Mirrored Single Bathroom Cabinet, was £89 now £44.50 from John Lewis
  5. Manhattan Linen Bin, was £120 now £60 from John Lewis 
  6. Sabichi Hollywood mirror, was £25 now £12.50 from House of Fraser
  7. Orla Kiely stem bath towel, was £25 now £17.50 from Heals
  8. Thames sopa dispenser, was £10 now £7 from Habitat
  9. Salter Glass Body Fat Analyser, was £55 now £27.50 from John Lewis
  1. Baby elephant changing mat, was £12 now £7.95 from John Lewis
  2. Mini star changing mat, was £15 now £9.95 from John Lewis
  3. little home Tropical Garden knitted blanket, was £35 now £17.50 from John Lewis
  4. Pink polka dot wool rug, was £60 now £36 from Laura Ashley
  5. Alphabeat & numbers framed print, was £100 now £70 from Heals
  6. Resol Juliette Children’s table, was £25 now £15 from John Lewis
  7. Resol Juliette Children’s chair, was £15 now £9 from John Lewis
  8. Hannspree Zebra 19″ HD ready LCD tv, was £199 now £179.10 from Selfridges
  9. My best friend bedlinen, was £15 now from £12 from Designers Guild
  10. Blue star wool rug, was £60 now £36 from Laura Ashley
  1. Lidded clear optic glass cake stand, was £45 now £31.50 from Laura Ashley
  2. Cylinder tall glass storage jar, was £6.50 now £2.60 from Liberty
  3. Joseph & Joseph elevate spatula set, was £24 now £19 from Selfridges
  4. Circulon Contempo 5 piece pot set, was £220 now £99 from Sterling Furniture
  5. Make yourself at home mug, was £5 now £2.50 from John Lewis
  6. KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer, was £429 now £379 from Selfridges
  7. Medium chunky wooden chopping board, was £20 now £10 from Heals
  8. Springform Cake Tin, Dia.23cm, was £12 now £8 from John Lewis
  9. Boiled egg lifter, was £2.99 now £1.29 from Lakeland
  10. Le Creuset 30cm cast iron casserole dish, was £180 now £144 from Selfridges
  11. Joseph Joseph digital kitchen scales, were £48 now £38 from John Lewis
  1. Tall silver lantern, was £70 now £56 from Debenhams
  2. Medium silver lantern, was £40 now £32 from Debenhams
  3. Small silver lantern, was £28 now £22.40 from Debenhams
  4. Teva folding lounger, was £55 now £27.50 from Habitat
  5. Brown St Ives table and pair of chairs, were £450 now £260 from Debenhams
  6. Joseph Joseph hands-on salad bowl & servers, was £32 now £25 from Selfridges
  7. Stainless steel Monaco outdoor wall light with PIR sensor, was £29 now £23.20 from Debenhams
  8. Weber compact kettle BBQ, was £80 now £64 from Heals
  9. Weber BBQ tools, were £29.99 now £14.95 from John Lewis
  10. Corsica square teak planter, was £100 now £80 from Heals
  1. Medium clear optic storage glass, was £18 now £12.60 from Laura Ashley
  2. Bloom 3 aperture photo frame, was £60 now £30 from Heals
  3. Mirror photo frame, was £30 now £18 from Laura Ashley
  4. Arizona natural cream & brown leather hide, was £590 now £413 from Heals
  5. Orla Kiely door mat, was £35 now £28 from Heals
  6. Glass and silver hurricane lamp, was £35 now £28 from Laura Ashley
  7. Elephant fabric door-stop, was £26 now £13 from Laura Ashley 
In-store sales on at the moment:
  • Harrods
  • Harvey Nichols
  • Divertimenti have 20% off everything apart from electricals
Still to commence:
Do you love buying items for your home?  Which is your very store for picking-up homewares? And did you see anything you liked in my selection?With much love

The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Kitchen Gadgets – Part 4

Today’s post is the final one in the series on kitchen gadgets / equipment.  Over the last few weeks I’ve talked about my Essential Kitchen Gadgets, the Electrical Equipment I love, and what I use to bake-up a storm.  So, today, I’m opening up my cupboards on pots, pans, roasting tins and probably some of my favourite cookware: my Le Creuset dishes.  It’s only in the last year or so that we’ve invested in good quality pots and pans etc.  Before that we had a cheap set from Debenhams that we’d bought on first moving in together.  They lasted more than 10 years, but when we started having flakes of the black non-stick lining appearing in our meals, we decided it was time to  finally upgrade!

I’d always read that investing in good quality saucepans and the like is worth the extra money, as the quality of the pans produce better results, are less likely to get damaged and last much longer, and I can confirm I pretty much agree with this.  I can’t comment on the long-lasting element, as they’re only a year or so old – I’ll keep you posted!

As part of our wedding gift list, we took the opportunity to upgrade a lot of our kitchen equipment and to invest in some new pieces, specifically saucepans and some cast iron ware.  Here’s a little look into what we chose and a few words on why.

I think our biggest investment was in the iconic Le Creuset casserole dishes.  I’d shunned away from buying these for a good few years for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re quite pricey
  • Once you’ve got whatever you’re cooking in them, they are super heavy!
One day, my wonderful friend Debsie was over whilst I was making something (a posh chilli con carne I think!) and expressed her shock that I didn’t own a Le Creuset pot and proceeded to sing their praises!  I felt like I was missing out on something special!  It was perfect timing, as Le Creuset had just released a new colour:  midnight blue.  Anybody who knows me, will know my love of navy and this had a sparkle in it as well, AND it would help me turn out yummy dishes….what was not to love?! And the heavy problem?  Well, I’m now much stronger than I have been for many, many years thanks to different workouts that we’ve been doing over the last few years (more on this soon).  Le Creuset cast iron works on all heat sources and can be popped safely into the dishwasher.  We decided on four different types: (1) a 25cm oval casserole dish, (2 & 3) 28cm & 28cm round dishes and (4) a 30cm shallow dish.  Four Le Creuset casserole dishes might seem excessive to some, but I have already had plenty of use out of each one.  The 25cm oval dish is perfect when it is just the Domestic Prince and me.  The round dishes are great when I’m cooking for a larger number of people, or batch cooking something like my pumpkin soup and the shallow dish allows maximum contact between the food and the heat and is just right for the cous cous recipe.  And why is cast iron so good?  Well, it provides great heat conduction and retention properties, which means that  you can leave sauces, stews, soups, chilli (pretty much everything!) to cook slowly on the lowest heat setting.  Probably my favourite feature is they are great for one pot cooking – meaning less washing-up!

My favourite meal has to be a roastie.  Even during the searing weather in Bangalore, I pretty much make a roast lunch every Sunday – it’s a Domestic household tradition.  So having good roasting tins are essential for us!  I use the (5) All-Clad Stainless Steel Collection Roaster for my meat.  The reason I went for this one, is that I love the removable roasting rack. All the delicious juices from the meat drips down into the roaster and once the meat is done, you can easily remove the rack, keep the meat warm and put the roaster on the hob to make your gravy – easy peasy!  A roastie isn’t really a roastie without roast potatoes, which is why I have a few other roasting pans! I have (6) medium and large stainless steel roasting pans from Divertimenti, which have been in use for years!

I spent a long time researching the best saucepans for us before finally making a purchase.  I wanted something that was durable, not too heavy for day-to-day use, was dishwasher proof, had a glass lid and heatproof handles.  So, bearing all this in mind, I finally settled-upon the Raymond Blanc by Anolon range.  I opted for anodised pans as it is twice as strong as stainless steel, so is extremely hard wearing, yet still conducts heat efficiently and is light in weight!  Before purchasing this set, we only had three saucepans:  a small, medium and large one and when making an elaborate meal, it just wasn’t enough and we’d end up having to wash-up half-way through the preparation.  So, with this purchase, I wanted to have a wide selection of sizes, so opted for:
  1. Milkpan.  And whilst I do use this for warming milk for the odd hot chocolate, I typically use this for making sauces when it’s just the two of us.  It’s just the right size.
  2. Stockpot.  This has been a great addition to my kitchen.  It’s a 24cm stockpot, so wide and quite deep.  I use it for boiling a big batch of pasta, making mashed potatoes or as it says on the tin, making stock!
  3. A 20cm saucepan.  This is a nice large saucepan, which is great for boiling or steaming veg.
  4. Sauté pan.  As the name might suggest, I use this for sautéing!  It has large surface area with low sides that allows steam to escape and for me to be able to toss the food (albeit badly!).  Sauté pans typically have vertical sides.
  5. 16cm saucepan.  I usually use this for sauces, gravy or for melting chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.  I have a bowl that sits perfectly on top of this saucepan.
  6. Chef’s pan.  This is a fantastic versatile pan, which I use for stir-frying, browning meat and making lovely risottos.
  7. 18cm saucepan.  Just a great size saucepan – mainly used when we’ve got people over for supper.
  8. Omelette pan.  The Domestic Prince likes nothing better than an omelette in the mornings and this pan, which is 20cm wide, makes a perfect omelette every time.
  9. Skillet.  Skillet is just another name for a frying pan and is a term typically used in the southern states of the USA.  Ours is mainly used for softening onions and frying bacon, as whenever we seem to want to have bacon, there isn’t any power for the grill!
I’m not suggesting that everybody should rush out and buy all the above, this is just what works for me in the Domestic Kitchen.

Domestic Princess tips:

  1. Buy the best you can afford.  You won’t regret it.
  2. Make sure that what you are buying is suitable for the type of heat you use.
  3. Check to see if it’s dishwasher safe.
  4. When using a gas hob, be careful to ensure that the heat does not extend outside of the base, as it will damage the the handle.
  5. Don’t put an empty pan on the stove or in the oven.  This is especially true for cast iron.
  6. Don’t put a hot pan in cold water – this can cause the base of the pan to warp.  Let it cool down a little before immersing in cold water, or pouring cold water into it.
  7. Ensure pans are completely dry before putting them away.
  8. Try and buy during the sale periods, as you can pick-up some serious bargains!  Selfridges and Divertimenti started their sales today.
  9. There are cheaper Le Creuset options out there, but to be honest when I was reading reviews on the alternatives, nothing came close to Le Creuset.  And since they seem to last a lifetime, I think the investment can be justified!
  10. Here’s a helpful little guide on different size saucepans:

Size guide courtesy of John Lewis

Do you have a large collection of pots and pans?  Have you been tempted by the Le Creuset range?  And which pan could you not do without?

With much love

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

Kitchen Gadgets – Part 3

I think it’s pretty obvious that I love spending time in the kitchen, but baking has to be my favourite activity.  Yes, I enjoy cooking say a pie or rustling up a quick supper, but creating sweet goodies fills me with joy!  Living in India is great in many ways, however, there are days that can be very challenging!  On days like those, I find baking something can soothe and restore my happy mojo!  So, today in part three of my kitchen gadgets series, I’m sharing with you what I use for baking.

High on my list is either my KitchenAid or Magimix, which featured in part two of the kitchen gadgets series.  Then there are mixing bowls, spoons, whisks and spatulas that I shared in the first post.  And because baking is more a science than an art, I wouldn’t dream of making a cake without my trusty digital weighing scales and measuring spoons!

Today is all about the other paraphernalia I use when baking.  My collection of bakeware has been built-up over the years.  Where I purchased cheap tins that were thin, they’ve warped and have had to be replaced, since they weren’t conducting the heat evenly.  As I’ve been replacing my old tins with new, I’ve opted for mainly silicone ones for these reasons:

  1. They don’t need to be lined.  Just a smidge of butter wiped around does the trick.
  2. The material is flexible making them easier to store.
  3. They don’t break or bend when you drop them (always a good feature when in my hands!)
  4. They can pop in the dishwasher.
  5. They don’t rust.  Quite a few of my traditional tins have rusted.
  6. It’s easier to remove the cake or traybake from the “tin”.
  7. They are available in a much wider choice of shapes and sizes.

Most stores now sell silicone bakeware.  I think the majority of mine have come from John Lewis.

My collection of bakeware, is by no means the “must-have” list.  As I’ve said, I’ve built my collection up over many years, and as new recipes required different shapes or sizes, I have added to my collection.  If just starting out baking, I would suggest numbers 1 through to 5, are probably all you’ll need.

  1. Two 7” x 1½”  (18cm) or 8” x 1½” (20cm) round tins (or silicone).  This will allow you to make a huge variety of cakes.  The amount of mixture necessary for each size will be stated in the recipe.
  2. An 8″ x 8″ x 2″ (20cm x 20cm x 5cm) traybake tin, as I mentioned in the Chocolate Brownie post a few weeks ago.  It can be used for lots of different types of traybakes.  I have a recipe for a delicious one, which will be up on The Domestic Princess very soon!
  3. A 2lb (900g) loaf tin.  I tend to use this for loaf cakes, as opposed to bread, as I have the bread maker.
  4. A 12-hole bun tin for baking mini muffins, cupcakes or fairy cakes.  I love my silicone one.
  5. Two to three baking sheets or trays for making delicious cookies or biscuits.  I find the 14” (35cm) ones are perfect.  They need to be heavy, flat and rigid.  Oh, and make sure they fit in your oven!
  6. Deep round loose-bottomed 6” (15cm) cake tin.  I use this for making a small Christmas cake.
  7. Square loose-bottomed 7” (18cm) cake tin.  If I’m making a larger Christmas cake – this is my favourite tin to use.
  8. Spring-form 9″ (23cm) round cake tin.  This is great for making cheesecakes, as the metal release clip makes it super easy to remove the contents, with minimal risk of damaging it on the way out.
  9. Silicone baking sheet.  I use this when making biscuits or to roll out my pastry on.  I even use it for chocolate and sugar work and any burnt bits are easily removed.
  10. Silicone 6-hole muffin tin.  I don’t actually use these for making muffins, but for making giant, puffy Yorkshire puddings.  Maybe I’ll try muffins in them one day.
  11. Various shaped silicone cup cases:  rounds, rectangles and hearts etc.  My mood on the day determines which one I use!
  12. Selection of cookie cutters, including numbers, letters, hearts, 6 circular ones ranging from 2” to 4” that have a fluted side and a smooth one (I used the smallest one to make the Jam & Custard Cream Buttons), animals, gingerbread men, characters from fairy tales and Christmas themed ones.  I’m trying to replace my metal ones with plastic ones, as the metal ones are starting to rust.  Nowadays there is every imaginable shape available.
  13. 3½” x 1½” round cooking rings, which I use to make homemade crumpets, but they can also be used to make potato rosti, creating a perfect circle for presentation, or the larger size can be used to create a tower for a real wow factor!
  14. The last one in my cupboard for bakeware are my mini pudding moulds, which I use to make delicious (even if I say so myself!) hot chocolate fondants.  I have the 3” x 2” ones, which are the perfect size for individual puds!
  1. Thermometer.  I’ve recently been trying to make toffee, fudge and sweets – largely inspired by my Heston Blumenthal at Home book.  A thermometer is by no means a necessity, nor a showstopper if you want to make home-made candy.   However, I didn’t trust myself to use the “soft-ball” method, so decided to invest in a good thermometer and I’m super pleased I did!  Next on my list to try are marshmallows.
  2. It’s only recently that I’ve had a proper cake tester – previously using anything long and spiky available (normally the cheese fondue dipper or a chop stick!).  However, my gorgeous godson, Maxi, gave me this for Christmas, so now I have a proper utensil for quickly checking if my cakes are fully cooked.
  3. Rolling pin.  My version of this is probably controversial amongst the bakers out there, who advocate a wooden one without handles is best.  Why controversial?  Well, I have a stainless steel one, where you can add water to “the belly” of the rolling pin, which reduces the surface temperature, and helps to eliminate sticking.  A must-have tool for any baker living in a hot country!
  4. Baking beans (for blind baking).  Now, I can spend money like the best of them, but spending between £5 to £10 for a set of these when some dried chickpeas for 95p do the job just as well, just didn’t stack up!
  5. Sieves.  I’ve now built my collection up to around 3 of various different sizes, for different tasks.  However, I still have “sieve envy” when I’m around the lovely Alice’s house, as her collection must extend to at least 10, which all sit neatly inside each other!  In addition to sifting flour, I also use them to make super smooth soup and for removing seeds from a raspberry puree.  I’ve recently upgraded my sieves to strong stainless steel ones, to replace the misshapen wire ones.
  6. Cooling rack.  For sometime I used the rack from our grill pan, until one day I needed to use the grill whilst my cake was still cooling, so decided to finally buy one!  This is essential for all bakers if you want to avoid soggy cakes or cookies from the steam trapped under them when left to cool on a flat surface.
  1. Piping bag.  Before going on my cupcake-decorating afternoon that was part of my fantastic hen party, I used to use a traditional nylon-piping bag for icing.  However, after a few fabulous hours of trying to master icing cupcakes, my eyes were opened to the joy and ease of disposable icing bags.  They’re strong and can be cut to fit any size nozzle.  Plus, I no longer have icing all over my hands from the leaking seams on my old nylon one.  There’s no going back for me now!
  2. Icing nozzles.  I’ve got a collection of icing nozzles, but I think my favourite ones are the star and rose tips.  On my next trip abck to the UK, I’ll be looking to buy plastic ones, as the metal ones are starting to rust.
  3. Palette knife.  This is brilliant when icing cakes and needing to spread and smooth the icing over and around the cake.  Make sure it’s very pliable to get the most out of it.
  4. Decorating pen.  This is a new gadget in my kitchen, and is yet to be used.  But, I can see it becoming a firm favourite!
  5. Cupcake corer.  This is a great nifty gadget for creating a little surprise in cupcakes.  You simply press the corer into the cupcake, twist and remove the centre, and then fill the hole with either a different flavoured icing, or a surprise of some sort!  Maltesers are always very popular!

So, has this list got you wanting to bake-up a storm?  Do you love baking?  And what’s your favourite baking recipe?

With much love

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

Kitchen Gadgets – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my love of kitchen paraphernalia and opened up my cupboards on the basic essentials and nice-to-have items in my kitchen.  This week I’m sharing with you my Electrical gadgets, amongst which are some of my favourites!  If I had a bigger kitchen (one day!), I’m sure this list would be far, far more extensive than it already is.  So, barring number 1, this list isn’t in any particular order.

1.  Without doubt, my most treasured and loved electrical item, is my beloved KitchenAid Artisan Standmixer.  The Domestic King was extremely generous about five Christmases ago and bought me this, since I’d been wanting one for a very long time.  I use it for whizzing up Yorkshire puddings, making voluminous pavalovas, or just creaming together some butter and sugar for a batch of Soft Chewy Gingerbread Cookies.  It makes baking so much quicker and easier.  It comes in a choice of 26 colours, a wire whisk, a flat beater, a 4.83L polished steel bowl or a 4.83L glass bowl, a dough hook and a pouring shield.  It also has a range of optional accessories, such as:  an ice cream maker, food grinder, pasta maker, flex edge beater, (which I’ve recently bought and can confirm it’s great!), a sausage stuffer, a citrus juicer, and a rotator vegetable slicer and shredder, to name but a few!  The KitchenAid Standmixer is pricey, but I can honestly say I’ve more than had my money’s worth from it.  It gets used probably 2-3 times a week.  My lovely friend Sarah has the Kenwood Standmixer and is just as enamoured with hers, as I am with mine.

2.  Another loved item is my KitchenAid Artisan Blender (no, this isn’t a post sponsored by KitchenAid, I promise!).  We bought this to bring to India with us and just like the Standmixer, it gets used a lot.  I use it daily to make either smoothies or protein shakes for breakfast, it makes perfect frozen margaritas, and I use it weekly when liquidizing soup.  A few friends have told me that it’s great for pureeing baby food too.  It really is a fantastic device and well worth the investment.  I chose this one, as it was a Which? “Best Buy” and it matched the KitchenAid Standmixer and the rest of our kitchen in London.

3.  Magimix Compact 3200 food processor is a great addition to my kitchen gadgets and I’ll be honest, it’s only within the last year that we’ve actually started to use it to its full potential!  We went for the 3200 Compact model, as it’s just the two of us, but there are bigger models for larger families:  the 4200 and 5200, and if space is a premium in your kitchen, they now offer Le Mini Plus.  The Magimix allows you very easily, to slice, grate, whizz up a cake batter, make delicious short-crust pastry, and if you purchase the additional blades, make purees, mash, smoothies and julienne vegetables.  I commonly use mine for making homemade mayonnaise, short-crust pastry, slicing potatoes for dauphinoise potatoes and grating cheese.  It’s a great timesaving gadget.

4.  Sometimes I don’t need to (or want to) use the Magimix or KitchenAid Blender for pureeing or whisking, so I bought something to use on those occasions, which is my Dualit Handblender.  It comes with various attachments, is dishwasher safe and lets me puree, chop or beat in next to no time.

5.  Breadmaker.  This was another purchase ahead of our expat assignment in India.  When we moved here 4 years ago, delicious, good quality and most importantly, tasty, low sugar bread, was non-existent.  So on the advice of the lovely Alice, we purchased one and boy, are we glad we did!  I don’t think anything can beat bacon sarnies made with delicious homemade bread!  We simply pop the yeast, flour, butter, water, a tiny amount of sugar and salt into the bread pan, set the program and voila, two hours later we have a delicious, crusty loaf of bread.  It has many features that allows you to bake cakes, different types of bread, add extra ingredients such as nuts and dried fruit, or even make the dough for pizza, rolls, buns, French sticks or brioche.  All you need to do is put the dough in the oven to cook.  You can also use the delay-timer feature, so you wake-up to the smell of freshly made bread – yum!  It is very cost effective – a medium white loaf works out about half the price of a commercially produced one.

6.  Talking of bread leads me nicely onto another one of my gadgets: our toasted sandwich maker.  Whilst not as frequently used as it once was (carbs are not our friend!), we still use it occasionally and both love the delicious toasties that it makes!  My favourite fillings are either ham and cheese, or chunky chicken in a white sauce.  The Domestic Prince also loves a ham and cheese toastie, or his latest favourite is cheese and pickle!

7.  One item that I couldn’t do without is my electric weighing scales.  I believe baking is more a science than an art, so I love how it allows me to measure my ingredients extremely precisely, ensuring that my ingredients are not one gram out (slightly anal I know!).  You can measure both liquid and dry ingredients and have the option of working in imperial or metric.

8.  Coffee maker.  Now, this is not my gadget, but the Domestic Prince’s, but since it is frequently used and brings him so much pleasure, I thought I’d include it!  The Domestic Prince loves a latte or cappuccino, so when renovating our kitchen in London, we had a built-in coffee machine installed as part of the design.  When we learned of our move to India, the Domestic Prince was really concerned about where he was going to get his daily coffee fix from!  To keep him happy, I did some research for alternatives and settled upon a Nespresso one, mainly because we could take a vast supply of coffee pods with us, and knew we’d be able to stock-up easily.  I can confidently speak on behalf of the Domestic Prince and say he is thrilled with the machine and it gets plenty of use.  We recently purchased an Aeroccino and now our lattes and cappuccinos can rival any coffee bar!

9.  Another purchase ahead of our move to India was a juicer.  We both love freshly squeezed juices and again weren’t sure we’d be able to get them in India.  After consulting Which? again, we opted for the Phillips one.  In under a minute you can have a delicious, freshly squeezed juice.  My favourite is plain orange, but you can use pretty much any fruit or vegetable you like.  The Domestic Prince is partial to an apple, carrot and ginger one.  And the best thing about the juicer?  You don’t need to peel any of the fruit or veg!

10.  Ice cream maker.  I know you don’t need an ice cream maker to make homemade ice cream, but I find when I make it the traditional way I end up with lots of crunchy crystals in it.  I read that making it in an ice cream maker solves this problem and I can confirm it does.  As a gadget I wasn’t going to use very often, I went for a relatively cheap model.  Whilst it’s great and produces fabulous ice creams, you do need to think ahead, because the bowl needs to be chilled for 10 hours beforehand.  After that you have delicious, creamy ice cream in around 20 to 30 minutes.  The (much) more expensive version has a built-in freezer, allowing more spontaneity in your ice cream or sorbet making!  Look out for a post in the coming weeks for one of my favourite ice cream flavours.

I’m aware that I have quite a number of electrical kitchen gadgets, but the majority get used weekly, if not daily, I promise!  I’d love to hear about your favourite electrical kitchen gadgets – do tell!

With much love

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

Kitchen Gadgets – Part 1

I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen.  It would be very unusual for a day to pass without making a meal from scratch, or experimenting with a new recipe.  So, it’s no wonder my kitchen is full of a multitude of paraphernalia!  One of my favourite things to do in the UK is to browse for hours in Divertimenti and Lakeland.  A couple of months ago, I was reading a post on the wonderful Florence Finds authored by Rebecca Norris, about budget kitchen gadgets under £25, with the luxe version the following week.  It got me thinking … maybe I could share with The Domestic Princess readers the kitchen gadgets I have in my kitchen.  I always love hearing about the equipment in other cook’s kitchens – often resulting in me adding to my collection!  So let’s take a look inside my cupboards!

I’ve arranged my kitchen equipment into different categories: Basics; Pots & Pans; Baking and Electrical.  I’ve then decided which are essential and which are nice-to-haveEssentials – are items I pretty much use every day and nice-to-haves – those that I use less frequently.  This subject will appear over four posts; today will cover the basics with pots & pans, and baking and electronics, coming in the next few weeks.  Describing in one post the many kitchen gadgets that enthusiastic cooks accumulate would read like a large tome … yes that’s how many kitchen gadgets I have!  So, let’s take a look inside my cupboards!

1.  Oven thermometer.  It’s only since moving to India that I’ve needed to use this.  A lot of my cakes were burning and I couldn’t figure out why.  Turns out having relied on my oven thermometer I eventually discovered that it burns between 10C – 15C hotter than the gauge indicated.  And it varies day-to-day.

2.  Timer – self-explanatory!

3.  Selection of different sized wooden spoons and spatulas.  Resist buying expensive ones, I just buy the £1 ones from John Lewis or any supermarket will do.  Then, I never feel guilty for throwing them away when they start to look manky!

4.  Potato ricer for the best mashed potatoes ever!  My lovely friend Alice bought this for me one Christmas and I’ve never looked back.  It’s a bit messy, but the delicious lump-free mash is definitely worth it.

5.  Garlic crusher.  Until two weeks ago I had a regular stainless steel one, which I think I bought about 10 years ago from Sainsbury’s.  One day, I was watching one of the numerous cooking shows that I love, and saw this Zyliss crusher; I am so pleased I did.  It gets every last bit of the garlic out of the clove.  And the main reason I love it?  No need to peel the garlic cloves anymore, as the crusher removes the skin as it presses. A real bonus!

6.  Microplane grater.  Again, this is a new addition to the Domestic Princess kitchen, purchased after reading the impressive review by Esme on Florence Finds and I am so glad that I did.  It is so much better than my previous grater and handles zesting, chocolate, ginger and cheese extremely well.  A word of caution – it is very sharp, so mind your fingers and remember to keep the guard on when not in use!

7.  Silicone spatulas.  I have a few of these and they are brilliant for scraping the last drop of cake mixture out of the bowl (no more licking the bowl!) or the last smidgen of soup out of the saucepan.

8.  Silicone tongs.  I have an array of sizes that pretty much get used everyday.  But, the mini ones are my favourite!

9.  Good set of basic knives to include:

  • 7cm Peeling knife – for peeling small fruit and veg.  This is the Domestic Prince’s tool of choice for vegetable prep.
  • 12cm Utility knife – for peeling and slicing.
  • 14cm Sausage knife – hhhmm, I don’t really use this for sausages, but for chopping tomatoes!
  • 16cm Meat fork.
  • 20cm Bread knife – I don’t need to say anything here!
  • 20cm Carving knife – for carving roasts and filleting fish.
  • 20cm Cook’s knife – for everyday chopping and dicing.
  • 23cm Sharpening steel – great for ensuring my knives are always razor sharp.
  • Kitchen shears – brilliant for cutting up meat!

10.  Measuring jug.  I have a Pyrex one, but am considering getting the Oxo one on my next trip home, as it lets you see the measurements from above and the side.  Oh, and it’s plastic too, so probably safer in my hands than a glass one!

11.  Set of measuring spoons and cups.  I have two sets of measuring spoons and a set of measuring cups.  My one set of spoons go down to a quarter of a teaspoon, which I find extremely useful (thank you again Alice!) and the measuring cups are perfect when following US recipes.

12.  Set of different size glass bowls (small, medium and large).  I prefer glass ones – not sure why, maybe it’s because this is what my mum used to use?

13.  A selection of different size whisks, including some silicone ones for use in my non-stick pans and Le Creuset dishes.

14.  Silicone pastry / basting brush.  As I mentioned in the chicken pie recipe, I much prefer a silicone brush, as I feel it’s more hygienic and we’re less likely to find a rogue hair in our mouth when chomping on our pie!

15.  Pestle and mortar.  This is great for making spice mixes, however, I have been toying with the idea of getting an electric grinder, as I can’t always get the pestle and mortar to grind the spices as smooth as I like it.  Have any of you got an electric grinder?  If so, is it worth buying?

1.  An avocado cutter and chopper.  This most definitely is a nice to have.  However, being quite klutzy, especially around certain times of the month, the Domestic Prince felt this was an essential addition to our kitchen to avoid me stabbing myself with a knife when cutting the avo!

2.  Blow torch.  I love using this and feel ever so professional when scorching the top of a crème brulee or caramelizing a mountain of meringue on a Baked Alaska!  Obviously anything that needs to be torched can be done under the grill – but this is so quick and easy!

3.  Potato chipper.  This is probably the height of laziness, but the control freak in me loves how uniform my chips are when I use this!

4.  Mezzaluna.  I use this for chopping up herbs, as you can get quite a good and quick action going.  However, a regular chopping board and a 12cm knife, will do the job just as well.

5.  Mandoline. This is great for getting vegetables and fruit in a uniform shape; perfect for potato dauphinoise.

6.  Baster.  I am a big fan of roasts, so anything that can help make it even tastier, is a winner with me.  It helps add extra juiciness and flavour to your meat.

7.  Fat separator.  This is perfect for making your gravy less fatty.  I don’t always use this though, as it’s the fat that helps give gravy its delicious flavour!  But when a joint or chicken has produced too much fat, it’s great for taking some of the fat our, but leaving the delicious juices behind.

8.  Flavour injector.  This is great for infusing flavour into meat, cakes, jam into doughnuts or surprises into cookies!

9.  Onion chopper.  If I weren’t living in India, this piece of kit would definitely be on my “essentials” list.  I bought this before coming to India, because I hated chopping onions for the normal reasons:  streaming eyes and smelly hands that lingered for days!  However, I’m now lucky enough to have help in the kitchen, so the onion chopper has been relegated to the back of the cupboard.  But rest assured, once I’m on onion chopping duties again, it’ll be back on the essentials list!

10.  Hot & cold food whipper.  Another new purchase and if I’m honest, yet to be used!  The purpose of this little gadget is to help you create mousses, whips and froths….I’ll let you know what it’s like when I’ve used it!

I tend to buy the majority of my kitchen gadgets from John Lewis, Amazon.co.uk, Lakeland, Divertimenti and Williams Sonoma, as they all have a wide-range of products.

So, there you have it, the basic items that are filling my cupboards!  Are there any basic items that I’ve missed that you can’t live without?  If so, please share them!  Keep a look out for what electrical kitchen gadgets are in my cupboards soon!

With much love

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

Five More Minutes

I have a confession to make…..getting into bed is possibly my favourite time of the day and getting up, probably my worst!  I bet I’m not the only person to utter “5 more minutes” when the alarm goes off.  In my opinion, there is nothing nicer than an inviting bed and slipping into luxuriously soft bed linen.  During the last few years we’ve been lucky enough to have slept in some of the loveliest, comfiest beds in the world – the Ritz Carlton Battery Park springs to mind.

However, it was on holiday a few years ago that really ignited my love affair with beautiful linens and trying to make our bed a true haven.  We were staying at The Club at The Legian in Bali, when we both fell in love with the linen, divine pillows, duvet and featherbed (also known as a mattress topper).  During our 10-day stay (look out for a future post on this), we slept like babies every night.  Whilst some of this was down to the relaxing nature of our holiday, a large element was the luxurious bed we snuggled into every night.  So impressed were we, we asked the hotel which company provided the linens, duvets and pillows.  Much to our joy, we discovered the supplier also sold to the general public.  And that lead us to the delight that is Ploh.

Once home, I hit the Internet and soon our dreamy linens, duvet, featherbed and pillows were winging their way to us.  Quite honestly it is some of the best money we’ve ever spent and haven’t regretted it for one moment.  Getting into bed every night is such a pleasure and sleeping on the featherbed, well, it’s just like sleeping on a cloud!

We all know that sleep is essential to our everyday wellbeing.  With more studies proving that adequate sleep can help with our battle of the bulge, creating the perfect sleeping environment has become even more important.  So, here are my tips so you too can create your perfect bed.

Source: The White Company

Domestic Princess tips on creating your perfect bed:

1.  Mattress

The foundation, as you all know, is the mattress, so don’t skimp on it.  In the long-term, it’s just a false economy. Remember, the variety and quality of mattresses are vast.

We have an Ambassador mattress from Jensen that we discovered when they had just launched in the UK, so got an amazing bargain compared with prices now!  I’d recommend going to a proper bed store so the salesperson may assess how you (and your partner) share the bed and inform you of the brands and different types of mattresses available.  Try out as many as you can.  We chose And So To Bed in Harrods and the saleslady couldn’t have been more helpful.  The Domestic Prince was adamant he needed a hard mattress and I was pretty determined I wanted a soft one.  Turns out we were both wrong, the most suitable one for us, as a couple, was a medium one.

Which? have recently published their findings on the best mattresses and suppliers in the UK.  So, if you’re thinking of purchasing a new one, click by and have a read.

2.  A featherbed or mattress topper

Now, we were late to the party on this delicious addition to a bed, but gosh are we happy we finally did arrive!  Sinking into 4 inches of feathers and goose down is just bliss and creates an extra layer cwtchiness (def: the Welsh word for cuddling).  It moulds around your body providing support and cushioning for your joints.

There are many different fillings available in a topper, which can be bought from The White Company, John Lewis, Macys and Marriott to name but a few.  Go for it, I promise you won’t regret it!

3.  Duvet and Pillows

Duvet

The warmth, softness and weight of a duvet, depends very much on the tog rating and the type of filling.  The three things to consider when purchasing a new duvet are: tog rating, type of filling and size.

The tog rating tells you how effective the duvet is at trapping warm air, so the higher the rating, the warmer the duvet.  Duvets made up of natural fillings have better thermal properties than synthetically filled ones.  However, if you suffer from allergies, you’d probably want a synthetically filled one in preference to a natural one.  With regards to the size of the duvet, if you and your partner tussle over the duvet, you’re better off opting for the next size up to ensure no more squabbles!

Pillows

Finding the correct pillow is essential for a comfortable night’s sleep.  When choosing new pillows, things to consider are:  shape, size, filling and firmness.

4.  Bed linen

Bed linen comes in many types of fabric:  cotton, Egyptian cotton, cotton sateen, silk, linen, polycotton.  I prefer sateen and tend to go for something like Montabello Cappuccino linen from The White Company.  Many people have the impression that the higher the thread count, the better the bed linen; this is simply not true.  Pure linen, for example, will always have a lower thread count than cotton, but is still considered extremely luxurious.  For me though, the thought of ironing pure linen puts me right off!  Before purchasing any bed linen, I always, always have to feel it – the softer the better!

John Lewis and The White Company both have detailed guides on how to purchase duvets, pillows and bed linen.

Another few tips that help me sleep deeply are:

  1. Eye shades – I think I started wearing these when we had shutters installed in our house in London.  Whilst the shutters look fabulous, they don’t create the pitch black room that I like and which is recommended by the sleep experts to help enhance one’s sleep.  There are many lovely eye-shades available, but I tend to use the ones I pick-up on the ‘plane when travelling.  They’ve worked for me for nearly 10 years, so I think I’ll stick with them.  However, Susie Amy on her wonderful Blusher and Blogging blog swears by this lavender eye mask.  Maybe I’ll treat myself and give it a whirl to see how they compare?
  2. Chamomile tea – most nights we trot off to bed with mugs of chamomile tea, which we both swear helps us enjoy a deep slumber.
  3. Magnesium supplements – a new addition to our nighttime routine is 400mg of magnesium citrate.  Magnesium is known to have a calming effect on the brain and is also important for muscle function; a lack of it may cause muscle cramps and restless legs.

So, readers – tell me what makes your dream bed?  Is going to bed your favourite time of day?  And do you have any good tips on what helps you enjoy a good night’s sleep?

With much love

The Domestic Princess

Xoxo

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