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Clever Kitchen Storage Solutions

Clever Kitchen Storage Solutions

Kitchen Storage, is there ever enough? At European Kitchen Group we work with you to find out how you and your family will use your kitchen, we then suggest ways to get the most out of the space you have available. Your kitchen is always designed with you and your family’s needs in mind.

Today we take a look at some really clever ideas to maximise your kitchen storage.

Breakfast Stations
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and requires serious consideration. Factoring in storage for cereals, jams, teas and coffee is tough enough, but if you don’t want the toaster and coffee machine cluttering your benchtop, then you’ll need to work them into your storage plan, too.Snack Stations
Hungry family after school, or their homework under your feet while you’re trying to get dinner on the table. Keep all their snacks in the “snack station” allowing them to help themselves without disturbing the cook!

 


Wine Storage
Are you looking for somewhere to tuck away a few sneaky bottles of wine? Both of these ideas are a great way to incorporate wine storage into your kitchen

 

 

Drawer & Cupboard Organisers help you get the most out of your drawers. It’s so easy these days with so many inserts readily available.

At European Kitchen Group these can be ordered at the same time as your new kitchen.

 

 

 

Drawers and Pull Out’s are great for organising your pantry too. Nothing gets lost because it is visible every time you open the drawer.

An appliance cupboard makes so much sense, having everything in one place….just close the door and it’s all tidy.

 

 

Cooking With Gas, Electric or Induction

Blog post by Jenny Johnson

Cooktops; Gas, Electric or Induction

I have never used an induction cooktop and have done very little cooking on an electric cooktop, so to be fair I thought it best to seek unbiased information from another source.  http://www.build.com.au/gas-vs-electric-vs-induction-cooktops was my source of information.

Please note; I have added my own touch to the content and once again managed to learn quite a bit along the way, thanks Build.

 

How do I choose?

One of the more vexing questions, when you’re choosing appliances, is deciding on what sort of cooktop you need. Gas & electric cooktops have been around for years and most of us would have cooked on either or both; Induction, however, is a fairly new player that has gained momentum over the past few years.

If you’re like me you may not know too much about induction cooktops or how they work.  When you’re deciding on your new cooktop, generally speaking, you’ll need to decide between one of four options or a combination of two, hopefully, this makes your choice a little easier:

  • Electric induction cooktop– Induction cooktops work using an alternating current to induce heat in the right kinds of cookware, and are safe to the touch.
  • Gas flame burners– These burn gas to apply heat directly to your cookware.
  • Electric ceramic radiant cooktops– These consist of coiled metal elements or halogen lamps which radiate heat from below through a tempered ceramic glass surface.
  • Electric coil or solid hotplate cooktops– These cooktops are normally cheaper, and operate by running electricity through a resistive coil element or solid hotplate to heat cookware directly.

Most cooktops will incorporate either two, four or six hotplates of various sizes using only one of these technologies, there are other cooktops that provide a combination of these technologies (e.g. radiant and induction, or induction and gas) are also available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do induction cooktops work?

To appreciate why induction cooktops are considered ‘safer’ and why they’re becoming more popular, you need to understand how they create heat. Induction cooktops contain metallic elements under the cooktop surface. An alternating current is passed through these elements when the cooker is turned on, which oscillates back and forth through the elements.

This current doesn’t have any effect at all on most other kinds of materials – including human hands, but it does create an electromagnetic field at the cooking surface. If your pots or pans are made from the right kind of metal, this field ‘induces’ an electrical current in the base of the cookware you’re using. This electrical current in the cookware produces what’s known as ‘resistive heating’ – the pot or pan itself is heated, but the cooktop surface isn’t.

Some of the heat from the hot cookware you’re using will be transferred back into the cooktop surface, but this is normally made from a ceramic glass which is a pretty poor conductor of heat, so it shouldn’t stay too hot for too long.

What types of cookware work with induction cooktops?

To work with induction cooktops, your cookware needs to be ‘ferromagnetic’ – stainless steel or iron pots and pans work well, whereas aluminum doesn’t. An easy way to tell if your pots and pans will work on an induction cooktop is to see if they’ll stick to a magnet. If they do stick, they should work on your induction cooker.

If you already have a lot of non-ferrous cookware that won’t work on an induction cooktop, you still have options though. An induction disc (or ‘interface disc’ as it’s sometimes known) is a stainless steel disc that you can use on an induction cooktop to heat your incompatible cookware. These are normally quite inexpensive and come in a range of different sizes.

 

   

Advantages and disadvantages of different types of cooktops

The best fit for your needs will depend on what sort of budget you have, what sort of fuel is available and to some extent, what kinds of foods you want to cook. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of gas, induction and other electric ranges:

 

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Induction Cooktops:

  • Safe to the touch – good for those with small kids
  • Very energy efficient compared to other electric cooktops
  • Heats instantly – very little warm-up time
  • Looks stylish
  • The flat surface is easy to clean – food doesn’t ‘bake’ on
  • Can be expensive
  • Requires ferromagnetic (i.e. stainless steel or iron) cookware
  • May be complicated to repair or replace

Electric Coil or Hotplate Cooktops:

  • Cheap to buy and repair
  • Works with any type of cookware
  • Good for low-temperature cooking and simmering
  • Slow to heat up
  • Slow to change temperatures in general
  • Relatively inefficient

·         Electric Ceramic Radiant Cooktops:

·
  •  Looks fantastic
  •  The flat surface is easy to clean
  •  Reasonably responsive to changes in temperature
  •  Works with any type of cookware
  • More expensive than conventional coil or hotplate cooktops
  • May be complicated to repair

·

·         Gas Cooktops:

·
  • Instant heat
  • Very responsive to changes in temperature
  • Cheap to operate
  • Can accommodate wok burners and special trivets
  • Can char-grill capsicums on the open flames like they do on TV.
  • Requires a supply of gas
  • Harder to clean than flat induction or radiant cooktops (enamel is easier to clean than steel or glass)
  • Greater risk of fire or combustion due to the open flame

 

 

How to choose a cooktop

Beyond considering the basic advantages and disadvantages of different cooktop technologies, there are a few key questions you need to answer to get the right cooktop. These include:

  • Would a combination of gas, radiant, coil or induction cookers better suit your needs than just a single technology?
  • How big is your family? If you have a large family or do a lot of cooking, six burners may be a better option than four.
  • If you’re getting a gas cooktop, will you need or use a wok burner?
  • How long is the warranty?
  • Is the brand well established and popular in Australia? If not, you may have a hard time with warranty claims and support.
  • Will I need new cookware to go with a new induction cooktop?
  • Will the style of my cooktop suit the style of my kitchen?

 

 

Kitchen Ventilation

 

Blog post by Jenny Johnson

Kitchen Ventilation is the branch of ventilation specialising in the treatment of air from kitchens.  It addresses the problems of grease, smoke, and odours not found in most other ventilation systems. The system’s fan may be located in the kitchen or in its ducts

Having cooked in several kitchens over the years, you learn to appreciate a great ventilation system, one that is not as noisy as a jet engine, that prevents your cooking smells from going right through the house and into your neighbors’ and is easy to keep clean.

Prices vary as do the units, there are some great new units emerging from overseas, taking Australia by storm – that have turned the entire concept of kitchen ventilation on its head. Read on to find out more……

 

Requirements;

An adequate kitchen ventilation system should:

  •   Remove cooking fumes at the source, i.e. as close as possible to the cooking equipment.
  •   Remove excess hot air and introduce cool clean air, maintaining a comfortable environment. Inadequate ventilation can cause stress, contributing to unsafe working conditions.
  •   Ensure that air movement in the kitchen does not cause discomfort.
  •   Provide sufficient air for complete combustion at fired appliances, and prevent the risk of carbon monoxide accumulation.
  •   Be easy to clean so that fat residues do not accumulate and block air inlets, leading to loss of efficiency and increasing fire risk.
  •   Be quiet and vibration-free.
The design of an effective kitchen ventilation system is determined by:

  •  The kitchen’s workload
  •  The amount, type and power of cooking equipment
  •  The kitchen’s layout and shape
  •  The need for easy cleaning and maintenance

·         Energy efficiency

Hot air from cooking is usually vented externally through a chimney system. When this is not possible, recirculating exhaust systems are used that clean the air and direct it back into the kitchen.

Another consideration is the type of cooktop you select will determine how strong your exhaust system needs to be. Induction cooking requires a stronger motor as it doesn’t generate as much heat, meaning the fan needs to work harder to extract the cooking fumes.

 

 

 

 

The Bora System can be adapted to suit any environment.  They are not the cheapest unit on the market, but in my opinion, they are one of the best. I wish I knew what I know now before I installed my range hood.

Bora’s products are optimised to meet the demands of modern kitchen planning. Bora is an all in one cooktop/exhaust system.  You can create a combination of gas, induction and stainless steel tepanyaki style grill plate, along-side 3 varying grades of exhaust units.

This system is particularly good if you don’t have room for an overhead unit, or if you are installing a cooktop onto an island bench and desire a more streamlined effect.

See the Youtube links below for more information

https://youtu.be/L3V0qrgWdyo  https://youtu.be/FwdxNCMG2Rk

 

Range Hood Strength

The power or air movement for range hoods is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). If you do a lot of heavy cooking that involves steam or strong odors, get a range hood with at least 350 CFM. For high-output gas ranges or cook-tops, the minimum rate of 1 CFM of ventilation per 100 BTU (British thermal units) is recommended. For example, if your burner output is 45,000 BTUs, look for a range hood that provides 450 CFM to best clear the air. However, the higher the CFM the louder the hood will sound.

Range Hood Sound levels

The sound that a range hood makes is measured in sones. One sone is roughly equal to the sound of a refrigerator running. Normal conversations take place at about 4 sones and light traffic rates up to around 8. Use sones to compare units, but be aware that the higher the range hood’s CFM, the higher its sone rating is likely to be. Look for sone ratings to find the quietest hood at normal operation levels.

 

Acknowledgments to Wikipedia & Lowes for the use of some of their content

Steam Ovens, The In’s & Out’s

Steam Ovens, The In’s & Out’s

Blog Post By Jenny Johnson

I don’t own a steam oven and don’t really know much about them so I thought it best to borrow this article from Chris Barnes ozmisterbarnes, published by Choice Sept 2017.  

Please note; I have added a touch of my own content and managed to learn quite a bit along the way, thanks, Chris.

Don’t get all steamed up!!!

Whether you’re considering replacing your oven with a combination steam option, or like the thought of a dedicated steamer, there are plenty of choices out there. But don’t get too steamed up over the decision: we’ve condensed what you need to know about these ovens into bite-sized chunks.

How much can I expect to pay for a steam oven?

Steam ovens can vary in price from $2000 to well over $10,000

 

  

Which is your type?

There are three types of steam oven:

  • The standalone steam oven – which only steams
  • The ‘true’ combination steam oven has typical multifunctional baking, combination steam/convection modes, and steam only settings
  • A typical multifunction electric oven with an added moisture function. These inject bursts of steam into the oven during normal baking at appropriate cooking phases to help keep in moisture.

Steam only

Standalone steam ovens can steam large quantities of food over multiple shelves without fusing flavours. For example, you can steam fish, veggies, rice, and pudding at the same time, and pretty quickly too. But you can’t brown food, which limits the versatility of these ovens.

Combination steam and convection ovens

These are the latest designs to infiltrate the showroom. As their name suggests they combine the benefits of steam cooking with all the necessities of a multifunction convection oven. A ‘true’ combination steam oven has typical multifunctional baking, combination steam/convection, and steam-only settings. These tend to have water tanks (very few can be plumbed in) and some have condensation collection reservoirs.

A convection oven with a burst of steam

Often, the cheaper option is a typical multifunction electric oven with an added moisture function. Some have a water tank and a drain and tube for emptying condensation water, while others draw water through a siphoning tube that you place in a glass of water. These don’t have steam-only settings, but simply inject bursts of steam into the oven during normal baking at appropriate cooking phases to help retain moisture.

 

 

What size do I need?

Options are compact (about 45cm high by 60cm wide), or full size (about 60 x 60cm). Selection will depend on your available space, and how much steam and combi-steam cooking you do. Multi-shelf cooking in some models isn’t recommended – reducing versatility. Check such recommendations before buying.

 

  

What to check in store

  • Water tank: A larger water tank means less interruption while steam cooking. One that you can access without opening the oven door prevents heat and steam loss – and minimises the risk of scalds from escaping steam. Make sure it’s easy to fill and replace. The steaming system will need to be flushed through and de-scaled periodically, depending on how often you use it and water hardness.
  • Condensation: Some have condensation tanks that need to be removed, emptied and replaced, others you drain by inserting a tube into the drain hole while water flows into a container you hold below it, and another type need the oven cavity sponged out after each use from an indented collection cavity in the base. On the other hand, some have no condensation tank or collection cavity – you just wipe dry the interior after each use. But we’ve found this may not be an ideal design, as moisture still seems to remain within the system, which isn’t ideal for baking some dishes, including meringues. There are also plumbed-in options, but these require a fair bit of maintenance including de-scaling and regularly flushing the lines to prevent mould growth, and they’re more expensive to buy and install.
  • Comprehensive instructions and cooking guidelines: There’s a lot to learn about combination-steam cooking, and good guidelines can help a great deal. It can only take 30 seconds to ruin a steamed dish, so accurate guidelines mean significantly less trial and error and more fun in the kitchen.
  • Controls: Clear and intuitive controls and labeling are even more important with combi-ovens due to all the extra options available. It’s worth trying them out in a store, where possible, to get a better idea of whether they’re easy to use and understand
  • Cooking demonstrations: Most of the major retailers offer free in-store cooking demonstrations on using a steam oven that can help you get the most out of your new kitchen appliance. Many of the manufacturers also offer cooking classes included with the purchase of your oven.  If you want to get the most out of your new appliance, I would certainly find the time to take these classes.

 

  

Do you need a steam oven?

For most cooks, a combination steam oven shouldn’t replace a conventional electric oven, because you can get better cooking results in a standard oven, or one with the added moisture settings, at a much lower cost.

But if you’re frequently steaming foods – particularly in larger volumes or multiple dishes such as rice, fish, veggies and/or puddings – a combi-steam oven may be a useful choice. A standalone steam oven to complement your existing electric multifunction oven is also worth considering.

The downside of any steam oven is the high level of maintenance needed to keep the water/steam system free of bacteria and mould. For less frequent steaming, the stovetop steamer or microwave will get the job done without leaving a hole in your hip pocket – or eating up too much of your free time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Bench Top Debate

The Great Bench Top Debate…

Natural Stone, Laminate, Silestone, Dekton, Stainless Steel, and Timber make up the majority of benchtops found within Australian homes. Most of these surfaces are durable and dependable, offer a stunning array of colours and finishes within each and every range.

Where does one start?

You’ll also need to choose which surface is right for you and the punishment given with constant hardwearing.  To assist with the process, here are a few helpful suggestions when choosing your new bench….

 

Natural Stone, first you will need to consider the look and finish you are going for and how you intend to use it.

  • Granite – Strength
  • Slate – Dark Contrast
  • Travertine – Warm luxurious look
  • Marble – Delicately veined elegance
  • Basalt – For an aged patina
  • Soap Stone – Non-porous
  • Sand Stone – Durability, easy install
  • Onyx – Translucent beauty
  • Quartzite – Look of marble, withthestrength of granite

 

Quartzite

 

Silestone is a man-made stone made from natural quartz. It is resistant to scratching and staining and has a high-level resistance to impacts with hard objects.  Integrated sinks are also available in Silestone when ordering your benchtop, giving a seamless finish.

 

Silestone integrated sink

Silestone Eternal Marquina

 

Dekton is the new kid on the block. It is a sophisticated mix of more than 20 minerals extracted from nature. Dekton emulates in a few hours what takes nature thousands of years, through an exclusive technological process.  Dekton is highly UV, scratch, stain, fire & heat resistant. It is available in large format giving it infinite possibilities.  It can be used for backsplash applications as there is no epoxy resin used in the manufacturing process.  It can also be used for bathrooms, flooring and even outside around the pool or BBQ.

 

Stainless Steel gives a very commercial look. It’s not as forgiving as most of the other bench surfaces when it comes to scratching, however, it is virtually indestructible and has a look and feel of its own. It requires very little maintenance and will look like it’s been part of your kitchen for years, in a very short time.

 

Timber has natural warmth; it is timeless, hard wearing and practical.  It can be used as a feature with a stone benchtop to break up the coldness of the stone.  Good quality timber can be sanded back and resurfaced bringing it back to a nearly new appearance after a few years of wear and tear.

 

Laminate has come a long way over the past few years.  Most of us would remember the Laminex benches from our childhood homes, scratched, worn and not very versatile.  Nowadays, you can have laminate resembling stone or timber, that without touching you may not be able to tell the difference.

 

Fenix Laminate is new to Australia, widely used throughout Europe, has taken laminate to a whole new level. (See pic below the sink is integrated into the Fenix benchtop)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Backsplash Should I Choose?

Are you are looking for a way to add style to your kitchen while protecting it from the damage of splashed food and water? A backsplash is the best option. Backsplash keeps your walls safe from water damage, by

covering the areas behind the sink, cooking top, and food prep areas.

Let’s explore your options…..

    

 

Tiles

Tile backsplashes contribute to the stylish appeal of your kitchen by adding accents, colors, and variety to your walls. It is important to choose the right material to create the tile backsplash so that it matches the current décor of your kitchen.

There are many very simple things that can be done to add to the variety of the look, such as turning the square tiles diagonally to create a diamond-shape or fitting them together to make mosaics. Changing the colour of the grout adds yet another dimension.  Including a tile backsplash to your kitchen adds maximum stylish impact with a minimum investment of capital and time.

 

Glass

A glass backsplash adds size to any small space because glass is shiny and reflects light well. Adding lighting above a glass backsplash will also add the illusion of space, and will highlight your new work of art.

Glass is versatile; it can be personalized by changing the shape, colour, or texture. It can even be embedded with art. A glass tile backsplash will blend into any décor because it can be dyed in the process of making it so that it matches the current color scheme of your kitchen.

  

 

 Stainless Steel

If you are craving the ultra-modern, post-industrial look, a stainless steel backsplash may just be the thing for you. Steel is relatively untraditional as a decorating material, but in recent years it has become very popular in a sleek, contemporary way. A stainless steel backsplash can add the touch of modern industrial flair to your loft, apartment, or home at a very little cost to you.

Stainless steel backsplashes come in a variety of finishes, such as polished (very shiny), matte (dull), or Satin (for a “brushed” look). It is also possible to have the entire counter, sink, and backsplash molded from one solid piece of metal. This adds continuity to the room and makes it easier to keep clean and hygienic because there are no gaps for water and germs to get into.

 

Dekton

Looking for a backsplash or countertop surface that can withstand heat, stains and major scratching?

Is there such a thing?

Dekton by Cosentino is a new and exciting product for countertop/backsplash surfaces, flooring and even exterior applications such as building facades and outdoor kitchens. Dekton is heatproof, stain proof, and even scratch proof as well as being highly UV resistant.

Dekton is a sophisticated mixture of more than 20 minerals extracted from nature.  Dekton emulates in a few hours what nature takes thousands of years, through an exclusive technological process.

 

 Mirror

Mirror was used everywhere in the house in the 1980s, such as; walls, ceilings, pretty much anywhere that had a flat surface!  Once again, the mirror is making a strong comeback on the kitchen backsplash scene. New mirror treatments are so varied; it’s easy to find a style that can work for you.

Some of the styles include; subway tiles, traditional, tinted and antiqued.  A mirror finish can add light, space and a touch of glamour to your kitchen design. Mirror also has the ability to give the illusion of a small area, appearing much larger.

It’s always a good idea to place a temporary mirror where you intend to apply the backsplash to see exactly what you will be reflecting.

 

 

 Copper

The warm allure of copper is not something to be ignored. The last few years have seen a growing number of homeowners and designers embrace copper to revitalize a kitchen space and give it that inviting and glittering allure.

From the classic kitchens that showcase styles such as farmhouse and rustic to contemporary delights that are sleek and stylish, copper finds a place in every kitchen. In the modern kitchen, you can pick from a range of copper finishes that vary from hammered tiles to salvaged copper sheets and those with a cool, oxidized finish.

 

 

 

Functionality of Your Kitchen

Functionality of Your Kitchen

The aim of a great kitchen is to provide the buyer with the best in design; ensuring ease of functionality, whilst maximizing counter space and storage.