13 September, 2014

Mission Samsung Challenge Week 3: Final review

I've spent an exciting three weeks with the Samsung Smart Microwave Oven and now it's time to tell you about my experience. The first thing you need to know about this oven is that it's a combination microwave and convection oven, meaning you get the capabilities and convenience of two appliances in one compact oven. I'll share a general overview of the oven with you before getting to my personal conclusion.

With your smart oven you will receive a handy instruction and cooking guide. This little booklet contains all the information you need to get cooking. It starts of with a quick look-up guide and then provides detailed information about how the oven works, how how to use it, the appropriate cookware and guidelines for many different types of food. There's a section for each of the smart oven's programmes and settings with tables to help you quickly look up how to cook or reheat anything from baby food to broccoli. There's also a handy guide on the oven so you don't even need the manual once you've learnt how to use it.

Smart Features
There are 4 buttons at the top of the control panel for the smart programmes with automatic power and time settings. The tables in each section show different types of foods, serving sizes, standing time and recommendations so that you can easily make the right selection. The Smart Sensor reads the food’s surface temperature to determine whether it is done.

Smart Defrost
You can use the smart defrost programme for meat, poultry, fish, bread and fruit. You can also easily manually defrost food and there is a section on defrosting later in the guide.

Smart Cook
There are programmes for 25 different foods in the smart cook section. This includes bagels, soup, frozen lasagna, cauliflower and even cookies. I tested out the smart cook function to bake cookies for Mission Samsung's second challenge. I also tested it with broccoli and jacket potatoes and got perfect results. It only takes 2 minutes to cook broccoli and 5 minutes for potatoes, you can't ask for a quicker healthy dinner.

Slim Fry
This has to be one of the best features of this oven. The slim fry programme combines the microwave, convection and grill functions to create crispy food with less oil than traditional frying methods. There are 10 pre-programmed settings featuring frozen oven chips, spring rolls, home-made French fries and apple halves. I tested this function with frozen oven chips, potato wedges and sliced courgettes.

The oven chips were much softer inside than when cooked in a regular oven, but still had a crispy exterior. I usually think frozen oven chips are too dry when cooked, but that doesn't happen with the smart oven. The potato wedges cooked much faster than in a regular oven, it only took 17 minutes. I've never made roasted courgette (baby marrow/zucchini) before and they were delicious. They are the perfect healthy side dish or snack.

Auto Fermentation Feature
I used this feature in the first week of Mission Samsung to make pizza dough. There are also settings to proof cake and bread dough and to make homemade yoghurt. I tested the bread dough and yoghurt features too.

To make yoghurt you combine 150g yoghurt with 500ml milk and the smart oven helps you turn the milk into yoghurt. Since I don't drink dairy milk I decided to test it with soy yoghurt and soy milk. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked and I had delicious thick soy yoghurt. You can either use a large bowl or 5 small dishes for the milk. The programme will run for 9 hours with a large bowl or 7 hours with small dishes. Then the yoghurt needs to be in the fridge for 6 hours.

Special hints
At the back of the cooking guide you will find a special hints page with quick instructions for melting butter, cooking pudding etc. I used this guide to melt the chocolate and brown the almonds for my dessert pizza in the first challenge. There are also easy instructions to cook jam and I tried that this week. I've never made jam before, but in only 10 minutes these fresh strawberries and sugar were turned into delicious homemade jam.

Other features
The smart oven has microwave, convection oven and grill (broiler) settings. You can also combine the microwave and grill or microwave and convection settings for faster cooking times while roasting or browning dishes. You can use the fast preheat function to quickly heat up the oven and shorten cooking times. The oven has an anti-bacterial and scratch-resistant ceramic interior that is easy to clean. It's surprisingly big and can handle large dishes, so it's perfect to cook a family meal. You can even cook more than one dish at the same time by using the different metal racks.

My favourite features
The fast preheat function I mentioned above is very handy and this oven is ready to cook or bake much quicker than a regular oven. The turntable ensures that your food is cooked evenly. This is a feature normally only seen in microwaves, but it's very useful in an oven. Another microwave feature I love is the timer. Whether using a programmed setting or choosing the time yourself, you will never come back to food that has been burnt beyond recognition because the oven will switch off when the time has run out. How many times have you had perfectly cooked food that only needed to brown under the grill for a few minutes? But while you quickly did something else, your food was scorched? This will never happen with a timed grill function.

The Samsung Smart Microwave Oven is an incredibly useful kitchen appliance. It can perform several different tasks, it cuts down cooking time and it can even automatically cook many types of food. I love cooking and experimenting with different recipes, but I often feel like I don't have enough time to cook everything I want to. This oven has helped me cook more in less time and with less supervision. I would recommend this to both beginners and experienced home cooks.

I have loved testing the Smart Oven and I hope it will become a permanent part of my kitchen.

See my previous Mission Samsung posts here:
Challenge 1: Pizza
Challenge 2: Cookies
Baking bread

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11 September, 2014

Amish Potato Rolls Veganised

Since this is the last week of Mission Samsung, I wanted to make full use of the Smart Oven. I've wanted to try this Amish Potato Rolls recipe for a long time. Potatoes and bread in one recipe, how could I not?  However these rolls need a very long rising time, 90 minutes for the first rising and  a whole 2 hours for the second one. The Samsung Smart Oven let me drastically cut down this time with the Dough Proof programme. It took only one hour for each rising. I also quickly cooked the potatoes needed for the bread rolls with the microwave option.

This recipe contains eggs and butter, but I easily veganised it by using and egg replacer and sunflower oil instead. The dough came together quickly. I used my hand mixer to combine the ingredients and then kneaded it for a few minutes. After letting the dough rise, I divided it into 16 rolls, rolled them into smooth balls and let them rise again. Then they are ready to be baked. It only takes 25 minutes.

The rolls didn't end up tasting anything like potatoes, but the potatoes did help to make the rolls soft. They were delicious with a bit of vegan butter and strawberry jam. Except for the rising time, these rolls don't take a lot of time or work to make and are definitely worth a try.

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09 September, 2014

Nadia van der Mescht Creative Business Workshop

A few weeks ago I told you that many exciting thing were happening that week and this workshop was one of them. I have been dreaming of attending one of Nadia's workshops ever since she started them in Durban. This year was the first Cape Town workshop and I jumped at the chance to meet and learn from one of my favourite bloggers and business owners.

My friend Chane and I always discuss Nadia when we start talking about blogs and it was so fun to go to the workshop together. We had to leave Hermanus very early in the morning to miss the Cape Town traffic, so we had lots of time to have breakfast at Dear Me where the workshop was held. We both ordered the Cranberry Karma smoothie because we couldn't handle anything more substantial that early in the morning.

I told Nadia I was surprised that I couldn't find more blog posts about her workshops from previous attendants. Now I understand why. I was so busy listening to Nadia and making sure to take meticulous notes that I completely forgot to take photos of what was going on. I only took a few quick snaps before we started.

I'll do a separate post featuring all the beautiful things we received in our goodie bags, including some Terrapin and Toad postcards.

I felt completely star stuck after meeting Nadia in person and it still feels a little like a it was only a dream. It was a wonderful day and I learned so much. I've already implemented a few changes because of the workshop and I have so many ideas for the future of Terrapin and Toad.

If you want to see more photos of the day, you can check out Lanalou Style and Hello Pretty.

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07 September, 2014

Mission Samsung Challenge Week 2: ‘Baking Bliss’

For the second week of the Samsung Blogger's Challenge, we could choose between making potato wedges, French fries or sliced courgettes to test out the "Slim Fry" function or baking cookies to test out the "Smart Cook" function. The choice was easy for me. I love potato chips and have already used the Smart Oven's Slim Fry function several times, but I never let a chance to bake cookies go by.

Under the Smart Cook function you will find pre-programmed options to Auto Reheat or Auto Cook several different foods. You can easily heat up anything from frozen pizza and lasagna to soup and bagels. With the Auto Cook programme you can cook things like popcorn, jacket potatoes, broccoli or muffins without setting the time or heat. The temperature of the food is automatically detected by the sensor. I noticed a few people on Twitter asking about making cookies in a microwave, but the convection oven mode is used for baking.

I used a simple coconut oil sugar cookie recipe to create pretty flower cookies in celebration of the beautiful spring weather we've been having lately. The dough needs to be chilled after mixing and was difficult to roll out. I put it in the Smart Oven and used the microwave defrost setting to soften it a bit. This setting was also useful to soften the coconut oil without melting it.  The Crusty Plate that comes with the Smart Oven is non-stick, so I didn't need to use any baking paper.

To ice the cookies, I used an easy vegan royal icing recipe. Since we don't get corn syrup in South Africa, I used rice syrup because it was the lightest colour syrup I had. I piped an outline around the edge of the cookies and then used a thinner consistency icing to fill them in.

After the icing dried, I used new clean paint brushes and food colouring thinned with water to paint the cookies. For difficult to mix colours such as purple and black I used gel food colouring. You can find them at baking supply stores.

I wrapped up a few cookies to share with my friends. You can see them enjoying the cookies on Twitter and Instagram.

Of course I didn't forget my best friends and made peanut butter dog biscuits too. That's their favourite flavour of the biscuits I buy them so I thought it was about time I made something special for them. They were so quick to mix together because there are only 4 ingredients. I got 40 hearts out. The dogs loved them and got to eat quite a few while I was taking photos of them.

Jeff stole Mitzi's biscuit right before she could take it from me. 

A satisfied customer.

The Mission Samsung challenge is almost over. Time has gone by so quickly and there's so many things I still want to make. This is going to be a busy week.

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My name is Natasha. I live in a beautiful coastal town in South African with my little human/dog family. I love cooking and share new recipes I've tried here. Sometimes I even create my own recipes. I spend way too much time on Pinterest and blogs, but I'd like to be a neat, productive person one day. We're also starting a new business. You can read more about that at terrapinandtoad.com

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