Friday, November 1, 2013

Oven Express and Zumbo macarons - what a combo

When I first saw my little cottage many years ago, I was entranced. It was – and still is – a perfect home, with a lovely renovated interior and a plot of low-maintenance garden for enjoying the sunshine. It also came with some high-spec, stainless steel appliances, including a shiny cooktop and a swish oven.

I didn’t realise at the time, but the oven wasn’t as spotless as it should have been. For a new-ish oven, it was pretty grotty, with a fine coating of grease that made me wonder what the previous owners had been cooking in it.  I suppose I could have cleaned it, but I wasn’t sure that there was any non-abrasive cleaning product that would get the gunk off.

Well, imagine my delight when Susan from Oven Express asked if I was interested in reviewing their oven cleaning service. Yes, please, with bells on!

Some details on the services available from Oven Express
1. How long does it take?
My oven cleaning took approx. 1½ hours. A very thorough cleaning, including removal of the oven door and inside racks to improve access to the inside of the oven . The racks are soaked in a tank in their van, with the water heated to 90C and this really gets the grease off. My oven door is double glass, and I was astonished that the cleaning technician, Rabin, managed scrape off the layer of brown haze on it. I can now see what’s cooking in the oven!

2. How much does it cost?
Prices for an an oven clean start from $160 for a standard 60cm oven. Oven Express also cleans barbeques (prices from $140). You can combine these with a rangehood or stovetop clean as well.

3. What areas do they service?
Oven Express has a number of technicians who service the Sydney metro area at the moment.

4. What type of cleaning products are used?
They use non-caustic, fume-free cleaning products. There was barely any smell while my oven was being cleaned. Afterwards, I left the oven to air out for a day before using it, and there was a bit of ‘cleaning’ smell when the oven was first turned on, but this dissipated after a few minutes. Also, the technician was very neat and orderly and didn’t make or leave any mess behind.

5. Would I recommend this service?
Yes, definitely. My oven is now like new and I enjoy using it more. I think an oven cleaning would be ideal if your oven isn’t cleaned regularly. I’m speaking from experience here. It would also be useful if your home is on the market and you don’t want to be embarrassed by potential buyers taking a peek in your oven and getting a shock (yes, I actually look in ovens; don’t you?)

Oven Express
Ph: 1800 325 773
Ooh, Look... blog received this oven cleaning service compliments of Oven Express.

Before: Gross, filthy, caked-on grease

During: Grease, begone!

After: Oh utter bliss, a clean oven.


To celebrate having a nice clean oven, I dug out a packet of Adriano Zumbo Patissier Salted Caramel Macarons.

I'd bought this pack about a year ago and it was 2 weeks from its Best Before date. And I'd never made macarons before.
It sounded like a good idea at the time...

The pack contains meringue mix, almond meal, caramel and piping bags and macaron stencil. 
You whip the meringue mix (contains dried eggwhites) with water, then fold in the sieved almond meal. 
Then fill the piping bag with the mixture and pipe macaron shells (using the stencil traced onto baking paper first).
After baking the shells, beat some softened butter with the caramel to make buttercream.
Sandwich the macaron shells with buttercream and voila, salted caramel macarons!

So where did I go wrong? I didn't sieve the almond meal properly, resulting in grainy mix. The shells are really orange in colour because the pack was so close to expiry. I didn't pipe the shells big enough, so they look like melting moments made from doggy-do.
What's good about them? They have 'feet'. They taste alright. The buttercream is yummy. They look pretty good coming out of my beautifully clean oven.
Will I try making macarons again? Heck, yeah! They can't be any worse than this effort...!