Thursday, 28 February 2013

Salty Chihuahua, Pina Colada, Yogi-Gulp and Butterbeer!!!

Hi peeps
It has been hot, Hot, HOT here in Durbs, South Africa! That's why they call us the country's "playground". And with it being so hot, my poor kids and hubby have been walking around with their tongues wagging out like good ole Fido. It got me thinking that doing some beverage recipes would be a great way to cool off. Now here I must add, I am a non-alcoholic. My idea of the puuurfect sundowner is a sweet cuppa tea - hell, I like tea so much that Craig has even threatened to install an IV Tea drip for me, hahaha. So with the alcoholic drinks, I've also added two non-alcoholic drinks too.

The Salty Chihuahua
I just love the way this rolls off the tongue! Its just so much fun to say!

To make this drink you will need: 1 litre tequila, 4 cups of lemonade, some lime juice and wedges, ice and some coarse salt.  Use the lime juice to wet the rim of the glass, rub it in the coarse salt. Plop some ice blocks in the glass and pour in the tequila and lemonade. Squeeze in some lime juice, give it a stir and decorate with a lime wedge!




Pina Colada - Naomi Barnett Farrar, this ones for you!!
Even though I don't drink, I just love the smell of this beverage. Its just so Durbs!

You need 2 bags of Pina Colada mix, 1 cup of crushed pineapple in its juice, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream, 2 tots of rum, 8 ice cubes, 1/4 cup whipping cream and some cherries.  Bomb all the ingredients, except the cream, into a blender and blend well. In a bowl whip your cream till its soft peak. Pour into glasses and then stir in the cream, decorate with the cherries. Num! Num! I'd risk a sip of this little gem!







Choc Chip Banana Yogi-Gulp
1kg choc chip yoghurt
3 cups of milk
1 cup choc ice cream
3 bananas mashed finely.
This is my very own recipe for my girls. Just take all the ingredients and blend in a blender very well. Serve with a banana or a chocolate finger.








Butterbeer!!!
Yeup, you guessed it! This is the very drink featured in Harry Potter. I've always wanted to try it and I'm sure you Harry Potter fans feel the same as I do. (There are other versions, but this one is pretty cool)
4 cups ginger ale, 2 tsp butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon.
In a microwaveable jug, heat the ginger ale until it is hot but not boiling. Stir in the sugar and butter and cinnamon until its all deliciously melted together. You might want to be quite gentle when stirring, otherwise your butterbeer is gonna fizz right over the top of the jug!

ITS FRIDAY tomorrow! WOOHOO! The perfect night for inviting your peeps over for dinner and trying out some Pina Colada and Salty Chihuahuas. But remember, don't drink and drive and always arrive alive!

Keep it cool, peeps!
Chef Shants (and her ever present cuppa tea)xxxxx

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Strawberry Gelato

Hi All,
Another week almost done and we find ourselves halfway through it.  I had such a lovely day yesterday, especially when Akira and Storm were playing catchers outside and Stormy was yelling on the top of her voice, "Mommy, mommy!! Akira is a Wompie! The Wompies are coming!!". Well now, I thought, seems the Zombie Apocalypse is finally here! Although how Storm managed to derive the word "Wompie" from "Zombie", is a little bit beyond me at this point of time.

As promised last week, today I'm going to chat about Italian Gelato, (Gelati for plural). Its basically home made ice cream, Italian Style......well, sort of. LOL! I was so fed up with the loooong process so here are two quick ways of making gelato.



Method One: Using an Electric Ice Cream Maker
Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
4 cups milk
2 tblspns vanilla extract
2/3 cups strawberry preserve
2/3 stemmed and sliced in length ways, fresh strawberries

Beat your egg yolks fluffy, add your milk and vanilla extract and give it a good stir. Pour it into a double boiler and cook on medium till its the consistency of light cream, make sure you stir it continuously! There's nothing worse than lumpy gelato.  Push it through a fine strainer and pop in fridge for about 2 hours. Then, add the mix into your ice cream maker with the preserve and the fresh strawberries and follow the directions on your machine.

Method 2: Without An Ice Cream Maker
4 cups fresh strawberries sliced quite thin and small.
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup marscapone or creme fraiche

Pop your strawberry pieces on a lined baking dish, in a single layer, and freeze till solid. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they freeze.
Bomb them in a food processor and pulse. Add your creme fraiche/marscapone and the sugar and blend it till its silky smooth. You can serve this immediately or put it in a dish and freeze it. Just pulse it a bit more before serving if you take it out the deep freeze.

And there you go! Two methods of Italian gelato. You can literally use any fruits to make this. I've tried
peach, blueberry, strawberry and kiwi. Very, very yummo indeed!  Oh, and I've added nuts as well for some variations in flavour and texture.

See you all tomorrow for another amazing recipe.

Have a great Apocalypse, Wompies! Peace out.
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Easy Recipes

Hi All!

Well yesterday was just an awesome day from beginning to end! Everything was just coming up all me and I received some pretty incredible news! I was offered a job! I was break dancing around the lounge like a pro after the phone call; pretty much screaming "Party like a Rock star, Kick a little Ass!!!" Its just all quite amazing!
I also want to thank Eve Rich and Amanda Smith for adding to my collection of proof readers. Thanks guys!!!  So now, book two starts.

Nutty Fudge

So my sis-in-law, Evette,  and I were chatting the one day last week and she says to me, "what about easy biscuit recipes?" I have to totally agree! Biscuits are loved by all, so it got me thinking, why not other easy recipes too? One of Evie's fav things EVAH is fudge. So for Evie, and you, here's my quick n easy fudge recipe.

Ingredients:
1 tin condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
3 cups choc chips
Some chopped nuts if you like.

Method:
Bomb all the ingredients, except the nuts, in a micro dish. Zap in microwave on medium for about 3 to 5 mins. Make sure your choc chips are melted, stir in the nuts . Grease an 8x8 dish well and pour in.
Refrigerate till solid then cut into blocks.

I didn't make the choc-nut fudge but I did whip up a batch.  My family enjoys the original.
Hope this recipe helps :)
And tomorrow I will teach you how to make Italian Gelato! So stay tuned!  Its a long recipe so that's why today's is so short, hope I'm forgiven!

Party like a Rock star, kick a little ass, peeps!!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 25 February 2013

Honey and mustard smoked Ribs and Mash

Hi all!!

What a fantastic weekend! I am proud to say I have finally sat my bum down and written my first ever children's book! I'm very excited about it and I'm hoping to see it in bookstores soon! Some other planning has yet to be done, but my dream is almost a reality!!! I'm so blessed to have been supported by so many people. Thanks to Patricia Gahagan, Cathy Matthews and Anschke Wessels for being my proof readers.

Thanks also Yolandie Horak for cracking that whip when I needed to be reminded that the book wasn't going to write itself and to  my husband, Craig, for giving up his valuable Pokemon time so that I could hog the pc. Much love peeps!

Honey and Mustard Smoked Spare Ribs and Creamy Mash Potato

On Friday night I celebrated the completion of
my book with some yummy honey and mustard spare ribs and some creamy mashed potatoes. (I am a mashed potato fanatic).  And thought I'd share my celebratory din- din with you.

We bought 2 packs of smoked spare ribs from the butcher so all I did was set my oven to 150C, in a 250ml cup I mixed some honey with a teaspoon of dijon mustard. With a basting brush I basted the ribs completely and drizzled with just a dash of oil. I roasted these for about an hour, checking on them the whole time in case they were ready before the hour was up.  I made some creamy mash to go with that:


Creamy mash
Ingredients
10 medium, soft boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped
Some salt
Butter
250ml milk
250ml pouring cream
(When I'm feeling decadent, I also grate some cheese in while I'm mashing it up like a NASCAR racer).

Method:
I boiled the kettle and poured that into my big pot (it halves the cooking time a lot), then I bombed in some salt and the potatoes. I cooked them till they were soft and strained the water. I then added a big blob of butter and mashed it like mad. (I don't like lumpy mash at all!). I then added the milk and mashed it a bit more. I added salt to taste and then the pouring cream. (Insert grated cheese here) . I don't like my mash too stiff nor too runny, its up to you how you like the consistency of your mash so use either more or less milk and cream depending on the way you like it.

Once my ribs were done, I dished up some mash and some ribs for us and we had it with a glass of milk, lol. (Although milk is probably not the right drink to have with this yummy dish! - so what! I like it anyway!!!). I was also gonna make some green salad with it but I just didn't have the energy after the day I had, but its not a bad idea to have some greenery with this too.

And this was our celebratory plate of food! The pics don't actually do it justice, I have to take them using my phone and that kinda doesn't always capture how tasty it really is, the camera left my ribs looking a bit on the dry side, but they were actually pretty nummy! Thanks to the piggy for his sacrifice! (Sorry veggie peeps <3).

Happy eating peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 22 February 2013

Traditional South African Bobotie and Apple Banana Pudding....in a MUG!!!

Hi All!

One word: FRIDAY!!!!
Its so cool to be able to say that at the end of each week, roll on weekend, our doors are open for you!

Today I have a special South African dish for you, Bobotie. This dish has a bit of an oriental twist to it and is mostly made by the Cape Malays. Our Afrikaans folks also just love this dish too and you get many variations to it.  I also have a "lekker" pudd to go with this dish; and as promised; this time its so quick and easy your head is gonna spin! To my American friends, I apologize for not converting my recipes, it is in the pipeline and will be adding the conversions soon, for now, there are Conversion tables on Google so unfortunately you'll have to use that until I start converting it for you. Thanks for being patient with this busy mommy-chef <3 Having said that,  let's get cooking peeps.......

Traditional SA Bobotie
Ingredients:
1kg ground beef or ground lamb (mince)
125 ml milk
1tblsp chutney
2 chunky chopped onions
1tsp crushed garlic
1 thick slice of white bread, trimmed crust and soaked in milk
1tbsp curry spice
1 finely chopped chilli
1tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup vinegar
1tsp brown sugar
Salt to taste
1 cup raisins
Some bay leaves
Some orange and lemon wheels

Method:
Fry together your oil, garlic, onions and add the minced meat. Add your spices and fry together till meat is browned. Squeeze the milk from the bread then add to the mixture. Now add the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt , raisins and chutney. Give it a quick toss through and remove from heat.  Heat your oven to 160C, in a pie dish, place some lemon and orange wheels and some bay leaves at the bottom, now bomb over the mince mixture. Decorate with lemon and orange wheels by pushing them down along the sides of the pie dish. Beat together the eggs and milk and pour over the top of the mince, add a few bay leaves on top for more fancy-ness. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve with tumeric rice or thick slices of white, buttered bread.

And now for an EASY dessert, hahaha. As promised.

Baked Apple Banana and Oatmeal in a Cup
Ingredients:
1/2 chopped apple
1/3 mashed banana
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp honey
1 egg
Some milk or flavoured yoghurt

Method:
In a microwaveable mug, mix the egg and oats together with a fork. Add your apple, banana, honey and cinnamon, stir again till its all mixed in pretty well. Microwave on high for about 2 to 3 minutes.
You can have this with milk or yoghurt and keep your cup available for a refill! LOL. This is an awesome dessert!

There you go! Nice and easy for your Friday menu. I was going to do home made ice cream but was a little worried I might make you guys start howling at the moon coz that's another looong recipe. I'll do that for another day. Hope I have redeemed myself. Hahahaha :P

Take it easy peeps, have a kick-ass weekend!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Creamy Linguine and Home Made Condensed Milk

Hi All!

Thank you to the awesome Tanja Wessels for also subscribing to the blog! Thanks chick! *cyber hugs*!!

And once again many thank-you's and dankie's  to all of you funky people who view the blog each day, take a bow peeps, you're all awesome too!

I wish you were all at my house last night! I kid you not, you would've been quite entertained as Chef Shants and Chef Craig buzzed around our tiny kitchen at dinner time.  We worked like a well-oiled machine peeps!! Pasta Machine! Linguine was flying from pot to plate, pure artistic genius. :-D. (Until I found a piece dangling from the kitchen curtain this morning and I was like "Woah, dude! How'd you get there?!).
This Linguine was soooo gooood, I have to share the recipe with you......

Creamy Linguine
Ingredients
1 500g packet of Linguini
Oil
1tsp crushed garlic (heaped)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 tin of tomato puree
Use same tin for water
1 punnet 500g mince (ground beef)
1 punnet 250g chopped mushrooms
2 tsp steak and chops spice
1 tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 250ml pouring cream
Some grated cheese of your desire (food is all about desire peeps, don't be shy!)

Method:
Boil some water in your kettle and pour into pot, set on high, add a dash of oil and a pinch of salt. Bomb your linguine in the boiling water and cook til el dente.  (Using hot water from the kettle, cuts down your cooking time greatly).
In another pot, heat oil, fry onions and garlic together, add mince (ground beef) and mushrooms and fry till done - on medium heat. Add all spices and give it a mad stir. Add your tomato puree, sugar and water and simmer for a few minutes, just before serving, add the cream. Bomb your sauce over the linguine and toss it through very well.
Once plated, grate some cheese over. We like mature cheddars and parmesan, but basically you can use any cheese that tickles your pickles. And Bob's your aunty!!! Creamy Linguine, easy peasy and covered in cheesy :-D

As you know, my family just luuurve the sweet stuff, so in honour of hitting the sweet spots; I have a Home Made Condensed milk recipe just for you. (Although, once again, this baby takes a good few hours, so do it over a weekend when you have some free time.)

Home Made Condensed Milk
Ingredients
1 litre of full cream milk
1 cup (250g) of white sugar.
1tsp vanilla essence
A blob of butter

Method:
In a sturdy bottom pot, pour the litre of milk, add the sugar and vanilla essence and simmer on low heat. The milk should NEVAH bubble; this aint a Witch's Brew, peeps.  Keep stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn. Do this for the next 6 hours (I promise to do a quick dessert recipe tomorrow and redeem myself).
Once the milk has evapourated, you're basically left with one cup of condensed milk from an entire litre of milk, after the 6 hours and after the milk is now condensed, plop in your small blob of butter.
And there you have it! Your very own home made condensed milk.

And might I add, that home made tastes SOOOO much better than store bought, but, to its credit, store bought is quicker. Even I can deny that. At least now you know you can show off a bit and brag that you know how to make home made condensed milk, people will be in awe! LOL!

Keep it sweet, keep it creamy! Peace out peeps
Chef Shants xxxxxx

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Italian Risotto

Bonjourno, Come Stai miei amici?

So here we are, midweek again,  so just two more days to go then we have the weekend baby!! I was hoping to see that 3 day weekend petition up and running already hahahahaha, but alas, its not to be.
For today's Vegetarian dish I want to bring your attention  to Italian Risotto. Italian foods are famous in my house seeing as my Italian Stallion hubby is partially Italian <3 (I know hey, lucky me!). Risotto is awesomely tasty and is made using a fat and starchy rice. For example: Italian Arborio, Nano, Maratelli, Vialone or Roma rice. I like to switch using chicken broth to using veggie broth and  wine when I feel like a total veggie-tarian dish. So for my true vegetarians peeps, you don't need to use the chicken broth, you can use veggie broth instead.

Italian Risotto:
Ingredients
Olive oil (yes, the Italians use it too)
1 1/2 very finely chopped onion
1/2 cup per person of dry italian rice
4 cups of chicken broth (or veggie broth)
White wine
Parmesan cheese
Pinch of saffron
cup of chopped spinach
Cup of chopped asparagus
Cup of chopped Porcini Mushrooms
2tsp garlic (I add this coz Craig loves garlic)

Method:
In a heavy based frying pan heat your garlic and your onion, gently fry on medium till onions are cooked through. Add your rice and coat it thoroughly with the oil. Stir fry this gently for a few minutes. Slowly add your broth a cup at a time so that the rice stays wet but is never completely covered in liquid. Once that cup of liquid is absorbed by the rice, you can now add another. Remember to keep stirring! (Its good for your biceps anyway lol). Lower your plate temperature and let it simmer stirring all the time so your risotto doesn't stick. At this point you can swop some of the broth for some wine, you can follow the same method with the wine as with the broth. Now, once your rice is completely cooked, add your other ingredients. And give it a light toss through.

I like to add a bit more Parmesan cheese over the top with some raw garlic and chopped chillies on the side. Craig also tends to enjoy the rest of the wine with the Risotto too. We like to break the heaviness of the starch with a green, leafy salad made with olives, feta and cherry tomatoes.

This is one stunning dish and its such an easy recipe too. Now you can enjoy some good ole Italian food  in your very own kitchen as well :) We tend to normally have Italian Gelato for dessert just to round off the meal. I will share our Gelato recipe next week Wednesday.

Please feel free to email me with comments or suggestions at shantsjlucas@gmail.com, or just to say HI!
Don't forget to take a peek at Yolandie's blog today. http://thebloomincouch.blogspot.com

And remember my peeps.........healthy eating promotes healthy living!!

Ciao miei amici!
Chef Shants xxxxxx

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fusion Foods: Korma and Naan

Hi All!

First off I want to thank the following people personally for subscribing to the blog:

The stunning Yolandie Horak
The talented Liani Oosthuizen
The awesome Naomi Farrar
The amazing Don Munro
The long-lost sister Regina Rochelle
The loving Karin Wessels
The truly funny Anschke Wessels
The kindred spirit Amanda Smith and
The BEST mom and dad ever Jannie & Flora Bezuidenhout.
To each and every one of you FANTASTIC people, I have two words: "YOU ROCK!!" <3.
Thanks also to each of you who view the blog every day, your support is truly amazing. *hugs*
So yesterday was Monday, so naturally it follows that today is Tuesday, and for today I have one of our favourite weekend meals we love to make. I also recently found out that two very special people I know, Jan Horak and Don Munro,  also love the following dish, so boys, this ones for you!
Korma and Naan Bread Craig and Shants Style (not Gangnam Style hey!.......) :-D

Korma is absolutely divine! No jokes peeps, you GOTTA try this dish! Its a fusion of two cultures, both Indian and Turkish, and it'll leave you begging for more!  Ok, so I must confess to you, the reason this dish is so flippen awesome and the meat so tender it melts in your mouth like butter ..... and why we like to make it on a weekend, is coz it takes 6 to 7 hours to make. Aaaaandd......this is where I hear shouts of astonishment......I can literally hear you going "WHAT?" And probably with your one (or both) eyebrows  raised too. But hear me out. You will NOT be disappointed. So on to the recipe we go.....

Korma:
Ingredients:
1kg cubed, deboned meat of your choice. (Lamb/beef/chicken/pork)
1tsp wet masala
1tsp Garum masala
2tsp tumeric
2tsp steak and chops spice
1 tsp braising seeds
1tsp Cayenne pepper (for Don and Jan, up this to 3tsp or one big tablespoon)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh dhania (coriander/cilantro) finely chopped - keep some aside for naan
1 500ml plain Bulgarian yoghurt
1 250ml cup of sour cream
1 tin of tomato puree
1 tblsp crushed garlic
1tsp biriyani mix
100g finely grated ginger
Some oil
Salt to taste


Method 

In a thick bottomed pot heat oil, fry onions and garlic together. Add meat and fry on medium heat until meat is browned and cooked through. Add all spices and continue to stir and fry on medium heat until spices are cooked into meat. Add salt. Add the tin of tomato puree and use the same tin to add water. Add in the yoghurt and the sour cream, plus the ginger Pop in 3/4 of the fresh dhania. Keep stirring. Now pop on lid, turn temp right down on low and let it gently simmer for the next 6 hours,  while stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn at the bottom.
Do a salt test, add more to suit your palate, and for pete's sake, stop licking the spoon! keep some korma for the naan! LOL;  now while that does its thing on the stove, let's make some naan. (You can also have this with rice but to me its just not the same)
Naan bread
Ingredients:

1 egg
1 packet instant yeast
4 cups of flour
3 tblsp milk
1/4 cup of sugar
200g of crushed garlic
The rest of the chopped dhania
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
250ml luke warm water (not hot).

Method:

In a small cup dissolve the yeast in the 250ml luke warm water and set aside for ten minutes. In a bowl, break the egg, add the yeast, salt, sugar and milk and mix. Add your flour one cup at a time, mixing inbetween, till all the flour is used. It should resemble  a soft bread dough but it shouldn't be sticky at all. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingwrap and set aside for an hour. Next take it out and knead the dough together with the dhania and garlic. Set aside two chopping boards, lightly floured and break off golf ball sized balls, place on chopping boards and cover. About an hour before you are ready to eat, lightly flour your rolling pin and roll the balls into thin, flat circles. Fry each naan bread in some oil on medium heat until golden brown on both sides, it literally takes just a few minutes, so watch these babies, they burn quite easily.. Serve hot or cool with the korma.


Craig and I absolutely love making this dish together. Although its quite a feat in our "Lover's Kitchen"; coz our kitchen is so tiny you have to walk out of it to change your mind, hahahahaha. And there you have it! Craig and Shants's Awesome Korma and Naan. So Saturday you can bake cupcakes with your kids and Sunday you can make Korma with your loved one. (Korma is better than Sunday roast by far!!!)
And just before I say bye for today, I'd like to mention that Yolandie Horak's blog is very entertaining! Please go check it out, the link is on the right hand side, Liani's link is also there. Go take a peek peeps, I know you want to!

Have a Spicy Hot day peeps!
Chef Shants and her sexy hubby xxxxxxxxx

Monday, 18 February 2013

Fancy Cupcakes

Hi All!

HApPy MoNdAy!! Although for us normal people its usually considered "Moanday". I reckon we should start a petition for 3 day weekends, lol, bring on the dotted line peeps, my signature is first. Hahaha. :P So in honour of the upcoming weekend here's a cool idea for some quality time with your kids:

Although I'm a chef I tend to enjoy cooking and baking simpler dishes when I'm at home; after all I'm a busy mommy too but that's for during the week. Weekends is when the fun really starts because that's when my girls and I can  get some quality time in. Every child loves cupcakes and whipping up a batch with them on a Saturday morning can be an awesome treat. Especially once the cupcakes are cooled down and its time to decorate! We tend to try and keep Craig out of the kitchen during this specific part of baking otherwise we'd end up with no icing.........as it is the girls tend to "taste- test" quite a bit themselves. And being the clever mom that I am, I tend to take these said cupcakes as a picnic treat to the park, in this way the girls can run out their sugar rush to their hearts content and all my furniture and curtains survive to see another day.

Baking cupcakes not only is a great way to spend quality time with your kids but its also a great way to get them to learn about the kitchen too. Not to mention they'll be able to fly with their imaginations and get to eat their very own creations as well. Try making 3 different types of icing, buy candies and sprinkles, crushed nuts and fruits and let them go ape! There's nothing quite like seeing the joy on their faces as they say "Look what I made Mommy, its a fairy!" and you say "WOW my sweetie, that looks amazing!" ......when all you really see is a blob of pink icing and 3 smarties in a squiggle.
 
I found these  cool cupcake pics and thought I'd share them as ideas with you. Really, with cupcakes, the sky is the limit, so get your aprons on, your creativity revving and let your imagination soar!  And once all them lovely cupcakes are done, you can always get the kids to help with the dishes too! ........not that the dishes would be hard to wash 'coz by now they'd be pretty much licked clean.

Have a sweet week peeps!

Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 15 February 2013

My Mom is a Queen

Hi All

I want to say a HUGE HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Flora Bezuidenhout; I am proud to say that this very, very special lady is my gorgeous mom and for today I'd like to honour my mom on her birthday for I have so much to be grateful and thankful for because of this amazing lady. Mom, this blog is specially just for you.
I wish I could be with you today to give you a hug and a kiss and wake you up with breakfast in bed and spoil you throughout the day;

I want the whole world to know, Mom, how special you are and that I am deeply thankful for everything you have done and everything you continue to do for me.

Mom, thank you for teaching me life lessons even though I was sometimes too stubborn to listen, thank you for your wisdom, I'm sure most of your wisdom streaks are from me, haha. Thank you for drying my tears, fixing my broken heart, lifting me up when I've been down, saving me from my own stupidity and for bringing out the best in me that I can be. Thank you for your warm smile, your golden heart and your tender love.
Thank you for being with me when I gave birth to Nikke, I wouldn't want to have spent that moment with anybody else but you, Mom. that moment is forever engraved in my soul.

Thank you for your patience, your understanding and above all, your forgiveness. I am proud to be your daughter and I am proud to be the woman I am today because of your guidance and your love. Thank you for keeping me on the right track when my world was veering left and for always believing in me even when I didn't deserve it. Mom, you have brought love and laughter into my life and blessed me with your tight hugs and magic smiles. You are beautiful inside and outside too and thank you for being the BEST granny the girls could ever ask for and for being the best mom-in-law a son-in-law could ever ask for too. We are so lucky and blessed to have you in our lives; for our lives are so much richer for it.

Mom, I owe so much to you and I wish you the best birthday ever!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

We all love you very much and wish we could be there to celebrate it with you.

With buckets of love and baskets of kisses,
From all of us,
Especially me

I love you Mom, happy birthday.
Shants xxxxxx

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sexy Aphrodisiacs and Euphoria

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY PEEPS!!

I hope that naked little cherub has shot his heart-shaped arrow at you today and seeing as its the day of luuurve, I've decided to be a bit risqué and share some of my sexy food tips with you that induce euphoria, heat your blood and get your skin tingling. Yes, I'm talking aphrodisiacs baby! You might wanna grab a pen and paper and jot down these titillating little tidbits...

Last week I told you that I have a special play list with all my fav cooking songs. One such song is "I Like" sung by the very talented John Ireland in his extremely sexy voice (you might wanna add this kinky little gem to your romantic dinner play list, its sure to cause a rise while you wine and dine by candlelight :P). Not only can John sing but he also has his own delicious aphrodisiac ideas, how about:

Cold ice-cream taken with a sticky spoon. Syrup apricots with lots of cream to make it wilder. Tangerine Liqueurs supplement the body juices while Cognac Trifle gives the skin a taste of almonds.
Lemon cream
Forbidden fruits and
Kinky Capers.

Sounds delish right?! How about giving your loved one a Sushi Bouquet instead of a Flower Bouquet? 












Then serve a divine tray of nawty,  sexy foods that include avocado, nuts, dark chocolate, ruby grapes, figs, strawberries and oysters. Each of these foods contain high levels of zinc, seratonin, B6 and hormone-inducing amino acids, all of which enhance the libido considerably. By the by, did you know that oysters happened to be associated with Aphrodite and because they resemble the female genitalia, they are considered the Culinary Worlds no.1 aphrodisiac? Make sure you shake a bit of Tabasco sauce over these beauties for a lovely little kick.


Serve dark chocolate petit fours or chili-chocolate mousse for the  ultimate decadence and sip down that smooth treat with a bottle of bubbly that fizzes in your mouth and on your body too.  Melt some chocolate down to drizzle on your lovers *ahem* interesting places *wink wink, nudge nudge*  then feed each other  soft cheeses like Camembert and Brie on a salty biscuit or delicate bites of red velvet cake covered in sweet icing.



Nothing is more intimate than feeding each other in soft candlelight while wearing that lacy lengerie and those scandalous heels :-D.

So have you gotten  this all written down? Good! Now go forth and tantalize!!

Wishing ya'll a sexy culinary valentines peeps!

With love
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Vivacious Vegetarian Dishes

Hi All!

So my youngest daughter, Stormy, lost her first tooth this week. Needless to say she was very excited when bedtime came and together we rolled her tooth in tissue and placed it in her shoe next to her bed. In the morning, as predicted, Storm was jumping on myself and Craig to show us the money that she'd found in said shoe, during our exclamations of surprise and wonder her face suddenly turns serious and she says to me, "Mommy, I was so scared the tooth fairy would be scared of the dark and not know where my tooth is". I hugged her tight and replied "Of course the tooth fairy isn't scared of the dark and she always knows where to find her teeth"; and with a thoughtful expression on her adorable face,  I get the very witty reply " That's probably coz she uses a torch and GPS"
Well smack me with a wet tuna and call me bubbles.......I had no idea that even the tooth fairy uses GPS.......did you?

Aaah well, back to the subject at hand.

I want to talk Vegetarian today, now I can already see some of you pulling a face and mouthing the words "rabbit food" but I'm here to tell you that it ain't all that bad and vegetarian doesn't necessarily mean "boring" or "tasteless". I always have one or two nights of the week dedicated as "no meat meals", although this is where Craig tends to order himself a Something Meaty Pizza as his idea of a salad is a 500g Lazy-aged steak.


I absolutely adore Savoury waffles, especially vegetarian ones! For breakfast, brunch or lunch this waffle can really hit the spot! I like to use sundried tomatoes, cucumber slices, fried garlic mushrooms, olives and chunky cottage cheese on mine (and yes, the meat eaters can even add some fried bacon or slices of minute steak if they really can't go without).
Another one of my favourite Veggie-tarian dishes is Ratatouille *rat-a-too-ee*. This dish originated among the peasants in France, especially in Nice. The ingredients for this dish was literally planted alongside the roads and right in their own backyards. They'd take each veggie and cook it seperately and then combine them once they're cooked, this was done so that each veggie's natural shine remained. Here's my version of the famous French dish:

Ratatouille
Ingredients
Zuchini (baby marrows or corgettes), sliced
Bell peppers, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Onions, sliced in rings
Brinjal (egg plant), sliced
Garlic, whole
Basil leaves, about 4
Dried rosemary, pinch
Dried thyme, pinch
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil.

Method
Slice all your veggies into rings then put your oven onto 180C. Grease either a round, square or oval baking dish, layer these veggies in a circular pattern with each veggie standing at a 45 degree angle and leaning against the veggie behind it. You can also layer them in rows too if that's easier using the same 45 degree angle so that they resemble a flared pack of cards. Try use a sequence as you're layering, for example, use a slice of brinjal, then tomato then onion then zuchini etc...  Once your dish is full then slice the whole garlic thinly and randomly slide them between the veggie slices, slide the bay leaves randomly in aswell. Sprinkle over the rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper then slightly (I mean slightly) drizzle over some olive oil. Cut some baking paper to the size of your dish and place it on the top to cover the veggies like a lid. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, your veggies should be el dente, meaning:  cooked but not limp, they should still have a bit of a crunch to them.
You can serve the ratatouille with a tomato coulis or for a better twist, as the filling for an egg white omelette.

I am a tomato freak! Storm and I constantly fight over tomatoes as we eat them like apples, especially those gorgeous cherry tomatoes that burst in your mouth as you bite them! Delish! I happen to also have a great Stuffed Tomato recipe too:

Shants's Stuffed Green Tomatoes
Ingredients
4 huge tomatoes that are still a bit green and very firm, hollowed out.
Smooth Salmon flavoured cottage cheese
Small squares of garlic fried mushrooms
Some croutons
Dried sweet basil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Method
Turn your oven on to grill and line a flat baking tray. In a bowl mix the cottage cheese, mushrooms croutons, sweet basil and salt and pepper together. Scoop spoonfulls into the hollowed out tomato shells making sure you get at least 2 croutons in each shell. Sprinkle over the powdered parmesan cheese. Place on baking dish and grill till cheese is crackly and tomato heated through
You can serve this with chunks of garlic baguettes or as an accompaniment to hot buttered croissants.
I'm definately going to be doing some more vegetarian dishes again sometime but I hope these 3 ideas prove that vegetarian doesn't mean rabbit food, hahaha.* :P

Happy munching peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mini Fruity Pavlovas

Hi All

Last year November my brother was married to a beautiful woman by the name of Evette. Not only is she very pretty but she's a total riot too! (Its just egg on bread, Goosie, just egg on bread! :P).   I have really been blessed with my new sister and have even had the honour of making mini pavlovas with her. Nothing is more crazy fun than baking with your sister, especially if your sister is as special as mine :)

Just for some general knowledge (heaven knows we can never have enough of that), Pavlova is a meringue based dessert typically garnished with strawberries, passion fruit, kiwi fruit and cream. It originated in New Zealand and Australia and it was named after the famous russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, in honour of one of her tours to Aussie  and New Zealand in the 1920's. Guess she really must've made quite a sweet impression on the Head Chef!! :P

Evie and I skipped a few steps when we made our mini pavlovas in the sense that.......... we cheated somewhat............. and bought store meringue shells, but ssshhhhhhh!!! You didn't hear that from me.*
We also decided to fill these little meringues with our own fruit and cream fillings which consisted of sliced fresh strawberries, whole blueberries, vanilla custard and whipped cream.
Now just so that I redeem myself a bit in the eyes of my fabulous public, here is an easy meringue recipe (although I promise not to tell if you store-buy your meringue shells too *wink)

Meringue shells
Ingredients (be warned, this is a loooong list)
8 egg whites @ room temp please
Pinch of salt
440g of castor sugar
(Hahaahaha got you worried, lol).

Method:
For the love of heaven, please ensure all your utensils are oil, dust, and water free, you see, meringue mix is certainly very fussy when it comes to these three things; and if possible use a metal mixing bowl too. Oh and just a hint, you might want to use an electric beater for this one, otherwise your arms are either going to be jelly, dead  or you are going to develop some serious biceps. If a friend of yours owns a Hobart mixer, BORROW IT!

Heat your oven to 120C and line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. In your metal mixing bowl, pour the egg whites and the pinch of salt, begin mixing on high. Add the castor sugar spoon by spoon until all the sugar is used and the mixture is the consistency of glassy peaks; to test if the mixture is correct, rub some between your fingertips, if it still feels grainy you better restart your play list and shake your booty and mix some more. When you've hit the jackpot, plop some in a piping bag and swirl rings with a hollow centre (remember to do a base) and leave space between each meringue as these puppies expand! Once you've placed the meringues in the oven, turn the temp right down to 100C and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Baking time may vary from oven to oven and from size of your meringues so keep an eagle eye on them. You'll know they're ready when you gently tap them and the base sounds hollow. Then turn off your oven and allow the meringues to take five -in the oven- till its completely cooled down.
*cool tip: meringues can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 to 4 weeks, or so I've heard because there's never any left for me to test that theory*

Now you are ready to fill your meringues with the fruit of your choice; that's if you don't feel like going original and add custard or cream and chocolate flakes for a little twist of decadence. Be creative, be funky - these are your pavlovas peeps, so don't be shy and give your own ideas a try!.

Well I've never met Anna Pavlova but I thank her generously for impressing the Head Chef enough to fashion this dessert, I LOVE IT!!

Happy baking peeps!

Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 11 February 2013

Healthy Lunch box Ideas for your Kiddies

Hi All!

Hope you've enjoyed a fantastic weekend! I'm so blessed to live right next door to a park so the girls and I enjoyed a healthy picnic on Saturday and cooked a large roast together on Sunday, there's nothing like fresh air, good food and great company :)

Mother = Doctor, nurse, friend, psychologist, teacher, cook, cleaner, taxi-driver, list-maker  and super-hero. There is no doubt that moms are very busy people! Being a new mom can also be quite an interesting journey, this is the time when you learn which foods are good for your child and which aren't so good. I remember the first time I gave Akira coke and red viennas, the results were highly interesting and quite scary all at the same time, especially when she started climbing the walls and hanging from the curtain railings - all I remember saying to myself was "OH MY GIDDY AUNT!!"

Being a mom also means you want to help your children with their development and help them build healthy bodies and minds. All it takes is to start their day off with a GOOD breakfast, Mom.  I'm talking about something like weetbix with blueberries or jungle oats and apple slices, french toast made with low GI bread is great too and the choline in the egg will help with concentration and motor co-ordination development and the slowly digesting low GI bread will help balance out blood sugar levels so that they don't fall asleep during maths.



Next is packing them a really good lunch box for school. Red food colourants, artificial flavourants, preservatives and high sugar products are NOT what you want to give them, unless you'd like a letter from one very hysterical teacher.  Rather opt for healthier options like carrot and celery sticks, savoury or bran muffins (this helps with digestion too), slices of fruit and cheese, rice crackers with cottage cheese and chunks of pineapple, re-introduce the choline with deviled eggs and a handful of nuts, grapes and tuna sandwiches. Tuna is full of brain food :)
Add home-made muesli bars and yoghurt or provitas with marmite and cheese, mini sausage rolls and slices of cheese russians. Opt for bottled waters or fresh fruit juices which are high in natural sugars and nutrients instead of artificial squeeze juices or flavoured milkshakes. Gassy sodas aren't a very clever option moms and dads,  they rot the teeth and mind!

And I kid you not, getting your child involved in packing their own school lunches with you  not only ensures that they will eat everything you pack but also teaches them independence and good food choices from early on in life, besides, who says it isn't fun to prepare food with your kids?!

Healthy eating starts with YOU moms and dads so make sure your children get a balanced diet and you'll see how they flourish and grow.

Eat an apple today :)
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 8 February 2013

Creamy coconut chicken and minty melon balls

Hi all, hope you had a wonderful evening. Mine was awesome fun, girls and I were watching Lemmony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the movie they speak of pasta puttanesca and I thought YES! That'd be a lovely recipe to share, but not according to my chicks;  they reckon that any recipe with the word "poo" in it isn't worth trying. So that idea died before it even began. 1 point kids, 0 point mom.
I get a lot of people asking me, "Shants, what's your secret to good food?" And to tell the honest truth I only have two secrets to good food. (a) ALWAYS use fresh ingredients, your dish is only as good as the ingredients you put into it and (2) put your favourite music LOUD!!!
Yup, that's right!! MUSIC!! Seeing as food is food for your tummy and music is food for your soul, why not feed both at the same time?! I have my very own playlist which I turn on loud while I'm hitting the pots 'n pans and Chef's honour: no white sauce comes out quite as lump-free as when its being whisked by a whisk and your gyrating booty at the same time!!

Ok so no "poo-ta-nesca" today....Instead I have one of my favourite chicken breast recipes. And with kids, chicken is always a winner.

Creamy Coconut Chicken breasts

Ingredients:
3 cubed, fresh chicken breasts
1 large onion, diced
3tblsp brown sugar
4 chunky chopped tomatoes
Oil (prefferably olive- its healthier, tastes better and makes you live longer too, ask the Greeks!)
2tsp tumeric
1tblsp crushed garlic
2tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
2tsp mustard seeds (optional)
100mls milk
250ml fresh pouring cream
2cups mixed veggies
Some dessicated coconut
Fluffy white rice to serve it with.

 Method:
In a large pot bring to heat your oil, add your garlic and onions with the sugar and gently caramelize together, add the spices and fry till onions are glassy. Add the chicken and cook until chicken is soft and browned. Add veggies and tomato and half a cup of water, simmer with lid off until water is somewhat evapourated and veggies are soft. 10 minutes before its ready, add milk and then once its done, stir in the cream
Serve with fluffy white rice and dessicated coconut! Serves 4.

Cooking tip for today:
I totally hate it when I'm trying to cut something and my chopping board is pulling some serious  Michael Jackson moves under my knife;  so now I take a clean tea towel, wet it thoroughly, wring out the excess water and fold it in half, then I lay that down on the counter and pop my chopping board on top -  Et Voila! No more sliding chopping board! Sorry M.J.


And don't think I've forgotten about dessert! Gotta have the sweet stuff dudes!

Minty Melon Balls

Ingredients:
A whole bunch of fresh mint, chopped finely (on your board that's no longer sliding around like a wet fish)
watermelon balls
Honey dew melon balls
And Spanspek balls
Some fresh orange juice
Serves: oh, however many balls you're prepared to make.

To make the balls you need a butter baller, make sure your melons are very cold, straight from the fridge, using the butter baller, scoop ball shapes from your melons and plop them in a glass (it does take a bit of practice but I know you can do it!), add quite a bit of the finely chopped mint leaves on top and pop back in the fridge for about an hour. Pour over a weeny bit of orange juice before serving.  And Bob's your aunty!!! A fresh and minty summer dessert :) for those who like a bit of alcohol, you can drizzle some vodka over the balls before refridgerating but then I reckon they'd be drunken melon balls.....

Have an awesome weekend, stay safe and be good!
  
Chef Shants

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Yummy crumbed pork chops and cheesycake!

I'm very excited about this blog!

I'm hoping the recipes in it are enjoyed by loads of people because nothing brings people together quite as much as a good plate of food does.

I have two recipes today: Crumbed Pork Chops and Easy Peasy Cheesycake.

Crumbed Pork Chops:
Ingredients:
4 medium pork chops
Sprinkle of salt
1 packet of Knorr Mushroom Soup Mix
Half cup oil
Sprinkle of Steak and chops Spice

Method:
Set your oven to 150C, in an oven dish place your pork chops, sprinkle a weeny bit of salt and a generous amount of steak and chops spice, sprinkle the pork chops with the dry soup mix until they are covered. Drizzle oil over. Turn chops around and do the same on the reverse side. Bake in the pre-heated oven for an hour and a half, turning the chops at the 45 minute mark. Serve hot with jacket potatoes and sour cream and a fresh green salad.

And you can't have a great dinner without enjoying some delicious dessert!

Easy Peasy Cheesycake:
Ingredients:
1 tin of condensed milk
1kg tub of yoghurt of your choice (I really recommend double toffee or double caramel)
1packet of tennis biscuits, crushed
150g of butter

Method:
Melt the butter in a pot and add the biscuits, mix till biscuits are covered with the butter; pat the biscuits to form a base in a microwave dish. Pop it in the fridge.
In a different deep microwave bowl mix the condensedmilk and yoghurt, give it a stir. Place in microwave on high for 10 minutes. (Keep checking so it doesn't bubble over-hence the deep dish is needed).
Pour yoghurt mix into the pie shell and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.
I like to decorate mine with fresh cut strawberries, a crumbled Cadburys Flake and dollops of sweetened whipped cream.

Bon Appetite!

Chef Shants xxxx