Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Chocolatey Facts

Hi peeps!

Wasn't yesterday's chocolate recipes just amazing! Those truffles seriously made my mouth water! Got me thinking that there must be so much about chocolate that we don't know and that we should know! I went google surfing and found out these cool facts about the worlds favourite candy:

Chocolate. It's long been considered to be the "food of the gods." It's often given and received as a gift. A box of chocolates has been known to help cure a broken heart. Eating chocolate can also benefit your heart, lower your blood pressure and improve your memory. Here are 10 interesting facts about chocolate:

1. The Beginning of Chocolate

The "Theobroma cacao" is a tree that produces pods and beans that are turned into chocolate. It's believed to have been domesticated in South America where the Amazon Basin is located approximately 4000 years ago.

However, the earliest written account of using chocolate is attributed to the Olmecs tribes of Southern Mexico somewhere around 1000 B.C. At first, chocolate was made into a drink.

2. The First Chocolate Bars

The first time chocolate was made into a solid, edible food is believed to be in Mexico sometime in the 1700's. Later, two British companies, Cadbury, and Fry and Sons began to make edible chocolate in the 1840's.

3. Choose the Best-Tasting Chocolate Bar

The best-tasting chocolate bar looks shiny and even. It should only smell like chocolate too. Grab a corner of the bar and bend it. A piece should snap off cleanly with few crumbs. It should feel creamy and rich, and melt in your mouth too.

4. The Shelf Life of Chocolate

An interesting fact about chocolate is that the shelf life of a chocolate bar is approximately one year. You can place it in a freezer and keep it practically forever, but dark chocolate will turn whitish in color on the outside.

5. The First Box of Valentine's Day Chocolate

It's no surprise that Richard Cadbury came up with the idea for the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in the year 1861. Seven years later, John Cadbury began mass producing them, and, of course, several companies produce them today.

6. Chocolate Was Reported as Being "Healthy"

Henry Stubbe (1632-1676) was a physician who considered drinking chocolate once or twice a day an excellent cure for fatigue caused by hard work. He also believed that chocolate helped benefit the heart and that it helped increased breast milk production in women.

An interesting fact about chocolate is that, after much research, it's since been found to contain healthy antioxidants. These can help lower the incidence of getting cancer and heart disease. Eating chocolate can also lower your LDL cholesterol and add beneficial iron and magnesium to your body!

7. The Largest Chocolate Bar Ever Made

According to the Guiness World Book of Records, the largest chocolate bar ever made tipped the scales at 5,026 pounds. It was produced by Elah-Dufour United Food Companies at Turin, Italy, in March 2000.

8. Chocolate- The Food That Melts In Your Mouth

Have you ever wondered why chocolate, other than M&M® candies, that is, always melts in your mouth? It's because the lowest melting point of cocoa butter (according to Wikipedia.com) is 93 degrees Fahrenheit. That's why it melts in your mouth, which has a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. America's Favorite Flavor Is Chocolate

An interesting fact about chocolate is that Americans choose this flavor over vanilla. In fact, Americans are having a love affair with chocolate. And not just on Valentine's Day either. In the year 2000 alone, 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate were eaten in the U.S.!

10. Chocolate Can Make You Feel Good!

Chocolate contains a chemical known as phenylethylamine. The phenylethylamine, in addition to the sugar, fat and caffeine that's found in chocolate has been shown to release serotonin and endorphins- two known chemicals that make us feel happy!

My favourite type of chocolate is Bourneville 80% Dark chocolate; the more bitter it is, the more I love it. I don't particularly like alcohol- or orange flavoured chocolate. Got an interesting chocolate recipe to share? Send it to me onshantsjlucas@gmail.com! Go on...you know you want to!

Eat some choc today!

Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 29 April 2013

Sweet Like Chocolate

Hi all!

And with Sunday now a distant memory, let's sweeten this week up with some amazing sweet recipes. Check this out:

Glissade Chocolate Pudding by 101 Cookbooks:
Ingredients:
2 eggs, brought to room temperature shortly before using*
6 ounces / 170 g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons fine grain sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt
to top: heavy cream, loosely whipped, slightly sweetened (optional)

Method:
Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold very stiff peaks.

Combine the chocolate, water, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a double boiler. If you don't have a double-boiler, you can fashion one by combining the ingredients in a medium stainless steel bowl, and then placing this bowl atop a small simmering saucepan of water. The idea is to apply just enough gentle heat to melt the chocolate. Stir until the ingredients come together smoothly. Remove from heat, and beat in the egg yolks. Add the egg whites, and fold gently until the pudding is uniform in texture. Pour the pudding into serving cups or glasses, and chill well - preferably for a few hours. Serve topped with a bit of whipped cream.
Serves 2-4.

Chocolate Truffles
Ingredients:

Basic truffle ingredients
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Optional base flavorings:
Mint leaves (1 bunch, stems removed, chopped, about 1 cup)
Cinnamon and cardamon (1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods)
Amaretto (1-2 tablespoons)
Almond extract (1 teaspoon)
Truffle coatings
Cocoa powder
Finely chopped walnuts
Finely chopped almonds

Method:

1 In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).

If you are using one of the other recommended flavorings, stir it in with the cream (and ignore vanilla in the next step). If adding mint or other solids, after the cream simmers, remove from heat and let seep for an hour. Then strain away solids, and return the cream to a simmer and proceed with recipe.

2 Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)

3 Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

4 Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.

Rich Chocolate Cheesecake:
Ingredients:

Chocolate Cheesecake Crust:
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) chocolate wafer crumbs
1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
12 ounces (340 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
24 ounces (680 grams) (3 - 8 ounces packages) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) full fat or light sour cream, room temperature

Ganache:
4 ounces (115 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions:

Chocolate Cheesecake: Butter or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 10 inch (25 cm) spring form pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with rack in center of oven.

Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

For Filling: Melt the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the cream cheese, on medium low speed, until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the melted chocolate and beat until fully incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.

Bake for about 50 - 55 minutes or until firm yet the center of the cheesecake will still look a little wet and wobbly. Remove from oven and carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edge of pan to loosen the cheesecake (helps prevent the surface from cracking as it cools). Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours before covering with the ganache.

Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly and then pour over cheesecake. With an offset spatula or back of a spoon, evenly spread the ganache over the top of the cheesecake. Cover and return to the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This cheesecake tastes best after being refrigerated for at least a day. Serve in small slices.
Serves at 12 - 16 people.

Aaah man! Chocolate makes everything better! Join me for some awesome facts about chocolate tomorrow!

Stay sweet!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 26 April 2013

Eat Like...A Baby!

Hi peeps!

Welcome to Friday, its one amazing day isn't it?! I want to say a HUGE congrats to Liani Visser Oosthuizen and her hubby, Franco on the wonderful news that they're becoming parents too! Yolandie and Liani, I wish you and your husbands an amazing journey together through this miraculous time and God Bless you all! For today I want to discuss breast milk vs formula so let's take a look-see:

Breast or Bottle?

Choosing whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is one of the first decisions expectant parents will make. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joins other organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) in recommending breastfeeding as the best for babies. Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.

The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Beyond that, the AAP encourages breastfeeding until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing.

Although experts believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants, breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. For many women, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical considerations that they might have.

For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is the alternative. Some women feel guilty if they don't breastfeed. You'll still bond with your baby just fine. After all, whether with breast milk or formula, feeding is an important time of connection between mother and baby.

The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a very personal one. But here are some points you may want to consider as you decide which is best for you and your new addition.

About Breastfeeding

Nursing is a wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nourishment and a special bonding experience that many nursing mothers cherish.

Infection-fighting. Antibodies passed from a nursing mother to her baby can help lower the occurrence of many conditions, including:

ear infections

diarrhea

respiratory infections

meningitis

Other factors help to protect a breastfed baby from infection by contributing to the infant's immune system by increasing the barriers to infection and decreasing the growth of organisms like bacteria and viruses.

Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature babies and also may protect children against:

allergies

asthma

diabetes

obesity

sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

As a group, breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants.

Nutrition and ease of digestion. Often called the "perfect food" for a human baby's digestive system, breast milk's components — lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat — are easily digested by a newborn's immature system.

As a group, breastfed infants have less difficulty with digestion than do formula-fed infants. Breast milk tends to be more easily digested so that breastfed babies have fewer incidences of diarrhea or constipation.

Breast milk also naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires. A healthy mother does not need any additional vitamins or nutritional supplements, with the exception of vitamin D. Breast milk does contain some vitamin D, and vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, sun exposure increases the risk of skin damage, so parents are advised to minimize exposure. As a result, the AAP recommends that all breastfed babies begin receiving vitamin D supplements during the first 2 months and continuing until the infant consumes enough vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (after 1 year of age).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates formula companies to try to ensure they provide all the known necessary nutrients (including vitamin D) in their formulas. Commercial formulas try to duplicate the ingredients in breast milk, but haven't matched their exact combination and composition. Why? Because milk is a living substance made by each mother for her individual infant, a process that cannot be duplicated in a factory.

Free. Breast milk doesn't cost a cent, while the cost of formula quickly adds up. And because of the immunities and antibodies passed onto them through their mothers' breast milk, breastfed infants are sick less often than infants who receive formula. For example, researchers have determined that infants who are breastfed exclusively have fewer episodes of ear infections. That may mean they make fewer trips to the doctor's office, which equates to fewer co-pays and less money doled out for prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

Likewise, women who breastfeed are less likely to have to take time off from work to care for their sick babies.

Different tastes. A nursing mother will usually need 500 extra calories per day, which means that she should eat a wide variety of well-balanced foods. This introduces breastfed babies to different tastes through their mothers' breast milk, which has different flavors depending on what their mothers have eaten. By tasting the foods of their "culture," breastfed infants more easily accept solid foods.

Convenience. With no last-minute runs to the store for more formula, breast milk is always fresh and available. And when women breastfeed, there's no need to warm up bottles in the middle of the night. It's also easy for breastfeeding mothers to be active — and go out and about — with their babies and know that they'll have food available for whenever their little one is hungry.

Obesity prevention. Some studies have found that breastfeeding may help protect a child from obesity.

Smarter babies. Some studies suggest that children who were exclusively breastfed have slightly higher IQs than children who were formula fed.

"Skin-to-skin" contact. Many nursing mothers really enjoy the experience of bonding so closely with their babies. And the skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection between mother and infant.

Beneficial for mom, too. The ability to nourish a baby totally can also help a new mother feel confident in her ability to care for her baby. Breastfeeding also burns calories and helps shrink the uterus, so nursing moms may be able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and also may help decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. In one long-term study of the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative, women who breastfed for at least 7 to 12 months after giving birth had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Breastfeeding Challenges

Although it is the best feeding choice for babies and mothers, breastfeeding does come with some concerns that new mothers may share. Whereas it's easy from the get-go for some, it can be challenging. Sometimes, both mother and baby need plenty of patience and persistence to get used to the routine of breastfeeding. But all the effort is worth it in the long run — for both the mother and her baby.

Common concerns of new moms, especially during the first few weeks and months, may include:

Personal comfort. Initially, as with any new skill, many moms feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding. But with adequate education, support, and practice, most moms overcome this. The bottom line is that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt if the mother receives help and guidance.

Latch-on pain is normal for the first week to 10 days, and should last less than a minute with each feeding. But if breastfeeding hurts throughout feedings, or if the nipples and/or breasts are sore, it's a good idea for breastfeeding mothers to seek the help of a lactation consultant or their doctor. Many times, it's just a matter of using the proper technique, but sometimes pain can mean that something else is going on, like an infection.

Time and frequency of feedings. There's no question that breastfeeding does require a substantial time commitment from mothers. Then again, many worthwhile things in parenting do. Some women may be concerned that nursing will make it hard for them to work, run errands, or travel because of a breastfeeding schedule or a need to pump breast milk during the day. Many of these concerns can be addressed at a prenatal lactation consultant visit.

And breastfed babies do need to eat more often than babies who are fed formula, because breast milk digests faster than formula. This means mom may find herself in demand every 2 or 3 hours (maybe more, maybe less) in the first few weeks.

This can be tiring, but once breastfeeding has been established (usually in about a month), other family members may be able to help out by giving the baby pumped breast milk if mom needs a break or is going back to work outside the home. And it's not long before babies feed less frequently and sleep through the night (usually around 3 months). Also, with a little organization and time management, it becomes easier to work out a schedule to breastfeed and/or pump.

Diet. Women who are breastfeeding need to be aware of what they eat and drink, since things can be passed to the baby through the breast milk. Just like during pregnancy, breastfeeding women should avoid fish that are high in mercury, and limit lower mercury fish intake. If a woman has alcohol, a small amount can be passed to the baby through breast milk. She should wait to breastfeed at least 2 hours after a single alcoholic drink in order to avoid passing any alcohol to the baby. Caffeine intake should be kept to no more than 300 milligrams (about one to three cups of regular coffee) per day for breastfeeding women because it may cause problems such as restlessness and irritability in some babies. Some infants are sensitive enough to caffeine to have problems even with smaller amounts of caffeine. Discuss these situations with your health care provider or lactation consultant.

Maternal medical conditions, medicines, and breast surgery. Medical conditions such as HIV or AIDS or those that involve chemotherapy or treatment with certain medications may make breastfeeding unsafe. A woman should check with her doctor or a lactation consultant if she's unsure if she should breastfeed with a specific condition. Women should always check with the doctor about the safety of taking medications while breastfeeding, including over-the-counter and herbal medicines.

Mothers who've had breast surgery, such as a reduction, may have difficulty with supply if their milk ducts have been severed. In this situation, a woman should to talk to her doctor about her concerns and work with a lactation specialist.

About Formula Feeding

Breastfeeding is considered the best nutritional option for babies by the major medical organizations, but it's not right for every mother. Commercially prepared infant formulas are a nutritious alternative to breast milk, and even contain some vitamins and nutrients that breastfed babies need to get from supplements.

Manufactured under sterile conditions, commercial formulas attempt to duplicate mother's milk using a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins that would be virtually impossible to create at home. So, if you don't breastfeed your baby, it's important that you use only a commercially prepared formula and that you do not try to create your own.

In addition to medical concerns that may prevent breastfeeding, for some women, breastfeeding may be too difficult or stressful.

Here are a few other reasons women may choose to formula feed:

Convenience. Either parent (or another caregiver) can feed the baby a bottle at any time (although this is also true for women who pump their breast milk). This allows the mother to share the feeding duties and helps her partner to feel more involved in the crucial feeding process and the bonding that often comes with it.

Flexibility. Once the bottles are made, a formula-feeding mother can leave her baby with a partner or caregiver and know that her little one's feedings are taken care of. There's no need to pump or to schedule work or other obligations and activities around the baby's feeding schedule. And formula-feeding moms don't need to find a private place to nurse in public. However, if mom is out and about with baby, she will need to bring supplies for making bottles.

Time and frequency of feedings. Because formula is less digestible than breast milk, formula-fed babies usually need to eat less often than do breastfed babies.

Diet. Women who opt to formula feed don't have to worry about the things they eat or drink that could affect their babies.

Formula Feeding Challenges

As with breastfeeding, there are some challenges to consider when deciding whether to formula feed.

Organization and preparation. Prepare your baby's formula by mixing water and the appropriate amount of powdered infant formula. The packaging on the side of the formula container will tell you how much to use. Carefully follow the directions. You can use tepid (room temperature) tap water, as long as your local or state health departments have labeled it as safe to drink.

If you're concerned about your water, you may sterilize it to kill germs. Here's how:

pour cold tap water into a teapot or sauce pan

place pot on the stove over medium heat

bring water to a rolling boil and let boil for about a minute

let the water cool until it's at room temperature

Test to see if the water is cool enough for your baby to drink by shaking a few drops of water on the inside of your wrist. If it stings, it's still too hot. Once water has cooled, don't let it sit longer than 30 minutes before adding it to the formula.

Once prepared, the formula is ready to feed to your baby immediately without additional refrigeration or warming. Formula that's been prepared should be consumed or stored in the refrigerator within 1 hour. If it has been at room temperature for more than 1 hour, throw it away. And if your baby doesn't drink all the formula in the bottle, throw away the unused portion — never save it for later.

Formula may be prepared ahead of time (for up to 24 hours) if you store it in the refrigerator to prevent the formation of bacteria. Open containers of ready-made formula, concentrated formula, and formula prepared from concentrate also can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

Lack of antibodies. None of the antibodies found in breast milk are found in manufactured formula, which means that formula doesn't provide the baby with the added protection against infection and illness that breast milk does.

Expense. Formula can be costly. Powdered formula is the least expensive, followed by concentrated, with ready-to-feed being the most expensive. And specialty formulas (i.e., soy and hypoallergenic) cost more — sometimes far more — than the basic formulas. During the first year of life, the cost of basic formula can run about $1,500.

Possibility of producing gas and constipation. Formula-fed babies may have more gas and firmer bowel movements than breastfed babies.

Can't match the complexity of breast milk. Manufactured formulas have yet to duplicate the complexity of breast milk, which changes as the baby's needs change.

Whatever nutritional option you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor about the choices available to help you make the decision that's best for both you and your baby.

I was grateful enough to find this awesome review on google and it was reviewed by: Joseph DiSanto, MD, and Karin Y. DiSanto, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2012. I collected this information from an american site and thought it was an excellent one to share with other pergnant mommies and mommies that have already got little ones and needed some advice between the two. I sincerely hope this helps!

See ya'll on Monday, have a sweet weekend peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Let's See Some Sea Food!

Hi peeps!

Happy, happy Thursday all. One more day till the weekend and that's awesome. I want to send a huge THANK YOU to my mom and dad -in- law once again.

Today I thought I'd share some great seafood recipes. We don't eat a lot of seafood in our house, basically because Craig is allergic to shellfish, but we do adore sushi and hake, calamari is a treat too. For those of you that do LOVE shellfish and seafood in general, here are two amazing recipes for seafood from The Hairy Bikers and BBC Good Food...

PAELLA
Ingredients:
500g/1lb 2oz squid, cleaned, beaks and outer membrane removed
- 8 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, peeled, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
- 150g/5oz chorizo, sliced
- 400g/14oz pearl barley (soaked in a bowl of cold water for six hours, or overnight)
- large pinch saffron strands, soaked in 50ml/2fl oz boiling water
- 130g/4½oz padrón peppers (available from Spanish delicatessens, optional)
- 1 red pepper, stalk and seeds removed, thinly sliced
- 200g/7oz cherry tomatoes, left whole
- 290g/10oz chargrilled artichokes (from a jar), preserved in oil
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 650ml/1 pint 3fl oz warm chicken or vegetable stock
- 1.8kg/4lb grey mullet fillets, skin removed, cut into pieces
- 12 large prawns, peeled, heads removed, tails intact
- 750g/1lb 10oz fresh mussels, rinsed, scrubbed, beards removed
- lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Before you start cooking, cut each squid down the length of its body and open it out to reveal the inside of the squid body. Score the inside of the squid all over using a sharp knife and cut the squid into pieces. Set aside or chill until needed.
3. Heat the oil in a paella pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry gently until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the chorizo and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until it starts to brown.
4. Push the onions, garlic and chorizo to the outside of the paella pan, then drain the soaked pearl barley well and add it to the pan, stirring well to coat it in the oil. Fry the pearl barley for 3-4 minutes, stirring well.
5. Add the saffron and its soaking water and stir well.
6. Add the padrón peppers (if using), red pepper, cherry tomatoes, artichokes (in their oil) and paprika. Stir until well combined.
7. Add the warm stock and bring the mixture to the boil.
8. Arrange the grey mullet pieces, squid, prawns and mussels on top of the paella. Cover the pan tightly with a double thickness of aluminium foil so that no moisture can escape from the pan.
9. Bake the paella in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pearl barley is tender and the seafood is cooked through.
10. To serve, bring the paella pan to the table and allow guests to help themselves. Garnish each plate with a wedge of lemon.

Smoked Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa
Ingredients:

Salsa:
1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped peeled yellow peaches (about 1 pound)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh arugula
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced

Fish:
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Method:
1. To prepare salsa, combine first 9 ingredients; toss gently. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.
2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
3. To prepare fish, combine 4 teaspoons juice, oil, paprika, and 1 garlic clove in a large, shallow glass baking dish, stirring with a whisk. Add fish to juice mixture; turn to coat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
4. Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle fish evenly with 3/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place fish on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve fish with salsa.

Man these recipes made my mouth water and my taste buds tingle! Also makes me miss my girls while they visit by granny. Can't wait to get cooking in the kitchen with them this weekend!

Eat some feeeeeesh peeps! Its good for you! See ya'll tomorrow!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Restaurant Review: Craft Trattoria

Hi all!
Thanks to my mom Eve and dad Brian, Craig's parents for watching the kids so Craig and I could enjoy some time together. I thought I would review Craft while we enjoyed our dinner.
Location:
Craft Trattoria is an Italian restaurant situated on the corner of Adelaide Drive and 35 Newport Avenue in Glen Ashley; Durban; KZN. This restaurant caters for walk-ins as well as private party functions. To make a booking call 031 562 1926.


Decor; Style and Ambiance:
The view of the Indian Ocean from outside the restaurant is stunning. It was lovely to sit and sip my Santa Vittoria while ship-watching! Sitting at tables made of old Singer Sewing machine stands; the rustic red; white; charcoal and beige decor- coupled with wood finishes- lends a clean and relaxing finish and creates a comfortable and homey ambiance. Adding to the ambiance is soft lighting and traditional, Italian music; noise levels in the restaurant are maintained at an acceptable and easy level; making a wonderful dinner possible. A giant pair of red lips serves as a hatch to serve drinks to customers outside, welcome to Craft's Lip Service! Although; the bar has been strategically placed to accommodate both the non-smokers seated inside and the smokers seated outside. A gigantic white fork wraps itself around a lamp pole at the entrance, which I found to be a funky and quirky touch. A mish-mash of odd chairs, wooden stools, couches and perspex seating; blended with these amazing tables; not only somehow just work but add to the homey feel of the restaurant. This is a restaurant that makes you feel comfortable and at peace and is wonderful for the kids too. The wood pizza oven also adds that personal touch and gives the restaurant a truly warm glow (excuse the pun!).

 
Waiters and Service:
The waiters uniforms are trendy, yet casual and their friendly personalities make you feel immediately like you're at a home away from home. Our waiter's name was Tod; the service we received from him was astounding! His chatty and witty conversation made our evening that much more comfortable and welcoming and his fast and efficient service was nothing short of impressive to say the least.
The GM:
General Manager, Guy Wood, has a magnetic smile and knows how to run a tight ship. His attention to small details really sets Craft at a high standard and one can see that his staff strives to maintain that high standard as well. I was delighted to be offered a blanket while sitting at an outside table and the wind picked up unexpectedly. Its this attention to guests needs that really make a restaurant stand out from the rest.
Bar:
A fully stocked bar is offered; traditional Italian drinks to the best wines; cocktails; beers and shooters are available. The variety of beverages offered should cover most palates. The barmen even go out of their way to mix drinks on your request, even if they are off-menu, this adds a delightful personal touch.
Parking and Outside:
There is parking around the restaurant but its best to come early for a prime spot. Trees and shrubberies line the stairway and the outside of the restaurant; in my opinion; I feel it could do with a bit more attention and sprucing up to compliment the amazing restaurant itself. I must add though; I loved the herbs that were planted in pot plants around the outside seating area.
The Restroom:
This was my first experience with a unisex restroom and the humour depicted on the door signs as well as the busy array of books and busts on the shelf above the loo; made my restroom break one very interesting experience!
Our Food:
For starters we had Saldanha Bay mussels in a wine, parsley; garlic and farm cream sauce. Aranchini della Etna volcanoes and a spinach, ricotta and chorizo rotolo. The ritolo was suggested by our waiter and he was spot on! My taste buds still tingle at the memory of those divine blends of flavour! For mains we had a chicken caesar salad and a 300g lazy aged rump steak. Dessert was Tiramisu and Espresso Panacotta. Our food came in record time; the presentation was five star and the flavours were amazing. I was blown away by the Rotolo and the panacotta. Excellence reigns on the gorgeous plates of Craft Trattoria! The relaxing atmosphere of Craft belies the immaculate culinary explosion of
a truly impeccable, masterfully prepared plate of food at a truly amazing price! *Sigh*..... I was in my Utopia.... :-D
Our beverages were Earl Grey tea and Columbian Aggressive Chocolate coffee.

  

Overall, this restaurant is a splendid notch in Glen Ashley's belt and the people and tourists of Durban are richer for having this delightful restaurant in the neighbourhood and I rate it a succulent 8 /10. To all the staff and management at Craft: Guy, Sam, Riki and especially Tod; who were on duty this evening; and thanks to Brendon and his kitchen brigade for one truly memorable night! I would definately recommend a dinner at this jewel of a restaurant and can guarantee that Craft has made it to number 2 on my list of all-time favourite places to eat. Watch this space for this restaurant is going places!!
Do yourself a favour and make your booking today!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Yolandie Horak's Family Recipe's

Hi all!

And here we meet on another marvellous Tuesday! The weather here is really cooling down nicely and stews and curries are simmering on most stoves around South Africa. I was privileged to have Yolandie Horak, my cuzzie and the stunning owner of http://thebloomincouch.blogspot.com share two of her family recipes with me. Man, my mouth waters just reading the ingredients! Check this out:

Tomato Chutney
Ingredients:
1 kg tomatoes,
sliced2-3 Onions, finely chopped
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt

Method:

Cook all of the ingredients together in a pot for about 40 mins, or until thick. Transfer to bottles and allow to cool before refrigerating.


Carrot Chutney
Ingredients:
1 bag of carrots, grated.
2-3 Onions, chopped
1 Green / yellow pepper, chopped
1 Tablespoon curry powder (of choice)
1 Cup vinegar
1 Cup brown sugar

Method:

Add all of the ingredients to a pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat. Allow to simmer for about 45 mins. Stir lightly from time to time. When the consistency is thicker, turn down the heat. Place in the bottles while still hot and turn on the lids immediately (this will help them seal airtight). Allow the chutney to cool completely before refrigerating. Can last up to six months if not refrigerated. Can add apples to stretch the ingredients and more sugar to taste.

Yolandie, thanks for these hun! They're great stuff and I'm so gonna be making me some home made chutney soon! Much love my cuzzie!!!
Join me tomorrow for an awesome restaurant review; this is gonna be a hottie!!!

Keep it real peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 22 April 2013

Friend's Recipes

Hi peeps!
Welcome back to a new week, hope everybody's weekend was great! I had a bit of drama here at home with Storm spilling her piping hot pie filling all the way down Akira's leg, she sustained second degree burns on her left leg....aaah, the joys of being a mother. Akira is gonna be just fine though.
Today I want to share two recipes from friends. The first is a Cream Puff recipe by Belinda Koumaras, a truly wonderful and amazing lady whom I worked with and an Irish Potato Pancake recipe shared with me by the awesome Jon Dalton (I have featured some of his other ideas on the blog in the past). Both these recipes are cool and I want to share them with you:

Cream puffs
Ingredients:
For cream filling:
I use
cream cheese (softened),
instant vanilla pudding (large box)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk.

Method:
Mix cream cheese in bowl with electric mixer until smooth, light and creamy. Add pudding mix and milk and mix on low until incorporated and then mix on med until thickened. Enjoy ladies. These are actually my cream puffs shown.

Donut:
1 cup water
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
5 eggs

Over medium heat melt butter in water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Immediately add flour and whip in with a wooden spoon. Add one egg at a time to incorporate well into dough. Drop by cookie scoop onto parchment paper on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. Cool on wire rack then fill with the custard mixture I posted earlier and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!!

Irish potato Pancakes ...
Ingredients:

2 lbs (3-4 large) potatoes peeled
3/4 c whole milk
1 1/4 t salt and little more for seasoning before cooking
1 large egg
1/3 c all purpose flour
1/4 t black pepper
1-2 T unsalted butter cup into small pieces

Method:
Heat the oven to 200°F.
Chop half of the potatoes into large dice, place in a medium saucepan, salt generously, and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the potatoes uncovered until fork tender, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, grate the remaining potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and place in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl; set aside.
When the boiled potatoes are ready, drain them, return them to the pot, add 1/4 cup of the milk, and mash until the potatoes are smooth.
With a plastic spatula, press the grated potatoes against the sides and bottom of the strainer to remove any liquid. Add the grated potatoes to the mashed potatoes (no need to stir though).
Place the egg, remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the potatoes and stir until evenly incorporated.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Test to see if the pan is hot enough by sprinkling a couple of drops of cold water in it: If the water bounces and sputters, the pan is ready to use; if it evaporates instantly, the pan is too hot.
Once the pan is ready, add enough butter to lightly coat the bottom when melted. Drop 3 dollops (about 1/4 cup each) of the batter into the pan and spread each to about 1/4 inch thick. Cook until the pancake bottoms are golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Place on a baking sheet and set in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Serve warm.

Aren't these great?! Thanks to both Belin and Jon for sharing these, they look so delish and worth a try! Send me some of your recipes on shantsjlucas@gmail.com and I will feature them for you.

Have a pie-filling free Monday, peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 19 April 2013

Eat Like Milla Jovovich

Hi peeps!

So you can see by todays blog title who we are going to be eating like today. This beautiful lady is one of my favourite actresses and I adored her in Joan Of Ark and the Resident Evils (which I watched from behind Craig's back and through my fingers covering my eyes - I'm terrified of wompies). Here are some facts I found on this talented actress:

Milla Jovovich is an Ukrainian-born actress, supermodel, fashion designer, singer and public figure, who was on the cover of more than a hundred magazines, and starred in such films as "The Fifth Element", "Ultraviolet", and the "Resident Evil" franchise. She was born Milica Natasha Jovovich on December 17, 1975, in Kiev, Ukraine, Soviet Union (now Kiev, Ukraine). Her Serbian father, Bogdan Jovovich, was a medical doctor in Kiev. There he met her mother Galina Jovovich, a Russian actress. At the age of 5, in 1981, Milla with her parents emigrated from the Soviet Union, moving first to London, UK, then to Sacramento, California, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. There her parents worked as housecleaners for the household of director Brian De Palma. Her parents separated, and eventually divorced, because her father was arrested and spent several years in prison.

Young Milla Jovovich was brought up by her single mother in Los Angeles. In addition to her native Russian, she also speaks Serbian and English. However, in spite of her cosmopolitan background, Milla was ostracized by some of her classmates, as a kid who emigrated from the Soviet Union amidst the paranoia of the Cold War. Many emotional scars had affected her behavior, but she eventually emerged as a resilient, multi-talented, albeit rebellious and risk-taking girl.

It was quite difficult to find out what her favourite foods are; some sites said she eats no junk food and cooks for herself, others say she enjoys Kale Salad, peanutbutter and jelly, cakes and bagels with butter. One even said she loves crab meat. Its really difficult to make a menu not based on facts but at least we got to know her a little better. Well, this weeks blogs have all been mainly about facts, I think next week we go back to doing some awesome recipes! Thanks to all who view my blog each day, you are all awesome and I'm sending you each a massive hug. Thanks for the amazing support!

See ya'll soon! Have a wompie-free weekend!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Oooo! Really?

Hi All!

I've been loving the facts in this weeks blogs and thought I'd do todays blog also about more food facts, but this time I want to share facts about one of my favourite foods EVAH.... CHEESE! And here they are...

* It takes 10 gallons of milk to make one pound of cheese.
* Cheese and milk account for more than 51 percent of the calcium in adult diets.
* Cheese and milk are top sources of zinc, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium and magnesium.
* Only 2 to 3 percent of the population is truly allergic to milk. On the other hand, a lactose-intolerance individual has difficulty digesting lactose. These individuals can generally consume hard cheese and yogurt without any adverse effects.
* Americans eat 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches per year, about 8.4 per person. That makes it the fourth most popular American sandwich, after ham, turkey, and peanut butter and jelly.

Components of cheese

The major constituents of milk are 87.4 percent water, 12.6 percent milk solids (3.7 percent fat and 8.9 percent milk solids).
The fat in milk helps to produce flavor, aroma and body in mature cheese. Even 1 percent of fat can produce a background flavor.
Two forms of protein exist in milk -- casein and whey proteins. Rennet is purposely added to milk to change casein into a curd that can be cut and saved for cheese processing.
The second type of protein is called albumen. The 'skin' that forms when hot milk is allowed to stand still is made of whey proteins.
Enzymes in milk have a big effect in the ripening of cheese to produce delicate flavors and aromas.
Milk fat holds the vitamins A,D,E and K, and the whey holds B complex and C. These play an important part in encouraging bacteria to grow when cheese forms.
Lactose, the main sugar in milk, provides energy for the bacteria, which modify the milk in cheesemaking.
Minerals present in cheese include potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, manganese, iron, copper, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.

Serving, storage tips

* Keep cheese in conditions in which it matures. Hard, semi-hard, and semi-soft cheeses are stored in the refrigerator.
* Wrap cheese loosely. Use waxed or greaseproof paper to maintain humidity and circulation of air.
* Wrap blue cheeses well as mold spores spread quickly to everything nearby.
* Let cold cheese warm up for 20 minutes before serving to allow the flavor to develop.
* Cheeses contain living organisms and should not be cut off from air, yet it is important not to let a cheese dry out.
* Do not store cheese with strong-smelling foods, as it absorbs aromas and may spoil.
* Discard 1 inch of cheese on all sides where mold is visible. Recover it with clean wrap. Molded soft cheeses such as cream cheese, brie and cottage cheese should be discarded. The exceptions are mold-ripened cheeses such as blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. Check the color and pattern of mold. If it's different from the usual blue or green veins and you see furry spots or white, pink, blue, green, gray or black flecks, discard the cheese. Mold spores may have spread throughout the cheese.

Grilled Sandwiches

Prepare sandwiches as directed, butter the bread generously on top and bottom and grill on hot pancake griddle.
* Toasty swiss -- Place sliced swiss cheese between slices of buttered white bread and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Add instant minced onion to butter for outside the butter spread before grilling.
* Ham and cheese -- Spread deviled ham on one slice of buttered rye bread. Top with pasteurized process American cheese and buttered bread slice. Butter outside of sandwich. Grill.
* Italiano cheese -- Place a slice of salami and mozzarella cheese between buttered slices of Italian bread. Butter outside of sandwich. Grill.

Thanks to google for this awesome info! I'm loving the cheese recipe and love me a grilled cheese sarmie.

Stay cheesy peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Let's Dance!

Hi peeps!

Wednesday dawns beautiful!
In many of my past blogs I've mentioned cooking while listening to music and today I thought I would share some of my favourite songs with you; the ones that have made it, without a doubt, onto my kitchen play list! Share some of your favourite songs with me at shantsjlucas@gmail.com or email me any recipes you'd like to share. Having said that, without further ado and with a huge drumroll, here are the songs that make the best meals for me...


(Ps, this is the order they're in on my playlist)
So Far Away - Staind
Time To Say Goodbye - Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli
Why - Annie Lennox
Oh So Quiet - Bjork
Easy Like Sunday Morning - Lionel Ritchie
Life Is A Highway - Rascall Flatts
I Like - John Ireland
I Won't Dance - Frank Sinatra remix
In For The Kill - Dubstep Skream remix
Closer To The Edge - 30 Seconds To Mars
Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
Californication - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
November Rain - Guns 'n Roses
Ironman - Black Sabbath
Imagine - John Lennon
American Honey - Lady Antebellum
The Way You Are - Bruno Mars
Nothing Compares To You - Sinead O' Connor
7 Seconds - Youssou D' and Nina Cherry
Walk Of Life - Dire Straits
Straight Jacket - Alanis Morissette
The Look - Roxette
The Mass - Era
Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
You're The Voice - John Farnham
Heaven - Live
Love Will Keep Us Alive - The Eagles
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
Turn Back Time - Cher
Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo - Bloodhound Gang
Say It Isn't So - Bon Jovi
Fat-Bottomed Girls - Queen
(S)Aint - Marilyn Manson
Celebrity Skin - Hole
Sin Sin Sin - Robbie Williams
Weak - Skunk Anansie
Wet - David Guetta ft. Snoop Dogg
Barbara Streisand - Duck Sauce
Cinema - Benny Benassi ft Gary Go
Bullet With Butterfly Wings - The Smashing Pumpkins
Give Me Novacaine - Greenday
Bennie and the Jets - Elton John
Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones
Jaded - Aerosmith
When You Were Young - The Killers

There are about 30 more songs but I reckon these are good enough to keep you occupied for now. And this concludes my play list! Join me tomorrow for some talk about cheese.

Wiggle those hips peeps!
Chef Shants and my music xxxxx

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Whole Nine Yards

Hi peeps!
So today we stick with the facts and here are 30 awesome facts about food...

1. Several ancient cultures viewed the apple as a feminine symbol and found a resemblance between the two halves of a vertically cut apple to the female genital system. Alternatively, an apple cut horizontally resembled a pentagram, which was considered key in revealing knowledge of good and evil.

2. The banana tree is not a true fruit at all but a giant herb and the banana is actually its berry. A banana plant produces only one bunch or “hand” in its life, but that bunch may have between 100 to 400 bananas. Despite its phallic shape, the banana is sterile and no fertilization takes place in the banana flowers. A banana plant grows when one of its shoots is planted.

3. Onion is Latin for “large pearl.” A basket of onions was considered a respectable funeral offering in ancient Egypt, second only to a basket of bread. Onions, with their circular layers, represented eternity and were found in the eyes of King Ramses IV who died in 1160 B.C.

4. Kissing may have originated when mothers orally passed chewed solid food to their infants during weaning.

5. The earliest form of eating processed food occurred in early hunting cultures when the men who made a kill would be rewarded with a meal of the partially digested contents of the stomach of their prey.

6. The largest item found on any menu is roasted camel which is still served at some Bedouin weddings and was offered by royalty in Morocco several hundred years ago. The camel is cleaned and then stuffed with one whole lamb, 20 chickens, 60 eggs, and 110 gallons of water, among other ingredients.

7. Food and sex have been linked throughout history. Some foods are thought to have sexual powers because they resemble human genitals. Casanova was said to offer oysters to his potential partners to whet their sexual appetite.

8. At Delphi, the spiritual center of Greece, many cooks were needed to organize and direct sacrifices to the gods.

9. Drinking fresh milk in the classical world was considered a luxury because milk was so difficult to preserve.

10. The Arabs invented caramel, which served as a depilatory (hair removal) for women in a harem.

11. Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved anchovies (including the bones) that have been soaked in vinegar.

12. The first soup was made from hippopotamus and dates back to 6000 B.C.

13. Perhaps as a relic of an ancient Roman custom of planting parsley on graves, a sprig of parsley was either associated with the devil or as an antidote for poison. Adding a sprig to a plate of food may have originated as a gesture of good faith and as way to safeguard the meal from evil.

14. At both Ephesus and Eleusis in Greece the priestess were known as “bees” because bees and the way honey was gathered and eaten had religious connotations. Honey, considered miraculously made by bees, often signified truth because honey needs no treatment after it has been collected and it does not deteriorate.

15. Beans have historically been a symbol of the embryo and of growth in most societies. The ancient Egyptians called the place in which the Ka, the souls of the dead awaited reincarnation “the bean field.

16. The tomato is technically a fruit, not a vegetable. It was also the first genetically engineered whole product and went on the market in 1994. Since then, more than 50 other genetically engineered foods have been deemed safe by the FDA.

17. During the Middle Ages, a lemon slice was served with fish because it was thought the juice would dissolve any bones that were accidentally swallowed.

18. Chili peppers are hot because they contain a substance called alkaloid capsaicin and four other related chemicals. It is also the primary ingredient in pepper spray.

19. The warriors of Attila, king of the Huns, (A.D. 450) preserved their meat by placing fresh meat under their saddles. All the bouncing squeezed fluids from the meat, and the horse’s sweat salted the meat and removed more moisture. When the warrior stopped to eat, they had a dried and salted meal.

20. People were using garlic to repel vampires long before Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published. Folklorists suggest it is because vampires have a heightened sense of smell and the garlic’s strong smell was overpowering. Garlic is proven to be effective against two other bloodsuckers: mosquitoes and ticks.

21. Bread has become the prime symbol of nourishment and sharing bread is often a symbolic gesture. The word “companion” is derived from Latin com, ‘together,’ and panis, ‘bread.’

22. Odor is by far the most important contributor to the flavor of food. The contributions of taste, texture, and appearance are insignificant by comparison. Humans can distinguish an estimated 20,000 different odor qualities.

23. Cooking food is one of the great revolutionary innovations of history because it not only transformed the way we prepare food, but because it also became a center of cultural communion and organized society.

24. Ancient Egyptian priests would eat figs at the moment of their consecration ceremonies. The Indians consecrated the fig tree to Vishnu, and the fig free sheltered Romulus and Remus (the traditional founders of Rome) at their birth.g The fig is also a fertility symbol and the Arab association with male genitals is so strong that the original word “fig” is considered improper.

25. A row of corn always has an even number.

26. An American will typically eat the equivalent of 28 pigs in his or her lifetime.

27. Nearly 27 million Americans eat at McDonald's—per day.

28. Hippocrates notes that dogs were somewhat indigestible while boiled puppy was an appropriate food for invalids. Galen later notes that the meat of a young castrated dog is the best.

29. In the Philippines, it is considered good luck if a coconut is cleanly split open without jagged edges.

30. Eating eggs is taboo in some areas of Africa because eggs are thought to make childbirth more difficult and to excite children.

How cool are these?! I thought they were great and just had to share with you.

Plant some parsley today, peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 15 April 2013

Milk It, baby!

Hi All!

Woohoo! Another terrific Monday so today we start with chatting about milk. We use it every day and it so darn yummo; here are 26 awesome facts about milk from the FDL and thanks to google! Here, check this out:

Vitamin rich and part of the human diet for years, milk is one of the most nourishing drinks on the planet. Here's FDL's list of 26 interesting milk facts by Emma Gipi on February 04, 2012

Afghanistan. The habit of drinking milk first became popular 10,000 years ago, when the first animals were domesticated, initially in Afghanistan and Iran, and later in Turkey and Africa. Cows first arrived in the United States in the 1600s.

Breast feeding. The most precious kind of milk is mother’s milk. This nourishes new-born babies until they are old enough to be weaned onto other foods. The first artificial milks arrived in the mid 1800s: baby formulas were invented by Henry Nestlè.

Cows. Cows produce 90% of the world’s milk needs. Each cow provides an average of 90 glasses of milk a day, or over 200,000 glasses over the course of its lifetime. Working by hand, a farmer can milk around 6 cows an hour.

Dairy products. From cheeses, both fresh and mature, to yoghurt, cream, butter, and ice cream. Dairy products come in a wide variety of forms, and are produced the world over, with their names and recipes changing from country to country. They all have the same characteristic in common: they’re tasty and very wholesome.

Extra mucus. Some theories say that when you have a cold you shouldn’t drink milk or consume dairy products, as doing so will increase the production of mucus. However, the exact opposite advice is also often given: when you’re suffering from congestion, drink a nice glass of warm milk.

Flavored. Everyone, young and old, loves it: flavored and sweetened milk, whether strawberry-colored or with added chocolate. It’s impossible to resist – but watch out for those calories.

Goats and camels. There is a wide variety of milk-producing animals in the world, from goat and sheep’s milk to camels and other dromedaries, via ape, yak, water buffalo, reindeer and horses. There are even vegetarian milks made from coconut, almond, hemp and soy.

Honey. Natural sugars are best for accompanying milk, and pairing the two together has even inspired many artists: Milk and Honey was, for example, the name of an album by John Lennon.

Ice cream. Milk is the most important ingredient in hand-made ice cream, making up around 60% of the finished product. An English ice cream maker has even produced a variety made with human breast milk. The ingredient was confiscated after only a few days, however.

Jet Li. Milk is good for martial arts champions too: the words of the ‘new Bruce Lee’, the martial arts expert and actor Jet Li, who in China is the face of a publicity campaign designed to boost milk consumption.

Kubrick. In Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, the ‘droogs’ meet up at the Korova Milk Bar, where they go to drink ‘milk-plus’ - a mixture of milk and mescaline.

Lactose intolerance. Lactose, the form of sugar found in milk, cannot always be easily dealt with by the stomach: those who suffer from lactose intolerance can, however, drink lactose-free milk, which is lighter and easier to digest.

Milky way. The Milky Way is the galaxy which our solar system forms a part of. Legend has it that it was created by drops of milk from the breast of Hera, the wife of Zeus, as she breast fed Hercules.

No milk! Here’s the other side of the debate: whether due to intolerance, allergies or personal choice, there are many people who say no to milk. The most common alternative is soy milk.

Osteoporosis. Rich in calcium, milk is recommended in order to combat a variety of conditions, including osteoporosis, which affects the bones of women, especially from a certain age onwards.

Pasteur. It’s thanks to Louis Pasteur, the 19th century French biologist, that the milk we drink today contains little or no bacteria. He initially applied his heating technique, known as pasteurization, to beer. The process is still used today.

Queen Elizabeth. The Queen Elizabeth II of England each day drinks milk from cows raised on her own Windsor estate. When her grandchildren William and Harry went to Eton, the famous public school, she instructed the estate manager to send milk from the Royal cows every day for the Prince’s breakfasts.

Raw milk. Raw milk is milk that has not undergone any form of treatment, and which is drunk fresh soon after being produced. Richer in protein, it is the subject of a debate on food safety. In many countries around the world, you can buy raw milk from street vendors.

Sleep. From birth to old age, there’s no better recipe for a good night’s sleep: a nice glass of warm milk, maybe with honey or sugar, is a sweet, nutritious kind of lullaby: a true natural calmative.

Tooth decay. Drinking milk and eating yogurt and cheese is a great way to protect that perfect smile. Milk reduces the level of acidity in the mouth, combats plaque formation and reduces the risk of cavities.

UHT. Ultra High Temperature treatment is the name of the method of sterilization used for milk. Liquid milk given UHT treatment is also often called long-life milk and, unlike fresh milk, it can be drunk up to 6 months after it was produced.

Vitamins. Vitamins A, D, and B12, minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and also protein: milk is rich in nutrients essential for human health.

White Russian. The protagonist of The Big Lebowski, a film by the Cohen brothers, is very fond of milk: but he only ever drinks is as part of his favorite cocktail, the White Russian. Its recipe: 2 parts vodka, 1 partKahlua, milk or cream according to taste, and ice.

X-Men: Wolverine. Superheroes drink milk too. After Batman, the Fantastic Four, Superman and The Incredible Hulk, even Wolverine from the X-Menwas part of an American ad campaign aimed at convincing teenagers to drink more milk.

Yogurt. This is a milk derivative, but which is easy to digest, and very tasty. The word comes from the Turkish verb yogurtmak, meaning to mix. You can make it at home too, and it forms the base of many do-it-yourself beauty masks.

Zits. This theory has been the subject of debate for years, but various dermatological studies have shown that high consumption of milk is a cause of acne, and that it worsens the condition in people, above all the young, who already suffer from it.

I'm gonna be trying that hot milk and honey mix for my insomnia. Seems like it might actually work.
Hope you enjoyed these milky facts.

See ya'll tomorrow! MOO!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 12 April 2013

Eat Like Nina Dobrev

Hi peeps!

Can I get a WOOP WOOP?! YAY, its Friday again which means its time for another Eat Like blog where I show case a menu of the Celeb of the Week. Today's blog is about Nina Dobrev, born Nina Konstantinova Dobreva of Bulgarian descent; or better known as Elena from The Vampire Diaries. This dark-haired beauty is a mere 55kg's and her favourite colour is black. Her other favourite things include, cheetahs, Grey's Anatomy and a novel by the title "The Lovely Bones" (that's a pretty good book, that! I've read it too and thoroughly enjoyed it. Its penned by Alice Sebold). This Capricorn's favourite foods include chocolate, pizza- especially pizza tonno and peanut butter puffins with unsweetend almond milk. Go figure! I've never even heard of that! Sounds like its worth finding a recipe for this weird and wacky dessert and I was lucky to find one at www.feedmeimcranky.com. And here it is: (onviously this is an american recipe, so for the rest of us, we gonna have to wing it if we wanna bake these babies)

Peanutbutter Puffins with Unsweetend Almond Milk
Ingredients:
1/2 c. Organic Oat Flour
1/2 c. dry medium-grind corn meal
1/3 c. smooth organic peanut butter
1 1/4 c. unsweetened Vanilla almond milk
1 tbsp. sweet organic brown rice syrup
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (180C)
2. Mix together dry ingredients first, then add wet ones. Stir until no lumps.
3. Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (foil will work if sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, but not as well, trust me!). I wasn’t able to spread the goop (hehe) all the way to each edge, but close enough. Just spread out until pretty thin (a lil less than 1/4 inch should work).
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until it starts browning at the edges.
5. Remove from oven, remove parchment paper (with goop) from cookie sheet and cut into one inch slices. Then put the slices back onto the cookie sheet and into the oven to crisp a bit more. I left ‘em in for an additional 10 minutes, flipping half way. They got really nice and crisp! Remove from oven and YUMMO!

They taste even better after they’ve been refrigerated.

Note: if you like your Puffins a little sweeter, add 1/2 tbsp. more brown rice syrup. As they are, there are more savory than they are sweet.

Well, Nina, there you go! An awesome recipe for your peanutbutter puffins with almond milk. Enjoy girlfriend! Hope you all do too. Have a great weekend all and see you bright eyed but not so bushy tailed on Monday.

Friday wiggles
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 11 April 2013

More Amazing Speciality Cakes.

Hi All!

Thursday has dawned bright and early for us and has come to remind us that its just two more days until the weekend. To cool. I decided to keep today's blog simple after the two long blogs of the last two days; and to find some more amazing speciality cakes to wow you with an artistic culinary experience. I really take my apron off to these creative and amazing chefs who spend so much time decorating a basic vanilla sponge or red velvet cake into something that looks just too good to be chomped. Once again, thanks to google I found these images that I thought were really worth sharing with you.




Amazing hey!!! It blows my mind! Oh, and I must also tell you that the page on facebook has had a bit of a makeover. Its now no longer Super Mom Generation but is now re-christened The Modern Women so hop on over onto facebook and give it a thumb like to come and join us for some fun discussions and easy chats with some truly wonderful women from all around the world. Hope to see you there!

Keep it artistic peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Not Your Average Cuppa

Hi All!

Brrrr! Winter is starting to make its chilly appearance here and our blankies and long-johns along with it. Although, our Jozie folk are whipping out their electric blankies and triple layers of socks and longs compared to us, less chilly, but still cold enough to make your teeth chatter, Durbanites. For the winter season I love nothing more than thick, rich stews and creamy soups with hot curries. Nothing is more pleasing than sitting under a soft, warm blankie and savouring a bowl of the most awesomest soup/stew or curry. I'm a huge fan of soup in a mug and my favourite happens to be tomato soup. I also love a good pea and ham and a potato and leek soup too. I remember when I was still a little fart and my mom; Flora, used to make the most delicious minestrone EVAH!!! My aunt Judes also used to make this amazing bean soup. I still remember eating it when I was about six years old and my aunt nursed me back to health when I suffered from the chickenpox. Its amazing how food seems to make your memories just that much more heart-warming and that much more special. *sigh* I'm feeling all nostalgic right now.........

But yes, we have recipes to have a look at today. Seeing as tomato soup is pretty much my all time favourite soup, I want to share the recipe with you. Then, I'd also like to share with you a pea and ham soup recipe too. (I pretty much eat croutons with every soup that I like to sip on). So let's get cracking:

Tomato Soup by The Students.......
Ingredients:
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 onion
2 red peppers
3 vegetable stock cubes
1 litre of boiled water
A clove of garlic

Method:
1. Chop the onion, red pepper and clove of garlic finely.
2. Fry all 3 items until roasted.
3. Make the stock by crumbling 3 vegetable stock cubes in to a pint of water.
4. Add the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, the stock and vegetables into large pan.
5. Boil for 15mins and taste and season

Quick and easy, huh?! Now on to the pea and ham soup by Mrs Hornby.........

Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil or mild olive oil, or butter if you prefer
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large potato (about 250g/9oz), peeled, cut into small cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g/10½oz frozen garden peas
400ml/14fl oz chicken stock, or vegetable stock if preferred
200ml/7fl oz semi-skimmed or whole milk
100g/3½oz thick cut, good quality ham
small handful fresh mint leaves, optional

Method:
1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan on low or medium heat, then add the onion and potato, season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat the vegetables in the oil.
2. Take a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the top of the pan, scrunch it up then unfold it. Lay the paper over the surface of the vegetables, sealing them in right to the edges of the pan (this helps cook the vegetables more quickly). Put a lid on the pan, cook on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are soft and translucent.
3. Remove the paper. Add the peas and stock to the pan, then bring to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes until all of the peas have floated to the top of the stock and are tender and bright.
4. Take the pan off the heat. Using a stick blender, process the peas until very smooth. Add the milk (or, if preferred, use more stock, water or cream). Tear in most of the ham.
5. Bring the soup back to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and pepper, remembering that the ham is fairly salty.
6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls then scatter with the rest of the ham and a few torn mint leaves if you'd like.

As I said earlier, I love these two wonderful soup recipes and I'm sure you will too!

Keep warm and safe, peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx