Friday, 30 August 2013

Eat Like Ben Affleck

Hi peeps!

Flirty Friday is here and with it comes the weekly Eat Like blog where peeps are celebrities and the food is worth celebrating ;). the spotlight swings and glares down upon none other than Ben Affleck and word on the street is that he is to be our next Batman! Wonder if Matt Damon will play Robin? Hope and pray that he does the roll justice, he didn't do too bad in The Town so let's hold thumbs yes, because so far there are quite a lot of unhappy people out there regarding this choice. Anyhoo;


Ben's favourite colour is blue and he adores roast chicken. If you have been following him on Twitter you wil know what he's been up to regarding his $1.50 on food allowed each day -(uh, ok?). He also enjoys walking the old haunts with his dad; like Fenway Park and his best friend is Matt Damon. His full name is Benjamin Geza Affleck and he was born 15 August 1972 in Berkeley; California. He has a daughter named Seraphina with Jennifer Garner.

Okay, so seeing as Ben likes roast chicken; let's get the next Batman drooling at the mouth for this delicious chicken recipe:


MEDIEVAL CHICKEN WITH WHOLE GARLIC CLOVES - bbc food
Ingredients
- 1 small packet saffron threads
- 400ml/14fl oz white wine
- 1 roasting chicken
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 small garlic bulbs
- 5cm/2in piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- olive oil
- sea salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8.

2. Soak the saffron in a little of the wine. Rub the chicken all over with the pepper and cinnamon and place the chicken in an ovenproof dish.

3. Cut the tops off the garlic bulbs so you can see the cloves and arrange them around the chicken with the ginger. Pour a little olive oil into the garlic bulbs and pour the saffron and remaining wine around the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and place in the oven.

4. Roast for 20 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and cook for another 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through. Baste the chicken and garlic regularly during cooking.

Serve with warm crusty bread and a fresh garden salad!

Seeing as its weekend; why not give this recipe a try? Go on! You know you want to! Invite some peeps over and razzle and dazz them with your funky skillet skills!!! I have FAITH in you!! Have one awesome weekend, you beautiful people, you. See ya'll on the flip side.

Fantastic Friday hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Spice - Saffron

Hi peeps!

Welcome to another Thursday. As promised last week; every Thursday we will be adding another herb or spice to our Spice Rack. We get intimate with Saffron today and I am no different than the next chef; Saffron has to be one of the best ingredients to add to your dishes. Here's some facts and info about this amazing little spice.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the entire world. It is harvested from the crocus sativus or more commonly known as the saffron crocus. Only in mid-autumn do they flower. Harvests are by necessity a speedy affair: after blossoming at dawn, flowers quickly wilt as the day passes. All plants bloom within a window of one or two weeks. Roughly 150 flowers together yield but 1 g (0.035 oz) of dry saffron threads; to produce 12 g (0.42 oz) of dried saffron (or 72 g (2.5 oz) moist and freshly harvested), 1 kg (2.2 lb) of flowers are needed; 1 lb (0.45 kg) yields 0.2 oz (5.7 g) of dried saffron. One freshly picked flower yields an average 30 mg (0.0011 oz) of fresh saffron or 7 mg (0.00025 oz) dried. To put it bluntly, it takes over 75,000 saffron plants to produce just under one pound of saffron and this is why saffron remains the world's most expensive spice. Lucky for us; a little saffron goes a long way! According to Medical MD, here are some other uses of saffron:

Saffron is used for asthma, cough, whooping cough (pertussis), and to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant). It is also used for sleep problems (insomnia), cancer, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), intestinal gas (flatulence), depression, Alzheimer’s disease, fright, shock, spitting up blood (hemoptysis), pain, heartburn, and dry skin.
Women use saffron for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Men use it to prevent early orgasm (premature ejaculation) and infertility.
Saffron is also used for to increase interest in sex (as an aphrodisiac) and to induce sweating.
Some people apply saffron directly to the scalp for baldness (alopecia).
In manufacturing, saffron extracts are used as fragrance in perfumes and as a dye for cloth.

How does it work?
There isn't enough information to know how saffron might work.

In the kitchen: In foods, saffron is used as a spice, yellow food coloring, and as a flavoring agent; it is sweet and but one or two little pieces can flavour and colour an entire dish beautifully! Let's take a look at a saffron recipe now:


LAMB TAGINE - Allrecipe

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 carrots, peeled, cut into fourths, then sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lemon, zested
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (14.5 ounce) can homemade chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch saffron
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
1 tablespoon water (optional)

Directions
Place diced lamb in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large resealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder, and coriander; mix well. Add the lamb to the bag, and toss around to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of the lamb, and brown well. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining lamb. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh garlic and ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato paste, and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.

If the consistency of the tagine is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water during the last 5 minutes.

I think its only fair that we have a saffron dessert to accompany the gorgeous Lamb Tagine:


SAFFRON YOGURT MOUSSE WITH ROSE PETAL HONEY - ecurry
Ingredients: (made 2 small ramekins of mousse)

8-oz. plain, yogurt (about 1 cup) [Or Greek style yogurt- skip the draining if you are using this]

A generous Pinch of Saffron

2 tbsp of Rose Petal Honey (Recipe below)[ may be substituted with sugar, or any natural sweetners like agave nectar. I have used the honey here to keep the flavor of the rose consistent] – use more or less to taste

About 6 Tablespoons of Low Fat Milk

1 Tablespoon chopped Organic Rose Petals (I used the roses from our garden ) – Can use more if you want (The Chef Mother insists that you check before using just any flowers and insists that you make sure the flowers you are to eat are one hundred percent edible first.)

A little less than 1/2 Teaspoon of Unflavored Gelatin (Or any gelatin substitute like Agar Agar)

Vegetable oil to very light grease the ramekins

More Rose Petals & Slivered Almonds for Garnish(Optional)

For the Honey:
1/2 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Loosely packed Organic Rose Petals of any fragrant rose

Preparation:
To Prepare the Honey:

Wash the rose petals. Dry them lightly .. pat with paper towels.

Lightly fill a jar ( I used a small bowl, since I made in real small amount), & pour the honey over it.

Let it stand for a few days to a couple of weeks. It gets more fragrant with time.

Preparing the Mousse:

Drain yogurt in a paper-towel-lined/or cheese cloth sieve. Press and stir with a large spoon & then leave to drain. Put the bowl in refrigerator.

After 10 -12 hours the liquid will have strained through enough that the yogurt in sieve & the yogurt will be thick and creamy. (even better if drained overnight/24 hrs) – The draining step may be skipped if you are using the thick Greek Style Yogurt.

Transfer to a clean bowl. Whisk it well in the bowl to make it fluffy & airy.

Gently crush the saffron threads between your fingers. Blend it in with the yogurt. Set aside & let it sit for a couple of hours for the flavor of the saffron to be infused. The Yogurt will take on the light yellow color from the saffron.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1 Tablespoon water in a small bowl and let stand 1 minute to soften. Heat the milk in the microwave for about 40 seconds or till almost boiling hot. Stir gelatin until dissolved & there are no lumps.

Mix yogurt, rose petals & honey.

Mix a little yogurt into gelatin and then mix the gelatin into the rest of the yogurt, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Whisk them together well again to blend & fluff.

Line the Ramekins with vegetable oil.

You can line them with a few rose petals if you want. Spoon the yogurt mix in to the ramekins. Cover & put them in a refrigerator and chill until it sets.

To Assemble:

Before serving place a plate over the ramekin, turn it over & tap the ramekin lightly for it to come out.

Drizzle some rose petal honey over the mousse before serving completely chilled.

Interesting, right?! Well, when you have a few extra bucks to splash out on; go get yourself some saffron and try out these awesome recipes. Sounds like the perfect "Impress Me" lunch without a doubt!

See ya'll for tomorrow's blog!
Saffron hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Edible Flowers

Hi peeps!
Good morning ya'll! Welcome to mid-week, where Monday is nothing but a bad memory and Friday is a future flirt ;).

Of all the garnishes that are well known out there; edible flowers is not on the top of that list. Mostly because peeps don't know that there are some flowers that are edible. I love garnishing with edible flowers because your plating rating and pazzazz factor shoots up by WOW degrees; instantly. Now; don't run off and ravage your poor garden with some secateurs just yet; let's take a look at the flowers that are safely edible; for we all know by now that it is forbidden to garnish a plate with an inedible garnish at any time.

Right; now that the harsh warning in my harsh mommy-voice has been issued, let's get to the fun part....I discovered this awesome Edible Flowers info on Thompson & Morgan and this is what they have to say:

It is surprising how many flowers growing in our gardens are edible. Edible flowers have been used for years in cooking or as decorations for various dishes.The Chinese were the first to experiment with flowers as food and their many and varied recipes can be traced back as far back as 3,000 B.C.
In Roman times, the edible flowers of pinks, violets and roses were used in dishes and lavender in sauces. Gardeners and cooks over 1000 years ago were already using pot marigolds and orange blossom in their cooking. Today many fine restaurants around the UK and indeed the world are using more and more edible flowers to enhance salads with their colour, texture and intriguing flavours, as well as for decoration on appetisers, starters, cakes and many other dishes.

It is always best to grow your own edible flowers, and then you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease. The majority of edible flowers are always best picked fresh from the garden the day you want to use them. Growing your own also allows you to experiment and show off to dinner guests both what you have grown and what you’ve created with a colourful and tasty dish. As with any food and salad preparation always maintain good personal hygiene and practices.
Even if you are not keen on experimenting with salads or sauces, edible flowers make excellent garnishes which, unlike some ‘decorations’ which appear in the guise of nouvelle cuisine, are actually nice to eat! Furthermore, as in Roman times, the flower garden becomes a treasure chest of delicately flavoured treats to scatter on your salads or to add a ‘touch of class’ to your culinary endeavours.

Disclaimer: Thompson & Morgan has researched all the edible flowers listed below. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. Thompson & Morgan always recommends following good hygiene practices. Thompson & Morgan cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers. In case of doubt please consult your doctor. Here I also add that The Chef Mother will also not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the flowers, please be safe and KNOW what you're eating ;-D

*Agastache
Agastache anisata, Agastache foeniculum
Both flowers and leaves have a delicate, fragrant taste. They are ideal for adding to cakes for a hint of anise flavour, or add the leaves and flowers to whipping cream for a creamy, liquorice flavour.
If you are pregnant, be sure to research possible contraindications to using this herb.

*Apple/ Crab Apple
Malus domestica, Malus x robusta, Malus x zumi
Apple blossoms have a slightly floral taste and the petals are lovely in salads. Infuse petals in whipped cream or ice cream to go over an apple tart. Blossoms look attractive when floated in a fruit punch.

*Basil
Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum minimum, Ocimum x citriodorum
Flowers can be used as a substitute for leaves in any dish requiring basil. The flowers should be used more sparingly due to their very intense flavour. Delicious added to salads, soups or pasta.

*Begonia
Begonia x tuberhybrida
The brightly coloured flowers have a delicious light, lemon taste and a crisp texture. Use snipped petals as a garnish in salads and sandwiches or dip whole petals in flavoured yogurt and serve as an appetizer.
Only tuberous begonia petals are edible. The petals contain oxalic acid and therefore should only be eaten in moderation and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidney stones or rheumatism.

*Biennial Clary
Salvia sclarea
Flowers have a very aromatic flavour and being pastel shades, make a lovely contrast when added to salads.



*Borage
Borago officinalis
Mix flowers into vegetable and fruit salads, or use to garnish soups or to decorate desserts. An excellent choice for freezing in ice cubes and floating on iced tea. Petals have a cucumber taste and the stamens add a hint of sweetness.
Pregnant and lactating women should avoid borage flowers, as more than eight to ten flowers can cause milk to flow. They can also have a diuretic effect, so should not be eaten in great quantity.

*Busy Lizzie
Impatiens walleriana
The flowers come in many colours and look attractive used as a garnish in salads or floated in cold drinks.

*Cape Jasmine
Gardenia jasminoides
These extremely fragrant blooms can be used to make pickles, preserves and jams, or shredded and added as flavouring to cakes.

*Dianthus/ Carnation/ Pinks
Dianthus amurensis, Dianthus barbatus, Dianthus caryophyllus, Dianthus chinensis, Dianthus deltoides, Dianthus plumarius, Dianthus superbus
Most dianthus have a pleasant spicy, floral, clove-like taste, especially the more fragrant varieties, and are ideal for decorating or adding to cakes. They’ll also make a colourful garnish to soups, salads and the punch bowl. The petals of Sweet Williams will add zest to ice cream, sorbets, salads, fruit salad, dessert sauces, seafood and stir-fries. It is advisable to remove the white heel at the base of the petal as this has a bitter taste.

*Catmint
Nepeta cataria
The small flowers have an aromatic, strong mint/spice flavour so should be used sparingly when cooking. Ideal for adding a bit of bite to pasta or rice dishes and all types of vegetables. Also makes a tasty complement to meat dishes like lamb.
Nepeta is not recommended to eat during pregnancy

*Chicory, Raddichio
Cichorium intybus
The fresh flowers have a mild lettuce flavour and make a decorative addition to salads, whilst flower buds can be pickled. Picked blooms look attractive frozen in ice cubes and added to drinks.
Contact with all parts of this plant can irritate the skin or aggravate skin allergies

*Chives/ Chinese Chives
Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum,
Chive flowers have a mild onion flavour and are surprisingly crunchy. They are widely used tossed in salads, pasta, omelettes and scrambled eggs. Or you can add a few to white fish dishes or to cheese sauce to give that extra bite. As tempting it may be to pop the whole flower into your mouth, refrain from doing so as the pungency in that quantity can be overwhelming. For garnish and cooking break the flower into individual florets .

*Citrus Trees
Citrus aurantium, Citrus limon, Citrus x latifolia
Citrus flowers are overwhelming in scent and flavour and go really well with many different foods from stir-fries to puddings. They are also ideal for crystallising and decorating cakes or desserts.

*Coriander
Coriandrum sativum
The flowers are as adaptable as the leaves in a variety of different dishes. Scatter over cauliflower, add to the end of a stir-fry or add to cream cheese. Scatter a few flowers over an orange fruit salad, as the flavour of the flowers will

*Cornflower
Centaurea cyanus
These attractive flowers have no fragrance but do have a sweet-to-spicy clove-like flavour. They are ideal for mixing with other flowers to make attractive confetti for sprinkling over salads, omelettes, and pasta dishes. Or they can be used on their own as a colourful garnish.

*Courgette
Cucurbita pepo
All squash flowers have a slightly sweet ‘nectar’ taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings, battered and deep fried or sautéed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelettes, scrambled egg or used to add colour to salads.

*Daisy
Bellis perennis
Pull flowers apart for a mass of small quill petals ideal for creating a colourful garnish on desserts or soups, in salads or with savoury dishes. Also make useful decorations for cakes, biscuits, mousses and pâtés.
If you have hay fever, asthma or severe allergies, you should avoid eating flowers of the daisy family because they could trigger an allergic reaction.

*Daylily
Hemerocallis
Day lily petals are great in salads, hot and cold soups, cooked and served as a vegetable or chopped and added to stir-fries. Try sautéing the buds or flowers, which can then be stuffed with almost any filling.
Only hemerocallis, the ‘Day Lily’ can be eaten. Do not eat other types of lilies (Lillium) as they are poisonous.

*Dill
Anethum graveolens
Add flowers to fish dishes, omelettes or sprinkle over cooked vegetables. Add whole flowers to pickled gherkins, cucumbers or beetroots for a milder flavour than dill seed.

*Evening Primrose, Ozark Sundrops
Oenothera macrocarpa, Oenothera odorata, Oenothera versicolor, Oenothera speciosa, Oenothera missouriensis
The flowers have a similar taste to lettuce, so will make a fine addition to any green salad whilst also adding some colour.

*Feijoa sellowiana
The flower petals have a flavour often described as being similar to that of candyfloss. The petals are ideal added to a fruit salad, smoothie, milkshake or an iced drink. The fruits can also be used in chutneys and tropical fruit salads.

*Fennel
Foeniculum vulgare
The mild anise/liquorice flavour combines well with fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Delicious added to cucumber or potato soup. Make fennel flower oil and use to baste pork chops on a barbecue.

*Filipendula ulmaria
The sweetly scented flowers can be eaten in salads or added to homemade wine.

*Fuchsia
The stunning colours and graceful shape of fuchsias make them ideal as a green or fruit salad garnish. They look very decorative if crystallised or inserted into jelly. The berries are also edible and useful for making jams. Before eating the flower remove all green and brown bits and gently remove the stamen pistils as this will certainly enhance the petal flavour.

*Garland Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum coronarium
Petals are best quickly and lightly fried in vegetable oil before adding to soups, salads and stir-fries. Use the strongly spicy flavoured flowers sparingly in salads or when making Japanese Chrysanthemum soup.
Only chrysanthemum coronarium should be eaten; it is not advisable to eat other types of chrysanthemum.


*Gladiolus
Flowers taste similar to lettuce, and make a lovely receptacle for sweet or savoury spreads or mousses. You could also toss individual petals in salads for colour. It is best to must remove the anthers, take the middle of the blossom out before eating/ using.

*Hibiscus
Infuse the flowers to make a popular, mildly citrus-flavoured tea. Add strips of vibrant coloured petals to fruit salads. It is best to use the petals from the flower heads. If you use them whole, beware of the pollen.

*Hollyhock
Alcea rosea
The flowers can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, mousses and roulades or try mixing them with salad leaves for a stunning dish. Flowers can also be used to make a subtly flavoured syrup to add to various puddings. Before eating , remove the centre stamen and any green bits.

*Hyssop
Hyssopus officinalis
Ideal for adding to soups or salads, or can be infused to make a refreshing tea. Hyssop also makes a perfect complement to fish and meat dishes.

*Japanese Basil
Perilla frutescens
The whole flower can be eaten, adding a spicy flavour to stir-fries, chicken or fish dishes.

*Jasmine
Jasminum officinale
The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea, but can also be added to shellfish dishes.
Only jasmine officinale is edible. The false Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a completely different genus and is considered too poisonous for human consumption.

*Lavender
Lavandula multifida, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula angustifolia
There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savoury dishes. Make a delicious lavender sugar and add to biscuits, sorbets, jams or jellies. Add flowers to vegetable stock and create a tasty sauce for duck, chicken or lamb dishes.

*Lavender oil
May be poisonous. No more than two undiluted drops should be taken internally.

*Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis
The flowers are small, so are ideal for adding to salad dressings or soups. They can also be added to stuffing for poultry dishes too.

*Lilac
Syringa vulgaris
Mix fresh fragrant flowers with a little cream cheese and serve on crackers or stir flowers into yogurt to add a hint of lemon. Also useful as a garnish for cakes, scones or sweets.

*Marigold
Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, Tagetes patula x erecta
The flowers and leaves have a citrus taste, making them ideal for adding to salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes or hot desserts.
Marigolds may be harmful in large amounts. They should only be eaten occasionally and in moderation.

*Marrow
Cucurbita pepo
All squash flowers have a slightly sweet nectar taste . These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings , battered and deep fried or sauteed and added to pasta . Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelets, scrambled egg or add colour to salads.

*Mint/ Pennyroyal Mint
Mentha x piperita, Mentha pulegium, Mentha suaveolens, Mentha x gracilis, Mentha spicata
These tiny flowers pack a real punch and add that something extra to green salads, fruit salads, fresh strawberries, chocolate mousse or chocolate cake. Can also be used to decorate and flavour lamb dishes.

*Monarda/ Bergamot
Monarda citriodora subsp. Astromontana, Monarda didyma
As well as being colourful, the petals have a sweet, spicy flavour and will enhance salads, jellies and stuffings, rice and pasta dishes. Fresh or dried leaves can be used to make delicious bergamot tea. Before using the flowers, only give them a minimal rinse with water so as not to diminish the fragrance.

*Mooli Radish
Raphanus sativus
The radish flowers flavour is a milder version of the spicy root, making it ideal to add colour to the top of a salad or sprinkle over cooked vegetables to add a little spice.

*Nasturtium
Tropaeolum majus, Tropaeolum minus
The fresh leaves and flowers have a peppery flavour similar to watercress. The flowers will add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into capers. Try them combined with cream cheese or butter in canapés, or in a cheese and tomato sandwich. Flowers can also be used to garnish steaks or casseroles.

*Onion (Welsh/ Spring)
Allium fistulosum
Onion flowers offer an onion flavour, without the bite of an onion bulb. These are ideal for tossing in a salad or for mixing in with vegetables.

*Oregano
Origanum vulgare
Wonderful added to tomato dishes, pizza and when making your own bread. Flowers can also be added to butter for flavour.

*Ornamental Kale
Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group)
The leaves can be picked while still young and will make a tasty and colourful addition to salads.

*Pansy
Viola x wittrockiana
Flowers have a lettuce-like flavour and make a decorative addition to a green salad or to garnish a pâté or dessert. They can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, cookies or creamy desserts.

*Pea
Pisum sativum
Flowers are slightly sweet and, surprisingly enough, taste like young peas. Delicious added to salads.
Use candied flowers to decorate fish dishes or cakes. The shoots and vine tendrils are also edible and have the same delicate, pea-like flavour.
Only vegetable pea flowers can be eaten, not sweet pea flowers which are toxic.

And there you have it, and now you know! Garnishing with flowers this weekend? Why not take a pic and send it to shantsjlucas@gmail.com so we can share your meal in our Fan Album! (Coming soon!)

Get creative, peeps! And NEVER GIVE UP TRYING!
Floral hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

EL MEXICANO

Hi peeps!

Mexico is well known for its beauties, its hot climate and its spicy food. And yup, you guessed it; we are putting our aprons on for some delightful mexican cuisine, thanks allrecipes. You ready?! Right! Let's go....

First up:
Fresh Home Made Flour Tortillas:
Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lard
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. Place the cooked tortillas under a warmer light or drawer while you cook the others.


Next Up: The Best Guacamole
Ingredients:
2 avocados
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion

Directions
Cut the avocados into halves. Remove the seeds, and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the avocado. Stir in lemon juice, onion, salt and olive oil and mash together well. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 2 hours before serving.


And now we make some: Mexican Style Shredded Pork
Ingredients
1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 1/4 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chilli peppers (green peppers)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (coriander/dhania)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chipotle sauce (next recipe)

Directions
Place the roast in a slow cooker, and season with salt. Place chilli peppers and garlic on top of roast. Pour in the chipotle sauce and 1/2 cup water.
Cover, and cook 7 hours on Low.
In a pot, bring remaining 2 3/4 cups water and rice to a boil. Mix in the lime juice and cilantro. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
Remove roast from the slow cooker, and use two forks to shred. Return pork to the slow cooker, and allow to sit 15 minutes to absorb the remaining juices.


And finally: Chipotle Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro (coriander/ dhania)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, crushed very fine
1/4 teaspoon ground red chilli/ cayenne pepper or chipotle chile if you have.
pinch dried thyme
pinch ground cumin

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and cover. Allow to sit in the fridge overnight.

I can so see me sporting my very own sombrero and doing some wicked justice to these gorgeous mexican dishes; not to mention doing the whole tradition of a little siesta while I'm at it. *cheeky grins!*

Ya'll are FABULOUS, peeps! And keep up the good work in the kitchen and thanks too for staying tuned to The Chef Mother, ya'll know you're appreciated!
Spicy salsa and siesta hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 26 August 2013

Unusual Cakes

Hi peeps!

And Monday arrives again with a flourish and a drumroll. Considering that its the most hated day of the week, worldwide. I hope the weekend was kind to you and your liver and I will be gentle today and not make a complicated blog. So, in the meantime; let's get our coffee on and take a gander and these beautiful creations. Once again - thanks google for the images.

Also; while doing some blog research I came across the most mind blowing pics ever. Do yourself a favour and pop over to www.highlandbakery.com. You WILL NOT be disappointed, I promise. Check out some of their works in the pics below. (Ps: Not all these cakes were from Highland Bakery, but most of them were; the octopus and the lion and rhino are theirs as well as the dragon head).












Every time I came across one of these beautiful confections; I was more and more humbled by the sheer dedication and intricacy that the baker applied. Anything is possible if you just put your mind to it and practice, practice, practice. As for the sugar paste and how to make it; I have blogged about the method and the recipe so just take a gander down the side and follow the easy link to read how its done. Also, don't forget to take a peek at the highland bakery website; its sure to be an awesome adventure for sure!

Have a happy caffeinated Monday, peeps!
Coffee & Cake hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 23 August 2013

Eat Like Henry Cavill

Hi peeps!

Have you seen Man Of Steel yet?! No? Do yourself a favour and go see it. Its the darkest version of Superman that's come out yet. And it really is worth a gander. Why am I speaking of Man Of Steel? Because today's Eat Like blog is about the man who plays Superman! Introducing the very handsome Henry Cavill.

Here's some interesting info about this British actor: his nickname is Henners and he has a knack for languages and an avid interest in Egyptology. He loves to ride horses, go scuba diving and his trained in martial arts and fencing. His favourite foods include beer, rice, pizza and bovril. He is also an avid bowman and drives an Aston Martin. He was born in Jersey, Channel Islands.

Seeing as Henners's fave foods have basically all been done before; let's heat things up and make an awesome Pork belly meal for him:

Roasted Pork Belly - by Jamie Oliver
1.3 kg higher-welfare pork belly
15 g fennel seeds
5 g sea salt
100 ml olive oil
carrots
celery
onions
garlic cloves, skin on
fresh thyme
75 g plain flour

Turn oven to the highest temperature you can get it to. Using a Stanley knife score the skin down to the meat (try not to cut the meat), make the cuts very close together (go across the skin). Put the fennel seeds and the Maldon sea salt in a pestle and mortar and grind till the seeds are smashed and mixed well with the salt.

Pour half the oil over the top of the skin of the pork belly, sprinkle over ½ of the fennel and salt mixture and rub in, pour over the remaining oil and then the seed and salt mixture, now really rub this into the skin so that everything gets inbetween the skin and down onto the meat. Wash the carrots and celery well, cut them into large 2 inch pieces and throw these into the base of your roasting dish. Throw in the whole garlic bulbs, peel and cut the onions into large wedges. Toss in the whole thyme leaves.

Put the seasoned pork belly on top of the vegetables and then put into your very hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skin of the belly starts to bubble and is golden brown. Turn the oven temperature down to 170°C/325°F/gas 3 then roast for 1.5 hours. Carefully open the oven door and add into the tray ¾ of the white wine, continue cooking for 1 hour. Remove the meat carefully from the oven and test to see if it pulls apart easily. If not put back in the oven until the meat is ready then remove from the oven.

Take the meat from the tray and place onto a wooden board and allow to rest while you make the gravy. Put the tray of roasted vegetables directly onto your stove top and on a medium heat add in the flour and stir till thick. Cook for 1 minute then add in the remaining wine. If you sauce is too thick add a little more white wine. Using a potato masher, mash up the vegetables until you have a delicious thick looking sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes on a low heat. Taste, strain through a sieve keeping all the lovely sauce for pouring over the roasted belly.

Remove the crackling from the top of the belly and break up into pieces, set aside then pull the pork belly apart and enjoy with more vegetables and your home made gravy.

Sounds mighty fine to me; boil up some rice to serve with it too and there you have a meal fit for a Man Of Steel. Ps: he acted in Immortals too
Keep safe and stay insane for the weekend, peeps!
Crackly Pork belly hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Spices - Cinnamon

Hi peeps!

So far in our "Herbs and Spice Rack" we have taken a look at Rosemary, Basil, Thyme and Tarragon. I think its about time we start on the spices now and I am going to be dedicating each Thursday from now on to adding another Herb or Spice to our H&S Rack.

The first spice we are going to take a look at is Cinnamon. Here are some interesting facts about this healthy and versatile spice by Nancy Lopez-McHughes:

Cinnamon is a favorite spice of many. These are 10 cinnamon facts you should know.

1. Cinnamon is the inner bark of cinnamon trees.

2. Cinnamon is a spice which can be used on savory or sweet foods.

3. “Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. It was mentioned in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt not only as a beverage flavoring and medicine, but also as an embalming agent. It was so highly treasured that it was considered more precious than gold.”

4. “Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly.”

5. There are four varieties of cinnamon. The most popular being Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. The varieties differ in texture, color and slight flavor differences.

6. In Chinese medicine cinnamon has been used to treat colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual cramps and in weightloss.

7. Cinnamon has also been used in Ayurveda to treat diabetes and to improve digestion.

8. Additional studies have been done on the health benefits of cinnamon. Some have shown that cinnamon regulates blood sugar, smelling cinnamon stimulates brain activity, it is a natural food preservative, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory.

9. Cinnamon contains manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and zinc.

10. Attempting the Cinnamon Challenge is not only stupid but can be dangerous. *Here I add that it was Craig (my husband) who introduced me to the Cinnamon Challenge on Youtube. While he was researching some of the world's hottest chillies with regards to the Scoville scale; he came across the Cinnamon Challenge and showed me a few videos of some people trying desperately to scoff down a giant tablespoon of pure ground cinnamon. As Nancy suggests, this Challenge is dangerous; peeps have had collapsed lungs and severe poisoning so please don't try it ~Chef Shants*

As for the recipe, check out this beaut...
Annie's Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips
Ingredients:
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor
2 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored and diced
10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
8 ounces raspberries
butter flavored cooking spray
1 pound strawberries
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Totally yummy idea, right?! Absolutely lovely for an appetizer. Thanks to allrecipes.com for this one ;-P.
Have an awesome day further, peeps!

Spicy Cinnamon hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tea And Frankie's

Hi peeps!

Everybody who knows me knows that I am a teapot through and through. I absolutely ADORE tea. Tea, Tea, Tea!!! I have many favourite flavours of tea but I have to say that the ones that stick out the most for me are:

Earl Grey Breakfast Tea; Sri Lankan Blend Ceylon Tea; Chamomile Tea (hahaha, I just heard you groan!) And Mixed Berries and Lemon Tea.

Here's some interesting facts about tea thanks to the Food Network Blog:

1. The word tea comes from the Chinese T’e, which was the word in the Amoy dialect for the plant from which tea leaves came. In Mandarin, the word was ch’a, which is where the words char and chai are derived from.

2. Tea (except herbal teas, which are not really tea at all) is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Black tea, green tea and oolong tea are all made from leaves plucked from the same tea bushes, but they undergo different processes to provide specific styles of beverage. Black tea is allowed to ferment, oolong is semifermented and green tea is unfermented. White tea is also unfermented and comes from the same bush, but is taken from the unopened buds of the tea bush.

3. Chinese legend tells us that Emperor Shen Nong first discovered tea in 2737 B.C., when leaves from the tea bushes fell into water his servants were boiling to purify. It was at first considered a tonic, however, and used for medicinal purposes only.

4. Tea is believed to have arrived in Europe thanks to a Portuguese Jesuit priest named Jasper de Cruz. He visited China in 1590 when Portugal was granted trading privileges with the country and was allowed to bring some of the plants he discovered with him when he returned home.

5. Until the 19th century, nearly all tea was grown in China and its major export partner was Great Britain. As trade with China became more difficult, the British began to look for other areas to cultivate tea including regions of India (Assam and Darjeeling) and Africa (Kenya) and managed to begin cultivation by illegally smuggling plants out of China. These “new” areas remain some of the biggest producers of tea to this day.

6. Not surprisingly, China is still the biggest producer of tea and supplies nearly 29 percent of the world’s total, with India coming in a close second. You may be surprised by some of the other countries in the top 10 list with Iran, Vietnam, Turkey and even Argentina making appearances.

7. Though the Chinese grows the most tea, they are not the biggest consumers. At least not per capita. That would be the United Arab Emirates, whose citizens drink nearly 14 pounds of the stuff every year, putting them ahead of Morocco and Ireland residents. We Brits come in seventh and the United States ranks a lowly 69th in the top 100. Between us all, however, we manage to drink more than three billion cups a year, making tea the second-most-consumed beverage behind water.

8. It was the American Thomas Sullivan who accidentally invented the teabag when he sent out samples in small silk pouches to customers in 1904. They did not know to empty the contents into the pot and added everything including the silk container. Sullivan saw this as an opportunity and began making ready-to-use tea bags out of gauze. Nowadays, the teabag is the by far the most popular way to make tea, with over 96 percent of the tea drunk in the United Kingdom being made in this fashion.

9. Though drinking all of the different types of tea is considered to be beneficial to one’s health, it is green tea that has the best reputation as a super food. Various studies have shown that drinking green tea may well be helpful in the fight against heart disease, certain forms of cancer and diabetes as well as a valuable tool in the battle to lower cholesterol. Although some of the findings are disputed, few doctors would disagree that a cup of green tea every day does you good.

10. The most expensive tea in the world is grown in the mountains of Ya’An in the Sichuan province of China. Workers fertilize the tea bushes using the waste from local pandas whose bodies take in only a small amount of nutrients from the food they eat. The tea costs the equivalent of around $200 for a small cup.

Now on to the Frankie's part of the discussion.
I went shopping with Craig and the girls at The Farmer's Market a while back and came across these soft drinks made by a South African company called Frankie's Olde Soft Drink Co. Here's an excerpt off of their website,www.frankiessoftdrinks.com

"Frankies Olde Soft Drink Co. is a “micro” soft drink business that is reproducing some of the favourite soft drink tastes of yesteryear and already has a range of luxury soft drinks, which includes Homemade Ginger Beer, Olde Style Root Beer, Original Cream Soda, Cloudy Lemonade and Cinnamon Cola. Our online shop enables you to have the Frankies Soft Drink range delivered to your door".

*I add here that they also have the most amazing flavour ever called Dandelion and Burdock. This flavoured soft drink has blown me away and I am so addicted to the awesome flavour. It tastes a mix between pure vanilla, spice and licorice! * - see, here's a pic of me drinking some. Lol.

Watch this space, peeps, Frankie's is hitting the world by storm!!! I absolutely LOVE this soda!

And that's all the time we have for today, folks. Have a GREAT one!

Delicious Tea-riffic hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Great Pink Flops

Hi peeps!

By now ya'll pretty much know that the girls and I love to bake and cook together. So it comes as no surprise that we were at it again last week. This time the rules were that everything we made had to be pink! Oh my shattered nerves! Well, yeup, it was pink alright and so was my index finger for the next three days.

It all started off when the girls went to granny's house for three days last week and baked some yummy peanutbutter biscuits; they were so yummy that we had to bake some at home too. (Don't forget the rule was that whatever we baked had to be pink). We also decided on trying out a new sponge cake recipe that was recommended to me by a friend.

Here are the two recipes we used and enjoy the photos of our not-quite success this time round. (The peanutbutter biscuits ended up quite a sick shade of brown pink and the cake didn't quite come out as planned - even the best of us flop sometimes; hahahahaha).

Peanutbutter Biscuits
Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
5ml vanilla essence (add 10ml red food colouring to make the biscuits pink -what a disaster hahahaha)
3 huge dollops of peanutbutter (we used Black Cat Chunky)

Directions:
Combine the sugars and beat in the egg. Add the sifted flour and add the peanutbutter and melted butter and mix well. Add the vanilla essence last. Make sure ingredients are well combined.

Roll out onto lightly floured surface and cut with cookie cutters of your choice or roll into golf ball sized balls, flatten with a fork and then bake on preheated oven at 160C for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the greased baking dish before removing otherwise they crumble.

As for this sponge cake recipe - I'm so sorry my friend; but I didn't like it. I'm sharing it anyway in case someone else finds it a better recipe than I did.



That Other Sponge Cake Recipe
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder -(I'm telling you to add in the baking powder coz our cake came out as flat as a pancake without it. It didn't feature in the original recipe)
Pinch of salt
3 eggs room temperature
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup full cream milk
5ml vanilla essence
(We added 10mls of red food colouring to make the cake pink as per the rules of our baking night)
Directions:
Pre heat oven to 180C and grease a 20cm baking pan/ cake pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat in butter one spoon at a time.
Beat in sugar one spoon at a time
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add vanilla essence. (Add food colouring)
Add the milk.
Do not over beat.
Transfer into greased cake tin and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. (After 15 minutes I smelled something funky and found that not only did the cake not rise but it had already pulled away from the sides and was quite bouncy in the centre and burnt on the edges -yuck! So just keep an eye on your sponge cake while its baking coz I'm not convinced that this time is right).
We were going to bake 3 seperate pink sponge cakes and bomb them together with strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream but after I saw the 'delightful' end product; I decided I'm not going to waste good cream and jam on this great pink flop.

Well; regardless of it all, it was an educational night in the kitchen and at least we were pretty in pink! Let me know how the recipe turns out for you if you decide to give it a bang. :)

Keep it pinkylicious, peeps!
Floppy pink hugs*
Chef Shants, Akira and Storm - Pink Ninjas xxxxx

Monday, 19 August 2013

Deep Fried Icecream and Rainbow Oranges

Hi peeps!

And welcome back to the Chef Mother after another awesome weekend. A quick shout out to my brother, Neill; who had his birthday on Saturday - hope you were spoiled rotten big bro and happy birthday from all of us nutcases :).

The girls and I had a bake night again during last week so tune in tomorrow to see the nonsense we got up to. Seeing as we had a Health Week two weeks ago, I reckon we need a week where we bugger the calories and eat what makes us happy!

I was first introduced to deep fried ice cream at a restaurant here in Durban but I have to admit; I honestly didn't like it and couldn't understand why everyone was making such a big thing about it either. To be honest; it was just plain gross to me. So I thought; well, there has to be a way to make it taste better and went recipe hunting. Most of them were pretty oily and gross too but I just wasn't prepared to give up hope just yet and then I found this recipe. Why not try it out and let me know what you think:

Deep Fried Ice Cream
Ingredients
1 tub ice cream, any flavour
1 loaf sliced white bread
6 to 8 cups canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions
Place a plate or sheet pan in the freezer and let it chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Using a large ice cream scoop, make balls of ice cream and place them on the sheet pan then return them to the freezer.

Cut the crusts off the sliced bread and using about 2 slices per ice cream ball, form the bread around the ice cream using your hands to pack it like a snow ball. Once it's completely covered return it to the freezer.

In a medium saucepan, heat 3 inches of canola oil to 365 degrees F. Drop the covered ice cream balls, one at a time, into the hot oil and fry, turning occasionally so they colour evenly, until golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil and briefly drain on paper towels. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Coat fried ice cream in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve immediately

My friend, Naomi, who I have known for a good few years now, had a birthday party for her little girl, Layla, this Saturday past. Its thanks to Naomi that she reminded me of this really cool party trick for kids - I can't remember if I have blogged about it before or not but here we go:

Jelly Oranges
Ingredients:
1 bag of oranges
Packets of mixed flavour jellies
(The rainbow orange halves have the most impact)
Directions:
Cut the oranges and half and juice them so that the halves are empty. (Now you have freshly squeezed O.J for breakfast tomorrow too! Talk about two birds with one stone!).

Place the halves upright in a muffin tin and prepare your jelly as instructed on the box.

Pour jelly into orange halves and refrigerate overnight. Slice with a very sharp knife and plate just before serving.
-thanks Naomi for reminding me about this one!

Pop by tomorrow to see the mischief the girls and I got up to in the kitchen again :). It was a holy mess lol.
Bright rainbow hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 16 August 2013

Eat Like Channing Tatum

Hi peeps!


I haven't done an Eat Like blog in a very long time; there just seems to be so much to chat about that sometimes it gets left behind. I think that another Eat Like is in the cards for today and our Celeb Menu will be with Mr Tatum.

He is known as Channing Tatum and his nickname is Chan. He claims that girls were his biggest distraction at school and he used to work as a male stripper. He is multiracial and his favourite colours are blue and green. His favourite movie is The Goonies and he is currently married. He is well known for his GI JOE movie and YES, he did ALL his own moves and dance steps in the STEP UP movie!! He has also modelled for Dolce & Gabana and Abercrombie And Fitch. Unfortunately, there isn't a clear answer to what his favourite food is, but seeing as this model/actor needs to keep well ripped for his fans, here is a menu fit for this Taurean.

Spicy Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Chicken Tikka Masala
Five Spice Grilled Chicken
Chicken Biryani
Easy Indian Butter Chicken
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
4 long skewers

Directions
In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat a grill for high heat.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Oh yes, please! I will have a full portion, thanks! Hope you enjoy this menu as much as I do and as much as Chan might too.

Have an absolutely fabulously sexy weekend, peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Wine, Glorious Wine!

Hi peeps!

There's nothing quite like the delicate flavour of the perfect wine with a good plate of food. I really love cooking with wine and I thought we could take a look at some different types of wine. Thanks to the WineEstate.com for this informative list of the best wines on the market today:

The Whites
Chardonnay is a very versatile wine grape: its flavor and aromas are easily influenced by where it's grown and how it's made. Fruit flavors range from apple and lime in cooler climates to tropical fruits in warmer places. When barreled in oak, it takes on a richness characterized by honey and butter flavors. When barreled in stainless steel, it often retains more mineral flavors and comes across as fresher on the palate. Chardonnay excels in Burgundy, France. Cool coastal areas of California also produce excellent Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is a favorite with seafood. Minerally versions, like those from Chablis, France, pair particularly well with oysters.

Riesling is a crisp, clean wine with green apple, pear and lime flavors. The best offer pleasing mineral qualities as well. With age, Riesling takes on honey flavors and attractive oily aromas. Riesling grows well in Germany, the Alsace region of France, the Finger Lakes region of New York, and parts of Australia and Washington State.

Riesling pairs nicely with spicy foods, poultry and pork. Try it with Thai food.

Pinot Gris is made from grapes that generally produce different styles of wine depending on where the grapes are grown and how they're handled in the cellar. In the Alsace region of France, and in places like Oregon and New Zealand, Pinot Gris typically makes rich wines marked by a bit of spice. The Italian style (Pinot Grigio) tends to be fresh, crisp and refreshing.

Sample either style with seafood and pasta dishes, vegetarian food and poultry.

Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, crisp, aromatic wine with grapefruit and grassy flavors. This wine is the star of the Loire region of France. It also shines in the Bordeaux region, where it is often blended with Semillon. In the New World, New Zealand has emerged as a prime spot for Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc is a food-friendly wine that goes well with many seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes.

Stay tuned for more articles about wine and food, including regional food and wine pairings from around the world.

The Reds
Merlot is a soft, supple wine with nice fruit flavors of plums and blackberries and occasionally mint, chocolate and eucalyptus flavors and aromas. Typically, it is ready to drink earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, which sometimes needs a few years for its astringent tannins to mellow. Outside of Europe, New World Merlot shines in places like California, Chile and Washington State.

Cabernet Sauvignon is more assertive than Merlot, with more tannin and greater aging potential. It can have flavors of blackberries, plums, black currants, and cassis. Aged in oak, Cabernet Sauvignon can take on flavors of vanilla, cedar, chocolate, and coffee. Beyond Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon does well in Napa, California, where it produces smooth, ripe wines. Washington State, Chile and Australia are also making excellent Cabernet.

Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are very nice with meat dishes like beef and lamb.

Pinot Noir, a notoriously difficult grape to grow, made its mark initially in Burgundy, France. The grape continues to deliver single-varietal wines that are among the best in the world. Pinot Noirs are delicate wines that taste of red fruits like cherries, raspberries and strawberries. With age, flavors and aromas become more complex, developing earthy notes like mushrooms and decaying leaves. Burgundy in particular is noted for developing these earthy flavors. In the New World, tasty Pinot Noir is being made in Oregon, New Zealand, and some of the cooler appellations of California.

Pinot Noir is a versatile food wine, great with poultry, salmon, meat and vegetable dishes.

Shiraz Australian versions are typically big, bold and spicy with jammy fruit and aromas of leather and black fruit. Syrah is at home in the Rhone region of France, where the grape makes spicy, rich, darkly delicious wines that increase in complexity as they age. Syrah also makes delicious wines in Australia, where it is marketed as Shiraz. Syrah also excels in Washington State, where it often displays an attractive acid balance, and in California, where the styles vary significantly.

Syrah is a very versatile wine that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It's terrific with grilled meats.

Other Reds to Consider
Sangiovese
is the wine grape that makes Chianti, a tremendous food wine with flavors and aromas of cherries and rose petals.

Nebbiolo is the grape variety that makes Barolo and Barbaresco, the noble (and pricey) red wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. With age, flavor notes of plums and cherries are enhanced by flavors of smoke, tar and roses.

Malbec is a star in Argentina, where it produces inky wines with an attractive smoke and leather quality. It also stands out in Cahors in southern France.

Tempranillo is a famous grape of Spain, where it is used in wines of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions.

Gamay makes the fresh and fruity, raspberry-flavored wines of the Beaujolais region of Burgundy.

Zinfandel has found its home in California, where it produces big, fruity, often spicy red wines.

A lovely list to consider for your perusal, wine drinking is an art form all of its own kind but remember....

Drink responsibly and never drink and drive!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fresh Foods and ADHD and 6 Parenting Tips For Parents of ADHD Children

Hi peeps!

Yesterday we spoke of foods and additives that may add to the problem with regards to ADHD in children. Today we take a closer look at foods that may help children that have been diagnosed with this disorder.

From the research that I've done and from the discussions that I've had (and they have been extensive as my own daughter, Stormy, has been said to be ADHD); that there is quite a big chance that your child could also be incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD. Sometimes a child might just be dyslexic, just naturally energetic, may have some other issue or could be just plain damn naughty due to lack of assertive discipline (to spank or not to spank, that is the question!).

As far as ADHD is concerned; it is your responsibility as the parent to make sure you do not always take the first diagnoses at face value, but explore all possible ways of determining the cause of your child's problem/ issue. I understand what I am about to say is controversial and will probably upset quite a few people but I find that drugging your child with medication unnecessarily due to incorrect diagnoses is just as bad as child abuse.

So don't just take the word of a teacher or the first doctor at face value. Please, for the health of your child, extend yourself and research, research, research and speak to as many people as possible and even acquire more than one medical opinion.

Having said this, here are a list of foods that may help your child who has correctly been diagnosed with ADHD..........oh! And I'd like to add that food is NOT directly linked as the primary source to ADHD, but there are suggestions that foods can either assist or exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD.

Wholegrain breads and organice brown rice
Fresh fruits.
Fresh vegetables (although frozen can also be acceptable)
Products high in Omega 3 and fatty acids, eg: sardines, tuna, mackerel or salmon.
Eggs
Fresh juices with as little added preservatives and additives as possible
LOTS OF WATER
And start each day off with a full and balanced diet in conjunction with the medication provided.

Getting your child active in sports or in a social hobby may also help to alleviate a lot of the excess energies in children. Join a support group for parents that have children with ADD or ADHD.

Here are SIX parenting tips to help with being a parent to an ADHD child with tips from Dr Meyer.

1. Be honest with your child about ADHD.

Meyer never thought about keeping the news from his son. “I told him exactly what was going on,” he says. In contrast, some parents hide the disorder by telling their child, for example, that their ADHD drug is a “magic vitamin,” he says. But Meyer has done ADHD coaching with kids who have confided that they aren’t fooled: they know that it’s medication. ADHD isn’t a child’s fault. It’s a brain disorder that causes youngsters to have trouble with concentration, ability to complete tasks, or plan for the future. By being open, Meyer lessened the stigma for his son. Once, he took his son, who was 7 or 8 at the time, to a restaurant where they spotted a youngster in perpetual motion -- so much, in fact, that one parent had to hold him down. “My mouth must have dropped,” Meyer says. “And my son said to me, ‘Don’t look at him as hyperactive; look at him as being in a hurry to see the world!".
“We can reframe things,” Meyer says. “We don’t have to always look at the most negative.”
Patricia O. Quinn, MD, a developmental pediatrician in Washington, D.C., agrees that it’s best to tell the truth. “It’s really important to be honest and upfront,” she says. The child really needs to understand that it’s just part of who he or she is and it’s really something they can control.”
Quinn specializes in treating children and adults with ADHD. She has the disorder, as do three of her four children. She has consulted for pharmaceutical companies and has written numerous books about ADHD.

2. Don’t turn ADHD-related problems into a character issue.

Children with ADHD may not perform as consistently as peers who have no problems with focus and concentration.
“I don’t expect consistency from a child with ADD,” Meyer says. “One day, a child may come in with a 90 on a test. The next day, it may be 60. The next day, 70. The next day, it might be 95.”
When grades bounce around, “It’s typical for any [parent] to say, ‘Well, you did so well yesterday. Why aren’t you doing it today?’” he says.
“Often, kids with ADHD are very bright," Quinn says. "They know what to do, but they simply don’t know how to get started, they don’t stick with it, and people may misinterpret that.”

3. Don’t let ADHD become a convenient excuse

Yes, ADHD makes many tasks harder, but children should learn to take responsibility, Meyer says.
“Don’t let them make ADHD an excuse for something.," Meyer says.
"For example, many young children quickly learn to say things, such as, “I don’t need to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder,” Meyer says. “That’s not going to cut it."
The reality? “It may be harder for me to do my homework because I have an attention deficit disorder.”

4. Enforce rules and consequences calmly.

For a child with ADHD, it helps to have verbal and written expectations. For example, parents could post a chart that lists the child’s responsibilities and the house rules.

Rewards are fine, Meyer says, but make them immediate, such as TV time or gold stars that can be redeemed for prizes. Since children with ADHD have trouble with planning for the future, it may not work to offer a new bike for a year’s worth of good grades.

Parents must be clear about consequences and enforce them right away, calmly and clearly. While parents may often feel frustrated, avoid punishing in the heat of disappointment or anger, Meyer says.

That can be hard when a parent has ADHD, too, Quinn says. The disorder can run in families.

Parents with ADHD might yell because they have trouble with impulsivity, according to Quinn. “We really do try to help the parent remain in control in these situations," she says. "Often, I say that the child doesn’t need a time out -- sometimes the parent needs a time-out before they discuss the situation.”

Parents need to get their own ADHD under control so that they can model appropriate behavior, Quinn says.

5. Help your child discover his strengths.

Children with ADHD are often compared unfavorably to others. Hence, some develop low self-esteem and depression, Meyer says.

Problems with self-esteem occur as early as age 8, says Quinn. Many teens with ADHD, especially if undiagnosed, develop a learned helplessness. “They say, ‘Nothing ever goes right for me. Why should I even bother to try?’ There’s a lot of demoralization and depression that goes along with it," Quinn says.

Meyer wanted his son to discover his own best abilities -- “islands of competency,” he says. “I would say to him, ‘Look, you have weak spots and you have strong spots.”

When his son found subjects dull, “He couldn’t care about it, period,” Meyer says.

“But when he was interested in something, he would master things five years above his age [level],” he says. For example, his son knew how to wire electrical outlets and replace computer parts well ahead of peers. “That stuff stuck with him and he knew that was one of his islands of competency. So he had things to look at other than negative things.”

Meyer would offer a favorable comparison: he told his son that few people his age could master such tasks. “High expectations in the proper areas, I think, is very important,” he says.

6. Don't overprotect your child.

As children with ADHD grow, they’ll need to learn independence.
“We tend to try to solve everything for kids with issues,” Meyer says. “I’m adamantly against that. I want them to learn how to be on their own, to be successful. I don’t want them to feel, ‘I have a disability and Mommy and Daddy are going to be there to solve all my problems, to make everything good.’"
With his son, that involved “not telling him what to do, but having him telling me what he should do,” Meyer says. “He had to learn to be able to do it by himself, which is very hard for kids with ADHD.”
For parents, that might mean allowing children to deal with their own traffic fines instead of paying on their behalf. Or letting them solve their own roommate problems when they leave home.
O’Malley, the mother of a college student with ADHD, learned that lesson in hindsight. When her daughter had dorm-mate troubles, O’Malley and her husband asked the president of the college to intervene. The couple “went to bat for her,” O’Malley says. After they gave her some solutions, the young woman ultimately rejected the ideas.
Don’t rush in and present solutions for a child with ADHD to select, O’Malley says. “This is a lesson you learn when you have teenagers and you’re always giving them choices. You’re never really teaching them how to solve problems.”

So get out there, parents. Educate yourselves and your children and don't give up. There is help and there is supposrt out there!
Keep yourselves healthy and it'll be easier to keep your children healthy too.

I hope these past two days have been informative and helpful. God bless you and your child.
Much support and love
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Our Children; Food and ADHD

Hi peeps!

Firstly; CONGRATS to my cousin, Larissa and her new hubby, Eugene. They were married on Saturday and have now joined the rest of us in the Ball And Chain Gang. May your marriage be blessed and your lives be full.

Secondly; I apologize for the mix-up in posts. I forgot that Friday past was a public holiday in South Africa (where I live) and we don't post blogs on public holidays. That is why the blog intended for Friday was posted yesterday. I do apologize for my numb-brainy-ness lol.

Thirdly; (and here we begin today's blog, finally) I'm a bit of a facebook freak and belong to quite a few pages. This one page posted a picture of a rolled up belt with the caption: "the "original" cure for ADHD" and it caused such an outcry and mudslinging contest between the fans of the page. I understand both views of the argument but what caught my attention was the amount of parents whose comments would begin "I am a parent of an ADHD child...". To me it seemed incredulous that SO MANY parents seem to have ADHD/ ADD children these days compared to a few years ago. Its almost as if ADHD / ADD has reached a pandemic state of some sort.

WHY are so many children now being diagnosed with ADHD /ADD these days? WHY do so many children have behavioral/ mental/ health issues these days too? Is it the discipline we use or the lack of discipline? Are hundreds of children being incorrectly diagnosed as being ADHD/ ADD? Could it not be our diets during pregnancy? Or could it be the diets of our children today?
I cannot answer all these questions but I did take the time to research diet and food choices with regards to pregnancy and children with ADHD, we take a look at way may seem to be some of the additive culprits within the snack world:

ADHD and food additives
By Amanda Gardner
Will eliminating dye-containing foods from a child's diet help ADHD? Experts say there's not enough evidence to recommend this action, although a small subset of children may benefit.
Most studies of a possible link analyzed blends of additives, not single ingredients, making it difficult to find a culprit.
However, here's a list of additives that could aggravate attention problems, although none (with the exception of Yellow No. 5) has been studied alone in humans. A comprehensive list of dyes in food products can be found at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Blue No. 1
Also known as: Brilliant blue
What it is: A food coloring
Where you can find it: Frito-Lay Sun Chips French Onion and other Frito-Lay products; some Yoplait products; some JELL-O dessert products; Fruity Cheerios; Trix; Froot-Loops; Apple Jacks; Quaker Cap'N Crunch's Crunch Berries; some Pop-Tarts products; some Oscar Mayer Lunchables; Duncan Hines Whipped Frosting Chocolate; Edy's ice cream products; Skittles candies; Jolly Ranchers Screaming Sours Soft & Chew Candy; Eclipse gum; Fanta
Grape

Blue No. 2
Also known as: Indigotine
What it is: A food coloring
Where you can find it: Froot-Loops; Post Fruity Pebbles; Pop-Tarts products; Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Strawberry Supreme Premium Cake Mix; Betty Crocker Frosting Rich & Creamy Cherry; M&M's Milk Chocolate Candies; M&M's Milk Chocolate Peanut Candies; Wonka Nerds Grape/Strawberry; pet foods

Green No. 3
What it is: A food coloring, though rarely used these days
Where you can find it: Candy, beverages, ice cream, puddings

Orange B
What it is: A food coloring, but no longer used
Where you used to find it: Sausage casings

Red No. 3
Also known as: Carmoisine
What it is: A food coloring found only in a few types of food products
Where you can find it: Candy, cake icing, chewing gum

Sodium benzoate
What it is: A food preservative
Where you can find it: Fruit juice, carbonated beverages, and pickles
You’ll find sodium benzoate in abundance in acidic foods. It is used to stymie the growth of microorganisms, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

Red No. 40
Also known as: Allura red
What it is: A food coloring and the most widely used food dye in the U.S., trumping both Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6.
Where you can find it: Some Frito-Lay products; some Yoplait products; JELL-O Gelatin desserts; Quaker Instant Oatmeal; Trix; Froot-Loops; Apple Jacks; some Pop-Tart products; Kid Cuisine Kung Fu Panda products; Oscar Mayer Lunchables products; Hostess Twinkies; some Pillsbury rolls and frostings; some Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines products and much much more.

Yellow No. 5
Also known as: Tartrazine
What it is: Yellow No. 5 is the only food dye that has been tested alone and not simply as part of a mix. Those studies did link it to hyperactivity. It is the second most commonly used dye in the U.S. (And practically, worldwide too)
Where you can find it: Nabisco Cheese Nips Four Cheese; Frito-Lay Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar and other Frito-Lay products; some Hunt’s Snack Pack Pudding products; Lucky Charms; Eggo waffles and other waffle products; some Pop-Tarts products; various Kraft macaroni and cheese products; Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper and other products

Yellow No. 6
Also known as: Sunset yellow
What it is: The third most widely used food dye in the U.S.
Where you can find it: Frito-Lay Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Crunchy and other Frito-Lay products; Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-ups; some JELL-O gelatin deserts and instant puddings; Fruity Cheerios; Trix; some Eggo waffle products; some Kid Cuisine Kung Fu Panda products; some Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners; some Betty Crocker frostings; some M&M’s and Skittles candies; Sunkist Orange Soda; Fanta Orange.

A lot of these products are classed as "junk food" and although it can be argued that organic vegetables are also not healthy due to the chemicals and pesticides used with regards to them; are still a better option for healthy eating compared to most take aways and junk food.
Tomorrow we take a look at the foods that may help with the effects of ADHD and see if there isn't perhaps a more natural way of helping our children instead of having to dose them up on medication for the rest of their lives.

See ya'll tomorrow!
Keep healthy and love your kids, no matter what.
Chef Shants xxxxx