Monday, 14 October 2013

Pride and Talent!

Hi peeps!

Its been a fantastic weekend for us with perfect weather. Can feel the African summer is here.
I am blessed to come from one very big; very loving and very talented family. I can boast painters; poets; philosophers and novelists. My gran is a talented wood carver and with her permission; I would like to show case some of the work she has done.

Please note: all designs; artistry and photos are copyright of and all acknowledgment goes to F.J. Wessels.




















I'm going to be taking a week's break from blogging and will return again next week Monday. If you have any comments or recipes you'd like to share; email me at shantsjlucas@gmail.com.


Have an awesome week and weekend; peeps! See you on Monday again <3

Much love and many hugs!
Chef Shants. xxxxx

Friday, 11 October 2013

GORGEOUS COCKTAILS

Hi peeps!

We are at the end of another week and its time to kick off those shoes and unwind for the weekend. I collected some of images of the most delicious and stunning-looking cocktails from the web; hope you enjoy this showcase and remember to always drink responsibly!



 

Never drink and drive and always arrive alive! Enjoy responsibly; but the main thing is; to ENJOY! Have a fantastic weekend, peeps and thanks for joining me for another week of blogs featured by the chef mother! Have a great one ;-)

*beautiful hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 10 October 2013

CAPERS

Hi peeps!

So today we take a nice look at these salty flowerbuds and what's so cool about them. I love capers; especially with pastas and fish dishes. Pronounce it: ⁠kay-per⁠

Capers are the small flower buds of the Capparis shrub, which grows in the Mediterranean. As they're picked by hand they're fairly pricey but they're a versatile store cupboard ingredient, and are good for adding a distinctive sour/salty flavour to many savoury dishes.

* Availability
All year round.

* Choose the best
Really small, peppercorn-sized capers, called 'nonpareille' are available, but the slightly larger ones are more common. Capers are preserved a number of ways - either in salt, wine vinegar, brine or olive oil. The brine-pickled type has the sharpest flavour and is slightly less versatile than the salted type. For a more sophisticated caper flavour, try the elegantly stemmed caper berries, which are a little milder and sweeter than the standard type.

* Prepare it
Rinse well and pat dry.

* Store it
In a cool, dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge and make sure they keep below the level of whatever they were pickled in, otherwise they'll start to smell.

* Cook it
Combine with white wine vinegar, mustard, honey and lemon juice and mix with grated celeriac to make remoulade; mix with melted butter, lemon juice and zest to make a sauce for grilled salmon; add to pizza toppings; combine with mayonnaise, olive oil, anchovies, tuna and lemon juice for an Italian tonnato sauce to serve with rosé veal.

* Alternatives
Try gherkin.
- photo and passage excerpt extracted from Good Food.com.

FISH WITH CITRUS CAPER SAUCE - recipe and photo from steamykitchen.com.
Ingredients:
1 fish fillet (or 1/3 pound shrimp), patted very dry
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 orange (slice 1/4 of the orange into thin slices, the rest will be used for juice)
1/2 lemon (slice 1/4 of the lemon into thin slices, the rest will be used for juice)
1 teaspoon capers (drained)
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons butter

Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a hot skillet* and sear the fish fillet on one side.

*I like using a wok when cooking. It gives me the flexibility to cook for one or 8 people – look at all the available surface for cooking!

When you begin to see the color change from opaque to white creep up to halfway up the sides of the fillet, flip the fish over.

Add in the wine, orange/lemon slices, capers and the butter. Squeeze the remaining orange and lemon juice into the pan. Season sauce with a bit more salt and pepper if you’d like. When the sauce begins to bubble, turn heat to medium-low and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 1-2 mins; throw in the fresh parsley and you're done.

And that's all we have time for today! Hope you've enjoyed your time here on the chef mother and thanks again to all who have subscribed to; and view the blog every day. You have no idea how much you are appreciated.
Big big thanks. :)

*piquant buddy hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

HEALTHY EATING - Cholesterol FREE!

Hi peeps!

A few weeks ago I did a whole week's worth of blogs for Health Week and while browsing; I came across some cool, healthy recipes that are great for maintaining your weight and keeping that cholesterol level down -

NOODLES WITH TURKEY; GREEN BEANS and HOISIN.
Ingredients
100g ramen noodles
100g green beans, halved
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
juice 1 lime
1 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
250g turkey mince
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 spring onions, sliced diagonally
Method

1. Boil the noodles following pack instructions, adding the green beans for the final 2 mins. Drain and set aside.⁠

2. In a small bowl, mix together the hoisin, lime juice and chilli sauce. In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil, then fry the mince until nicely browned. Add the garlic and fry for 1 min more. Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook for a few mins more until sticky. Finally, stir in the noodles, beans and half the spring onions to heat through. Scatter over the remaining spring onions to serve.
-taken from Good Food Magazine Nov '10.

SALMON; SPINACH AND CREAM TARTARE
Ingredients
1 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 skinless salmon fillets
250g bag spinach
2 tbsp reduced-fat crème fraîche
juice ½ lemon
1 tsp caper, drained
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
lemon wedges, to serve
Method

1. Heat the oil in a pan, season the salmon on both sides, then fry for 4 mins each side until golden and the flesh flakes easily. Leave to rest on a plate while you cook the spinach.⁠

2. Tip the leaves into the hot pan, season well, then cover and leave to wilt for 1 min, stirring once or twice. Spoon the spinach onto plates, then top with the salmon. Gently heat the crème fraîche in the pan with a squeeze of the lemon juice, the capers and parsley, then season to taste. Be careful not to let it boil. Spoon the sauce over the fish, then serve with lemon wedges.⁠ -Recipe from Good Food magazine, May '08

Look after your body and love it as it is; peeps; its the one you were born with and the one that fights your battles with you!

*healthy hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

MUSIC INSPIRED

Hi peeps!

I'm a bit sad today; as a friend of mine is going on holiday for 14 days and she flies tomorrow; so I'm feeling a bit sad. Music always makes me feel better and its amazing how you can always seem to find a song that suits your current mood; so I've decided to showcase a collection of music inspired dishes, desserts, cakes and cupcakes. The images are thanks to Google images; let's take a look:





 





Absolutely gorgeous; aren't they? Its amazing what you can do if you just put your mind to it and try. To my dear friend, M. Have a safe trip tomorrow; lady and see you soon! Pop by tomorrow for another cool blog.

*music love and tight hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Monday, 7 October 2013

SWEET TOOTH!

Hi peeps!

Another great week planned here on The Chef Mother and I hope it follows a great weekend too! What did ya'll get up to? I went out with a friend and my girls on Saturday and then lazed about like Garfield yesterday. Its hated Monday again and I think we shall sweeten it up with two fun and easy dessert recipes. What do you think of these? :

Strawberry Shortcake - Chef In You.com
Ingredients
For the Fruit Layer and Topping
8 cups (abt 2-1/2 lbs) Strawberries
6 tbsp (2-1/2 oz) Sugar
2 cups Whipped Cream

For the Shortcakes
2 cups (10 oz) All Purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
5 tbsp (abt 2-1/4 oz) Sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
8 tbsp cold unsalted Butter
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp Whole Milk (see Tips)
1 large Egg white, lightly beaten
Tips
1. Whipped Cream: To make 2 cups, you would need 1 cup chilled (preferably pasteurized instead of ultra-pasteurized), 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. In a chilled bowl (and the beaters preferably) add all the ingredients together and beat until small bubbles form, around 30 seconds. Increase the speed and continue beating until the cream is doubled in volume, is smooth and thick. It takes around 20 seconds for soft peak and about 30 seconds for a stiff peak. Recipe from the cookbook.

Method:
Hull the strawberries.
Place 3 cups of the hulled strawberries in a bowl and crush with a potato masher.
Crush until it resembles a thick coarse puree. This helps to bind the shortcakes together.
Slice the remaining berries.
Stir these sliced berries into the crushed berries along with the sugar. Stir to combine and let it macerate for at least 30 minutes or upto 2 hours.
While that's happening, adjust the oven rack to lower middle position and heat the oven to 425 F. In a bowl, combine the flour, 3 tbsp of sugar, the baking powder and salt to combine.
Grate the butter into the flour. Since I was going to be using my hands, I grated the butter.
Note: But if you have a food processor, then just cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes, scatter the pieces over the flour and process until it resembles coarse meal.
I simply used my whisk to combine the butter into the flour until it resembled the coarse meal.
In another bowl/measuring cup, mix the beaten egg with the milk.
Pour this mixture into the flour mixture.
Combine with a rubber spatula until large clumps form.
Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together. DO NOT OVERWORK the dough.
Use your fingers tips to pat the dough into a 9 X 6 inch rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. Be very gentle with the dough. Flour a 2-3/4 inch biscuit cutter and cut into 6 dough rounds. You might be able to get 1 or 2 more rounds with the remaining scraps though they might look more rustic and a tad tougher than the the first 6 rounds.
Note:I used a smaller cutter and hence got many more biscuits. PLace the rounds 1 inch apart on a small baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp sugar. Note:For Advance Prep : Dough rounds can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.
Bake until the shortcakes are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the cakes until warm - about 10 minutes.
To assemble, split the cooled shortcakes into halves. Place each cake bottom on individual serving plate and portion of the fruit on top
and a dollop of whipped cream and the cap it with the cake top.
Add a few pieces of strawberries on top of the shortcake and garnished with mint for color.

Jellied Yoghurt - Chef Shants.
Ingredients:
2packets flavoured jelly
1kg tub full cream yoghurt
Fruit pieces

Method:
Bomb your yoghurt in a bowl
Add as many fruit pieces as you want.
Make the two packets of jelly as it instructs on the box.
While the jelly is still liquid; add it to the yoghurt and fruit pieces.
Stir well.
Refrigerate over night.
Cut in slices like a cake or tart and serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Swing round tomorrow and come take a peepsy at some healthy foods with me. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

*sweetened Monday hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Friday, 4 October 2013

BACON FOOD ART

Hi peeps!

So here we make it alive through another week and welcome Friday as she rolls on in. On Wednesday of this week I blogged about bacon and two gorgeous bacon recipes. While doing the research I came across the most awesome bacon food art. Honestly; most of the food art I come across is so gorgeous that I wouldn't want to wreck it by taking a bite. This is not the case with bacon, however. No matter how gorgeous your food art is, if its bacon and if its edible; consider it nommed nommed nommed!!! Take a look at these crispy works of art:











Guess we are never too old to play with our food!
Have a funtastic weekend and see ya'll real soon ;)

*crispybaconweekendhugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

NUTMEG

Hi peeps!

We find ourselves closer and closer to Halloween and to Thanksgiving (for the American peeps) and Christmas where nutmeg is used in abundance. It is nutmeg's time to step up to bat and here is some interesting info regarding this little gem of a spice (excerpt taken from fitday.com)

Known as a popular spice around the world, nutmeg is also popular for its many health benefits. In fact, since ancient times, nutmeg has been used as a remedy for various ailments or to improve health in general. Here are some of the health benefits that nutmeg provides.

1. Brain Tonic
During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic. This is because nutmeg can effectively stimulate your brain. As a result, it can help eliminate fatigue and stress. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, nutmeg may also be a good remedy. Nutmeg can also improve your concentration so you can become more efficient and focused at work or at school.

2. Pain Relief
Nutmeg is also an effective sedative. In fact, nutmeg is a staple in ancient Chinese medicine. The Chinese used the spice to treat inflammation and abdominal pain. Use nutmeg if you are suffering from aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis, sores and other ailments. To relieve the pain, apply nutmeg oil to the affected areas.

3. Indigestion Relief
If you suffer from digestion-related problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence and so on, nutmeg can effectively offer you relief. Nutmeg oil relieves stomachaches by removing the excess gas from your intestines. Nutmeg can also boost your appetite.

4. Bad Breath Treatment
Because of its antibacterial properties, nutmeg can also effectively treat halitosis or bad breath. As you probably know, bad breath is usually caused by a build-up of bacteria in your mouth. Nutmeg can rid your mouth of these bacteria. This is the reason why nutmeg is a common ingredient in many brands of toothpastes. Nutmeg can also be used to treat gum problems and toothaches.

5. Liver and Kidney Detox
Detoxification is an important factor of good health. Diet, pollution, stress, tobacco, medication and other external substances can lead to the build-up of toxins in your organs. The liver and kidney are two of the organs where this toxic build-up usually develops. As a tonic, nutmeg can clean your liver and kidney and remove these toxins. If you are suffering from a liver disease then nutmeg can also be beneficial. Nutmeg is also effective in preventing and dissolving kidney stones. When your liver and kidney are successfully detoxified, they can perform their function better.

6. Skin Care
If skin care is one of your priorities then you might want to incorporate nutmeg into your regimen. Nutmeg can actually help you achieve smoother and healthier skin by helping you treat several skin problems. A scrub made from nutmeg powder and orange lentil powder can help you remove blackheads, a type of acne characterized by pores clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. If you suffer from acne marks, nutmeg can also help make your scars less noticeable. What you need to do is mix some nutmeg powder with some honey to make a paste, which you will then apply to the acne marks.

7. Sleep Aid
If you have difficulty sleeping at night, drink a cup of milk with some nutmeg powder. This will help you achieve relaxation and will induce sleep.

BLUE CHEESE IRISH POTATO CAKES WITH NUTMEG - About.com
Ingredients:
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 Tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup Cashel Blue cheese, or other blue cheese, crumbled
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup 2-percent milk
1 to 1-1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 to 1-1/2 cups canola oil
Sour cream or creme fraiche for topping, optional

Preparation:

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain and mash the potatoes.

In a small skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Saute the chives and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft. Stir into the mashed potatoes.

Stir in the nutmeg, salt, pepper, dill, and parsley. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Stir in the blue cheese and egg yolk. The cheese should remain in lumps scattered through the potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Shape the potato mixture into 12 cakes and refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm it.

Lightly dredge each cake in the flour, then coat it with the egg-milk mixture and dredge it in the bread crumbs.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the potato cakes to the hot oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. The cakes can be prepared ahead up to this point.

To serve, place the cakes on a baking sheet and reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

Yield: 12 servings

See ya'll tomorrow for our Friday blog!! Much love and
*nutmeggy hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

BACON

Hi peeps!

Can you smell it? That gorgeous smell of bacon frying. That salty; meaty porky bit of heaven...
Oh; nothing says I LOVE YOU quite like bacon. :-).

Turns out you get different types and cuts of bacon: streaky bacon, bacon bits; back bacon and side bacon. You also get green bacon; jowel bacon and middle bacon; slab bacon; hock; picnic bacon and gammon.

Most of the time we fry bacon as a side for eggs for breakfast; but it can be chopped in to bits as part of a dish or used for larding and barding in recipes.

Most times bacon is pork but you do get other bacon as in chicken and turkey bacon and even Macon (from sheep) for the Muslim and Jewish people who do not eat pork.

Bacon can be smoked, pre-boiled; cured, salted; baked or grilled.

In Italy, you get pancetta which can be slivers of uncooked bacon which is usually served with antipasta.

Did you know that bacon is the world's most favourite meat besides chicken?

Did you know that you have to ensure storage and cooking of bacon is done thoroughly due to the possibility of you ingesting roundworm? Heating; drying and freezing helps in this prevention.

You get many different types of bacon in the sense of: There is: bacon ice cream; bacon-infused vodka; deep-fried bacon; chocolate-dipped bacon; bacon-wrapped hot dogs filled with cheese; brioche bread pudding smothered in bacon sauce; hard-boiled eggs coated in mayonnaise encased in bacon—called, appropriately, the "heart attack snack"; bacon salt; bacon doughnuts, cupcakes and cookies; bacon mints and even "baconnaise". - how about making a salad basket out of bacon?!!!

There is no end to Bacon Mania!!!

Now on to our two bacon recipes for today:
These two unusual bacon recipes have been extracted from www.bacongoddess.com.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BACON BALLS
(Yes, you read that right)
These bite-sized beauties have all the goodness of a chocolate covered peanut butter ball with the added bonus of a blast of crunchy/salty/smoky from the bacon when you bite into them. So delicious!

You will need:

Peanut Butter
Powdered Sugar
Chocolate Bark (Coating chocolate)
Bacon - extra crispy

Take about a cup of peanut butter and dump it in a mixing bowl. A cup of peanut butter should make about a dozen balls, depending on how large you like them.

Start stirring in powdered sugar until your mixture is about the texture of cookie dough.

Crumble up your bacon really well and stir it in. I use the microwave bacon and get it REALLY crisp so the fatty parts are crunchy. You'll probably want to use your hands at this point to make sure it's all mixed in well. You might want to wear gloves for this, it can get really messy.

How much bacon? That's up to you. I like a LOT of bacon. I think for the one cup of peanut butter I used 8 or 10 pieces. The dough will end up looking chunky/prickly if you do it like I do. Less bacon will give a more subtle taste, which is good as well.

Okay - now your cookie dough texture will be a goopy greasy mess that you can't mold. Stick your bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes. That will help the grease congeal and make it easier to form the mixture into balls. If it's still too greasy, stick it back in for a bit more.

Make your balls! I guess just use your own judgement as to how big you like your balls.

Put them on wax paper on a cookie tray and stick them in the fridge for like 20 minutes to chill them again before they get dipped.

While your balls are chilling, melt your chocolate bark. Just follow the instructions on the package. I use three chunks (Kroger brand) to cover 12 balls, but you can use more or less depending on your tastes. Remember, you can always melt more if you run out, so it's okay to underestimate your chocolate needs.

Put it in a shallow wide-ish dish when it's melted.

Roll your balls! Roll them in the chocolate until they're coated to your liking then scoop them out and put them back on the wax paper. Use your fingers or a spoon, I don't care. You can put any leftover chocolate on top of the balls if you want. Or just eat it. HA!

Chill your balls for around 20-30 minutes to harden the chocolate.

Nom the HECK out of them! Well? Pretty good, huh?

MAPLE FRENCH TOAST AND BACON CUPCAKES
Recipe Courtesy Kara Scow for Food Magazine
Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 3.9-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon (5 strips)

For the Glaze:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 strips bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (180C) Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin. Prepare the cupcakes: Combine the flours, pudding mix, baking powder, potato starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars with a mixer on low speed until combined, 6 to 8 minutes. Gradually mix in the vanilla and egg whites. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; continue mixing until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the maple syrup and half-and-half, mixing after each addition and ending with flour. Mix until the ingredients are just combined; do not overmix. Fold in the bacon. The batter will be thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Beat the cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon; beat until combined. Spread on the cooled cupcakes; top with chopped bacon, if desired. (Photograph by Kate Sears)

We are taking a look at a gorgeous spice for tomorrow; Nutmeg. Come join us in the kitchen for info on this beaut and two recipes that are so good they'll blow your mind. See you real soon ;-*

*crispybaconhugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx