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Desserts

Desserts

Spicy Dinner Recipes

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Want to add a little spice to dinner? Try this hearty, Tai inspired recipe: A spin on the old beans and rice theme. It’s a flash in the pan – Colorful and aromatic – Special enough for intimate dinners or casual affairs. habanero mounding the rice old beans rice saucepan with lid spicy dinner A cross between a stew and a pasta dish. We suggest the addition of low-calorie ingredients, such as sauteed onions (cooked on high heat in a skillet, in a few drops of oil and then a bit of water once they are limp), or dollop of fat-free sour cream.

Ingredients :

1 cutting board
1 sharp paring knife
1 large utility bowl for soaking the vegetables
1 wooden spoon or other stirring implement
1 wok or large heavy bottomed skillet with lid
1 heavy saucepan with lid
1 ladle for serving
A deep dish platter or individual bowls for serving
1 ramekin or small cup for mounding the rice

Instructions :

Begin by draining the black beans or, if canned beans are being used, rinse well and allow to drain.

Rinse and slice all vegetables (Szechuan-style/almost Julienne) except snow peas into thin strips. To ensure even cooking, crop to an average length and set aside.

Bring Basmati rice to a boil in 3 cups of water with a pinch of salt added. Lower heat and allow rice to continue slowly cooking. Stir occasionally until all liquid is absorbed. Note that other rice may be substituted but Basmati rice has a rich and almost-buttery flavor without adding fat or dairy.

In a wok or large, heavy-bottomed skillet, bring 4 Tablespoons of peanut oil to temperature over high heat.

Add garlic, hot peppers, and half the red curry paste, stirring constantly and quickly to avoid scorching.

When garlic begins to caramelize, add the beans, carrot and sweet potato strips. Lower the heat to medium high and add a splash of dark soy sauce. Stir to coat and cover.

Allow to steam, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It is also important to remember not to overcook the vegetables. You want them to be crisp tender, retaining all of the nutrients and fresh flavor.

Add the rest of the vegetables, the remainder of the curry paste, and half of the fresh basil. Taste for salt and adjust to personal preference. Continue stir-frying until vegetables reach the desired degree of dourness (usually as the colors begin to brighten.).
Remove vegetables from heat and allow to stand aside.

Add coconut milk and the rest of the basil, bringing to temperature rather quickly. Do not over cook or boil. The sauce will break.

Remove from heat and add the vegetables back into the sauce. Turn to coat.

Ladle vegetables and broth into serving bowls with a generous amount of broth. Top each plate with a mound of rice.

Garnish with lime wedges and basil. Serve and enjoy!

TaiTai

1 ½ cups Basmati rice

2 Onions

4 Cloves of garlic

1 Green or red bell pepper

3 Carrots

4 Leeks

2 Sweet potatoes

1 lb. dry black beans,soaked overnight and cooked until tender (1 16oz can of black beans may be substituted)

2 Jalapenos,tai,habanero,or other hot pepper (optional)

1 Can tomato paste

A Splash of dark soy sauce (optional)

4-6 Tablespoons of red curry paste

1 Can coconut milk,1 Healthy bunch of fresh sweet basil – Sliced to ribbons with a few reserved for garnish.

2 – 4 Tablespoons peanut oil (for stir frying),

2 limes-Cut in wedges with 1 lb. black beans

Approximately 60 minutes – soaked and cooked until tender.Serve 4-6

TaiTai is wonderful accompanied by Sapporo or any other dry, light beer. If wine is preferred, I suggest a drier, slightly tart vintage to balance the spiciness of the dish and enhance the flavors.

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Desserts

Cooks Illustrated

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Cooking makes all sorts of interesting transformations in raw foods to whet the appetite, delight the taste buds, and nourish the body.

It softens some foods like the celery stalk, the potato, and the grain of rice. It makes others firm like the egg, the cake batter, and the meringue. It enlarges some things, such as popcorn, popovers, and souffles; deflates some (spinach, for one); and makes others disappear altogether, like a liquid left forgotten on a hot burner or the alcohol in cherries jubilee.

Color Me Healthy – Cooking of Benefits

Cooking changes colors turns the brown lobster red and the red meat brown. The green vegetable too if you cook it too long and it changes butter from yellow to brown to black. It can bind foods together, as it does in sauces and cream soups and croquettes. It can break foods down like curdled milk, overheated hollandaise.

It tenderizes flesh or toughens it, depending on how it is done. It can thin gelatin and thicken broth, liquefy fat and crystallize maple syrup. It makes some foods more nourishing by making their nutrients more available to the body, yet it can destroy other nutrients, such as vitamins. It can make foods safer to eat by killing disease producing organisms.

It does remarkable things with taste, blends and mellows flavors, heightens them, sometimes transforms them entirely, sometimes ruins them by burning, scorching, or just plain cooking too long.

Cooking defined

The changes just mentioned all come about through a single process, which use applying heat over a period. That is what cooking is: bringing about a change in a food product by the application of heat over a period of time. The overall purpose of cooking is to make the food more edible. Speaking in the language of the kitchen, we say we are increasing its playability.

Notice that two things are necessary in cooking to bring about change: heat and time. You will find that many specific cooking techniques have to do with the interplay of these two factors: the length of time and the degree of hotness, or the temperature.

When we talk about cooking temperature, we are usually talking about the temperature of the cooking medium like the fat in the fry kettle, the air in the oven, the water in the pot. The real purpose, of course, is to raise the temperature of the food itself to the point where the desired change will take place. This is what takes time. The lower the temperature of the cooking medium, the longer it takes to bring about change.

In the ever-changing world of ours, we find more and more new ways that save us time cooking. This is because we have less time to prepare food in our busy lives. Having a job in the food industry is one way to kill two birds with one stone. You can work all day and bring home a good meal for the family after work. If everyone could spend his or her lives cooking for money, I would bet most of us would do it.

Equipment for oven and broiler cooking

A small overhead broiler known as a salamander is common in restaurant kitchens for quick glazing and browning of a product that is already cooked. The salamander is usually mounted over the range.

In overhead broilers, there are two ways to control the cooking temperature. You can move the cooking surface toward the fire or away from it, or you can turn the heat up or down. Broilers, like other cooking equipment, should be preheated before use.

Frying

The cooking methods generally called frying are classified as dry heat methods. To fry is to cook food in hot fat. It includes the following methods.

Panfry To cook food in a small to moderate amount of fat over moderate heat.

Deep-fry To cook food submerged in hot fat.

Saute (sotay) to flip food quickly in a small amount of hot fat in a pan over high heat.

At first glance, you might think that frying is a moist heat method, since the medium that conducts heat to the food is a liquid. Fat, however, does not contain moisture. Moreover, it does not interact with the food in the way that liquids do in moist heat cooking. Fat may become part of a finished product by being absorbed in the food’s coating, but in good fat cookery the temperature is hot enough for the food to cook quickly with a minimum of fat absorption. A greasy product is never desirable.

Frying in all its forms is a quick cooking process suitable for small tender foods such as eggs, fish, chicken pieces, chops, and soft vegetables, or for foods partially cooked by some other method, such as deep-fried potatoes or Coquettes made from cooked chicken. It is not a suitable method for large products or foods needing long slow cooking.

Now let us look at the ways in which the various frying methods differ. Deep-frying, pan-frying, and sauteing differ for fat used. In deep-frying, the food is surrounded by hot fat. In pan-frying, a small to moderate amount of fat is used. In sauteing, little fat is used.

In deep-frying, the food is exposed to heat on all sides at once and cooks quickly and evenly. In pan-frying and sauteing, it must be turned or flipped to expose all sides to the hot fat.

Pan-frying differs from sauteing in several ways. One is a time and temperature difference: sauteing is done quickly at high heat, while pan-frying uses moderate heat and slower, more deliberate cooking. Another difference is that pan-frying is generally used for larger pieces of food such as fish fillets or chicken pieces. While sauteing cooks smaller, equal sized pieces of food, such as thin slices of veal or beef or vegetables, in a smaller amount of fat.

Perhaps the most interesting difference is that pan-frying is a quiet process that takes little of the cook’s attention, and sauteing is an active process demanding the cook’s full participation. To pan-fry, the cook places the foods in the hot fat and they cook by themselves until they are ready to be turned. To saute, the cook adds the foods to sizzling fat and then shakes the pan back and forth vigorously to keep them in motion.

HOW TO CARE FOR FAT FOR THE FRYER

Keeping fat for the deep fryer ready for cooking takes a special kind of care that goes on before, during, and after cooking.

Microwave cooking

To begin with, you must use the right kind of fat. A suitable fat is one that is odorless and tasteless and can withstand the continuous high temperatures needed without smoking or breaking down-that is, changing in chemical structure. Animal fats (meats, fish, poultry, butter) and olive oils are unsuitable because they have distinctive tastes and they smoke at low temperatures. Most vegetable oils are not stable enough. The best fats are certain vegetable oil products that have been specially processed to increase their stability. Such fats are hydrogenated; meaning that extra hydrogen has been added to their chemical structure to make them more stable.

Even good fat is easily broken down by carelessness in use or storage. Overheating, by exposure to copper, by salt, water, crumbs, and certain fatty foods can cause breakdown. When fat breaks down it cooks poorly, tastes bad, and must be discarded. Have you ever tasted rancid or fishy flavored fried foods at a fly by night snack shack or a roadside Greasy Spoon?

If you take good care of it, fat will stay fresh and can be used several times. Care pays off, since good cooking fat is very expensive. Here are some important rules of care.

Heat fat very gradually to cooking temperature. Do not let the temperature go above 200°F (100°C) until the fat all around the heating element is liquid.

Keep salt, water, and loose crumbs away from the fryer. Drain wet foods such as potatoes before frying. Bread products with care for a firm coat. Skim off crumbs that surface during cooking.

Do not deep fry fatty foods.

Strain fat at least once a day, oftener if volume is heavy. Use a special fat strainer or several layers of cheesecloth or a paper filter in a china cap or strainer.

Add fresh fat after each day’s use-oftener if needed-to replace fat absorbed by foods during frying. The fresh fat helps to maintain the quality of the fat as a whole. Daily fat replacement should total 20 percent or more of the total amount. This continuing replacement is known as fat turnover. But . . .

Do not add good fat to bad fat. It will not restore quality. Add fresh fat only to fat in good condition. Throw bad fat out.

If fat breaks down, replace it entirely. Be alert to these signs of breakdown: off flavors (taste fat daily); smoking at cooking temperatures; yellow foam while cooking (good fat produces clear, distinct white bubbles).

Remove the fat and clean the fryer after each day’s use, oftener if needed.

Store fats and oils, covered, in a cool, dark dry place.

SUMMING UP

Cooking is a way to change plain raw foods into delectable dishes that please the customer, supply the schoolchild with energy, and help to make the patient well. The way we bring about such changes is to apply heat to foods over a period of time. We can do this in a number of ways.

How heat affects food substances

In addition to temperature and time, the makeup of the food itself is a determining factor in the changes cooking brings about. Foods are made up of varying combinations of the following substances:

1. Proteins

2. Carbohydrates

3. Fats and oils

4. Vitamins and minerals

5. Water

Nutritionally these substances, taken together, provide energy (measured in calories); they build and maintain bones, body tissues, and blood cells; and they keep everything in working order. In a well balanced diet, protein should provide 10 to 15 percent of the calories, carbohydrates 55 to 58 percent, and fats and oils not more than 30 percent. Vitamins, minerals, and water contribute no calories but are essential to growth and health. One of the goals of good cooking is to conserve the nutrient values of foods.

These different components of foods react in certain distinctive ways to the heat of cooking. If you understand these reactions, you can control the changes and obtain the results you want.

Proteins

Foods high in protein are the flesh foods (meats, poultry, fish), milk products, eggs, nuts, and certain vegetables. Nutritionally, proteins are the major building and maintenance materials of the body. On the menu, foods high in protein are the entrees, the backbone of the meal.

In cooking, heat causes proteins to coagulate, to become firm, join, cohere. You can see this happen before your eyes if you fry an egg over low heat: the transparent liquid becomes white and opaque as the heat reaches it. If you cook it too long or at too high a temperature, it toughens and thus becomes too firm. The same thing happens in flesh cookery: as the temperature of the product increases, the protein firms. Overcooking will make the flesh tough.

If you heat milk too rapidly or too long, its protein will coagulate into curds and separate from the liquid whey, and we say it has curdled. This will spoil your soup, sauce, or custard. Cheese, which is made from milk curd, reacts to high or prolonged heat by quickly becoming tough, stringy, and unmanageable.

Connective tissue in meats is formed of certain kinds of protein that are naturally tough. The type known as collagen can be broken down and changed into gelatin by cooking at low temperatures with moisture. Acids can also soften meat fibers to some extent, as in marinating on the other hand; acid can reinforce the coagulation process. Adding vinegar to the water in which eggs are poached makes a firmer, more compact and shapely product.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates include starches, sugars, and cellulose, or fiber They are found mainly in plant foods such as cereal grains, vegetables, and fruits; in products made from cereal grains such as flours and cornstarch; in milk; and in refined sugar products such as granulated sugar and sugar syrups.

Nutritionally, starches and sugars are the body’s main sources of energy. Those from grains, rice, fruits, and vegetables are the most useful to the body, while refined sugar is often said to contribute “empty calories.” On the menu, starches and sugar are served in bread and rolls, desserts, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes and some other vegetables, and many soups and sauces.

In cooking, heat affects the three types of carbohydrates in different ways. With starches, the most important change that heat brings is gelatinization. This is the process by which dry starch granules (flour, cornstarch, and so on) absorb moisture in the presence of heat, thickening and binding the food with which they are mixed. This is an important part of making soups and sauces, and it plays a role in baking. You will understand gelatinization better when we deal with these products. Acid can affect this process too: adding lemon juice, tomato, or wine can result in a thinner product unless it is added at the end after gelatinization is complete.

The most important change heat brings to sugar is caramelization. High temperatures will cause chemical changes in sugars that alter their flavor and color, turning them brown. The heat must be dry: if water is present the sugars will dissolve, and because they are then limited by the boiling point of water they cannot reach high enough temperatures to caramelize until most of the water has evaporated.

Sugar can be caramelized by itself, or the sugar contained in a food product can be caramelized, as in the browning of baked goods and the caramelization of sugar in browned onions and in hash browned potatoes. Similar browning occurs in meats seared or sautéed at high temperatures.

Cellulose, or fiber, is the substance that gives structure and texture to fruits, vegetables, and grains. The effect of heat on fiber in the presence of moisture is to soften it. This will make it more palatable, up to a point. However, a certain firmness of texture is often desirable. One of the marks of the skilled cook is the ability to produce the exact texture desired in cooked fruits, vegetables, and such starchy foods as pasta and rice.

Fats and oils

Fats and oils are characteristic components of meats, poultry, some fish, many dairy products, nuts, egg yolks, and certain vegetables. As nutrients they provide energy to the body and play an essential role in its functioning. However, fats can also be health hazards. Too much fat in the diet, especially saturated fat (animal fats, butter, and shortenings) and fat related substance called cholesterol might cause heart disease and cancer.

In addition to fats found in menu foods, fats and oils are used as ingredients in recipes and as the cooking medium in frying. Some, such as butter, lard, and shortenings (hydrogenated oils), are solids at room temperature and go from solid to liquid as heat is applied. Oils are liquid at room temperature; they are generally extracted from vegetables such as soybeans, corn, olives, and nuts. As temperatures increase, fats will eventually break down or undergo chemical change. This change becomes visible when they begin to smoke. Breakdown and smoke points differ for different kinds of fats.

Fats and oils Most fat can reach much higher temperatures than water can. The fat in the fry kettle often cooks at 375°F (190°C), whereas water does not go above its boiling point of 212°F (100°C).

In meats and poultry, fats contribute much of the flavor. The flavor of fat used in cooking is often added to the food cooked. The flavor of broken down fat can spoil the palatability of a food that has been cooked in it.

Minerals and vitamins

Minerals and vitamins are minute components in foods that are important to nutrition. Vitamins found in vegetables are easily lost in cooking. Some are water-soluble and may be thrown out with the cooking liquid. Others are sensitive to high or prolonged heat. Cooking with minimum nutrient loss is among the most challenging of cooking problems.

Heat also brings about chemical changes that affect both color and flavor in foods. This becomes a problem particularly in cooking vegetables. Good cooking techniques can help to retain the natural colors and flavors in foods.

Water

Water or moisture, as we often refer to it is the major ingredient in most foods. Fresh raw meats, fruits, and vegetables are at least 70 percent water; some fruits are as much as 96 to 98 percent. The water in a food contains much of its flavor and many of its nutrients.

The effect of heat on the water in foods is very important in cooking them and in the finished product. The water in a food does a good deal of the cooking by conveying heat throughout the product. Moisture also helps to soften certain tough connective tissues in meat, as noted earlier.

On the other hand, the heat of cooking causes the product to lose moisture and with it can go flavor, nutrients, and the moist, tender texture that makes food palatable.

Applying heat in cook

How does the cook apply heat to a food to raise its temperature and bring about change? Heat can be transferred to food in three ways: by conduction, by convection, and by radiation.

Conduction is the transfer of heat from something hot to something touching it that is cooler. For example, heat from the fire passes to a pot; the pot conducts heat to liquid contained in it; the heated liquid conducts heat to any food submerged in it; a vegetable, an egg, a lobster.

Conduction also takes place within food: the eggshell in the hot liquid conducts heat to the egg; the outer portions of the egg or of any food to conduct heat to adjacent portions, so that heat is transferred continuously within it. The fat in the fryer conducts heat to the breading, which conducts heat to the breaded food. The larger the product, the longer it takes for heat to be transferred to the center.

Creative Cooking 101

First imagine that you are completely without electricity or natural gas. How can you prepare your family a hot meal? If you have some briquettes, foil, a grill and duct tape you can bake just about anything you want.

To make your cardboard oven you will need a box with a removable lid or for a collapsible oven a box that you have removed the top and bottom. Next you will want to cover ALL exposed areas of the box with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cut open a large plastic roasting bag and fasten securely over the top of the box with duct tape or string. There you have an instant oven complete with viewing window. To make this oven with a box that has a removable cut a large whole in the lid. Cover completely inside and out with foil, tape the roasting bag over the hole and you have your oven.

To use this oven, you will first need to prepare you coals. Each briquette supplies approximately 40% F of heat and will hold this heat for about 1 hour. Additional hot briquettes can be added as needed. So to bake a casserole for one hour at 350% you would need 9 briquettes. Temperatures will vary with the box size and weather. To get an accurate temperature reading you may want to invest in an oven thermometer.

Once the coals are hot place them in a tin pan or on foil. Next place a grill or baking pan 6-8 inches above the hot coals. (Use a folding grill or place on empty soup cans.) Place you food on the grill and set the box oven over the food, grill and coals. To provide air circulation prop one end of the box with a rock or cut an air vent on the bottom edge of the box.

For any of you wondering if this really works, YES it does. When I was the director of our Girl Scout Day Camp, I baked two fruit cobblers in box ovens. The fresh wild blackberry one went first with the peach following a close second. My suggestion is you make your oven ahead of time and give it a try. Take it on your next cam-pout and bake some Lasagna.

A word of caution: NEVER, EVER use this oven inside of your house or other enclosed area. Always use it outdoors.

Another way for you to prepare your meal is with the use of a butane stove. This stove can be used safely inside but I recommend that you still have a door or window open to help keep the air fresh. These stoves come in single or double burner models and are very efficient. They work similar to a propane stove the canisters of butane are smaller. One canister can last as long as 8 hours depending on the temperature you cook at, wind and the weather. I like using a cast iron pan when I cook on my butane stove just because the pan is sturdy and the heat gets evenly distributed. Butane Stove Here is what one of these stoves looks like:

Yet another way to prepare a quick bowl of soup or other meal is with this homemade backpacking stove

I hope these ideas have gotten your creative juices flowing. Try these cooking methods out before a disaster or long-term power outage hits you. You will have fun experimenting and be much better prepared for that time you may have to use these methods.

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Desserts

What To Eat For Breakfast

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I’ve given you various options here, listed according to degree of involvement/difficulty. It helps if you read the whole recipe first before you start cooking so that you can gather any ingredients and equipment you may need.

I’ve done my best to keep things simple and easy. If you’re really not the cooking type and have no idea where to even begin looking for the pots and pans, well, you can still put something passable together (Try option 1 _ it involves no cooking at all!).

Option 1 is Arrange layers of cubed fresh fruit (papaya, mango, orange, melon or whatever fresh and available), natural yoghurt and muesli in a small, pretty glass bowl or cup. Serve on a plate decorated with a sprig of foliage from the garden or a single flower bud.

Option 2 is for the slightly more adventurous–you need to actually get the stove going and stir a batter together, but don’t panic, if you can read the instructions behind the pancake mix box, you can do this!

Option 3 gets even more interesting–show her that you can actually bake! Imagine her surprise (or shock?) when you produce a basket of freshly-baked muffins.

Option 4 is for those who seriously want to show off but if you want to really knock her socks off and think you can pull it off, I’d encourage you to go all the way and produce the whole smorgasbord, that is, combine options 1, 2, 3 & 4!

That will probably stretch it into brunch though and you may have to adjourn to the dining room as I don’t think there will be enough room on the bed to lay out the entire spread.

LAYERED FRUIT AND YOGHURT CUP

Arrange layers of cubed fresh fruit (papaya, mango, orange, melon or whatever fresh and available), natural yoghurt and muesli in a small, pretty glass bowl or cup. Serve on a plate decorated with a sprig of foliage from the garden or a single flower bud.

Buy any commercial muffin or cake mix and follow the package instructions (they usually ask you to stir in an egg, water and oil or softened butter). However, to be honest, packet mixes often need a flavor ‘boost’ to disguise their tell-tale artificial flavor.

The solution is to stir in some fresh fruit. So for every pack, prepare about 2 cups of fruit (peel and cube some apple, mango or banana) and stir it into the mixture. (If you want to present a variety of flavors, divide mixture into three roughly equal portions and stir prepared mango in one cup, apple in the other cup and so on ).

Spoon mixture into paper-lined muffin or cup cake pans, filling them three-quarterstaff and bake according to the packet instructions. Preferably serve warm.

MUFFIN SURPRISE

Buy a box of pancake mix. Measure out about half a cup and tip into a bowl. Break one egg (into the cup that you measured the pancake mix) and add enough milk to make up half a cup of liquid.

Pour this into the dry pancake mix and stir well with a fork until mixture is smooth. Finely slice one stalk spring onion and add this to the batter (This adds an interesting savory flavor and a nice speckled green to the pancakes.)

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and melt half a teaspoon of butter. Pour in about 2 big spoonfuls of batter (it should spread 8–10 cm across) and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear and burst on the surface. Flip it over using a butter knife or fish slice (that flat, paddle-like thing that’s used for stir-frying) and cook for another minute.

Pancakes should be light brown in color. Stack them on a plate as you cook them. The above quantity should make 4–6 pancakes.

Arrange 2 pancakes on a plate and make scrambled eggs by melting 2 teaspoons of butter in a small (preferably non-stick) frying pan over medium heat. Beat 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon of milk and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Pour eggs into the pan and leave to set for a few seconds. As it cooks, stir the mixture around with a fork and cook to a creamy consistency. Take pan off the heat immediately and pile it on the pancakes. Garnish with a few bits of sliced spring onion and serve immediately.

For a ‘special touch’, you may like to garnish your scrambled eggs with a few strips of smoked salmon or some sated mushrooms *.

(* Slice 3 – 4 fresh or tinned mushrooms thinly and stir-fry for 2 minutes in a teaspoon of butter, seasoning it with a pinch of salt and pepper. You can do this in the pan before you scramble the eggs. Transfer it into a small bowl, wipe the pan with a paper napkin and proceed to make the scrambled eggs.)

PANCAKES AND EGGS

This used to be all the rage in the 1960s but now, no one seems to make them anymore. Here’s your chance to revive a trend.

Place 3 medium-sized eggs (preferably not straight from the fridge as cold eggs are more likely to crack when boiled) into a small pan and cover completely with water. Put pan on medium heat and when water comes to the boil, cook eggs for 5 minutes.

Carefully pour off hot water and run cold water from the tap over the eggs (to cool the eggs and prevent a nasty grey ring from forming around the yolk). When cold, shell eggs. Do this by tapping each egg gently on the table until the shell cracks.

It should peel off without too much trouble, but if you nick bits of egg white off in the process, don’t worry about it. It’s OK. Set shelled eggs aside while you prepare the meat patties.

Place 200 g of lean minced meat (beef or chicken) into a small bowl and to it, add tsp of salt, a touch of pepper, 1 stalk sliced spring onion and 3 tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs (you can buy this ready-prepared).

Beat one egg in a small bowl with a fork and add half of this to the meat mixture. (Reserve the other half.) Mix the meat mixture with (clean) fingers until well mixed and divide the mixture into 3 equal parts.

Put one patty in the cupped palm of your hand and with the other, flatten it evenly–it should be wide enough to enclose the boiled egg. Place the shelled egg in the middle of the patty and wrap the meat around the egg, as evenly as possible, making sure there are no cracks. Do this for all three eggs.

Dip the meat covered egg into the beaten egg, letting any excess drip off. Roll this in breadcrumbs and set aside.

Heat about 2 cups of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Fry eggs for 3–4 minutes or until coating is crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and cool slightly before cutting lengthwise into halves. (One egg serves 1, so this recipe makes enough for sharing.)

To serve, garnish with a few lettuce leaves and tomato wedges and a sauce (bottled chilli sauce, tomato ketchup or a dollop of mayonnaise is fine).

SCOTCH EGGS

Sometimes it’s not so much what you serve, as how you serve it. Even good old toast, butter and jam looks ‘special’, if you bother to cut the toast into neat triangles and present it in a napkin-lined basket and spoon jam, marmalade (or a colorful selection of preserves) into little sauce bowls or glass tumblers much more classy than plonking down a drippy jam jar with a soggy, half-torn label plastered to it.

Lay your breakfast offering out on a nice tray and serve with a pot of fresh brewed coffee or tea–which must be really hot (not lukewarm) and/or well-chilled fruit juice.

The frills: Thoughtful little touches like a pretty napkin, flowers, maybe even a small gift-wrapped surprise or a new magazine, will make your breakfast tray all the more appealing.

Go for color: Bright, sunny colors like yellow, orange, green and blue set the tone for a cheerful morning. Don’t worry about everything matching exactly–use a yellow napkin, a blue cup and green plates!

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Desserts

Basic Chocolate Cake Recipe

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This is a collection of the basic cake recipes we (with my husband) have developed very the last few years in various occasions and family party. Some are perfect for the non-cook in your relationship to make for your favorite loved one.

Many of these recipes are also filled with what I consider to be the romantic side of chocolate. Many people consider the combination of fruit and chocolate to be seductive, or at the very least sinful making for a perfect occasional treat. As most of these recipes are designed to be made with a partner in the kitchen, it is no surprise that there is a lot of melted chocolate, dipping, and plenty of cooling time before your tasty chocolate cake is ready. –

This cake has an elegant appearance that belies the fact that it is quick and easy to make with a cake mix. The beautiful contrast between the pale orange frosting and deep chocolate cake makes a beautiful cake for any occasion.

The texture of the frosting, both smooth and crunchy also makes an excellent contrast in taste to the rich fuggy cake. I had better results with orange juice concentrate than with freshly squeezed orange juice.

By only adding part of the water to the juice the taste is more intense. For best results use a pulp free juice. This cake is beautiful by itself or when garnished with chocolate covered leaves, pecans, or orange slices. 1 tablespoon orange extract can be substituted for the orange liqueur if desired. –

Cakes :
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Reserve 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate for the frosting. Place the remaining concentrate in a large bowl. Reconstitute the juice using 1/3 cup less water than directed. Mix well and add the eggs. Beat until well mixed. Add the cake mix, butter and liqueur and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cake according to package directions or until a toothpick comes clean and the top springs back when gently pressed. Place the pans on a wire rack until thoroughly cooled. Remove from the pans.
Frosting :
In a small heavy saucepan mix together the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the reserved orange juice concentrate, vanilla extract, and orange liqueur and mix well. Fold in the pecans. Cool until ready to frost.
Assembly :
Place one cake on a serving platter and spread a layer of frosting on the cake. Top with the second cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake thoroughly. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cakes:,6 ounces thawed orange juice concentrate,1 package chocolate fudge cake mix,3 eggs,1/2 cup softened butter,2 tablespoons orange liqueur, Frosting:,1 cup evaporated milk,3/4 cup sugar,3 egg yolks,1/4 cup butter,2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract,1 tablespoon orange liqueur,2 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans These are by far my favorite chocolate chip muffins. They are very simple moist muffins that mix up in just a minute or two.

White Chocolate Baked Bananas and Berries

This is the perfect dessert for all of you non-cooks out there. This is a simple, yet elegant dessert that is perfect for the hesitant cook to make for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day! The combination of flavors is heavenly and this dessert is ready in about 15 minutes. You can use your favorite berries, all berries, or all bananas in this recipe if desired. Use high quality white chocolate for this recipe. Use fresh or thawed frozen berries for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 small bananas peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 whole raspberries
  • 2 ounces white chocolate – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease two custard cups or ramekins. Place half of a sliced banana and three raspberries into each ramekin. Sprinkle one ounce of chocolate over each ramekin. Top with the remaining banana slices and raspberries. In a small bowl whisk together the heavy cream and vanilla. Pour the cream mixture evenly into the ramekins. Bake for ten minutes. Serve hot.

Romantic Chocolate Dip

This really isn’t technically a chocolate mousse, but if you are in a hurry for a chocolate fix, it works very well. For those with compromised immunity, children, or who are elderly, this recipe uses raw eggs and should be avoided. Make sure you are using a fresh egg, or my personal preference, a pasteurized egg substitute, which is safe for everyone and does not effect the taste of the mousse. You can use any chocolate with good results in this recipe, depending upon what kind of chocolate you like. Milk, white, dark, semi-sweet, all work well. Substitute your favorite liqueur, flavoring, or liquor for the Grand Marnier if desired.

3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
6 ounces chocolate, finely chopped

Place the milk in a small heavy saucepan or microwave proof dish. Heat until barely boiling. While heating the milk, place the egg, sugar, liqueur, vanilla, and salt into a blender and mix well. Add the chocolate and blend quickly to mix. Pour in a small amount of the boiling milk and blend. Continue to gradually add the milk and blending until all the milk has been added and the mixture is smooth. Pour into serving dishes and chill for at least an hour

Strawberry Milk Chocolate

This simple recipe is a little bit complicated, but as long as you are very careful and do not get distracted, it is a snap. It is very important to keep the heat low and to not overheat the chocolate. This dip is excellent with fresh fruit, cubes of pound cake, cookies, chunks of angel food cake, snack food, nuts, or anything else you want to dip into chocolate.

Ingredients :

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

Heat the heavy cream in a small heavy saucepan over low heat until hot. Add the chocolate and corn syrup. Stir continuously until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate has all melted. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a serving dish and cool.

Chocolate chocolate kisses

These little pots of strawberries, rich milk chocolate, and light caramel crusts are sure to delight even the most jaded of hearts. Use a very high quality chocolate for this recipe for best results. This recipe is perfect for Valentine’s Day as it can be made well ahead of time, leaving plenty of free time available on the big day!

Ingredients :

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half
2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 sliced strawberries, plus additional for garnish if desired

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Bring the heavy cream and half-and-half to boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Beat the yolks one at a time in a large bowl. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and beat until thick and lemon colored. Gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture, making sure to add slowly to prevent curdling.

Divide the strawberries among two 3/4-cup custard cups. Scrape the custard into the cups on top of the strawberries. Place the cups in a baking pan large enough so that the cups do not touch each other or the sides of the pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups.

Bake until custards are set, about 50 minutes. Remove the custard cups from the pan and let sit at room temperature for two hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon sugar. Broil until sugar turns golden, watching closely to avoid burning, about 3 minutes. Refrigerate until custards are set, 1 to 2 hours.

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

What could be more romantic than ripe, red, juicy strawberries dunked into rich chocolate? This simple yet elegant dessert makes the perfect simple finale for any dinner, and is very easy to make. You can use any fruit that you like in this recipe with excellent results. For small fruit (berries, baby bananas) dip whole, for larger fruit (apples, large bananas, pears) slice and dip.

Cooking time -15 minutes

Total time – 1 hour

Ingredients

12 strawberries
1/2 cup fine quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
powdered sugar, cocoa, granulated sugar, sprinkles, or other garnishes to roll strawberries in

Instructions:

Clean the strawberries, but leave stems on. Drain and dry with paper towels. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave or double boiler until the mixture is melted and smooth. Place desired garnishes in shallow bowl. Dip fruit into the chocolate and let access dip off. Roll in garnish and place on wax paper. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

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Desserts

Summer Fruit Desserts

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The full bloom of summer brings an abundant variety of succulent fruit. Vines hang heavy with honey-sweet grapes, plump clusters of berries and fat, fuzzy kiwis. In the shimmering canopies of trees; apples, apricots, oranges, and figs ripen, their heady bouquet filling the warm afternoon air.

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