Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is one of the most succulent dishes you can make. If you can produce this dish, with a crispy English muffin, tasty Canadian bacon, a perfectly poached egg and delectable Hollandaise; you can sit back, watch your family and guests luxuriate in this luscious meal while enjoying compliments on your culinary expertise.

This dish has several component parts, two of which are somewhat tricky, the poached egg and the Hollandaise. It is also necessary to time the cooking so the various parts come together properly for serving.

To this end, instructions will be given for poaching eggs and making Hollandaise, as well as a time-line so the dish can be presented with all of its component parts done properly.

Poached Eggs

Poached eggs should be cooked in a pan with higher sides or a pot filled with at least four inches of simmering, not boiling water. Watch the heat carefully. The eggs must be covered but not stick to the bottom. Add a teaspoon or two of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar helps draw the protein in the egg white together quickly, faster than the heat of the water, so the egg can cook in a more compact unit. The vinegar does not give the eggs a vinegary taste and helps prevent the stringy mess that can result if not used.

Break each egg into a small dish and slip into the water. A poached egg should have a fully cooked white and a runny yolk. This takes about three minutes. If unsure of doneness, lift the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and gently pierce the thick part of the white near the yolk without breaking the yolk. Return to the water if necessary. When done, drain well before placing on prepared muffin.

I usually poach one egg at a time for the family but for a crowd it is possible to poach several at once, slipping them into the water well separated or using egg rings to keep them separated. It is also possible to cook poached eggs ahead of time and reheat.

I have been making Hollandaise sauce for over 20 years with this method, using a wand mixer, and have only had a problem with a slightly thinner sauce once or twice. I have never had this sauce, prepared in this way, break, that is, not emulsify. Although I use my wand mixer for other things, I would keep it if only for making sauces that require emulsifying, such as Hollandaise, mayonnaise, etc.

Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4

1 stick, 1/4 lb. butter
3 egg yolks
1 scant teaspoon of lemon juice
dash or two of cayenne (I often leave this out of the sauce to sprinkle directly over the finished dish)

Cut butter into small pieces and heat, melting the butter and heating until very hot. DO NOT BROWN. Meanwhile, place rest of ingredients into receptacle of a wand mixer. Beat briefly. When butter is hot, with wand mixer on, start adding hot butter a few drops at a time to the yolk mixture. Keep mixer running and butter addition slow and steady. By the time all the butter has been added, the sauce should be thick with no separation of ingredients. Keep warm by covering and setting receptacle into bowl of warm water.

To Make Eggs Benedict

Serves 4

4 split English muffins
butter, optional
8 pieces Canadian bacon
8 poached eggs
1 recipe of Hollandaise
cayenne, if not added to Hollandaise

Pre-heat oven to warm setting; turn off oven when heated. Start water heating for poached eggs. Cut butter into small saucepan. Separate eggs, putting yolks in receptacle of wand mixer with other Hollandaise ingredients, except for butter. Toast and butter English muffins. Butter may be omitted without significant loss of taste. Place buttered muffins on serving plates in warmed oven. While toasting muffins, gently heat Canadian bacon in saute pan. Do not overheat to dryness. Set aside covered, off the heat.

Begin poaching eggs. Remove one warmed plate with muffins from the oven and place one piece of Canadian bacon on each muffin half. As eggs are done, drain well, (blot with paper towels if necessary), and place on each muffin half on top of bacon. Return plate to oven to keep warm. Prepare rest of plates. Begin melting butter as third plate completed so butter is hot when fourth plate is done. Keeping plates warm, make Hollandaise sauce. Remove plates from oven, spoon sauce over each poached egg to drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle each egg with cayenne pepper. Serve immediately.

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Do you have a Simple Family Favorite Pudding Recipe

Most people have food memories that date back to their childhood. I was lucky enough to have the typical stereotype Granny who was a fantastic old fashioned cook and who has left hundreds of great food memories stored in my head.

The one family pudding though that springs to mind is the one that Granny used to make when my relatives from down South used to visit; that recipe is an old traditional British pudding – Queen of Puddings. The pudding is said to date from a pudding that was devised by chefs at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria – I don’t know if that is true, but it certainly is a pudding that is fit for a queen!
 I can still remember as the delicious, sweet pudding was ceremoniously served and Granny would cut through the light meringue down to a layer of her home mad jam and then to the egg custard base.

As Granny was an old school housewife, thrift was important (and also necessary) and so what went in the custard base of the pudding depended on what needed using up in the pantry – it could have even have seen a little sherry added to the sponge!

These days I don’t make this pudding too often, I am diabetic and there is just far too much sugar for me in it; I do however still make it on special family occasions and it is still as popular now as it was when I was a kid; I now buy cheap Swiss rolls from the supermarket to use in the base – however, as Granny did, you can use stale bread or cake that needs using up – but as I can buy a Swiss roll for under 20p I’m not being too extravagant – as Granny would not have approved!

Serves 4



1 pint milk
50g sugar
1 jam Swiss roll
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Meringue Topping

2 egg whites
50g caster sugar


1.    Preheat the oven to 310 °F/160 °C/Gas 2.
2.    Lightly grease a 2 pint ovenproof dish.
3.    Slice Swiss roll thinly and place on base of dish, sprinkle with lemon zest.
4.    Place the milk into a saucepan and slowly bring to a gentle boil.
5.    In a large bowl whisk the sugar with the egg yolks and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Still whisking, slowly add the warmed milk to the egg mixture.
6.    Pour the custard over the cake carefully.
7.    Bake the pudding in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until the mixture is well risen and almost set.
8.    Remove the pudding from the oven and leave to cool.
9.    Increase the oven temperature to 375 °F/190 °C/Gas 5.
10.  In a large, clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
11.  Whisk in half of the castor sugar, then with a metal spoon gently fold in the remaining sugar.
12   Warm the jam and spread it carefully over the cooled base, trying to avoid breaking skin.
13   Cover with the prepared meringue topping.
14.  Sprinkle the top with a little extra sugar and bake for 10 minutes or until the surface is crisp and the peaks have began to brown.
15.  Serve immediately and enjoy

I am sure that you will enjoy this delicious pudding; just writing about it is making my mouth water.
When you try it I’m sure that you will agree this truly is a Queen amongst puddings!

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Easy Blueberry Pie

At a loss for a simple dessert? Here’s a recipe for blueberry pie that is assembled in minutes and is absolutely fabulous. Serve it warm or cold, with vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream (I prefer the real thing versus the stuff in a can)

You will need: 

2 pre-made pie crusts

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

½ cup flour

½ cup sugar

1 tbs vanilla

½ tsp of cinnamon

1 tbs milk or 1 egg white

1 additional tbs sugar

(I use a glass pie dish and purchase the crusts that come rolled up. Feel free to use the crusts that come in their own disposable aluminum tin. Simply separate one crust, place it over the filled pie and allow to thaw slightly before pressing into shape.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place one pie crust in the bottom of a pie dish, gently shaping it to fit, making sure it extends over the side just a bit.

Toss the blueberries with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a mixing bowl. If using frozen berries you may want to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it all stick together. Place the entire mixture in the crust.

You will have a powdery mixture of sugar, berry juice and flour in the bottom of the bowl, don’t panic, distribute it evenly around the pie.

Top with the remaining crust.

Press the edges together and pinch with two fingers or with a fork to make a border.

Brush the top of the pie with a little milk, or egg white, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Cut two vents into the top of the pie.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 350 for a further 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Allow to rest for 15 minutes and slice.

Serve warm and gooey with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

My favorite variation on this recipe uses a mixture of frozen berries. Feel free to experiment with different berry blends. I prefer lots of blackberries.

For fresh whipped cream:

Place one cup of heavy cream in a blender or food processor and blend until firm peaks form.

You can also whip the cream in a mixing bowl using an immersion blender, a hand mixer, or a whisk (though your arm will get a work out)

If you prefer sweetened whipped cream add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract before whipping.

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Definitions Aphrodisiacs

An aphrodisiac is an agent which causes the arousal of sexual desire. The name comes from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Desire can be stimulated by a variety of events or situations. This article focuses on foods to which an aphrodisiac effect has been attributed.

Some aphrodisiacs appear to gain their reputation from the principles of association, e.g. oysters, due to their shape; as well as the phallic-looking rhinoceros horn. Other animal-based aphrodisiacs gain their reputation from the apparent virility or aggressiveness of the animal source, such as tiger penis. The use of rhino horn and tiger penis to enhance male sexuality is popular among the Chinese, although no scientific basis has been established. Turtle eggs eaten raw with salt and lime juice are also said to be an aphrodisiac.

Although no one has ever proven that feeding our appetites will provoke our carnal urge, the belief in aphrodisiacs persists. For centuries men and women have swallowed the most delightful and alarming substances in order to fan their lover’s flames. Are aphrodisiac foods myth of fact? Have we eaten these foods and wondered why a certain sexual euphoria has suddenly taken control?

With its many culinary uses, Aniseed is a very popular aphrodisiac. It has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Greeks and the Romans who believed aniseed had special powers. Sucking on the seeds is said to increase your sexual desire.

Asparagus given its phallic shape, is frequently enjoyed as an aphrodisiac food. Feed your lover boiled or steamed spears for a sensuous experience. The Vegetarian Society suggests, “Eating asparagus for three days will undoubtedly produce the most powerful affect.”

Throughout the ages, Almond has been a symbol of fertility. The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female. Try serving Marzipan (almond paste) in the shapes of fruits for a special after-dinner treat!

Arugula or “rocket” seed has been documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. This ingredient was added to grated orchid bulbs and parsnips and also combined with pine nuts and pistachios. Arugula greens are frequently used in salads and with pasta.

The Aztecs called the Avocado tree “Ahuacuatl,” which translated means “testicle tree.” The Aztecs thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled the male’s testicles. This is a delicious fruit with a sensuous texture. Serve in slices with a small amount of Balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper!

The Banana has a marvelous phallic shape and is partially responsible for its popularity as an aphrodisiac food. From a more practical standpoint, bananas are rich in potassium and B vitamins which are necessities for sex hormone production.

Basil is said to stimulate the sex drive and boost fertility. It is also said to produce a general sense of well being for body and mind.

The ground seeds of various plants in the brassica family were believed to increase virility. In the case of Broccoli Rabe, it’s more likely a myth created to get people to eat this bitter vegetable.

The Aztecs referred to Chocolate as a “nourishment of the Gods.” Chocolate contains chemicals thought to effect neurotransmitters in the brain and a related substance to caffeine called theobromine. Chocolate contains more antioxidant (cancer preventing enzymes) than does red wine. The secret for passion is to combine the two. Try a glass of Cabernet with a bit of dark chocolate for a sensuous treat!

The phallic shaped Carrot has been associated with stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction. Carrots are believed to be a stimulant to the male. Perhaps, a justification for a piece of carrot cake?

Caffeine is a well-know stimulant, but remember too much and it becomes a depressant. Serve small amounts of rich, dark coffee in special little demitasse cups. Coffee stimulates both the body and the mind, so partake a little in preparation for an “all-nighter.”

The book of, ” The Arabian Nights” tells a tale of a merchant who had been childless for 40 years, but was cured by a concoction that included Coriander (cilantro seed). That book is over 1,000 years old, so the history of coriander as an aphrodisiac dates far back into history. Cilantro was also known to be used as an “appetite” stimulant.

An open Fig is thought to emulate the female sex organs and traditionally thought of as a sexual stimulant. A man breaking open a fig and eating it in front of his lover is a powerful erotic act. Serve fresh Black Mission figs in a bowl of cool water as it is done in Italy and eat with your fingers!

The “heat” in Garlic is said to stir sexual desires. Make sure you and your partner share it together. Garlic has been used for centuries to cure everything from the common cold to heart ailments. Enjoy a pasta with a light garlic sauce and it may lead up to something spicy in the bedroom later!

Widely practiced in the Victorian Age, peeled Ginger root is used to sensitize the female genitalia and areola to touch and stimulate libido. Perhaps a stir-fry with freshly grated ginger can invigorate the senses for a lovely encounter!

Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on Honey including cures for sterility and impotence. Seducing their partners with “Mead,” a fermented drink made from honey, on their honeymoon was thought to “sweeten” the marriage.

The Chinese have used Liquorice for medicinal purposes since ancient times. The essence of the Glycyrrhiza glabra-Licorice plant is 50 times sweeter than sugar. Chewing on bits of licorice root is said to enhance love and lust. It is particularly stimulating to woman.

Mustard is believed to stimulate the sexual glands and increase desire. Prepare a tenderloin roast (filet mignon) for two with a mustard and peppercorn sauce!

Chinese women highly prized Nutmeg as an aphrodisiac. In quantity, nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic effect. A light sprinkling of the spice in a warm pumpkin soup can help spice up your evening!

Oysters were documented as an aphrodisiac food by the Romans in the second century A.D. They described the wanton ways of women after ingesting wine and eating “giant oysters.” An additional hypothesis is that the oyster resembles the “female” genitals. In reality, oysters are very nutritious and high in protein.

Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and Pine Nuts are rich in zinc. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as medieval times. Serve pine nut cookies with a dark espresso for a stimulating dessert!

Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and is used in the homeopathic treatment for impotence. Add a spear to a sweet rum drink for a tasty prelude to an evening of passion!

Raspberries and Strawberries are perfect foods for hand feeding your lover. Both fruits invite love and are described in erotic literature as fruit nipples. They are high in vitamin C and make a sweet light dessert.

The Greeks and the Romans considered the rare Truffle to be an aphrodisiac. The musky scent is said to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch.

The scent and flavor of Vanilla is believed to increase lust. Fill tall champagne glasses to the rim and add a vanilla bean for a heady, bubbly treat!

A glass or two of Wine can greatly enhance a romantic interlude. Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate our senses. Drinking wine can be an erotic experience. Let your eyes feast on the color of the liquid. Caress the glass and savor the taste on your lips. Do remember that excessive alcohol will make you too drowsy for the after-dinner romance. A moderate amount of wine has been said to “arouse” the senses.

Foods having that appealing shape or that enticing aroma can play havoc with one’s senses. Coupled with verbal deliverance, the sexual stimulus is put into motion and the “aphrodisiac” is conquered for your partner or lover.

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Difference between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream

The difference between heavy cream and whipping cream is butterfat.

First, to simplify matters, cream is the lighter substance, or fat, that rises to the top of a container of non-homogenized milk.

Heavy cream that is labeled “whipping cream” contains at least 38% butterfat and will fill or frost a cake without additional stabilizers. A look at this whipping cream link will give you some good, detailed information on how to whip cream, plus tips and suggestions for interesting applications and flavorings for this delicious indulgence.

Cream that is simply labeled, “whipping cream”, usually contains about 30 to 36% butterfat. It produces a lovely, soft topping for many foods, both sweet and savory, especially when added just before service. Unwhipped, this is the cream most often used to make ice cream, creamed soups and sauces.

Potato latkes or a perfectly cooked prime roast of beef benefit from a dollop of horseradish cream to complete the dish.

Also, try adding whipped cream, and a few drops of truffle oil if you have it, to mashed potatoes just before serving.

Butter made at home in your food processor, and flavored to your taste, brings an added dimension to the idea of butter as a condiment. Also, homemade butter might be less expensive than the supermarket product.

This traditional Boston cream pie seems complicated and fancy, and belies its simplicity when you understand how to make a simple pastry cream.

For 8 to 10 cake servings, make it this way:

– Use one, 9-inch white cake layer, split horizontally into two layers, made from your favorite recipe.

For the pastry cream
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 2 Tbsp cornstarch
– Pinch of salt
– ¾ cup milk
– ½ cup heavy cream
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 large egg yolks

* In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
* Gradually whisk in milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean.
* Bring to a high simmer and whisk until thickened. Remove from heat.
* In small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; then gradually whisk in ½ cup hot filling.
* Return filling to saucepan and cook one minute longer.
* Strain filling into bowl, cover, and chill
* Whisk filling slightly to soften before filling cake.

Bittersweet Mocha Glaze

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp instant coffee powder


* Place chocolate in a medium bowl
* In small bowl, combine cream, corn syrup, and coffee.
* Microwave on high 1 to 1-½ minutes until very hot.
* Add coffee, stir to dissolve and immediately pour over chocolate and stir until glaze is dissolved.

Read the links, make and enjoy the Boston cream pie and you will have a significant understanding of how to use cream and heavy cream in the kitchen.

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Dangers of Energy Drinks four Loko

Colleges across America battle influences of alcohol upon their campuses on a regular basis.  Though other drugs make their way into the fraternity and sorority house parties, the main drug culprit on college campuses continues to be alcohol. According to the website “White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, “Alcohol and other drug use is a factor in many accidents, injuries, vandalism, and crime on campuses and is frequently a key factor when students encounter problems with their coursework.” Beer and other liquors promote potential hazards on our university campuses, and now a new drink threatens to be even a greater menace for college administrators.

College officials across America are expressing concern over an energy drink called “Four Loko.” Dubbed “liquid cocaine” by some users, this high energy drink is comprised of 12 percent alcohol. Packaged in a can similar to other energy beverages, this drink costs little and packs quite a punch, making the product popular with those wanting a quick buzz. Fruity flavors such as watermelon and grape add to the drink’s popularity and drink-ability.

Several colleges have already banned the product from their campuses because of dangerous consequences. The President of Ramapo College in New Jersey chose to ban the drink because several students ended up in the local emergency room. “Four Loko’s” packs 12 percent alcohol in a 23.5 ounce can. Depending upon the source, “Four Loko” is the equivalent of drinking three to five 12 ounce beers.

College students intent on “having a good time” fail to recognize the risks of downing a can of “Four Loko”.  Dr. Manny Alvarez, a Fox News contributor, states that a mixture of caffeine and alcohol is a recipe for disaster. He says, “You have to understand that caffeine reduces the drowsy feeling of being intoxicated, so people tend to drink more.” Drinking more “Four Loko’s” leads to devastating consequences. Downing multiple “Four Loko” beverages may lead to people experiencing another of its nicknames, “blackout in a can.”

Disguised in a container eerily similar to other high energy drinks, “Four Loko” tempts underage drinkers to indulge. College students and teenagers alike consider “Four Loko” to be a big “bang for the buck.” Stores carrying the product sell the drink for under $3.

Though other energy drinks can lead to medical problems, mixing alcohol and caffeine sets one up for a potential lethal combination.

 Sources:  Reading Eagle, My Fox New York

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Cookie Comparisons Cookie best Buys best Tasting Cookies Consumer Reports Cookies

Consumer Reports compared 13 packaged, store-bought cookies for taste and texture.

The “trained sensory panel” was asked to rate the cookies for their sensory quality. None was judged as good as home-made, but two were rated “Very good.” Nutrition information is given as listed on labels.

Cookies were rated for taste, cost per one-ounce serving, the number of calories contained in that serving, and the total amount of fat (in grams) per serving.

Rating “Very Good” meant the cookies were “Well blended, flavorful, good chip-to-cookie ratio, crunchy but tender.” Only two were in this category.

1. Health Valley Mini cost 54 cents for 4 cookies (1 oz.), which contained 140 calories with 6 g. of fat.

2. Keebler Chips Deluxe Original [formula will not contain palm oil after February] cost 22 cents for 2 cookies, which contained 170 calories with 9 g. of fat.

These two were rated “more tender” with more chocolate flavor than most. Keebler is more like shortbread; HV had a more buttery taste and cost more than twice as much.

In the top category, Keebler was rated CR’s “Best Buy” for price and taste.

[The rated Keebler cookies contained palm kernel oil. Although the manufacturer said these would no longer have palm kernel oil after February, the new formula was not in stores by March for re-testing.]

Rating “Good” although commercial-tasting:

1. Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Real Chocolate [formula was due to change this summer] cost 25 cents for 3, which contained 160 calories with 8 g. of fat.

2. Trader Joe’s Dress Circle Crispy Crunchy cost 23 cents for 12 cookies, which contained 150 calories with 9 g. of fat.

3. Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk cost 36 cents for 2 cookies, which contained 130 calories with 6 g. of fat.

4. Pepperidge Farm Nantucket Soft Baked Chocolate Chunk Dark cost 43 cents for 1 cookie, which contained 150 calories, with 8 g. of fat.

5. Great Value (Walmart) cost 7 cents for 2 cookies, which contained 130 calories with 6 g. of fat.

6. Mrs. Fields Semi-Sweet cost 43 cents for 1 cookie, which contained 160 calories with 8 g. of fat.

7. Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Real Chocolate Reduced Fat [formula was due to change this summer] cost 25 cents for 3 cookies, which contained 140 calories with 5 g. of fat.

8. Newman’s Own Organics Champion Chip Cookies cost 47 cents for 4 cookies, which contained 160 calories with 7 g. from fat.

9. Famous Amos Bite Size [will no longer contain palm oil after February] cost 24 cents for 4, which contained 150 calories with 7 g. of fat.

The following rated “Fair” and were judged to be “bland, very dry, slightly stale.”

1. Archer Farms Organic Petite (Target) cost 45 cents for 3 cookies, which contained 120 calories with 5 g. of fat.

2. Pamela’s Products Chunky Gourmet all Natural (wheat and gluten free) cost 44 cents for 1 cookie, which contained 120 calories with 6 g. of fat.

CR noted that the Walmart (# 5) cookies had more cookie than chocolate and had a toasted taste. They were the least expensive of all at 7 cents per ounce.

Package sizes ranged from 7 to 18 ounces, and costs were based on those sized packages.

Three brands were labeled organic and “varied widely in quality.” Those included Health Valley (# 1 in the “very good” category), Newman’s Own (# 8), and the wheat and gluten-free Archer Farms (# 1 in the “fair” category).

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Citrus Beets

Citrus Beets

This is beet salad at its simplest: just beets with a dressing of orange and lemon juices, seasoned with nutmeg and a dash of ground cloves. It makes a good addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and to other festive occasions.The sweetness of the beets combines with the sweet and sour citrus juices to make a salad that is also a treat, surprisingly palatable even to many who dislike beets.

This recipe calls for freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice. You want to end up with about twice as much orange juice as lemon. If you do not have fresh oranges or lemons, ready made juice may be used, but it must be 100% juice, no added sugar, no juices besides orange and lemon.


• 1 to 3 bunches of beets, roots only (greens can be used in any spinach or chard dish)
• Juice of 3 to 6 oranges and 2 to 4 lemons, approximately.
• 1 to 3 pinches nutmeg
• Dash of ground cloves


1. Wash the beets. Pat dry.

2. Place the beets in a steamer basket, with about 2 – 3 inches (5 – 8 cm) water in the pot. If you do not have a steamer basket, you can cook the beets directly in the water.

3. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat as low as it will go and continue to boil. Let the beets steam until they are soft enough to give easily when poked with a spoon or fork, and the skin comes off easily. This will probably take about 20 – 40 minutes, depending on the size of the beets and on how many there are. They can also be steamed in a slow cooker, following its directions.

4. While the beets are cooling, juice the oranges and lemons. In a medium to medium large mixing bowl, whisk the juices together. Remove any seeds.

5. Add the nutmeg and cloves to the juice mixture. Whisk.

6. When the beets are cool enough to comfortably touch, cut off the ends. Remove the skins. If the beets are cooked well enough, their skins will just slip off when you rub them with your fingers.

7. Slice the beets. Place the beet slices in the juice mixture. There should be enough liquid to just cover the beets. If necessary, add more lemon and/or orange juice.

8. Cover. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

One bunch of beets will serve about 4 to 6. If expecting a much larger crowd, more should be used. For best results, make citrus beets the night before. The longer it chills, the more time the flavors have to marry.

Acknowledgement: Inspiration for this recipe came from “Food,” by Susan Powter, Simon & Schuster, 1995. Powter provides very basic directions, with no precise measurements or proportions, for a dish called “Beets in Citrus Dressing,” which has much the same ingredients as this recipe. The numbers and proportions, and the inclusion of nutmeg, are my own invention.

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Carving Decorative Vegetables

Carving decorative vegetables is an art form that uses a tasty pallete! Vegetables can be cut and arranged into a mosaic, ready to eat or can be used as a decorative center piece to compliment their accompanying dishes. Artful veggies are a great way to attract kids and kids at heart to try vegetables.


Easy Vegetable Blooms

Use a slice of celery stalk as a “stem.” Sliced and halved cucumber slices make perfect “leaves.” A halved cherry tomato makes a cheery “flower center” and carrots in circles or strips can be arranged as “petals.” Of course many variations. Green pepper strips can be used for stems or leaves. Red and yellow pepper rings can top for a flower outline with slices of radish layered for centers. Create “grass” at the bottom of the plate by drizzled a favorite dressing up and down.

Don’t leave off veggies you think your kids don’t like. One half of a cherry tomato is not so intimidating as a bowl. Kids often need to be exposed to a food at least ten times before they try it. Kids are also more likely to try something they were involved in making. Let kids make their own “blooming” salads.

Cucumber Boats

Slice one end off of a cucumber. Slice just enough off of the bottom so that it will sit. Starting at the cut end, slice off peel almost to the other end. Now make a thin slice from the same end and stop before you get to the peel on the other end. Gently lift this still attached slice and stand with a tooth pick to create a sail. Fill the cucumber boat with slices of carrots, flowerettes of broccoli, cherry tomato or any small pieces of favorites.

Make an individual boat for each guests and create “waves” around the boat with a tasty dressing.


Peppers with Personality

Pick up a pepper; red, green or yellow. Hold it with the stem side facing you. Almost every pepper has a personality. The stem makes an interesting nose and the creases are a perfect place to pop in black eyed pea eyes. You can create small slits and insert slices of other veggies for ear, depending on what creature you “see.” Using these “creatures” on a tray of greens makes a great conversation piece for your table or buffet.

Pepper Pots

Especially fun if you’re serving stuffed peppers, choose a pepper of any color or a combination ensuring that each one stands well. Cut off the top and put aside. You can create a trio by putting dressing in one pot and putting carrot sticks, pepper slices or celery sticks and standing in the others. Another nice touch is to put fresh cut flowers into one!

Carving decorative vegetables to serve or to decorate is fun to do and sure to bring smiles to the table!

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Cobra Beer

Originally when Cobra beer first started being produced in 1989 it was brewed in Bangalore, now production has moved to sunny Fulham. Originally the beer was to be called panther but the name was changed after tests suggested panther was not a popular name.

I have seen cobra available in lots of supermarkets but where I encounter it most often is in the curry house. The beers major selling point is as a less gassy alternative to other lagers, it is said to go perfectly with a curry.

Now, I adore spicy food but I do have a tendency to hiccup quite loudly whilst tucking into my phaal, therefore Cobra (you would think) seemed like a perfect choice.

First thing to notice about this beer is that it’s most commonly sold in large bottles, 660ml instead of 330ml, this is a good start you see because when the missus asks you how much you’ve had to drink tonight you can honestly reply….’why, a mere 8 bottles my dear’ and actually mean it.

Another point worth noting is that the bottle itself is aesthetically alluring, the brown of the glass and the yellow label are pleasing on the eye, also the bottle is covered with various Indian inspired motifs such as elephants and exotic plant life. While I’ve never met a soul who chooses their beer by the way the bottle looks, it’s good to know these things so you can keep your eye out for it.

Onto the beer itself, I have never had a beer I didn’t like (with one appauling exception which contained high levels of glucose syrup in it!)
But I have to say I don’t rank Cobra as a high favourite. The lower gas content is well suited for curries and I did notice a reduction in the volume and frequency of my embarrassing hiccups, and yet there just isn’t enough flavour there to warrant ordering another. I’d take the extra hiccups for a more delicious beer.

It’s alcoholic content is 5% so middle to high in strength. The lack of gas would make this a good choice for people who feel too bloated drinking regular lager all night. Also a good choice for the last few drinks of the evening (especially after a filling curry).

As I say, a beer has to go pretty out of it’s way to be bad and Cobra is certainly not ‘bad’, it just lacks the depth of flavour and full bodied robust qualities of some other lagers out there.

It’s low gas will appeal to some and Cobra definately fills a niche, it’s just not got quite enough to become a regular drink of mine.

1. The Impossibly Smooth World Beer | Cobra Beer UK
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3. Cobra | Cobra Beer Partnership Limited | BeerAdvocate

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