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Chicken à la King Revisited

With the Royal Wedding just over 24 hours away, I decided to revisit and old classic:  Chicken à la King.  Also see the posts on the Groom’s Cake and The Royal Reception.

Chicken à la King is not only quick and easy, it is also comfort food at its best with the wet weather we have been experiencing lately and perfect to have in front of the TV while watching the Royal Wedding.

There are several competing accounts about the origin of Chicken à la King, but I prefer the account that it was created in the 1890’s by a cook by the name of William “Bill” King of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia.  When King died in March 1915, a New York Tribune editorial stated:   “The name of William King is not listed among the great ones of the earth. No monuments will ever be erected to his memory, for he was only a cook. Yet what a cook! In him blazed the fire of genius which, at the white heat of inspiration, drove him one day, in the old Bellevue, in Philadelphia, to combine bits of chicken, mushrooms, truffles (mushrooms), red and green peppers and cream in that delightful mixture which ever after has been known as “Chicken a la King.”

Chicken A La King

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Royal Reception Menu: 10 000 Canapés

With 650 guests invited to celebrate the Royal Wedding tomorrow, and the Buckingham Palace kitchens only equipped for formal dinner service for around 150, the menu will apparently not exactly be a five-course meal.  It will consist only of canapés and wedding cake due to the fact that the Buckingham Palace kitchens are only equipped to do a formal dinner service for 150 guests.  The 21 Palace chefs will therefore have to prepare 10 000 canapés – about 15 canapés per guest.

The French started offering canapés to their guests in the 18th century, and the English adopted the practice at the end of the 19th century.  A canapé is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite.  A canapé may also be referred to as finger food, although not all finger foods are canapés. Crackers, puff pastry, thin slices of bread or toast cut into various shapes, e.g. circles, rings, squares, strips or triangles, serve as the base for savory butters or pastes, often topped with a “canopy” of savoury food such as meat, cheese, fish, purees or relish.  Decorative garnishes are then applied and can range from finely chopped vegetables, herbs and caviar.  The canapés are usually served on a canapé tray and eaten from small canapé plates.

Because they are often served during cocktail hours, canapés are often either salty or spicy in order to encourage guests to drink more.

One of the most well-known canapés, is Vol-au-vent, which is a small, hollow case of puff pastry. A round opening is cut in the top and the pastry cut out for the opening is replaced as a lid after the case is filled. Vol-au-vents can accommodate various fillings, such as mushrooms, prawns, fruit or cheese.  The French name translates to “fly with the wind” which alludes to their light and airy nature.  Very small versions of vol au vent which are served as canapés are called Bouchées.  See the recipe below.

Creamy Prawn Bouchees/Mini Vol-au-vents

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Easter Recipes

Whether you are celebrating the Easter or Passover holidays, or just celebrating the season, the recipes below should inspire you to serve home-cooked food over the long weekend.

Spiced Fruit Buns –  a variation on the traditional Hot Cross Buns.  You have the option to make the dough from scratch or buy ready-prepared dough at a bakery and just add the spices, dried fruit and glaze.  Also see  Spices for more information on the spices used in this recipe.

Creamy Hot Cross Bun & Dried Fruit Pudding – a great way to put stale hot cross buns to good use.

Quick Savoury Pie (Souttert) – an excellent way to use up leftovers.  Can be served as breakfast, brunch or as a light meal with salad.

Wheat-Free Maize Meal Bread – you can substitute the corn kernels and diced sweet peppers in this recipe with chopped peppadews, chopped sun dried tomatoes, pitted olives, chopped bacon or your choice of chopped fresh herbs.  Serve as is with butter or toasted with preserves or scrambled eggs. (More wheat-free recipes to follow soon!)


Jeanri & Carolie

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Are you wheat or gluten intolerant?

Carolie will be doing a Winning Ways Without Wheat & Gluten cooking demonstration on the 19th of March. This event is not to be missed if anyone in your family is wheat or gluten intolerant!   See Events for more details.

What is wheat allergies?
Most people eat wheat so often their bodies adapt and cope and so they experience mild forms of the symptoms (known as wheat intolerance) without ever really being aware of where the problem lies. Withdrawing wheat from the diet and therefore ridding the body of wheat can lead to immense improvements in health and wellbeing.  A few of the symptoms of wheat allergies are:

  • Headaches
  • Bloated stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Skin rash

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein occurring naturally in wheat, barley, rye and oats (although some debate is held on the gluten levels of oats). When these grains are milled the gluten is released and it’s this that gives grain flours their strength and elasticity, something that is noticeably missing from gluten free breads.

What is gluten intolerance?
Also called celiac disease.  People with healthy digestive systems can eat gluten without any problems. The food is broken down in the stomach and passes through the small intestine where projections called villi absorb nutrients. These villi provide a large surface area (20-40 metres squared), which is used for the absorption of the nutrients from the food.  When a celiac eats gluten in foods their intestine thinks it’s under attack from a foreign body and creates an immune response to the invader. The lining of the intestine becomes inflamed and the villi flatten. The flattening of the villi means that their surface area is reduced and the nutrients vital to health therefore aren’t absorbed, which over time leads to weight loss, wasting and malnutrition. Symptoms of celiac disease are:

  • Anaemia
  • Bloating
  • Chronic tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Diarrhea (aka diarrhoea)
  • Irritable bowel
  • Migraines
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Psychological issues (stress, nerves, depression etc)
  • Severe weight loss
  • Vomiting

The above lists of symptoms associated with wheat allergies, celiac disease or gluten intolerance is by no means exhaustive, other symptoms may present themselves in different people. (source: www.wheat-free-org).

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Travel Cost Calculation

The travel cost can be worked out in 4 easy steps:

  • Step 1: Go to Google Maps.  
  • Step 2: Type John Adamson Drive, Franklin Roosevelt Park, Randburg in the search field.
  • Step 3: Click on the “directions” button and type your own street address.
  • Step 4: multiply the kilometers by 2 and then by 8 to get to the travel cost amount per lesson.