A Real Hot Chocolate Fix

What to make for the Death by Chocolate Blog Hop, hosted by The Hungry Australian.

Thinking…  a decadent chocolate cake or some fudgy brownies, what about  chocolate pots, or maybe a rich chocolate mousse. The list is endless when chocolate is the subject and in the end, decided on “Real Hot Chocolate”… a fix of liquid chocolate in a mug. Good quality chocolate and cocoa percentage is the defining factor for flavour and intensity and it’s all a matter of taste.

Real Hot Chocolate with a Hint of Cinnamon


  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (around 50% to 60% cocoa solids)
  • 600ml whole fresh milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

How to make:

With a sharp knife chop the chocolate into small pieces and place into a heat-proof bowl.

Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and with a whisk blend in the powdered milk. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring the milk to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the boiling milk over the chopped chocolate. Use the whisk to stir continuously until the milk and chocolate combine completely.

Pour the hot chocolate into cups or small mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick. Using cinnamon sticks to stir the hot chocolate with will impart a slight cinnamon taste.

The Cocoa Bean Pod… the beginning of all our chocolate addictions.

Try different types of chocolate, milk, dark, or even white. Chocolate with chilli or flavoured with orange could also be used. Using chocolate with 70% to 90% cocoa solids will need sweetening with sugar, unless you enjoy the taste of bitter chocolate.

This post was part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop! Click on the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop Badge to check out all the other “Death by Chocolate” entries!

barbecued lamb cutlets and vegetable skewers

Tidying my book shelves the other day I came across the “Home Cooking Calendar” that Karen and I had compiled for charity a couple of years ago. I was just new to photography then and had bought my first D-SLR Camera. Having no experience whatsoever on the photography end, Karen took care of the photo shoot while I ran around doing the cooking and styling… it was a fun project and a great learning curve.

The longer you marinate the lamb the more succulent the meat will be. Soaking the wooden skewers will help protect them from the heat of the barbecue so they will not burn so quickly!

As the very hot weather leaves us and the evenings become much cooler, this is a time when the barbecue gets plenty of use for some casual outdoor dining. I thought I would post this tasty and easy recipe (month of October) from the “Home Cooking Calendar” and make use of some of my home-made yogurt!

Barbecued Lamb Cutlets and Vegetable Skewers


  • 4 heaped tablespoons of  plain home-made yogurt or store-bought
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
  • juice half a lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 8 french-trimmed lamb cutlets
  • 8 wooden skewers (soaked for 30 minutes in water)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 8 button mushrooms
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 4 small red onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 small courgettes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into chunks and seeds removed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to makeMix together in a large bowl, yogurt, sumac, mint, lemon juice and garlic. Add the lamb cutlets, mix to coat with the yogurt marinade. Cover bowl, place in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours or overnight.

Whisk together in a small bowl the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the garlic and rosemary, set aside for about 20 minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Meanwhile, thread the mushroom, aubergine, onion, courgette and red pepper, alternately onto the skewers. Brush each vegetable skewer liberally with the flavoured olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Heat the barbecue to medium, cook each lamb cutlet 3 to four minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. Cook the vegetable for about 8 minutes or until slightly charred and tender.

Home-made yoghurt

Used some of my dwindling supply (from the freezer) of Ekhlas dates which were from our garden date palms. Dates and yogurt a breakfast favourite…!  

The New Year has begun and the food magazines are full of great recipes helping us start the year with healthy eating plans! Having acquired a new electric Cuisinart Yogurt and Cheese Maker, thought I would kick-start the new year and introduce the family to some “good bacteria” named Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, both needed for converting milk into yogurt. Now I know I can go to a health food store or a supermarket and buy yogurt (you need to do this for your first batch anyway) with live cultures… but making my own yogurt has given me a great sense of satisfaction and culinary pride…and that you cannot find in any store-bought pot of yogurt!

The glass jars that come with the yogurt maker are really handy for storing and serving the yogurt

Yogurt making is in fact a way of preserving milk by fermentation and has been around for many many years with no fancy kitchen appliances involved…  some kitchen appliances make cooking easier and it’s 2012.

My new kitchen appliance

Many people have had success without appliances or thermometers, using ovens, crock pots, flasks, wrapping pots with towels, checking the temperature with their fingers… but I wanted to help my friendly bacteria grow without competition from unfriendly bacteria that might spoil all my yogurt making efforts… plus I like using kitchen appliances and tools.

There is a little science attached to yogurt making which you need to follow in ordered to achieve the desired results. My first try was disappointing and I ended up with a very watery type of yogurt that did not set or taste anything like yogurt should taste. What went wrong? My guess… it could have been the yogurt starter I used. Maybe I should have added the dried powdered milk before heating the fresh milk. Maybe I should have sterilized the jars rather that rinsing. Maybe the milk was too hot when I added the yogurt starter and I killed the friendly bacteria. So, adhering to some science about the why’s and how’s of yogurt making I made my second batch… success!

Thicker yogurt with a creamy consistency are the types I prefer but low-fat and other types of milk like soya and goats milk can also be used in yogurt making which of course will affect the texture and taste. Wonder what yogurt from camels milk would taste like!

The choice of natural yogurt with live cultures used as a starter can also give variations on final taste. Different types of freeze-dried cultures for yogurt making can be bought on- line.

My little stash of fresh honey which a friend kindly brought back from Yemen for me… perfect partner with yogurt.


Home-made Yoghurt


  • 600ml  whole milk  ( richer and creamier)
  • 3 tablespoons dried powdered milk  (for thicker consistency) (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt with live cultures  (needed as a starter for your first batch after which you can use your own yogurt as the starter)

How to make:

Turn on the yogurt maker to pre-heat.

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the dried milk powder and whisk gently to incorporate. Place the saucepan on medium heat and slowly bring the milk to a temperature of 85°C (checking with a digital thermometer). This helps to kill any other un-wanted bacteria that may be lurking around.

No more guessing… a digital thermometer makes it easier!

Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly cool the milk down to a temperature of 45°C ( ideal temperature for incorporating the yogurt culture ) by placing the bottom of the saucepan in a few inches of cold water.

While the milk is cooling, sterilize the 6 glass jars by filling them up with some boiling water from the kettle.

Add the yogurt culture to the cooled milk and whisk gently to incorporate.

Pour the hot water from the glass jars and keep them turned upside down on a wire cooling rack for a minute or two, the heat from the glass will dry them out, do not dry with a cloth as you may introduce bacteria that could end up spoiling the yogurt.

Pour the milk into the jars and place then into the yogurt maker (without their lids), place the cover on top and leave the milk to ferment and set for 8 hours un-disturbed.

Yogurt maker in action and the ” good bacteria” doing their job”

After the incubation time has finished remove the jars from the yogurt maker and cover with the lids and store in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.


 These earthenware yogurt pots I collected from store-bought yogurt which you can see I used in the yogurt maker, great for individual servings.

The end result is a creamy textured yogurt with a slight tart taste. Enjoy plain or sweetened with honey or pure maple syrup. Chopped fresh fruits and nuts can be sprinkled over the yogurt before serving… the choice is yours!

  • Using an electric yogurt maker assures me that the milk is fermenting at the correct temperature constantly for the specified amount of time.
  • Yogurt with live cultures has intestinal health benefits.
  • Yogurt has many culinary uses, marinades, frozen yogurt, dressings, desserts, baking and drinks to name some.
  • By making my own yogurt I have less plastic containers to throw out so I guess the  environment gets a little help.

Honey from Yemen, Ekhlas dates from our own garden and fresh home-made yogurt… this has to be food heaven… now I wonder if I could squeeze a Jersey Cow into my back yard… !

Still have some more experimenting to do… more yogurt and cheese! If you make your own yogurt let me know how it went for you! Maybe you have some great tips or a recipe that you can share!


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