Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beauty of Bircher Muesli

In our house we predominantly have cereal for breakfast during the week. During summer I favour Bircher Muesli, whereas in winter, we naturally eat a lot of porridge.  I always look forward to when the time comes around to make Bircher Muesli again as there's nothing better or more suited to my tastes than having a bowl of oats, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast in summer.

As with many well known foods the modern versions that we know bear little resembelance to the original, and so it is with Bircher Muesli.  The original actually used very little oats and was made with cream, whereas it is accepted that modern versions are made with yoghurt.  Apart from the basics of oats, fruit and yoghurt you can pretty much improvise with Bircher Muesli and this is what I like about it.

I always make a large quantity of the basic mix and then I top it with whatever fruit I feel like each day.  Nuts are optional but a very nice addition.  The bowl of muesli keeps for several days in the fridge and couldn't make breakfast much easier to manage really.

Bircher Muesli


2 cups of rolled oats
1 - 1½ cups of fruit juice (any flavour, but apple works well)
3 tbs of slivered almonds
3 tbs of sunflower seeds
2 tbs of flax seeds
Cinnamon, to taste
2 tbs sultanas or other dried fruit (optional)

For Serving:
2 desert spoons of low fat natural yoghurt or sheep’s milk yoghurt
Your choice of chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts.


Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and then add the fruit juice. A pyrex bowl with a plastic lid is ideal.
Mix everything together so that all the dry ingredients are wet and then cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

To Serve:

Add yoghurt to ½ cup of muesli and stir to combine in a bowl. Then add chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts as desired.

Some suggestions are - mango and macadamias, pear and roasted hazelnuts, apple and walnuts or almonds, barberries and pistachios, strawberries, blueberries and pecans.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken and Corn Chowder

I just bought the Jamie Oliver iphone application (yes I'm addicted to the app store like so many others) called 20 Minute Meals. It's a good little app with easy recipes, a shopping list function, basic instructions and videos of basic kitchen techniques. Very nice if you're a fan of Jamie.

There was a recipe for Chilli Corn Chowder in the Soups section which I've used as the basis for this recipe but I thought it would be really nice with chicken in it and I opted for fresh corn instead of the frozen corn kernels that Jamie uses in his recipe. I also used coriander instead of thyme, because that's what I had in the fridge, as well as making some other adjustments to make it a little more healthy and low GI. For instance, I used turnip instead of potato to thicken the soup and I gave the sour cream a miss.

The result was a tasty but quick dinner that's a prefect spring dish; fresh, with a bit of zing to it from the chilli, but completely comforting at the same time.

Chicken and Corn Chowder Recipe


4 cobs of corn
2 large skinless organic chicken breast fillets
1 litre of salt reduced vegetable stock
1 medium turnip, grated and the liquid squeezed out
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
2 small red chillies (1 1/2 for soup; the rest de-seeded and thinly sliced for garnish)
1 cup of coriander (plus extra for garnish)
3 spring onions (for garnish)
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt flakes, to taste
a splash of milk


Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil and turn it down to a simmer. Trim the chicken fillets of any remaining visible fat and then add them to the stock to poach for about 10 to 12 minutes. When poached remove the chicken, set aside to cool a little, and then chop the chicken roughly.

Meanwhile, in a fry pan sauté the onion, celery and chilli gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Also, steam the corn cobs in the microwave until the kernels are bright yellow and tender, remove, cool a little in cold water until cool enough to handle and then with a sharp knife cut off the kernels.

Add the corn kernels to the saucepan with the stock in it, the grated turnip, the sautéed vegetable mixture and the coriander. Let it simmer gently for a few minutes, add the chopped chicken back in and let it simmer for a minute more but not more than that or the chicken will overcook.

Take the soup off the heat and process in a food processor briefly but leave the texture so that its a little rustic. Add a little milk to get the consistency right. You could also use a stab mixer here as well. Season to taste, and then ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with coriander leaves, chopped spring onions and finely sliced chilli.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Toasted Muesli

I recently made a considerably healthier version of toasted muesli compared to most of the commercially produced versions. I love toasted muesli and so I decided I would make my own so I could indulge in a bowl every now and then as a treat.

I've provided some measurements in this recipe but it really was just a case of adding things until I thought the proportions were right. So several of the ingredients below I've said to add 'to taste'. It makes for a fun recipe that you can make according to your own desires.


4 cups premium rolled oats (not the instant variety)
2 cups of rolled barley
200 gms macadamias
300 gms dried cranberries (sweetened in apple juice)
sesame seeds, to taste
sunflower seeds, to taste
1 - 2 tsps ground nutmeg, or to taste
2 tsps ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 cup of honey
a splash of concentrated pear juice
1 tb of grape seed oil
a sprinkle of Murray river salt flakes


Preheat oven to 170 C. Use a shallow silicon baking tray or line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Add wet ingredients together in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Finish mixing with hands to ensure its all worked through thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into baking tray and spread evenly over the bottom. Bake in oven for about 40 - 50 minutes, flipping and turning the mixture every 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Serving suggestion - combine with sheep's milk yoghurt and sliced banana for a decadent breakfast or simply add your favourite milk.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Crowd Pleasing Orange Cake

On the weekend my family celebrated two birthdays; my fiance's and my mother's. So of course I had to make a very special cake. I decided to make a cake that I'd been itching to make for quite a while - a flourless orange and almond cake using whole oranges. I first saw this being made while watching an episode of SBS Food Safari but I soon discovered that it's quite a well known cake, apparently served quite often in cafes.

Its origins lie in the traditions of Sephardic Jewish culture and is a cake that is commonly eaten during passover, however, several famous cookbook authors have versions of this recipe in their books including Stephanie Alexander's, A Cook's Companion, and Nigella Lawson's, How To Eat, who makes hers with Clementines instead of oranges. Probably the most famous version though, and the one that can probably take the original credit for making the recipe accessible to a wider range of people, is Claudia Roden's. She calls it Middle Eastern Orange Cake in her book A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

I must say I was extremely impressed with this cake its texture was moist and luscious, almost creamy, and the taste was wonderfully complex with the pith and peel of the orange giving it an intriguing exotic accent. The top and bottom of the cake where it been baked to a beautiful golden brown hue had a delicate marmalade-like flavour, and in fact marmalade was the dominant aroma that wafted through the house when it was in the oven.

This beautiful cake appealed to me with its simplicity but the result is anything but - what you get is a cake with huge depth of flavour, and is quite simply, the essence of orange.

Oh did I mention that everyone LOVED it? And, as luck would it have no-one in my family knew of the cake, despite it being quite famous really, and so they gave me all the credit for it being so delicious. But the credit isn't mine at all; it was easy to cook, even in my awful oven with its inability to ever stay at a constant temperature (no-one ever ask me to make a sponge cake). Its a well circulated recipe and of course there are lots of other blog entries about it all over the internet.

Here is one absolutely lovely entry at Kuidaore, that includes a couple of other recipes that are orange related that I read while having a look around online. This site is well worth a look just for the beautiful photography.

I consulted my copy of The Cook's Companion to make this cake although I did follow Joycelyn's lead here and only boiled my oranges for 1 hour which I found to work very well.

My own notes on the recipe would be to use Naval oranges if they are in season as they are the sweetest and they don't have any pips. Also, I would suggest using organic oranges from a supplier that doesn't irrigate their trees as they will be sweeter than the irrigated variety. If not using organic oranges wash the skin very thoroughly in water and vinegar and then rinse. On the cooking time; my cake took over an hour to cook completely (probably due to my stupid oven) but if yours seems to be taking a little longer too I think it would be hard to overcook it so if you're not sure its done leave it in the oven for a little bit longer.


2 large unwaxed oranges
6 eggs
250 gms ground almonds or almond meal
250 gms (or a little less) of caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
icing sugar to dust


Barely cover 2 large unwaxed oranges in a medium-sized pot with water. Bring to a boil, put a lid on the pot, lower heat to a simmer, and simmer gently for 1 hour. Lift out oranges, allow to cool, cut open, remove and discard the pips if there are any. Chop oranges up, including the rind.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Oil and flour a 24cm non-stick springform tin. Blend chopped oranges and 6 eggs thoroughly in a food processor or blender. Stir together 250 gm ground almonds, 250 gm caster sugar and 1 tsp baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the egg-orange mixture, stirring to combine. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour; the cake is done when it's a deep golden brown, has come away slightly from the sides of the tin, and the top springs back when touched. If cake is still very wet, cook a little longer.

Cool completely in tin before turning out gently. Store, tightly wrapped, in fridge until serving. This is one of those cakes that get better the next day.

Serve dusted with icing sugar. Sift over; it will melt, and sift another layer over just prior to serving.

I also served mine with slices of fresh peeled orange (Stephanie Alexander suggests serving it with fresh orange) and a marscarpone cream flavoured with orange blossom water and honey.

Orange Blossom Marscarpone Cream


250 gms marscarpone cream
250 gms thickened cream
honey to taste (approx. 1/3 cup)
orange blossom water to taste (approx. 2 tsp)
pistachios, chopped
1 slice candied orange, chopped (my candied orange was about 1 year old and drier and more intense in flavour than when bought very fresh)


Beat marsarpone cheese and cream together in a bowl. Add honey and orange blossom to taste and sprinkle with chopped pistachios and candied orange.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Food for the Gods!

The genus name for the humble persimmon actually means "food for the gods". If you're familiar with persimmons you'll know why. I just can't eat enough persimmons come Autumn and I think they might just be in the running to be my favourite fruit.

I've only ever had the non-astringent variety often sold as "sweet persimmons" or sometimes as "vanilla persimmons" in Melbourne, because of the small dark flecks in the flesh of the fruit and the slight vanilla flavour.

There's basically two types of persimmons available commercially - astringent and non-astringent. I'm not sure I've seen the astringent type at any of the markets, maybe they're not readily available here. One reason might be that the non-astringent variety could be more marketable, if you buy and eat an unripe astringent persimmon it apparently tastes awful, as well as being not very good for your health possibly making it less appealing to customers. I'm going to keep my eye out for them though because I'm quite keen to try the astringent ones. I've done a bit of research and everyone seems to think they are far nicer. As long as you wait until they are fully ripe of course.

The astringent variety are inedible when not ripened to a soft jelly-like consistency but the non-astringent variety can be eaten while still firm like an apple all the way through to the point where the inside of the fruit is like a soft jelly. Just remember that the outside of the skin needs to be orange for the fruit to be ripe, and once the fruit has turned brown - don't eat it. This gives the sweet persimmon an amazingly long shelf life. I like them both ways, firm and soft and squishy inside, they're simply delicious. When firm they go very well in salads or anywhere you'd usually use an apple or a crisp pear and beautiful and soft they go very well scooped onto porridge or warmed through and eaten with a good dollop of creamy sheep's milk yoghurt. I'm sure you'll find your own favourite ways to eat these orange beauties.

One thing I love to do with persimmons is to dry them in my food dehydrator, which brings me to the reason for my post.

Drying persimmons! Did you guess that from the photo?

Some people peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler before eating persimmons but you don't have to, the skin is similar to apple skin and entirely edible. I think a previous time I peeled mine before drying them but this time I didn't and the result is very pleasing still, and it was a lot less work.

One reason I'm so keen on drying my own persimmons is because they're not available here at least not that I've seen. I'm not sure I've even seen them in Asian supermarkets, but if you have please drop me a line because I'd love to try some hoshigaki, Japanese style air-dried, whole, astringent persimmons.

Another reason to dry your own fruit is because then you can enjoy dried fruit without the nasty preservatives that commercially dried fruits have on them. A common preservative used is sulfur dioxide which is used to retain the appealing orange colour in dried apricots and is not good for you in large amounts used in commercially dried fruits. Sulfur dioxide can also trigger asthma attacks in asthma suffers.

I dry a lot of fruits and some of my favourites other than persimmons are; banana, apple, mango and pineapple. Hopefully I'll do a post about some of these others soon. Most of the fruits I've mentioned above are exceptionally sweet (as sweet as a lolly), except the apple (although I like them unsweetened you can add a little honey and lemon juice to them which is very nice) and they make wonderfully sweet snacks to eat when you're craving a little sugar. I'm going to use mine in trail mix for when I'm skiing this year and I think they also go really nicely on a cheese platter teamed with a salty cheese such as blue vein or gorgonzola.

Dried Persimmons:

Clean the persimmons thoroughly and dry them.
Cut in half and remove any pips (sometimes they have them sometimes not)
Cut each half into about six little wedges (or whatever size you like)
Lay them onto the trays of the dehydrator and dry according to the instructions of your machine.*
Take out and allow to cool and then store them in an air tight container in a cool dry place.

The dried persimmons will store for many months, probably up to a year.

* I have the Ezi Dri Snackmaker and I think it took about 10 hours to dry the whole 5 trays which was about 3 kg of fresh fruit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Easter, a birthday, a picnic and a carrot cake

It was my birthday on Easter Monday and I desperately wanted to make a healthy cake for my birthday cake. Would you believe it I've never made carrot cake before, and so thinking that it would be very fitting for an Easter birthday, I decided that carrot cake would be my birthday treat.

So I shopped around for the ingredients, I mostly used organic ingredients, and had great fun sampling all the different sultanas and raisins at what is arguably my favourite stall at the farmer's market, and through that process honed in on exactly what I wanted my cake to be like.

I based the cake on this recipe at Elana's Pantry, a great site I've found that focuses on healthy food suitable to people on restricted diets, but I've changed it a little bit to make it my own. The great thing about this cake is that you can tailor it to suit your tastes or mood. Next time I might try adding a little coconut and experimenting with different dried fruits.

I can't rave about this cake enough. Its rustic, dense, full of flavour, and delicious. It didn't have any of that greasiness to it that some carrot cakes do. I was very proud of it I must say. It was the dessert at a family picnic we had for Easter Sunday!

Just one other thing - although I've named this cake Healthy Carrot Cake (and it probably is one of the healthiest versions I've seen) it still has a fair few calories in it, although it has a lot less oil and sweetener in that the normal variety. Be aware though that this cake is chockers with nuts, has a load of dried fruit in it and is made with a majority of nut flour. I mainly refer to it as healthy because it's made with whole ingredients which makes it better for your body.

Healthy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Nutty Topping

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups almond meal
1 cup spelt flour 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
5 eggs 1 tsp
vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup camellia tea oil
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts*
½ cup sultanas
½ cup currants

Frosting Ingredients:
440 gms low fat cream cheese
2 -3 tb creamed honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Nut Topping Ingredients:
Cinnamon, to taste
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp macadamia oil
100 gms chopped macadamias
100 gms chopped walnuts
spoonful of honey

Cake Method:
1. Mix together the flours, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients with an electric mixer; eggs, oil, syrup, vanilla. Then add carrot, sultanas, currants and walnuts into the wet ingredients.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
4. Place batter in a deep 18 cm baking tin that has been oiled and has baking on the bottom. Cook for approximately 1 hour in a 180 C oven. After that check for 'doneness' until the cake tester comes out clean.
5. Leave to cool for 5 mins and then turn out onto a cake cooler to cool.

Frosting Method:
Beat ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.

Nut Topping Method:
1. Add all the ingredients to a small fry pan and heat until melted and syrupy.
2. Add chopped nuts and heat through until roasted and the syrup has caramelised. Take off heat to cool.

Once all the cake elements have cooled completely spread frosting over cake and down the sides until completely covered with a knife or metal spatula. Then add the nut topping, toasted sunflower seeds and toasted pepitas. Serve.

* Note – I used Tasmanian walnuts they are local (relatively) and are a damn site nicer than Californian ones. They are in season now and I always choose these over their American counterparts when I have the opportunity.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spinach and Feta Frittata

This is a staple dinner in our house. It's delicious and extremely easy to make because I cheat and use frozen spinach. It may not look that pretty but the taste more than makes up for it.


10 eggs
1 packet of frozen spinach
1\2 block of fat reduced feta cheese, chopped into small chunks
some toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper


Put spinach in the microwave and defrost according to the directions on the packet. Then set it aside to cool a little bit. Beat eggs briefly in large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste although remember that you'll be adding feta which is salty so go easy on the salt. Squeeze all the water that you possibly can out of the spinach and add to the eggs, followed by the cheese and a couple of small handfuls of pine nuts. Stir to combine all the ingredients nicely and then pour into a shallow fry pan or casserole dish. Cook in a moderate oven for about 25 minutes or until firm and browned on the top.

This recipe should make about 8 pieces of frittata.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blackberry Jam

Part 1.

We went berry picking on the weekend. We picked purple raspberries, red raspberries and new season autumn blackberries which looked so good I took this photo of them.

One thing I've been quite interested in recently is making jam or fruit conserve with no sugar added. So now's my chance to give it a go. Unfortunately I don't have a recipe I'm happy with yet and although I've decided to add some apple for the pectin I'm not sure if this alone will make my jam set or if the sugar in regular jam helps with the setting as well as the preserving. Stay tuned.. hopefully I can report on the results soon.

Part 2.

Well after a bit of research I discovered that making no sugar jam should be easy, but was in fact, a little bit trickier than I had anticipated. The main reason being, I couldn't find any no sugar pectin, or low-methoxyl pectin, to purchase.

Low-methoxyl pectin is basically a pectin that doesn't need added sugar in order to set (it uses calcium) and it seems to be available commercially but not really available to retail customers anywhere that I can find in Melbourne. I think the best thing to do will be to purchase Pamona's Universal Pectin online so that I have a supply of it. Then I'll already have some on hand the next time the opportunity to make jam arises.

So lacking the essential ingredient for setting my no sugar jam, I divided the blackberries in half and decided to make two lots of jam. The first one, for me, would be more like a fruit compote rather than a jam since it wouldn't set to jam-like consistency and the second one, for my partner, would be a normal jam, albeit with less sugar than most regular jams. Using just slight less sugar makes jams taste beautifully fruity rather than just tasting like sugar.

Blackberry and Apple Fruit Compote


500 gms black berries
2 granny smith apples
juice of half a lemon


Put blackberries, apple and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring gently to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or so and then pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Important - Since this has no sugar to act as a preservative you must store the jars in the fridge.

Blackberry Jam (Pictured above)


6 cups blackberries
4 cups white sugar
juice of half a lemon


Add blackberries, sugar and lemon to a large saucepan and bring gently to a simmer until all the fruit has dissolved. Simmer until it reaches a point where the jam will set.

To test this have a cooled saucer or plate on hand, then drip some jam on it, place in the fridge to cool it and once cool, run your hand through the jam. If the jam doesn't run together again but stays separated its ready. If the jam runs together again, keep simmering and then test again until it reaches setting point.

Once the jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat and carefully pour through a funnel into sterilised jars, then seal and leave to cool.

I used lots of different sized jars to store this jam but I would say that if you used regular small jam jars you'd probably get 6 jars out of this quantity of jam. My lot made the jars pictured below as well as a really large jar. These ones are destined for jam appreciating family members.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Asian Style Chicken Soup

This soup is really easy, really yummy and really healthy! In other words it's great and it only takes about 30 minutes to make so it's a good dish for a busy weeknight dinner! I usually make this in a large amount and then we just eat it over a couple of days (three at the most). I estimate that the amount of soup in the recipe below would end up being about 10 servings. There's only two of us so that's a lot of meals of eating this soup but that's okay because we love it. But I'm sure it would freeze well although I haven't tried it yet. You could also reduce the quantities to suit.

One of the ingredients in this soup is one that some of you may not have used before, and that's wakame. It's dried seaweed which doesn't sound very appetising I know, but it re-hydrates beautifully, and the end result is that it tastes like a luscious green vegetable but a little different. I would urge you to try it out. You can purchase it from any Chinese supermarket and for those of you who frequent the Queen Vic Market in Melbourne there's a few different sorts available at Minh Phat on Thierry Street.

One of the good things about this soup though is that you can add whatever you want really. Sometimes I add peas and soba noodles are a good addition as well.


1 1/2 litres of good quality chicken stock
700 mls of water
1 small red chilli
1 tbs of dark soy sauce
5 cm piece of ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 large organic chicken breast fillets
1 red capsicum, cut into thin strips about 3 cm in length
1 punnet or small bag of shitake mushrooms, stalks removed and sliced
1 punnet or small bag of ennoki mushrooms, gently broken apart
2 bunches of bok choy, washed and torn or chopped into smallish pieces
a couple of handfuls of cut wakame*
3 small carrots, cut into thin strips about 3 cm in length
handful of baby corn, chopped into chunk sized pieces
1 small tin of water chestnuts, drained
half a bunch of spring onions, chopped
roasted cashews
handful of coriander leaves

* Available from Asian grocery stores.


Pour stock and water into a large saucepan, add ginger, chilli and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Trim chicken of any fat or sinew and add to the pot and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the carrots to the saucepan, then the seaweed, then the capsicum, water chestnuts, mushrooms, bok choy, and half of the coriander leaves. Then tear or chop the chicken fillets into small pieces and add them back into the soup along with the spring onions. Serve immediately and add the remaining coriander leaves and some roasted cashews to garnish each bowl.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Mushroom and Tomato Bread Casserole

This easy casserole was inspired by a recipe that I found on the Whole Foods Market (a US organic and whole foods supermarket chain) web site. It's supposed to be a breakfast casserole but we haven't managed to have it for breakfast yet, I'm not organised enough. For the best results it really should be left in the fridge for a few hours or overnight so that the flavours infuse and the egg fully soaks into the bread which would mean making it the night before - way too much work! I've only managed to make it in the morning and cook it for dinner. But it's great as an evening meal. I've used two different cheeses on the top simply according to what I've had on hand and I think crumbled feta cheese works equally as well as shaved parmesan in my book but if you don't mind making a more calorific version by all means use Gruyere.


2 slices dark rye bread
a drop of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
several large swiss brown mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
splash of red wine vinegar
fresh oregano leaves
4 eggs
splash of low-fat milk
bunch of chives, chopped
small piece of parmesan, shaved


Tear the bread into pieces and press into the bottom of two individual casserole dishes; set aside.
Heat oil in a medium fry pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a minute, then add tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper, vinegar, and oregano, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and liquid is thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over the top of the bread in each casserole dish; set aside to let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper and chives. Pour evenly over tomato mixture. Cover casseroles and chill overnight in the fridge.

To cook, bring casseroles to room temperature and preheat oven to 180°C. Sprinkle casseroles with parmesan and bake, uncovered, until puffed, cooked through and cheese is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving in the casserole dish. Don't forget to warn unsuspecting diners that the dish is hot!