MY OPINIONS are often sought about the potential benefits of certain types of food and beverages.
A common poser is that about red wine being good for your heart, to which my usual retort is: "...but white wine is better for your joints!"
Then there is the question of aphrodisiacs. On this I always plead ignorance!
How food and drink affects your mood is fraught with contradictions to a layman like myself.
Low fat diets can leave you feeling depressed, yet low fat meats such as chicken and turkey contain the mood-enhancing tryptophan, an essential amino acid.
Caffeine increases alertness, but too much can cause anxiety, depression and nervousness. Chocolate contains a substance which enhances endorphin levels. This can increase libido, which explains the link between chocolate and romance.
But, hey, I'm a chef, not a doctor, and so I will stick to my own principle: enjoy all things in moderation.
A strong cup of coffee can make you feel more lively, a chicken sandwich for lunch can sustain you in a healthy way, but if you make yourself a wicked chocolate soufflé for dinner, you will definately feel good!
So, to finish positively, I have revisited my first book, Friends, which includes my favourite, simple chocolate soufflé recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4)
110 g plain chocolate
75g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
5 egg whites
pinch of salt
Method 1) Dilute the cornflour with a little of the milk.
2) Bring the remainder of the milk to the boil in a pan together with half the sugar.
3) Add the cornflour paste gradually and reboil, whisking continuously.
4) Cut the chocolate into even sized pieces, drop them into the pan and stir until they have completely melted.
5) Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the yolks one at a time.
6) Prepare a soufflé dish by lightly greasing and sugaring the inside.
7) Whisk the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks.
8) Add the remaining sugar to the bowl and whisk until firm peaks are formed.
9) Mix in a quarter of the beaten whites to the souffle mixture, and then fold in the remainder.
10) Pour the mixture into the soufflé dish and bake in a hot oven, gas mark 5/190ºC, for about 45 minutes.