Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hot Chocolate

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking about hot chocolate for about two months now and more so in the last couple of weeks.  The only problem is that I’m always inevitably disappointed with the hot chocolate that I order or make.  These days I can even tell when a mocha has been made with a packet of hot chocolate mix or made the right way.  (For the record, there is almost no coffee shop out there that makes a decent mocha much less makes it the right way.)

I have fond memories of childhood when I would go to the grocery store with my dad to buy hot chocolate.  Back then being fancy was getting the packets of hot chocolate with the marshmallows in it.  Don’t ask me why I liked those dried up crusty tiny marshmallows, but when you’re a kid you have some weird predilections.

Now that I’m older and my eating style has changed, I don’t really like packet hot chocolate (is it me, or is it just not that good anymore??) much less those teeny tiny dried up white chunks they tell you are marshmallows.  (I’ll always have fond memories from childhood, but please keep those things away from me so they don’t ruin my warm, fuzzy memories…thank you.)  The few times I tried hot chocolate as an adult, I found it to be watery and gross.  Why do people drink that powdered nonsense??

I want a thick, creamy, and decadent hot chocolate.  And decadent and tasty is what I got once chilly night in Berlin in a cafe in back corner of an alleyway somewhere.  (Alleys are not the sketchy narrow places that Americans think of…or maybe it’s just the New Yorker in me that thinks of alleyways as dark, scary, and usually filled with dumpsters and odd bits of trash being blown about.)  It was quite a pleasant cobblestoned cafe before I knew anything about drinking beyond a couple sips of wine and beer.  I was cold and the amaretto hot chocolate caught my eye.  I didn’t want any of the coffees because I knew that would keep me up past my bed time and possibly make me a crazy person.

Now, that amaretto hot chocolate remains in my mind one of the best food/drink experience of my life.  (I keep a mental list of these things.)  Warm and comforting with the taste of amaretto laced through, I never wanted to stop drinking that hot chocolate or leave that cafe.  Well, leave I did and I’ve been craving that kind of hot chocolate ever since.

With thoughts of hot chocolate running through my head and spending the better part of this past weekend in bed due to a nasty cold, I decided I needed some cheering up and googled hot chocolate.  Then I thought, I want to amp that hot chocolate up and looked up rum laced hot chocolate.  I’d have preferred amaretto, but I don’t have any and I’m trying to cut my spending down and not buy anything that I don’t absolutely need.  (A difficult proposition because I love wandering around my local co-op and grocery store and finding new and interesting things to try.)

What I found was this: Rum Hot Chocolate Recipe.  I had heard of Chef Marcus Samuelsson a while ago (probably on TV) and not only am I hoping that I will one day be lucky enough to eat something that he has created, I love the name of his restaurant – Red Rooster Harlem.  Anyway, I digress.  The reason I chose his recipe to try is because he uses coconut milk in his recipe.  (Full disclosure, I have some left over coconut milk in the fridge that I wanted to use.)

As much as it would have been lovely to use a real stick of cinnamon, a real vanilla bean, and a freshly grated whole nutmeg, those were not at my disposal, so I made what you might call the poor woman’s version of Chef Samuelsson’s rum hot chocolate.  I used the powdered cinnamon and nutmeg and the vanilla extract from my cabinet.  I also used the heavy whipping cream that I had instead of whole milk.  Milk and I haven’t really gotten along in a while and I wasn’t about to go out and buy some.  Oh and the chocolate…I used whatever chocolate I had around.

Verdict: Even though my version is the poor person’s version, this hot chocolate is amazing.  I think the coconut milk is key.  It’s something like this that shows the true genius of a famous chef.  I’m pretty sure a rum-free version would be just as good.  Since I have coconut milk left, I think I’ll be drinking a few more cups of this.

It’s cold out, go make yourself some – Rum Hot Chocolate Recipe.

Stay warm!

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Mmm Spaghetti (Squash that is)

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I’ve got a cold and a serious case of food boredom.  Not a good combination.  I saw this post for garlic and goat cheese spaghetti squash yesterday and while shopping for food today found a lovely organic spaghetti squash calling to me.  I have a container of feta that’s been languishing in my fridge for some time, so I took inspiration from the recipe and made a version of my own.

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash

inspired by The Primalist’s Recipe Garlic and Goat Cheese Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash – medium/small size

2 Tablespoons of butter

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

generous dash of pepper

generous dash of Penzys Hebes Fines

generous glug (about 2 Tablespoons) of olive oil

handful of crumbled feta cheese

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and cut spaghetti squash in half.  Scoop out out the seeds and coat the cut sides with olive oil.  Place cut sides down on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes and then flip for another 10 minutes until soft.
  4. While squash is baking, melt butter on low heat and add garlic.
  5. Cook butter and garlic for 5-7 minutes.  During that time add your Herbes Fines and pepper, along with whatever remains of your olive oil.
  6. Cook until garlic gets slightly browned.
  7. Scrape your spaghetti squash into spaghetti and plate.
  8. Sprinkle feta cheese over the hot spaghetti squash and toss together.
  9. Drizzle butter mixture over the spaghetti squash and cheese and toss until coated evenly.
  10. Eat with whatever protein you have a hankering for.

I had some left over gyro meatballs that I fashioned from this recipe over at the Domestic Man and chopped those up for my spaghetti and meatballs.  he he.

Now, excuse me while I go polish the rest of this off.  Then it might be back to bed to chase off this cold.  Not how I wanted to spend my weekend.


Warm Seafood Salad

Remember me?  Considering I haven’t posted in eons, I won’t be offended if you don’t remember me, but I’m trying to get back into blogging.  It’s been sort of a crazy bunch of months and I’m trying to turn crazy into organized busy.  Not exactly the easiest thing to do when you’re freezing cold and trying to stay warm while keeping your heating bills from bankrupting you.

While we’re on the subject of cold, let’s talk salads.  I like salads when someone else makes a tasty one for me, but beyond that, I’m not a huge salad fan.  Why?  Well, the whole process of washing greens is a chilly endeavor.  Even thinking about washing salad greens makes me cold.  Add in below freezing temperatures and you’ll find me starving and malnourished under a pile of blankets in my apartment.

Well, fear not, I’m not starving or malnourished currently because I found a solution to cold salads…warm salads!  Genius, right??

Okay, maybe not.  For the record I did not wash the greens myself.  I trusted Olivia’s Organics on the cleanliness of their washing.  My sister said they had the best washing practices, so I just went with it.  I didn’t do my neurotic look it up and then still not trust them and wash the greens again thing that I usually do.  Technically, I think you should always rewash greens because that whole triple washing stuff hasn’t always turned out so nicely for everyone (ahem, food poisoning).

Anyway, let’s get on with the show.  May I present to you, warm seafood salad.

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Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m more of a fly by the seat of your pants type of cook and well, measurements aren’t really in my vocabulary most of the time.  (This explains why it takes me months to actually get around to trying recipes…I hate the idea of measuring stuff out that much.)  In any case, I’ll try to give you the run down on this delicious salad that I ate for both my meals today.

Warm Seafood Salad

Salad greens of your choice – I used pre-washed baby romaine from Olivia’s Organics

Coconut oil – About a half a tablespoon, you can add more or less depending on your preference.

Frozen shrimp – As many or as few as you want.  I tend to make 4-6 of them.

Frozen sea scallops – Again, how ever many as you want.  I like to make between 3-5 scallops.

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Penzeys Fines Herbes – This is an herb blend of chervil, minced parsley, chopped chives and tarragon.  You can always make your own blend or just leave this out.  Up to you.

Directions:

  1. Wash your greens.  When I actually do wash my greens I like to wash them and then let them sit in a colander so the water can drain off.  I do not have a salad spinner.  (There is barely room enough for me in my current kitchen.)  If you do have a spinner, by all means, spin away.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the frozen shrimp and scallops to the pan, sprinkle your salt, pepper, and herbs on top.  Use your discretion about how much salt, pepper, and herbs to sprinkle.
  4. Cover the pan and let the shrimps and scallops cook.
  5. After about 5-7 minutes, turn the shrimp and scallops over and let cook another 5 minutes.  Please use your discretion with cooking time, as everyone’s stove is different and the cooking time will also vary depending on the size of your seafood.
  6. Once seafood is cooked to your liking, plate your greens and then place your shrimp and scallops on top.  Drizzle the liquid that has accumulated in the pan over the entire salad.

*Notes: You will see some avocados in my photo because I like avocados with everything.  Feel free to add whatever other salad items you like – tomatoes, cheese, peppers, mushrooms, etc.*

That’s all there is to it.  Simple, easy, tasty.  And best of all, warm.  I love this salad because I get a little bit of a dressing for the salad from the cooking.  No extra work needed.

I should warn you though, that if you don’t like seafood, this might not be the salad for you.  If you do, go for it, full steam ahead.

I hope that everyone is having a great start to 2013 and staying warm and healthy.  (Cool and healthy for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere and persistently warm climates.)

Till next time…