Monday, January 23, 2006

Cooking for The Fam

There are few things more fun than cooking for your family, as I was reminded this weekend upon a visit from my elders and mon chere frere. I got to try all the recipes that are too extensive or large-portioned to prepare for just one other person (dishes that my companion and I would either be eating all week or pushing on the neighbors). So I've got lots of food news to report, and beaucoup recipes to share after this weekend!

First, here's a nice, easy one to warm you up today--a homemade hot chocolate recipe adapted from, of all places, the February issue of O magazine, which incidentally, also featured a fantastic quote from Thomas Merton that I'll be including in my book, and an interview with Maria Bello, who mentions that Dorothy Day is one of her heroes. Who knew? This Mexican hot chocolate features hints of cinnamon, orange and almond, and the only thing I'd do differently next time is to add a pinch of cayenne for some extra kick! I used skim milk for this recipe, but you can use whatever kind you normally drink.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. instant coffee
1 1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. finely grated orange zest
4 cups milk
1/2 t. almond extract
Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
whipped cream (optional)

1. Combine chocolate, sugar, coffee granules, cinnamon, salt, orange zest, and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

2. Stir in milk and almond extract; reheat but do not boil. Remove saucepan from stove; whisk hot chocolate until foamy.

3. Pour into mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and top with whipped cream, if desired. Makes 4 generous servings.

Our good friends Emily and Brian gave us these great extra-long cinnamon sticks for Christmas, and they made for perfect drink stirrers. Thanks Em and Brian!

Painting Credit: "Drink Cup" by Wayne Thiebaud


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