Archive for January, 2015

Hot Chocolate

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

I fell in love with hot chocolate in Rome. Because until then I’d never had it so good. Every morning, as part of my stay at the Daphne Inn, they served me frothed hot chocolate. It became part of the enchanting amazing experience that was five days in Rome by myself.

Since then, I have tried to replicate the wonderfulness. I bought a frother that you heat on the stove, and then press a lever as you hold the nozzle in your mug. That was nice, but not enough. I bought two different mixer/frothing type things that were special for hot chocolate. One was very good but stopped working after about a year. The other was even better, but was damaged early on by my dog chewing the blender part. And I couldn’t find just that part of sale, it would have been the whole $60 plus unit.

Then, out of necessity, I tried my stick blender. It was the answer.

So here is my recipe: Heat a mug full of milk on high in a sauce pan. Add about 2 Tablespoons great cocoa mix (Mindo’s is a local great mix – add your own sweetener, or Ghiradelli’s premium double chocolate hot coco mix). Add vanilla or peppermint oil, or other flavorings if you’d like.

Stick the blender in there while it heats, and blend on high for about one minute. I find that at the end of that time the milk is hot, the chocolate well blended, and there is lots of froth.

And of course hand blenders are a great tool for many other uses. But you can buy them for $10-20. I like this one that is made of steel rather than plastic.

This has been the best method yet. And you can make plenty for everyone – just add time to the heating and frothing.

Cookies so good an ex wanted me to keep sending them

Friday, January 9th, 2015

These are my favorite cookies, for the last twenty years or so. And it is true, an ex boyfriend from long ago asked if I would keep sending them to him after we broke up. I have to add, the reason we did end the relationship, even though he loved my cookies, was the I wasn’t “a woman that he could dominate sufficiently”. Yeah, you got that right. He had good sense when it came to cookies.

I declined.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe is adapted from a very worn and stained copy of “The Joy of Cooking” that my mom gave to me when I moved out of the house at age 18, almost 38 years ago. The spine is broken, and I can turn to this cookie recipe by letting the book fall open. It is marked by a “!+” next to the title.

Here is my version.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Use all organic ingredients if at all possible. I find I react to non-organic peanut butter and almonds now. The organic variety are fine with my gut. It matters.
In a food processor combine 1/2 cup organic butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup turbinado sugar. Use other combinations of sugar if you prefer.
When it is beginning to be creamy add 1 egg, 1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter or a little over a cup of almonds or peanuts or a combination), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp or more Vanilla.

Process that until well blended, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. You’ll end up with a blend that is the consistency of mediumly stiff mud.

I stone grind my whole wheat flour fresh from wheat berries, it has a much nuttier flour than conventional whole wheat flour. That’s the ideal, second best is to find some stone ground whole wheat flour as fresh as possible. It can be a little course. You can use conventional whole wheat flour but it will result in a drier, more bland cookie.

In a mixing bowl, add 1-2 cups of flour (it will depend upon the grind, but usually 1 1/2 cups works) to the mixture from the food processor. Stir that together until it is uniform. Add more flour if needed so that you have a fairly stiff dough. Add about 1 cup of chocolate chips along the way, more if you’d like.

Grease a couple of cookie sheets. I spray them quickly with a minimal later of organic olive oil spray. Place small balls of the now stiff dough onto the sheet, about 1 inch in diameter, and spaced about an inch apart. This recipe will make 30-50 cookies depending on your sizing.

Bake 8-10 minutes in the center of the oven. Let cool in the pan before moving to a cooling rack or plate.

I always freeze at least half of what I make, as soon as they are cool. I’m told these will last 3-4 days otherwise. I suppose they do, but I eat them before I can find out.