Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If we're to believe the weather forecast we could be waking to a snowy morning. What better way to chase the cold than with a steaming mug of hot chocolate? Here's a collection of recipes to help you out.
The first three are for making your own chocolate mix. It's great to keep this sort of instant mix on hand all winter for a quick cup of creamy hot chocolate. Or put it a mix in a pretty jar with a festive bow to give as a gift from your kitchen.
So pick a recipe, snuggle up and watch the snow fly.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
10-2/3 cups instant nonfat powdered milk
6 oz. jar powdered nondairy creamer
4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bag mini marshmallows
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place. This makes 17 cups of mix.
For one serving, stir 3 tablespoons Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix into 1 cup of hot water or milk until dissolved.
Source: www.RecipeRewards.com

Jacques' Hot Hot Chocolate
3 pounds bittersweet chocolate
1 pound 2 ounces whole dry milk powder
Cayenne pepper
1 large stick cinnamon
Finely grate the bittersweet chocolate. Place the milk powder, grated chocolate, and cayenne pepper, to taste, in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into attractive tins or jars and tie the cinnamon stick to the jar. Label the jar with the following instructions:
Use 1/2-cup of chocolate mixture with each cup of hot milk or water. When making the hot chocolate, be sure to boil the chocolate milk for at least 15 seconds. Use the cinnamon stick to stir. Serving with marshmallows is optional.
Source: TV Food Network's Jacques Torres

Jacques' Orange Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
1/2 cup whole dry milk powder
1 orange, zested
Pinch cinnamon, to taste
Marshmallows, optional
Tip: I used the fine side of a box grater to finely grate the bittersweet chocolate.
Place the milk powder, grated chocolate, orange zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into attractive tins or jars. Label with instructions to use 1/2 cup of chocolate mixture with 1 cup of hot milk or water.
To make hot chocolate: Pour milk into a saucepan and heat until hot but not boiling. Stir in the hot chocolate mixture and bring to a boil. You can also use a cinnamon stick to stir the hot chocolate. In that case, do not add the ground cinnamon in the recipe. Serving with marshmallows is optional.
Source: TV Food Network's Jacques Torres

Alcoholic Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
3 1/2 ounces best-quality dark chocolate, bittersweet or semisweet, as preferred
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
tablespoons dark rum, or to taste
Put the milk into a saucepan and break the chocolate into pieces and add to the milk along with a cinnamon stick, honey, and sugar and heat gently until the chocolate is melted.
Add the vanilla and mix with a small hand whisk and still whisking, add a spoonful of the rum first and taste to see if you want more. Add more sugar if you want this sweeter, too. Take out the cinnamon stick and pour into 2 cappuccino or caffe latte cups.
Yield: 2 servings
Source: TV Food Network's Nigella Lawson

The Best Hot Chocolate
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
3 cups whole milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup good quality Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place milk and half-and-half in a saucepan and heat to a simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon. A few teaspoons at a time, stir the hot milk into the cocoa mixture to make a smooth paste. Scrape the cocoa mixture into the saucepan with the milk and simmer 2 minutes; do not let it boil. Stir in the vanilla and keep warm in a thermos.
Pour into small serving cups and place 4 mini-marshmallows on each serving or spritz them with whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Source: TV Food Network's Gale Gand

Monday, November 27, 2006


If you’re a fan of decaf coffee, here’s some news that might put a jolt in your day: You might be getting more caffeine than you think.Here’s the story, which came across Sunday from Cox News Service:

If your decaf java is giving you a bit of a kick, it’s probably not your mind playing games on you. Almost all decaf coffee contains some measure of caffeine, according to a new study by University of Florida researchers.
And while the punch is often mild, decaf coffee is not the same as caffeine-free. It’s more like caffeine light.
The University of Florida analysis of caffeine levels in 10 16-ounce decaffeinated drip-brewed coffee beverages from nine national chains or local coffee houses found every serving but one - instant decaffeinated Folgers Coffee Crystals - contained caffeine, ranging from 8.6 milligrams to 13.9 milligrams.
In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee typically contains 85 milligrams of caffeine.
Bruce Goldberger, a professor and director of UF’s William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, said the findings could be a concern for people who are advised to cut their caffeine intake, such as those with kidney disease, hypertension or anxiety disorders.
Others who are sensitive to caffeine may now understand why they toss and turn all night after enjoying cup of decaf with an evening dessert.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One of my favorite chefs and cooking teachers is California-based John Ash. I just got his electronic holiday newsletter and thought many of you would enjoy seeing it. It's jammed packed with recipes, with special attention paid to sustainable foods -- one of Ash's passions. Just click on the links to get to the recipes and find more informaiton.

Happy holidays! I hope you are able to celebrate this festive time of year by spending it with your loved ones. Sharing a meal with someone special is truly one of life's greatest pleasures! For a memorable meal, here are some Favorite Holiday Recipes that have been requested over the years.
Remember to buy at least $10 of locally grown food each week! John Ash

"One can say everything best over a meal."~ George Eliot

Favorite Holiday Recipes

I've gotten several requests for recipes posted in the past so here they are. Hope you'll enjoy them over the holidays!
Holiday Menu For a memorable meal - three starters from three cuisines:Wild Mushroom Pate Shrimp and Noodle Soup with LaksaAhi Tuna Ceviche with Mango and AvocadoMaple Brined Roast Turkey Salad of Roasted Beets and OrangesFlourless Walnut Cake Sangrita ~ Hot "Zin"
More Recipes

Online Resources for Your Holiday Cooking

National Turkey FederationAll the turkey basics; everything you need to know from buying to storing to cooking. Reynolds KitchensRecipes, tips and timesavers. Weber.com Grilling your turkey this year? Weber has some great tips and recipes for grilling your holiday bird. Betty CrockerBetty Crocker has outdone herself again! Everything you need to make your holiday meal, complete with videos, menus, recipes and a holiday calendar. Butterball , hotline: (800) butterballA good resource for everything you need to know to buy, prepare and cook your turkey, including a turkey calculator! USDA Meat and Poultry, hotline: (888) 674-6854A great resource for safe food handling.
Photo courtesy of TheGeekPhilosopher.com
Holiday Resources

Heritage Turkeys

Interested in Cooking a Heritage Turkey?
Heritage Turkeys are the ancestors of the common turkey that you find in the supermarket today. These birds are a part of American history and are making a comeback. In order to promote these breeds, they need to be reintroduced onto holiday tables. They include the Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, Narragansett and White Holland. Most importantly, they are delicious: their meat is tender, succulent, and extremely flavorful!Slow Food, Presidia: Saving Cherished Slow Foods, One Product at a Time Information on Heritage Turkeys and sources Local Harvest Information on Heritage Turkeys and sources
Holiday Resources

Sustainable Resources
Two resources dedicated to childrenÂ’s health:
A program of SeaWeb, KidSafe Seafoods provides information on seafoods that have been thoroughly tested for mercury and other toxic pollutants and found to be the safest, healthiest available. 90 Tips for 90 Days: ChildrenÂ’s Health Environment Coalition (CHEC) Web site dedicated to finding everyday safer solutions to reduce exposure to chemicals, toxins, and pollutants.
More Links
Quick Links...
John's Books
About John Ash
Wine & Food
Join John in a cooking class
email: john@chefjohnash.com
web: http://www.chefjohnash.com

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Way back in March, Jennifer Jasinski, executive chef at Rioja in Lo Do, was searching for traditional Thanksgiving ingredients to prepare dishes for a Food Network challenge, the Ultimate Thanksgiving Feast.
She was one of four top chefs tapped to cook their hearts out for a shot at a $10,000 prize. The chefs were asked to put their own creative spin on such classic ingredients as sweet potatoes, cranberries and butternut squash. They each had five hours to show his or her signature turkey plus five side dishes to a panel of tough judges.

The winner will be revealed on the Food Network at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

We got the scoop about Jasinski's turkey recipe: She prepared it two ways. One is a turkey breast that is brined, butterflied and stuffed with apricot dressing then roasted. Another is turkey sausage stuffed inside a boned and roasted turkey thigh and leg. Her side dishes include fennel, apple and pomegranate salad; moscato and rosemary glazed veggies; potato quince gratin; and pinenut sage stuffing baked into muffins.

Judges were Jill Davie of Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. and John Besh of Restaurant August & Besh Steakhouse in New Orleans, La.

If you can't catch tomorrow's airing, it will air again Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.; Nov. 18 at 5 p.m., Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Nov. 20 at 11 p.m.; Nov.22 at 6 p.m.; and Nov. 23 at 1 a.m.