Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hot Chocolate

I've been making Hot Chocolate for a long time.  It's gone through many iterations including a dry mix version.
Instant Hot Cocoa
1 2/3 c      instant powdered milk
1/3 c         superfine sugar (adjust to your own taste)
1/3 c         cocoa powder (you can also add more to make it more chocolaty)
1/3 t          salt - helps bring up the flavor ~ if you don't have a 1/3 teaspoon measure you can estimate the amount (best to less as you can always add a touch more). 
1. Combine and sift ingredients together (sifting will help remove clumps as well as yielding a more homogeneous mixture.
2. Add the salt last but not through the sifter as it may not go through.
3. Then Mix together very well
Start out using about 4 Tablespoons of the mixture.  Pour just simmering water over the mixture and whisk with a fork or mini whisk.  You can adjust to your own taste. It may take a minute for the particles to dissolve.

Today I had a wonderful lunch at Gramercy Tavern in the Tavern not the back room. I had the Smoked Pork Shoulder with Sweet Potatoes, Salsify, and Bacon Broth. The flavors melded together so well with all the different textures, served in a bowl with just the right amount of broth. It was the perfect meal for such a cold day with a piece of delicious bread it was a little bit of food heaven.  
As usual I declined dessert but they had Hot Chocolate on the drink menu and of course I was curious.  Have no fear it was wonderful and the largest cup ~ it was rich and thick and chocolatey that I couldn't drink it fast..... heeheehee, with nice cool loose whipped cream on top..  In fact it was enough for 3 nice portions to just hit the spot. I really had to compare it to the recipe I'm using and I can tell you now it's pretty good.

The recipe I'm using has been adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme
Hot Chocolate
1 cup milk
2T water
*the original recipe contains 2 T sugar I do not add the sugar*
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (Callebaut, or 75% Valrhona, Trader Joe's 72% is also good, a Madagascar or Dominican such as Mast Brothers is amazing)
Bring milk, water and (optional sugar to simmer until sugar dissolves.  
Remove from the hear & then ~
Add choco & let it sit for a minute.
Then put the mix back on the heat and beat with whisk on until you see one gurgle of a bubble as the mixture begins to come back to a boil.
Take off heat and continue whisking (with a quick back and forth motion) until frothy.
At this point it is perfect.
Except for me where I want to add another ¼ cup of hot water. I like my hot chocolate to be a drink not a sweet dessert.  Most other people would prefer whipped cream.  So go ahead make some whipped cream but keep it very cold and loose so its just creamy on top.

The hot chocolate can be made in advance then cooled and stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. It will get very thick almost like a ganache.Take out the desired portion and heat gently on the stove top or in a double -boiler. 

Have Fun and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recipes Updated

I recently decided to begin adding recipes to my blog.  Originally this blog was a way for me to write about my travels and the restaurants I've been too, so I didn't have to write individual emails to all my friends and family I wanted to share with.  The blog wasn't originally to be about recipes but after speaking to an acquaintance who wanted to check my blog out I had a change of heart.  I read other peoples blogs for recipes and I'm so grateful that they post them, so I thought it only right to post some of my own.

Since I've been making pasta, bread and pizza, I'm going to start with my pasta recipe.  It's so simple and after making it a couple of times you'll begin to know what you're looking for.  Keep in mind that my recipes have only been tested by me and having been in the food world for over 20 years I may inadvertently leave things that I take for granted out.  So, please ask questions if you need.

There are lots of pasta recipes out there some contain oil or water or cream.  In addition there are two basic types of pasta ~ those made with eggs and those made without (in addition to other ingredients you may add such as spelt, saffron, & olive oil) If you're making pasta at home you want to use eggs otherwise just buy the best dry pasta you can.  ~And in my opinion that brand is Rustichella.  You can find some shapes in bulk at Murray's, I think the orecchetti is one of the best.

The recipe I'm using is one egg to a half cup of flour.  You can make a nice portion for two with 2 eggs and 1 cup of flour.  You just mix it all together and this can be done in a stand mixer.  It can also be done in a food processor but I haven't done it that way.  Mix the pasta in the machine for 3-5 minutes add extra flour if it sticks to the bowl.  (The idea is that you want the dough to absorb enough flour so it's not sticky when you knead it on the table and put it through the pasta rollers.).  Then with a little flour on the table knead your dough by hand adding flour as needed so it isn't sticky for about 10 minutes.  You will know when it's ready by the texture since it will begin to feel silky and smooth.. After it feels right to you wrap it in some plastic wrap and press it into a flat log shape.  It can sit for one day in the refrigerator.  I've read that it can be frozen but I haven't tried that yet.

Then you will need to use a pasta machine or be able to roll it out by hand.  Divide the dough into about 6 pieces and cover the parts you're not using.  Beginning with the largest opening on the pasta machine and flatten the piece of dough you're starting with amd put it into your pasta machine and roll it out. You can add a little flour as necessary so it doesn't stick.  Fold the dough in half a few times putting it through the same large opening. Then go to the next smallest opening and do it again.  You will notice the texture of the dough becoming even more silky.  If your dough becomes too sticky or breaks just start again with the same piece of dough. Putting your dough through the rollers several times folding it in half each time is also kneading the dough.  I've re-rolled dough several times with excellent results. 

Note:  In my opinion fresh pasta can dry and still be fresh even though it's dry.  It will also cook in about 3 minutes and be perfect.

I wanted to post this right away.  Since I haven't had a lot of time to write I didn't want to stop and make corrections right away. Since posting, I've made a few corrections and added some photos.

Have Fun & Enjoy!