Category Archives: Foods We Love

Patrón Cafe Dark Chocolate Orange Coffee-tini Cocktail

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Photo by Linda Roy 

Chocolate. Coffee. Tequila. In a pretty bottle. Patrón’s XO Cafe Dark is my favorite libation at the moment. Of the Patrón line of tequilas it is also one of the most affordable.

Chocolate and coffee both pair well with orange, so I decided on Triple Sec. It’s not too sweet, just a nice hint of orange.

ingredients

2 oz Patron Cafe Dark Cocoa
1 oz Triple Sec
3 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
to make

  • Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
  • Pour into a cocktail glass filled with ice and squeeze some fresh orange juice into glass.
  • Garnish with orange peel.

It tastes like a decadent fruit-filled dark chocolate from a box of Godivas!

Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread That’s Even Better Than Nutella

chocolate hazelnut spreadPhoto by Symic / CC BY

Yesterday over lunch, Alecia Bakery NYC’s fearless leader, Lin, mentioned that chocolate-hazelnut spread (also lovingly known as Nutella) can be made at home.

And that it tastes even better.

My head practically exploded. For some inexplicable reason, I never considered making it at home, nor did I fathom the possible reality of something that could taste even more heavenly than jarred stuff procured from a grocery store shelf.

Of course it makes total sense. With the exception of homemade Indian food (and that is strictly the opinion of my high-maintenance children who prefer pricey take-out), there is little in the epicurean universe that doesn’t taste better when made at home.

So naturally, I had to immediately google the recipe, because a) Nutella is expense, yo. b) I want the better tasting stuff, duh c) This would make a most excellent gift, all packaged up beautifully in a small mason jar. (Think Mother’s Day)

After researching a number of recipes, the best, most wholesome recipe, in my humble choco-hazelnut loving opinion, is this one from Epicurious. There were others involving sweetened, condensed milk, for instance, but I like that this one involves just six wholesome ingredients that for the most part, are readily available in your fridge and pantry right now.

Also, the recipe is simple, with the exception of the skinning of the hazelnuts. So I highly recommend seeking out skinned hazelnuts if at all possible. Use a food processor to get a smooth consistency.

Why not whip up a batch for the family, and for Mom? This recipe makes enough for four 8 oz. mason jars. That’s enough to also score points with your Mother-in-Law! With the addition of a pretty bow and a vintage-looking tag, it makes a delicious, Pinterest worthy gift.

ingredients 

2 heaping cups (about 10 oz) skinned hazelnuts

1/4 cup sugar

1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

to make 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread hazelnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet or ovenproof skillet. Roast, shaking sheet once for even toasting, until deep brown, 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely. (If nuts have skins, rub them with a kitchen towel to remove.)

Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a smooth, buttery paste forms, about 1 minute.

Place chocolate in a medium size metal bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water, stirring often until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan and add butter, whisking until completely smooth and incorporated. Whisk in cream, salt, then hazelnut paste.

Pour into jars and allow to cool.

The spread can be made up to 4 weeks in advance and chilled. To soften, let stand for at least 4 hours. It will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.

 

Peep-a-Palooza! 12 Peep Facts

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Photo by Island Capture / CC BY

1. Peeps once had wings.

2. They were once made by hand and took over 20 hours to make – with a pastry tube!

3. Over 5 million peeps are made every day.

4. Yellow is the original color.

5. They now come in red, white, orange, red, blue, lavender pink, chocolate, green and something that looks like tan.

6. Yankee Candle makes a peep scent.

7. They will explode in the microwave if you leave them in too long…which is more than 10 seconds.

8. The eyes are made of non-toxic edible wax.

9. 1.5 billion peeps are eaten each Spring.

10. each peep is 32 calories with 0 fat grams – all sugar, baby!

11. There are over 200 peeps fan sites.

12. Peeps and Company is an online store that sells all things Peeps of course! Lots of fun peep-a-phernalia! Check them out here.

Featured photo by Josh Kenzer / CC BY

Chocolate & Stout Ice Cream for St. Patrick’s Day

Untitled designIt’s St. Patrick’s Day and that means green beer, corned beef & cabbage and lots and lots of bag pipes. But what if you’re in the mood for something a little different this year? Are you a fan of stout? I am! I love my Guinness, and years ago, I had the most amazing Guinness ice cream served with pretzels at one of my favorite restaurants, Chef Michael Symon’s Lola. Below is a version I came across in a fantastic book of new and traditional Irish recipes called The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook. Give it a try and let me know what you think! I think you’ll like it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

5 1/2 oz semisweet dark chocolate (at least 88% cacao content) broken into small pieces

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups stout

1 cup heavy cream

grated chocolate for garnish

 

to make 

Pour the milk into a saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.

Pour the egg yolks into a heatproof bowl and beat for 5 minutes, or entitle beaters leave a faint trail when lifted from the mixture. Stir some of the warm chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, then gradually beat in the rest.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently boiling water. Stir continuously for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 185 F, or is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to let it boil.

Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Stir in the vanilla extract. Sit the bottom of the pitcher in iced water until cold, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Pour stout into a saucepan an bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer briskly for 8 minutes, until reduced to 1 cup. Pour into a pitcher, let cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

Stir the cream and chilled stout into the chocolate mixture, mixing well. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Churn and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Churn and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a shallow freeze proof container with plastic wrap and freeze for about 2 hours, until beginning to harden around the edges. Beat until smooth to get rid of any ice crystals. Freeze again, repeat the process twice, then freeze until completely firm.

Move the ice cream to the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to soften and serve in chilled dishes topped with grated chocolate.

Pretzels make an excellent salty accompaniment to the sweet chocolate!

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

Hershey’s American Ban on British Cadbury Chocolate Really Takes the Biscuit

cadHello. My name is Linda. I’m a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocoholic.

It started several years ago when a friend brought me a bar or two over from England. The rich, creaminess of the chocolate was not like anything I’d ever experienced from a Hershey bar. I thought to myself that if public opinion about British cuisine was somewhat negative, (something I’ve never agreed with; I love a plate of bangers and mash) then the tea and chocolate more than makes up for it.

During our annual visits, my British friend would bring more of these fabulous bars of chocolate, along with Cadbury eggs for my boys. These were not the Cadbury eggs we’re used to here. Oh no. Packaged in a small purple egg container, each egg, the size of an actual small chicken egg, came individually wrapped in foil accompanied by a spoon to scoop out the ooey, gooey, rich, chocolatey almost mousse-y filling. A more recent configuration is the small chocolate egg covered in a sweet Smarties type of coating.

When Cadbury Dairy Milk became available here in the states, I rejoiced, as did the multitudes. At last, Americans could enjoy this mega creamy, chocolatey goodness without having to depend on our suppliers from across the pond. I became particularly enamored with the milk chocolate with roasted almonds. But the dark chocolate is equally sublime, as is the classic milk chocolate, unencumbered by additional ingredients. Although, if you enjoy being encumbered, might I suggest the fruit and nut.

That’s when my serious addiction began.

table
Mama’s got a serious problem: I keep a stash in my bedside table for convenient noshing while watching telly.

But the day came when Hershey’s not only became aware of “wassup”, but decided to put the kibosh on it. You see, the British stuff simply tastes better. And Hershey’s apparently won’t stand for that.

Dairy Milk Prohibition

The NY Times and Business Insider reported in late January that the Hershey Company had reached a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports to issue a ban on imported British chocolate, citing infringement. The company, which secured the rights to make its own American version, claims they want to avoid confusion between their own chocolates and the British imports. The ban also includes the much loved British Kit Kat bar, Toffee Crisps (because the packaging is “too similar” to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups), Flakes, Yorkies (an “infringement” on the York Peppermint Patty) and Maltesers.

This, of course, is less than stellar news to American Cadbury fans who have become accustomed to a better tasting product. Why does British chocolate taste so far superior? The British version has a higher fat content, the first ingredient being milk. Aha! MILK in Dairy Milk! But here in America…you guessed it. In the land of “Do you want sugar with your sugar?”, the first ingredient is…sugar. The American version also contains preservatives.

American Cadbury fans are now stockpiling the stuff, buying up every bar they can get their chocolate covered hands on. Every time I go to the supermarket or Target, I throw a few into my cart. For safe keeping. The problem is, I eat them almost as soon as I buy them. I’ll be huge by Easter.

And my British friend? She just brought me over the huge bar you see above. One giant slab of chocolatey goodness.

What do you think of the ban? Do you buy and enjoy Cadbury chocolates, and will you be hoarding the stuff in preparation for the prohibition? Let’s kvetch about this, because I need a support group right now. 

Fish Tacos

fish tacos

Photo by NeilWill / CC BY 

So it’s 1991 and I’m in Austin, Texas with my band to play a showcase for the annual South By Southwest Music Festival. Somehow we ended up hanging out with a British punk band, the lead singer of which enthusiastically announced one day that he was going out for FISH TACOS!

First of all, back in 1991, we’d never heard of such a thing, so it seemed really odd and frankly, kinda gross. And secondly, the way he said “fish tacos” was hilarious. He pronounced the word “taco”, not in the way we would; his version rhymed with “wacko”. But to tell you the truth, it all kinda made sense after he took us to a little Tex-Mex place that served up the most delicious lightly battered and fried fish topped with pico de gallo, slaw, cilantro, a slightly spicy, yet cool and refreshing sauce, anointed with a squeeze of lime, that we went from oblivious to wacko about the things.

Since then, we’ve had them all over the country, most notable of which were in San Francisco on Pier 39 and here in Edison, New Jersey at Skylark Diner.

I’ve even made them at home. Here’s my favorite recipe, courtesy of Food.com.

Fish Tacos 

ingredients: 

1⁄2 cup sour cream
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package taco seasoning mix, divided
1 lb cod or 1 lb white fish fillet, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 4)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (12 count) package taco shells, warmed or 1 (12 count) package flour tortillas
Toppings

shredded cabbage
chopped tomato
lime juice
taco sauce

directions: 

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in small bowl.
Combine fish, vegetable oil, lemon juice and remaining seasoning mix in medium bowl; pour into large skillet.
Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until cod flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Fill taco shells with fish mixture.
Top with toppings.