Drinks


Today is a blustery day. Wind howls, the sky growls, and I wish we had a fireplace.

Despite this lack, I will fight this chill! It is time for hot cocoa. I have two recipes, one which is much more akin to the cocoa everyone is used to (you can make a lot of it, store it in some kind of airtight container, and then all you need is hot milk and some vanilla). The other is by far my favorite, and it is actually a very thin ganache.

For those days when I have no bar or chip chocolate in the house, I keep this tupperware in my cabinet. Emergencies! Pour:

2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa (the better the cocoa, the better the cocoa!)
1 pinch salt

Put the lid on this, and shake it thoroughly.  When cocoa is desired, fill favored mug with hot milk and a bare splash of vanilla, along with a heaping spoon of mix. Hoorah!

However, if one does have chip or bar type chocolate in the house…

Ganache is a simple thing. It’s no more than heavy cream with chocolate melted in until it shines. It’s quite thick, and used as filling for truffles, or as a frosting. However, if made thin – with regular ol’ milk, and more of it than usual – it is the singular most decadent hot cocoa. Ever.

Take your favored mug. put in chocolate chunks. Halfway up the side makes it pretty thick, if you like that sort of thing. 1/4 of the way up makes it much closer to the texture of good hot cocoa, and even one lone chip will flavor the milk a little. Dark chocolate is always a good idea, but if milk chocolate is what you have, this is still by far better than any other cocoa!

Add a splash of vanilla to the top of your chunks, and pour milk over the top. Microwave for 30 seconds. (You can do this in a double boiler too, especially if you’re doing it for a lot of people. I’m usually just making for me.) Stir, and if there are any chunks left, microwave for a bit more. When you’re done stirring, it will have a glistening chocolate sheen.

Heaven.

I would drink up, right there, but if you’re the kind you can add a lot of things. Bailey’s makes a great addition, if you’re of the mind – Bailey’s mint and Bailey’s caramel work just as well (Housemate, who has now left us, would attest to the caramel variety!) If you’re looking to keep your cocoa non-alcoholic, mint, candy cane chunks, a candy cane stirrer, a cinnamon stick, candy caramel topping….The possibilities, how endless they are. 

 You can add whipped cream or marshmallows, but I don’t find either necessary.

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“The final days of summer are upon us!” scream the radio car commercials. Annoying as they are, they’re right. The season which has so long lasted is finally in it’s symbolic final weekend. I hope you all have wonderful grill-outs before you put your grills away for the summer, and that the brats and burgers are worthy of your attentions.

I, however, am extraordinarily excited. Ladies and gents, autumn is upon us and I love to cook for it. Hearty stews, apple crisps, apple chicken for that matter, and oh, my word, did somebody mention pork? Pumpkin-casserole! Candied squash! The yam!

A drink recipe for you, a summery, chilled drink that yet embodies all that is fall.

Crush 4 graham crackers with 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small rimming dish (a saucer works well). Wet the edge of a martini glass and rim with mixture. Pour in 3oz apple juice (for the kids) or apple pucker (for you) shaken with a teaspoon or two of cinnamon sugar. Shake over ice, or just chill everything before. It’s apple juice/pucker. This isn’t fancy, people. It’s called the Apple Pie Tini, and it’s meant to be easy on the liver. And do let the kids have theirs in plastic martini glasses. Kids are particularly hilarious when you let them be sophisticate.

See you all on Tuesday! Have a happy labor day weekend!

Everybody loves sweet and sour, right? That super-citrus flavor, found in things like apple martinis and key lime cocktails, as well as a host of other things? It also is known as “Bar Mix” – indicative of its incredible popularity.  Guess what? It’s also the easiest mixer to make!

You start out making simple syrup. We’ll be making quite a bit, but if you can’t see yourself going through this much, the recipe scales well. Start with 3 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water. Mix in a sauce pan (what you’re supposed to do) or a teflon coated deep skillet (What I do. I dislike dishes, especially sticky ones). Anyway, so you mix this together over medium heat and bring it to a low simmer, where you let it stay for a minute or so. It’ll get, well, syrupy. Hence the name.

Right, so let that cool off. Cover it, of course, because sugar plus water? Okay, every ant, fly, gnat, otherwise gross creepy crawly, they know it’s there and they want it. Want.  So cover it tightly.  (Though if you mix a simple syrup with some kind of bug poison, for instance, soap, it makes a nice bug killer.)

Ew. Anyway, once it’s all cooled off, go ahead and mix in 2 cups of lime juice and 2 cups of lemon juice. Stir until combined (no heat this time) and then pour it into your container. An old alcohol bottle that’s very clean would be great, or a bell jar. A tupperware would also be fine, but then you have the trouble that it’s hard to pour things out of a tupperware.

So I meant to post this yesterday for your viewing pleasure, however, I was in the car from 8am to 10:30 pm, so I do hope you’ll forgive me.

If you’re interested in making your own drinks, why not make your own mixers, as well? I might make this a new series for you all – tasty drinks, not necessarily alcoholic, but party mixes. However, it’ll likely be bi-weekly. I’m a fan of doing your own experimentation with drinks. But then, if you have your own drink you think needs shared with the world, you can always tell me about it, and I’ll post it! (With appropriate linkage of course.)

So this recipe, today, is not a drink. It is, in fact, how to make Grenadine!

Grenadine is one of those delicious staples in the beverage making world, a pretty red juice that delights and amazes. Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers just wouldn’t be who they are today without it! (a Roy Rogers is coke and grenadine)

Anyway.  It’s really easy to make if you can find pomegranates in your local market. Simply seed them – remember, the seeds are the edible part – by slicing them in half and smacking on the outer side with a spoon. This will dislodge the seeds, sprinkling them into whatever receptacle you have nearby. I recommend a sauce pot, for this application. By the way, this technique is called “Spanking the pomegranate.” Naughty, neh?

Anyway, so cook these for a couple of minutes, until they give off their juice easily. Smash with fork, spoon, pestle…get as much liquid out as you can, and then strain it all into a large measuring cup. How much pomegranate juice do you have? Put every drop back into the pot along with an equal amount of sugar. Bring this to a very low simmer, and let it reduce for 10 minutes. Pour this off into a sterile bottle (or you can can it), cap, and refrigerate. Use whenever you need!