Thursday, February 12, 2009

Deliciously Creamy Hot Chocolate

The other day, someone I work with was telling me about a recipe for hot chocolate she saw in the NY Times that used coconut milk. The author's husband can't have dairy, rice milk, soy milk (and the list goes on) and so she finally came up with a recipe for creamy hot chocolate made with coconut milk. It happened to be very cold and blustery outside, and for the rest of the day, all I wanted was a huge cup of it. I didn't have coconut milk, but I also wanted to avoid having quite that high of a fat content, so I used my latest discovery: Hemp Dream Vanilla Hemp Milk, and adapted the recipe a bit. I ended up with a creamy and wonderfully satisfying cup of hot chocolate to sip as I curled up on the couch with my roommates to watch 30 Rock. You can find the original recipe here; see below for my adapted version.

Creamy Hot Chocolate

For each cup of hot chocolate:

1 mug full (or 1 1/2 cups) vanilla hemp milk or coconut milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla (if desired, but not necessary if you use vanilla-flavored milk)
1/4 cup boiling hot water
1 - 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Heat the hemp or coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, dissolve 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder in the 1/4 cup boiling hot water and then add the chocolate mixture to the hemp milk. If desired, add 1 tsp. vanilla, but it is unnecessary if you already have vanilla-flavored milk. Add more cocoa powder and/or sugar if desired, according to your own taste. Continue to heat over medium-low heat until you like the way it tastes. Serve by itself or with whipped topping or marshmallows.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Indian Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

If you're like me, you looooove curry. Indian food tastes like heaven to me, and I love to cook it at home, because only then do you appreciate the delicacy of the flavor balance in Indian cooking, and how to add the spices in intervals to bring out the full depth of flavor in each one. This is a chicken curry recipe that I got from a Madhur Jaffrey Indian cookbook that was given to me by my college roommates for my birthday years ago. I've adapted it slightly over the years, but the flavors in this one are so good that you don't want to mess with it too much! This is not a very curry-heavy curry; there's no curry powder, so if there's someone you know who is wary of Indian food, just don't call this a curry. The flavors are very distinct, and they make for a chicken dish that can be mild or spicy, depending on your tastes. This originally called for whole peppercorns, but I found that, while the flavor was great with them, they'd make for some rather surprised, and sometimes pained, facial expressions around the dinner table, so I usually just use ground pepper instead. The longer you let it simmer, the better and more flavorful this will be. Delicious and naturally gluten- and dairy-free!

Indian Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

5 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 inch cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. peppercorns or ground pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch cube fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 lb fresh tomatoes, finely chopped and peeled
2 - 3 lbs chicken pieces, skinned and chopped into bite-size chunks
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp. garam masala

Heat the oil in a large pot; when hot, put in cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Stir once, quickly, and then stir in onions, garlic and ginger. Sauté, stirring, until the onions have brown specks. Then put in the tomatoes, chicken, salt and cayenne pepper, stirring to mix. Bring the whole thing to a boil and cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 min until chicken is tender. If you want a stronger tomato flavor or want to thicken the sauce up, you can add tomato paste. Stir occasionally. Remove cover and turn up heat to medium; add garam masala and stir for 5 minutes to reduce water content. Add more garam masala to taste, if desired. Serve over basmati rice or with Indian bread.