On the menu – Hot Chocolate and Thursday Cooking

Sunday

This is an adapted version of James Wong’s Hot Chocolate from How To Eat Better, which is an interesting book about the health benefits of various foods, including chocolate, and how to make the best choice for each type of food. Anyway, in the chocolate section, James talks about how dutched cocoa, which is most cocoa, has 80% less polyphenols (which are good for your heart) than non-dutched cocoa (dutching cocoa is adding potassium carbonate), so I got hold of some (I’ve seen it in both Waitrose and Sainsbury’s now).

Anyway, I adapted the recipe a bit, as James is a big fan of Stevia and although I did have some (from when I cooked another recipe from the book), I got rid of it in a recent cupboard cull, as I just don’t use it. So I replaced the stevia with two teaspoons of sugar. I also replaced the mixed spice with cinnamon, as that’s all I had. I also, probably, didn’t add quite as much cocoa as James intends in the recipe because it seemed an awful lot, so my tablespoons were a bit skimpy. Anyway, the result was quite nice, very chocolate-y and very thick, it was like drinking liquid chocolate soufflé. It also, with the cinnamon, tasted rather like mulled wine, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a very good thing. However, due to the overwhelming chocolate-y-ness and the fact that the recipe was for a big mug, I only managed about half of it. If I were to make it again, and I may well do because I like all the potential different spice variations you can put into it or maybe a little booze, I would definitely only make enough for a small mug.

Thursday

Fusilli al Cartoccio (Farfalle al Cartoccio in the book) is another recipe from Gino’s Pasta. It’s really simple, just precooked pasta, parsley, lemon juice, precooked garlic and pepper and mozzarella, folded up in a parcel and baked in the oven for 15 minutes. The result is perfectly nice pasta, it’s not OMG this is amazing pasta but it’s still nice and it’s a relatively quick and easy lunch to make. I only made one change, I added a layer of baking parchment between the pasta and the foil because eating directly off foil seems a little odd. What I think this recipe will be good for is making pasta in bulk in advance. When I made this, I made enough for two and I stuck the second portion, all wrapped up in its foil parcel, in the freezer. As long as I remember to take it out of the freezer in time for it to defrost (obviously can’t defrost the parcel in the microwave, I’m always rubbish at defrosting things in the microwave anyway), I’ll have an even quicker, easier lunch. I think that this method could work with other veg too, I can imagine this with courgettes.

This is shortbread from an old favourite baking book, Peyton and Byrne British Baking (they’re the people who do nice cakes at the National Gallery). Anyway, the shortbread recipe is slightly different in that it uses brown sugar instead of caster sugar, this turned out to be okay. You see, at the moment I’m trying to cut down on sugar, I figure that the majority of my diet is reasonably okay, it’s just what I eat on top of my reasonably healthy diet that’s the problem, hence me deciding to try and quit shop bought sugar for a while, note I said shop bought because no way am I quitting baking (and besides, I don’t bake that often). Anyway, back to the shortbread, as I’ve began to find, over the years, as I use less sugar in my baking anyway, if I bake something that has more sugar in, I tend to find it too sweet and that, plus the lack of Cadbury’s chocolate and hob nobs in my life recently, meant that I found this recipe to be a bit too sweet. Also, the extra flavour from the brown sugar is all well and good but for me, a good shortbread is all about the butter and here, the sugar overwhelmed it. So sadly, considering my not-homemade sugar ban, I would much rather snaffle a whole packet of supermarket shortbread (which I can never resist) when just one slice (okay admittedly bigger slice), is a bit too much.

This was Butternut Squash Risotto from Chef De Home, it was okay, I will always much, much, much prefer roasted squash, though.

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