Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside...

The wind is blowing in DC, and the air has turned icy. I'm diggin' it! Our summer was so relentless and draining that I'm taking advantage of every icy blast, and making sure to indulge in every wintertime treat I can.

One of my favorite things in cold weather is coming home to a belly warming hot beverage. My tea corner is becoming, well, overwhelming. That's just the beginning though. I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite seasonally appropriate beverage recipes.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
(once you see how easy it is to make our own hot cocoa, you'll never turn back)

1 tbsp. cocoa powder (Ghirardelli is my personal favorite)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar (I tend to go slightly under this)
6-8 oz. milk, preferably whole
dash vanilla extract
2-3 drops peppermint oil

This can be made on the stovetop in a saucepan or in a mug in the microwave. First mix the cocoa powder and sugar. Add just a touch of milk and combine to form a paste. Continue to gradually add the remaining milk, stirring constantly. If making on stovetop, warm on medium heat until just scalded. If using the microwave, heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peppermint. So easy and delicious!

Homemade Indian Spiced Chai
This recipe I adapted from the fascinating cultural history book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham. Below are my spice proportions, but you can augment to suit your own palate. I love doubling this recipe and making a big batch, so I can keep extra in a pitcher in the fridge, ready for a quick reheat when the mood strikes!

4 cups water
16 whole cardamom pods, slightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole cloves
few slices fresh ginger
3 oz. assam or other black tea
milk and sugar to taste

Bring water to a boil. Add spices and simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea and let steep 3-5 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve. Add milk and sugar to taste.

And just for good measure, here's one of my favorite seasonal songs because really, there's no better season for seduction than winter...right, Dean Martin?

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