The author and Top Chef judge on BBQ indulgences, Last Suppers and daily hot chocolate cravings (recipe below).
- The best thing I’ve tasted in the last year…
Too many delicious indulgences to count but one that stands out was the slow-smoked brisket at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX. It’s owned by two young chefs but somehow feels as if they have been cooking there for generations.
- My cooking specialty…
I don’t have a specialty as I am not a chef in a restaurant anymore. I was trained classically in French cuisine, but I think life, travel and your own palate drive what you gravitate to in the kitchen. When I have time to cook at home or for friends and family, I tend towards simple but flavorful food with world influences.
- And that includes…
In winter I love making soups and stews and try to make a vegetarian one every Sunday to eat throughout the week. I love braising meat with red wine and potatoes as equally as I adore grilling fish and seafood with Vietnamese fish sauce, lots of lime and chilies. I love eating dessert but do not bake that often. When I do, it is usually something with chocolate, banana and peanut butter as it is my husband’s favorite flavor combination.
- I serve this spiked hot chocolate…
My father loves hot chocolate and drinks a cup every day, all year round. He taught me that there is never a bad time to indulge in it. I drink it as a late afternoon snack with marshmallows or after dinner as dessert on a cold winter day. Using the best quality dark chocolate you can afford is the key.
- My Last Supper…
It’s almost impossible to know what I would eat as my last meal since my cravings change day to day, minute to minute. Right now I want sea urchin pasta with chilies and roasted tomatoes in olive oil, a charred-but-still-rare porterhouse steak, buttery mashed potatoes and butterscotch pudding for dessert…with a big glass of Barolo!
- Spiked and Spiced Hot Chocolate Recipe
4 c whole milk
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp regular cocoa powder, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground chili powder
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 c medium-sized marshmallows, store-bought
2 oz aged dark rum, bourbon or mescal (optional, for cocktail version)
Place all ingredients in large saucepan and stir to combine. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then lower heat and whisk vigorously with a balloon whisk to froth up slightly. For a creamier texture use an immersion blender for 30 seconds. Once mixture is steaming hot, serve in mugs with marshmallows and a sprinkling of extra cocoa powder.
To make a cocktail: Add one ½-ounce shot of the spirit of your choice above per cup to the hot chocolate mixture just before removing from heat. Whisk well to incorporate then pour and serve.