Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

I thought I’d perk the mood up a bit with this hot chocolate recipe, with winter approaching. I, however, will be avoiding the snow altogether in my new home in Sénégal. This situation is definitely a bit ironic: I’m one of the small number of Canadians who loves winter, as long as it is a good one, but I will also be part of the group that avoids it. So, I thought I’d share my secret hot chocolate recipe for all of you to come home with a frosted nose and pink cheeks and enjoy a cup for me (and for you, I guess)!

Let me preface this next part by saying I’m quite a chocolate-lover. This past spring I was lucky enough to go to Cacao Fest in Punta Gorda, Belize. For those of you who do not know about this, it is a week-end of festivities surrounding chocolate, from its origins in the Maya culture, to its agricultural production, processing, and finally, to its consumption. Who could refuse such an event?

A Maya woman roasting cacao beans on her stove

I was hoping to be able to eat the fresh flesh from cacao pods this time round like I’d tried in February, but they were already harvested and so I had to make do with only actual chocolate. For those of you who have the chance, I encourage you to try the “food of the gods” as they call it (the white flesh inside cacao pods). It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tried. At Cacao Fest I visited the Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory where I learned how they make chocolate. This reminded me of when I learned how to make the traditional maya cacao drink in my last trip.

This hot chocolate recipe is absolutely delicious, and its secret is using real, un-powdered chocolate. What surprises most people when I tell them I sometimes make hot chocolate with squares of chocolate is that it takes as much time to make milk-based chocolate with squares or powder! And if you want to celebrate a special occasion or just indulge, add a bit of whipped cream.

Ingredients – Two 1.5 cup servings or three 1 cup servings

-3 cups milk
-80g your favourite chocolate (I like to use 75% for this) + a bit extra for decoration if you like
-granulated sugar (to taste – I actually don’t add any if I use 75% chocolate, but it’s up to your taste!)
-1/2 cup whipping cream
-2 tsp icing sugar (or more to taste)


Place milk in a saucepan and heat gently over medium heat. Break the chocolate up into chunks, and the place in milk. Once the milk begins to warm, begin to whisk the mixture to help dissolve the melted chocolate. Do this until you reach your desired temperature, and then remove it from the heat (if you avoid it boiling over, you avoid the risk of the chocolate forming small granules).

Now for the extra special part: in a bowl, beat (or use electric beaters) the cream until it thickens, then add the icing sugar and whisk a bit more.

Return the hot chocolate to the heat for a few minutes if it is not to your desired temperature and whisk. Pour into your favourite cups and top with a dollop of whipped cream and grated chocolate.





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With last week’s heat wave in Toronto, I thought I should share a recipe I happily discovered in Belize. Sorry it’s a week late, but then again, it might not be too late. In Belize, people know how to deal with extreme temperatures – at least 45 by day, and maybe a lucky 35 by night, for two weeks non-stop while I was there.

No one has A/C. But they do take an afternoon siesta in a shady hammock. They also eat really, really spicy food, and drink this most amazingly refreshing beverage: watermelon juice. In that heat, I found I couldn’t even think. I stayed in the shade, in front of a fan if I was lucky, and I drank glasses of this wonderful beverage one after the other. Somehow, I adapted well, and I learned to appreciate the new layout of my day, from 5am till 9am, then from 4pm till 10pm. The rest? Laying down, having a rest.

Watermelon juice

(3-4 pint-sized servings)


-1/2 a large, ripe watermelon
-2-3 ice cubes per person
-sugar to taste (only if watermelon is not sweet enough)
-1 cup water
(optional: add the juice of one lemon and 2 Tbsp sugar)


Taste watermelon to ensure it is ripe enough. Cut it up into cubes, and remove any large seeds. Place the watermelon, ice, and water in a blender (I like to do it in 2 batches, with half the water, ice, and half the melon). Purée until smooth, and serve in a tall glass.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!



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Friday morning I woke up bright and early for Canada Day.  My friend Kel and I had decided to take Parliament Hill by a storm, hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince William and Kate (or should I say the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?) and enjoy eclectic Canadian music.  The sun was shining brightly, the hill was packed with 300,000 eager Canadians, and we survived “polar princess pop” (Nunavut singer diva) before the royals appeared. To top it off, inspired by my recent trip to Alberta, I bought a fabulous Canada Day cowboy hat to complete my Canada Day outfit.

Kel and I decided to take a break before heading out for the evening fireworks.  Arriving home, I was parched.   A patch of my mother’s ruby rhubarb caught my eye, and before I knew it, I was craving a rhubarb drink.  My good friend Patrick had tantalized me last summer with the thought of rhubarb spritzers, but I had never tried the drink myself.

I decided to keep it simple for this first attempt, essentially making a rhubarb syrup to be lightened by sparkling water.  It was light, refreshing, and absolutely Canadian – everything I wanted for a Canada Day drink. Next time, I might even jazz it up with a little mint, orange juice, and/or gin!

For all the Canadians, happy belated Canada Day 🙂

Everything one could possibly need for a Canada Day lazy afternoon - a cold rhubarb drink, Canada Day paraphernalia, and a breezy porch.

Rhubarb Spritzer

(makes about 6 highball drinks)


4 cups chopped rhubarb

4 cups water

2/3 cup liquid honey (I used Alberta clover honey)

Sparkling water

Pinch of salt


Stew the rhubarb, water, and honey over medium heat uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft and slightly reduced.  Strain the rhubarb syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl (the leftover rhubarb pulp is delicious over vanilla ice cream or yoghurt!).  Chill until cold.   Covered the syrup lasts upwards of a week.

In a highball, mix one-quarter cup of rhubarb syrup with sparkling water.  Add more syrup if you prefer a stronger rhubarb taste. Enjoy!

– Catherine

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Berry Explosion Smoothie

I arrived home from school around 10pm tonight, absolutely exhausted after attending over 8 hours of lecture and an hour of reading with rambunctious six-year olds. I could feel that sort of itchy scratchy feeling at the back of my mouth, that telltale sign off impending illness. Nothing in my fridge was appealing to me, so I was scoping my freezer when I came across my packages of frozen berries. What better way to re-energize and prevent a nasty cold than by indulging in a creamy, antioxidant filled smoothie???

I used a blender for the first time in December (shocking, I know!) – and quickly fell in love with the smoothie. It’s just so versatile – gorgeous in colour and never-fails to be scrumptious. Did I mention it takes about four minutes to make, total including clean-up? Just chuck in your favourite fruits (or those which have seen better days), make it creamy and delicious with a few spoonfuls of yoghurt or icecream (if you really want to be decadent), whirl it around a few times, and then savour that deliciousness, tangy flavour!

I am an ardent berry lover, so tonight I offer you my favourite berry smoothie, jam-packed filled with antioxidants. My first smoothie disappeared so quickly, I just might have to make a second one this instant…

Berry Explosion Smoothie
(1 generous serving, 2 normal people servings)

Large handful frozen raspberries (about 1/2 cup)
Large handful frozen blueberries (about 1/2 cup)
1 banana cut up into 1-inch chunks
1 kiwi, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
A few large spoonfuls of raspberry yoghurt (about 1/2 cup)

Place fruit and yoghurt and blender and whirl. Savour away!

– Catherine

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