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Sunday Brunch: Churros con chocolat

A window display from the Barcelona Chocolate Museum depicting chefs making thick, rich hot chocolate.

The Spanish tend to eat much later in the day than Americans do, and breakfast is no exception. Instead of the morning rush hour customary in so many other countries, a morning stroll down any side street in Barcelona will reveal people happily chatting in outdoor cafes or leisurely enjoying freshly-baked pastries from any of the plentiful bakeries. In fact, the Spaniards’ approach to breakfast is very similar to that of the French: Pan au chocolat (chocolate-filled croissants) are just as plentiful here, and most people seem to prefer something light and sweet to a heavy, protein-filled meal. Though there are numerous waffle carts around town, don’t expect them to be open for breakfast – like in most European countries, the waffle is viewed as a dessert, usually topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Of course, the most popular breakfast food here is the classic dish of churros con chocolat. This light yet decadent dish combines the Spanish love of rich chocolate with their prevalent use of spices, as the churros are dusted with cinnamon. Many authentic recipes call for “Spanish Hot Cocoa Bar,” which is like a chocolate bar that can be melted down to make hot chocolate (when you order hot chocolate in many European cafes, you’re given a cup of hot milk and a block of the bar on a stick, which you then stir into your cup). Since this isn’t sold in the States, here’s a recipe from scratch from Food Network.

Churros and Hot Chocolate

Recipe courtesy Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid, Spain

Photo from Food Network

Total Time:: 45 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
Churros:
8 cups vegetable or olive oil (*I recommend using vegetable  – I think the olive oil changes the flavor)
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

.
Hot Chocolate:
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
Directions
Churros: 8 cups vegetable or olive oil 1 cup water 1/2 cup margarine or butter 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 eggs 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Hot Chocolate: 4 ounces dark chocolate 2 cups milk 1 tablespoon cornstarch 4 tablespoons sugar

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 360 degrees F.

To make the churro dough, heat the water, margarine, and salt to a rolling boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, approximately 1 minute and remove from heat. Beat eggs until smooth and add to the saucepan while stirring the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip. Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and roll the churros in the sugar mixture. Set aside until ready to serve.

To prepare the hot chocolate for dipping, place the chocolate and half the milk in a saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly until the chocolate thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and whisk until smooth. Pour chocolate into cups and serve with churros.

Wine Wednesday ~ Sangria!

Hi Everyone!  Today is one of my favorite days – Wine Wednesday!  I am going to be making some delicious Spanish Sangria and, of course, giving you my recipe.  The great thing about sangria is that you really can’t mess it up.  It’s just wine, fruit, sugar, and usually some liquor.  Brandy and Rum are relatively popular in sangria, but it is definitely a drink you can experiment with.

Typically, sangria starts with red wine and it is very common to find oranges and peaches as some of the main fruits used.  That said, there are seemingly endless variations.  I, personally, like white wine more than red and tend to go for white wine based sangria when I’m buying a bottle or ordering it out.  But, then again, one of my favorite restaurants uses red wine and blackberries.  You can also add flavored liquor to it, or use different fruits to change the flavor!

Well, now that I’ve told you all about it, I can’t wait to make some!  My basic recipe is below.  As I said, Sangria can be made to taste.  You can use whatever fruit you want, and change the recipe to suit your tastes.  I made some changes to this recipe when I made it, and I have added my changes in italics.

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Basic Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bottle Red Table Wine (I promise you don’t need to use expensive wine for this!)
  • 2 Oranges
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 Peaches, peeled, pitted, and cubed.
  • 5 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Rum or Brandy.  (I used Rum)
  • 1 Mango, cubed. 
  • 1/2 Cup Sparking Juice (optional)  I used a Sparkling Mango-Passion Fruit juice I picked up at Wal-Mart.

Kitchen Supplies:

  • Pitcher
  • Wooden Spoon (or something to stir with)
  • Corkscrew
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Juicer (if you have one it makes it easier, if not, you can juice the fruit by hand and it’s still easy!)
  • Fine mesh strainer (again, if you have one, it’s easier, if not, you will be just fine!)

Directions:

  1. Pour your wine into the pitcher you plan to use.
  2. Add 5 T of sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Juice the lemons and oranges.  If you have a juicer this will go pretty quickly, if not, just juice the fruit by hand.  To do by hand: cut the fruit in half and squeeze over a bowl.  Don’t squeeze the juice directly into the pitcher of wine – you don’t want the seeds and pulp to get in the wine!
  4. Strain the juice to remove any seeds or pulp that may have gotten into the juice.  If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, you can also use a spoon to fish out some of the seeds and pulp, or use a spoon to block the side of the bowl containing the juice so that it catches most of the pulp.
  5. Pour the juice into the pitcher of wine. Stir.
  6. Peel and Pit the peaches.  Chop them into cubes and add them to the wine.  If you are using any other fruits in addition to peaches, add them at this time.
  7. Add your liquor of choice.  I used about a 1/2 Cup, but you can use more or less to taste!
  8. Add sparking juice, or sprite/ 7-Up if you wish.
  9. Chill, serve, and enjoy!

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