Monthly Archives: December 2016


Venezuelan Spiced Hot Chocolate

There’s nothing like a rich mug of hot chocolate to warm the soul on a cold winter night. We add our signature twist to this cup of chocolate with a fragrant mix of spices and a touch of orange zest. For the chocolate, try a nice Venezuelan cacao like El Rey’s Gran Saman Dark Chocolate 70% for a bold, earthy flavor.

Makes 8 cups

1/2 gallon whole milk
5 whole allspice berries
3 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup rum

Combine milk with spices, orange zest, and sugar in large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, until milk just starts to bubble around the edges (scalding). Lower heat and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep 10 minutes.

Strain spice-infused milk into another large heavy pot, discarding spices. Add chocolate and rum to milk. Cook over low heat, whisking briskly until chocolate is completely melted. Serve immediately.



It wouldn’t feel like winter without a little nog. For centuries, egg-based drinks have been a popular holiday tradition throughout Europe and the Americas, with many cultures creating their own versions. Rompope, the rum-spiked eggnog from Mexico, is the inspiration for our favorite recipe yet. Since eggs, sugar, and spices were once considered to be foods of the upper class, eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health. Salud!


3/4 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup rum
6 egg whites
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Ground anise, to taste
Ground allspice, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 cup whole milk
Rum, to taste, for spiking

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and refrigerate.

Combine egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and rum in a mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and cook egg yolk mixture while whipping constantly. When mixture becomes satiny, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In another mixing bowl, combine egg whites, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, anise, allspice, and nutmeg. Whip to soft peaks.

Fold whipped egg white mixture into cooked, cooled egg yolk mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream. Fold in the milk and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

To serve, spike with rum to taste.

Note: By combining some of the hot milk into the yolk mixture first, you are slowly heating the eggs to avoid coagulating or cooking them. This step, called tempering the yolks, is important in egg cookery because after an egg is cooked, there’s no turning back.


Red Sangria

Red Sangria is the perfect drink for entertaining a crowd and looks especially nice when served in sangria pitchers. We recommend using your favorite inexpensive table wine, a light and fruity pinot noir is a good choice.  For a sangria that stays cold longer and doesn’t get watered down too quickly, try making one large ice cube. Wash out a half-gallon cardboard milk carton and fill it with water and some thin slices of oranges, lemons, and limes for color. Stand the carton upright in the freezer and freeze. Empty the ice into a pitcher by ripping off the carton just before adding the sangria.

Serves 4

4 oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
3 cups light, fruity red wine
2 cups ice cubes

Cut one of the oranges, the lemon and lime into 1/4-inch slices.  Place in a pitcher, pour in the wine and let sit 1 to 2 hours.  Juice the remaining three oranges.  Just before serving, stir in the orange juice and ice cubes.  Serve immediately.


Red Roasted Quail

Achiote paste, or recado rojo, gives the rub for this Red Roasted Quail recipe a deep red hue, making for visually striking roasted holiday birds. Arranged around the outside edge of a round platter, these birds will look like a red holiday wreath. Serve with a winter greens or simple herb salad.

Achiote paste is a bright red-orange seasoning from the Yucatan made of ground annatto seeds, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. Thinned with citrus juices, it becomes a bold, tangy marinade for quail roasted on the grill.

Serves 6

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
Pinch ground cinnamon
8 cloves garlic
2 ounces achiote paste
12 whole quail
Canola oil, for the grill

Combine juices, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, and achiote in a blender and process until smooth.

Pat the quail dry, then coat inside and out with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, 3 to 5 hours.

Prepare a grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grates. Sear quail breast side down on hot side of grill, until skin lightly browns and birds can be lifted without sticking, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, then move to cooler side of grill. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted in breast reads 165 degrees F, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from grill, cover loosely with aluminum foil and rest for 5 minutes.

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