Hot Chocolate

When the rain was pouring down on Bank Holiday Monday there was only one thing to do – stop looking out of the window and go out!
We zipped ourselves into everything we owned that was water proof, added wellies and hoods and took off to Castell Coch. To my surprise there were a good dozen cars in the car park, plenty of other nutters, we’re in good company I thought. We were puddle jumping, mud surfing, moss spotting, finding fir cones, picking dripping blackberries and our song of choice was London’s Burning, “Fetch the engine, fire, fire, pour on water.” Yes thank you we had plenty of that! We saw a television crew filming Merlin and the kids got to meet a troll plus I am sure I saw the Gruffalo licking his lips at my son Jake!

When we got back to the car I stripped the kids down to their pants and we came home for a towel, a duvet on the sofa, a movie and a well earned hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate
Serves 4
20floz milk
100g milk chocolate
3 tsp cocoa
2 tsp caster sugar

On a slow heat warm the milk adding the milk chocolate to melt and thicken the milk.
In a small cup mix the cocoa, sugar and a splash of water, mix to a paste and then add the paste to the warming milk, stirring all the time to stop it catching on the base of the pan.
Once hot, but not boiling, thick and glossy pour into mugs and place into chilly but happy hands, drink slowly and enjoy the chocolate moustache!

But enough stories of rain and wintry recipes. That afternoon we made pesto, it’s a perfect ingredient to keep in the fridge as a salad dressing. You can spoon it over poached chicken or seared salmon, it’s delicious in a cheese and tomato sandwich, spooned over a pizza or pasta or king prawn salad. The vibrant green basil stimulates the brain and might even convince you that it’s summer.

2 fat cloves of garlic
50g pine kernels
100g parmesan cheese
4 fl oz olive oil
Salt and pepper
200g fresh basil

Peel and squash the garlic, place it into a food processor with the pine kernels, grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and a slug of olive oil. Whizz to a paste, if it’s thick add more olive oil.
Lastly add the basil and whizz again. We add it last as you don’t want to bruise it, just quickly whizz it. The pesto will turn that fab green colour and smells wonderful. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days or freeze little pots of it for a handy friend when dinner needs it.