On one of my very first forays into journalism, I was tasked with interviewing some local Atlanta lifestyle celebrities about comfort foods and one interview in particular has stuck with me. This week it once again popped into my mind giving me the ideal drink idea for our 10- Minute Happy Hour.
At the time Lee May (see his website here) was a garden journalist for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He was on my "get list" for this Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle Magazine assignment and he couldn't have been kinder to my leafy green approach. He asked me to lunch. Now mind you I am fully aware I am supposed to host my subject but this guy knew what he was doing and I was not going to differ.
My other interviews had gone something like this:
Q: What's your comfort food?
A: a) Beef Stew, b) Chocolate Chip Cookies, c) Meatloaf
Over the years I've learned to treat my interviews with much more finesse and get my answers in a less direct, college level journalistic-y manner. However, there is no doubting these three answers still hold weight in the comfort food category. But it was Lee's answer that almost knocked me off my off my barstool. His comfort food was, and I quote, "Sushi, because for me comfort does not come by the calendar year." He couldn't have been more correct. It's not just on cold nights we crave comfort. Everyone has their thing and no one food item is the cure all for those of us craving comfort.
Here in the Northeast, we've been battered by Hurricane Sandy, some are still without power, water or heat; and temps keep dropping. Mix in a presidential election and top with a Nor-easter for icing and for many of us, simple comforts seem like a dream. This week's happy hour calls for no bar couture, only a simple mug is needed.
No matter what your weather, a comforting cup of rich hot cocoa spiked with whiskey and dolloped with rich whipped cream, is all you'll need for a little happiness to finish off what for many has been a very long week.
Hot Cocoa & Kilbeggan Whiskey
serves 4 to 6
1/3 cup cocoa powder 3/4 cup sugar 3 1/2 cups milk Pinch of salt 6 ounces Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
For the Whipped Cream: 1/2 cup whipping cream 2 teaspoons powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Cinnamon or cocoa powder to garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Do not boil! Whisk until smooth and creamy.
Remove from the heat and add the whiskey.
In a separate cool metal bowl whisk the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, until stiff peaks form.
Divide the cocoa and whiskey mixture among 4 to 6 cups and top each with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top if desired.
Maureen C. Petrosky writes what she knows, food, booze and parties. Author of The Wine Club, she appears regularly on The TODAY show to share her vices (and advice) with the world. For more info check out www.maureenpetrosky.com or follow her on Twitter @maureenpetrosky.