Okay, I love risotto.  I am besotted with risotto, thus the coining of the term "besotto." This past week I made chicken stock - nothing heroic, just had two carcasses from some roasted chickens and to that added some onion and bay leaves, a little salt and pepper and – voilà – chicken stock.  I love how gelatinous homemade stock is.  In texture, it reminds me of the awful chicken chow mein we used to get in the school cafeteria before any of us (at least in my age group and on the Main Line of Philadelphia) new what real Chinese food was!  I used to call it chicken Jell-o.  In flavor, nothing compares to homemade stock.  And it is at this point that I freely admit to using boxes of either Swanson or Trader Joe's chicken broth all the time.  Really, there just isn't enough time in a day to be making stock...

But, I digress.  Risotto.  Not as time consuming as one would think - but it does require standing in one place for about half an hour.  Seriously, after a hard day at the office, what is wrong with standing still as long as there is a good beverage at hand to help pass the time?


Lamb Ragù

Wow, a first posting.  Welcome to Cocoa and Lavender!  Doreen and I hope to share with you some of our favorite recipes, foodways, traditions, sources and ideas once a week.  We would like to say this will happen weekly on a certain day of the week, but we know ourselves better.  Just once a week will have to suffice!

Now, I admit that I am writing from Tucson, one of the warmer and more meteorological safe (and pleasant) zones in the country right now.  But I still want to say it gets chilly in the evening – or at least chilly enough for us to pull out our comfort food guns and revive recipes we loved when we lived in Maine, where it was cold 10 months of the year.  Comfort foods.  Now there should be an entire blog on that subject.

But first, a little digression...  Cocoa and lavender.  Why the name?  That is a hard question to answer as both Doreen and I are very passionate about many foods, many flavors, many aromas.  For me, each day begins with a big French bowl of Italian Pernigotti Cocoa.  I have yet to find a cocoa as rich, round, and floral as this one – and, even though it finally made the Saveur Top 100 this year, I have been buying it for more than a decade, mostly from chefshop.com.  (It comes in kilo bags which always feels slightly suspect.)  I am not a cocoa aficionado.  There must be some special course or degree to get to attain that moniker.  But I am serious.  I need my cocoa each day – and don't confuse cocoa with hot chocolate.  That is a horse of a different color, to quote our friend Dorothy.  Cocoa is milk, sugar and cocoa powder.  Maybe some vanilla.  Maybe a pinch of salt.  In my somewhat-past-middle-age years, I even use good quality skim milk. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, is melted chocolate – bittersweet, milk chocolate or a combination – in milk, light cream or heavy cream, depending on your high-fate needs that day.  Maybe it is a distinction only I would make, but cocoa is a dark, not-too-sweet and intense beverage, suitable as a coffee substitute, while hot chocolate is a dessert in its own right.

And lavender?