Monday, March 29, 2010

WEEKENDhospitality: Perfect Partners

Chocolate and Coffee.
Need I say more?
This week I’m going to discuss the process of creating a delicious espresso. If you have an espresso maker or other fancy device this post isn’t for you. If you’re lacking in the $1000 to buy a new espresso maker with steam wand, and stainless steel body, etc etc etc. (I dream), then this post is so for you. If you don’t already have a stove top espresso maker, go buy one for a much cheaper $30+. Or do what Mary did for me a few years ago and buy one on ebay for $15+ shipping.
All good espressos start with good espresso beans. Our favorite is an organic fair trade espresso we get from the CO-OP Natural Foods in Sioux Falls, SD. We’ve tried other more famous brands before and have been disappointed with the results, so we try to stay away from those as often as possible. We’ve also done regular and decaf coffee in the pots and they’ve turned out pretty good too, especially if you only want one cup of coffee.
The process starts-- of course-- with your grind. We only have a small blade grinder we got when we got married and it takes about 30-50 seconds to get a fine grind. Trust me, to get the flavor you want a fine grind, not coarse like you’d use for drip coffee or French Press.
After you grind your coffee. Follow the assembly instructions, filling with good quality water, etc. Next you’ll need to practice a good amount of patience. I like to turn my burner to really low. 

For a good cup it takes about 10-15 minutes, but trust me it’s well worth the wait. The aromas that will fill your kitchen as you’re preparing the coffee are amazing! I love to watch the dark brown thick espresso ooze out of the spouts. (mmm I’m getting thirsty describing it)

While the coffee is taking longer to get ready than I do in the morning-- I get the milk going. I pour about 1-2 cups of milk into my small pot. I add about 2  teaspoons of sugar just to give it a little more sweetness and then turn the heat up (not too high you don’t want to scorch the milk, you want to heat it slowly). Taking a whisk I start whisking. I’ll start and stop as my heart pleases. Then once I get the right consistency of foam on top I turn the heat off and hopefully by this point the coffee is done, if not, just let it sit, it won’t hurt anything.

Then I add the shot or two of espresso and then desired amount of milk and foam to the desired coffee mugs. I like my lattes to taste like espresso and not milk. For me the milk is more of a medium through which to enjoy the espresso not overpower it. 

Use the wisk to hold the foam back as you’re pouring and then plop a bit of it on top and enjoy. If you have extra milk and have a kitty in the house (ie. Isabel) pour the remainder into a little mug and let them enjoy the warm milk. (If it’s too hot, just add some cold milk, they’ll love it!)

Now for the chocolate. Chocolate Friands from the Tartine cookbook.
Yesterday we celebrated our normal Sunday afternoon lunch, but added some delicious chocolate treats for a good friends birthday. We even had a candle that Truman helped blow out.

These “small mouthfuls” are simply delicious and super easy to make. What treat doesn’t taste good when you use chocolate, butter, sugar and flour? Oh and there’s a yummy ganache (cream and chocolate) topping. Mine didn’t turn out quite as nice looking as the picture, but they were delicious none the less.
Hope you had a great weekend and enjoy making espresso and chocolaty treats.


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