Tag Archives: coffee

Thermos travel mug

When my eldest started primary, there was one particular woman who used to drop her children off and always have one of those insulated coffee mugs in hand. For some reason, one of the other mothers really took against her, starting her moan with a familiar gossip-page refrain:

“Who does she think she is with that in her hand?”

“What, the insulated coffee cup thing?” I ventured. “I think it’s to keep her coffee warm.”

“She’s just trying to show everyone how busy and important she is that she can’t drink her coffee at home like the rest of us..”

I didn’t think that. I thought that, as she came some considerable way (we live in the countryside where people can travel some distance to school), she probably didn’t feel like coffee the moment she left home and, to save some money, she brought it with her to drink on the way home.

But, I guess you see what you want in other people, what resonates with your own life.

I don’t, always, want to eat anything at all when I first wake up. I feel for my children who have to eat breakfast in the narrow window between waking up and going to school, without hope of snack nor sandwich before break or lunch time if they don’t (I am starving by 9am).

When my eldest started high school, she often didn’t feel like drinking her tea or caffe latte before school, so she’d take it on the bus with her. And this is where the search for good insulated mugs came in. They were either horrible cheap plastic, the taste of which permeated anything you put in it and/or they leaked. I’ve always been of the buy well, buy once mindset so I set out looking for a good one that was stainless steel, didn’t leak and had a handle.

Eventually I found one by Thermos: the King Travel Mug (full kennel name below). It’s not cheap. It’s guaranteed for 50 years, it’s absolutely leak proof (unlike so many insulated mugs the top actually screws on) – although I’m not brave enough to just sling it into my bag. It’s stainless steel inside and easy to clean (by hand) and there is no taste of anything else, despite the lid being plastic – it conveniently says when it’s open or closed so there is no confusion.

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It keeps drinks hot or cold for some considerable time – be careful if you give it to children. I tend to put my drinks in at the temperature I want to drink them at and they stay that way for a couple of hours, which is the longest I’ve tried. I’ve even put my delicious hot chocolate in it, which strictly speaking you shouldn’t; milk products don’t really fare well in insulated products in case they turn to yoghurt.

Do not, on any account, be tempted to buy this from Amazon – it’s only marginally cheaper but I waited weeks for mine and then they sent the wrong one (the much cheaper Thermo Cafe mug). I got ours direct from Thermos, where the service was spot on. I paid just under £28. Make sure you get the Thermos Stainless King Leak Proof Travel Mug – there are various other similar sounding ones that aren’t leak proof: if it’s too cheap, it ain’t it.

 

Tiramisu cheesecake

Tiramisu, for those that don’t yet know, mean’s ‘pull me up’. The English equivalent is ‘pick me up’.

Although I don’t know anyone in Italy who uses tiramisu as anything other than a delicious, indulgent dessert. Zabaglione was used, maybe still is, if you felt a bit under the weather and needed a pick me up. Presumably the warnings about not using raw egg (traditionally an ingredient in zabaglione) hadn’t reached the members of my family who used this as a salve for sick children who were too poorly to go to school.

My dad (from Parma, NE Italy) would sometimes feign illness – something he never does as an adult – as a child in order to stay off school and have zabaglione made for him by his mamma.

Anyway, this is a tiramisu cheesecake. If you don’t like coffee or cheesecake then there is nothing for you in this cheesecake. I think the base is absolutely inspired, but, again, if you don’t like amaretti biscuits (and in truth I don’t, on their own, but somehow they work here) you may not like the slightly bitter hit. But this is a really excellent cheesecake, classy, different, complex. Just don’t be left alone with it. Oh and, once chilled, it’s really the most excellent if you take it out of the fridge for half an hour before eating.

If you plan to make this for an ‘occasion’ – say a special lunch or a dinner – then I really recommend you make it the night before and leave it sitting chilling in the fridge until you serve it. One less job to do, plus with the chilling of the base and the chilling of the cake etc, it does take quite a long time from start to finish. So don’t get caught out.

This was originally from Delicious magazine.

For the base:

275g amaretti biscuits, crushed

75g unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

700g mascarpone at room temperature. I use a mixture of 500g mascarpone, cream cheese, ricotta, depending on what I have in the fridge. But I wouldn’t go lower than 500g mascarpone

150g caster sugar

3 large eggs, separated

45ml dark rum

30g plain flour

half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

175g plain chocolate, chopped (of course I didn’t chop mine and just broke up the pieces, because I am lazy like that)

1 tablespoon of finely ground espresso coffee powder – I just use something I have in a dusty jar from the supermarket, even though I have a full on, fuck-off coffee machine which freshly grinds my coffee for me. Next time it will maybe be even more awesome if I used freshly ground espresso powder

3 tablepoons of coffee liqueur. I use Kahlua which is lovely, incidentally, in an after dinner espresso, to make it espresso corretto.

Icing sugar for dusting. I was so greedy and impatient, I forgot this bit

Put the biscuit crumbs in a food processor and pulverise. In a bowl, introduce melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and let them do their thing. Press the crumbs into a 23cm spring form tin (I parchment line the base) and as far up the sides as you can get them (I didn’t do them up the sides and it was fine). Chill for 30 mins or even overnight.

When you are ready to make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 200C; melt the chocolate in a bowl, atop some simmering water and then leave to cool. Put the mascarpone/cheeses into a bowl and beat until nice and smooth, then beat in the sugar, then the egg yolks.

Now divide this mixture into two bowls.

Into one of these bowls stir in the 30g plain flour, the 45ml of dark rum and the half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Set aside for a moment.

Remember the melted chocolate? Into it, stir the espresso powder and coffee liqueur. Now stir the chocolatey/coffee/coffee liqueur into the second bowl of cheese mixture.

Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk until soft peak stage, and now fold half the egg whites into each of the bowls – so half into the flour/rum/vanilla cheesey mix and half into the chocolate/coffee/liqueur mix.

Now dollop alternate spoonfuls of the mixture into the cake tin, give a swirl to gently mix and bake for 45mins to 1 hour. I lowered the temperature of my oven for the last 15 minutes or so only because my oven is fierce. Just keep an eye on it after 45 mins. It should be golden brown but still soft in the centre. Not liquid soft but softly soft, like a bit jelly on a plate.

Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar and leave the cheesecake until completely cold. When cold, chill in the fridge for several hours then it’s ready to be taken out and eaten, either fridge-cold or leave it to warm up a bit at room temperature.

Dust with icing sugar and revel in the calorie count. It’s high.

 

Iced coffee

This was inspired by an ice cream recipe which didn’t so much go wrong, but which I didn’t like.

I have a book called The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. A great book absolutely crammed full of great and inspiring recipes for ice cream, sorbets and the like. I bought it after I tried Lebovitz’s Torrone Ice cream which is one of the best ice creams ever.

In the book, Lebovitz has a recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice cream. I made it and it wasn’t really my thing. Too ‘icy’, and not creamy enough for the sort of ice cream I like. What could I do with it I wondered? Then I remembered how my father used to make iced coffee in my parents’ cafe and I thought “a-ha” I’ll use it as a base for iced coffee. And so this is what I did. (I’ve slightly adapted the recipe here by altering the proportions.)

When you’ve made the ice cream, store it in the freezer and then when the mood for iced coffee takes you, just add a scoop of the ice cream to some milk and whizz it up in a blender. I use my Dualit milk frother on the ‘cold milk’ setting and it works perfectly (put the milk and ice cream in the machine at the same time, sometimes I do have to run it twice to make sure the mixture is smooth).

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You need about a scoop of ice cream per small glass of milk, although experiment and see what suits you and if you prefer a more creamy or stronger coffee taste. My children go mad for this drink; obviously I have to ration it out as all that caffeine…

It’s a great drink for this lovely hot weather and, once you’ve made the ice cream, the whole thing is ready in minutes. Serve with ice cubes if you wish, but I don’t find there’s any need.

Iced coffee ice cream:

397g Waitrose Condensed Milk (for those, like me, who boycott Nestle, it’s great to know that Waitrose now makes its own condensed milk and it’s cheaper than Nestle’s)

250 – 300 ml of espresso or very strong coffee

80ml single cream

A pinch of ground coffee

You basically mix everything together, chill it and then put it in your ice cream maker.

Or, if you plan to make lots of iced coffee over the next few days, just store it at this stage, in the fridge and use half a cup every time you want to make an iced coffee, topping it up with milk (and an ice cube or two if you want it really ice cold) to suit your taste (so more iced coffee mix to less milk if you like it very strong/sweet, more milk if less so).

I love to top this up with almond milk. This doesn’t, of course, give you a dairy free iced coffee as the cream and condensed milk are dairy, but it does lower the dairy hit and gives a lovely nutty taste.

Ice cream cake

Very yummy ice cream cake

When I used to go to Italy, up to Salsomaggiore Terme, provincia di Parma, where my father is from, we used to go to Pasticceria Tosi on Sunday to buy little cakes and pastries (a very common tradition in Italy). In the fridge/freezer display there would always be ice cream cakes.

They seemed impossibly luxurious and I can still see myself looking in at them.

When I saw this recipe by Bill Granger in the August edition of Waitrose magazine, I knew I had to try it (unfortunately I can’t find a link to it on the Waitrose site). He calls it tiramisu ice cream cake. Of course, being Italian, I cannot call it this.

I adapted it quite a bit, halving the proportions, adding more sponge fingers, less chocolate and taking out the Kahlua that Granger asks for (I haven’t got any in my cupboard and I’m not going to spend £17 on a bottle of it to keep in said cupboard, but if you have some, do use it, maybe half and half marsala or all Kahlua, up to you). I know this recipe may seem imprecise, but the beauty of it is that you can add more or less of something you like/don’t like.

This is what I did:

65ml espresso/strong black coffee
30ml marsala (or use sherry)
Nearly a whole packet of sponge fingers (about 170g)
Some vanilla ice cream, I used about half of one batch of this home made stuff
About 50g of grated dark chocolate

I lined a small loaf tin (about 6″ x 4″) with some parchment paper. Then I started layering up the dessert.

Mix the coffee and marsala together in a small dish. Individually dip the sponge fingers into it. Don’t linger or they will fall apart. Lay the fingers down on the base of the dish, break some up if they don’t fit but end up with a base of soaked sponge fingers.

Now layer with vanilla ice cream, then grated chocolate. Grating chocolate is possibly one of my least favourite jobs EVER, as the chocolate ends up going everywhere and sticking to the grater. So I didn’t use loads, you can use more if you like. I probably should have used my grater attachment on my food processor, but I don’t like to use it for what I consider small jobs..

Then  just keep going. Dip the sponge fingers in the mixture, ice cream, grated chocolate. Until you run out of space. I ended up with a layer of sponge fingers as I like them, Granger says to end up with a sprinkling of chocolate.

Cover with cling film and put in the freezer. Take out for about 30 mins before you need it and keep it in the fridge. It slices beautifully and my eldest loved it (although I need to point out that it DOES HAVE ALCOHOL IN IT and it is ILLEGAL TO GIVE ALCOHOL TO A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE). I gave my youngest a separate bit with no booze in it.

Afterwards it struck me that if you preferred you could layer these up individually in little ramekins or some lovely little glasses and freeze them individually.

If making for a large party, double the recipe above and use a big old square tin. Granger recommends 26″ square but use your common sense. No reason you couldn’t make this in a loaf tin like I did just a bigger one.