Posts Tagged ‘Food Network’

Ode to My Bialetti, or… Latte, anyone?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Bialetti Stove-Top Espresso Maker

Bialetti Stove-top Espresso Maker

I love my Bialetti! Some time ago, I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network, and she used a nifty stove-top espresso maker from Italy by Bialetti. It stuck in my head until one day last fall I was standing in line at Peet’s and my gaze fell to a display of Bialetti espresso makers – ah ha! I grabbed one along with a pound of Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend (and the free latte that comes with purchasing a pound of coffee – I love that!). With my Bialetti and Aerolatte frothing wand, I’ve been contentedly making creamy, foamy lattes in the comfort of my own kitchen ever since. I still enjoy a latte out – sometimes it’s just nice to have someone else make it for you! But for an everyday “treat”, I love these homemade lattes – and they’re easy!

Latte Equipment Deconstructed

Latte Equipment Deconstructed

The Bialetti unscrews into top and bottom pieces. Add water to the bottom piece, add coffee to the filter basket and drop that into the bottom piece, screw on the top and put in on the stove-top to percolate for a few minutes. In the meantime, heat some milk – I use a Pyrex measuring cup and the microwave – and then froth it up with the Aerolatte wand.

Frothing Milk

Frothing the Milk!

There are a couple of tricks to getting a good froth – don’t get the milk too hot and just froth the top inch or so. By the time the milk is heated and frothed, the coffee is ready. Pour some coffee into a cup, add some milk (holding back the foam with a spoon, just like a real barista) and then top it off with the foam – voila! A hot creamy treat made exactly how I like it for a lot less than $3.00 – clever girl.

Finished Latte

Latte, anyone?


Cheers,
Cathy

I Ate It…

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake


I wanted to take a picture of the last remaining piece of the Triple Chocolate Mousse cake I made to show you but, well… I ate it. So, I’m showing you the cover of the new 2010 America’s Test Kitchen cookbook that recently showed up in the mail and inspired me to make this not-too-original but oh-so-good mousse cake. Mine looked very similar (really!), but I garnished with chocolate marbles instead of chocolate shavings because that’s what I had around from my Chocolate Mousse Kit.

I made this dessert for the second – and final (yippee!) – auction dinner of the year. My last post – lo those many weeks ago – was about the first auction dinner this year. The most recent auction dinner was a study in good menu planning – all tranquility and calm in the kitchen during service – and I don’t think it was just because I was drinking port this time! I did a lot of cooking in advance, which I typically do but it paid off extra well for this dinner.

For appetizers, I served Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms (The Silver Palate Cookbook), brie-en-croute (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook) and smoked salmon mousse on endive (and crackers – those endive don’t have as many leaves on them as you might think! Also from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook). The day before the dinner, I made the mushroom filling and stuffed the mushrooms; wrapped the brie in puff pastry and refrigerated; and made the smoked salmon mousse. A note about the mushroom stuffing – the recipe called for 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce and some chopped black olives. I didn’t bother making the Bechamel sauce, instead I just added a little cream and reduced it down in the filling. I also omitted the olives because they didn’t appeal to me with the Italian sausage. For service, I just got the brie and mushrooms in the oven at the right times and spread the mousse on endive and crackers, and appetizers were done.

For the first course, I served shrimp cocktail (from Sara’s Secrets/Food Network) and a green salad with baked goat cheese rounds (The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2010). The day before, I made the shrimp cocktail sauce, the vinaigrette for the salad and the goat cheese rounds. The morning of the dinner, I brined and cooked the shrimp and put them in the refrigerator until service. One note about the shrimp cocktail sauce – don’t buy the Thai Hot Chili Sauce like I inadvertently did, just get a “normal” chili sauce and your ears won’t catch fire once the wasabi is added. My second batch was much better! For the baked goat cheese rounds, I didn’t add the herbs to the goat cheese as the recipe called for – I felt there were enough flavors going on with the vinaigrette, shrimp and cocktail sauce, so I just wanted the plain goat cheese flavor coming through. Plating this course was easy, and we had it on the table when the guests came in for dinner.

The main course was New York steak with herb butter (The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008), scalloped potatoes (The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008), peas and fennel braised with white wine and garlic (Jamie Oliver/Return of the Naked Chef). I made the scalloped potatoes and herb butter the day before. The morning of the dinner, I trimmed the steaks, and cut the fennel and put it in a casserole dish so everything was ready to go at service. A note about the steaks – I decided to do New York steak because it’s a steak’s steak – it doesn’t need a lot to go with it to bring out that rich steak flavor. I bought USDA Prime grade steaks. I could have done perfectly well with USDA Choice grade – the most common grade in the supermarkets – for half the price, but my meat consultant (aka my husband, Terry) was in a meeting and couldn’t be reached at decision time. They were beautiful steaks, though!

With everything prepped, it was a matter of following my time schedule – written out in advance – and executing the plan. Easy-peasy, as Jamie Oliver likes to say. You know, for the most part.

You already know about dessert – Triple Chocolate Mousse cake that I made the day before. Once the main course went out, I cut, plated and garnished the cake, and it was at a nice temperature and ready to go at dessert time.

While I was serving dessert, one guest asked incredulously, “So, you made this cake?!” Yes, yes I did – now, your turn.

Happy cooking (and eating)!

Cathy