I'm back! 6 weeks traveling through Turkey and India: eating, drinking and breathing in as many sights, sounds, foods and flavors as possible. Although I didn't post as much as I would have liked to while on the road, I have a backlog of notes, photos and recipes to share...in due time. My brain is a jumble of spices, fermented grains, myriads of lentils and other exotic delights. I need a little time to process before I try to cook it all up in the 10 kilo tava we brought back in our luggage.
Did I miss chocolate? Perhaps. I certainly am happy to be back in the loving arms of my la Pavoni espresso machine, bequeathed to me by a dear friend in an insane fit of generosity.
I love the story of how la Pavoni and I met. A few years ago, I was in Seattle visiting an old friend who had a groovy, old school stainless steel espresso maker that operated on a very simple mechanical basis, with a lever arm to push pressurized, steamy water through a small grupo packed tight with finely ground coffee beans. A simple wand on the side would steam milk to foamy perfection and the drinks she churned out were among the best I've ever had. I went home to San Diego fantasizing about having a fancy, old espresso maker of my own.
Alas, a precursory web search snatched the dream away from me before it even had time to gestate. These things cost upwards of $2000! I absolutely do not have that kind of disposable income, no matter how shiny and perfect the coffee maker might be (it is after all, just a coffee maker). That's a ticket to Ghana! Or two tickets to India. No way. So I put my dream on the back shelf, promising myself that if I ever hit it big, then maybe, just maybe, one day, I would have one of my own.
That night, we went for dinner at Shelly & Rich's house, two of our most beloved friends in the world. They have three lovely children and hanging out with this family is one of our top pastimes. It doesn't hurt that Shelly is a fellow vegetarian foodie, and that we all subscribe to a jacuzzi-wine-food-wine-jacuzzi-fireplace type lifestyle. We are kindred spirits, to say the least. Shelly has a veggie food blog as well, so we are constantly bonding over food, amongst other things.
Anyhoo, Shelly and I are conversing over another glass of wine on the patio and she, out of the blue, mentions to me that she has this espresso machine that her (rich) neighbor had given her a few years ago that has been collecting dust ever since. They are a bottomless coffee-pot type family, too busy to put that much effort into just one cup of coffee. If I wanted it, it was mine.
"Does it have a lever?!?!" was my greedy response. An affirmative nod was all I needed. "I'll take it! Are you sure???? Do you know how much that machine is worth???? You don't want to sell it on ebay???"
As it was bequeathed to her, so it was handed down to me, on the condition that I don't sell it myself, which has never, ever crossed my mind. It is mine and I love it and not a day at home has passed in the past two and a half years that I did not honor my la Pavoni by lovingly filling it with water, waiting for the pressure to build, blending up a fresh batch of almond milk, and enjoying a homemade almond latte, finishing up the ritual by polishing the metal to a shine and tucking it back away in its honored spot on the kitchen counter.
I chalk this experience up to another mystifying case of ask and you shall receive...the universe is a wonderful place, sometimes!
Other drinks I make with my wonder-machine are chai lattes and hot chocolates for Ryan, as he does not like caffeine. One small spoonful of loose-leaf chai (with rooibos) in the grupo produces a small, concentrated amount of tea that I temper with steamed & sweetened almond milk. Or steamed almond milk with a spoonful of good cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, an inch of fresh vanilla bean and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. Frothy and delicious, we call these drinks "foamy-yummies".
And they are deeelicious with this biscotti recipe.
GF almond, chocolate & cherry biscotti
- 3/4 cup almond pulp (from making almond milk)
- 1/2 cup millet flour
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar or evaporated cane juice
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2-3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350F
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup good quality chocolate chips (optional, for dipping)
Combine the dry ingredients (through cocoa powder) together. Add the almond extract to 1/2 cup water and add to dry mix to create a ball of dough that is not too wet. Add more water if necessary, slowly. Once mixed add the almonds and cherries. Divide the dough into to two parts and shape into flat-ish logs on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Reduce heat in the oven to 300F. Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces and place back on the cookie sheet. Put back in the oven to dry and toast for about 15-20 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool. These biscotti are more on the soft, dry side than the crunchy side.
If you are dipping these in chocolate, melt the chips over a double boiler. Dip each cookie, flat side down in chocolate and then set it (chocolate side up) on the cookie sheet. Once all are dipped, place the sheet in the fridge or freezer to help set the chocolate.