An Extra Shot

For those of you who are unaware, coffee is what makes me a whole person.  Don’t bother writing in with [insert crazy argument here]…all I will read is blah, blah, blah COFFEE blah, blah, blah.  I will then make a cup of coffee, thank you for the suggestion, and go about my day.

Anyway, I’m only mentioning this to those of you who have never had the pleasure of knowing Morning Me before coffee: she ain’t pretty.  And the point I’m so long windily trying to make is that it is a rare occasion where I turn down a cup of coffee.

As mentioned in my prior post, there was an announcement that my delayed flight would soon be boarding.  I was torn in two.  Coffee or getting to the gate on time?  Okay, there wasn’t that much tearing…especially given there was no line at the cafe three gates away (probably because most people don’t drink a lot of coffee at 8:30pm….except perhaps the baristas, who were, in fact, bouncing off the walls).  I asked for a breve latte.  Actually FIRST I asked how many shots where in the size I wanted.  Three.  Wow…really?  That’s fantastic.  Then I order a breve latte.  All the baristas stopped momentarily to see if I was actually a person.  A real-live-ordered-breve-and-no-skinny-anything latte.

Then the barista at the register said something magical: would you like an extra shot?  It’s free.  I’m sorry, FREE COFFEE?  Oh honey those are THE TWO BEST sequential words on the planet (except for maybe FREE BEER or FREE WINE).  It’s coffee and it’s free.  I know that extra shots are not normally free, but who am I to argue with a barista who was being extra nice [read: don’t go visit and start demanding extra free shots].  Too bad there wasn’t a lottery place in the airport, I would have totally played because I was feeling so lucky.

I think normal people might balk at 4 shots of espresso at 8:30pm.  But not me.  Oh no, not me!  With gusto I said “of course I do…that would be fantastic!”  I didn’t even question why it was free, I just went for it (I mean, really who would turn this down???)  As I was gushing my profuse thanks I could see a realization of the late time start to sink into the barista’s brain and I could read his sudden perplexed expression like a book:  no, no decaf–all regular please!

IMG_1993 IMG_1990

Thankfully my gate was near by because it was so creamy and so delicious, I needed to sit down.  Colectivo Coffee is a Milwaukee based coffee and roasting company who has been contributing great coffee to the fine folks in and visiting Milwaukee since 1993.  You can even go to their store on Humbolt Avenue and watch the whole roasting process–which is not only fascinating, but smells amazing!  Trust me, if you’re in the Milwaukee area visit one (or more of their stores)–you won’t be disappointed: the freshly roasted beans shine through in every cup they make.

My coffee reverie was interrupted by nice flight attendant, who very graciously announced final boarding for my flight.  Once in my seat with my seat belt buckled and tray table in its upright position, the aforementioned reverie continued until the last drop of creamy coffee was gone.  And before you write in and chide me about 4 shots of espresso at 8:30pm, just know that after I finished my delicious breve, I napped allllllll the way to MSP!

The Great Squash Debate

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from Aunt Kathy that read:

OMG, been eating squash for only a week and already tired of it!  Anybody have recipe suggestions?

nothing says delicious like fresh veggies from the garden!

nothing says delicious like fresh veggies from Aunt Kathy’s garden!

Of course, since this was a group text the rest of the evening was spent with my cousin (who lives in IL) and I trying to convince our aunt to ship us some of the delicious veggies from her plentiful garden.  Additionally, everyone was swapping the various ways that we all love to eat our squash, each of us trying to out-recipe the other.  In my humble opinion, Aunt Kathy won that challenge with her suggestion of deep frying them, then topping them with parmesan cheese and serving with a blue cheese dipping sauce.  BTW, if you’re not drooling at this, then you are definitely NOT from Texas or any sort of Southern state.  OR you’re crazy.  Because that’s just delicious!

Still, I can see where it would get old.  Mainly in the prep work.  Proper deep frying is tedious.  And hot.  And slightly dangerous.

That’s why these days, I prefer roasting. Please note: while I love to eat fried foods, I was never a deep frying kinda girl because, well, it is tedious and hot and slightly dangerous!  I will, quite literally, roast almost any type of vegetable. Why?  Because it’s tasty and easy and tasty, but most of all easy.  If you think that you don’t like a particular veggie or are wanting to branch out in your veggie consumption, I would highly recommend roasting as it helps make all veggies (except perhaps celery) taste better.  I completely give my friend Ann all of the credit because prior to living with Ann, I pretty much stuck to roasting meat and a few veggies to put in soups.  Why?  Not sure.  It seems rather silly and small minded now that I think about it.  But I have amended my roasting ways and now I consider myself a bit of a roasting aficionado (self-proclaimed, of course!).

I like to roast my veggies at 400F (about 200C)–it’s hot enough to give them that crispy crunch without worrying about burning them…unless you completely forget you’re roasting something and the smoke detector reminds you.  Not that I’ve ever done that, of course…ha ha ha…ahem.

Then you just wash and chop some veggies, coat them generously with olive oil, add some seasoning and bake for about 40 minutes.  Viola!  Deliciously sweet and crisp veggies with no fuss and lots of flavor!  A word of advice: the more hearty the veggie is, the longer the cooking time, which you only really need to think about when mixing your roasted veggies, like in the recipe below, or if you want to serve roasted potatoes and are trying to time your meal prep so that dinner is served at one time. Speaking of, potatoes are also in the recipe below, which I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetables from an Italian Garden.  Of course, as per me, I immediately tweaked it (what? It needed more garlic!)!  

Roasted Zucchini, Potatoes, and Tomatoes (or if you wanna be uber-fancy: Zucchine, Patate E Pomodori Al Forno):

  • 4 potatoes cut into chunks
  • 1 onion cut into chunks
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 zucchinis cut into chunks
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a bowl, add potatoes, half of the rosemary (don’t measure–just eyeball it!), a bit of salt & pepper and drizzle olive oil on top.  Lightly toss together until potatoes are covered with olive oil.  Put in a baking dish (which, in theory, you would have gotten out of the cupboard before you got your hands all olive oily!), put into the oven and roast for 40 minutes.  While the potatoes are happily hanging out in the oven, put the onions, zucchini, and tomatoes into your bowl.  Add the remaining rosemary, a bit more salt & pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Again, toss together until everything is well coated in olive oil and spices.  Cut off the top of the head of garlic and sprinkle with a dash of salt & pepper.  After about 40 minutes, pull the potatoes out of the oven.  To the potatoes, add the onion, zucchini, tomato mixture and then make a place for garlic head to sit on the bottom of the pan, cut side up.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil inside the garlic and then pop the dish back in the oven (which hopefully you did not turn off!).  Roast for another 20 minutes or until all the veggies are tender and slightly charred (be warned–less hearty veggies like tomatoes easily turn to mush–so keep an eye on them!).  Once you’ve removed the pan from the oven, CAREFULLY remove head of garlic and with a small fork in one hand and towel/hot pad/tongs holding the head of garlic in your other hand remove the cloves from the casings.  Mix the garlic back in with the veggies and dig in!

Of course, you can use any veggie medley you’d like (squash perhaps?).  And if you have an aversion to rosemary *cough* April *cough* then you could substitute another aromatic herb, like thyme, or just stick with good ol’ salt & pepper.

And before you complain about the hour baking time–just know it gives you plenty of time to quality control the wine you want to serve with it, like a nice Viognier, Vouvray, or even a buttery Chardonnay!

Buon appetito!



Soup is Simple, Stupid…

Before you yell at me, the title was a quote from a chef at a wine bistro at which I used to work. The chef had a way with food and was the polar opposite with people.  Definitely a bear of a man.  He always only ever wore a black t-shirt, cargo shorts, and vans.  But man, could he create.  I once ate his chicken truffle lasagna every single night for a month.  My eyes still roll back in my head thinking about it…

BUT! that’s not why we’re here (and he never shared that recipe…dammit! probably out of fear that I’d turn into a chicken truffle lasagna!)…we’re here for soup.  Jaime made the best soups–his piece de resistance on his soup line-up was definitely his asparagus soup.

soup is simple, stupid.  you season and roast your vegetables, you put them in stock, puree, add cream and more seasoning and done.  even you should be able to handle that.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jaime.  I went home and tried it and, holy crap, who knew  roasting could make it that much more amazing!!!!!!!!!!

I have always been a lover of soups.  They’re warm and hearty and can be very healthy (unless you add 1lb of velveeta, in which case they’re UBER DELICIOUSLY CHEESY!).  Plus they’re great for clearing out whatever vegetables that need to be eaten!

Here are two of my favorites that I’ve written about so far (yeah, TOTALLY cheating here, but they’re great–so definitely worth a revisit!)

  • Guinness Stew (soups/stews…same thing…ish…it’s good, just try it!)
  • Tortilla Soup (and in revisiting this post, I realized that I’ve already told you that I’m a lover of soups, but eh well…)

So, let’s hear it from you: what’s your favorite soup?  Mine?  Hard call because it’s like having to pick a favorite child.  Okay, maybe not that hard.  Then again…

Probably if I have to narrow it to only one, I’d pick Tortilla Soup (but pumpkin and veggie soups are right up there!!).  One type I’m not a fan of?  Gazpacho.  Weird, I know.  But cold soups just don’t do it for me.  They’re just too cold and uncaring (in my humble opinion–I’m sorry if I just stepped on your gazpacho loving toes!).

Although Jaime did make a cantaloupe soup once…