What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Espresso Obsession! You can be a master barista in the comfort of your own kitchen. Some essential items make all the difference in the results; a good coffee bean grinder and a reliable espresso machine, for instance. Always use quality ingredients. Begin with a premium blend of whole roasted coffee beans to grind yourself. A very fine ground is necessary in order to brew classic Italian roast espresso beverages. Drink it hot or turn it into an iced coffee version. Grazie!
Fresh roasted espresso beans
After the coffee beans are ground to a consistency of sugar, use 1/4 ounce per shot, an one ounce serving. (If it is too coarse, water will run straight through it leaving the coffee lacking a robust flavor.) Pack the grinds into the espresso handle and press down with a tamper, but not too hard. You’ll know when you see the cream-like foam finish. Make sure the water is not boiling. An espresso machine will keep the temperature at 90C degrees. Perfection. Serve immediately.
I choose a dollop of whipped cream on top making my signature coffee drink an “Espresso Con Panna”.
Dining Outside the Home: Art Café Hemingway in Kapaa, Kauai. Living life in true island-style comes easy as you step over the threshold into an atmosphere that is both rustic European and casual charm. Choose a cozy table for two on the edge of the room to appreciate the artistic ambience, natural light, and blend of pleasing aromas in the air. Natural ingredients, locally grown, make every dish unique. For breakfast order The Nest, for instance, served in a vintage bowl. Multigrain bread cubes fill the bottom. Then a layer of alfalfa sprouts cradle a poached egg smothered in hollandaise sauce. Appreciate its beauty before gently piercing the egg. Watch the thick yellow yolk ooze forth. Try not to drool. Now enjoy every bite. “Time is the least thing we have of,” said Ernest Hemingway long ago. Perhaps it is the secret of a good life.
Dining Outside the Home: Trilogy Coffee and Tea Bar in Kilauea, Kauai. Beyond the back door of Hunter Gatherer in a historical stone building, the aroma of coffee is practically hypnotic. It is so alluring and powerful, you may feel drawn to enter. Once inside, the temptation begins. Pastries are in rich supply under bell-shaped glass domes to keep bakery delights fresh. Choose one cloche for gluten-free edibles that will make you drool. Whether sweet and savory or crisp and crunchy, they won’t last long. Word is out that organic and vegetarian choices are popular. Match them up with international coffees or herbal teas. Trilogy is all about putting high-quality in our bodies. Join the third wave of coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Dining Outside the Home: La Spezia Restaurant in Koloa, Kauai. Here’s the rule of thumb: If you’re going to sit and relax on a Sunday morning, indulge yourself with the Special of the Day and the Bloody Mary Bar at La Spezia. It’s a match made in heaven. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make you feel at home, that’s for sure. The Bloody Mary Bar offers a tabletop of ingredients to build-your-own. The signature benedicts, fluffy quiche wedges, 3-egg omelettes, and applewood bacon are incredible! But you’ll have to make a return visit because the portions are generous. For a sweeter beginning, try the fluffy pancakes with real maple syrup or the fruit-stuffed French toast. Whatever you do, save a little room for their special blend of smooth Kauai and Kenyan coffee. It’s simply delish.
Down a winding stretch around Kalaheo, you’ll stumble upon a few cars parked along the side of the road against a wall of giant tangled grasses. Park there and look both ways before crossing. The metal sheet work walls of an old warehouse enclose what is known to locals as Warehouse 3540. Step inside to a world of locally handmade crafts, creative art, products made on the island, jewelry designed for casual fashion statements, and uncommon home accents. And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a day when the Farmers Market overflows with island fruit, leafy vegetables, and exotic choices gleaned from the land. Cultural food trucks park outside, with inspiring dishes to tempt the palate. No worries. Picnic areas are conveniently placed inviting rest, conversation, and taste sensations unique to each chef’s specialty. The second Saturday night of each month, check out the live music as an added attraction. This is one creative community marketplace you won’t want to miss.
Dining Outside the Home: Garden Table on Mass Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana! More and more restaurants are meeting the demand for healthy and natural foods. Garden Table is no exception. In fact, they pride themselves in offering locally grown and harvested ingredients from sustainable farms. Believe me, your taste buds will notice. Take, for instance, the October Sky crafted espresso latte, laced with butternut squash and aromatic spices. It goes down so smooth you’ll find yourself savoring the aftertaste of cardamom and spice. Take it easy for Sunday brunch. The menu thrills with a Garden Benedict smothered in herbed hollandaise over sourdough toast. Be good to yourself. Experience Garden Table on Mass Avenue. We’re all in this together.
Dining Outside the Home: Roscoe’s Coffee Bar in Richmond, Indiana! For a nice stop on the east side of town, go for impressive organic coffees, fruit smoothies, and gastronomic food. Although the atmosphere might be laid back, the menu compensates with imaginative options. Take a seat inside at one of the warm wood communal tables while sipping on a nitrogen-infused cold coffee or perhaps an imperial brown ale. Friendly strangers might join you for a little conversation. The food is locally sourced, using a quality blend of fresh ingredients. Overall, Roscoe’s East Side is pretty down-to-earth and easy on the pocketbook.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Java Chip Cookies! Anyone will tell you the aroma of coffee triggers good feelings. If you don’t believe me, check out the neighborhood coffee shops and you’ll find a local place where people hang out. It’s not just the free Wi-Fi either. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around, especially now with intense flavorings topped with a mound of whipped cream. Transform the blend of coffee and sugar into a cookie, charged with caffeine, and you’ll be as popular as the Pied Piper. People will follow you anywhere!
JAVA CHIP COOKIES
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons espresso instant coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a food processor beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, espresso instant coffee, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Combine flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until it forms a dough. Fold in toffee bits, chopped espresso beans, and mini chocolate chips. Chill dough slightly. Using a melon ball scoop, drop cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes. Dredge java chip cookies in sugar, if desired, before transferring them to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 3 dozen, large cookies.
Dining Outside the Home: Morton’s The Steakhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio! With a stunning view of Fountain Square and a wait staff that aims to please, it’s easy to see why Morton’s Steakhouse on Vine Street sets the stage for an unforgettable experience. For starters let’s try a modern “Mortini” like Pimm’s Cup. Oh, my! A peek at the extensive menu, known for their aged prime beef and signature dishes, leaves one already planning another visit. But for now, relax and enjoy the anticipation of lavish delight. Perhaps a nibble or two of Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, engulfed in a misty fog of dry ice as it makes a grand entrance to the table. Sublime. Prepare to share generous side portions for the ultimate dining extravaganza. After all, the grande finale is Soufflé for Two.