hilary

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Peet’s Coffee East African Uzuri Blend

Peet’s Coffee has a delicious new blend of coffee called Uzuri from East Africa.

Already well known for its quality blends, Peet’s introduces Uzuri African Blend-a coffee bold beyond flavor. Uzuri, meaning “excellent and beautiful” in Swahili, was named by the Kenyan, Tanzanian and Rwandan farmers who grow the beans.

Peet’s collaborated with the nonprofit TechnoServe to bring the distinct flavors of East Africa, the birthplace of coffee, to American coffee enthusiasts while creating a sustainable business model for thousands of farmers and their communities. Through farmer training and improved processing, the farmers are now producing coffee that meets Peet’s strict quality standards, earning them an estimated 30 percent more for their crop.

My husband and I enjoyed this coffee (thanks to Drew for sending some samples).  It’s nice when a product *is* good and tastes good, too!

Now when is a Pete’s Coffee shop going to come to NYC?

Soirée Wine Decanter

Soirée is a glass globe that fits into the tops of wine bottles that acts as a decanter.  When the wine is poured, it swirls through the globe before it goes into the wine glass.

I had the pleasure of trying out the Soirée thanks to Marshall Coffy, the Sales Director.

I asked him for tips on which wines to try it with.

He replied, “Soirée is perfect for aerating wines that are tightly structured, have a high alcohol content, or wines that are muted.   For instance, “new world” wines from warm climates will have an enhanced bouquet and show richer flavors when poured with a Soirée.  Yet, even “Old World” wines or white wines will show heightened attributes despite common belief.  Young new world wine however, will present  the most dramatic effect.”

I sampled several wines with the Soirée, side-by-side the un-decanted versions.  Glasses poured through the Soirée were indeed fuller and “juicier.”

I also love how the Soirée comes with its own little stand, perfect for storing upright in a cabinet or even displaying on a kitchen counter or shelf.

Horchata in Barcelona

As we were planning our trip to Spain for this past July, our good friends Jen and James gave us a great suggestion.

“You must try horchata!”

Horchata?  The Wikipedia entry explained that it is a beverage made from tigernuts.

In Barcelona, we found a cafe advertising horchata.  We entered and ordered one to share.  We were much more excited than the woman who served us, as evidenced from the photo above.

Verdict?  Yummy (me) or “umm… you can have the rest” (Husband).  It reminded me of homemade almond milk, with very small bits of nut discernible, and not too sweet.

CoverMate Food Covers

A while back I was fortunate to receive some CoverMate® Food Covers in the mail to try out.

They’re springy plastic covers that fit over plates and bowls.  They could probably also double as shower caps (though I did not test this theory).

The Variety Pack is a handy assortment of four sizes, which I found really do fit just about anything.  The smallest fit nicely over a custard cup of leftover lemon slices while the largest fit around a large roasting pan.

They’re reusable and washable, though I admit that laziness had me throwing a few into the trash as they got dirty.  Now I’m all out and really missing them!  Saran wrap just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

Baked Explorations Cookbook

Just received a review copy of Baked Explorations in the mail.  Am drooling over the cover already.

Check out the book trailer!

Tomorrow is National Coffee Day

Apparently tomorrow is National Coffee Day!

As someone who enjoys coffee each day, I figured I’d share this press release from Melitta including some tips on coffee storage and preparation.

Melitta Celebrates National Coffee Day on September 29

Coffee powerhouse offers 10 tips for brewing the perfect cup of coffee

CLEARWATER, Fla. — One of America’s favorite beverages is finally getting its day! September 29, 2010 is National Coffee Day, and for a nation that consumes over one-fifth of the world’s total coffee production, this is a day worth celebrating! In observance of National Coffee Day, Melitta USA, Inc. – best known for its premium line of coffee, coffee makers and coffee filters – is honoring the woman who revolutionized coffee consumption and disclosing secrets to brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

For starters, we’ll be lifting our cup to Melitta Bentz, a German housewife who revolutionized coffee consumption by inventing the coffee filter and drip method of coffee brewing. With the singular goal of making coffee taste better, she devised a filter lined with blotting paper that would remove all the grounds from the brew and eliminate the bitterness caused by over-boiling. Now, 102 years later, her cone filtration system is still considered a superior method of brewing.

So, what’s the key to a really great cup of coffee? That age-old question never seems to go away. Melitta offers the following 10 tips for selecting, storing, brewing and serving the perfect cup of coffee.

  1. Buy coffee weekly or bimonthly as ground coffee begins to stale 24 hours after the package is opened.
  2. Buy an extra fine grind coffee to get the fullest flavor. Finer particles expose more surface area of the coffee to the water, intensifying flavor extraction. With an extra fine grind, less coffee is needed. Melitta recommends 2 level teaspoons per 6 ounces of water, but obviously one should experiment with the amount that best fits their taste.
  3. Think of coffee as fresh produce. Oxygen, light, heat and moisture all reduce the freshness and flavor of the grounds and beans.
  4. Do not store coffee in the freezer! Freezing will coagulate the natural oils found in coffee, and ice particles will adversely affect both flavor and aroma.
  5. Much like wine, the flavor of coffee is carried in part by the aroma, and cups or mugs that “deliver the aroma” to the nose will make your coffee taste better. Thick porcelain walls hold in warmth.
  6. Coffee is roughly 98% water, so water quality plays a critical role in the ultimate taste of your coffee. Start with cold water. Filtered water is best.
  7. Use paper filters. Paper filters effectively trap bitter sediments and produce no bitter aftertaste.
  8. Cone shaped filters are preferred over basket shaped filters, as the design ensures water saturates more grounds, improving flavor extraction.
  9. Adding natural ingredients (ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla bean, nutmeg, citrus peel, etc.) provide a uniquely flavorful coffee experience. Add to ground coffee just before brewing.
  10. Drink coffee as soon as possible after brewing. If left on a burner, the coffee will continue to cook and starts to degrade in as little as 20 minutes.

For more tips, coffee trivia, recipes and news about the latest coffee products and trends, please visit Melitta at www.melitta.com, http://www.facebook.com/MelittaUSA or http://twitter.com/MelittaUSA.

About Melitta

For over 100 years, Melitta has dedicated itself to providing the ultimate coffee experience with its premium line of coffee, coffee filters and high quality coffee makers, bringing European indulgence to life.  The company was founded in 1908 by Melitta Bentz, after receiving a patent for her two-part coffee filtering system consisting of a filter and filtration paper.  The filter system was the first to successfully remove coffee residue in the brewing process, revolutionizing the way coffee was brewed. Melitta USA, Inc., part of the privately held Melitta Group in Minden, Germany, is headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. Melitta USA produces coffee and filters in North America and markets the line in the U.S. For more information, visit www.melitta.com.

Camping Oatmeal

The summer I was 12 years old, my friend Emily and I attended a hard-core canoeing camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area of northern Minnesota.

It was on this trip that I learned an incredible fact about camping: that it makes all food taste amazing, regardless of its actual quality/flavor.

This fact was confirmed a couple of weeks ago when my husband and I ventured north of the city to camp and hike.  Breakfast was incredibly simple: rolled oats boiled in water over a camp stove, with raisins, walnuts and cinnamon added thereafter.

Result?  Best. Oatmeal. Ever.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

The following recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is just one of many delicious entries in a new cookbook of recipes using apples by Philip & Lauren Rubin called The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite.

This recipe was sweeter and richer-tasting than my usual butternut squash soup, while still being cream- and butter-free.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6

Geeta’s Pineapple and Papaya Orange Chutneys

At Whole Foods recently I saw these chutneys on discount due to be discontinued.  The average shopper may be dissuaded by this fact, but I am not the average shopper.  Plus, I love chutneys.  And discounts.

Geeta’s Pineapple Chutney is sweet and mellow.  My only complaint is that the cloves were big and hard to chew.  I ended up eating around the cloves.  Maybe you’re not supposed to eat them in the first place?

Geeta’s Papaya Orange Chutney is spicier (my jar actually said “medium” even though the jar of this flavor above says “mild.”)  It also has a lot of different textures: soft papaya, chewy orange rind, and then again some really annoying cloves and big old cardamom pods.

I love spices and bold flavors- but I think that ground spices are better than whole for chutneys.

I notice on Geeta’s website other cool flavors such as tamarind and mango.  Will have to check those out.

Wheatgrass BOOST by AgroLabs: Shots that Taste Good

I’d heard so many times about how nutritious wheatgrass juice was, but I’d never tried it.  So when AgroLabs contacted me about sending a couple of Wheatgrass BOOST shots my way, I didn’t hesitate.  “Hit me up,” I said.

When it was time to try one, though, my confidence waned.  What if it tasted horrible?  Like… grass… or wheaty grass?

I was shocked when my first sip tasted … good!  As in, really good!  I checked the ingredients, and noticed apple and grape juices and pear and banana purees included.  Aha!

Still- at 20 calories per 3oz bottle, with 100% Daily Value of Vitamin B12, 500% Daily Value of Vitamin B6, and only 5mg (less than 1% Daily Value) of sodium, I’m fine with the added juices as they make my consumption of wheatgrass so pleasurable.  Not to mention the best tasting shot I’ve ever downed.

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