Tag Archives: coffee

Tip Toe and Peep

Howdy Susitna Cafe’ friends!  Glad you made a stop at the Cafe’ today!  Seems like we’re always talking about something interesting here…today we’re discussing bird peeping.

What?  Haven’t heard about bird peeping?  Well, you know…it’s like when you look at birds and tip toe around them so as not to scare them away…here at the Cafe’ we call it bird peeping.  “R” and I enjoy the outdoors and nature, and although we’re not regular bird peepers per se, we did do some bird peeping recently.

Actually it all started during our fishing trip in Fulton and Rockport, Texas USA.  We took our camper, fishing gear and Golden Retriever, Gus, to catch “The Big One”.  We fished at night on some piers.  However, some dolphin friends paid us a visit with their babies while we were fishing…i think they chased the fish away because after that we didn’t get anymore nibbles…at least i hope that’s why we only caught a few teeny tiny flounder…i really hope that it doesn’t have anything to do with my BIG Alaskan fishing skills…gee, do you think that i’m getting rusty or something?  Oh, i hope not…

Well, I’m just not going to think about that anymore.  Now, where were we?  Oh yes, bird peeping.  Anyways…the dolphins scared the fish away and that’s that.  Sooo, since the fish weren’t biting, we decided to partake in other activities.  So we did.

We went to Charlotte Plummer’s Seafare Restaurant in Rockport for lunch.  Charlotte Plummer’s Restaurant has big picture windows that overlook the Fulton Harbour activity…

We ordered grilled seafood atop mixed green salad and some fried onion rings.  Quite honestly, the grilled seafood was OK and nothing to write home about, but the fried onion rings sure were TASTY.  In addition, the view was really nice.

Charlotte Plummer Seafare on Urbanspoon

While we were enjoying those TASTY onion rings, we looked out over the pier and noticed some beautiful birds. I got sooo excited, I ran out of the restaurant (with Big TASTY onion rings in hand) and started taking some photos and before we knew it both “R” and I were bird peeping.

Boy, bird peeping is some serious business.  You actually have to do alot of tiptoeing and pretending like you’re peeping at something else other than the bird(s) of interest.  Tiptoeing and peeping prevents the bird(s) from getting annoyed and flying away.  Actually, after a few toe cramps, we got good at it!

However, i’m sure that the customers looking out of the bay windows at Charlotte Plummer’s were sort of wondering what we were doing tiptoeing and all…

After our toes got cramped and sore, we decided to take a break and get some coffee at the Daily Grind.  The flavored iced coffees were sooo good and refreshing…we just got all energetic again!  So, we drove back to Fulton Harbour and bird peeped some more.

Daily Grind on Urbanspoon

Eventually, the sun started to set and our toes got sore again.  But before returning home to our camper, I took one more bird peeping photo…

"Gulf of Mexico - Waiting...Wondering..."

Do you like it?  Hope so!  While taking the photo, I thought the birds looked like they were waiting and wondering as they looked out over the Gulf of Mexico waters and oil rigs.  Since I took the photo about 4 weeks after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and prior to Hurricane Alex’s arrival, I named the photo “Gulf of Mexico – Waiting…Wondering…”.

Oh, did I tell you?  My bird peeping photo will be on display with other talented geo-artists’ work at the Geo Sapiens II exhibit at The Two Wall Gallery on Vashon Island, Washington USA from Sept. 4 – 30, 2010.  Do stop by and see it if you’re in the Seattle/Vashon Island area.  Oh, and don’t forget the Susitna Cafe’ Chronicles’ bird peeping tips while you’re viewing the exhibit at the Two Wall Gallery!  Cheers!

Susitna Cafe’ Hot Crab Dip

Gulf Coast blue crab meat is sooo delicious…we make crabcakes and hot crab dip at the Cafe’ whenever we get fresh crab meat.  We find that the claw meat is sweeter than the lump crab meat, however use either for this rich and decadent dip…

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter

1 shallot, minced

1 cup rainbow peppers, chopped (use yellow, orange and red)

8 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese

1 cup sour cream (I use organic Wallaby European style)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use SmartBalance Omega Plus)

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (I use a mixture of Vermont white, yellow sharp and mild cheeses)

1/2 cup romano cheese, grated

1 pound crabmeat (juice and all)

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

2 teaspoons Gulf Coast seasoning (I use “Slap Ya Mama” white pepper blend, but Tony Chachere’s seasoning will do too)

2 teaspoons Hungarian hot paprika

Heat olive oil and butter in medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Saute’ shallots and rainbow peppers in hot oil/butter til tender.  Add cream cheese.

Stir until melted.  Add sour cream, mayonnaise and the remaining cheese.  Stir on low heat until the grated cheese is completely melted and the dip is smooth and creamy.

Add crabmeat (juice and all), lemon juice, green onions, and seasonings.  Stir until combined.

Pour into a buttered oven safe baking dish.  Bake at 300 degress for 20 minutes.  Serve warm with crackers or poured over toast points..

Cook’s Note:  Try substituting small sweet Gulf Coast shrimp for the crab meat…another rich and decadent dip for you, your family and your guests!

Traveler’s Notes:  These are some great suggestions from our Susitna Cafe’ friends…

Rockport Restaurant(s) to Try:

The Boiling Pot

Panjos Pizza Pasta and Burgers

Things to See/Do:

Visit the many downtown Rockport art galleries and The Rockport Center for the Arts


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Filed under August 2010

Caffe’ Ahh…Roma

Ciao!  I’m glad you’ve stopped by the Cafe’ today.  We’re discussing Italy.  Have you been?  Hmm…how about a quick culture lesson?

A very nice man, Bruno Bozzetto,  produced a video on Italian culture.  It won’t take too much of your time to view…just a few minutes…let’s watch the video together, shall we?

Oh, by the way, be sure to take notes when you see the “Coffee” section of the movie.  It’s really important.

So, what do you think?  Isn’t it just the berries that you can have sooo many coffee choices?  That’s why I like Italy, and Rome in particular.  In fact, my name is “happy-happy” when I’m around the ahh…Roma of coffee.

My view of Italy, and particularly Rome is probably different than most.  I think it has something to do with the caffe’ (pron. kahf-Feh with an accent at the end:o).

Oh don’t get me wrong.  I love Italy.  I love Rome.  I truly do.  It’s just that once you’ve tried the caffe’ in Rome, something happens to you.

It certainly happened to me.  When “R” and I were in Italy last year, we walked and wandered the streets of Rome.

It was our second trip.  We had seen many of the sights before, and it was oh so nice to see them again…

Somehow though, Rome was different on that trip.  In fact, “R” agrees too.  Rome had taken on an ahh…Roma-like personality.  You know, sort of intense and aromatic.

Ahh…Roma is everywhere in Rome.  Doesn’t seem to matter where you are…it’s just there.  After all, there is a caffe’ bar on every street and street corner.

You can just walk-in (the doors are always wide open), order your caffe’ from the barista, and sip away while standing.  It’s like a quick “happy-happy“, and then you’re off to see more of ahh-Roma!

Oh wait.  Here are some more pictures.  You’ll see what I mean about the ahh…Roma-like personality.

Oh look, there’s a Latte Macchiato.  Isn’t it lovely? sigh

Oh yes, I remember this sight.  This is Caffe’ Ristretto.

Oh Joy!  Aren’t Italian baristas just the best!  Look at the perfect swirls of milk foam on the Cappuccino!

I think there’s just one more photo…yes, here it is…a favorite of mine, the Mocacchino.  You know, the one with chocolate!

Oh my, you’re right.  There is something  missing in all these photos….Hmm…what do you think it is?

Oh, I know!  It’s that wonderful little cookie that is served with the caffe’.

No problem!  We’ll just make some.  Let’s see…let’s celebrate “happy-happy .  So, how about baking some Chocolate Caffe’ Ahh…Roma Biscotti?

To start, let’s assemble the ingredients.

Ingredients*

1 3/4 cups unbleached flour (will need some extra to dust your pastry board or work surface)

1 cup natural cane sugar

1/2 cup cacao powder (Valrhona is best for this recipe)

1 1/2 Tablespoons allspice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 Tablespoons fresh brewed espresso

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli Gourmet 72% Cacao chips are wonderful in this recipe)

8 ounces pistachios

parchment paper, wax paper or silpat liners (enough for 2 large baking sheets)

*organic ingredients are preferred

Now that the ingredients are assembled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Begin by adding all of your dry ingredients (flour, cane sugar, cacao powder, allspice, baking soda, and salt) into a large mixing bowl.  Stir to combine.

Next, add your liquid ingredients (eggs, vanilla, and espresso) into a small bowl and lightly beat together to combine.

Let’s now pour the combined liquid ingredients into your large mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Next, fold in the pistachios.

Transfer your dough onto your floured work surface and begin to knead.  Note that the dough will be sticky and stiff.  Add additional flour to your work surface, as necessary while kneading, to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface.

Divide the dough into 2 balls.  Shape each ball into 2 loaves approximately 12-inches long.  Place 1 loaf onto your prepared baking sheet.

Bake the loaf until it appears cracked (about 35 minutes).  Set the loaf aside to cool.  Meanwhile, bake your 2nd loaf until it appears cracked.

After you remove your 2nd loaf from the oven, reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees.

While you’re waiting for the 2nd loaf to cool, place your 1st loaf on a cutting board.  Using a sharp serrated bread knife, cut your loaf into 1/2 inch diagonal slices.  You will have approximately 25 biscotti slices.

Place your biscotti slices onto your baking sheet.  Bake for approximately 7 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  Once toasted, turn over the slices and bake again for 7 minutes or until toasted.

It is important at this stage, to do the following:  walk out of your kitchen for approximately 1 minute;  breathe in some fresh air; next, walk back into your kitchen; and, breathe in a Big breath of Chocolate Caffe’ Ahh…Roma Biscotti air.  Isn’t it wonderful?  Aren’t you “happy-happy“?

Now repeat the twice-baked procedure with your 2nd loaf.  You may, at this point, repeat the Big breathe-in procedure too.

Allow your biscotti to cool thoroughly so that the chocolate chunks harden.  Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Or, freeze the extra (if there are any).

Oh…think of the possibilities…perhaps if we crushed the biscotti, we could use biscotti crumbles for a cheesecake crust…yum…

There now.  What a relief…  The photos are complete.  There is “happy-happy” biscotti with the caffe’.  Sigh

Cooks Note:  This recipe was developed after testing (and tasting) many, many chocolate biscotti recipes.  Thanks to Martha Stewart for her “Martha Stewart Living Cookbook” Double-Chocolate Biscotti recipe and to Todd English and Sally Sampson for their “Figs Table” Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti recipe.  Their brilliance led me to adapt those recipes and ultimately develop the  “happy-happy” Chocolate Caffe’ Ahh…Roma Biscotti.

Traveler’s Notes:  Don’t miss the beautiful sites in ahh-Roma:  the Coliseum; Campo di Fiori; the Trevi Fountain; the Arch of Constantine; the Vatican Museums (and the spiraling staircase); the Pantheon; and, of course, the Spanish Steps.

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Filed under February 2010