Thursday, July 09, 2015

Caffè

I go through a lot of "I-need-to-buy-this" phases on a regular basis. With all my might, I try not to be too impulsive when shopping; my wallet, my husband and the lack of storage space in my home all thank me for it. Usually, when I see something I want, I don't buy it (unless it's a super-fantastic deal!). If I am still thinking about the item after a week or so, I give in.

Every once in a while, I get incredibly obsessive about a certain item. My most recent obsession was an espresso maker. I don't know what triggered it but suddenly, one day I decided that I "needed" to have an espresso machine and it "needed" to be as authentic as it could get: an Italian stove-top one. Most stove-top espresso makers don't make the little crema foam on top so, of course, I "needed" to have a machine that made crema. There I was, obsessing over espressos as if I was some sort of coffee-sommelier (when really, I am more of an instant-coffee type of girl on most days). 

I asked a few Italians in my little circle, looked online and even started calling Italian specialty shops. I did my research as if I was about to write a doctoral thesis on the subject. 

Finally, a beautiful and shiny Bialetti Brikka espresso maker was mine. 


Little man with the moustache - Bialetti Brikka 


Last Sunday, I packed up my Brikka, my little espresso cups (courtesy of Italbec ) and little amaretto cookies that "needed" to be made in Italy (because when I get obsessive, I take it to special heights). I decided it was time to treat my father and sisters to a caffè (apparently you are not supposed to say espresso in Italy). I shuffled inside with my big bag of goodies on one shoulder and my even bigger purse on the other. Overly excited, I showed my family my Brikka. My younger sister couldn't help but let out a little chuckle.

One thing I should tell you all is that my younger sister and I have this strange telepathic connection sometimes. We find ourselves thinking about or saying the same things, having the same ideas... we call this "power" of ours UNAGI. We got the word UNAGI from the FRIENDS TV show. The definition of UNAGI on the show isn't exactly related to telepathic, mind-reading tendencies in any way but we like the word, we associate with it and we're keeping it! Watch the clip below for a nice little laugh.



Anyway, back home, I am still showing my family my new espresso-maker-shaped toy. As my sister chuckled through my demonstration in which I was energetically showing the little valve that created the crema, she guided me to the kitchen and showed me what she was up to before I had stepped through the door. She had a brand new stove-top espresso maker and had just brewed herself a cup. My sister and I have never discussed espressos together, nor have we mentioned our desire to have a machine at home. Suddenly, we had found ourselves in a strange Unagi-espresso-moment.

I have been enjoying exquisitely delectable caffès with slightly-quickly-dissipating crema for the last few weeks. I'm happy I gave into this obsession. With every sip, I picture myself in an Italian piazza, feeling the heat of the European sun shining brightly all the while hearing the beautifully melodic language at a distance. 

Now... what will my next obsession be...?

You can't have espresso without having a few cookies to dip into it! 


Amaretti Cookies
yield: 45-50 cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup while almonds
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur (or 1/2 tsp almond extract)
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions


1. Preheat oven to 325F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor combine 1 cup almonds and the powdered sugar. Cover and process until finely ground. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, amaretto liqueur (or almond extract), and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until they form stiff peaks. Fold half of the almond mixture into the egg white mixture then fold in remaining almond mixture.
4. Spoon cookie mixture on baking sheet (about 1 inch in diameter) leaving about 1-2 inches between each cookie.
5. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sugar.
6. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until tops are set and lightly browned. Cool completely before serving.


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