I confess. Over the years I’ve had relationships with multiple espresso makers. The longest fling was with a Wega MiniNova which unfortunately developed a leak that never got fixed. If money were no object I would have quickly replaced it with another Wega. In the meantime, while saving my pennies, I’ve come up with pretty good solution.
The good news is that for about $35, accessories not included, you can buy an AeroPress to make consistently good espresso. The bad news is that it takes 10 minutes to make one cafe mocha, or at least that’s how long it takes me.
Cafe mocha! What’s great is that I can whip one up at home much faster than going somewhere to buy one, and, to me, it’s just as good. Plus it’s much less expensive.
The mug I use is almost 15 fluid ounces, make sure yours is microwave safe. If you like your coffee drinks hot it’s important to preheat the mug, so fill it up with water and put it in the microwave on high for about three minutes or until the water starts boiling. Make sure to note how long this step takes in the microwave, you’ll be using the exact same time to heat the milk.
As a rule of thumb I use 1/4 ounce of coffee beans per cup of coffee. However, when making a cafe mocha I use a whole ounce of coffee beans for three AeroPress servings (150 milliliters total for 3 servings). Often I’ll use from 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of decaf beans to reduce the caffeine. You’ll want a fine grind when making espresso so you may need to experiment with different grind settings.
Add 150 milliliters, or 5 fluid ounces, of water to a microwave safe measuring cup and heat on high in the microwave until it just starts to boil (this is contrary to the AeroPress instructions, but I find it much easier… just stick with me). Be sure to note how long it takes in the microwave to boil the water as you’ll heat the milk for the same amount of time.
Pour 7 fluid ounces of milk into a 2 cup measuring cup. You’ll want the extra space of the larger measuring cup when frothing the milk using an immersion blender. Heat the 7 fluid ounces of milk for the same amount of time it took to bring the 5 fluid ounces of water to a boil, be sure to not boil the milk.
I always froth the milk in the sink because there’s always some milk that spills during the process.
Add about an ounce of chocolate syrup to the expresso and stir. Pour in the frothed milk and spoon the foam into the top.
Back when I started making cafe mochas I didn’t add shaved chocolate. When taking photos I thought the chocolate garnish would look great. What a surprise when I drank the Cafe mocha after the photo session! It wasn’t the taste so much as the smell of the chocolate when lifting the mug to take a drink.
For the total experience I highly recommend the chocolate shavings.
I like freshly ground coffee, so I only grind as much as I need. So, what happens if you buy coffee that’s already ground, is 1/4 cup of coffee beans the same as 1/4 cup ground coffee? It turns out, no.
Portion control is important. For example when making meatballs, if their sizes are different, they will cook differently. If you’re monitoring calories or some other intake, you’ll have a more accurate record when the portions are known. Using a scoop when making ganache balls (think truffles!) ensures you’ll get an accurate yield.
Have I mentioned that baguettes are my nemesis? I have yet to bake one that I’m happy with. This recipe is currently a work-in-progress and will be until perfected.
Why is the recipe here in the first place? Well, it’s not like the bread is bad. It tastes great, and the crust has good color and is crunchy. I’m after a baguette with a lighter crumb, one with larger random air pockets than it currently has. The baked loaf needs to look better too.
Around here pizza is a comfort food favorite, so we use a lot of marinara sauce and have tried many different recipes. This no-cook marinara is a winner. As good tasting and easy-to-make as this recipe is, you’ll no longer have an excuse for buying the pre-made stuff again.
These stuffed pasta shells are a yummy favorite. Both the marinara sauce and the filling can be made ahead to speed up meal preparation. Leftovers keep nicely in the refrigerator and longer in the freezer.
Course: Main Dishes
6ozjumbo pasta shells1/2 box Barilla jumbo shells, about 22
1Tbspextra virgin olive oil
6 1/2ozmozzarella cheesegrated, divided 5 and 1 1/2
1 1/2ozParmigiano-Reggiano cheeseor parmesan, divided 1 and 1/2
1Tbspparsleyplus sprigs for garnish
2ozsun-dried tomatoescoarsely chopped
1/4tspfreshly ground black pepper
2cupsEasy Peasy No-Cook Marinara Saucemust be thin, divided in half
15.5-oz canTomato juicelike V8, to thin marinara sauce, if necessary
Unless the marinara sauce was made in advance, start by making the marinara sauce to allow enough time for the dry herbs to hydrate and spread their flavor.
To prepare the pasta, add 5 quarts of water, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 bay leaves and juice of one lime to a 12 quart stock pot and bring to a boil.
When the water is boiling add jumbo pasta shells and cook for 9 minutes.
When shells are done drain in a colander and turn open side down on a baking sheet to dry. Be sure to reserving one cup of pasta liquid in case the marinara sauce needs to be thinned.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Add extra virgin olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until just before the oil begins smoking. Add the garlic and sauté until slightly brown, about 1 minute.
Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and extra virgin olive oil mixture, salt, and pepper to a 2 quart mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. The mixture will be a bit thicker than cottage cheese.
Cover bottom of 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish with half of the marinara sauce.
Using a tablespoon stuff each shell with 1 to 1/2 tablespoons of filling, angling the stuffed shells in a 3 by 7 pattern. Squeeze the extra pasta shell where it best fits.
Spoon the remaining marinara sauce between the shells as much as possible. Sprinkle with mozzarella set aside earlier and bake for 30 minutes.
Garnish with Parmigiana-Reggiano set aside earlier and parsley sprigs, and serve.