Monday, October 20, 2008

Hot beverage tips - psst save double-double, grandé bucks!

Grandé bucks got you feeling small? Create your own coffee shop delights at home!
So you’re perplexed about the ever-changing hot beverage choices at your favourite coffee shop? Or, perhaps you’re considering a degree from “Barista University” just to figure out the bizarre lingo required to order a simple cup of coffee or tea. And if it weren’t for all those “grandés” or double-doubles you sucked back over the last year you probably could have bought that little coffeehouse franchise on the corner. Take heart, your expensive love affair with the hot stuff is not unusual. For centuries, folks around the world have enjoyed the ritual of drinking tea or coffee while chatting with their comrades or enjoying a quiet moment to themselves.

In the 15th century in Middle Eastern countries, coffeehouses served as social gathering places where men would meet to drink coffee or tea and talk politics, listen to music, read books, or play chess and backgammon. Thanks to Mr. Twinnings, of Twinnings Tea fame, the “men only’ policy changed in 1717 when he converted his London coffeehouse to a teahouse and began admitting both genders. Several centuries later, coffeehouses could be found in countries around the world serving both coffee and tea to men AND women! In the US and Canada during the 1960’s, political activists held coffeehouses in church basements. Usually a sole singer/guitarist performed onstage while the steamy politics of the day were discussed among guests. The careers of folk singers like Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were launched via these grassroots. But if you’re feeling a little like Lightnin’ Hopkins in his 1969 Coffeehouse Blues and the high cost of your grandé or double-double is getting you down, try these hot stuff recipes at home. Grab a little milk frother (under $15 at Cdn Tire or Stokes, etc), whip on the Barista apron, strum a few chords on the guitar and create your own oasis for you, your family and friends. Who knows, my friend? Maybe your Espresso Barista degree isn’t blowin’ in the wind afterall!

Spicy Chai Latté
2 tea bags (regular or non-caffeine)
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 ½ cups 2% milk
1 three inch cinnamon stick
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1/8 tsp allspice
6 black peppercorns
1 peeled 3 cm quarter-size piece fresh gingerroot
1 tbsp honey to taste

Add spices to boiling water, return to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk in microwave or saucepan. (Froth warm milk with a milk frother, if desired) Strain tea mixture into mugs. Add hot milk and honey (frothed milk should be scooped on top of each mug of tea mixture).

Pure & Simple Cappuccino
Make Espresso coffee for 2 (Try the President’s Choice brand)
Warm approximately 1/3 cup of milk (if desired add 1 tsp white sugar to the milk before warming)
Pour into a tall container
Froth milk with a milk frother
Pour coffee into a fancy mug and spoon milk over top
Sprinkle with cinnamon, cocoa or nutmeg or all three!
Serves 2

Aztec Hot Chocolate with a fiery twist
1 2/3 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
½ or whole red chili pepper, split with seeds removed
1 cinnamon stick, around 3-4"
1 1/2 oz chocolate (bittersweet)
Simmer milk in a saucepan with vanilla bean, cinnamon and chili. Heat through for about a minute. Whisk in grated chocolate, and continue to simmer until melted. Remove from heat and let 'steep' for another 10 minutes. Strain out the spices and serve. Serves 2.

Homemade Spicy Mulled Cider Mix
¾ cup crushed cinnamon sticks
¾ cup chopped dried orange rind
1/3 cup whole allspice
¼ cup cloves
In a jar, combine cinnamon, orange rind, allspice and cloves. Makes about 2 cups. (This mix makes a nice host gift)

To make cider:
4 cups apple juice or half apple juice plus half cranberry juice
2 tbsp Spicy Mulled Cider Mix
In a saucepan, combine apple juice and Spicy Mulled Cider Mix; cover and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer for 20; strain into mugs. Makes 4 servings

Blueberry Tea
Add ¾ oz each Amaretto and Grand Marnier to a warmed snifter glass. Top with 5 oz cold Orange Pekoe or Earl Grey Tea. Garnish with an orange twist and a few fresh blueberries, if desired.

No-Caffeine Extra Zesty Moon Chai
10 1-inch size pieces of peeled ginger
4 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 tsp green cardamom pods
2 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cloves, whole
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp licorice root
1/2 tsp allspice
5 cups water
3 tbsp honey
Milk, to taste

Combine everything except milk and honey, in a saucepan. Cover pot and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, and let sit for another 35 minutes (covered). Strain out the spices and add honey, and honey and milk to taste.

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