Mint Matcha Latte

Mint matcha latteLife as a restaurant consultant requires a deep well of faith along with a big dose of hustle. I’m always been prepared for hard work and have to accept the natural periods of rest that come between jobs.

Rather than fret and worry about downtime, I remind myself that taking time to recuperate and to recharge my batteries is a job requirement. I’m so wired for GO! I can sometimes forget the importance of a nap, the inspiration that can come from a dinner at a new restaurant or a book that’s read cover to cover, or even a movie. Because, as a friend likes to remind me, “you can’t transmit what you haven’t got.”

So whenever I have time between consulting jobs, I take what’s given to me as an opportunity to get inspired. This week I’ve been spending more time in my kitchen, taken a fair amount of cat naps, and had the pleasure of reading two great books (Brene Brown’s Daring GreatlyIt’s a must if you want to live a wholehearted life—and Don Frick’s biography of Robert Greenleaf, the man who birthed the idea of servant leadership).

One beverage that’s fired up my culinary creativity is a mint matcha latte. I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to perfect a latte that’s balanced with the grassy flavors of green tea, herbaceous mint, and the sweetness of whole milk. Continue reading “Mint Matcha Latte”

A Recipe for Buttered Coffee

bulletproof butter coffeeI spend a lot of time around caffeinated beverages now, thanks to my new job working for a Los Angeles-based organic coffee company. I have plenty of choices at arms reach: a brew of the day, a latte, or a perfect shot of espresso. Hand-made coffee gives me more than enough energy to get me through a long day.

The other day I overheard the owner/coffee buyer discussing his daily ritual of buttered coffee. “One cup of the stuff,” the owner said, “and I’ve got enough energy for the morning, I don’t have to eat until lunch time.”

I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Butter Coffee?”

Buttered Coffee?

I can’t say that putting a pat of butter in my coffee sounds all that appealing. But when a coffee professional suggests buttered coffee as a great source of sustainable energy and a cognitive enhancing beverage, I couldn’t help but get interested.

I had to try butter coffee for myself.

Buttered coffee may not be something I’ve ever heard of before, but Tibetans have been adding yak butter to their coffee for centuries. Thanks to people like Dave Asprey, a health conscious evangelist and author of The Bulletproof Exec, the beverage has become popular with people looking to maximize their energetic potential.

And the recipe for buttered coffee couldn’t be any simpler.  No need for gourmet shop ingredients and fancy techniques. All you need is a frother or a blender, coffee, and a high quality butter.

Taste Test: No Oil Slick. Just Frothy Goodness

Once the buttered melted a bit, I submerged my milk frother into the coffee. I was surprised at how quickly a thick foam formed at the top. The taste?  With just one tablespoon of a butter, my coffee had a velvety and silky mouthfeel that wasn’t a bit oily. I found that adding a tablespoon of coconut oil and agave made my beverage even more delicious and decadent.

Use Great Ingredients

If you’re going to make a buttered coffee, I suggest using the salt free Kerrygold butter. I’m in love with the stuff. I’ve been this way ever since I was awarded with a year’s supply of Kerrygold’s butter and cheese. I got lucky when my name was pulled from a hat at this year’s Big Traveling Potluck raffle! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the high quality and nutritious butter from happy, grass fed cows from Ireland.

coffee frother for buttered coffee

Buttered Coffee

1 heaping tablespoon of Kerrygold Butter
2 cups of coffee
Optional: 1 tablespoon of agave
and/or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil*

Heat the container you are going to froth your coffee and butter in with hot boiling water. Dump the water.

Put the coffee and the butter into a hot mug or hot blender. Wait 10-15 seconds for the butter to butter melt. If adding sweetener, add it before blending the beverage. Froth the coffee (either with a hand held frother or a blender). Serve immediately.

*When you add the coconut oil and butter to your coffee, it’s called a Bulletproof Coffee

Service 101: Beyond Profit, How to Open a Juice bar

cranberry date juice blend

If you’ve even played around with the idea of opening a juice bar, you’re not alone. Lots of people–about one in ten new restaurant owners today–want to invest time and money into turning fruits and vegetables into liquid gold. I work as a restaurant consultant in the city of Los Angeles and in a few city blocks there are at least one or two juice bars and there are more on their way. Fresh juice bars are a $5 billion dollar business that’s projected to grow from 4% to 8% a year.

So why is a fresh juice bar such a popular idea? Well, if you think running a juice bar is easy, think again. There is no such thing as easy in the business of food.

Search the internet for suggestions of how to start your own juice bar, and you’ll find advice that suggests that location is the most important thing to figure out first. After that, they say, come up with a business plan, and then come up with a concept.

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry for over two decades, I humbly suggest you consider something else first: is running a juice bar something you want to do for the next five years?

Freshly pressed juices are the newest food fad. Lots of people want to get in on a business that promotes a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle for health conscious people who want to take care of their bodies in a fast and efficient way.

Juice, my friends, is the new cupcake. Continue reading “Service 101: Beyond Profit, How to Open a Juice bar”

Salted Dulce de Leche Latte

salted caramel latte at homeI have a dirty little secret: I have a thing for milky, sweet coffee drinks.

Look, I know the fondness for a spicy or sweet latte isn’t the worst sin a person could have, but it isn’t a transgression I want to indulge in all the time. Now that my job description includes working in with lovingly crafted artisanal coffees, my palate needs to be developed so I may experience the nuanced flavors, exciting aromas, and subtle textures of a well-made cup of coffee or espresso.

Coffee is like wine; the flavor of the beverage is the result of climate, growing technique, varietal, location, and how the fruit is harvested. The process of getting a bean ready for consumption requires such an incredibly long process and delicate labor, it seems wrong to cover up its natural flavors.

Ask any coffee expert and they’ll tell you that a truly great coffee — like a beautiful glass of wine — should be enjoyed in its most natural state. A mindful drinker can experience aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel that can only be encountered if the beverage is treated with respect.

Additives assault a coffee and rob it of its inherent and natural flavors. Overly hot milk, whipped cream, packages of refined sugar, spice dustings, sprinkles of cocoa, Splenda, or flavored syrups do nothing to heed the delicate nature of a coffee bean. All that extra stuff disses the fruit.

All that being said, I really do enjoy a hand-crafted, flavored latte. Forget mass produced syrups, artificially enhanced nondairy creamers, or flavored powders. If I’m going to attempt to make a flavor cocktail with my caffeinated beverages, I use high quality ingredients.

Salted Caramel Latte (Dulce de Leche con Sal)

What makes this decadent salted caramel latte so good is the balance of espresso with the sweetness of the caramelized milk and the highlight of Maldon sea salt. This isn’t the lowest calorie beverage, but it’s a cheat-day worthy treat!

2 Tablespoons of Dulce de Leche*
1 cup of whole milk.
1 shot of espresso
1 pinch of Maldon Sea Salt

Begin to heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the dulce de leche. Stir often, making sure not to let the milk scald. The milk is ready when it begins to thicken and micro bubbles begin to appear on the side of the pan. Add half the pinch of maldon to the milk. Stir and remove from the heat.

warm milk

Pull your espresso shot. Add your shot to a warm, appropriately-sized coffee cup. Add the milk. finish the drink off with the smallest 1/4 of a pinch of pulverized Maldon sea salt.

Serve immediately.

*Dulce De Leche is an ingredient you may buy from a store or make from scratch at home. For a 100 % from scratch recipe, I suggest Alton Brown’s 3-hour step by step guide. Or if you want to make dulce de leche from  sweetened condensed milk, David Lebovitz has some suggestions.

Grilled Lemonade and Kingsford U

Kingsford Charcoal backyard barbecueEver since taking Spring’s leap forward time change, the extra hour of sun has me looking for just about any reason to step outside and marvel at the shining quality of our new and improved daylight. I take impromptu walks to the coffee shop for a mid-day pick-me-up and then go the long way home so I can snatch a few more minutes to admire the beautiful light as it clings to the edges of neighbors’ trees.

Yeah. I’m odd that way.

But just when I started to wonder if I was the only one who was looking for a reason to spend a little extra time outside, I began to notice the smell of backyard barbecues floating through the entire stretch of my neighborhood.

Relief swept over me. Thank goodness! I’m not the only one feeling the need to enjoy the outdoors. It’s Spring! It’s grilling time.

Thanks to the generous people at Kingsford*, I’m prepared (and certified!) for the beginning of barbecue season. Last weekend the Kingsford team invited a handful of journalists, food bloggers, and recipe developers like myself to Las Vegas to study the art of BBQ and grilling trends at their annual Kingsford University event. And when the whole thing was over, they even gave me a certificate of proof that I graduated from their grill school.

BBQ university Continue reading “Grilled Lemonade and Kingsford U”

Nan's Iced Tea Recipe

Have you ever studied a photograph for so long that the image was transformed into a living memory? In my memory, family snapshots play back to me like short documentaries. Thanks to a tattered album I studied as a child, I have what seems like a vivid memory of my stylish grandmother–the year hovering some where in the 40’s–on the day she married my grandfather.

Granted, I have a very active fantasy life. I am a writer. My job is to engage in daily games of make believe.

My grandmother is the bride and cousin Anna's grandmother Mary is on the right
My grandmother is the bride and cousin Anna's grandmother Mary is on the right

But just this week I found my imaginary memories of family were jarred into a new kind of reality when I met for the first time, a long lost cousin. She’s the daughter of my grandmother’s sister, and, it turns out, is blessed with all of our family’s best features. My cousin Anna is, without a doubt, a living representation of the elegant women of our family. She is a living memory of elegant days past. Anna, like our grandmothers, is smart, opinionated, creative, and supremely intuitive. And, it turns out, she’s also obsessed with food.

So when she asked me if I had our great grandmother’s recipe for Iced Tea I almost wept with joy. I had forgotten that my family lives on not only through photos but also the recipes they leave behind.

Beyond being my great grandmother Nan’s recipe, this is one of the most delicious iced teas I’ve ever tasted.

Nan’s Iced Tea

6 cups of water
5 black tea bags, English breakfast, Earl Grey or Lipton
1 cup sugar
6 lemons, 1 for slicing the rest to be juiced (1 cup needed)
5 small tangerines, 1 for slicing the rest to be juiced (1/4 cup needed)
1 bunch of mint
Plenty of ice cubes

Boil the water. Take off heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 15 minutes. While waiting for tea to steep, juice all but one of the lemons and tangerines. Be sure to keep one lemon and tangerine for garnishing. Once tea is finished steeping, remove the tea bags and add sugar to the warm tea. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Put citrus juice, mint, sliced lemons and tangerines into a large pitcher. Add the sugared tea to the mixture, stir and chill.

Serve over ice. Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.