Tag Archives: coffee

The Bare Necessities of Life: Stovetop Espresso

13 Sep

Upon moving to Rome two weeks ago, we were immediately faced with several daunting tasks: figuring out the Roman bus system, getting an Italian phone, finding a place to live, starting Italian lessons, etc. So what did we do on our very first weekend here? We addressed the most pressing matter of all: getting a stovetop espresso maker and the coffee to go with it. We hopped on a bus, missed our stop, ended up on a freeway, dashed across various underpasses, found another bus going back and finally made it to the mall (where, yes, we also found a new cell phone and sampled some gelato–it was a multi-purpose shopping trip). But we accomplished our main objective: purchasing a 1-cup Bialetti Moka Express for me (yield: 2 oz; it’s actually 1 shot) and a 3-cup/shot version for my husband (yield: 6.5 oz.), and some Illy coffee.

We returned home, rinsed the Bialettis, let them dry, made a maiden batch of espresso in each (which we then threw out since the first brew is meant only to season the pot, not to drink–you are actually supposed to make 2-3 such brews, but we were too impatient). Finally, we were ready to make espresso we could actually drink, by: 1) filling the bottom of the Bialetti with water* to a point just under the valve, placing the funnel inside, gently filling the receptacle with coffee grounds (without tamping down), screwing the receptacle/top on, and bringing the water in the espresso maker to a boil on the stovetop.

The boiling water gets pulled up through the coffee grounds and into the receptacle, and is accompanied by a wondrous gurgling sound. When that ceases, the espresso is ready; you can open the lid to check if you are not sure. Below, some freshly made espresso in the Moka Express, and the resulting cup of espresso with a dash of cream (that one was my husband’s–I usually make a home-made latte with a single shot of espresso and a lot of milk). Mmm mmm good.

*If you have “hard” (ie mineral-rich) water, you may want to use filtered or bottled water instead, or the minerals will build up inside the espresso maker.

Recipe: Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

8 Jan

There are some recipes you turn to again and again because they are deeply satisfying. This is one of them — a dark, rich chocolate Bundt cake heightened with hints of coffee and cinnamon. It is a frequently requested birthday cake at our house, made most recently for my son’s 21st birthday this week — with the addition of some Espresso Chip ice cream to complement the flavor.

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

3 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp.  cinnamon
1/2 c. cocoa powder
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. canola oil
2 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
2 c. coffee at room temperature  (or warm water mixed with 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso powder)
1-2 c. chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate, if available)

3/4 c. chocolate chips
3 tbsp. non-hydrogenated buttery spread such as Earth Balance/Smart Balance
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Generously grease (with vegetable shortening) and lightly flour a Bundt pan.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the center, and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, and fold in chocolate chips.
3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until skewer inserted into cake comes out clean; be careful not to overbake.
4. Cool for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto plate or serving platter. Cool completely and top with Chocolate Glaze.

1. Melt first three ingredients on low power in microwave, stir until smooth, add vanilla, and drizzle over cake.

Adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.