Newbury Portion

Newbury by the spoonful

Category: In the Kitchen

The Price of Coffee

How much does a cup of really good coffee actually cost?

Recently the difference between good and bad cup of coffee with some friends after lunch. We all ordered a cup of coffee and it was delicious. And good, as you know, comes at a cost, either your or somebody else's cost. So can we afford a good coffee?

The average American drinks about 60 gallons of coffee a year. And of course we drink it as cheaply as possible. On average, we pay $10 for a gallon of beer. And brewing a cup of coffee costs just 0.1 dollar.

Really? 10 cents? Can that be true? Sure it is, they have been studying this for a long time, you can find the research on the web. So is let's calculate …

I only drink coffee from large mugs, those cups with handle on them, you know, the large ones. How much coffee do you need to fill such a cup? General recommendations for the so-called Golden Ratio are (using the metric system because I like consistency in my coffee): About 60 grams of coffee for 1 liter of water. So, that makes 12 grams per cup. I like it a bit stronger, so we will agree on 13 grams, and that actually pretty much matches the 2 tablespoons of coffee beans I grind for a cup.

Now to the cost very good, high-quality, fair trade organic coffee costs about 12¢, per cup price comes out to 31¢.

Verdict: You have a choice. Good coffee costs about 10¢ cents good beer, $2.50: Great coffee, around 30¢ cents per cup, however, you are paying for: Great taste, freshness, no pesticides, and fair pay for local small farmers.

Is the choice hard? Not really.

What is the price of a good cup of coffee?

For me personally it could be defined in one word.

Priceless.

Beet Risotto with Honey and Rosemary

I love my heavy cast iron pot. I have begun using it almost daily: Bolognese sauce succeeds particularly well in it, all kinds of stewing dishes and also oven risotto*.

That's why I was really pleased when people bring up the topic of "Dutch Ovens."

For those of you who don't know what a Dutch Oven is it is just a fancy name for a heavy, cast-iron pots with lids that are oven proof which you can even put in a fire with glowing coals. Wow…

*I cooked an oven risotto in my Dutch Oven this weekend. The great thing about the pot is that the stirring is actually completely eliminated. I couldn't believe it at first either – but it works flawlessly. At first it seemed like a big risk. I didn't want to end up with burnt rice that needed to be unstuck form the bottom of the pot. But…

The risotto turned out great. Actually better than any risotto we've made on the oven.

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • 360g risotto rice
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 400g red beet about two medium or one large beet
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 25g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g goat gouda/-fresh cheese or pecorino (we get ours at Sam's Club)

  • Preheat the oven to 375° F.

  • Finely chop the onions.
  • Peel the fresh beet and cut it into small cubes so that they will soften by the end of cooking. Pre-cooked the beet if you do not want to cut it quite as small. Fresh beets definitely add a nicer color to the finished dish.
  • Add all ingredients, except for the cheese in Dutch Oven and close the lid-

Put the pot in the oven and let the meal cook for 45 minutes you can now dedicate yourself to your other household activities: folding laundry, mowing the lawn, or drinking a small aperitif …

Hungry now?

Remove, stir, season with salt and pepper – it's time to eat. Supper is ready.
Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Rosemary and Honey Tea

What makes rosemary so appealing? Sure it makes meat, fish and vegetables tasty. It als works as a balm for the skin, soothes nerves, activates liver and bile: Rosemary has a pleasant smell and taste that is hard to miss. Whether as a tea, oil or wine – rosemary is good for everything.

As a kitchen spice, rosemary is priceless, yet it wasn't until recently I started to make a tea out of it.

Not for any of the reasons those crazy medicinal nuts go on about mind you; Rosemary is just so warming and I always have it on hand.

I decided to try and make a tea out of it when I was raiding my cabinets looking for the last box of green tea that just had to be there somewhere. It wasn't there and it was time to improvise.

I had two concerns:

  • The tea would be weak and you wouldn't have much more than flavored water;
  • The tea would be too strong and taste bitter.

The first point caused me to use more rosemary than I thought I needed which gave cause for me to worry about the second point. Thus the inclusion of honey. Though to be fair it ends up in tea more often than not around here.

The result was amazing. Which is what caused the procrastinator in me to make a post today.

Actually rosemary appears in a lot of our meals in various amounts.

If you are interested let me know and I will share a couple of them.

Dim Sum

It was a Saturday morning late this winter, when a few friends and I set off for a breakfast of dim sum. Here you can find dim sum for breakfast, usually starting at eight in the morning. One of my favorite places closed last year so it has been an ongoing quest to find a new favorite spot. That morning we were headed to "one of the best dim sum restaurants", which was always full for lunch and so that is why we were going early.

We headed to the nearby restaurant: Szechuan Gourmet which as a couple of locations here. I quickly informed myself about the various dishes, because in addition to the Szechuan region (or do you write it Sichuan, now?) there are 8 other Chinese provinces, such as Hunan, Fujian or Xiang, where very different things are cooked. Although it is clear to me that there must be differences, I have been satisfied with the Americanized Chinese cuisine and dim sum I have eaten.

What a mistake!

Szechuan food (yes, I just invented that word) is boasted by the use of garlic, chilli pods and the famous Szechuan pepper. This pepper is really great: It tastes spicy, prickling and makes the tongue a bit numb for a short time. Until that point I hadn't eaten them before. But you know me, on the way home I bought a small bag of them later at the market.

Szechuan Gourmet is available 3 times in New York (just looked). They are certainly in a good position to before my new all time favorite.

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