I have always liked this dish, but sometimes it has made me feel like there is something missing. A different kind of Cesar salad for the season is what you need!
I have added a few extra ingredients, like bell pepper and eggs. The green bell pepper gives it an extra flavour that gives some more freshness and richness to the dish and the egg makes it even better. The lettuce and chicken has never been quite satisfying enough for me, so we tried to make it a bit richer.
This is definitely the perfect salad to have as main dish, excellent for summer when you don’t want to eat any hot meals.
You can freely improvise and change the ingredients as you like. I like to open up the fridge and see what’s in there before panicking that I don’t have all the “correct” ingredients for a dish.
I have jazzed up the sauce a little bit as well. The sauce recipe normally never calls for honey, but I think that touch of sweetness gives the salad a more interesting twist.
But you should try it for yourself and judge it! This will be the perfect party dish, as well as a great hearty and healthy salad for a busy work night dinner. The sauce is quick to make as everything is blended together in 5 min, the rest is cleaning and cutting up the ingredients for the salad. If you want to economise even more on time, I suggest you tear the lettuce leaves with your hands.
Serve this with some fresh Sauvignon Blanc for a perfect date night 🙂
A different kind of Cesar salad
A richer version of the Cesar salad with homemade Cesar sauce. The ingredients for the salad can be pretty much anything you like, I wanted to put some extra ingredients for more flavour.
Spring is here and summer can’t wait to arrive with warm days and lovely lunches outside in the sun. This is the best chickpea Mediterranean summer salad you can make! You can prepare this a day before and bring it to work for lunch or serve this at your garden party. It is so versatile, it will be great at any occasion and everyone will love it.
My advice is always to buy dry legumes and leave them to soak in water for 24 hours. The consistency will be so much better, and you will be actually able to choose how mushy or firm you want the chickpeas to be. I find the canned chickpeas always too mushy for this kind of salad and the taste is never as good as of freshly boiled ones.
Another reason why you should cook the chickpeas yourself is you can choose the size of the legume. Chickpea can come in smaller sizes that is mostly used for hummus and similar dished, and the big ones are great for salad.
Of course, don’t forget that if you boil your own chickpeas, there won’t be any preservatives in them and you can decide how much salt to put in the water.
Chickpea Mediterranean summer salad
Very quick, easy and fresh salad filled with fiber, vitamins, protein and tastiness. The mediterranean flavours of fresh herbs, lemon and sumac is perfect for hot summer days.
500gdried chickpeassoaked in water 24 hours before
1 red onion
1red bell pepper
3tbspolive oilextra virgin
sant and pepper
Remember to soak the chickpeas one day before. After 24 hours they will already be soft enough, so you will only need to boil them for 30 min. Once boiled, cool them to room temperature in the cooking water, so they don't become dry.
Chop the onion, red bell pepper and mix with the chickpeas in a big bowl.
Add sumac, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and the fresh herbs. Leave to marinate a minimum of 20 min before serving.
Do you like pasta? Do you like seafood? Fideuà, the perfect pasta and seafood dish! I am a big fan of paella with rice, but I think I am even a bigger fan of this thin pasta dish.
It might look a bit difficult to make, but it actually is quite easy and you can make it even on a budget, since you don’t need to use any expensive fish. It mostly contains shrimp and calamari. The important thing here is to give flavour with a lot of onion and garlic, and a good fish stock. But to make that you can actually use the heads and tails of the shrimp you will be cooking in the fideuà.
For the stock – take off all the shrimp heads and tails, add some veggie scraps you have in the fridge, plus an onion, a celery stick, a carrot, you can add a splash of olive oil to give it more thickness, and boil for about 30min to make your broth.
One of the important things for this recipe is to have an appropriate pan. You can get these flat paella pans for a cheap price at the shops normally or order them on amazon, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry! Just look for a bigger pan you might have at home with a flat bottom, so everything cooks evenly on the fire.
This will go into the oven for 5 min at the very end, so a heatproof handle pan is best, but if you don’t have one, just skip the oven step. It’s just to make the top part slightly more crunchy.
Fideuà, the perfect pasta and seafood dish
A typical Catalonian seafood dish similar to paella, but made with small pasta. It is very simple to make, doesn't require many ingredients and it is the perfect dish you can serve to surprise your guests!
In a separate pot heat the fish stock. It's best to have it warm rather than completely cold from the fridge.
In the paella pan heat some olive oil and fry the pasta on a medium heat for 5 min, until it becomes golden brown. Don't overcook it, it will just give a bit more crunchiness. Once it's cooked, take it out and leave it on the side.
In the same pan fry the shrimp for 2min on high heat until they are golden brown. Take them out and leave them on the side.
Chop the onion, garlic and bell pepper. On a medium low heat cook the garlic and onion for about 5min, until slightly transparent, add the bell pepper and sauté for 10 more minutes.
Cut the calamari in bite size pieces and add it to the pan. Fry until golden brown.
Add the tomato puré, paprika, saffron and cook for 5 minutes. Add the white wine, evaporate the alcohol on high heat for 2 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220 degrees and turn on the grill, if you have it. If not, the high heat will do the trick anyway.
Add all of the fish broth to the pan and cook on medium high heat until the liquid has reduced in half.
Once the liquid has reduced enough, add the pasta and cook for 3 min.
Put all the shrimp on top of the pasta and put the pan in the oven for 5 min to crisp up the top part.
Keyword calamari, pasta, seafood, shrimp
Enjoy this fantastic recipe with some nice Albariño or Verdejo wine. A Sauvignon Blanc will also do great!
You have to try this fantastic lamb recipe. It will be the best lamb you will cook. Because it’s easy, it’s fresh, tasty and also quite versatile!
It’s not much fuss as it doesn’t require long preparations, but it will need quite a lot of time in the oven. The ideal thing is to prepare the lamb and put it in the oven in the morning or at midday and serve it at night.
It will be so juicy and soft, so you don’t need to worry about dry meat. You can serve this with fresh salad, some oven-baked potatoes, or maybe even better, some homemade wheat tacos!
The result of the meat you will get is this and there is no way to go wrong in this recipe.
As I mentioned, the recipe is very versatile, so you can experiment with different spices for the lamb, or skip them all together, just leaving some rosemary, salt and pepper.
The sauce in the recipe is very fresh and tangy, but it can also be changed for any other accompaniment.
Slow-cooked Lamb with fresh herb sauce
A fantastic recipe for soft and juicy lamb, where you don't have to do much preparation. Just count the long 5 or more hour cooking time in the oven. The tangy sauce is the perfect accompaniment for a stronger tasting lamb leg.You can serve this with some salad or even with some tacos.
Have you ever tried the baozi? Or maybe you have seen the amazing Pixar cartoon with the cutest alive bao bun? I know I’m kind of an adult, but me and Manuel both love cartoons even now, and this is surely one of the sweetest! And tastiest! 🙂 Here are these beautiful baozi or the amazing Pixar cartoon buns.
It does get a bit scary at one point as the poor alive bun gets eaten, so you start thinking maybe it’s too sad to make them and eat them, but you will see that in the end the whole story is about love and family!
Isn’t it the sweetest thing? I tried to make these little babies the first time last year during the full lockdown here in Spain, so I used the ingredients I had in the fridge at that point, but this is the recipe from the real Pixar Bao bun filling. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! The making, cooking and the eating! 🙂
¾tspdry active yeast(use double, if using fresh yeast)
500gground meatThe original recipe calls for pork, I had mixed pork and beef
3tspchopped spring onion
3tspcooking wineI used dry white wine
1tspolive oilextra virgin
½tspchicken stock powderI didn't have, so I put some Marmite for the umaminess
salt and pepper
Making the dough
Mix the flour with water and the yeast. You should mix the dough well in a mixer for about 10min, so if mixing by hand, try to kneed for about 15min The result of the dough should be very smooth. Cover and leave in a warm place to grow for about 2 hours.
Cook half of the ground meat and mix it with the raw meat.
Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl, I like to mix by hand as that is the best way all the ingredients will be well incorporated.
Making the dumpling wrappers
Once the dough has risen after two hours, kneed it quickly once more to return it to its original size.
Roll out the dough and cut equal sizes of small balls that you will roll out with a rolling pin afterwards. You can see the step-by-step video below.Don't roll out the wrapper too thin so it doesn't break and lose all the goodness.
Fill all the dumplings and put them in a bamboo steaming basket with the cooking paper underneath, so they don't stick to the bottom. DON'T crowd the dumplings, they will stick together and when cooked they will break where they are all stuck together. It's better do do various baskets with fewer dumplings for a better result.
Put on a pot with water and put everything on the fire. Start counting the 15-20 min cooking of the dumplings from the moment the water starts boiling.
Serve them hot with soy sauce, on you can prepare your own sauce with some soy sauce, a splash of water, rice vinegar and some ginger, for example.
Do you often find yourself without bread at home and need to whip up something very quickly? This wholegrain wheat flour flatbread will be the perfect recipe for you!
We use these flatbreads for different dishes, like for wheat tacos filled with mushrooms or chicken, or for some Greek recipes, like gyros. You can use these for many different things, because you will find it a very easy and quick recipe to do.
You can try cooking a lamb leg for 4 hours on a low temperature in the oven with spices. You will get super smooth and soft buttery meat, that you can serve it with these fantastic flatbreads. Whip up some yogurt and tahini sauce with a splash of lemon, and you have a fantastic meal!
As I mention in the recipe, the flatbreads, if cooked perfectly, will puff up, but don’t worry, if that doesn’t happen the first time you make them. I had to do three tries for them to finally puff while cooking. Just keep trying 🙂
This is what it will look like, when you really get the hang of it.
Don’t use olive oil or any other fat in the pan, as it will burn.
You will see, the dough is perfect to cook the flatbread on high heat in the pan without oil.
Wholegrain wheat flatbread without yeast
Amazingly easy and quick recipe for very tasty and healthy wholegrain wheat flatbread.
Mix the flour with baking powder, salt and olive oil by hand or with a dough mixer. Add the water and kneed the dough for about 5 min until completely smooth.
Preheat the pan on high heat. Divide the dough in 8 equal size balls and take just a bit of the flour to help you roll out the dough. Don't use much flour because it will get burnt, the trick is to use just a bit on the rolling pin.
Cook the flatbread in the pan until one side is fully cooked, if the temperature is correct, it should start puffing up, but don't worry if it doesn't. I had to try this recipe three times before mine started puffing up. Turn to cook on the other side.
Wrap the cooked flatbread in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm and moist, serve while still hot. You can reheat these and eat them also the next day, but after that they will become quite hard.
Keyword no yeast, wheat flatbread, Wholegrain
We really hope you can enjoy these and share some fillings you would use with these amazing flatbreads!
Want an amazing recipe for a date night? Try these chicken tacos from scratch, make your own wheat tacos too!
This is so tasty, that every time we make it, we can’t stop eating it until we are exploding. The spice mix gives it the Mexica flavour and the toppings can be anything that comes to your mind! We like to use some marinated onions in vinegar water for an hour before, some yoghurt, lots of fresh cilantro!
As you will see, we use a lot of nontraditional Mexican ingredients, like feta for the cheese, because we want to make the recipe as accessible as possible for people living in big cities and in small towns where certain traditional Mexican ingredients might not be available. But we suggest you improvise and make this recipe your own. A hot sauce also gives a nice touch to this one!
The tastiest recipe for chicken tacos with fresh produce you can always find at your local market. Excellent for parties too!
Oh my, oh my, the empanadas con pollo is such a great Argentine recipe! We love to make them on the weekend when we have some more time on our hands, but we suggest making more and freeze them for some busy weekday nights.
So you can keep them in the freezer for about 3 months and just take them out and put them in a hot oven. It is true it takes some time to make these delicious things, but once they are made, you just need a pre-heated oven, that’s it!
As you might have already seen in our recipes, there is another empanada recipe with a beef filling that you can find HERE. The key is to make the dough, the filling afterwards can be anything you can think of!
First you will start with the dough, you can freeze it too without any filling and use it next time, if you don’t want to make them all at the same time. This is a recipe we got from the Francis Mallmann cookbook Siete Fuegos and it is absolutely perfect! The original recipe calls for pork fat, but we substitute it with butter.
Masa de empanadas, this is the dough to do the perfect empanadas from Argentina at home. You can fill this dough with whatever filling you like, like ground meat sauce, chicken, cheese, whatever comes to mind!You can also freeze these and keep them for 3 months.
In a small pot, put the water, salt and butter and put it on a medium heat. Cook until the butter and the salt have melted completely. Cool to room temperature.
Once the butter and salt water has cooled, incorporate the liquid into the flour. Use a bigger bowl and mix by hand, or if you have a kitchen robot, like Kitchenaid, it will be quicker and easier. Work the dough until smooth, for about 15min.
Roll out the dough in 3mm thickness.
Use a round shaped object, like a lid of about 12 cm in diameter, but it can be slightly smaller or slightly bigger.
Cut out the round shapes in the dough.
But the round dough pieces stacked on top of each other with some baking paper in between, so they don't stick together.
Leave in the fridge for at least 30min before filling and cooking.
Keyword dough, empanadas
Once the dough is done, you can go ahead and make the filling. You will need to boil a chicken before, and you will use some of the stock for the filling, but it is excellent to use in the next days for other dishes, like soup or a fantastic risotto!
Empanadas con pollo
A tasty recipe of chicken empanadas from Argentina. You can freeze these and cook at another moment. Use in 3 months, if you freeze these.
Make the chicken stock by putting all the stock ingredients in a pot, pour water until everything is covered and cook on a medium high heat for 45 min until the chicken is completely soft. Once cooked, take the chicken out, cool and shred in small pieces by hand taking out the bones.
The chicken and tomato filling
In a sauce pan pre heat some olive oil and toss in chopped garlic and onion, sauté on a medium low heat for 5 min, don't burn them. Add the chopped tomato, cook for 2 min. Add the tomato paste and the spices, salt and sugar. Cook for 5min, add the shredded chicken and 100g of the stock and sauté until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. The final filling has to be a bit moist, not too dry but not too liquid.
Cool the filling to room temperature before filling the empanada dough.
Take a tablespoon of the filling, place it in the dough and close it carefully. Be sure to close it well, so the filling doesn't fall out afterwards. You can see how to close and fold in the video below.
Once all the empanadas are closed, put them on a tray with some baking paper so they don't stick and leave them in the fridge for at least 30min, so they cool completely. This will help with the cooking process.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C degrees and make sure it is very hot before putting in the empanadas. Cook for about 20min until golden brown outside. Wait for 20min after cooking until they are slightly cooler.
Are you always busy with zero time to cook? Is it maybe a lazy Sunday when you don’t want to spend too much time cooking? Roasted chickpeas and feta will save your day!
Welcome to one of our 10 minute recipes, easy, fast, tasty and healthy! a true Mediterranean style dish. Just make sure you always have some canned or boiled chickpeas at home, some feta cheese that can stay in the fridge for quite some time and aromatic herbs.
Check out the recipe, share it with family and friends and let us know what you think!
Roasted chickpeas and feta
A very fast, tasty and nutritious recipe to do in just 10 minutes and it's excellent for the meatless days too!
Pre-heat the oven to a 180 degrees Celsius with ventilation
In a baking tray put the chickpeas, smashed garlic cloves, paprika, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil, and mix everything well.
Put the feta on top of the chickpea bed and season with the oregano, and add a splash of olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 10 min until the top of the feta is slightly browned.
Keyword chickpeas, feta, healthy
And there you go! Tasty, healthy, fast, what else would you want from a recipe! I advise not to use extra salt on the chickpeas, as the spices, dried tomatoes and the feta will already be salty enough, and if you use canned chickpeas, they will have some salt in them for sure, so don’t over do it.
Falafel for us is one of the most satisfying foods out there!
We eat the occasional meat, always trying to look only for organic or buy it from local producers. But we are always more interested in reducing meat consumption and switch to a more plant-based diet. As you know, global warming is no joke, and health issues connected with a person’s diet are still the most important reason for heart disease, oncological problems, overweight etc. There are more than enough scientific researches showing that eating more plants every day is key. That’s why you will be seeing a lot of recipes like these crunchy and juicy homemade falafel.
That said, it doesn’t have to be boring food! It might be true that you need a bit more skill to cook plants so they taste good, but once you get the hang of it, you will not want to stop!
Chickpeas for us are one of our all time favourite plant-based foods, and this falafel recipe will make you crazy about them too!
Crunchy and juicy falafel
If you are looking for more plant-based tasty recipes? This is the perfect one! Very flavourful and satisfying, you will want to make this every week. Great for parties as finger food.
Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours in clean water. Change the water a few times.
Grind the chickpeas in the meat grinder or use a food processor, is best if you leave the mass chunky, it will bring more texture and crunchiness to the falafel.
Mix the chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, chili, cumin and coriander with the chickpeas and leave to rest for 30min.
Take a big spoon of the chickpea mix and shape it into a ball, try to make all of the balls in equal size so they cook evenly
In a frying pan heat 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, use more if needed. When the oil is hot, put the falafel balls inside and cook evenly from all sides until golden brown and crunchy. Don't overcrowd them in the pan, cook in batches
Once cooked, serve them with a pita bread, some yogurt and tahini sauce, fresh vegetables like tomato and some fresh onion.
Obesity is one of the biggest health issues nowadays. It can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease. High blood sugar, high cholesterol, frequent tiredness that can come from bad dietary habits. Frequent fasting, frequent dieting are not answers to a healthy durable life either. So what to do?
The answer from many MDs is – cook more at home! In fact, a very interesting and useful MOOC course from Stanford University on the basics of nutrition states just that. You can find this short online course HERE and I advise anyone to sit though it and listen.
But why is it so many people struggle with cooking at home?
Going out for lunch or dinner is a normality nowadays, it’s not just something reserved for festive occasions. We have less and less time to spend at home, doing shopping lists, going to the market, and then spend hours cooking. So supermarkets are filled with precooked meals, snacks with very little nutritional value but high fat, sugar and salt content, high energetic but low qualiy content.
There is always a reason to not cook at home.
But how can some people still manage to cook and lead busy lives working, doing sports, reading, meeting friends, getting home almost every day to prepare a meal?
I cook every day. Except for a dinner out maybe once every two weeks, now with the pandemic it has gotten even less frequent. And I enjoy going out for a meal so much more if I don’t do it every day.
How do I have time or the will to cook something at 8pm, when I should be in bed by 10pm because I’ll be getting up at 6am? And I need those 8 hours of sleep to feel well rested.
Easy! I have a few ingredients always at home, they hardly ever go bad and they are perfect for a quick and tasty dinner.
The magic ingredients and some incredibly simple recipes
Garlic, Pasta and Extra Virgin Olive oil
Garlic is a fundamental ingredinet for almost all dishes I cook. It gives great flavour without the need to use many other ingredients.
Garlic is not only a great ingredient to boost flavour, but it is antiinflamatory and antibacterial too!
You can use this to make pasta aglio, olio, peperocino. Cooking time 10min aprox.
Recipe for aglio olio peperoncino
Preheat water to a boiling point and put some salt. Drop the pasta in and check the cooking time on the pack, put a timer 1 min before the indicated time.
In a pan on the lowest heat just warm up the olive oil, chopped garlic and some peperoncino (chili pepper), once the pasta is cooked, drop it in the oil for 1 min to absorb the aroma.
Voilá! Dinner is served!
Good quality canned tuna or sardines
Portugal, Spain, South of France, all have excellent tradition of quality canned fish.
Buying fish at the market is usually the most difficul thing, you need to plan to go when the fish is fresh and be sure you’ll be back home quickly before it starts going bad.
So keeping canned sardines or tuna at home is always a great idea. They are tasty, full of omega 3 fatty acids (good fat) that is lacking from so many people’s diets.
These can be served as an aperitif with some bread, fresh tomato, extra virgin olive oil. You can use these for pasta too. Or one of my favoritres for summer – fresh salad with tuna, like the Niçoise salad.
Canned tomato and parmigiano reggiano
Some tasty good quality canned tomato fried, chopped or pealed are all perfect.
Recipe for tomato sauce
Heat some olive oil and chopped garlic. Add the tomato, adjust salt, maybe add some sugar, if it’s very acidic. You have a tomato sauce in 10 min that you can use with anything!
Have an egg? You can make some shakshuka by frying the egg in the tomatoes. Just crack it in and turn up the heat.
Pasta? Top it with the tomato sauce and some parmigiano reggiano.
Same with rice or if you have some fast cooking red lentil, drop them in for 15min, add some water so it doesn’t dry out and you have the perfect dinner!
Gated parmiggiano or cut in pieces is excellent to give more flavour for any dish and it goes so well with tomato.
Canned chickpeas and tahini paste
Hummus. Such a satifying dish!
And yes, extremely easy to make. When you have no time to cook, you have your canned chickpeas and tahini paste. You can serve this with veggies, cheese, bread. You can even use this as a sauce for pasta and top it off with some grated parmiggiano reggiano!
Recipe for hummus
In a food processor mix the drained canned chickpeas, a tablespoon or more of tahini paste, two tablespoons of icy cold water, add some salt, cumin, if you like, a splash of lemon. Adjust the quantity of the cold water with the consistency you want to acheive.
With little and not so expensive ingredients you can stack up your pantry and never worry, if there has been a day you haven’t been able to go to the market to get some fresh produce. It’s not necessary to buy precooked meals, processed foods, or takeaway every day, when you can make your dish in only 10 min with very few ingredients!
I’m not the biggest sweets and deserts fan, so I never really cook much dessert at home unless we invite guests. But I am a zero waste person, so this is a great recipe to not throw away those black spotted bananas.
I have always found making fresh pasta a bit scary, I don’t really know why. Maybe because I thought it would be complicated. But just like the rest of the recipes on my blog, you will find it is actually incredibly easy!
Having lived abroad for such a long time, 12 years by now, has made me appreciate Latvian culture so much more, and of course I oftentimes find myself missing the beauty fo the country side, the festivities with local foods, singing and dancing.
I know many have very busy lives and very long working hours, so often it becomes difficult to cook something at home and have a healthy meal. Well, this is one of those recipes that you can prepare in less than 5min, leave to marinate for a minimum of an hour, and then eat for the next three to four days in different variations.
Still nowadays we have the preconception that plants are not fully satisfying as foods. We never say – oh, I’m craving a chickpea stew, right? It will be more likely we hear – oh, how I crave that hamburger. Or pizza.
This recipe is absolutely flawless and the pizzas are incredible, we have baked the various times to find the perfect point for the oven temperature and cooking times, so I hope this one works for you too!
Oh yes, this is a recipe to impress your guests or your boy/girlfriend/spouse, but even if it looks cosmically tasty and complicated, trust me, it is pretty easy. It is also quite quick to make as most pasta dishes.
You can find this dish in several Mediterranean countries and some places like Argentina, where many Italians migrated during the war. You will hear it called soca in France, farinata or torta di ceci in Italy, fainá in Argentina, but the main ingredient of the dish is the one and only chickpea flour.
So finally the heat is going down, the nights are cooler and it is so much more pleasant to go for a walk in the woods. Still waiting for the rainy season to really kick off, but mushrooms are already in.
How often do you drink vermouth? If you live outside of Spain, it might not be such a typical drink you’d choose for an aperitif but here it is quite a tradition, so we used the opportunity to go and visit an incredible producer in Bràfim, about and hour from the center of Barcelona.
It happens so often that you hear people discussing ardently about the authenticity of a food or a dish, how a risotto alla milanese, or paella valenciana, or coq au vin in this restaurant is more authentic than in the one next door. The question is though – who is the one to decide which is the real authentic version? And how can you be actually sure?
It is quite strange how sometimes you end up not knowing too much about beautiful places to visit close to home as mostly you are always busy organising vacations further away with the excuse that you can visit closer sites whenever you want. But then you never do…
Are you staying in Catalonia this summer or you are planning to visit in the near future? There are many beautiful places to visit to taste wine, enjoy local products and buy one of the best olive oils.
Coffee has become quite a fashionable product lately, which is fantastic as more attention was necessary to the culture and provenance of this product that we drink various times a day, but know absolutely nothing about. Still, as a coffee professional working mostly with other coffee professionals, I think there is little information available to the consumer, at least nothing immediately accessible. You really have to look for it on your own to find out more.
That is why I will be writing various pieces on what it is to be a coffee taster, how coffee is assessed, how it can be extracted, so you can know more easily which coffee to choose and how to best prepare it! So How do you evaluate a coffee’s flavour and quality?
What is coffee cupping?
This kind of extraction and tasting is used to assess the quality of a coffee and is not used for consumption. But this is a very important step when the coffee has been harvested and processed, before exporting, when importing and when the coffee arrives at the roastery.
This part is a bit like a wine maker tasting the wine during production to assess its quality.
How is it done?
The coffee is roasted very lightly because it’s important to see the quality of the coffee itself rather than the roast. Cupping has to be done with a freshly roasted coffee from 8 to 24 hours after the roast.
As you can see in the photo above, there are 5 cups per sample of each coffee. Why? Because even one grain of coffee can alter the uniformity or give off a defect. It might be an unripe bean that will give a lot of astringency, a moldy bean or a chemical tasting phenol bean (tastes a bit like the dentist’s). This said, the beans will have to be weighed out for each cup individually and ground for each cup individually in order to isolate the one defect, rather than spreading it out on all the cups. This will help us count the defects later on and assess the overall quality of the sample.
The coffee will be brewed in infusion, no filters are used, so it is ground very coarsely in order for it to not extract too much taste and make it bitter. Most good quality coffees shouldn’t really be bitter.
The water is important, it shouldn’t be too bland or too hard, and of course it should be completely odourless without any strange taste to it.
The optimum temperature is fundamental, we don’t want to burn the coffee but neither do we want to under-extract, so it should be around 93 degrees Celsius.
When the cups are brewed for 3 to 5 min, the upper part with coffee particles called the “crust” will me moved or “broken” with the help of a spoon. This is where all the vapour will come out and it will be the best time to evaluate the fragrance.
When the coffee arrives to an acceptable temperature to put it in the mouth, the cupper will use a big spoon to slurp it. Yep, SLURP IT. The sound your parents or grandparents told you not to make when eating soup? That’s the one you have to do!
The idea is to get as much oxygen and aromatic molecules up your retronasal pathway as possible, that way you can perfectly evaluate the taste (sour, sweet, bitter, salty, umami), the mouthfeel (creamy, tea-like, light, oily…) and the aroma (fruity, floral, chocolatey…). These three together are defined as flavour.
This is the taste of my childhood, my grandmother used to always make pickles and I could eat a hole jar in one sitting. The ones she made were really crunchy and she would use different herbs and leaves form their garden, like cherry tree leaves, dill, black currant leaves, mustard leaves.
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, and there are many opinions you can read whether it is healthy or not, but there are some pretty good news based on scientific research for people like us, who really love the magic of coffee.
The latest researches not only state that coffee is not bad for us, on the contrary, it might have some very good influence on our health – it is correlated with improved cardiovascular health, lower incidence of type 2 diabetes and reduced incidence of various oncological problems.
So many consider tea as the health beverage, but if you do a bit of research and look for strong medical evidence, you will find much more correlations to health benefits for coffee than proved benefits of tea consumption. While tea has antioxidants as well, there has been less correlated evidence of those benefits than for coffee.
THE BIGGEST COFFEE LOVERS
Many might be convinced that the world’s biggest coffee consumers are Italians, for the notoriety of the Italian coffee culture. The biggest consumers actually are the Scandinavian countries, like Finland and Sweden. You can see HERE the list and consumption of the TOP 10.
It might seem Italians and Spaniards drink coffee throughout the day but it is typical to drink shorter beverages, like espresso. One espresso might contain about 7 to 8 grams of ground coffee, whereas Northern Europeans tend to drink filter coffee, so a longer drink which requires more ground coffee, one cup of 200ml would contain 12g of coffee.
Historically there has been a huge incentive in the society of the Scandinavian countries to consume coffee instead of alcohol. Also some religious figures in the past have advised to substitute alcohol for coffee. That is why coffee nowadays is consumed when spending time with friends and colleagues or even when returning home from a long work day. At one point in history the Scandinavians were consuming12 cups of filter coffee per day! That is how the Norther European countries became the world’s biggest coffee consumers.
IS COFFEE HEALTHY?
Coffee is a fantastic and fascinating product, and its greatest benefits and most potent antioxidants are created during the roasting process.
Coffee has been praised and had its bad reputation throughout its history, but more and more researches are being published on long-year studies giving insight on the excellent properties of caffeine as a mind stimulant, maintaining our mind young for longer, lowering incidence of Alzheimer, Parkinson, improving our mood, but it’s not only about caffeine.
Roasted coffee still contains some chlorogenic acids from the green coffee known for their antioxidative properties, and melanoidins that are created during roasting though the Maillard reaction. It is still not very clear how and which specific substances are the most potent, but coffee consumption has been correlated with lower incidence of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes.
And a very interesting and positive point for coffee is that it has shown to have an anti-depressive effect. We must agree that this is especially important today.
QUALITY AND HOW YOU DRINK IT
Of course everything that we consume has to be of good quality. There is still anti-oxidative potential even in soluble coffee, but why not just start with the best quality product, whole coffee beans freshly ground in the morning to have the best taste and health benefits too, right?
First, remember that arabica and robusta are two very different coffee species. To find out more about their differences, you can read all about it on my Coffee and wine journal post. You can also find out about the quality and terroir of coffee, that is fundamental in the moment of choosing your favourite coffee.
Although, decaffeinated coffee does lack the mind activating and clearing substance of caffeine, it has shown antioxidant properties just like regular coffee. There are some people who genetically tend to digest caffeine much slower than others, that might lead to sleeplessness and nervous jitters, so it is pretty fantastic news to those who can just drink decaf!
Remember though, coffee should be drunk in its natural form – black- without the addition of sugar or milk, or any other substances, to have the best chance of the antioxidants giving us positive effects.
Seriously. Even people who don’t like legumes or vegetables in general MUST like chickpeas! They are so full or flavour and so versatile to be used in stews, sauces, dips, felafel, there are just so many ways to us them!
It’s been some time since I have been wanting to cook these little dim sum pieces at home. I am a big fan but I always imagined it would be a bit complicated to cook them, so I never got the courage to spend some time and make them.
I live about 40 km outside of the city of Barcelona just next to the national park of Garraf. It is an urbanised area, but there is no town here, and it is quite hilly so I really do need to take the car every time I want to go into town to buy something. And cycling is impossible unless you are a mountain bike Olympic champ, trust me.
What is so common between coffee and wine? Once you get to know these two beverages more, you will be surprised how very similar they are in so many aspects. It is true however that coffee still doesn’t get enough hype as wine does.
Ok, so this is something I have been meaning to write about at some point, but since we are all at home now staying safe and keeping everyone else (!) safe, it is the perfect time to bake bread, focaccia, pizza or any other similar things. This is the best way to have fresh good quality bread at home and to avoid going out.
Fermentation and fermented products, like sourdough bread, yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut have become quite fashionable in the past years for their ability to improve the health of our gut microbiota, but this kind of preparation is nothing new really, even if it is a new diet and gastronomy fad today. I have been eating fermented pickles and sauerkraut my whole life as it is part of Latvian culture, so it is quite curious to see these things offered as some kind of innovation.
I just had the opportunity to come to the UK Tea Academy, thanks to Canton Tea, to do the Level 1 Tea Champion course. Two days of intensive tea training, and I’m absolutely stunned. The tea world is so rich, so full of culture and flavour!
Porto is a beautiful city that you should visit at least once in your life. Picturesque buildings covered in azulejos and the intriguing history of the Vila Nova de Gaia, it truly is a beauty. I suggest you walk the city, it can get a bit challenging at times for its steep hills but it’s a good way to not miss the gym and to digest the francesinha (we’ll talk about this interesting gastronomic beast in a bit)!
Do you make a New Year resolution every year? And then never keep it?
I don’t think I’ve ever actually seriously thought of one, but this year I would really like to stick to two. The first is to write one blog post per week here, I hope it will help me do more research, learn more and share the knowledge.
Christmas has always been a big deal for me and my family.
There are so many people who fuss about the Christmas holidays and family get-togethers, but is there really any other time you really sit down with others for dinner and spend time together? Time is such a precious thing, especially for those who live abroad and can’t see their loved ones every day or at any time you would really like to.
Wine is such a big part of our everyday lives whether we are experts in the field or just amateur wine lovers accompanying our daily meals or some pleasant conversations at night with family or friends.
My name is Anete and I’m originally from Latvia. I have always been passionate about gastronomy, travelling with my parents when I was little and have been doing that for all my adult life. It is just something fascinating – to get to know another culture through their gastronomy! Food and its evolution is such a big part of human history.