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Coffee Set No Match

The judges have spoken, the fat lady has sung, Tea&Biscotti did not get through to the final of the Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge.

It’s a shame and I won’t lie in saying that I wasn’t disappointed. I actually rather enjoyed myself. However, for the making of a few measly cakes Lavazza has rewarded me with a limited edition Wimbledon A Modo Mio coffee machine and a year supply of the brown stuff, that’s enough coffee to sink the Concordia!! (again).

I am truly grateful for my rewards and wish the best of luck to the two finalists Mulia and UtterlyScrummy. I can’t wait to see what masterpieces you both come up with…the heat is on ladies! Well done.

So, after weeks and weeks of coffee, I can now sit back and relax with a good china cup of Earl Grey!!

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in London

 

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Is Lavazza really Italian?

Midnight tonight sees the close of the Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge.  My three competitors and me can down tools for a while until we find out who has been lucky enough to be catapulted into the final with a chance of winning two tickets to the Wimbledon final and a trip for two, on Lavazza, to Turin.  So far, we are all winners as Lavazza has very generously gifted each contestant with a supper duper shiny sparkly brand spanking new A Modo Mio coffee machine specifically designed for Wimbledon.  Well, what with them being the main sponsor and all!

We’ve seen the recipes, we’ve tasted the cakes and we’ve downed the drinks but what do we actually “know” about Lavazza? That its Italian, yes.  That they are a brand of coffee, yes. That they produce coffee, well of course, yes, but not in Italy.

Let me fill you in on a few facts before sharing with you some of my own very treasured and very personal coffee experiences.

Lavazza was founded in 1895 in Turin Italy by Luigi Lavazza.  The brand started in a small grocery store and today, as the fourth generation of the Lavazza family continues to run and expand the brand, it is known world-wide.  I wonder what Luigi would think about that?!

Whilst 16 out of 20million families in Italy prefer Lavazza as their coffee of choice, it is distributed to approximately 80 countries around the globe.

In 2008, Lavazza stretched as far afield as India when it bought the entire Indian coffee market by buying out the Chennai based Sterling Infotech Group, that which runs the chain Barista.

In an attempt to promote sustainable agriculture, protect the environment and working conditions of employees, Lavazza developed the !Tierra! coffee brand, now known as the coffee that represents the sustainable agriculture programme.

Lavazza imports its coffee from several countries; Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Vietnam and Uganda to name but a few.

Colombia is now where I want to take you – come with me for a coffee on a trip down memory lane!

Some years ago, when I was younger and carefree, I quit my job and headed off into the sunset with my closest friends.  One friend convinced us to go to Colombia to meet up with friends of an ex-boyfriend of hers.  CRAZY! Colombia – its dangerous! NO WAY! Yet, with a little convincing and a lot of dutch courage, we found ourselves on a plane across the Amazon from Manaus in Brazil to Bogota in Colombia.

Dangerous? Are you kidding me? It’s as safe as houses.  Colombia is the most beautiful surprise.  In fact, I’ve been 3 times! The people are amazing, the food is to die for, the scenery is breath taking, the beaches are phenomenal and the coffee… well, the coffee is abundant!

After partying hard in Bogota, we headed on an over night bus to Periera.  At least 8 hours into the mountains through the night and then some more.  When we woke, we were surrounded by lush green plantation fields filled with little red berries as far as the eye could see.

Let me share with you some of the pictures I took of coffee in its most natural form.  This Ladies and Gentlemen, is how Lavazza coffee starts its life cycle:

The plantation fields of Periera

And all those lovely little red berries is indeed coffee!!

As pure as the day they were born.

When Lavazza was only a child, growing up in its small grocery store in Turin, Colombian coffee transporters were travelling for days by donkey and horse to deliver beans.  This tradition dates back more than 400 years.  The bag in this picture, carried across the body of the man, is known as a Carriel.  The bags are known to contain at least 50 secret pockets in which they carried on they journey the following: to protect, the claw of a large animal; to entertain, a pair of dice and a deck of cards as well as a love letter from a sweetheart.

 As you do on holiday, I hooked up with a friend of my friends ex, (not the guy in the photo above, I hasten to add, that was purely to explain how coffee was transported in Colombia back in the day!), whose parents had their own coffee plantation on their Finca (farm house) in Arbelaez, about 3 hours outside of Bogota.  On my second trip to Colombia, I went to stay at the Finca just at the time when the coffee beans were drying out in the sun, before they were to be roasted.

(Let me add that my third trip to Colombia was to the wedding of my friend and her ex! And we all lived happy ever after… all say aaarrhhhhh *big smiles*).

They look almost like peanuts, not like coffee at all.

Ah, now they look a bit more like coffee, with that distinctive coffee bean line.

 So you see, Lavazza might have been born in Italy, it might have an Italian heart but the truth is that its soul comes from where ever the coffee bean grows.

Now, after so many words about coffee, let the taste do the talking…. Lavazza!

 To see a modern range of Carriel bags, please visit CarrielUK.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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IHeartHerman

Ten days ago I was handed a Tupperware box by a friend that contained an odd-looking mixture.  “Look after that, it’s a friendship cake, it will be ready in ten days”.  Oh dear Lord.  Ten days of babysitting a cake?! Have I not told you already that I am the worlds worst baker – I don’t have the patience to wait, I open the oven door way before its due so that the cake collapses, or, I completely forget there is something in the oven and then it burns, all that time and effort waisted.  Now my friend wanted me to nurture a cake, for ten days! Yet, for the love of the job, look after it I have.

The Friendship cake was discovered on a blog called hermanthegermanfriendshipcake and a friend passed it on to a friend, who passed it on to my friend, who passed it on to me.  Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately saw a novel opportunity to include this in my Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge, and accepted Herman’s challenge with both hands.

The cake is made of sourdough and apparently, according to Herman, dates back from the Amish people who made it by the truck load to give out to the needy and the sick.  The cake needs to breath and leaving it covered up would kill it as the yeast would die off.  I stirred and stirred well every day to ensure that it stayed with us, bubbling away and then the time came to add more ingredients.  I stirred and stirred again for a few more days until yesterday, day 10 in the Tea&Biscotti house had arrived.  It was time to put my friendship with Herman to the test!

As with all my Lavazza challenge recipes, I usually give an idea as to “What you need” and “What you do”.  However, for the purpose of nurturing Herman’s cake, I have copied his instructions verbatim.

Here goes:

 I am a sourdough cake. I’m supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.  You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.

Day1 – Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2 – Stir well

Day 3 – Stir well

Day 4 – Herman is hungry. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.

Day 5 – Stir well

Day 6 – Stir well

Day 7 – Stir well

Day 8 – Stir well

Day 9 – Add the same as day 4 and stir well

Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion.

Day 10 – Now you are ready to make the cake. Stir well and add the following:

 1 cup of sugar (8oz or 225g)

2 cups plain flour (10oz or 300g)

half tsp. (teaspoon) salt

2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil (5.3oz or 160ml)

2 Eggs

2 tsp. vanilla essence

2 cooking apples cut into chunks

1 cup raisins (7oz or 200g)

2 heaped tsp. cinnamon

2 heaped tsp. baking powder

Optional – ¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup melted butter

Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170‐180C. Test the middle with a clean knife; you may need to cover in tin foil and bake for a further 20 minutes to make sure your Herman is cooked properly in the middle.

When baked, Herman can be frozen.

To keep the Lavazza  challenge tradition alive I soaked the raisins over night in Lavazza Qualitá Oro Espresso with a shot of Sambuca Caffé.

When the cake was done I was amazed at how delicious it is – the only way I can describe it is that it smells and tastes like a sugary Christmas!  Im really REALLY proud of myself for having seen this through and even prouder that my friendship with Herman survived – now, I must go and eat him!!

If you want to start your own Herman Friendship cake cycle, please go here.

 To make friends with Lavazza and win a prize of your own, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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IHeartTennis

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m a rubbish baker and thus far in the Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch competition I’ve successfully managed to dodge the oven and still make it into the Semi-Finals!

However, this is the Semi’s afterall so I need to move my goal posts and push my boundaries and of course, open the oven door!

My first attempt at avoiding the oven was to make American pancakes in the shape of a tennis racket served with a big dollop of Carte D’Or Lavazza Latte Macchiato ice cream. I’m afraid it was introduced to the bin faster than I could toss the pan! Dreadful shame.

My second failure, and my first attempt at “baking” something anything were some baked apricots with crushed amaretti biscuits and a coffee sauce. Again, I asked the Italian to taste them and in mid choke he gestured with his hands, as Italians do, that this too was a no-go, at least I think that’s what he meant by gesturing a stroke of the hand across the throat as if to do damage.  Disaster.

Third time lucky? The first, the very first, EVER cake that I have baked!!

A vanilla sponge cake with an espresso buttercream and a white chocolate frosting. Adventurous? Definitely. Delicious? Absolutely. A winner? Maybe.

If you want to try my Lavazza creation, pay attention now as the instructions are coming up:

What You Need – The Sponge:

175g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

3 large eggs

17g caster sugar

175g Butter (soft at room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

What You Need – The Buttercream:

About 100g of butter

2 teaspoons of espresso powder diluted into boiled water. I used Lavazza Qualitá Oro

200g of caster sugar

What You Need – The Frosting:

1 block of Silver Spoon (or other well-known brand) of white melting chocolate for baking

What You Do – The Sponge:

Grease 2 x 8″ round baking trays with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment, also greased with butter

Sieve the flour into a large bowl

Add the baking powder, the eggs, the vanilla extract and caster sugar and whisk them to a runny pulp

When the mixture is ready pour in equal amounts into the baking trays and place them in a pre-heated oven, for 30 minutes at 170 celsius (325F)

When done, rest them to cool before removing from the baking trays

What You Do – The Buttercream:

Place the caster sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and whisk until the butter becomes mixed and soft

Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiled water and add to the caster sugar and butter mix

Whisk until you reach a uniform colour

Taste and add more espresso if you want it stronger (2tsp for me was actually a bit strong for a cake so if you are not that into coffee I would add less to make it less pungent)

What You Do – The Frosting:

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Once completely melted, pour a large amount of the chocolate on top of the sponge and ensure it is covered.  Add the rest to cover the sides.

Place the cake on a resting tray to set and if necessary, place in the fridge for the buttercream to harden slightly.

The last step…..MANGIA!

If you too are a coffee lover, you can win yourself a little treat with Lavazza and win a prize of your own, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in London

 

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I’m a Lavazza Semi-Finalist!

Last week was a massive headache for me.  I had to arrange and deliver Bambina’s first birthday party, we put our stamp sized apartment up for sale and had to carry out various DIY tasks and I had a bit of a family catastrophe to contend with – all of which led me to believe that I just didn’t have the time or the brain power to continue with the Lavazza #CoffeeSetMatch challenge Wimbledon Challenge.

Then, to my astonishment I received an email to declare..”Congratulations, the judges have put you through to the Semi-Finals!!”.  What?? Me?? But my last recipes were rubbish and I’ve hardly dedicated any time to it.  Apparently the judges saw through my misdemeanours and gave me the nod to carry on anyway.

So, today off we went for a family knee’s up!  It’s been a while since Bambina, the Italian and me spent a whole day together, lunching, shopping, chatting and generally having fun so today was rather special because we made a huge effort to enjoy our little Lavazza adventure.  I have been nothing but thoroughly dedicated to my Lavazza quest as I actually have a chance of winning now! Imagine that!  I’m in the flipping Semi’s!!!

Our first stop was at Ponti’s Italian Kitchen in Oxford Circus where I, correction, Bambina wolfed down a dish of tagliatelle with ragu and the Italian made no complaints in polishing off a Diavola pizza, which he informed was super delicious as it was made with semolina.  I remember semolina a poor child’s desert on the school dinner list, if you were lucky there might have been a few raisins thrown in the middle of the bowl. Pizza? made out of semolina? It was surprisingly tasty and as the Italian just corrected me, the base is not made solely out of semolina but a mix of that and flour, apparently it makes the base crunchier – now that we have cleared that up….

And lo and behold, after recounting the tale of the Lavazza Wimbledon challenge, the lovely lovely lovely waitress came over and said to me “We wish you the best of luck!” and handed over a Lavazza Wimbledon promotional espresso cup for me, as a gift, from Ponti’s!! How lucky am I?!  Its brilliant, it’s a cup that fits perfectly snug into the A Moda Mio coffee machine AND the best bit is that it’s got a cutie pie little lid that looks like a tennis ball and if you turn it upside down, it’s a coaster!! I love multi-functioning presents!

We saved ourselves for desert as we then headed off to Harrods, which I admit I’m a bit of a sucker for.  I’m not usually one for shopping, it bores me stupid and im somewhat lacking in the patience category but Harrods, there’s just something about it that make me a professional browser.

Today, however, I was there on a mission: to find the Lavazza coffee shop.  We went to the Gelateria who told us that Lavazza promotions had ended already.  That couldn’t be right.  They pointed us in the direction of the Godiva chocolate bar, who also informed us that Lavazza promotions had already ended.  No no no no no.  Wrong!  The Italian was relentless in his investigations to try find the Lavazza coffee bar and find it he did!

Lucia was absolutely adorable.  She let me be David Bailey for at least half an hour, taking snaps of everything in sight, rearranging cups, coffees, sugars etc.  She then delivered us the most amazing cappuccino and not only did she offer it us “on the house” she also came laden with a gift, for moi! Oh yes, another Lavazza Wimbledon promotional espresso cup for me to take home!!

What a successful expedition we had!

To win a prize of your own, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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IHeartGelatoPie

Sticking with my no rush, no fuss, no bake theme, I came across a recipe for a summer pudding in one of my dust bitten books.  Again, as my brain swished and swashed in merriment at what I could do next for my Lavazza Wimbeldon (did I tell you that Lavazza is the sponsor of Wimbledon? Got a sneaky feeling I’m repeating myself a tad..!), #CoffeeSetMatch challenge, I was hit by a light bulb moment.  Of course, that wont take any time at allll….

My Gelato Pie is a sort of British summer fruit pudding disguised as an arctic roll – both classics in my childhood so this has to be a winner!  It takes about 10 minutes to make, looks impressive and tastes delish!

This week, I have had a head bursting with the nonsense going on in my life at the moment so to be able to drum something like this up is nothing short if a miracle if you ask me!

Right, spoons at the ready…. tuck in!

What You Need:

1 shop made chocolate swiss roll (you could be adventurous if time allows and make your own and it doesn’t have to be chocolate but… well, I like chocolate so my choice is my prerogative)

2 shots of Lavazza strong Interra espresso coffee

Lots of soft scoop ice cream (I used Neapolitan as it looks good but if you wanted just one flavour than chocolate or vanilla works best)

What You Do:

Line the bowl with clingfilm (it makes it easy to get the pie out later)

Make the coffee and pour into a deep dish bowl

Chop the roll into slices and place around the edge of the bowl after having soaked up a bit of coffee in each slice – make sure the bowl is completely covered

Scoop the ice cream out of the container and put it into the bowl, over the swiss roll, until the bowl is full

Cover everything with the cling film and place in the freezer for about an hour

When frozen, cut into slices to reveal the rainbow of the Gelato Pie inside

*You could also make this nice Gelato Pie very naughty by making it boozy – add Amoretto or Sambucca Café to the sponge along with the coffee.  If you do, I would only recommend to use Vanilla ice cream otherwise the flavours will become too many.

If you fancy winning a prize, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

X-O-X

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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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IHeartNoBakeCake

When Lavazza told me that I was through to the quarter finals of the Lavazza Wimbledon #CoffeeSetMatch challenge, my heart skipped a teeny weeny beat.  I was thrilled but the mere mention of ‘stepping up my game’ filled me with dread because the lovely lady organising the whole shebang ended her email with “so now you better start baking“.  First thing’s first – I don’t bake, I burn!  I honestly, seriously cannot bake.  For someone as highly educated as moi, how hard can it be to read and follow a recipe? VERY! Cannot do it.

So, I set about thinking up concoctions that had the wow factor and didn’t require physical contact with an oven.  The results, I think, are pretty astonishing.

I had all kinds of things planned, especially for the Jubilee! My head was bursting with coffee creativity, that was until I was struck down with the dreaded stomach lurgy!

My non-baking etiquette, teamed with a house sale, a one year old’s first ever birthday party re-org due to British skies raining cats dogs, and, a rotten stomach bug, meant that my efforts in this round have been minimal.  I wont lie.  I just didn’t have the capacity this week to fulfill my quota. I now have eyes, fingers and legs crossed that this may just be enough to drag me, by skin and teeth, into the semi’s – when I promise to venture as far as the next room, my kitchen, open the oven door, put something in it, wait patiently and produce the goods, unmaimed!  Now Lavazza, anyone who knows me will vouch that this is no mean feat and I don’t offer the gauntlet softly – c’mon, give me a life line..

Anyway, usually coffee is savoured. Like a good cocktail, coffee is sipped and tasted, swilled in the mouth and rolled over the taste buds.  However, coffee as an ingredient doesn’t have to take time, it can save time.  Thats exactly what I wanted to do.

After coming up with a few ideas, I scoured my cookbooks (that sit on the shelf un-dusted), to confirm my thoughts.  My no-bake cheesecake was born.  Made with nothing but love and a few yummy ingredients, this little treasure can be knocked up in no time and really steals the show at a party!  I served this to my yummy mummy friends at Bambina’s party and they were very impressed at the speed and the taste! I was rather proud of myself!

What You Need:

1 capsule of Amoda Mio Lavazza coffee (any flavour)

1 packet of Oreo biscuits

75g of butter

1 packet of Ricotta cheese

1 small tub of Nutella

Fromage Frais

Raspberries

What You Do:

To make the base of the cheesecake, empty the whole packet of Oreos into a clear sandwich bag and bash the living daylights out of them until there are only a few lumps.

Then, melt the butter over a low heat and once into a golden liquid, add the Oreos and mix together with the coffee

Line a bowl with grease proof paper and empty in the mix making sure you flatten it out.  Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes until it sets.

Add about 3 heaped tablespoons of Nutella to the Ricottta cheese and mix aggressively.

Add on top of the Oreo base and put it in the fridge again to set.  After about 30min, take it out of the fridge and cut into slices – or, if you’re as creative as me, serve it up as a heart on a plate!

I love love love the inspirational photos taken from the Lavazza Con Te Partiró coffee table book that showcases the birth and history of the Lavazza calendar’s.

If you fancy winning a prize, you should look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter online.  Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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