More Latte Art (let me know if this is boring)

Ok, some more latte art shots that are really starting to take form now.

An actual rosetta

A few changes I’ve made to my routine after chatting with Ben of previous posts fame (and a professional coffee trainer).

1) Stretch the milk less.

There are two stages to steaming milk, stretching and rolling. Stretching is the name given to when you are actively incorporating air into the milk by leaving your steam wand close to the surface of the milk and drawing air down into it. Basically if you do this for the entire time you will get lots of big foamy bubbles (which is bad for latte art). If you don’t do it for long enough however, you’ll just get hot milk, with no velvety texture at all. I however, have probably been over stretching to make sure I get nice texture (which i think adds to the mouth feel when you make a nice latte), but also makes it really hard to pour latte art with any definition.

So now I just stretch for a few seconds (this is specifici to my Silvia of course) before rolling. Rolling is when you put the steam wand deeper down into the milk and get a vortex going around it, which rolls the milk around and distributes the heavier foam throughout the rest of the milk…giving you a really nice consistency.


2) Pour slowly and wiggle

If you pour too quickly it’s really difficult to make sure you’re getting all the milk in the right place to do art. So now I start by pouring really slowly, and when I see the milk starting to break through the crema on top I wiggle the tip of the jug to bring the heavier foam out, which I can then start pouring through side to side to get the shape of the rosetta.


3) Make good espresso !

Bad espresso will never lead to good latte art. The better the espresso (nice dark reddish/brown crema, well extracted) the more well defined the latte art is going to come out. If you pull a weak blond looking espresso, it makes it that much harder to get a nice looking rosetta on top.

Doppio Ristretto

p.s – if this is getting boring, let me know.

Matt’s Parnsip Bisque

Just had the chance to make my own version of Collins parnsip bisque that I posted recently.

Collins original post is here

So here’s my version :)

Parnsip Bisque (soup for the homely types)


  • 3 large parnsips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 of a leek
  • 1 potato, peeled, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200 ml water
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • butter
  • Pine nuts
  • Fennel seeds
  • Maldon Sea Salt (or equivalent nice cooking salt)
  • Cracked Pepper
  • Tempted to use cream but resisted

Parnsip Bisque

Slice all the sliceable ingredients up (except perhaps the butter, unless you have a hot knife and want to put that saying to the test).

Melt the butter in a pan and sautee the garlic, onion, leek together until its soft. Add the parnsip and potato and slowly cook it, adding more butter if necessary until its starting to brown and is getting soft.

Add your water and chicken stock together in a pan and bring it to the boil. Now add your vegetables which should be browned but probably a little hard.

Simmer the vegetables in the stock until they are nice and soft, and then transfer into a blender, and blitz it all into oblivion.
You should now have a nice creamy bisque, which you can transfer back into the pot to season with cracked pepper and salt.

Then i put the pine nuts and fennel seeds into a fresh pan and dry roasted them til they were kinda crispy. Then ladel the bisque out into bowls and made a funky little mound of nuts/fennel seeds in the middle of the bowl, sprinkle over some more cracked pepper and serve with some toasted crusty bread (I had lebanese bread).

Working the macro for all its worth

Thanks to Collin for the recipe. It definitely turned out great.

Peppered Porterhouse on Parnsip Puree (picked a peck of pickled peppers)

Now say that title five times really fast…

Actually, I just realised that although i posted these photos and descriptions to my Flickr page, I didn’t end up writing a post about it here… So a belated Valentines day to all the food lovers out there, because that was when I made this meal.

Valentines day dinner

This meal was… Parsnip Puree, Seared Witlof, Peppered Porterhouse Steak, topped with a red wine, cherry tomato confit.


  • 3 or 4 large parsnips (peeled and sliced thinly)
  • Butter
  • Double Cream (200 ml or so)
  • 4 Witlof (aka Belgian Endives)
  • Red wine (lots of)
  • 1 box Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Black Peppercorns (or Pink if you’re being fancy)
  • Beef/Veal stock
  • Porterhouse Steak (nice thick cuts)

Parnsip Puree
Slice the parnsips thinly and sautee them slowly in a pan with lots of butter. They should cook gently and not go too brown or burnt… After around 15 minutes or so they should be getting nice and soft, and starting to fall apart. All this point add the double cream into the mixture and bring to the boil. Let it simmer down for a few minutes before removing from the heat and blending the mixture in a blender. Done !

Peppered Porterhouse
Season the steak by crushing some peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and rubbing it into the steak. Do the same with some good quality sea salt, or ground rock salt and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Leave a while to let it soak in.

When you’re ready to cook the steak, put some butter in a pan and get it nice and hot… searing hot. Then drop the steaks into the pan and seal them on both sides, turning only once. A good poke in the middle of the steak will tell you how cooked it is. Soft and juicy equals rare to medium rare, hard and springy equals well done badness.

Once the steak is almost to the level you’re after, take it off the heat and put them into a preheated often to finish cooking.

Make sure you keep all the pan juices because thats what we’re using for the sauce.

Red Wine/Cherry Tomato Jus
So take the pan you’ve just cooked the steaks in, add some red wine to deglaze, and reduce it down to a syrupy consistencty. Now add the cherry tomotoes (halfed), a bay leaf, some beef/veal stock, and perhaps some pepper. Let this all reduce and watch the juices come out of the cherry tomatoes as they slowly break down into a deliciously sweet jus (pronounced Joo in case you ever see it on a menu and don’t want to embarrass yourself like I once did). Once you’ve got the flavour and consistency you’re happy with, you’re done.

Seared Witlof
The witlof was really simple. It’s a bitter kind of lettuce like vegetable, but adds a really nice edge to a heavy meal, so I simply sliced them in half down the middle, seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juices, and then seared them under a grill.

What you talkin' bout Witlof ??

Then arrange it all on a plate, drizzle over the sauce, pour some wine, light some candles, and let love work its magic…

Valentines day dinner

Collin’s Parsnip Bisque

Fellow food and wine lover Collin over at “See, Sip, Taste, Hear” has put together what looks like a delicous parnsip bisque.

Parsnip Bisque

We got the inspiration from the Abstract Gourmet after trying his recipe for pureed parsnips. The puree turned out fantastic & led us down the road of parsnip exploration.

Now if thats not a great endorsement I don’t know what is :)

Head over to Collins site for the recipe and give it a try.

Espresso lessons.

Knowing people is a good thing.

Having recently popped in to see Ben at the Barista Academy I got to borrow his La Marzocco naked portafilter. Unfortunately it didn’t fit my Silvia, but the LM double basket does fit into my Silvia portafilter. So I’ve been pulling a few practice shots with the LM basket instead. It’s a little deeper than the standard Rancilio double basket, and the walls are straighter, and the holes in the bottom go right out to the edge of the basket, as opposed to the Silvia which has a little gap around the edge where there is no extraction.

Baskets side by side

Having said all that you’d think i’d be getting better shots with the LM basket, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I assume it must be because of my dosing/tamping method and the amount of coffee I’m putting in each shot, because each shot I’ve pulled with the LM basket has been soggy on top (a sign of under dosing), and a lot faster than normal.

I think the additional holes in the LM basket, as well as the increased size, all add up to there being less resistance in the puck, which means fast/under extracted shots.

So to test this I kept the grind at exactly the same level and repeated my procedure with my standard Rancilio double basket, and immediately got a much nicer, properly extracted shot.

The lesson in all of this. Better equipment does not add up to better espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly :)
I’ll keep playing with the LM basket and try adjusting my technique to see if I can compensate for the differences i’m seeing.
It could also have a lot to do with the beans I’m using, which are a couple of weeks old now… Not having a roaster is causing me much pain.

Also, here’s a couple of latte art shots I’ve taken in the last couple of days. Still not getting them how I’d like despite getting Ben to show me… More practice required :)

Take away art

Lost it on the dismount

I ♥ comments.

Yes gentle reader folk… This is but a simple note to say that as much as I love cooking for the pure epicurean thrill of creating tasty food. I am also vain and need constant primping to maintain my fragile ego.


Leave me comments !! :)

If you found any of my stuff interesting, or check out this site on a more than infrequent basis, please let me know you’re out there :)

Over and out.

Wasabi Risotto with Daikon & Pickled Ginger

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Wasabi Risotto ??? ( I even knew you were thinking with 3 question marks ).

Well this was an idea that popped into my head the other day. I’ve been a risotto fan for a while now. Ever since I first convinced myself it was time to try making one, I’ve been hooked. The lovely creaminess and the gentle process of watching the stock slowly absorb sucks me in every time.

However, I’m not what you’d call the most creative person in the world. I take the occaisonal step out onto the ledge, find it’s not so bad, and then build a little nest there and camp out for a while. Now that’s all well and good if you’re a condor, or a vulture, or some other kind of bird of prey who relies on picked over the carcasses of someone elses creativity, but every now and then it’s good to spread your metaphoric wings and hypothetically soar to new culinary heights.

So here is my first foray into the world of experimental flavours and (dare I say it) fusion cuisine.

Wasabi Risotto with Daikon & Pickled Ginger (by Abstract Gourmet)

The idea was to create a style of risotto that someone from Japan might make, given some local ingredients and flavours. In reality I’m not sure whether traditional Japanese cuisine would embrace the use of wasabi as a flavouring. But then I wasn’t trying to make a “Japanese” dish, nor an “Italian” dish… nor even a “fusion” dish… just a wasabi flavoured risotto with some theme running through the ingredients that happened to be vaguely Japanese :)



  • Risotto Rice (I used Vialone nano which is shorter grained than Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • Sake (as part of the stock, and for the flavouring)
  • Fish broth (combined with water and sake to use as the stock)
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Red Cabbage
  • Daikon (or Chinese Radish)
  • Wasabi (I didn’t have fresh wasabi, so just used some paste)
  • Japanese “Kewpie” Mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Make the risotto as you would any risotto. Feel free to check out my indepth analysis of the risotto making process in one of my other recipes. The difference in this recipe is that we’re using sake instead of white wine to start with, and we’re adding the wasabi flavour at the end.
So start of the onion and leek in some butter to soften. Then coat the rice with the mixture and let it simmer and absorb heat for a minute. Now add a cup of sake to start with and let that absorb before adding the fish stock/sake mixture a ladel full at a time as you would any risotto.

I added the cabbage mid way through the process to make sure it was nice and soft, and I added the daikon right at the end to keep a little of the crunchy texture. The wasabi flavour was then made by combining the wasabi paste, japanese mayonaisse, sake, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil together and mixing really well. The wasabi is very strong… So i wanted to keep the flavour whilst toning down the sinus clearing qualities it’s often known for.

The result was a creamy pale green wasabi flavoured couli/paste/purée/sauce (mental note: look up the proper term for various forms of sauce). It had all the flavour of the wasabi with only a little of the “oh my god, that wasn’t a piece of avocado I just ate with my sushi” pain inducing after effects.

I mixed this through the risotto just prior to finishing, which gave it a nice glossy creamy finish. Then topped with a few slices of pickled ginger, daub some of the wasabi sauce around the place, and c’est fini !

Wasabi Risotto with Daikon & Pickled Ginger

I’d have to say it was a great success. Being the only judge however, I’m highly biased. But it’s definitely made me want to experiment more with flavours and styles that might not necessarily go together. If I made it again I think i’d add some nice steamed fish on top, or perhaps onagi with a seaweed/wasabi sauce on top…

Score one for fusion cooking :)