Category Archives: Food and Drink

Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Crème Brulee

Coffee Creme BruleeCrème brulee is a dessert prep that has withstood the test of time (it has been around since 1691), and for good reason – it is so delicious! We recently found that if we were going to be historical about it we should have served this dessert last week, since in Catalan cuisine crème brulee is served on March 19th for Saint Joseph’s Day.

However, if you ask us, it’s always a good time to consume this scrumptious treat so we went ahead and made it anyway. After all, there’s nothing quite like the satisfying crunch of cracking through the crisp, glossy brunt sugar crust on a crème brulee. Although, diving into the smooth and creamy custard underneath is a close second. Our version of this old standby does have a slight twist to it though – coffee! As you might have guessed, we love espresso so much that we add it to a recipe whenever we have the opportunity. We must admit it does taste pretty darn good.

Watch as Brandi and Kaylie play with fire (we promise no buildings were harmed or burned down during this film) and create some mighty fine coffee crème brulee.


Brewin’ with Brandi: Coffee Creme Brûlée


  • 2 cups of light cream
  • 2 teaspoons of finely ground espresso
  • 8 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon brandy


  • Start by heating your stove to medium, and combining the cream, finely ground espresso and half the sugar in a medium sized pan.
  • Stir the ingredients until all of the sugar is dissolved and the coffee is mixed in well.
  • Meanwhile, put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat in the flour to make a smooth paste.
  •  Then, gradually stir the warm coffee mixture into the egg paste you just created until everything is combined well.
  • Return this mix to the pan and heat gently, stirring the mixture for 5-10 minutes until it forms a thick custard.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the brandy.
  • Pour the custard into 4 small ramekins. Let them cool, then cover and chill the custard in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • When you are ready to serve the crème brulees, sprinkle each one with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Next, caramelize the sugar with a kitchen blowtorch. If you don’t have a kitchen blowtorch, you can achieve the same effect by the placing the sugar covered custard under your oven’s broiler for about 5 minutes until the sugar caramelizes.

A Tea Lover in a Coffee World: Baicha Tea Room Review

Baicha Tea RoomOn a recent quest to find teahouses outside of Seattle proper, and explore lesser-known opportunities for delicious tea, I stumbled upon Baicha Tea Room in Edmonds. This city, which is north of Seattle, has always been full of coffee shops, but actual teahouses have been few and far between. As such, I was excited to discover that there now was one in the area and to get a chance to visit one of our “neighbors.”

Located a few blocks down from the heart of Edmonds, Baicha may be slightly challenging to find if you haven’t heard of it before. However, this hidden gem is definitely worth the trek. According to Ann Budharaksa, who owns the store with her husband Joe, Baicha sells 90 different teas, which include white, green, oolong, black, blooming and flavored and scented teas. Ann and Joe have also concocted some tasty sounding tea lattes and smoothies, the latter of which I’ll have to come back and try once it starts to get warmer. However, Ann says the shop’s most popular teas are their specialty wellness blends that have been created to help alleviate colds, stomach aches, joint pain, hangovers and even skin problems. In fact, Ann and the rest of the staff are more than happy to help recommend a tea to help cure what ails you.

IMG_1314I had the opportunity to talk to Ann further, and she explained that they opened Baicha, which means tea leaf in their native Thai, because her husband was interested in tea and wanted to get into the business. It is not only Joe that enjoys tea though; Ann says she drinks tea every day, varying the type depending on what her mood is. The tea room has been open for a little over three years, as it had its grand opening on the auspicious day of 11/11/2011.  The day must have been lucky indeed, since they have been doing well ever since, with people frequently coming in to study, work just to meet a friend for breakfast or lunch. According to Ann, the store is busiest on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the peak times being from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This makes sense since the shop serves breakfast and brunch all day as well as soups, salads, paninis and traditional tea sandwiches.

Tea sandwiches can be surprisingly hard to find at even some tea houses, so I tried a plate of the cucumber parsley cream cheese ones. They were delicious, and came with seasonal fruit (in this case a bowl of strawberries) and chips. I had tea too, of course, and sampled the Pai Mu Tan or “white peony,” which is a white tea. The tea was served in a Bodum glass and infuser, and came with a sand timer so I knew how long to let the tea steep before drinking. When the tea was done steeping, it was a light yellow color and had sweet, floral flavor with a hint of peach.

IMG_1321After snacking on the sandwiches and tea, I decided to check out the rest of the shop at Ann’s urging. The main entrance, and upstairs, of the tea house is where you’ll find the counter for ordering tea and food, as well as a long bar that runs nearly the length of it, where you can sit and sip some tea. Although the upstairs is fairly small, there is also plenty of seating along the windows as well. However, as Ann pointed out, the downstairs area of the store is really what makes the tea shop unique. The space is surprisingly large, especially when compared with the upstairs, and is somewhat unexpected. In fact, the downstairs is large enough to house three rooms; a large room with a long table that would be great for meetings or studying, medium-sized room with cozy couches and a fireplace and a small side room with a fish tank and love seat. The décor in the rooms is modern, with an Asian feel. There are also canvases with pictures of tea or tea kettles hanging on the lightly colored walls that lend a calming vibe to the space. Every room looked so inviting, I actually had a hard time choosing where to sit. With so many options for seating, tea and food, it is no wonder so many people have made this tea room their secret spot for relaxing and hanging out. I just may have to make Baicha Tea Room my secret hideaway as well.

Brewin’ with Brandy: Milky Melon Cooler

milky melon coolerAlthough it is still pretty cold outside, at least around these parts, this is the time of year where the sun starts to appear a little more frequently, making us long for the return of warm summer days. While we have a quite a few more months to go before that happens, we can at least get our taste buds (and our minds) in the spirit for warmer weather with a milky melon cooler.

While the recipe for this drink might sound a little unusual, it is surprisingly light and refreshing. Better yet, it is super easy to make since all it requires is cold milk, watermelon syrup and an automatic milk frother. We made our milky melon cooler on the Capresso FrothTec Automatic Milk Frother, but you can make this recipe with any standalone milk frother that has a cold froth setting, or even on a manual model like the Frieling Milk Frother.

Watch Brandi walk us through these few easy steps and then mix up a drink of your own. You’ll feel like you’re relaxing at the beach or having a picnic in the park in no time!


Brewin’ with Brandi: Milky Melon Cooler



  • Fill an automatic milk frother up to the max froth line with cold milk.
  • Put the lid on the milk frother and select the cold frothing option.
  • Once the milk starts frothing, open the lid and slowly pour in the watermelon syrup.
  • Put the lid back on and allow it to froth until complete, about two minutes. The milk should have a nice silky texture.
  • Pour over ice and serve.
  • To pretty up your drink you can try decorating it with slice of watermelon and drizzle of syrup over the edge of the glass.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Espresso Shortbread

espresso shortbreadPerk up your afternoon coffee or tea break with this espresso shortbread recipe. These cookies have espresso mixed into the dough and a layer of espresso on the bottom, so they are sure to give you a buzz that will get you through the rest of the day. The fact that they only require a couple of common ingredients and their short baking time make them easy to whip in a pinch (or whenever you are need of a extra jolt of caffeine).

To learn how to make them yourself, watch Brandi create this surprise recipe under Bunny’s direction.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Espresso Shortbread


  • 1 ½ sticks of butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of espresso powder (for convenience sake we used a finely ground espresso blend).
  • ¼ cup of espresso beans, roughly ground (French press grade grind)


  1. Preheat your oven 350F.
  2. Cream 1 ½ sticks of room temperature butter and ½ a cup of sugar, until  the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Add ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds.
  4. Add 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour and 1 ½ teaspoons of espresso powder and mix until smooth (about one minute).
  5. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Scatter the ground espresso evenly across the bottom of the pan.
  7. Gently press the dough into the espresso covered pan.
  8. Place pan on the top oven rack and bake until the shortbread is set, about 18-20 minutes.

Brewin’ with Brandi: Spicy Mocha Recipe

Spicy MochaWhen we found a recipe for a mocha that contained not one, but three of our favorite ingredients (chocolate, cinnamon and chilies) we had to try it. The cinnamon and hot chilies definitely provide this mocha with some extra heat, so it is sure to keep you warm on cold winter nights.

The cool thing about this recipe is that, unlike the other mocha recipes we’ve done, you don’t need an espresso machine to make it. We did use a machine to pull the shots for the three cups of espresso required for the recipe but, since the milk is being heated on the stove, you could just as easily produce the espresso using a stovetop or other brew methods that don’t have a steam function. It’s like “making a mocha the way your grandmother used to,” but with a little more of a kick when it comes to the taste. To learn how to make this recipe yourself, watch Brandi flex her cooking muscles and whip up this tasty drink.


Brewin’ with Brandi: Spicy Mocha Recipe


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 small dried red chilies
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups of espresso
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream


  1. Start by combining the milk, cinnamon sticks and chilies in a large sauce pan.
  2. Turn the stove to high and heat until the mixture reaches a simmering point. Make sure to stir constantly to avoid scorching.
  3. Once the milk mixture reaches a simmer, remove from heat and cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  4. After steeping, stir in the powdered sugar, 1 ½ cups of white sugar, 3 cups of espresso and 1 cup of cocoa powder (reserve ¼ cup for later).
  5. Return mixture to the burner and bring to a simmer again.
  6. While the mocha mixture is simmering, mix the heaving whipping cream and remaining ¼ cup of cocoa powder, and whisk until stiff to create a whipped cream topping.  Set aside.
  7. Once the mocha mixture has reached a simmer, remove the cinnamon sticks and the chilies.
  8. Ladle the mocha into cups and top with a dollop or two of the whipped cream blend. Enjoy!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Espresso Whipped Cream

Espresso Whipped Cream RecipeSometimes, simple is better; but other times, souping up simple is even better. Take this espresso whipped cream recipe, for example: With the minor addition of finely ground coffee to a fairly standard whipped cream recipe, you produce something that is altogether more sophisticated and refined.

This delectable topping could proudly accent a gourmet coffee brew or molten chocolate cake; heck, it could even stand on its own, chilled in a decorative serving glass. And if you don’t have Brandi’s rockin’ biceps to work it out with a standard whisk, you can whip it up using an electronic mixer when you’re not even in the room! What could be more simple?

Watch her show us how it’s done in this fun recipe how-to video.

Recipe: Espresso Whipped Cream


  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee – we used Velton’s Twilight


In a medium bowl, beat all the ingredients until it forms soft peaks. Can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator if needed.


Brewin’ with Brandi: Happy New Year Boozy Shakes!

Happy New Year 2014!In preparation for tonight’s festivities, here’s a special episode of Brewin’ with Brandi — Happy New Year Edition!

Many of you will be rockin’ the bubbly when the clock hits midnight, but there’s plenty of time to get in some yummy drinks beforehand. For example: Breakfast. If you had a little pre-funk last night and need a good way to alleviate the boozy shakes, or are looking to set yourself up for a remedy tomorrow morning, then this boozy shake is just for you. With coffee, liquor, liqueur and chocolate ice cream, it’s certain to be a party favorite.

Watch Brandi whip up a batch for us to enjoy.

Recipe: Boozy Shake


  • 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream
  • 1/2 cup chilled coffee
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 cup of ice (more or less)


Place all of the ingredients (or half or the ingredients) into the blender and turn it on high speed. If you have a ‘pulse’ feature you can use it to hear if your ice cream/ice cubes are well blended. Serve up to yourself and three of your favorite people.

Happy New Year!

What’s Your Signature Espresso Drink? Episode Two: The Puristas

Purista Blog - Coffee RoasterWe talk a lot about coffee experimentation here at SCG. The great thing about being a coffee lover is that there is always something new to learn. Heck, we will try any espresso drink and any coffee brewing method at least once and we love to share our knowledge.

Recently, we met a couple who have taken our raison d’être ‘How do you make great coffee at home?’ to new heights of exploration. They have even started to roast their own coffee beans at home! When passion and inquisitive minds collide … meet the bloggers behind Purista.

Home Roasters

David and Mae have a beautiful coffee review blog. In researching their coffee reviews they found ‘one green coffee can become any multitude of different roasts.’ Many coffee lovers would simply compare these final roasts but David and Mae were intrigued by the whole process. ‘In order to more fully explore coffee, and to provide ourselves with even more education and understanding, we decided to begin roasting coffee at home. We are still in the early stages of our roasting setup, and are learning new things with every roast.’

Ethiopia Aramo

David and Mae’s Recipe for Success

‘We recently adopted a back-to-basics mentality with our roasting. Per the suggestion of a member of the Sweet Maria’s coffee roasting community, we now roast in the following manner:

  • Turn on the roaster
  • Add just enough coffee to stop the rotation of the mass of coffee
  • Watch. Smell. Listen.

This has already proven so much better than how we were doing it before. Our roasts are now closer to seven minutes, rather than the four minutes we were getting before for the same roast level. This translates to a more developed profile — more complex aromas, flavors, finish.’

Signature Drink: Pomegranate Molasses Affogato

Here is the background and step by step recipe with pictures from David and Mae for this luscious and festive holiday treat. The volume yields 4 drinks total.

‘We wanted to create a signature drink that embodies the season, but keeps our Purista ideals in tact. What we mean by that is that we want the coffee to be the focal point and any additions secondary and complementary. Since we’re also proponents for taking the time to make something well, the recipe involves a bit of work.
Pomegranate Molasses Affogato


  • 1 pint Vanilla ice cream; chocolate ice cream would be a solid choice as well
  • 4 double shots Espresso
  • 8 oz 100% Pomegranate juice (POM makes a bottle just the right size)
  • 1 tbsp Agave sweetener (you can use cane sugar or honey instead)


We’ll walk you through the pomegranate molasses reduction before the assembly of the drinks. This takes some time, and attentiveness, but you can make it ahead of time and store it in a container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the pomegranate juice and agave sweetener and reduce on a medium-low heat. The liquid should simmer within about ten minutes. After ten minutes check it about every four minutes. In twenty eight to thirty minutes, the liquid should have reduced by more than half and coat a spoon ever so slightly, like syrup, when stirred. Don’t let it get too thick, as it will thicken a bit more as it cools, and for this drink we want it to be about the same consistency as the espresso.
  2. Remove from heat and let it cool about five minutes before pouring it into a suitable container. If you’re doing it ahead of time you can just put it in the refrigerator. If you need to use it relatively soon, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes.

And now it’s time for assembly …

Pomegranate Molasses Affogato

  1. Place 1/2 cup ice cream into 4 small cups or bowls. For reference, our INKER cups are 6 ounces. Place in the freezer until the espresso is prepared.
  2. Pull a double shot of espresso for each serving.
  3. Take the ice cream out of the freezer and pour a fresh double shot over each serving, followed by a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses.

Note the way that the syrup and espresso seamlessly blend together in texture. Then take note of the tartly sweet play on the coffee’s own acidity accentuated and complemented by the pomegranate. The ice cream is just a carrier vessel, and a balancing component that tames the intense flavors just enough, and shocks the coffee into a submissive temperature. This is our treat of the season, and since we can’t have you in our own living room, we send this decadence off to yours. Happy holidays!’

Many thanks to David and Mae. If you would like to share the recipe for your signature drink, send us an email!

Brewin’ with Brandi: Easy Tiramisu Recipe

Easy Tiramisu RecipeThere are some things in life that just shouldn’t be easy — becoming a doctor, developing muscle tone, writing the Great American Novel — these are all processes that have a defined pace which likely contributes to their very worth. You must walk before you run, try to notice the foliage along the way and no doubt be better for having followed a more disciplined approach to the endeavor. In that vein, we submit another activity that may not be the best when rendered ‘easy': Tiramisu. Yes, it still tastes great and everyone you know will be clamoring for more, but is it really a good idea that you’re able to whip up such a devilishly delicious dessert so quickly and easily?

As Brandi demonstrates in this video, except for the whipping of the cream, this tiramisu recipe is probably too simple to keep anyone very honest and on track with dietary balance. Gail even joins her in the end to sample this delectable treat … and pretty much everything used to make it. If you’re looking for a super simple, easy and crowd-pleasing dessert for this holiday season (or any other time of the year, really,) then this tiramisu is the choice for you.

Recipe: Easy Tiramisu


  • 1 frozen pound cake (10 3/4 oz), thawed
  • 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee (you know we used Velton’s Twilight!)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Monin Dark Chocolate sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 2 Heath bars, crushed


  1. Slice the pound cake into nine slices and arrange in an ungraded 11 x 7 baking dish.
  2. Drizzle the pound cake with the coffee.
  3. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  4. Add the chocolate syrup, blend well.
  5. Fold in the whipped cream until well incorporated.
  6. Spread the mixture over the pound cake, then sprinkle with the crushed candy.
  7. Refrigerate until serving.
  8. Give up all hope of losing that last 5 pounds.


Hot Blog On Bog Action: Coffee Your Way

Laila-GhambariWe are all for having fun brewing coffee and tea however you like it — we love how personal/meaningful/medically necessary it is … It can be all things to all people and we don’t judge (except for my not-so-secret campaign to stop the current #pumpkinspicelatte craze but that’s a whole different story). Here’s some inside scoop on coffee, tea, and having it your way.

Interview: Laila Ghambari, Caffe Ladro Director of Education (via Food GPS)
Our coffee friends at local Seattle roastery Caffe Ladro focus on quality. We talked with Laila about how ‘coffee culture is changing and progressing so rapidly’ and how that effects everyone in the chain from growers to customers. She aims to make high quality coffee that is approachable to consumers — without  coffee elitism.

Tea Cupping Versus Tea Tasting (via T Ching)
Tea cupping is serious business. There are rules. Protocol. Necessary accoutrement. Yikes! But a tea tasting is a social get-together where you can break those rules and still have a lovely cup of tea … your way.

Tea Bags Get a Bad Rap, What’s a Solo Sipper to do? (via Drink Tea)
Be kind to yourself. If you drink tea, make it a good cup of tea. Pick loose leaf black tea, green tea, white tea, Oolong, Pue-erh or herbal blends that float your boat and have the right tools on hand for home, work or travel.

Map of Seattle’s Best Tea Houses (via Eater)
We’ve gone to Cederberg Tea House before, see other places Brenna found around Seattle to tempt your tastebuds. Or re-create the tea house experience at home with these goodies.

If you want a daily dose, we spill the beans about National Coffee Day 9/29, a coffee comic strip, cats that need coffee and other items of caffeinated interest on: