Crew Review: Monin Natural Fruit Purees

In the halcyon days of our much-storied youth, we spent a cool 8 months slinging fresh juice from behind the mighty wheatgrass wall of a juice joint. Strawberry lemonades, mango-banana smoothies and peach coolers were all on the menu — three drinks you can now very easily create at home using Monin’s Natural Fruit Purees.

These luscious little numbers are very concentrated and highly potent; the strawberry almost seems like a smoothed jam and the banana reminds us of slipping a fresh one off of a Costa Rican tree. We’ve tossed these into smoothies and mocha shakes and look forward to experimenting with them in desserts and cooking.

Monin says these are shelf-stable, but we’re always a little bit terrified of products that claim that, so we’ve been keeping our open bottles in the fridge. It definitely impacts their consistency, making them a bit thicker to pour, which can be good or bad depending on your application. We’re imagining combining the strawberry with our Meyer lemon-infused vodka for a delicious summer cocktail treat! Care to join us?

5 Giro D’Italia Giottos Auctioned to Benefit Coffee Kids

You know we’re big fans of Rocket Espresso and think that the Giotto Premium+ and Cellini Premium+ are some of the best home espresso machines on the market. When Rocket contacted us about a limited edition model of the Giotto that they designed in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Giro D’Italia cycling race, we thought we’d make buying this collector’s item a little bit more special.

And what better way to do that then to auction them off and donate all the proceeds to the non-profit organization Coffee Kids? We love their mission and we love Rocket, so for us they go hand in hand.

Beginning on 6/19/09 and continuing through 7/24/09, we’ll be auctioning off one Giro D’Italia Giotto each week, 5 of the 100 total espresso machines available in this limited edition run. If you or someone you love digs cycling, owning this little piece of history will give you something to brag about — not only because these machines are so unique, but you’ll be giving to a really great cause, too!

Recipe: Zucchini Stuffed with Dirty Rice

We ran across this recipe today and think it’s going to make a great addition to our summer menu! The flavors of coffee and oregano are a unique pairing that we can’t wait to try out. Generally, recipes using instant coffee don’t make it on our to-do list, but this one looked too tasty to pass up. If you take this recipe on, let us know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 100g basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 1/2 chicken stock cube
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp fresh, chopped oregano, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 70g goats’ cheese
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the zucchini and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the pan, allow to cool, halve lengthwise, then scoop out the pulp using a spoon, without breaking the skin, to leave a shell. Set the shells and the flesh aside.

Melt the butter in a deep non-stick frying pan, add the shallots and fry until golden. Add the drained rice and stir well. Add 240ml water, the stock cube half, coffee granules and oregano. Bring to boil, then cook, covered, on a very low heat for about 7 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and the rice is cooked. Season with a little salt and set aside to cool.

Remove the rice from the pan and use the same pan for the zucchini. Don’t add any oil, just put in the zucchini shells, skin-side down, and dry-fry, still over a very low heat, for a couple of minutes to brown a little. Remove and set aside on foil on a grill pan. Now add the zucchini flesh to the pan and fry for about a minute and a half, stirring all the while, until it feels like the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat, add the rice and stir well.

Preheat the grill to hot.

Spoon the mixture into the zucchini skins. Top each with some crumbled goats cheese, sprinkle over a touch more oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. Place under the hot grill for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is browned.

Try the rice alone or with some chicken or fish; grilled salmon would be particularly good. Perhaps try stuffing mushrooms instead.

Source: Guardian UK