It’s no secret I’m no fan of winter. One of the only things I like about it is the hearty meals, which I why I make a lot of soup (like this one with onions, or mixed legumes, cauliflower, or butternut squash, or using my own chicken stock), lasagnas and pasta baked in the oven, and of course risotto.
Risotto is one of those things which can be intimidating at first (when is it done? how much liquid do I add? how long should I be stirring?) but after you do it several times, you get a sense for all of these things. Practice, practice, practice. And a lot of tasting. Not sure? Stick a spoon in there and taste, especially for rice ‘doneness’ — you want it firm (‘al dente‘) but not undercooked. Not overcooked, nor undercooked. Got it? :)
So while I can see the back of winter approaching (so long, sucker!), I’m starting to use these last chilly days to get in my favorite winter meals before everything becomes fresh & light once again.
Sautéed mushrooms in wine are one of my favorite things to make. I can easily eat a whole bowl of them by myself and I used to sneak them from the bowl my mom would set them in while she was making the main entree they would accompany. I love taking those mushrooms a step further and incorporating that deliciousness into a risotto. For a little simpler fare (or vegetarian), you can omit the sausage but I think the two go very well together.
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It’s high time I did a gift guide for coffee lovers since I have a book for coffee lovers! Most of the things on my Italy Gift Guide are still good choices, but here are some more specific recommendations for the coffee lover.
Here’s what I think is essential:
A Moka pot
Bialetti moka espresso makers are your best bet. There are a lot of moka pots! I wouldn’t get smaller than a 3-cup unless you live alone and plan to never have company :).
Alessi moka pot — from one of my favorite design brands. Sign me up.
I love love the look of Pantone espresso maker but I can’t vouch for its coffee-making abilities. Beautiful colors though.
These will count as one item, but let’s just spend a little time on it. There are so many options. And you could use more than one set at home, anyway. If you want to be fancy, you can even serve non-espresso in demitasse cups…
Perc ~ Cafe [sic] + Espresso Cups by Frank Criscione [site / shop] — I have been stalking these since the Kickstarter project! I love the idea of serving espresso or cappuccini in cups which resemble moka pots.
Pantone espresso cups. So many color combinations, so many possibilities.
Le Creuset makes espresso cups, too and I love the colors which make their cooking ware.
Bodum Pavina Espresso Cups. I love Bodum (I have a bigger glass set I’ve used with desserts) and the double-wall means you shouldn’t burn your hands!
I love color and these POP coffee cup and saucers are beautiful.
Coffee Mug and Espresso Cup Designed After the Caffeine Molecule.
I like these very rustic espresso cups in ceramic stoneware.
A seriously spiky espresso cup will make others think twice about putting their hands on it.
These Bormioli glass espresso cups are one of the sets I use at home.
More espresso cups and some styles on Fab and Etsy, too.
I never drink this much liquid myself (unless it’s tea) but I love the idea of an OFF and ON status in this color-changing cup.
Love the idea of using a Pantone color guide on the inside of a cup to determine how much milk you want in your My Cuppa Coffee Mug.
Serious stirring spoons.
I love Illy’s “Ombra” spoon design, and I love how when you set them down, they don’t roll off the saucer! Illy. Amazon.
A coffee container
Some people keep their beans in the freezer, but if you’re not keeping your coffee in an airtight container you’re doing it a disservice. You can get some pretty decorated ones easily, and the stainless steel look is always a classic.
A coffee grinder
I get my beans ground at our local torrefazione (coffee roaster), but grinding your own beans is great and I love the pre-brewing odor you get from grinding. There are a lot of coffee grinders, Krups is a great choice.
A book about coffee
*ahem*. You knew this was coming. Why not give them a nifty little guide to ordering Italian coffee correctly? I hear the author knows what she’s talking about.
Coffee note cards and Coffee Art
I’ve actually made both postcards & greeting cards from my espresso photos & I’m considering making sets available for sale (interested? let me know in the comments & I’ll send 2 of you a few blank ones):
Until then, I’ll just admire others’ art, like this watercooler note card set of moka pots from jojolarule.
Who wouldn’t love this Exceptional Expressions of Espresso poster?
I love this schematic coffee poster from Pop Chart Lab on Fab or Etsy.
What will you get the coffee lover in your life?
Disclosure: Some links are Amazon affiliate links where I earn a small percentage on a purchase. Thanks for helping support the site!