copyright., 2008. Maria Liberati
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm
Editor: Michela Pompeo
Cappuccino at Home
I have to admit that one of my favorite things about waking up in Italy is having cappuccino for breakfast. Oh, they sell it at that great big coffee company in the US-but it is not the same taste or the same experience. Not always having the time to go to the coffee bar in the morning ..we have learned how to imitate at home that great taste you get at the coffee bar. With a little practice ,no matter where in the world you are ..as long as you have a few things-especially great coffee and fresh milk. and a moka pot..you should be able to wake up to the same experience I have every morning here. But be forewarned.. a great cappuccino in the morning can be come an addiction. If you read my blog about the explanation of the Italian word ‘voglio’ you will understand why a cappuccino in the morning has become my ‘voglio’ http://www.marialiberati.com/blog2/?p=286 in the morning. And if you really want to be mesmerized..add an Italian ‘cornetto’ (Italian version of a croissant) with that cappuccino..and you will have love at first sight…. now that’s amore..
What’s the difference between ‘white coffee’ and cappuccino (double ‘p’ and double ‘c’ in Italian)?
Well, basically, it is the foam. Cappuccino is widespread in all Western Europe and, I dare say, in America (North and South), too. Some nice variations have been made, (‘frapuccino’ for example…), but essentially it is made of milk and coffee in variable proportions, with FOAM.
If you want to make yourself a nice cappuccino at home, without any big or small electric machine (leave it to professionals..) you’ll have to get a simple ‘foam maker’ and a moka machine (see pictures below).
The latter is not really essential, it is only to make nice Italian coffee, but you can make ‘long/American’ coffee as well. The most important thing, in my opinion, is foam, and good, creamy foam, not a series of empty air bubbles.
Starting from coffee, assuming you’re making Italian coffee, what you need is a good coffee blend such as LAVAZZA (both types: gold and Silver), ILLY, GOPPION, BRISTOT, and the moka machine. This last comes in different sizes: 1cup, 3 cups, 6 cups, 12 cups. You can see in the picture above both the 1cup and the 3 cup machines. Each one of them is composed of 4 main parts: the upper part, where you’ll get the liquid from, the first round flat filter + rubber lining fixed to it, the actual filter and the bottom part. To make the coffee, then, you’ll have to fill the bottom part with water, insert the filter (make sure a little bit of water comes out of it); fill the filter with ground coffee, screw the upper part to the bottom one, put it on the stove. Coffee is ready when you hear a ‘gurgling’ sound.
Now take the ‘foam maker’: It is made of two parts: a pot and a piston, which is also its lid. Pour a little milk into the pot, not too much because there must be enough room for the milk to ‘swell’ (if you need more, for many cups, you’ll have to repeat the procedure). Warm the milk, take it out from the heat, insert the ‘piston-lid’, thus closing the pot. Then, manually, you’ll have to work the piston up and down very quickly for a couple of minutes and it will be ready.
Pour coffee first into the cup and then, very slowly, hot creamy milk. With a teaspoon you can help foam ‘slide’ into the cup. Add sugar to taste and/or a sprinkle of cocoa on top of it and enjoy your home-made cappuccino.
A variation: top your cappuccino with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream!
For more recipes get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com