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‘Green Lantern’ Website is Now Live http://post.ly/12D0X

I’m Either In Wonderland Or Someone Flipped This Cafe Sideways http://post.ly/12Cz3

Cafe Latte Panna Cotta http://post.ly/12D7Q

Gifts Cooks Love http://post.ly/12D8Z

Great Photoshop tutorial detailing using gradients for light and shadow work. http://ht.ly/2PdIh

Gifts Cooks Love

Gifts Cooks Love

Gifts Cooks LoveWhile the title Gifts Cooks Love might sound like it is a catalog of baking gadgets and cooking tools, but it is actually a book of homemade gifts that you – as someone who loves to cook or bake – can make and give as gifts for any occasion, from housewarmings and birthdays to holiday parties. The recipes range from the simple to the gourmet, but you’ll find plenty of things in here that you might want to make as gifts or simply try first and keep around the house.

The book begins with a few introductory chapters that cover equipment you might use, ingredients you might need and all kinds of decorative packaging techniques to make sure your presentation is just as good as what you’re presenting. Because the focus is on foods that should be given as gifts, the recipes include many individually sized goodies – such as brownie pops and mini loaves – as well as many preserved gifts – homemade ketchups, jams and sauces. This means that some of the techniques aren’t things that you might always find in your other cookbooks where the focus is probably on eating your creations and not giving them away!

The recipes in the book are detailed and not difficult to follow along with. Many of them are gourmet twists on simple recipes that stand out as something special, not to mention that it emphasizes the fact that you can’t buy these things in a store. The photos are beautiful and by the end of the book you might find yourself wondering who else needs to go on your holiday gift lists. But even if you’re not planning to do much gift giving, there are lots of great recipes and techniques in the book for everyday cooking. And you can always give a copy of the book itself and hope to get some of the goodies in return!

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2 Comments

  1. Pattyann says:

    I will definately have to check this one out. I have several older books like this (the Gifts of good taste series) I have always loved them because of the presentation of the ideas as well as the recipes. I really enjoy making my own homemade gifts every year. It is so much fun and it reminds me of the reason for celebrating!

  2. heng827 says:

    This is a nice idea since the Holiday Season will be here soon. Gifts like this will ad to the festive spirit during the holidays.

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Brilliant idea. Love the thought of handing out home made gifts.

Cafe Latte Panna Cotta

Cafe Latte Panna Cotta

Cafe Latte Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a very simple dessert to make, and a very elegant one at that. The basic panna cotta is a sweetened cream mixture that is just barely held together with a bit of gelatin, giving it an extremely tender (not jello-like) texture and a very light mouthfeel. A panna cotta can be flavored with all kinds of ingredients, but cream or half and half is a primary component of most recipes and you definitely want to get the richness from the cream in the finished product.

This is a Cafe Latte Panna Cotta. I would call it a coffee panna cotta, but the flavor of the cream is such a nice balance to the coffee that it really is reminiscent of a well made latte! To make the dessert, gelatin is dissolved in a bit of coffee, then cream and sugar are added in and heated until the mixture is very smooth. There is just enough gelatin to hold everything together and every bite feels quite luxurious on the tongue. It has a great coffee flavor and a nice sweetness to it that ties the coffee in with the cream. You could simply use some regular coffee from your coffee maker for this recipe, but to bring out that coffee flavor a bit more, I recommend making it a bit stronger than usual so it stands out from the creamy base. Either add more grounds to your coffee when you brew it, or add a teaspoon or two of instant coffee to give it more body. If you have an espresso machine, replace a bit of the coffee with a shot of espresso!

I poured my panna cotta into little espresso glasses to serve them, which meant I got quite a few servings from this batch. It is great for a dinner party or other gathering. Shot glasses will work just as well as espresso cups. Feel free to divide yours into larger ramekins if you prefer a slightly larger serving per person.


Cafe Latte Panna Cotta
1 cup strong, brewed coffee
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp unflavored gelatin

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and gelatin. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until gelatin has dissolved. Add in half and half (or half milk and half cream), sugar and vanilla. Stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar has dissolved, bring mixture almost to a simmer. Cream will steam, but not bubble.
Strain mixture into a measuring cup or other dish with a spout. Pour into espresso glasses or other 2-oz ramekins and chill until gelatin has set, at least 2 hours.

Makes 12 small servings.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m still amazed that I have yet to try making panna cotta. This looks like the perfect recipe to try!

  2. what a lovely, elegant dessert! my coffee fanantic suitemate would love this.

  3. Espresso cups?! What an adorable, dainty and delicious dessert! We’re kind of addicted to coffee – and coupled with our absolute love of all things sweet – this looks like a perfect dessert for us!

  4. Rachel says:

    I had no idea panna cotta was so easy to make! Ah, the wonders of gelatin. This is going on the menu for my next dinner gathering.

  5. I have been meaning to make pannacotta for a very long time now – and I think this recipe is the final push. It’s sounds so easy and yummy. Thanks for the nudge.

  6. abbey says:

    wow! this is very unique kind of panna cotta!

  7. Ester says:

    mmmmm I really need to make panna cotta soon! You have a nice blog.

  8. Judy says:

    Love coffee! Bookmarked!

  9. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    This looks perfect! Yum :)

  10. Laura says:

    Your directions don’t indicate where to add the two cups of coffee. Are you supposed to dissolve the gelatin in the coffee before heating it with the sugar??

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NOM NOM.

3 silky smooth social media startups to watch out for.

As a developer myself, it normally takes quite a bit to impress me.  I’m sceptical of many new web services to hit the web, as often they are old ideas repackaged as something else. Recently however, I’ve discovered  couple of truly unique ideas for web applications that have left an impression with me. I’ve no doubt that these services are going to be huge and definitely need to be shared. So here we go..

One True Fan

URL: http://onetruefan.com

One True Fan is a service which enables a deeper level of interaction with your website, by using game theory. You can think of it as a Foursquare type service for websites, where check-in’s are performed on every website you visit to achieve points. The more sites you check-in to, the more points you accumulate. The more actions you perform (e.g. social sharing) the higher your score again.

When you become the current leader – what they term the ‘One True Fan’, an email is sent to the person who lost that position, and to you, to let you know you are now in the lead. This information can be utilised by the publisher to work out which individual playing the game is driving the most traffic, and pageviews back to the site. It’s a simple concept, and once you start playing, it is insanely addictive. The Team are ex-MyBlogLog, and know a thing or two about social connections online, to date they’ve received $1.2M in funding, and I can see a real and viable business model emerging with a couple of angles.

One True Fan is genius on two levels. Firstly, they’ve added a new social layer to the web.  There’s absolutely nothing out there on the web at the minute that allows you to see, (and connect) with your social circle live on the websites that you visit, and One True Fan brings that to it’s users. I’ve no doubt that as the service grows in popularity, this will be built out to enable real time interaction other friends viewing the same website as you. e.g. chat features etc.  This is all achieved by leveraging your existing  social profiles that exist on Facebook and Twitter, and installing a browser plugin, for the websites that don’t yet implement One True Fan’s javascript.  Secondly, they’ve provided incentive for users to start the sharing process, and the seeding of content.   This is a service that you’ll absolutely see a lot more of as publishers realise the benefits, and as the web realise how much fun it is to stalk follow the websites that other people in their circle are visiting. Simply awesome.

Empire Avenue

URL: http://empireavenue.com/

Empire Avenue is another web application with a social layer which is alot of fun. Essentially, you can think of it as a virtual stock trading game, where you setup your account, and connect your different social profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube accounts) so that an overall picture of your influence can be built up. Your influence is then translated into stock inside Empire Avenue that others can buy. As your influence grows, so too does your share price. The more you do online, the greater your influence and the faster your stock will rise. Blogging ,tweeting and updating social statuses all affect your overall price, and increase your reach.

From a business model point of view, influencers will be given control over the advertising they carry, and rewarded  within the game for doing so, with an increase in share price, working in a similar way to a affiliate marketing. Empire Avenue sets itself apart not only in its unique feature set, but also by employing a revenue sharing model unlike other major advertising networks. As you can pick and choose what to  advertise, this is much more of an endorsement than an advertisement, and is likely to be received in higher regard by your peers.

Once I got setup and logged in, and attached the variety of accounts at my disposal, straight away I received notifications of people buying a stake in me, which in turn set me off on a bit of a buying spree myself. Obviously new members are hot property as they are much more likely to rise in value. The aim of the game is not only to raise your own value, but to find valuable other players that already exist in your network and are likely to be influential.  It’s an insanely addictive little product, that reminds me alot of Celebdaq, with a new and social spin on it. Well worth taking for a test drive. (Oh by the way, my stock ticker is WEBIRE – feel free to buy up a slice of goodness :0)

Datasift

URL: http://datasift.net/

If you’ve used Twitter search before, you’ll know that it isn’t exactly up to scratch. It’s an area that is technically difficult for them to perform, as there are literally billions of tweets to process into a manageable form. Fortunately DataSift hopes to change all of that.  Created by the folks behind services such as TweetMeme and Fav.or.it, Datasift exposes a new GUI and API Engine to interface with Twitter’s data, essentially offering much improved curation of the stream to developers

Datasift can be thought of as a Yahoo pipes product for a Twitter stream, that will also allow you to filter the retuned results. Sentiment analysis is also performed on top of Tweets to give deeper understanding and meaning to existing information,  which is something many developers are screaming out for. They have two revenue models. If you consume the service for free there is in stream advertising. To those who want the technology to utilise in there own application without advertising,  there is a paid option for that.

With more and more information being shared on Twitter DataSift appears to be a very exciting product, with very real application in the social media sphere, and just recently went into Alpha. Definitely an app worth looking out for.

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Very clever start ups. Interesting to see what survives and what doesn’t.

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