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Recipe: Iced Coffee Cubes

2 May

I left Berlin at the beginning of April to spend three weeks in the states visiting family and friends. I came back about a week ago. While riding in the taxi home from the airport, I was struck by a strange sense that my neighborhood street had changed; become fuller, brighter. I wasn’t really sure what the change was until the next day when I was walking to meet my husband for lunch. It was leaves. In the three weeks since I had been gone every single tree in Berlin had burst into green growth.

 

 

Spring had sprung and with it came temperatures in the 70s (F) and above. Suddenly the idea of drinking hot coffee in the afternoons became upsetting. I usually make cold-brewed coffee in the summertime (when I live in a place with actual summer, that is. San Francisco does not count) but on my birthday last weekend we went to a local cafe where the iced latte was made with coffee cubes.

Coffee CUBES-brilliant! I’m pretty sure that if I did a better job of paying attention to Pinterest I would have figured out this coffee cube thing earlier but I’ve been out of touch with the internet lately. But it’s ok because apparently real life doth provide, if just a teeny bit slower than our digital friend.

The basic idea behind the coffee cube is simple and you’ve probably figured it out already. Step one: Freeze coffee in ice cube trays.  TA-DA!

But wait! There are other things to consider. How are you going to serve your coffee cubes? With milk or with more coffee? Will you leave them whole or blend them? Will you choose to sweeten your coffee cubes? If you are more of an iced latte type person I would recommend freezing a strong coffee or espresso because it will be easier for the milk to stand up to the coffee. If you really just prefer an iced drip coffee then freeze regular coffee because the cubes will prevent your coffee from being watered down. In a similar vein, if you want to make a blended coffee beverage I would personally use a strong coffee and then blend it with milk. If you like your coffee to be sweet you can either stir in an appropriate amount of sugar into your hot coffee before cooling and freezing or you can make a simple syrup to add flavor and sweetness later. I posted about making simple syrup here. If you decide to make simple syrup you can easily make it flavored. I made mine vanilla but with other extracts and natural flavors you could easily do whatever your favorite flavor is.

Here is what I did: I made a strong coffee using my aeropress. I allowed it to cool on my counter (which took about 30 minutes) before pouring it into my ice cube tray. Then I carefully put the tray in my freezer.

The next day, I popped a few cubes into a glass, added simple syrup and milk, and stirred to dissolve the cubes.

About halfway through I decided to try blending it so I added a few more cubes and then blended the whole thing together until it was creamy and smooth. The coffee cubes work so much better than regular ice because they are just a little bit softer. Plus, again, no watered down coffee!

 

P.S. Have you heard about this nify-fabulous blender trick? A regular mouth mason jar can be used in place of a blender pitcher on most blenders. Awesome right?

 

 

Happy summertime coffee drinking!

 

 

❤ Stef

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Amy Sedaris Coffee Cake

28 Dec

Years ago, one of my good friends gifted me Amy Sedaris’ book, “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence”. That book is bloody amazing. Not only is Amy Sedaris hilarious (as usual) she has some really great recipes. In fact, I’ve already written about her Srgt. Pepper Cheese Ball on this blog. That cheese ball is beloved by so many that I get requests for it. I’m convinced that it is at least half the reason people invite me to their parties.

Another great recipe in the book is for coffee cake. I don’t know about you, but baking is not something that I can invent. I absolutely have to use a recipe or I’m liable to end up with something inedible. So, I am always searching for the “perfect” baking recipe. You know what I mean. The “perfect” brownie. “Perfect” snickerdoodle. “Perfect” pizza dough. This very well may be the perfect coffee cake, or at least, it is the coffee cake I always turn to.

Keep in mind that you put the prepared cake in a cold oven before setting it to 350˚ and baking.

Ingredients, Cake:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (I know. Just do it).

1 1/4 C sugar

2 eggs

1 C sour cream

2 C sifted flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla

Ingredients, filling:

1 C finely chopped walnuts

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 TB sugar

Prepare your pan by buttering it liberally. I occasionally also like to use parchment or wax paper. The original recipe calls for the use of a bundt pan but I halved the recipe and there was the perfect amount for use in a regular loaf pan.

Beat the sugar, butter and eggs until light and fluffy.

 

Blend in the sour cream, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Once mixed add the vanilla.

A trick to sifting flour if you don’t have a sifter (or are just plain lazy) is to whisk the dry flour.

Now that the batter is ready, make the filling by coarsely grinding (or chopping) the nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Put half the prepared batter in the pan, followed by half the filling, then the other half of the batter and top with the remaining filling.

Uncooked coffee cake.

Place in a cool oven, set the oven to 350˚, and bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. I would recommend checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

Cooked coffee cake.

Nom nom nom.

Oh yeah.

 

The most amazing thing about coffee cake is that it really doesn’t take long to prepare and cook, so you can make it for breakfast just as easily as you can make pancakes. You’re only an hour away from coffee cake town.

❤ stef

 

Recipe: Breakfast pop tarts

4 Oct

When I was a child I absolutely LOVED pop tarts. Sweet fruity filling and crispy icing in a hand held package? Sign me up! Toaster strudels took this one step further, of course, by giving the humble toaster pastry real fruit filling and a better crust. These breakfast treats were my kryptonite.

THEN.

I realized (with the help of the internet) that I could make them myself, and fill them with ANYTHING I WANTED. What is the toaster pastry, after all, if not a mini pie?

So although in this post I make breakfast pastry, you should feel free to fill your pop tarts with whatever strikes your fancy. I have used nutella, chocolate chips with a sprinkle of salt, all kinds of jams, cheese, and of course, bacon and eggs!

First you need dough. You can either make your own or use a pre-made dough like a pie dough or the pillsbury crescent roll dough. I make my own because it’s cheaper.

You can use any pie or pastry crust recipe that works for you. The one I like is below. It’s a nice, fast pie crust that doesn’t require chilling.

Quick Pie Crust

2 1/2 c. Flour
1 c. Shortening
1 Tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg + 1/2 c. cold water

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the shortening using a fork or pastry cutter and mix until chunky. In a separate vessel crack the egg and add very cold water until the mix measures half a cup. Whisk the egg and water together then pour the mix into the dough and continue to work the the fork/pastry cutter. When the mix becomes more of a solid mass start kneading it with your hands. Cut the dough in half and roll into two balls.

For the filling:

3-4 eggs, scrambled

3-4 pieces of bacon, very crispy

cheese of your choice

Make sure that either your bacon is super crispy or cut it into pieces, otherwise it will be hard to bite off inside the tart and it will all come out in one bite. Don’t you hate that?

Now. Start cutting and rolling out your dough. Roll the dough to 1/4″ thin (ish) and make it as rectangular shaped as you can manage. Cut the large rectangle into smaller individual pie crusts. I aimed to make the tarts hand-size. I don’t have specific measurements for this but just cut them out and don’t worry so much about it. They will all be delicious regardless of their size!

 

Put the filling on one side of the tart crust.

 

 

Flip the dough over the filling and crimp the edges. You can also square off the tart by cutting off excess dough. You can see here that I used some extra dough to cover places where the bacon had torn through the top of the tart. Pesky bacon.

 

Poke holes into the top of the tart and place on a baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of dough or filling.

If you like you can brush the tops with a wash of scrambled egg and a little water. This will make the tarts shiny and golden once baked-but this is not necessary.

Bake in a 350˚ oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Breakfast is SAVED!

xoxo

❤ stef

Recipe: Tortilla Espanola

7 Mar

Tortilla Espanola is a Spanish tapa (bar snack). It’s made with potatoes, onion, olive oil, and egg and is CRAZY delicious. It’s relatively easy to cook, but the execution can be tricky. You see, you cook the whole mess in a frying pan and then you have to finagle it out by flipping it onto a plate. I think I’ve FINALLY mastered the technique but I have definitely destroyed a few in my day. But, as Julia Child said, if you’re alone in the kitchen, WHO’S GOING TO KNOW? No one, that’s who. So it rips in half. You’re cutting that bitch into slices anyway. Nom.

6-7 medium sized potatoes

5-6 eggs

1 medium-large onion

Lots of olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the potato and the onion in half lengthwise and then slice thinly. The slices will be in half-moon shapes.

Mix the potatoes and onion together in a bowl and salt liberally. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and potatoes. You want enough olive oil to barely cover the veggies-maybe 1/2 a cup? Fry the vegetables until the potatoes are tender, but make sure they don’t burn. You’ll know they are ready when you can break a potato in half with a spatula.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them together. Pour the potatoes and onions into the egg and mix. Add a tablespoon more oil to the frying pan and then pour the potato-onion-egg mix into it and spread it evenly around.

Allow to cook until the edges of the egg are slightly browned. The egg will still be runny, but the bottom will be cooked.

Now you can do one of two things to cook the other side. If you have a frying pan that is oven safe, turn the oven to 350 and cook the tortilla for 10 minutes to set the top. You still have to brown the top, though, so you’re going to need to flip the tortilla.

Grab a large plate and put it on top of the frying pan. Put your hand firmly on the plate and quickly flip the pan over so that the tortilla ends up on the plate. Put the frying pan back on the stove with a little more olive oil and allow to heat for a few seconds, then slip the tortilla back into the frying pan and brown for 2-3 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven safe frying pan, you’re going to have to flip the tortilla without the time in the oven first. This will work it just might be a smidge bit more messy. It’s ok though. It will be delicious either way!

When you’ve browned the other side, slip the tortilla onto a plate and cut into wedges.

Serve.

Yum yum yum.

❤ stef

Recipe: Strawberry Jam

18 Jan

It’s officially winter. Part of me loves winter-I grew up in California, in the uber-temperate Bay Area, and despite what many Bay Area natives will tell you, winter doesn’t really exist there. Yes, it gets colder. Sure, you have to wear a jacket. But until I moved to Boston I never had to buy a winter-specific jacket, never had to fully change my wardrobe (my CA winter wardrobe consisted of summer clothes with the addition of tights, boots, and jackets), and never had to deal with snow.

When I first moved I was wary. I had no idea what kind of jacket to buy. My classmates (most of whom were from the east coast) made fun of me. I didn’t mind. I probably would have made fun of me too. The truth is that I grew to love it. I like snow, and the freezing temperatures, and the excuse to drink warm alcoholic beverages on a cold winter night. I like wool and I like to knit warm hats for me and my friends. I like subsisting on stews and roasted meats, and I like watching the snow fall outside my bedroom window.

That being said, sometimes a respite from the freezing temperatures and the gray weather is necessary. Sometimes it’s nice to create a bit of summer, enjoyable even, even if it’s just you in your kitchen, making jam from frozen strawberries.

Strawberry Jam for Wintertime

1 16 oz bag of whole frozen strawberries

1 C sugar

Skin of 1 tart green apple

1 tsp lemon juice

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Sprinkle of ginger

First you have to let the strawberries defrost a bit, so leave the bag out on the counter for an hour or so. Or, if you’re in a hurry (like me), throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the berries aren’t as hard.

Put the strawberries and the sugar in your pot and just allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. Don’t turn the heat on yet, just coat the berries in the sugar and let them get all sugary.

Mash them with a potato masher. If you don’t have a potato masher, use a fork.

Bring the jam to a boil on a medium heat setting. Boil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, the cinnamon and ginger, and the apple peel.

The apple peel is a natural source of pectin. The more you learn, right?

Return to a rolling boil and stir until you can’t stir down the boil anymore. It should be really bubbling away. Boil for another two minutes.

Turn off the heat source and check to see if the jam is set by using the back of a frozen spoon. If you look closely at the image above you can see a line drawn in the jam on the back of the spoon. That’s how you know it’s ready.

Ladle into jars.

At this point, you can choose to process it in a water bath if you like, or you can just stick it in the fridge. I chose to just keep it in the fridge. This recipe only make a little bit of jam and I was planning on using it right away. If you WANT to water process it, you need to have the correct canning jars. Finger tighten the rims and process in a water bath-a rolling boil-for about 10 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool for 24 hours. Check the seals on the jars to make sure they are tight, then store.

And there you have it. Delicious jam for the wintertime; guaranteed to lift your spirits.

❤ stef

 

How To: Homemade Coffee Creamer

4 Nov

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve had an undeniable craving for pumpkin spice ANYTHING.

I’m not really a big fan of pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, or even pumpkin, really, so this is a bit of a surprise for me. I think it has less to do with the “pumpkin” and more to do with the “spice”. I’m a big fan of “spice”. The pumpkin is just an ingredient I can’t get away from.

In the last few weeks, I’ve made pumpkin spice syrup, pumpkin spice pancakes (more on these later…), and the subject of today’s ramblings-pumpkin spice coffee creamer. I found the recipes for homemade coffee creamer on Pinterest (um, how great is Pinterest? You should follow me.) and was crazy excited. There are a bunch of recipes for different flavored creamers up there, but I singled out the pumpkin spice one, of bloody course. I did change it just a bit but the basics are the same. If you want to experiment with making other flavors, definitely check out Deliciously Organic. It seems to me that once you get the general idea, you can make any kind of flavor your little brain can imagine. Yum.

1 C heavy cream

1 C whole milk

3 TB pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp clove

1/8 tsp nutmeg

(Quick note here: for the spices, the original recipe calls for 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice. You can use that, or the spices I’ve listed here, or really any combo you like. The most important is cinnamon and I wouldn’t use too much ginger, clove or nutmeg just because they can be kind of strong. Steffany out.)

6 TB maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients, EXCEPT vanilla, on a pot on the stove. Heat, whisking together, until the mix starts to steam. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in vanilla. Let cool until room temperature. On a hot day, do this in the fridge. No one wants bacteria. Once cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour in a bottle and store in the fridge.

I added more maple syrup to my creamer than the original recipe, but I (personally) still find that I like a tinge bit more sugar in  my coffee. What can I say? I like my coffee super dark and sweet. It’s the best. If you find that the creamer isn’t sweet enough for you, you can always add more maple syrup and shake it into the creamer, or you can just add some extra sugar to your coffee.

Happy morning time!

❤ stef

How To: Creme Fraiche.

30 May

Alrighty. Creme fraiche. So it turns out creme fraiche is ridiculously easy to make. All you need is some heavy cream, culture, and a warm-ish windowsill. Emphasis on the warm-ish windowsill. I made this stuff in early May and Boston was still dealing with some shitty weather, so although I left my jar out for almost two and a half days the creme fraiche did not thicken correctly. I ended up sticking it in the fridge and then leaving it out for again for about an hour when the sun finally showed up, and it thickened almost immediately. Bacteria yay?

It is very fun to make. Very. It doesn’t involve much active process, but you feel triumphant anyway. Like an ass-kicking pioneer woman who is about to blow your bloody MIND.

1 container heavy cream

1 TB buttermilk or 2 TB yogurt – I used yogurt

jar

This picture makes me believe that the cream is ready to conquer the WORLD.

So. Pour all of your cream into a jar and add the buttermilk or yogurt. I used 2TB of greek yogurt. I had read that the cultures in yogurt aren’t as “strong” as the ones in buttermilk so I doubled the recommended amount. The yogurt you use will impart a slight flavor to your finished creme fraiche. For example, I used a tart greek yogurt and my creme fraiche was likewise slightly tart.

Stir in the yogurt/buttermilk and leave it (preferably uncovered, unless you’re worried about bugs) at room temperature for 24-48 hours. Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken slightly once you move it to the fridge.

I left it out longer (2.5 days).  On a warm day I would probably leave it for 12 and then check on it to ensure that it is thickening correctly, but you likely won’t need to leave it out for so long. Mine, even after 2.5 days, was initially very thin. I then left it out in the sun for maybe an hour and it thickened right up.

This is how it looked after 2.5 days.

As you can see, it wasn’t coagulating correctly. It still tasted good, it just didn’t quite have the texture I was after. If you end up with runny creme fraiche, remember that you can always whip it like whipped cream if you wish. I was actually planning on doing that until the sun finally showed up.

You can use the finished product in so many ways, just be sure to use it up in a week-ish. (I’m a little lax with expiration dates…I basically use something until it starts to smell.) (TMI?) Things I made:

Scrambled eggs

Pancakes

Creme fraiche/nutella strawberry dipping sauce (you just swirl the two together).

Enjoy!

❤ stef