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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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Cocktail: The Autumn Leaf

27 Nov

I’ve been really into cocktails lately.

I blame all of my visits to Rickhouse and my newfound ability to amass alcohol for this. First, Rickhouse is an amazing bar with some of the best cocktails I have ever tasted. Second, I’m finally at a stage in my life where I can both afford good alcohol and don’t necessarily consume it all the moment I buy it. (We’ve all been there ammIright?) Because of this I have managed to accrue a decent amount of alcohol; effectively creating a functioning bar.

 

 

I have seven bottles of gin you guys. SEVEN.

You know what this means? THE RETURN OF COCKTAIL HOUR! Also it means that I have been teaching myself how to make cocktails more complicated than a gin & tonic. Though there is nothing wrong with a gin & tonic. They are delicious AND distinguished.

Inspired by my recent cocktail shenanigans, I created this delicious bourbon cocktail that I like to call the Autumn Leaf. No leaves were harmed in the making of this cocktail.

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz maple syrup

2.5 oz bourbon

1/2 oz apple cider (or juice)

2-3 dashes old fashioned bitters

cinnamon & sugar for rim

First rim your glass. Mix together some sugar and cinnamon on a plate, rub lemon or some water along the edge of a short tumbler, then invert the tumbler onto the plate and twist it around to rim the glass with the cinnamon sugar.

 

 

Then add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. You can be creative with this. No cocktail shaker? It’s cool. I don’t have one either. I use a mason jar. LIKE A BOSS. That little ducky is a ml/oz measure.

Shake shake shake.

 

Strain into the prepared glass (no ice).

 

Enjoy.

You can ALSO make this in a taller glass with the addition of ginger beer. If you do this, follow all steps above, except strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top off with ginger beer.

Also yum.

I just drank all the bourbon in my house you guys. Oops.

❤ 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

Recipe: Simple Syrup

5 Jul

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a coffee snob. A terrible, vocal coffee snob. At least I admit it. Granted, if I’m at a diner I drink whatever coffee is available. Bad coffee is much better than no coffee at all. But given the choice I make my coffee at home, using whatever method strikes me at the time (ceramic hand drip cone, vacuum coffee pot, stovetop espresso maker), half and half, and turbinado sugar. When I make a point to go out for coffee I’m super-picky and there are only a few shops I frequent. I don’t usually like iced coffee because when I think of coffee I think of it as being hot. “Coffee” means espresso, or drip, with sugar and cream, steaming in my hands. The desire for an iced coffee is something completely separate from my desire for coffee. When I want coffee (and I so often do) I want it strong and creamy-sweet. When I want iced coffee I like it to be strong, but I want more half and half than usual (like an iced au lait?) and yes, sugar. And yet sugar is a complete nightmare to dissolve in anything cold. I’ve been drinking my coffee iced more often because Boston is a nightmare of humidity. When I wake up sweating in my sheets my last thought is for a hot beverage, no matter how much I may love my hot coffee. (And let me tell you, I love it a lot.)

I usually just dissolve the sugar into the coffee before I let it cool and add ice, but I decided to make some simple syrup instead. The nice thing about having simple syrup around is that you can use it for alcoholic beverages too (woo-hoo!) and it’s easier to tailor your coffee once it’s already iced. Sometimes I add my sugar to the hot coffee, throw in ice and milk, and I realize that I added too much or too little sugar and there isn’t much I can do at that point. 😦  SIMPALLLLL SYRUP TO THE RESCUUUUE!

Recipe:

1 C water

1 C sugar (I used turbinado sugar)

Dash of vanilla extract (oooh, fancy!)

If you wanted you could also use a different extract – like ginger, or orange blossom, cinnamon. Just take into account what you want to use the finished product for. The most important part of this recipe is the water to sugar ratio, which should be one to one. So, if you wanted to lower or increase your quantities that’s fine as long as you keep it one to one.

Mix together your sugar, water and extract and heat to just boiling. Stir occasionally as it heats and make sure the sugar is dissolving. Keep it at a gentle simmer for a few minutes, then take off the heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, pour into a bottle or jar for easy serving. I used this super-fancy jar.

My syrup is so dark because of the turbinado sugar. Mmm!

Mix into all of your delicious iced beverages.

Liiiiiike coffee!

MM, icey.

Your iced beverages will never suffer from lack of sweetness again!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Butterbeer Part 2, Tudor Style!

6 Mar

After months of empty promises, I finally bring you the post you’ve all been waiting for.

Butterbeer, Tudor Style. Yesssss.

The Tudors were an interesting culinary bunch. They ate lots of funny meats (badger, anyone?) and insisted that beaver was a fish so they could get around the “only eat fish on Fridays during Lent” thing. Inventive, or just plain stupid? I  guess that’s just up to you and your level of scientific propriety. They also used a really fascinating device called a trencher – basically a stale piece of bread used as a plate, which was either eaten with sauce or given to the poor upon completion of the meal. You heard that correctly folks, the pious Tudors gave away stale bread that they had ALREADY EATEN ON to the poor. Yum?

I was sent this recipe by a friend about six months ago. He wanted me to make it so that he could drink it, unwilling to try his hand at the recipe himself, perhaps? Either way, it reminded me of a type of butterbeer I had made back in high school when my friends and I were all cracked out on Harry Potter. (Nothing like we are now, of course). (Much…) That recipe used root beer and hot buttered rum mix-probably not very authentic, but super-delicious nonetheless.

I’m not sure if this Tudor style butterbeer is any closer to approximating the kind that Harry and his friends drank at the Three Broomsticks, but it’s entertaining.

2C LIGHT beer (I used a pale ale, and the end result was slightly bitter tasting. I would use a lager or maybe a cream ale next time, something really light, like Boddington’s or even just Miller or Coors).

1/4C sugar

Pinch of nutmeg

2 egg yolks

1TB butter

Put the beer into a large pot on the stove, and heat until the beer becomes steamy and slightly foamy.

Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and nutmeg.

Slowly add about 1/2 C of the hot beer to the sugar-egg mixture, stirring all the time to combine. You are doing this to temper your eggs, slowly cooking them so that they don’t become scrambled when you add them to the hot beer.

Turn off the heat and pour the beer, sugar and egg mix into the large pot of beer and gently whisk. Add the butter and whisk some more.

When it looks like all your ingredients have been successfully combined, pour the butterbeer into a large glass and drink!

A note on the taste.

As I said before, I believe my selection of beer made the resulting butterbeer slightly bitter, which is why I suggest using a really light beer. This is not the time to get all snobby about beer (which is just part of my nature). When you think about it, the Tudors used beer as a water substitute because actual water was literally too dirty (full of SEWAGE) to drink. Beer probably wasn’t all that complex. Suck it up and use MGD.

With that said, Jakey Jake LOVED IT.

Me? Not so much.

This is why I try not to experiment alone! I would make it again using a different beer, though. I think that is where I went wrong.

So, to wrap up.

Butterbeer = weird. Try some!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Butterbeer! Part One.

31 Jul

Earlier in the week, a friend emailed me a link to a recipe for real, Tudor-style butterbeer. Apparently butterbeer is not just the stuff of Harry Potter culinary lore, but a real drink imbibed by real people with a real recipe to boot.

This brought to mind my high school days, when I would make faux butterbeer for my friends using homemade  hot buttered rum mix and root beer. I would warm up the root beer on the stove and whisk in the hot buttered rum mix, and serve to friends dressed in festive hats and robes. We always saw Harry Potter on opening night, and we always dressed in costume (we did the same thing for Lord of the Rings). We were were (and sometimes still are) those kids!

When I discovered the root beer/hot buttered rum mix drink I was ecstatic, because it brought an additional air of authenticity to our festivities. When my friend emailed me the REAL butterbeer recipe, the memories came back and that, coupled with the fact that the newest Harry Potter movie has recently been released, inspired me to devote this blog entirely to butterbeer.

And so begins DinnerLove’s two-week Butterbeer extravaganza! This week I am bringing you the non-alcoholic root beer variety, and next week I’ll feature the tudor-style alcoholic recipe. Woohoo!

Butterbeer

Root beer, at least 16 oz

Hot buttered rum mix:

1/2 stick of butter

1 C brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

Leave the 1/2 stick of butter on the counter for a bit to soften it up. Alternatively, you can soften it in the microwave but I always manage to screw that up somehow and end up with a big liquid mess.

So, all you do is cream your ingredients together. Put the butter, sugar and spices into a bowl and stir until they are all combined.

Use 1 TB mix per 8 oz of root beer. I’m only making enough for one person (this stuff is really sweet!) so I heated 8 oz of root beer. When the root beer is warm and bubbly, add the buttered rum mix.

Whisk the mix into the root beer until it is dissolved. Watch the root beer, it will foam up if you’re not careful!

Pour into a big mug and enjoy!

In my opinion, the non-alcoholic variety is probably more true to the Harry Potter books than the tudor-style alcoholic beer recipe. I know that the drinking age in the UK is 18, but Harry Potter and Co have been drinking butterbeer since they were at least 12 and I seriously doubt that Madame Rosemerta would stand for a gaggle of drunk pre-teens in The Three Broomsticks, especially when they have Voldemort to fight off. Could you imagine? Harry wasn’t exactly an A student when it came to magic. If he were drunk he would have been dead!

Until next week, my fellow muggles. Enjoy!

❤ Stef

How To: Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

9 Jun

I started drinking coffee at age 12. I started with the Starbucks pre-mixed frappuccino beverages you get in the grocery store. Then I moved to the real Starbucks frappuccinos, mocha at first, then the coffee flavor. Soon the frappuchinos were too sweet, so I started ordering caramel macchiatos. I stayed steady on those for a good year or two, until my boyfriend introduced me to Peet’s. I started drinking a macchiato with caramel and two packets of sugar. Then I stopped putting in the sugar, and eventually moved on to lattes. I now drink drip coffee almost exclusively. I like it extremely strong and dark, with lots of cream and sugar. It has to be very dark coffee, though! Anything less, once the addition of cream and sugar, tastes weak to me.

My cafe of choice has also changed–I absolutely hate Starbucks. I can appreciate what they have done for the coffee business, and cafe culture, but their coffee is just terrible. Sorry Starbucks!

I was making my drip coffee with a regular machine, sometimes with a french press, until I first went to a coffee shop called Philz here in San Francisco.

Oh. My. Jesus.

Philz makes its coffee using drip cones exclusively. They also roast all of their own beans, and I have to tell you that one taste of that coffee and I was hooked. In my opinion, a ceramic drip cone creates coffee that is better than any espresso.

First, a few pointers.

1. Always grind your own beans. You can easily get a grinder for $10, probably less.

2. Use filtered water.

3. Use 3 TB of coffee to 8 oz of water.

4. Use beans that are dark and shiny in appearance. I don’t think there is anything particularly documented about this, but that is how I choose beans and my coffee is always awesome!

You will need:

A teapot.

Your mug of choice.

A ceramic coffee dripper (mine is from Beehouse).

Coffee filters.

Cream and sugar.

Coffee beans!

Set a pot of water to boil. You should boil 3 times the amount of water that you need. While you wait for the coffee to boil, grab a mug and put your desired amount of cream and sugar in it. Microwave it for about 30 – 45 seconds.

Grind your beans. For this style of brewing, the beans should be a medium grind, about the texture of coarse sand.

Put the ground beans into a coffee filter, and put it all in the cone.

Set the cone onto the mug.

Pour 8 oz of water into a measuring cup, preferably a glass pyrex one.

Pour just enough water onto the ground to allow them to expand, and stir the grounds. Then slowly add the rest of the water.

Stir the grounds gently as the coffee drips. You don’t have to stir consistently, just a few times to make sure the grounds and the water are mixed.

Stir your finished coffee, and enjoy!

I guarantee that this will be the best cup of coffee you have ever had! I should know; I’m obsessed!

❤ Stef