Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cold Brew Iced Coffee

I love good coffee. Espresso especially, but good coffee with hints of chocolate and a smooth rich finish is like heaven to me. In the summer I keep a jar of iced coffee on hand for my morning (or sometimes afternoon coffee). Many coffee shops these days make cold brewed iced coffee, and I thought I'd finally try it at home. Cold brewed iced coffee, when done right has all the delicious rich flavor of coffee without the acidity, that's the appeal (also, you don't have to boil water in the 100 degree weather). I had seen some crazy contraptions for this brewing method, but a google search made me realized you don't need anything special to make it at home.  I found this excellent post from a chef at Cooks Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen. He seems to have tested the heck out of this recipe and includes great instructions and photos. I will summarize and simplify it here, but check out his post for more details: - photos and description   and: - recipe (I altered this a bit).

His recipe uses 1:1 coffee to water ratio. I'm sure this makes great coffee, but it is a bit too costly for my wallet, so I used less coffee, and still got a great result. I suggest you play with this recipe, trying different roasts of coffee (medium or dark) and different amounts of coffee. The variables I wouldn't change are: 
1. grind your coffee very fine (espresso or turkish coffee fine)
2. let it steep for 24 hours. It may look dark and ready to go, but it really won't have enough flavor until it steeps for the full 24.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee

2 cups (or up to 3 cups) finely ground coffee (medium roast is recommended)
4 cups room temperature water

  1. Stir coffee and water together in a french press or other jar. Let stand covered for 24 hours. Stirring once or twice, especially in the beginning.
  2. After 24 hours: If using a french press, press the solids to the bottom of the press. Pour the coffee through a paper filter set in a strainer (this will take a while). If you don't have a French press, pour the coffee through a strainer to remove large solids and then through a paper strainer to remove the fine grinds. 
This will result in a concentrated coffee which you can pour over ice and add a desired amount of water to get the richness you like and enjoy. (His recipe dilutes the coffee with an equal amount of water, pours over ice, and adds a pinch of salt.....I enjoyed mine with a bit of cream...)

If you are interested in some other fun summer drinks check out:

Farmers' Strawberry Lemonade (this has cream in it)

And then there are the spritzers....juice or fruit syrups with seltzer....I love summer drinks!

But, back to coffee. For you die-hard coffee heads out there, what are your cold brew techniques?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Frozen Fruit to Beat the Heat

I am a true northerner, I love the cold, and can't really take the heat. So this summer has been rough, and it's only early July!  It's days like these that I am so thankful for electricity and my freezer. Homemade popsicles using juice or smoothies have taken up residence at the top of my freezer. Popsicles take very little effort, but for an even easier delicious frozen treat, I often freeze grapes and bananas straight up. These two fruits don't freeze solid like a strawberry, they stay slightly soft in the center so you can enjoy them right out of the freezer without breaking your teeth. The perfect healthy antidote to the heat. 
Frozen Grapes: Wash and dry grapes (I use domestic or organic grapes).  Place in a single layer on a flat surface in the freezer. Freeze for a few hours or over night. Enjoy. You can transfer grapes to a bag once they are frozen. For an elegant take on this treat, freeze tiny champagne grapes on the stem, and serve them right out of the freezer.

Frozen Bananas: Slice a ripe banana in half. Poke a chop stick or popsicle stick into the cut end of the banana. Place on a pan or container lid in your freezer. Freeze and enjoy. For a little more fun, you can dip these in melted chocolate and nuts, but I love them just as is. 

What frozen treats are you making this summer?