The Easiest Coffee of All Time

This isn’t Elf, I’m not promising the best; although if you spend the money for good coffee beans you could certainly accomplish both.

Now that we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I know some people outside the New England area will say, “Kerry, you’re explaining cold brew but it’s November; isn’t this more of a summer thing?” NO. As everyone in New England knows, iced coffee is a year round thing. Ask anyone who’s visited us in the winter, or any transplant you know who’s currently in your part of the world. Doesn’t matter how cold it is outside or how many inches/feet of snow you just forced off your car; iced coffee is always okay.  

 

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I bring this us more so because I’ve had so many people at work and beyond ask what cold brew is lately. Even though they see it on the Dunkin and Starbucks and Peet’s menus (although now all Peet’s iced coffee isn’t cold brew anyway), they are afraid to ask during the quick transaction at the register and look anything less than a genius in front of the strangers surrounding around them. Well screw that, this shouldn’t be a secret!

I prefer cold brew because I love picking the coffee beans instead of relying on the shop’s brand - right now my favorites come from George Howell - and I do notice a difference in taste between cold brew and regular iced coffee. Where iced coffee is traditionally hot coffee cooled and served over ice, cold brew is cold water that steps in beans overnight and is ready to enjoy the next day, avoiding the heating process entirely. This is supposed to keep the beans from getting a bitter flavor from the heating process, and I also think it’s stronger this way. Plus, if I use espresso beans, I get that espresso taste without the burnt espresso taste I’ve been finding at coffee shops lately.

So how do we do it?

Serves: 8 or so coffees or lattes (depending on your beans)

Time: 5 minutes hands on, at least 12 hours for the drink to steep

Ingredients

  • 3 oz ground coffee or espresso beans - buy yourself a nice big bag of coffee beans that you wouldn’t normally splurge on since you’re going to save a shitload anyway by not going to a coffee shop. You deserve it!
  • 24 oz cold water

Instructions

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  1. Now, you could just take your beans and pour them in a big mouthed Mason/Ball/Kerr jar, but I personally like to buy whole beans, measure 3 ounces out on a kitchen scale, and grind them fresh. The cool kids in all the original posts I read said it makes a difference in taste - and sue me! I’m a sucker for their instructions.  
  2. If using a filter insert, like the one I found on Amazon pictured for about $10, add in now; otherwise you can use a fine mesh strainer or other coffee strainer after the coffee has steeped. I used mesh strainer at first, but the kind of wire filter that fits directly in a wide mouthed jar is so freaking helpful since all you have to do is pull the strainer out and dump the grounds later on.
  3. Pour coffee grounds in your jar (I say 26 oz, but I mean the kind that reads up to 24 and has some space at the top) and slowly cover with cold water, making sure to move the jar without tilting to get maximum water coverage without shaking around the grounds (again, no idea why/ if this really matters but the Cool Kids said it so here I am). If you do it slowly enough, you’ll strat to see beautiful layers form like when a nitro cold brew is being poured. As you can see in the top pic. Put your cap on and ignore this magnificent layered coffee for at least 12 hours!
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4. Two options at this point in our own version of Choose Your Own Adventure:

A. Remove your filter, grounds included, dump them, rinse the filter out and enjoy!

B. Use a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or other straining method to remove grounds. I like to strain twice with this method just in case. 

5. To enjoy: add ice cubes (see note below to make it even better), and milk/milk alternative. With espresso beans I treat this like a latte, and fill up a cup with ice and add lots of milk before pouring two or three ounces of espresso over the top. With a lighter coffee bean I’ll add less milk and more coffee. If you drink it black you may decide to add some water, but otherwise I highly discourage watering down this excellent caffeine hit!  

 

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A few notes: you could freeze one batch of this for coffee/espresso ice cubes (pictured at right), or add flavors to it while steeping. I tried vanilla beans and wasn’t pleased with the results (no real vanilla taste, would have been better to just add syrup layer), but if you have success with other flavors I’d love to hear how! 

"Fuck Your Cleanse" Smoothie

Tis the season! For workouts and summer prep, that is. It seems like everywhere I look I see ads by celebrities and friends on social media for different magic shakes and bevs that will help you look great for the summer. Even worse than the protein shakes are the cleanses - whether they're homemade "lemonade" or a box of daily juices you can buy at the store. You can do whatever weird shit you want to your body, but I am sticking to my carbs-and-dairy lifestyle. 

Even so, there are days where I've eaten wayyy too much Chinese food at lunch and by dinner time need a jolt of something healthy - combined with a treat, of course. That was me yesterday, so I fought my bloated body with a hit of berries, Greek yogurt - and ice cream - in a smoothie. Eating clean is overrated.

When you've stuffed yourself full of popcorn binge-watching Olivia Pope or spent the afternoon laughing over chips, guac and margs, this smoothie will make your feel full and keep you from popping wide open from all the salt you just inhaled. Enjoy!

Serves: 1

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries (I'd already washed and cut up mine to store with a bit of sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 container Greek yogurt - I used Chiobani Black Cherry for even more fruit (...in sugar)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free vanilla ice cream
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Sprinkle cinnamon
  • Tiny dash of gluten free vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except cinnamon and vanilla to blender, covering tightly and pulsing until combined. Use a spoon to stir between pulses.
  2. Add cinnamon and vanilla, then pulse again to combine. Serve in a tall glass with a straw, and congratulate yourself on being fabulous.

Spring & Chocolate Covered Strawberries!


It's finally spring! Okay fine I was in Mississippi all last week where it truly was spring, and back home it's a very sad excuse for that warmth and sun. But I its do snowing anymore (OKAY just for the moment)! And that's good enough for me. 


Strawberries dipped in chocolate are usually a Valentine's Day treat, or something you admire at the Godiva store as you pick up with your free monthly truffle (we all do it right?) but never actually cave in to. Well, this Easter we made these bad boys at home, and I have to tell you that not only are they ridiculously easy, but you can meet them in 15 minutes (with fridge chilling time of course - but that's time for you to get dressed/dance to Yoncé/have a glass of white wine; whatever floats your boat).


So next time you're making something for a family holiday and want the easy way out while looking like a hardo, or want to impress your friends, or just want decadence without paying a shitload at a store, whip this up!


Serves: ~20 as one of a series of desserts (about 4 as a serious dessert)


Total Time: 1 hour (15 minutes or less hands on)


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I went for Nestle)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (or shortening, but why not feel great about yourself with this dessert?!)
  • 1 large pack/about 2 pounds strawberries


Instructions

  1. Carefully wash each strawberry and lay on a towel to dry - try to push leaves up as you wash and set on towel to prep them as holding points for chocolate dunking!
  2. About 15  minutes later, pat down any residual strawberry dampness with paper towels. Spread one sheet of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour in chocolate chips and coconut oil. Set microwave to half heat and microwave in 30-40 second intervals, stirring in between. Basically nothing will happen after the first, but there should be some melting by the third and beautiful glossy chocolate by the last. Give it another 25 seconds if not! The coconut oil will Dave the chocolate from freezing down after it sits for awhile, so this or shortening is key.
  4. With your totally dry strawberries (or they'll mess up your chocolate!), hold by the top and roll at a 45° angle in chocolate until evenly coated. Lay on parchment paper in a pretty order and repeat until all are coated, making more chocolate mixture as necessary. This is where Lindt/Godiva store stalking comes in handy, otherwise you'll have to play around with the best chocolate-dipping technique. Go do some taste testing if you need to!
  5. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, then serve as is or arranged on a cute serving plate. Savor your excellence!
     

Crumb Cake

I'm not a big breakfast person, but there are two things that always make me want more in the name of the most important meal of the day: bacon egg and cheese on a croissant (no-go here) and Boston Coffee Cake. If you never had it (and at this point unless you're a friend/family of someone with Celiac or gluten intolerance you just can't) I am so sorry. This is a - I know we all hate this word but there isn't another! - moist, soft, marbled cake that is miraculously made for the mornings.


Growing up, these cakes would be the special treat for holiday breakfast, and during college our mom might buy one on a morning you came home. That's how you know you're loved. My only qualm with them in the past was the inclusion of walnuts in their cinnamon coffee cake, ensuring that if I reeeeally wanted a bite I'd have to risk bloated itchy lips (and maybe anaphylaxis...), but luckily the chocolate chip marble cake was usually the family go-to.


Since our Celiac discovery, sadly those red and yellow striped boxes are out of our lives (unless and until they can come up with a gluten-free alternative?!). America's Test Kitchen has a Gluten Free cookbook though, and in Volume 2 I was excited to find a recipe for crumb cake that didn't look very difficult. My KitchenAid mixer had just come in the mail and I was itching (in a non-walnut way) to test it out, so I adapted the recipe below to try to find a version close to what I'm used to.


I was looking for a dense, soft cake with a lot of cinnamon flavor and a solid cinnamon sugar crumb topping that melds slightly into the cake. I would say this recipe was a big success, with two caveats. First, I accidentally made WAY too much topping, which ended up being a bit aggressive, even for this sugar addict. Second, and this is more something to keep in mind: although this tastes like an almost-perfect crumb cake, including gluten-full versions, there will still be a tiny little gummy taste at the end. But only once you think about it! I've sort of resigned myself to that fact though - no gluten-free cake is going to taste exactly like the gluten-full version - and as long as you do that you are in for a real treat! Thanks to ATK for their Gluten Free Cookbook Vol. 2,  I'm a big fan of the explanations of why certain techniques and products work best in different g-free recipes, and will definitely be testing out some more recipes (especially the new ones I scoped out online).

So if you're looking for the perfect post-holiday breakfast treat, look no further: here's my version of ATK's Crumb Cake. Full story: I originally misread the topping since it was in ounces and cups and made WAY too much, so I only included cups in the ingredients below, and I like this very cinnamon-ey. For the true ATK recipe check out their cookbook!

Serves: 10-12

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and warm
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (really I just did a little sprinkle)
  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (in their cookbook)

Cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 6 tablespoons butter (it says unsalted but I only have/use salted so why not), but into pieces and softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving - ATK recommends this but honestly with the extra cinnamon and topping I made I skipped it!

 

Instructions

  1. Start with the topping: Whisk butter, sugars, egg yolk, cinnamon in salt to combine. Add flour blend after using a rubber spatula until it looks like a thick dough. The rubber spatula makes a big difference here, although after a few minutes I just used my hands! Keep in mind I made 1 1/3 cups of sugars each instead of the 1/3 cup so yours will look smaller than mine (thank God).
  2. Start the cake: Heat oven to 325F with oven rack in the upper middle position. Cut parchment paper and fold to fit your pan - ATK recommends you use an 8 inch pan - then spray parchment with vegetable oil spray, letting extra parchment hand over the pan to pull the cake out later.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle or an insane amount of human strength, mix the flour blend, sugar, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum on low speed to combine (note: be careful with the xanthan gum! One dab of that on the table and even a hint of moisture and it's Gum City for you, buddy). Add butter one piece at a time and mix until you have a crumb-like mixture with no visible butter. Add sour cream, eggs and yolk, vanilla and cinnamon (exclude if you want the ATK version but why wouldn't you want more cinnamon??), increase mixer or your incredibly strong arms to medium-high, and beat until batter is light and fluffy.
  4. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Add the topping in pieces - what I did here was form small pieces with my hands and drop the pea-size (or slightly larger) pieces on the cake. After adding about half of the topping, I used my fingertips to create tiny wells in the topping to try to push pieces of it into the cake for that classic topping-cake fusion. Then add the rest of your topping chunks (ew! gross word I get it!) to the top of your cake, avoiding the growing OCD telling you that the amounts/heights aren't even. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer (I use toothpicks) in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes, then pull from pan using parchment and add to plate. Serve with a confectioners' sugar dusting or just big glasses of milk! 

You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days - if it lasts past the first serving that is!

Is It Okay to Say My Hot Chocolate Is Dank?

...Open for discussion.

I recently made Flourless Chocolate Cake, and one of the ingredients I'd needed for it was unsweetened cocoa. Now, as soon as it's cold out I'm a huge hot chocolate fan (half because of the whipped cream half because chocolate let's be honest), but I usually reach for the delicious, nutritious (um, maybe?) Trader Joe's sipping chocolate. It is seriously "dat good dat good" - I think Wiz Khalifa would agree.

Anywho, now that I have some nice unsweetened hot cocoa I thought I'd go all out and make some homemade hot chocolate. It only felt appropriate to make this a play on my favorite non-alcoholic beverage - a latte - so I used my stovetop espresso maker and some Peet's grounds to make a little faux-spresso. Feel free to add/subtract whatever you want but you should really only be adding to this bad boy.

Serves: As many as you want bud! I made for myself so just multiply by your friends (imaginary or otherwise)

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Minimum 1 cup (really whatever will fit in your biggest mug) milk - 2% or whole or go home. Seriously.
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I had regular Hershey's but you could go anywhere g-free it's your world)
  • 1/2 tablespoon specialty hot chocolate mix you have around (again, g-free but that's your only limit! I used TJ's Sipping Chocolate)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • An appropriate amount of ground coffee for someone your age/size/level of exhaustion
  • Whipped cream, chocolate shavings, chocolate syrup, whatever you want you're an adult!

Instructions:

  1. Start brewing that espresso! If you have a stovetop espresso maker add your poison and start brewing! Regular coffee machine? Knock yourself out! Keurig? Go ahead! True espresso maker? Be my friend?!
  2. In a pot appropriate to the amount of milk you're working with, turn your stove on medium. Stir milk occasionally.
  3. Once the milk is piping hot but not bubbling, stir in next five ingredients. Whisk thoroughly.
  4. Add espresso/coffee/oh you fancy huh to mugs.
  5. Pour hot chocolate mix over caffeinated selection in mug.
  6. Smother in whipped cream and additional toppings.
  7. Pull up an old Downton Abbey and feel sad that there's only one season left. But isn't that better than the show going off the rails? I guess so. But MARY.

What am I missing? Let me know if you can Pimp My Hot Chocolate even further!

Flourless Chocolate #CakeCakeCake

The saddest part abut going g-free for many people are the desserts they have to push away. Luckily for you, one of my personal favorite (non-ice cream) desserts has no gluten anyway! And it's super easy. And Rihanna even wrote a song about it! Okay nix that last one.

I was looking for a holiday dessert that would please a crowd of assorted food-allergies/intolerances/Celiacs and I think this is the winner! Thanks to Whole Foods for creating the original recipe, although I've made a few little tweaks. On the whole though a pretty easy cake for a pretty lazy person (read: me). This is a super rich cake though, as you'll notice skimming the ingredients. Those with delicate stomachs, beware!

I followed the ingredients exactly as recommended, so with Whole Food's permission I will copy their instructions (link again is above), sneaking in my cooking notes alongside their recommendations for you!

Serves: Well there have been about 10 servings so far and a little less than half is still in my fridge so...a party size?

Total Time: I'd guess about an hour and a half, including cake cooking and cooling time

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (gluten free - I went a bit wild and used the Nestle semi-sweet I had in the house and loved it)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray, too, then set the pan aside.
  2. Place two-thirds (8 ounces) of the chocolate and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. (Alternatively, you may use your microwave to melt the butter with the chocolate, if desired). Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Kerry's interruption: Now I had just used a whisk at this point since my only other option at the time was an electric hand mixer but I was feeling too lazy to clean it after. I made it through three eggs and had to switch over - it gets so thick! Unless you are the Incredible Hulk or Popeye the Sailor post-spinach consumption, use an electric hand or **stand mixer** (oohs and ahhs). Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended. 
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Kerry's interruption again: So I went for the minimum, 35 minutes and my cake was really browned on the top and sides. This seems to be a theme, although I can't decide if it's my oven or gluten free goods. I'd recommend keeping an eye out either way - I'm going to pull it out at 25 or 30 next time. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate, removing sides of springform pan. Remove and discard parchment paper and set cake aside to cool completely. In my case, this involved flicking off the hard bits on the top, which looked fine particularly thanks to step 4!
  4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  5. When cake has cooled, pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.

A few notes: don't forget to remove the parchment paper! May or may not have forgotten last time, but it sat with the rest of the cake so it wasn't an issue. This cake stays very well in the fridge, so keep it comfy in there for leftovers.