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! 

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!

Mussels for a Weakling

I mean, I'm not THAT weak. Although I was never able to pull myself up on the handlebars in gym class. 

Water in the glass, wine right from the bottle. Hashtag classy feels appropriate.

Water in the glass, wine right from the bottle. Hashtag classy feels appropriate.

Mussels! A restaurant-quality dish that you don't have to spend 1 spend a lot of money at a restaurant and 2 can make pretty quickly at home. There are all sorts of fun recipes for mussels - fra diavolo, in a cream sauce, in beer (not for us!) - but my favorite is just some simple mussels in a white wine sauce. Not only does this save us from having to use a cart at the grocery store, so we don't have to fight other pushy people in a cart battle-to-the-death/checkout lane, but it means we have some leftover wine that you must drink from the bottle. Don't waste a glass!

Serves: 4 

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 lb mussels (1 lb per person)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups dry white wine for recipe
  • Remaining dry white wine for you (and a guest or two if you're feeling generous)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 diced or minced shallots (dependent on how lazy you are)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (I use a little sprinkle, use what you can handle!
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (gluten free) or water

As you may have noticed, the ingredients are a lot of "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" so I highly recommend jamming to this as you gather them. For the Monica, Erica and Ritas  that make your mussels so great.

 

Instructions

  1. Scrub and debeard mussels. This is honestly the most work you'll have to do. While debearding the mussels, I highly recommend using something stronger than your two fingers to try to pull that hanging string out - maybe a paper towel between your pointer finger and thumb? I'm really open to suggestions here so please comment with what you do! Discard any broken or lousy looking mussels.
  2. Add butter and olive oil to a large pot and turn on medium.
  3. Once butter and olive oil have melted a bit, add red pepper flakes, lemon zest and shallots until fragrant, about a minute or two. Add onions and cook, another 5 or so minutes, stirring throughout.
  4. Add wine (minding the potential for a splash near your moneymaker [face]!), stock/water and mussels, then cover your pot and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. With both hands (and potholders!), hold either end of your pot and attempt to give a shake in one fluid motion. This is a bit trickier than it seems, since you don't want to shake too hard and break any shells, but you do want to try to cook everything evenly. Practice in front of the mirror if you'd like, but this seems to be a skill acquired only through true practice. So I hope you like eating mussels every day kids. Cook for another five minutes or until almost all shells are open.
  6. Serve mussels in bowls with parsley on top and black pepper, discarding any broken shells or mussels that didn't open (shame on them). Enjoy with some g-free bread and all that wine you didn't use for your recipe. Honestly I am such a fan of mussel broth I could eat it with a spoon, so if that's what you resort to you're my kind of friend.