Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Japanese Style Iced Coffee

 Who is ready for a dissertation on iced coffee?!


Too bad! That's what you're getting!

I woke up at 6:20 this morning, which was the norm when I was dealing with insomnia thanks to this autoimmune disease situation, but since feeling better (WOOHOOOO!) that hour is no longer acceptable or good! Upon startling myself out of sleep thanks to a wacky dream, I was immediately aware of the temperature in our apartment which I liken to the underarm of a water buffalo on a hot Texas day. No, I'm not exaggerating! I think it may have been 297 degrees. I threw all of the windows open and blasted all of the fans and instantly started dreaming about all of the things one could do at 6:20 a.m.; yoga, cutting hair, cleaning, making a large breakfast, and icing coffee. After my delirious notions, I decided on sleeping a little longer and having a redo upon waking from second sleep.

Is it hilarious to anyone else that musicians can't function before 10 a.m., and if they do, they most certainly require a nap? I think it's batty! I blame anemia and recovery for now, but I am fully aware that the lifestyle of most musicians is not normal. No wonder we can't get it together.

Upon waking from that second sleep, I wandered into the kitchen to start my usual coffee routine with the Chemex I have been using for the last couple of months, but I couldn't handle the thought of hot coffee today. Usually, even on a warm summer day, I am all about hot coffee. Not today! I recalled an article I read about different methods of creating iced coffee and I have heard tales of the Japanese style, but remained certain that it would not possibly be the "right" way.

Once you become a coffee snob, there is no hope for the world. You start off liking the cafeteria coffee at music festivals or offices to survive, you move on to Dunkin Donuts or maybe Starbucks, you get an espresso machine and become obsessed with ristretto shots and appropriate methods of frothing milk and getting the crema just right in your pulls, and then you delve in to pour-over methods and appropriate weight measurements and ratios, the right kind of kettle... and from there, you're just a hopeless wreck.

One of the most life changing experiences for me was in Austin, when I was still a part of the Austin food blogger community, that rare bird that made blogging so special (since leaving the area, blogging seems not as happy or great!) At one of our conferences, Chameleon Cold Brew had just started up and they were spreading the good news of cold brew coffee. I LOVED learning about this process and why iced coffee that had been refrigerated after hot brewing was a big NO NO because the tannins being heated then cooled had no hope, and I supported Chameleon in every city from that time forward. When I couldn't find Chameleon, I got into cold brewing myself - it requires a lot of grounds and an overnight method. I've been fine with this since that time, but it does require thinking ahead of time, which one simply cannot accomplish at 6:20 a.m. the day you MUST have iced coffee.

So, I referred back to the aforementioned article from Serious Eats, and decided to whip out my most favorite bean Holler Mountain from Stumptown and set up a Japanese style iced coffee in my Chemex.

Things you should know:
- Cold brew IS great, but it does take a LOT of beans and a lot of hours as well as a cheesecloth
- Don't brew hot coffee then refrigerate it. Just don't.
- You don't have to use a Chemex for Japanese style, but if you have one, it's super easy and completely safe because of the lab quality glass!

Japanese Style Iced Coffee

this video from Counter Culture is GREAT!

But I must confess that I just loaded up my 6 cup Chemex with large ice cubes, placed a dampened filter paper into the neck of the Chemex, put three heaping finely ground tablespoons of grounds into the filter and brewed as usual. The result was 4 nice little servings of iced coffee. But if you're a proper snob, refer to the helpful video above. Thanks, Counter Culture!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Furniture Conversion

Excuse me while I interrupt this regularly scheduled food blogging to showcase some of the newest transformations to our NYC apartment!

The living room is my pride and joy, I really enjoy the office nook in our bedroom, and the kitchen has undergone perhaps the most drastic of changes!

But most recently, I have been working on finishing the bedroom. Moving is expensive, we worked with what we had originally and aside from making a few purchases with my Anthro discount before it expired, we acquired some furniture from my generous parents and really, we had TOO much to work with. The only thing missing? Nightstands. So, for the last six months we've laughed at our drooping boxes and tupperware that served the purpose until I located two thrifty finds for under $20 each. With a new can of paint and a little TLC, this nightstand project came in at under $50 for these little Drexel values and a fresh look four our room.

Do you see how wonky all of these pictures are? I need a photography class. Also a blogging class. Yipes.


(Bedroom before)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cran-Apple Pie

Much like the title of this recipe, this pie is quite a mouthful. But there are so many delicious ingredients! And I didn't even mention the lemon zest, or the fact that it is gluten free, or that it only contains honey as a sweetener. How do you like them apples? Very bad pun intended, as it isn't even that funny.


I do what I want these days.

Also, saying that I do what I want is probably just a cover-up for the fact that I don't do what I want. But it is fine. 

This is me attempting to get it together. Time to get back on the horse. Months of sickness and I have experienced much, found health, hope to keep it for a long, long time, and in the midst of processing all of the feels, and what I have learned, and where I should go from here, I sometimes get a little bit stuck! But no longer! There is no time for that. 

I spend a lot of moments brainstorming about how to thank all of you who have been so wonderful to me during very hard times, and I find that my heart gets really overwhelmed and I have to make pie.

Valentine's Day is a commercial joke, but if it encourages others to give love more than usual, let's celebrate it! This is my valentine to you, a little pie with hearts on it to let you know I am so thankful for your support and prayers.

This also may or may not be for a very special dinner this evening. Two of my best friends from my growing up years are DATING! Double dates?! All of the love! It's too much for me. I just can't. 

Enjoy the snowy day! Stay in! Make delicious food, and don't forget dessert! Give someone some love tomorrow whether or not you have a hunny, got it? I personally will be at a ladies only party for fondue and I am not sorry. 

And for G, you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life - love you! Thanks for that special quote, Julia Child! 

The Best Gluten Free Crust
makes one double crust

2 and 1/4 c gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbs chilled butter, grated
1/2 c chilled whole milk
1/4 c ice water 

- Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the grated butter with a fork until it resembles meal. Remember throughout this process that there is no gluten in this dough, so you can't overwork it! Add in the milk to incorporate and add enough ice water until it comes together to form a ball. Divide in half, refrigerate in saran wrapped discs for 30 minutes. While in the fridge, begin on the filling.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cran-Apple Filling
if you only desire to make this as a compote, just cook down the apples with the cranberries for a tasty sauce to accompany ice cream!

3 tbs butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2  generous c frozen cranberries
1/2 c water
3 tbs honey
4 generous cups apples with skins on, diced to the size of the cranberries for consistency
zest of 1 lemon

- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and vanilla beans over medium heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to set aside. Add to the same saucepan, the cranberries, 1/4 c water and 3 tbs honey. Simmer until the cranberries pop and the mixture starts to gel, about 3-4 minutes. Toss in the apples, the brown butter vanilla mixture, the lemon zest, and add another tbs of honey or so to taste. Preheat the oven to 375.
- Take one of the discs of pie dough out of the fridge and place between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and roll out. Place into the bottom of the pie plate, pour in the filling. Roll out the second piece of dough and create a top layer OR cut into the shapes you desire, keeping the dough chilled and the cut pieces in the freezer as this gluten free mixture softens and breaks easily. Work quickly and keep things cold! Brush the top crust with egg, sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes until top is browned to your liking.