ORECHIETTE CAPRESE

Some of my favorite summer food memories involve tomato salad out of my uncle’s garden.  It was simply tomatoes dressed with olive oil and fresh basil, sometimes there might be thin sliced onions as well.  Mostly it was the tomatoes with the olive oil creating a juice that begged to be sopped with crusty italian bread.  Sad to say this salad only works with  warm tomatoes fresh out of the garden.

You may be more familiar with the plated version often served as a first course for warm weather meals known as Caprese – sliced tomatoes interspersed with sliced mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil and a chiffonade of fresh basil.  Chiffonade is a fancy way of shredding an herb – take a handful of leaves of basil and stack together, roll them up in a tube lengthwise and slice as thinly as possible.  You will see from the photos I tear my basil with joy.

Today’s quick easy meal is a combination of both that allow for grocery store items.   My basil plant may be in full glory but the tomatoes are just flowering.  Grape tomatoes seem to have a more ‘tomato’ flavor.  This salad works bests the longer it sits, so start even before the pasta water boils.IMG_1712

Almost forgot to mention the pasta used in this dish – orechiette – translates as little ears.  Its small indents cup the olive oil or whatever sauce (or crushed red pepper flake) you choose to serve it with.  Any bite size pasta such as small shells would work as well.IMG_1721

  • 1/4 lb orechiette per person for meal or for two for the first course
  • pint of grape tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 10- 15 large basil leaves
  • 1-2 oz shredded mozzarella (optional)
  • 1 -2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. wash and drain grape tomatoes
  2. slice larger tomatoes into bite size
  3. wash and dry basil leaves
  4. place tomatoes in bowl and sprinkle with coarse ground salt
  5. add 2 tbsp olive oil or more to taste
  6. mix well
  7. tear or shred basil leaves and fold into tomatoes gently
  8. let sit at room temperature minimum 45 minutes
  9. add water for pasta to large pan, salt and boil
  10. cook pasta according to directions
  11. drain pasta and add to tomatoes
  12. sprinkle with mozzarella, crushed red pepper and pepper, toss well

NOTES:

  • if you don’t have time for the tomatoes to marinate add mixture to large  pan (after adding pasta to boiling water) and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat.  if juices bubble reduce heat
  • with 2 minutes left to cook pasta add 2 tbsp pasta water to tomatoes and stir
  • then drain pasta and finish cooking in pan with tomatoes
  • sprinkle with mozzarella, crushed red pepper and pepper, toss well
  • enjoy with crusty bread and a light wine

 

Advertisements

PULLED PORK DONE SLOW

Facing a horde of people this holiday?  Looking for an easy meal that won’t have you melting in the kitchen? Let’s dust off the slow cooker and enjoy some pulled pork.

This is one of those ‘it is a guideline, not exact’ type of recipe.  The star of the show, a pork shoulder, must fit in your slow cooker and that’s about how definitive as it gets.  This will take 10-12 hours on low so if you aren’t making it a day ahead do it the night before.  If even that sounds like too much, use the rub on country ribs and cook 6 hours.  Again these may be made the day before and reheated on the grill as is or with your favorite barbeque sauce.

Remember those buttermilk biscuits from last week?  These go perfect with all of this lovely porkness.IMG_1653

DRY RUB

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 – 2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (no salt)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (no salt)
  • Salt and Pepper

Mix well in small bowl

PORK

  • 3-5 lbs pork shoulder (or country style ribs)
  • 1 large white onion in large chunks
  1. Place the onion chunks on the bottom of the slow cooker
  2. Rub the shoulder with the blended spices and place on top of the onion.
  3. Cook shoulder 10-12 hours on low (less for 3 lbs/more for 5 lbs)
  4. Carefully remove shoulder from slow cooker and shred using two forks while still hot.
  5. Serve as is or with  your favorite barbeque sauce

NOTES:

  • liquid is not needed unless your pork shoulder has little to no fat.
  • the onion starts the steaming
  • add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or your favorite beverage to bottom of slow cooker with onion if doing ribs
  • loin ribs will dry out in the slow cooker
  • this recipe produces a ‘dry’ pork product; if you prefer a wetter pork add your favorite barbeque sauce the last 1-2 hours or 1/2- 1 c of dark beer at the start
  • pork ‘pulls’ easiest when hot
  • pulled pork reheats great in dry skillet or 350 degree oven or on the grill
  • yes your slow cooker will be fine overnight…if you can sleep with the aroma
  • make a larger batch of the dry rub and keep in an airtight jar for all your summer grilling and slow cooking
  • ENJOY

 

Buttermilk Biscuits

I realize this sounds like a meager recipe to post to the blog…but just wait.  The Fourth of July is just around the corner and it is going to be smack dab in the middle of a heat wave, so who the heck is going to want to spend time in the kitchen??  Unless of course you have my dream kitchen that is completely temperature controlled, has a ventilation fan and exceptional equipment!!

So these biscuits are super easy and only require a few ingredients to make and will adapt to any meal or dessert of the day.  In keeping with easy to make and easy to transport I went with whipped cream in a can.  (Having family birthdays around the holidays help with prep work.) While fresh whipped cream is better, it just doesn’t last well in the frig and is a bear to transport and keep cool.  Not that I am beyond schlepping my hand mixer to a picnic and whipping up some immediate frothiness.

Oh and as long as you have the oven on make a few batches or a double batch of these biscuits.  Will keep 5 days in a container on the counter and warmed up leftovers work well with eggs and bacon.

fourth of july biscuitsCapture

  • 2 cups GF Bisquick mix
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 2/3 cup cold buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  1. preheat oven to 425
  2. grease 9×9 baking pan
  3. place Bisquick in large bowl
  4. cut in butter with fork or pastry blender until mixture is coarse and about pea size
  5. stir in buttermilk and eggs, blending to soft dough
  6. pat the dough into the baking pan
  7. score top of dough with knife, making 9 squares
  8. bake 12-15 min or until golden brown
  9. break apart at score marks

NOTES:

  • use your favorite biscuit recipe and follow package instructions for ingredients and mixing
  • use a 7×7 baking pan and biscuits will be taller although may need an extra min or two cooking
  • the dough may be dropped onto ungreased cookie sheets by tbsp 2 inches apart and baked 13-16 min at 400 degrees
  • dough may also be kneaded 10 times and rolled out then cut into rounds or squares and placed on cookie sheets
  • want an even quicker biscuit – use :
    • 2 1/4 c original Bisquick
    • 2/3 c milk or water
    • preheat oven 450
    • mix, knead dough 10 times
    • roll out dough 1/2″ thick and cut with 2 1/2″ cutter or drop onto ungreased cookie sheet
    • cook 8-10 until golden brown
  • Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries were used
  • to take your desserts to the next level – warm the biscuits and lightly spread with butter before topping with fruit
  • Enjoy and watch for pulled pork on biscuits coming soon

VEGGIE…OOPS TURKEY BURGER

Three weeks ago I posted a recipe for a sweet potato burger.  I love sweet potatoes, veggies are good for you and I always am looking for a new breakfast burger.  While I enjoyed the first batch, I soon had thoughts about a better burger.

The sweet potato went into the oven, the rice went on to cook and I went to the pantry for cannellini beans.  Oops no cannellini beans,  oops no chick peas, oops no black beans, hmm dark red kidney beans – what the heck.  Make a list and let’s try kidney beans.

So the following morning everything was set to go except there was only half a sweet potato left.  Into the bowl went all the assembled ingredients and spices but still I wanted something more.  A rummage through the frig came up with ground turkey meat that had been earmarked for chili …

So now it’s an oops veggie burger, hard to be vegan with turkey strutting through.IMG_1630

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup red kidney beans, coarsely mashed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1/2 sweet potato mashed
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cumin
  • dash thyme
  • Salt & PepperIMG_1618
  1. mix all ingredients well
  2. form 5-6 patties, wrapping each well (I made mine square)
  3. bake in preheated 425 oven 20 min
  4. serve with favorite toppings
  5. Enjoy
  • turkey may be omitted for veggie burger
  • 1/2 sweet potato worked well; using whole sweet potato overwhelms other flavors
  • spices are all personal preference; salt and pepper alone works as well
  • burgers last 2-3 days in frig; 3 mos in freezer
  • use your favorite veggies to change up recipe
  • makes a good ‘leftovers’ burger
  • I intended to use feta on top of my burger, turned out that went on the list as well; shredded mozzarella followed by a drizzle of sriracha worked well
  • the next time I’m using black beans – ciao

CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to be especially good with your eating that you crave something more?  At least that’s what happens to me, once I have a healthy menu in mind and in the frig, I tend to look for something I should not have.  At least in the sense of something I have difficulty consuming in moderation.

While I am not a chocolate candy bar, cake or ice cream kind of person I do crave cocoa or extra dark chocolate at times.  I have found it best to go for it, when I crave it, as if I wait too long I overdo and ruin that whole moderation mantra.

So of course I have searched for something healthy-ish and cocoa-ish.  This recipe hits the spot.  If you like spicy as well, add extra cinnamon and that pinch of cayenne.  Feel free to have this for a cooling breakfast as well as dessert. IMG_1403

  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened non dairy milk (I use coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • fresh berries (optional)
  • mint (optional)
  1. blend milk, cocoa powder and syrup well
  2. taste to adjust sweetness
  3. add in cinnamon and cayenne
  4. taste to adjust spiciness
  5. stir in chia seeds blending well
  6. chill 6-8 hours; better overnight
  7. serve in small portions
  8. top with fresh berries and or mint (optional)
  9. ENJOYIMG_1400

NOTES:

  • The chia seeds ‘gel’ as they sit in the milk and syrup.  Thus the longer this sits the more like pudding it becomes.
  • Lasts 2-3 days (if you haven’t eaten it all) in the frig.
  • On morning #3 I tossed blueberries and an extra dash of cocoa into what was left in the bowl and felt decadent.

BABY IT IS MUGGY OUTSIDE

June arrived moistly; fitting for a month that heralds the start of hurricane season.  Ha Ha, it did not catch me by surprise – no way.  I had actually prepped this week, knowing that it would soon happen.  Besides after a weekend of picnic food and a midweek run to satisfy a CRU dog yen I was ready for salads and such.

So menu items on hand and some plans that worked set the scene.  Pre-baked sweet potatoes, leftover rice, a can of beans, forgotten peppers and wasabi peas set the scene for veggie burgers.  sweet pot burger

A can of tuna, assorted olives and peppers from the salad bar, feta and a bag of salad for this version of Greek salad.  IMG_1435_tuna with greek salad feta peppers kalamata olives

Fresh cut watermelon, rapidly ripening bananas and a scoop of sunflower seed butter made a cool breakfast.IMG_1555

SWEET POTATO VEGGIE BURGER

  • small – medium sweet potato, cooked, cooled and mashed
  • 3/4 – 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
  • 1/4 cup onion or scallions, finely diced (to taste)
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, softened or cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup peas, diced peppers or other favorites (optional)
  1. Coarsely mash beans, do not puree, using fork or potato masher
  2. Add in rice, potato, onion, flour, salt and mix well
  3. Stir in peas, peppers or additional ingredientsIMG_1563
  4. Warm  saute pan over medium heat and add 1/2 – 1 tsp coconut oil
  5. Take large spoonfuls of veggie mix and form 1/4 inch thick burger in pan
  6. Brown 5 min and carefully turn browning second side 5 min – outside of burger will crisp and inside will be moistIMG_1568
  7. Burgers make be baked in preheated 425 oven on baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking oil
  8. Bake for 10 min and carefully flip burger over to bake additional 10 min
  9. Serve with a splash of Sriracha

NOTES:

  • onion and beans can be coarsely chopped in food processor, don’t puree
  • wish I had remembered the peppers for the veggie burger
  • had no peas in the freezer so I added some dried wasabi peas
  • will add peas to shopping list and add diced peppers to veggie burger recipe
  • the chickpea flour added some protein and a bit of binder
  • salmon would work well in the Greek salad
  • this week’s shopping list has cherry tomatoes and mozzarella to change the Greek tuna salad to Italian tuna salad
  • those are chia seeds on the breakfast bowl for some protein and fiber

Hopefully this week’s shopping turns out as well.

Enjoy!

ICEBOX CAKE ITALIAN STYLE

Icebox cake refers to a non-bake dessert comprised of layers that requires refrigerator time for all the flavors to blend.  It comes from a time when the refrigerator was still referred to as an icebox, harking back to the days when it was a metal structure with an upper shelf to hold a block of ice which then kept the contents coldish.

Icebox cake is thought to have originated as a recipe on the package of thin chocolate cookies and is made with fresh whipped cream.  Growing up I enjoyed this version at Irish celebrations, in fact it was one of my Dad’s favorites.  It was also one of those desserts where the slices got smaller as the family got larger…not always a bad thing as it is very rich.

However, the Italian side of the family (Mom) had their own version of icebox cake made with graham crackers, pudding and fruit.  Dad enjoyed this as well and it lent itself to larger servings for a group especially a family known as ‘rent-a-crowd’.

The original recipe calls for cooked pudding, bananas and pineapple; yet appeared with fruit cocktail as well as nuts also.  This icebox cake may be made with instant pudding but will require an additional 12- 24 hours in the frig to meld properly.  Use your favorites, it is all in the layering.  This dish is one of the few I make that requires especial consideration when choosing the serving dish.  Mom used a 9x9x4 covered heirloom dish.  As you will see from the pictures I used a 10x12x2.5 and elevated the sides with aluminum foil.  The family will only notice the dessert inside this dish not my lack of serving style.  Unless you have a square covered deep dish dessert dish from a relative, I would opt for an 8×8 square deep dish aluminum pan, use a series of loaf pans or make only two layers.IMG_1207

  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 (1.3oz) box cook and serve chocolate pudding
  • 1 (1.3oz) box cook and serve vanilla pudding
  • 1 (1.3oz) box cook and serve butterscotch pudding
  • 5 1/4 c whole milk (see notes)
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 small can peaches or fruit cocktail, drained well
  • whip cream or cool whip (optional)
  1. cook chocolate pudding according to package directions
  2. lay crackers flat in bottom of dish
  3. layer thinly sliced bananaIMG_1198
  4. pour chocolate pudding over all evenly (see notes)IMG_1200
  5. refrigerate
  6. cook vanilla pudding according to package directions
  7. remove dish from frig and layer peaches/fruit cocktailIMG_1202
  8. pour vanilla pudding over all evenlyIMG_1204
  9. top with last layer of crackers gently over pudding
  10. refrigerate
  11. cook butterscotch pudding according to package directions
  12.  remove dish from frig and pour butterscotch pudding over all evenly
  13. sprinkle with graham crumbs (optional)
  14. refrigerate minimum 4 hours, best overnight
  15. garnish with whipped cream or cook whip (optional)

NOTES:

  • whole milk works best and non dairy milk produces a thinner cooked pudding that doesn’t set well; I have heard that rice milk will work in cooked pudding although I haven’t tried it.  Start with 1 cup rice milk and stir adding more gradually to achieve desired thickness.
  • non dairy milk doesn’t work with instant pudding as the pudding doesn’t set
  • the deeper the dish and or the larger the pan the thinner the pudding layer will be
  • for thicker pudding layer double the recipe and store what isn’t used in the frig for another dessert
  • try layering chopped nuts on top of the banana before pouring the chocolate pudding
  • use your favorite puddings here
  • enjoy

RICE STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

Reportedly summer has its unofficial start this weekend.  I am bemused by the fact that proponents of the season are able to start celebrating early, whilst other events one must count down the days to and not rush.

Whether it is the start of summer or not, it is the beginning of grill and picnic season for many.  (The rest of us  grill and picnic all year long, although at times it is known as tail-gating.)  Either way this is a delicious side dish for the meat eaters, a great dish to add to brunch, have as a light lunch or as a vegetarian meal.

Not long ago I found some gorgeous large portobello mushrooms at the grocery store and just had to have one.    Of course while I was shopping I gave no thought as to what I would do with it.  Fortunately for me by the time all the groceries were away I had a selection of leftovers out of the frig.  I had leftover wild rice, some sad spinach,  a few sun-dried tomatoes left in a jar, kalamata olives and a bit of not so fresh basil.  I considered adding cheese but couldn’t decide if I wanted to use feta or mozzarella.  With the thought of no cheese and enough zing from the tomatoes I also nixed the olives.

I mixed the ingredients and baked the mushroom for a delicious light  lunch.  I learned many things from this easy process.  One mushroom seemed enough but I was hungry soon thereafter. On a normal day, I would have needed two mushrooms to hold me until dinnertime.  For a side dish one mushroom could feed two.  The mushroom definitely was a blank slate for the using up of leftovers.  Since the mushroom baked so well and was so large it would be easy to grill it also.

Any rice would work well in this dish and I can see it with leftover risotto and meat or a blend of rice and roasted or grilled diced veggies. The rice stuffed mushroom would also work well with chicken and or eggplant topped with melted mozzarella and sauce.  In fact if the mushrooms are not served for the main grill meal, they would work well as a platform for the leftovers from the grill later on or the next day.  Picnics seem to be a series of rolling meals in our family, you know when the picnic starts but are never sure when it is going to end.

This recipe calls for a chiffonade of the spinach and basil leaves.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it describes the technique of stacking the leaves (of each separately), rolling them tightly into a tube shape and slicing the roll thinly.  This creates ribbons of the leaves and utilizes a small amount to season a larger area without overwhelming the other ingredients.  This may also be accomplished by using scissors and snipping the leaves lengthwise, however it is more time consuming.

So as you see this recipe is more a ‘try these ingredients’ guide than an actual list of requirements.  See below for how I made the first batch and what I will make for the Memorial Day grill.IMG_1523

  • 1-2 large portobello mushrooms per person
  • 1-2 tbsp cooked rice per mushroom
  • 1-2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced thin per mushroom
  • 4-5 spinach leaves, chiffonade per mushroom
  • 2-4 basil leaves, chiffonade per mushroom
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. if needed prepare rice according to instructions and season as desired
  2. if baking mushrooms, preheat oven 400 degrees
  3. clean mushrooms by cutting stem off and removing gills with spoon (scrape)
  4. wipe mushroom clean with damp paper towel
  5. light;y drizzle olive oil over mushroom and spread with paper towel on both sides
  6. mix rice, tomatoes, spinach and basil well, taste for seasoning
  7. Spoon into mushroom
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes (15-20 minutes if stuffing is hot)
  9. Or grill over medium heat 10-15 min (10 min if stuffing is pre-heated)
  10. serve hot

NOTES:

  • all seasonings are to taste
  • use diced cheese in rice mixture or top with slice of cheese 1-2 minutes before serving
  • mushroom stems may be diced fine and added to rice mixture or saved in your freezer soup stuff bag
  • make sure to cook the mushroom and stuffing until hot; a few extra cook minutes will not hurt the mushroom
  • use approximately one cup of rice to 6 mushroom

OVER THE TOP AVOCADO TOAST

Some food fads catch my eye and intrigue my taste buds as soon as I see them; then there are those that don’t impress me and I either ignore them all together or bring to the table late.

Avocado toast is one of these.  Seems it has become the go-to breakfast and really why not.  Purportedly avocado is a source of good fat, contains protein and the serving size is always moderate.  Of course the carb side of the spreadsheet is not great but there is the thought that carbs are better to begin your day then to end your day.  It seems to my unscientific approach that all these nutrient facts are balanced by how your body reacts to the components you place into it.  Since there is little to no agreement on any one particular method I ascribe to the ‘walk a day’ and ‘everything in moderation’.  While I would prefer to have a different shape and size I am at least content and healthy even according to the medical industry.  Of course they use averages and never take into account the complete life of a patient…NEVER MIND ME.  Don’t know how I got onto that soap box.

Anyway, avocado toast – I don’t eat a lot of bread so on those rare occasions that I do it is usually not taking a toast form.  In fact it has been a long time since I have made white toast and that took the form of  grilled cheese (sometimes the oldies are the best).  I much prefer fresh bakery bread and since moderation is hard with that particular carb, it is rare to find it in my kitchen.  Since brother #3 is a chef I am able at times to ‘slicky’ a slice or two of fresh baked rye or sourdough for a treat.  As to avocados, I tend to eat them in a salad, as a dip or smeared on the tortilla with taco fillings.  But brother #3 uses them frequently at the Cafe and so I can experience a greater range of use as well as indulge a bit in bread.  In fact this recipe is based on one of his creations and I just altered the egg cooking method.  I did replicate his final garnish since I had sesame seeds in my kitchen but unless you are a fan and use them frequently it is not worth the effort to buy them.  As always I hope you use my recipes as a guide and add your own faves and flourishes.

Providing full disclosure I must also tell you that the method used for poaching the eggs comes from catching a glimpse of brother #3 in the kitchen.  Poached eggs are my absolute favorite and I never did well cooking them, they might taste well but were always a tattered mess.  But the use of a sieve has made all the difference and now I can enjoy them at home.

Thai sweet chili sauce is a condiment of choice and is added for a sweet touch of heat.  I often use pepper sauces from mild to hot from Thai to Sriracha to Harissa.  If you use a new and unfamiliar condiment always try a small taste before adding to your dish.  You want to note the sweetness, heat and saltiness of the sauce before adding willy nilly to plate or serving.  My dash might be too little or too much for your taste buds.  In the picture my dash from the spoon became a glob too much from my normal accompaniment; no worries I just ignored it.

So here is my version of avocado toast that has become breakfast for those mornings I am looking for something special.avacado toast

  • 1 slice thick bakery bread – sourdough or rye
  • 1/2 avocado mashed
  • 1 squeeze lime juice
  • 2 slice fresh tomato
  • 2 room temperature eggs (cooked to choice)
  • diced scallions (optional)
  • toasted black and white sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Thai sweet chili sauce (optional)

Poached Eggs

  1. fill medium saucepan half way with water and bring to low simmer
  2. holding sieve over large bowl, crack egg into sieve and drain thinner egg whites
  3. place sieve into simmering water and slide egg out (jiggling sieve)
  4. repeat with second egg cooking for 4-5 minutes
  5. mash avocado and mix with squeeze of lime juice
  6. toast bread
  7. spread avocado on toast
  8. spread chili sauce to taste
  9. top with tomato slices
  10. remove eggs from water with slotted spoon draining over paper towel and place egg over tomato slice
  11. garnish with sesame seeds and scallions
  12. enjoy

NOTES:

  • fresh eggs poach better than older eggs
  • water should not be boiling as it will shred the egg whites
  • the sieve removes the thinner portion of the egg white that creates the tentacles during the poaching
  • lime juice is optional but helps to keep the avocado from browning
  • if you mash the whole avocado or more store in air tight container in the frig, just scrape the brown portion off the surface before using for the freshest taste
  • no tomatoes – substitute salsa and eliminate the chili sauce
  • if you don’t like sesame seeds, chia seeds provide a nice crunch as well
  • want to take this over the top – add shredded cheese and diced bacon to the top of the eggs
  • I added a dash of Sriracha to my eggs

COFFEE BANANA MOCHA DRINK

As I brewed my  coffee this morning, I realized that tomorrow there would be scores of people preparing special meals starting with breakfast.  This happened partially because I was prepping for today’s and tomorrow’s breakfast (although I am well aware of the ‘holiday’).  I enjoy coffee a great deal but I do better if I exercise moderation.  Thus coffee has become a treat in the morning, two if I exercise restraint.  A cup of hot black hazelnut roast on a damp morning is a comfort and the brewed pot produces enough for that and to chill for the morrow.

I tend to have iced coffee more than hot and use three methods to accomplish that.  Since ice cubes in hot or room temperature coffee only makes for diluted coffee I either store the leftover coffee in ice cube trays in the freezer (make sure you keep separate trays for this, I have found those with covers work well); store leftover coffee in the frig or make cold brew coffee.  On those days when I need an extra boost or treat I will combine all three to make a perfect ‘cuppa’.

I use these methods typically for my dose of black coffee, you should prepare it to your taste with milk, sugar, etc, but I will provide two recipes below that I also use as a special treat.

When my coffee has finished brewing I pour about half a cup and let it sit to take some of the heat off as well as turn off the coffee maker.  This won’t work for those  who have asbestos tongues-that is you like your drinks screaming hot.  It produces a cup of coffee that I can begin sipping as I finish making breakfast; I then refill the cup to enjoy with my meal.  Some days I wait for the half a cup to cool to room temp and then add coffee ice cubes to chill it.  Then there are mornings when I pull yesterday’s coffee out of the frig and enjoy it like that.  Chilling the coffee as such retains the same flavor as the day it was made and will last up to two days as long as you keep it tightly covered.  The next occasion might see me adding coffee ice cubes to the chilled coffee along with a splash of vanilla, cinnamon or a dash of Irish whiskey.

In addition to the hot brew coffee I also make cold brew coffee, especially in the warmer months.  Cold brew coffee requires more coffee and a coarser ground than hot brew coffee.  It has been reported to be less acidic as well, although I don’t have any proof of that.  Perhaps one of these days I will take one for the team and imbibe a larger quantity so I can report back on that.  Cold brew coffee is made stronger to develop the flavor and because it is typically diluted.

As with adding milk, sugar, flavorings etc to your coffee the ratio of coffee used in cold brew is up to your personal preference.  For cold brew I use 3/4 cup coarse ground coffee beans to 4 cups of room temp or cold water (remember you will be diluting this strong blend with ice. You can try your regular measurements for hot coffee and drink straight from the frig but this will taste watered down) .  The cold brew should sit covered overnight in the frig.   Strain into another container using a sieve lined with double layers of coffee filters or cheesecloth.  Be patient, this will take a while and it is best to do it gradually.  Do note that if you skip this step or rush it, your cold brew will contain grounds.  Gently press the grounds once the dripping stops and your cold brew is ready to enjoy.  Now add your ice and favorite coffee condiments. Cold brew will last in the frig for two weeks as long as it is well covered and hasn’t been diluted (the cover keeps out frig odors).

Here is where my first ‘recipe’ comes in – I add coconut evaporated milk to taste or for an over the top dessert type coffee I stir in a tsp or so of condensed milk (also coconut when I can find it) along with a tsp of vanilla extract.

If you have a french press, now is a good time to drag it out and use for your trial runs on your cold brew ratios.  In my french press I use 1-2 tbsp coarse ground coffee per 1 1/2 cup of water; again your preference, so start out on the low end and don’t forget you will be diluting.  Remove the press, cover and refrigerate overnight as well.  Next morning re-insert the press, work and then pour coffee through coffee filter into your glass.  Add your extras and enjoy.

One last word before I get back on topic (yes I’ve digressed).  For just cold coffee I refrigerate my hot brew coffee; for a hearty ice coffee with extras or a well iced glass I use cold brew.

So back to making breakfast for two days  and a coffee treat for tomorrow.  Breakfast was an omelet made with yesterday’s chili as a filling.  I heated 2 tbsp of chili in a skillet, then added the omelet ingredients topping it with shredded mozzarella just before removing the pan from the heat.  I made enough so that there would be extras to wrap in a tortilla tomorrow to serve with homemade salsa.  Of course I forgot to take a picture…  Just a suggestion for tomorrow’s breakfast or you could reheat the chili, add it to scrambled eggs and serve in a burrito or bowl.   Finally the coffee recipe…sitting in the frig is a banana that is just right (placing bananas in frig stops ripening but turns the skin a dark color).  So for a breakfast drink treat or a prelude to brunch…IMG_1394

  • 10 -12 oz room temp, chilled or cold brew coffee
  • 1 medium banana in large chunks, room temp, chilled or frozen
  • splash (to taste) of milk or creamer of choice (coconut milk here)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • dash cayenne (optional)
  1. combine all ingredients in high speed blender or mixer
  2. serve in tall glass with straw
  3. add ice if desired
  4. sip and enjoy

NOTES:

  • leftovers store well 1 day in frig
  • add 1-2 tbsp of favorite protein powder to make a breakfast smoothie
  • use cold brew and pour over ice for an extra kick
  • if cayenne worries you, use a dash of cinnamon
  • for an extra coconut taste add a tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • covering the coffee stored in the refrigerator keeps out odors
  • all shelf life times are for undiluted coffee
  • leftover coffee with milk or creamers do not store well
  • for your breakfast burrito – heat a large tortilla in microwave or oven according to package directions, scramble eggs adding shredded cheese to taste, re-heat chili, place scrambled eggs in center of tortilla leaving border around them, layer chili over eggs along with additional shredded cheese if desired, roll short ends of tortilla over stuffing, fold over long end nearest you and roll opposite end over, top with salsa and serve