Saturday, July 2, 2011

Iced Coffee Perfection

Let's talk coffee.  And while with some of you this may conjure images of "Coffee Talk with Linda Richmond" from SNL days gone by (I'm feeling a little verklempt- talk amongst yourselves...the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire...discuss.) But let's be serious.

It is summer.  Coffee is delicious.  Iced coffee in summer is divine.  And then I found the Pioneer Woman...and she truly does have the Perfect Iced Coffee.  I HAD to have it as soon as I saw the picture.  But patience, my child.  Good things do indeed come to those who wait, and well, waiting on cold-brewed coffee is SO incredibly worth it.

Cold brewed, you say?  Why yes I do.  And I wish I had discovered this amazing thing years ago!  There are a million reasons to cold brew coffee, and if you want them all, google them.  But if you want mine, read on, my friend.  Simply put, cold brewing creates a wonderful low acid, not bitter coffee concentrate (yes, concentrate) that lends itself by its very nature to iced coffee.

Using Pioneer Woman's general idea, and after reading her reader comments, I decided I had what it takes to cold brew my own coffee.  I'm betting you have it too.  Here's my adapted recipe:

Cold Brewed Coffee

3/4 cup ground coffee
4 cups tepid to cold water
container (I use a Nalgene bottle)

Put the coffee in the container, add the water, and seal the lid.  Set it on the counter and wait patiently for at least 8 hours (I've been known to forget about it for up to a day and a half).  Overnight works well. 

Strain it.  I use a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter (since I have so many left over from making flowers!)  I strain it into my pyrex 4 cup measuring cup, since it has a handle and little pour spout, and holds just the right amount.  It can take up to an hour to get all the brewed coffee separated from the ground dregs.  Trust me, it is worth it.

Pour the strained coffee into another container (I use another Nalgene bottle) and stick it in the fridge until it gets nice and cold.

Now for the good part:   Fill a glass with ice.  Pour coffee in until it is half full.  Add some sweetener (I really like the sugar free Torani Vanilla syrup, but do what you like).  Add some cream.  You can use milk, 1/2 and 1/2, or, if you are feeling particularly naughty (as I usually am when making iced coffee) use heavy whipping cream.  Oh, yes.  Don't worry, the taste of it will make you forget all about calories.  Adjust, adding coffee, cream, or sugar until it tastes right.  Then sit back and guzzle the stuff.  Then make another, because it is just SO damn good.

You may actually find you need to make larger batches of coffee concentrate.  Not such a bad thing.  Just share with your friends, or invite me over for a coffee.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grilled Pineapple (and zucchini)

The husband recently found The Art of Manliness - an incredible website for all you manly men and lovers of manly men out there.  It is full of all kinds of super important stuff - like how to tie a tie, how to shave like your grandpa, and even how to start a fire 9 different ways without matches.  Also of note:  "stop hanging out with women and start dating them." 

Anyway, (and now I can't find the actual recipe) we came across somewhere on the site (or maybe as a blurb in Men's Health magazine) a recipe for grilled pineapple.  Now, we love grilling pineapple, but typically do no more than peel it, core it, and slice it into wedges and throw it on the grill.  This one is more of a glaze, that raises the pineapple to true dessert status, and brings feelings of pineapple upside down cake.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner and decided to give the pineapple a shot.  Again, we couldn't actually find the recipe, so we came up with one of our own, and it is the BOMB.

Glazed Grilled Pineapple of Deliciousness

3 Tbsp of brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne (don't be afraid - we actually think we should have added more)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of coarse kosher salt
Whole fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2 inch slices (we peel and core ours first, but this is optional)

Now, we didn't use butter, and everyone agreed we should have added some.  So, melt a teaspoon of butter, add the sugar and spices, and then add beer to make a paste.  If it is too runny, add more sugar and spices.  Since sugar melts, you do want it thick.  Grill the pineapple on high a couple minutes per side, until brown, brushing the glaze on while it cooks.  Then eat it, and die a sweet sweet death of pineapple heaven overload.

Another favorite of ours is grilled zucchini.  I simply wash and trim some zucchinis, then slice them in half lengthwise, and toss them in a ziploc bag with a little soy sauce.  I used to make it more like a teriyaki with sugar, ginger, garlic, and green onion too, but lately just plain old soy sauce has been divine.  Grill it until tender, but not overdone.  Also good thrown on salads cold the next day!