Sunday, February 7, 2010

Could This Be the Perfect Iced Coffee?

For some reason yesterday, I suffered from "link blink" (someone, I thought it was Linda - but now I cannot find her reference, referred to this as the act of getting caught going from one link to another until a ridiculous amount of time has passed).  But I did stumble upon a great site for Cold Brew Coffee (it also has fantastic photos, illustrating the process).  There are actually lots and lots of versions out there: feel free to google.
Cold brewing of coffee relies on time to flavour the water (instead of heat, which is applicable for standard hot coffee).  It apparently imparts more coffee flavour and less bitterness.  Essentially, you need to soak ground coffee for hours and then filter it.  You can do this in a plunger/french press (a common brand name rhymes with "snowdum") or just in a jar (in which case you need to use a coffee filter from a dripolator to filter out the ground coffee).  Actually, I've left out the third version: buy a specifically made cold-brew coffee maker!

As usual though, I cannot possibly follow a recipe straight up, so I've tweaked it a bit (original copyright Christy Jordan):
A plunger coffee maker OR
A jar, a sieve, two coffee filter papers (or some muslins) and a bowl
A spoon or chopstick
1/2 cup freshly ground coffee (not instant! never instant! never, ever, ever!*)
1 litre of tepid filtered water (my plunger actually only holds 750mls)
1 tbs chicory (optional)
1- Grind coffee (or just use ready ground coffee from a packet - it's not my preference but sometimes needs must).
2- Place 1/2 cup of freshly ground coffee into plunger or jar.
3- Add 750mls of tepid filtered water.
4- Stir the coffee grounds (a chopstick is ideal for this).
5 - Cover and let sit over night (12-15 hours is ideal).
6a- If you are using a plunger: plunge the coffee.
6b- If using a jar: place strainer over bowl and line strainer with coffee filter/muslin.  Pour over half the coffee and let it strain through; it may take some time.  Remove used filter (and coffee) and replace with a fresh filter.  Pour over remaining coffee and let it strain.  
7- Decant the coffee into the jar in which you will store it.  
8- Add the chicory (optional).
9- Store in fridge (make sure it's well sealed) and use within two weeks**.

Making Iced Coffee:
Mix 1:2 coffee concentrate to milk (adjust ratio to your preference), add ice and, if desired, sugar (or other sweetener) and maybe, if you're feeling decadent, some ice-cream.  Enjoy!

1- This concentrate can also be used to make a hot coffee.  Just use 1:2 concentrate to hot water (adjust to your pref.) and then add sugar, milk, etc. as you would normally.
2- For mocha, just add some chocolate! Either powered or syrup (or even real chocolate that you've melted). If you're going to use real chocolate, try to buy at least 70% cocoa chocolate (preferably fair trade and thus slave free).
3- Instead of chicory, you could substitute vanilla extract (or anything else that takes your fancy).
4- If you don't want ice-cubes making your iced coffee weaker, just freeze some of the concentrate as ice cubes!
5- The used filters and coffee grounds will go really nicely in your compost bin.
6- Some recipes suggest using milk instead of water - I'm a bit concerned about the potential for the concentrate going off, but feel free to try it if you want (let me know how it goes).

* If you're an instant coffee drinker, this is a waste of time, just make a paste and then add milk and ice - but I'd strongly suggest you leave the dark side and come and try some real coffee (I don't even use instant when cooking! Life's just too short).
** It's likely to to be used well before that, but the research I've read suggests this is the comfortable maximum for which you can leave the concentrate.  Other sites suggest it will keep for up to a month in a fridge.  Personally, as it's so little work, my preference would be to make a batch every few days; thus avoiding the potential for any nasty moulds to grow.


It is FANTASTIC with sweet potato! Try adding in some sage (chopped finely and mixed with the sweet potato).  You could also make it with half potato and half sweet potato (I tried this the first time I did it - personally, I wouldn't bother with this - it doesn't taste enough of the sweet potato).  The only thing is to make sure you don't add too much flower - keep a light touch and be parsimonious with flour... otherwise you end up with hard little gnocchi that are inedible (yes... I speak from experience!).
For a sauce you can try lots of things - but a burnt butter sauce is great (

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Home Made Yoghurt

Once again inspired by Julie (I'm starting to sound like a groupie!), I've started making yoghurt.  I bought an EasiYo, which is really just a big thermos, and have successfully made yoghurt a few times.  Using the EasiYo sachets is too easy for words (pretty much just add water and wait), so of course I've found a way to make it more complicated!  I did this for a few reasons, mainly that I don't like powder in packets* (note the hypocrisy of this: I'm going to mention powered milk below!) and also I prefer to keep my ingredients organic (I know, I can get organic EasiYo sachets - that's what I started my yoghurt with - but I've not seen the organic starters at my local supermarket).  I was using these directions, but then found that, by using UHT milk, I could avoid the need for re-pasturisation of the milk (right after I'd coughed up for a candy thermometer; guess I'm really going to have to make marshmallows now).  
I suggest you look here for the post from which this information was taken (It's very comprehensive: I'm just reproducing the directions now as I've made a few small changes and I want to keep the information for easy reference for myself).  

1 litre organic UHT milk**
1/2 to 1/3 cup powdered milk (the more you add, the thicker the yoghurt)
3 tablespoons of plain yoghurt (with no gelatin)
1- Mix yoghurt with a splash of UHT milk until it makes a smooth paste;
2- Add paste to remainder of milk then put it into the container for the EasiYo;
3- Shake the container to mix the milk and paste;
3- Add boiling water to the thermos and leave it on bench overnight;
4- When yoghurt is set, put it in the fridge***;
5- As soon as you open the new batch of yoghurt, get at least 3 tablespoons and place in another container - this yoghurt will be your "starter" for the next batch.
(original Copyright Julie from Towards Sustainability).

* I may change my tune on this VERY soon - check Julie's post for information on special yoghurt cultures. 
** UHT milk = already partially sterilised, so there's apparently no need for re-pasturisation.  If you cannot access UHT milk, follow these instructions for making yoghurt.
*** The longer the yoghurt is left out of the fridge, the tarter it will be.