Tag Archives: DIY

The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

Consider this a public service announcement.

Usually I don’t care what you eat.  You only eat foraged foods?  You only eat Cheetos?  You’re on a cabbage-based fad diet?  Ok.  Cool.  I can work with that.

But there is one thing that bothers me.  (You have something that bothers you too, right?  Something?  Feel free to make me feel better by sharing in the comments.) Mine might be the world’s strangest pet peeve, but at this time of year it’s everywhere I look.  It’s this business of the ice in summer’s ubiquitous iced coffee.

Here in Seattle, it does get warm enough to enjoy iced coffee occasionally in the summertime.  I really prefer to make my own, though, because even Seattle’s own coffee shops, which should know better, commit a grave offense in serving their otherwise-delicious cold brew: they put actual ice in it.  Ice as in frozen water.  No!Coffee should be a strong, black brew, tempered only by something creamy or something sweet if your tastes incline that way.  Adding water to my coffee, even in the form of ice cubes, is unforgivable.

The solution, of course, is simple.  Take the time to freeze a tray of coffee ice cubes, and plunk a couple in your cup next time you want your coffee cold.  As they melt, instead of creating a watery, undrinkable mess, they make…more coffee.  You see how this is a winning proposition?

You can hot-brew or cold-brew your coffee, sweeten it or don’t.  I like a spoonful of cinnamon mixed into the coffee grounds, myself.  But I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to make your coffee.  What I will tell you is this: the secret to making better iced coffee is now in your hands. Continue reading The Secret to Better Iced Coffee

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

The truth about how J and I met is kind of boring, so we usually make something up when people ask us.  For a long time we used to say that we’d met in an internet chat room, back when that sounded scandalous, but now everyone meets online and we have to be more creative.  We met underwater off the Great Barrier Reef?  We were seated side by side for jury duty in small claims court?  We both worked at Baskin Robbins in high school?

That last one is true, actually, although the establishments in question were thousands of miles apart.  But it proves an important point: we have a long history with ice cream around here.

So I am well-qualified to tell you that this one is outstanding.  I already sang its praises here, but I feel wrong depriving you of this recipe for Seattle’s iconic ice cream flavor from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Especially since, get this, you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Some magic having to do with the salt and the cream keeps the texture sublime, even if you make it with a pan and fork instead (directions below).  If you do have an ice cream maker, you can save yourself a few minutes of stirring. Either way, this recipe will make your summer better.  And probably the entire rest of your life. Continue reading Salted Caramel Ice Cream (click for recipe)

Sorta-Caesar Salad

Well, the nice thing about this endless Seattle gloom is that the lettuce isn’t bolting.

When I first moved to Seattle, J and I lived in a tiny house, and one of the first things we did was put in a tiny garden.  We built four raised beds in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Everyone does that now, I know, but this was more than a decade ago and I liked to think of us as pioneering urban farmers back then.  (We got chickens too, of course.)

There was just one problem.  I’m from California.  And when I moved to Seattle, I was cold.  I consulted with my local garden store about what kind of vegetables I could grow in this inhospitable climate and planted things like lettuce, arugula, and broccoli.  And then I bundled them up as warm as I could.  I put hoops over the beds and sheathed them in clear plastic, trapping the heat to create toasty little greenhouses for my tender plants.  They thought it was high summer and went happily straight to seed, of course.  Learning that some plants prefer cooler temperatures was the beginning of my education about the benefits that a cool climate has to offer.  (Others include not needing much of a summer wardrobe, only needing an air conditioner a few days each year, and the blueberries.  Oh, the blueberries!)

In any case, delightful lettuces grow in this part of the world nearly year-round.  They are floppy or pert, frilly or reserved, pastel green, deep maroon, or freckled.  They are the stars of the show at springtime farmers markets, and I find them irresistible.  Here’s a nice thing to do with any sturdy, crunchy lettuce.  (Romaine is the classic, of course, as we’re riffing on the Caesar salad here, but it gets much more exciting than that.) Continue reading Sorta-Ceasar Salad (click for recipe)

Soft Rye Pretzels

Let’s start with this: I’m not at all above feeding my kids a box of mac and cheese, or declaring that it’s leftover night and wishing everyone good luck, or piling us all into the car to go out for ramen.  But I do try to make dinner for my family with some frequency.

Do you know this nice blog called “Dinner: A Love Story“?  I was just introduced to it recently.  It’s all about feeding your family dinner every night and of course they have a new cookbook (who doesn’t these days?), apparently full of recipes and strategies for feeding a family of picky eaters without going crazy.  I should probably get that cookbook.

But in the meantime I thought I’d share a tip of my own.  One of the ways in which I manage to get dinner on the table on a regular basis is by using the term “dinner” fairly loosely.  Some examples: breakfast for dinner?  Sure.  Sandwiches?  If necessary.  Tonight’s dinner?  These pretzels.  The girls gleefully chose their own dips (peanut butter, rhubarb jam, and applesauce), and the grown-ups had theirs with a sweet grainy mustard.  I made a pot of that great turnip soup soup as well, but it was certainly the accompaniment to the pretzels and not the other way around.It’s a little time-consuming to make pretzels (you boil these in a baking-soda bath in addition to letting them rise twice), but it was a fun project to do with the girls and the resulting pretzels were very good.  They have just the right combination of crispy bottom and chewy center, with a little tang that I assumed was from the rye flour, but Kim Boyce tells me is from the baking soda instead.  This recipe is adapted from Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, which I want to cook from front to back after having started with those Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts recently.

There’s a great-looking recipe for graham crackers, do you think I’ll be able to get away with calling those dinner? Continue reading Soft Rye Pretzels (click for recipe)

Aloo Gobi: Indian-Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas

What is your super power in the kitchen?

I usually joke that mine is the ability to cook when it’s messy (it’s always messy), but in truth I think it’s that I like to eat.  So as I cook, I ask myself, does this taste good? What would make it better? Do I want a finely chopped vegetable here, or big chunks?  This description makes my cooking sound more planned-out than it usually is, but I just mean that these are the things that go through my head on the fly.  I believe that constantly thinking about the end product and tasting occasionally as I go increase my chances of producing something delicious.  (There are plenty of failures too, of course–I’ve been thinking lately that I should start taking pictures of those as well for an Emmy Cooks bloopers reel.)

But this ability to envision the eventual dish fails me when it comes to cuisines that I am less comfortable cooking.  Indian food falls into this category, which is why I appreciate starting with a good recipe that will rely less on my intuition and more on my ability to follow directions.  So mostly I stick to recipes from Vij’s At Home.  But dazzled by the success of that saag paneer I keep making (thank you, Kolpona Cuisine!), I decided to branch out to this aloo gobi recipe from the gorgeous vegan blog v:gourmet.  I followed the recipe exactly, except for the splash of cream I added at the end.  What can I say?  My super power told me to.

This dish plus the saag paneer and rice make a respectable Indian-themed feast for company.  And whether or not you’re making multiple dishes, consider making this one a day ahead.  The flavor was even better the following day. Continue reading Aloo Gobi: Indian-Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas (click for recipe)

Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic

Have you ever heard of black garlic?  I hadn’t until last week, when I happened across a small new bin tucked in with the mushrooms at my local co-op.  The sign said “fermented black garlic.”  What?  The employees in the produce section were enthusiastic in recommending it but vague about exactly what it was.  It looked like garlic, but was slightly collapsed and shrunken, and smelled like a sweet, lightly garlic-flavored soy sauce.  It smelled good.  Into my basket it went. Later I found that wikipedia link above and determined that I had purchased either a traditional Asian ingredient or a new-fangled food entrepreneur’s invention from California, or maybe some combination (see here for the California producer’s description of how the “magic” fermentation process occurs “behind the closed doors of our patented machine”).  Apparently this stuff is all umami and antioxidants and a darling of the food cognoscenti, of which group I am not a member, so that explains why I had never heard of it.

Finding a new vegetable is a big deal for a serious eater.  A new taste experience on the horizon!  I started researching how to make the most of my intriguing head of garlic.  In the end, I didn’t find a recipe that called to me, so I adapted a potato and rosemary focaccia recipe from Food and Wine, which had in turn adapted it from a Daniel Boulud recipe.

I made two medium-sized focaccias, and I used half a head of black garlic to flavor one of them.  I roasted thinly-sliced potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, and a couple of minced cloves of black garlic, then I layered more sliced cloves of black garlic onto the potato-topped bread before baking it.  I was a little worried that I might have overdone it with all that garlic.  (The other focaccia was topped only with rosemary-roasted potato slices as a delicious control group.)So hey, it’s good bread.  But the garlic flavor is quite mild, and in my opinion the black garlic’s flavor, at least as I prepared it, doesn’t live up to the bold promise of its alluring scent and striking appearance.  But I like strong flavors, and the unexpectedly delicate garlic flavor may be a plus in your book rather than a disappointment.  In any case, the midnight-black cloves certainly lend dramatic flair.

Here’s the important question: what should I do with the remaining cloves of black garlic?  Have you used it in a preparation that you liked?  Do you have some off-the-wall inspiration to share?  I’ll give it another go.

Continue reading Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic (click for recipe)

Green Tartine, or, Radish Top Toast

I spent a very nice year in Denmark once upon a time. (Yes, I can still remember how to say about two things in Danish.) The country has many charming aspects, one of which is the fine tradition of making a meal out of good things piled on top of bread.

Recently, a similar movement seems to be gaining steam here in the U.S. as well, except that we toast our bread first. I think of the evolution this way: bruschetta (1980’s), crostini (1990’s), toasts (aughts), tartines (isn’t that what we call them now?). Or maybe there’s some other difference, I don’t know. Anyway, here’s a nice way to get away with eating melty cheese on toast for dinner. My friend Daisy at Coolcookstyle made it up by substituting radish greens for nettles in a Nigel Slater rarebit recipe, and I say it was a wise decision. You can swap the greens, swap the cheese, or vary the mustard, of course: the only two essential ingredients are bread and something delicious to put on top of it. Continue reading Green Tartine, or, Radish Top Toast (click for recipe)