Iced Coffee, Cubes and Syrups

Iced Coffees

So as I sit here in my office, for what seems like the one millionth day without proper air conditioning (today’s issue: blown fuse in the compressor), I am sipping on my regular decaf coffee, only iced, rather than hot. Yes, I am aware that there is the theory that when it’s 10 billion degrees out (give or take a degree) you’re actually supposed to have hot drinks, rather than cold, as it’s supposed to make you in fact cooler. So of course, my next step was to Google that to check it out!

According to the Smithsonian Magazine (www.smithsonianmag.com) their answer, in short: Yes, a hot drink can cool you down, but only in specific circumstances. and I quote:

“If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate”

The key is however that the increased perspiration needs to be able evaporate off your skin. If you are wearing a lot of clothing, or you are sweating so much that it’s just beading up and running off you rather than evaporating, then you are not cooling yourself off at all, and are better off going for a cold drink.

So, since we dress quite modestly here in the office, the chances of any overproduction of perspiration evaporating off my skin directly, while not slim to none, is close. So, I’m skipping the hot coffee and going for cold.

Sorry, that was a heck of a long into just to tell you that today is Iced Coffee Day! Since the basic recipe for Iced Coffee is pretty simple, I’m going to play up the variations by giving you recipes for a host of syrups that you can add to make your iced coffee taste just like something you paid $25 for at a store that rhymes with “Carbucks”! I’m also throwing in a recipe for coffee ice cubes. These are great for when you have a little coffee left in the pot, or just brew a pot for this recipe specifically, and then add these cubes to your coffee, and you’re not watering it down!  Enjoy everyone!


Iced Coffee Concentrate (Cold Brew)

Ingredients:
For the concentrate:
2 cup coffee beans, coarsely ground
8 cups water

For your iced coffee:
½ cup iced coffee concentrate
½ cup water
ice
sugar or coffee syrup if desired
creamer such as half-and-half, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk or coffee creamer

Directions:
Add the grounds and the water to a 64-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid. Stir. Put the lid on and put the jar/pitcher somewhere out of the way on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. Let it sit for at least 6 hours, up to 12.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the water and grounds over the strainer and discard grounds. Pour the iced coffee concentrate into an airtight jar or pitcher and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for up to one week.

To make iced coffee, fill a glass with ice and add ½ cup coffee concentrate and ½ cup water. Add cream/sweetener as desired and serve.


Coffee Ice Cubes

Ingredients:
black coffee, cooled
ice cube trays

Directions:
Brew a pot of hot coffee in your usual method and allow to cool to room temperature. Use whatever coffee is your preference, but the nicer the coffee the nicer the end result will be, so don’t scrimp on the flavour! If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, add in some sugar or sweetener at this point.

Pour coffee into your ice cube tray and place in the freezer to harden overnight. Place any left over coffee into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for later. When the ice cubes are ready, fill into a tall glass to serve.


Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
1 5-inch cinnamon stick

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Vanilla Bean Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water, scraped vanilla beans and pod and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. I usually don’t remove the vanilla pod and just leave it in for flavor. You can remove it if you wish!


Blackberry Syrup

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries*
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
* click here to learn how to clean blackberries.

Directions:
Add the blackberries to a blender with the water. Puree until completely smooth and blended, then strain over a fine mesh sieve into a bowl – so all you have is blackberry juice. Combine the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. This syrup can get extra sweet due to the flavor of your berries, so feel free to play along with water and sugar ratios.

You can use the same recipe to make raspberry, strawberry or blueberry syrup as well.


Almond Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar.


Toffee Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup toffee bits (such as a Skor™ bar)*

*Please note that this will make this syrup dairy.

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and toffee bits in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a cup.  Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, and then use a spoon to skim any solids off of the top.  Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Peppermint Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 candy cane, crumbled (optional, for colour)
½ to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and candy cane in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup.  Stir in the peppermint extract. Half a teaspoon is a good starting point and then you can add an additional half a teaspoon if you desire.  (Word to the wise – do not take a giant whiff of the still hot syrup unless you want a peppermint burn inside your nostrils.) Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Gingerbread Syrup

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon molasses
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into quarters
2 5-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or large jar and strain syrup. Discard solids. Pour into an airtight storage container and transfer to refrigerator. Contents may settle, so just give it a quick shake before enjoying pumpkin spice deliciousness in your morning coffee or latte.

Naturally Flavoured Waters

Flavoured Waters

So with Canada Day behind us, and the hot long summer ahead (sorry GOT fans, winter is not yet coming!), it is important that we stay hydrated! So this week is all about the liquids! And what better way to kick it off than with good ol’ H2O? That reminds me of a bad nerd joke, that you’ll have to forgive me for telling, but I just can’t help myself.

Two scientists walk into a bar. The first one says “I’ll have some H2O.” The second one says, “I’ll have some H2O too.” The second scientist then dies.

All my fellow nerds will get it, for those that don’t, H2O2 (too) is the chemical formula for Hydrogen Peroxide which can kill you if ingested. Hey, I warned you it was a bad joke, don’t shoot the blogger.

So having warmed up the crowd, let’s move on to some great, easy waters, and some of the benefits that they will bring you. Please check out our produce cleaning page to see how to clean all of the fresh produce and herbs used in these recipes. You can check out the page by clicking here.


Apples and Cinnamon Water

Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar concentration and improves insulin sensitivity, while apples have been shown in studies to help a wide spectrum of ailments from staving off Alzheimer’s to protecting against colon cancer.

Ingredients:
2 apples, thinly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
2 quarts water/seltzer, divided
ice
sliced apple and cinnamon sticks, for serving

Directions:
Place the thinly sliced apples and cinnamon sticks in a pitcher. For still infused water, add 2 quarts of water. For sparkling water, add 1 quart of seltzer during prep and a second quart just before serving. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours to allow the ingredients to infuse. Stir well and strain, discarding the solids. For serving, add fresh apples and cinnamon sticks for garnish and plenty of ice. The infused water will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.


Strawberries and Basil Water

This pretty medley of strawberries and basil from provides iron from the herb and vitamin C from the berries, which has been linked to fighting cancer, keeping wrinkles at bay, and more.

Ingredients:
1 pint strawberries, sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 lemon, sliced
2 quarts water

Directions:
Combine strawberries, basil and lemon in a large pitcher. Add 2 quarts of water. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.


Blueberries, Peach, Lemon, and Mint Water

This supercharged mixture from combines the antioxidant power of the fruit with refreshing mint, a carotene-rich aromatic herb.

Ingredients:
1 large pitcher of water
10-12 chopped mint leaves
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 sliced lemons
1 sliced peach or nectarine

Throw everything together in a pitcher and let it steep overnight. You can use fresh or frozen fruit – I always prefer fresh if it’s in season.


Orange & Vanilla Infused Water

This light delicious water provides both vitamin C and a boost of antioxidants.

Ingredients:
2 litres of filtered water
1 orange, sliced
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or a scraped vanilla bean

Directions:
Combine the orange slices, vanilla and water in a large pitcher, and mix well. Allow to infuse in the fridge for at least an hour, and then keep chilled in the fridge for a refreshing beverage anytime you like!


Blackberries and Sage Water

Blackberries are brimming with fibre and heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, while sage contains vitamin A and a variety of minerals like calcium and iron.

Ingredients:
5 sage leaves
1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
ice
water

Directions:
Add sage leaves to a pitcher and bruise with a muddler. Add blackberries; press and twist with muddler to release their juices. Fill the jar with ice cubes, and then add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.


Cucumber Slices and Lemongrass Water

Send yourself to the spa with this Thai inspired water. The lemongrass provides vitamins a and c, and the cucumber is a great diuretic!

Ingredients:
½ cucumber
1 stalk lemongrass
4 cups of water
ice

Directions:
Wash the cucumber. Using a vegetable peeler remove some of the waxy peel from the cucumber. Proceed to peel the cucumber into ribbons using the vegetable peeler. Put the ribbons into the pitcher.

Using your hands, peel away the rough outer edge of the lemongrass. Cut the lemongrass in half, lengthwise. Place the lemongrass onto a cutting board. Using a rolling pin, gently smash the lemongrass. Add to the pitcher of ice and cucumber ribbons. Fill with water. Give a stir. Let chill in the fridge at least an hour. Fill about ¼ of the pitcher with ice, stir, and enjoy.

Canadian Berry Galette (Saskatchewan)

Berry Galette

So Saskatchewan is known as Prairie Country… and it is flat! By flat, I mean you can see right across the province, no problem. But flat doesn’t mean boring, or unproductive! All that flat land gives us great plains to grow all kinds of wheats, grains, pulses, and more. One of these crops is Canola, otherwise known as rapeseed (gee, I wonder why it doesn’t go by that name more often?). Canola is used to make Canola Oil. EVERYONE has a bottle of that stuff in their kitchen! So, we’re going to be making a pie today, with a Canola Oil crust. Now what to go in the pie? Well, if you can get your hands on them, Saskatoon Berries would be great! They look like blueberries, but have a tarter taste that goes well in baked goods. For those of us that live outside the prairie region, blueberries, or other types of berries will have to suffice!

Ingredients:

Canola Oil Pie Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch salt
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons cold milk*
About 2 tablespoons ice water

Mixed Berry Filling:
4 cups mixed berries (Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.)**
¼ to ⅓ cup, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest***
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk*

* To make this pie non-dairy, use soy-milk, almond milk or non-dairy creamer in place of the regular milk.
** Click here to learn about cleaning berries.
*** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Into a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender until the size of peas. Stir in the milk and mix until begins to form a dough. Stir in enough water to form a smooth ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest refrigerated for 20 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the berries with ¼ cup of the sugar and the lemon zest. Let sit 3 minutes, then taste to determine if more sugar is needed, adding more as needed. Add the cornstarch and mix well.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large circle, about 10-inches across. Transfer to a baking sheet. Spread the fruit filling into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Fold the edges over the filling, overlapping the dough into folds. With a pastry brush, brush the cream onto the dough border and sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar on top.

Bake until the dough is golden brown and the fruit is bubby, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before serving.

New York Style Cheesecake

CheesecakeSo the last stop that Phileas Fogg and Passepartout made before returning to London, and completing their circumnavigation of the globe was in New York, New York, in the good ol’ US of A. So what could be a sweeter way to finish than with dessert? New York? Dessert? Hello cheesecake! New York–style cheesecake relies upon heavy cream or sour cream in addition to the cream cheese, and has a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency. Interesting note, the sour cream makes the cheesecake more resilient to freezing and is the method by which most frozen cheesecakes are made. Today’s recipe will give you a very basic cake, but I’ve added two sauces to choose from for toppings! Not in the mood to make a topping from scratch? You can always use your favourite flavour of pie filling! A dollop of any flavour will do ya! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, particularly up the sides of the pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.

In a large bowl, using an electric beater, mix the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. By hand, blend in the milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Overmixing can affect the texture of the cake, so just mix by hand until combined. Pour filling into prepared crust.

You will be baking the cake in a water bath, to ensure even cooking. Take a large baking dish that will fit your springform pan inside of it, and is at least an inch and a half deep. Place the filled springform pan in your baking dish, and then fill the dish with hot water, so that the water comes up about 1 inch from the base of the springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven off, and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 3 hours, but more like 5-6. This will prevent cracking along the surface of the cake. Once the cake has sat, chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can enjoy this as is or with one of the toppings below.

Strawberry SauceStrawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 pints fresh strawberries*
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest**

* Click here to learn how to clean strawberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Combine berries, sugar, water and zest and cook until berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon on top of the cheesecake and serve.

Blueberry SauceBlueberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cups water
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest**
1 ½ cups blueberries, picked over and rinsed*
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

* Click here to learn how to clean blueberries.
** Click here for my tips on zesting oranges.

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat stir together the sugar, cornstarch, water, orange juice, and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blueberries and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool before pouring over the cheesecake.