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.

Soy-Glazed Arctic Char (Yukon)

Arctic Char

Starting with Canada’s western-most territory, the Yukon is the smallest of Canada’s three territories, but has the highest mountain in Canada (Mt. Logan at 19,551 feet). I should mention though, even though I said it’s the smallest territory, it is in no way small! Meaning “Great River” in the Athapaskan language, in reference to the Yukon River (at 3,600 kilometres/2,237 miles long), the Yukon is 483,450 square kilometres (about 186,661 square miles), which is larger than the State of California and larger than Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands combined.

Its population however is just 31,881! A majority of this population is made up of members of different First Nations tribes, such as the Southern and Northern Tutchone, the Tlingit, the Tagish, Kasha, Tanana, Han and Gwitchin. In addition to wild game, a large part of the diet of the First Nations people revolves around fish. A popular fish from this region is the Arctic Char. Similar in taste and texture to salmon, it is extremely versatile, and can be eaten raw, frozen and dipped in soy sauce, or as in today’s recipe, with ginger soy glaze. Today’s recipe will serve around 6 people and is delicious and simple to prepare. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 skin-on Arctic Char fillets, (about 2 ¼ pounds total)
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger*
1 tablespoon liquid honey
¾ teaspoon pepper

* Click here to see my tip about peeling fresh ginger.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse off your fillets, and check for any missed bones. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then place the fish on it, skin side down. If you are using a barbeque instead, either use a fish basket or make sure to pre-grease your barbeque racks, and well as rubbing a little oil on the skin side of the fish, to help it from sticking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, honey and pepper. Brush the sauce over the fish and allow it to bake/grill for about 8-10 minutes. It will be done when the fish flakes easily.

If you like you can prepare extra sauce and cook it down slightly in a small pot on the stove-top. The sauce will reduce and create a nice sticky flavourful glaze to serve at the table.

Chicken Nanban

Chicken NanbanOur next stop in our Around the World tour takes us to Yokohama, Japan. Now the Japanese obviously have Sushi, but I felt that was too much of a “gimme” for the blog, that, and you can find sushi at every corner store these days, so I wanted something different. The Japanese have a version of fried chicken though, that was similar enough to be comfortable to Westerners, but different enough to be exotic. Enter Chicken Nanban! Originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce. One bite and you’ll never think of fried chicken the same again!

Nanban means European countries in old Japanese, and as the name suggests, it was influenced by the European settlers that came in Japan. As such, it is a Yoshoku dish, combining Western ingredients with Japanese taste. A little sweet, and a little sour, the flavors blend beautifully in each crispy bite. You might notice this recipe is a little different in that we dredge the chicken in flour and then coat with egg. No, that’s no mistake, it’s truly how the dish is made. Coating the chicken in this way evokes a tempura like texture with a light and springy bite, creating a really unusual and memorable dish. Then we briefly dip it in Nanban sauce to let it soak up all the delicious flavor! While it may look like a lot of work, the dish comes together really easily, so it’s sure to be a hit for with fried chicken lovers! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

Tartar Sauce:
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (about ½ – ¾ of a stalk)
1 ½ scallions/green onions, minced*
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Nanban Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sake (can be substituted with sweet sherry)***
6 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons rice vinegar

Chicken:
3 pounds chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
3 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
flour – all-purpose for dusting
salt and pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.
*** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

To prepare the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, celery, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

To make the nanban sauce, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and then add the vinegar. When the sauce returns to a boil, turn off the heat.

Add 2-inches of oil to heavy bottomed pot and heat to 340 degrees F (test with a kitchen thermometer). Prepare a wire cooling rack positioned over a drip pan for once the chicken has fried.

Trim any excess fat off the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Dust the chicken with flour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until uniform and then dip the chicken in the eggs to thoroughly coat.

Gently lower the egg coated chicken skin-side down into the hot oil and then drizzle a little of the remaining egg onto the tops of each piece of chicken. The drizzled egg will quickly expand and spread out. Use tongs or chopsticks to fold the egg back over the chicken. You may need to fry the chicken in batches.

Fry the chicken until its golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). You may need to flip the chicken over once halfway through to evenly brown the top.

Transfer the fried chicken, fluffy side down to the wire rack and drizzle half the nanban sauce onto the smooth side. Flip the chicken over and then drizzle the remaining sauce onto the fluffy side. Slice and serve the chicken with the tartar sauce immediately.

Dim Sum (Scallion Pancakes, Chinese Potstickers & Dipping Sauce)

So Hong Kong is known for it’s famous Dim Sum services, a unique style of buffet like eating, but where the food comes to you, rather than you to it! Like the Spanish Tapas, Dim Sum is a style of Cantonese dumpling prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. During a Dim Sum service, carts are wheeled around the restaurant filled with little bamboo steam baskets, each containing a new and wonderful dish. All in all, there may be dozens of different types of dishes served, on carts pushed by wait staff around the restaurant for diners to choose from. For today’s entry, I’ve chosen two dishes, a Scallion Pancake and a Vegetarian Potsticker, along with a dipping sauce that would go great with either. These recipes will serve 4-6 people, as part of a larger meal. I hope you enjoy!

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or sesame oil
2 scallions/green onions, washed and thinly sliced*
a bit of oil to brush on pancakes
a bit of salt to sprinkle on pancakes during frying

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:

Combine the flours in a large bowl. Stir in the vegetable oil/sesame oil. Pour in half the boiling water into the flour and begin stirring immediately, then use your hands to combine into a dough. Add the remaining boiling water as needed. Cover the dough and let it rest for 2 hours.

While the dough is resting, wash and dice the spring onions. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly, then cut into thirds and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Roll each of the three sections of dough out into a flat piece approximately ½ cm or ¼ inch thick. Brush the pancake with a bit of oil, and sprinkle with spring onion pieces. Roll up the pancake and cut into 7 – 8 pieces. Use the palm of your hand to flatten each piece. Stack the flattened pieces on top of each other, and then roll out again, to make one whole pancake again. Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet. Shallow fry the pancakes until both sides are golden brown, being sure to sprinkle with a bit of salt during frying.

While cooking, press down on the centre with a spatula to make sure the pancake cooks. Serve whole or cut into wedges. Serve plain or with soy sauce or another dipping sauce if desired.

PotstickersChinese Potstickers

Ingredients:

½ pound firm tofu
½ cup finely shredded carrot
½ cup finely chopped bok choy*
¼ cup finely chopped water chestnuts
¼ cup finely chopped bamboo shoots
¼ cup finely chopped garlic chives*
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package potsticker or gyoza wrappers (in a pinch, wonton wrappers will suffice)
2 tablespoons oil for frying the dumplings

* Click here to learn how to clean bok choy and chives.

Directions:

Drain the tofu, cut into cubes and mash. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Combine the tofu with the remainder of the ingredients and seasonings (except the wrappers and the oil used for frying).

Lay out one of the gyoza wrappers in front of you. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the gyoza wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal it shut. (You may want to use a cornstarch/water mixture to make this easier).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. When oil is ready, carefully add the dumplings and cook on high heat until golden brown (about 1 minute). Without turning the dumplings over, add ½ cup of water and cover. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the raw filling and then uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve the potstickers with the burnt side on top, with potsticker dipping sauce or soy sauce mixed with minced ginger for dipping.

Dipping SaucePot Sticker Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

½ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
1-2 small chilies, finely sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced or grated
2 green onions/scallions, sliced thin*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions/scallions.

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients. For best results, prepare ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use. (Use within 3 to 4 days). Serve with potstickers.

Chital Macher Muitha (Chital Fried Fish Dumplings)

Fish BallsIn the Calcutta or Kolkata region of India, Chital, also known as Clown Knife fish, is a popular fish used in many dishes. It is an interesting fish, in that it is carnivorous (meat eating) and often cannibalistic (eats its own kind). I’m not sure if it is in fact a kosher fish, but it is almost a moot point for those of us in North America, as it is very hard to get outside of certain specialty ethnic stores, and even then it’s frozen. Fresh, if it was kosher and possible to find, it’s apparently a nightmare to debone! Having said all that, I’m making this recipe less authentic by substituting Chital with any ground white fish. I’m sorry to all my Bengali enthusiasts out there, but sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in the name of food! All that being said, this recipe will serve 6 if served as a main entrée and can easily be cut in half for appetizer portions instead. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 ⅓ pounds ground fish (any white fish)
1 ¼ cups cooking oil
6 medium potatoes, peeled
4 large tomatoes
6 medium onions
4-5 inch piece of fresh ginger (or 4 ½ tablespoons ginger paste)
2-3 green chilies (optional)
12 cloves of garlic (of ¼ cup bottled minced garlic)
4-5 bay leaves
3 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons butter/olive oil (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
4 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 ½ cups water
cilantro (for garnish)*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring the potatoes to a boil and cook through. While the potatoes are cooking, dice the tomatoes and onions, and set them aside. In food processor or blender puree the ginger and garlic (separately) so that you get a paste formed from them. If you are using chilies in this recipe, you can puree them as well with either the ginger or garlic.

Once the potatoes are done, drain the potatoes and mash them to a smooth consistency. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix them together with the ground fish, 2 ¼ tablespoons of the ginger paste, the garlic paste, ½ the diced onions and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.

In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil to about 350-375 degrees, or that when a bit of the fish mixture is dropped in, it starts to fry and bubble immediately. Make small balls out the fish mixture, like you would a meat ball, and drop them one-by-one into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the balls, as the more balls in the oil at once, the lower the oil temperature will drop, and you’ll wind up with oily fish balls rather than nicely fried ones. It is best to fry them in batches. Once the balls turn nice and golden, remove them from the oil and set them aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

After all the fish mixture has been fried, add the bay leaves and remaining onions to the left over oil and fry for 2 minutes. After 3-4 minutes add the diced tomato and stir for another 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ginger paste, turmeric powder and cumin, combining it well and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and salt to the mixture, and bring to a boil.

Once the sauce has come together, return the fried fish balls to the sauce, and let simmer for another 5 minutes. After that, add the butter or olive oil, if adding, and the garam masala powder. Taste for salt, and mix well. Serve the fish balls and sauce hot over white rice.

Non-Dairy Butter Chicken

Butter ChickenWell, our travels now take us to India, and the city of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. This is a classic Indian dish that is local to the region, but often unattainable to those keeping a kosher diet. Here, with the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, you get the best of both worlds! This recipe will serve 6, and despite the long list of ingredients, is very simple to make! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

Tandoori Marinade:
⅓ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Chicken Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1-2 bay leaves
2 (740ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder + 1 ½ cups warm water
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh cilantro*
1 ½ tablespoons potato/corn starch (if needed)

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

Place cubed chicken in a large gallon re-sealable bag, and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pour the marinade mixture our over top of the chicken. Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible. Using your hands, mix the chicken up with the marinade through the bag, flipping it to help combine. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate the better, but do not exceed 48 hours.

Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place the marinated chicken on the sheet, spreading it out so that they cook evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter chicken sauce by sautéing the oil, onion and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until onion is brown. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you find that your sauce needs thickening, remove about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, and mix in the potato or corn starch. Once the starch has been thoroughly combined with the sauce, return the sauce to the main pot and mix through. This will thicken up the sauce. Add the cooked chicken, cilantro and remove the bay leaf, and serve with hot basmati rice.