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.

A Collection of Iced Teas

Iced Teas

One of the classic summer drinks that we tend to go for is Iced Tea. Simple, easy, delicious and refreshing, it’s amazing how it just seems to hit the spot. One of the problems though that I seem to find though when I brew it is that it sometimes takes on a bitter taste from the tea itself. I found a tip online years ago that alleviates this problem. Simply add a pinch of baking soda to the hot water when brewing the tea. It magically counterbalances this acidity/bitterness from the tannins in the tea, and leaves you with a smooth taste.

The collection of teas below are all of a sweet variety, but you can leave out the sugar in any of them if you prefer unsweetened tea. Another tip, if you plan on keeping tea in the fridge for several days, don’t leave citrus (lemons, limes, etc.) in it with the rind/peel on. The natural oils in the peel of the fruit will leech into the tea and give a bitter taste. It is best to add fresh citrus to your glass, or to the pitcher, and then remove it before storing it for the next day.


Smooth Sweet Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
2 cups boiling water
6 tea bags
¾ cup white sugar
6 cups cool water
ice and lemon for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof pitcher. Pour in the boiling water and add the tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and discard them. Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Pour in the cool water, then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice with a wedge of lemon.


Sweet Lime Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 gallon boiling water
6 black tea bags (such as orange pekoe)
1 ½ cups white sugar
4 limes, juiced
lime slices for serving

Directions:
Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a heat-proof gallon sized pitcher, then add the water and tea bags. Allow the tea to steep for about 45 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. Stir in the sugar and lime juice until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold before serving. Serve over ice with slices of lime.


South Asian Iced Tea

This is a bit of different kind of ice tea, in that it’s a sweet milky tea. Trust me though, once you try it, it will quickly become a favourite!

Ingredients:
9 cups water
8 tea bags black tea (such as orange pekoe)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
½ cup half-and-half, divided

Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a kettle and pour over tea bags in a heat-proof pitcher. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes and then remove the bags from the pitcher. Stir in the sugar in until it has dissolved. Cool the tea to room temperature. To serve, fill a glass with ice, then pour in the cool tea until almost full. Then add 1 tablespoon condensed milk and float 1 tablespoon of half-and-half atop the iced tea.


Hawaiian Plantation Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 quart barely boiling hot water
4 orange pekoe tea bags
1 quart ice cold water
1 (16 ounce) can pineapple juice
½ cup simple syrup (optional)*
1 fresh pineapple – peeled, cored, and cut into spears

Directions:
Pour the hot water into a large pitcher, and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and pour in the ice water and the pineapple juice. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 ½ hours. Pour the tea over ice, garnish with pineapple spears, and serve.

* To make simple syrup heat ½ cup of water with ½ cup sugar over low-medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.


Peach Orange Iced Tea

This fruity tea is a nice twist on traditional ice tea. If you don’t have peaches or clementine, you can use a nectarine or mandarin.

Ingredients:
1 pinch baking soda
1 large fresh peach, sliced
1 clementine, peeled and segmented
1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
8 cups boiling water
4 Earl Grey tea bags
ice and peach slices for serving

Directions:
In a large heat-proof pitcher, and the sliced peach, clementine and sugar. Muddle the fruit and sugar to break it down. Add the baking soda, boiling water and tea bags and stir. Refrigerate the tea until cool, about an hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fruit and tea bags. Serve over ice with a few slices of peach.

Mini-Smoked Salmon Frittatas

Smoked Salmon FrittatasThis dish is designed to make 6 individual mini frittatas, but you can always just make one large one instead. To do this, instead of dividing the recipe into little ramekins, you can let it cook in the oven in a oven-safe skillet or pan. Just adjust your baking time, as it will take longer for the centre of the dish to set up. This recipe makes 6 servings (serving size: 1 frittata)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
6 large eggs
8 large egg whites
1 tablespoon half-and-half
3 tablespoons 1% milk
3 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet, and sauté the onion for 2–3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and salmon to the skillet, and toss to combine. Remove the pan from stove top, and let the mixture cool.

Next, combine the eggs, egg whites, half-and-half and milk in a bowl. Stir in the cubes of cream cheese. You are not trying to incorporate this fully with the egg and milk mixture. There will be chunks of cheese in the final frittata. Lightly coat 6 (8-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Add 2 tablespoons of salmon mixture to each ramekin. Pour ¾ cup egg mixture into each ramekin. (Do not overfill.)

Place ramekins on baking sheet; bake 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Garnish with green onions, if desired.