Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

Taste the difference when you cold brew your iced coffee – mellow, smooth, and frostily delicious on a sweltering hot summer day.

a cup of cold brew iced coffee with milk

We’re in the dog days of summer.

What does that really mean? ‘Cause our dog is living the good life – moving from shady spot to shady spot, sleeping the hot afternoons away, only coming to life briefly to occasionally snap at a droning fly.

I wish I was a dog.

Then I could totally wallow in these hot summer days, getting every last lazy bit of enjoyment out of them . . .

. . . . . instead of constantly rushing around one step behind myself to keep up with the garden and all the busy activities we try to pack into these few glorious months of heat.

Every now and then I take a dog-day moment, though, and stop the mad rush to sit in the shade and swat at flies and contemplate life as I look deep into the ice cubes tinkling in the condensation-wrapped mug of delicious cold-brewed iced coffee in my paw.

Man, is that good coffee.

I’m not even a regular coffee drinker – too much of it and you’d have to peel me off the ceiling after I ricocheted up there like a Mexican jumping bean on steroids.

But sometimes I throw caution to the wind and indulge in a soul-satisfying cup of jo. In the winter it might be a mug of Power Coffee, but in the summer it’s a glass of mellow cold-brew. This coffee’s as smooth as a canoe ride on a glass-calm lake – slides down your throat really easy and has none of the harshness that a cup of chilled regular coffee can have. Apparently, cold-brew has less caffeine than hot-brewed coffee, so that suits my summer coffee needs just fine. I get enough of a lift to keep me awake, but not enough to have me vibrating crazily out of sync with these mellow days.

All you do is grind up your favourite coffee beans (we like half ‘n’ half of a west coast full bodied roast and Starbucks True North mellow blonde roast). Mix the ground coffee with filtered cold water in a 1:8 ratio of coffee to water. Let sit in the fridge or at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Then stir, strain, and strain again through a filter (or skip the second straining and just discard the fine coffee sediment left at the bottom of the jug when you get to it).

grind up the coffee beans

Cold Brew Iced Coffee

strain the cold brew iced coffee

Add a bit of sugar or milk if desired, or if it’s after dinner and you’re sitting around with friends on the deck, a bit of coffee liqueur or Bailey’s stirs quite easily into the mug :)

And find a shady spot to go catch some flies.

* * * * *

 

Kitchen Frau Notes: I’ve even left this coffee to brew for 48 hours in my fridge, and it was still fine.

Use a 2 quart juice jug to brew your coffee, or I use the 1.9 litre sized canning jars I can buy at Canadian Tire. They store perfectly in the door of my fridge.

a frosty mug of cold brew iced coffee

How to Cold Brew Iced Coffee

  • 8 cups (1.92litres) filtered water
  • 1 cup (240mls) freshly ground coffee beans

Stir together the water and the ground coffee in a container, jug, or jar which is large enough to hold everything.

*If your container is 2 litres/quarts in size, use only 7 cups of water and add the remaining cup after the coffee has brewed and been strained.

Seal the container. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Stir the coffee to loosen the grounds that have settled to the bottom. Pour through a fine-meshed strainer into another container or a large pot to strain out the coarse grounds. Then line the strainer with a coffee filter and strain again to remove the fine sediment. The second straining will have to be done in stages, as it goes through the coffee filter at a slower rate. If it drips too slowly, I sometimes discard the first filter halfway through and use a fresh filter to strain the second half of the batch. (Or skip the second straining and just discard the fine coffee sediment left at the bottom of the jug when you get to it.)

Add the remaining cup of water if you only used 7 cups to cold brew the coffee.

Serve cold with plenty of ice cubes, and sugar and milk on the side for adding if desired.

Will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes 2 quarts/litres of iced coffee.

Guten Appetit!

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Blueberry Mayonnaise

Slather a hamburger bun with sweet and zesty blueberry mayonnaise, then top with crumbled feta or blue cheese, a juicy burger, a slice of red onion, tomato, and lettuce for a taste of summer heaven.

slather that burger with blueberry mayonnaise

We all love burgers.

Especially big, juicy, slightly charred burgers straight off the grill.

And especially if they are loaded with flavourful toppings that drip onto your fingers and require a couple extra-large napkins to eat – one on your lap and one to constantly wipe your dripping fingers and smiling blueberry-smeared mouth.

Yay, it’s summertime!

 

sweet and zesty blueberry mayonnaise

Blueberry mayonnaise is a surprisingly delicious addition to your next burger. Slightly sweet, a little bit tangy, fruity, creamy and the most lovely shade of magenta.

It’s an easy way to elevate your plain old burger to the next level and a great way to enjoy summer’s bounty of fat, juicy blueberries.

a burger loaded with blueberry mayonnaise and favourite toppings

* * * * *

 

 

Kitchen Frau Notes: Slather this blueberry mayonnaise onto hamburgers or sandwiches, grilled steak, pork chops, or chicken.

Or thin out leftover blueberry mayonnaise with a splash of vinegar and enough water to make a drizzling consistency and use it to dress a fresh green salad with a handful of fresh blueberries, sliced red onion, and crumbled feta cheese added in.

*For gluten free, use your favourite gluten-free burger bun, or toast two slices of gluten-free bread and use those to sandwich your burger and toppings. (We’ve even been known to toast 2 small gluten-free pancakes to use as burger buns.)

a jar of delicious blueberry mayonnaise

Blueberry Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup (100gms) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup (240ml) good quality mayonnaise, store-bought or homemade

Place the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and pepper a small saucepan over medium-high heat. If using fresh blueberries, crush them lightly. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixtures is thickened and reduced to 1/3 of a cup (80ml). This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the tarragon or basil. Allow to cool.

Stir the cooled blueberry mixture into the mayonnaise.

Slather generously onto a buttered, grilled or toasted hamburger bun, add crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese, a juicy grilled burger (beef or chicken), sliced red onion, tomato, and lettuce.

Blueberry mayonnaise keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 and 1/3 cups.

Guten Appetit!

ingredients for blueberry mayonnaise

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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Cooking with Kids: ‘Rickety Uncles’ – Easy No-Bake Cookies

Rickety Uncles are no-bake cookies that only use 5 ingredients and take 15 minutes to make. Peanutty toffee and crunchy flakes – they may look rickety but they taste fantastic!

rickety uncles no bake cookies

Cooking with Meredith

rickety uncles no bake cookies

I know. Another no bake cookies treat. But this one is so simple and delicious, and quite different in flavour from the haystacks recipe I recently shared. These are chewy and crunchy and absolutely irresistible for grown-ups and kids alike.

You know you’ve got a winner when these treats are always the first thing gobbled up at pot lucks and events. And you know they’re a winner because they’ve stood the test of time. We’ve been making ‘Rickety Uncles’ in our household since our kids were little. They were Andreas’s favourite thing to make when he was in junior high school – he’d whip himself up a batch after coming in starving off the bus after school, and I’d have to stop him from eating most of the cookies in one sitting.

Rickety Uncles no bake cookies

The recipe comes from an old paperback Canadian Kinette cookbook given me by my mother-in-law when we were first married. It’s one of those collections of favourite family recipes by local women – tried and tested – and I think the book may have been published some time in the ’80’s, though there’s no date in the front. The only thing I’ve done to change it is to increase the cooking time and increase the amount of corn flakes, in the interests of decreasing the amount of sugar per treat – but yeah, they’re still a sweet indulgence and you don’t want to scarf down the whole batch.

mmmm, licking the spoon from Rickety Uncles no bake cookies

I brought a tray full of these no bake cookies to our recent family reunion gathering and they were devoured pretty quickly to lots of mmm‘s and yum‘s between mouthfuls. We had a great weekend connecting with Raymond’s side of the family. Swatting mosquitoes and making elaborate two-umbrella rain-deflecting contraptions as we sat around the campfire in the pouring rain were just part of the fun! (There were definitely enough sunny patches to have boat rides on the lake.)

I also served up these treats at a neighbourhood barbecue we hosted at our house in June, and we all had to laugh as one of the kids went running by, a Rickety Uncle gripped tightly in each fist and a mouth full, too, shouting out, “These are awesome!” I think they’re definitely kid-approved.

Meredith and I have made them at least twice now in our weekly cooking sessions, so a nine-year old can make them (with a bit of help).

Rickety Uncles no bake cookies corn flakes for Rickety Uncles making Rickety Uncles

 

 * * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I used to make these with corn syrup, as the original recipe stated, but now make them with brown rice syrup and can’t tell the difference.

 

pan full of Rickety Uncles no bake cookies

‘Rickety Uncles’ No Bake Cookies

adapted from Canadian Kinette Cookery

  • ½ cup (100gms) sugar (natural evaporated cane sugar if possible)
  • 1 cup (240ml) corn syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup (240ml) smooth peanut butter
  • 5 cups (1.2 l) corn flakes (gluten-free if necessary)

Spread 2 large sheets of wax paper or parchment paper onto the countertop, table, or onto baking sheets.

Put sugar, syrup, and vanilla in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. (Hint: Grease the inside of the measuring cup with oil or cooking oil spray before measuring the syrup and it will slide easily out of the cup.)

Use the syrup measuring cup to measure out the peanut butter and set aside.

Measure out the corn flakes into a small bowl and set aside.

Place the saucepan with sugar, syrup, and vanilla onto a stovetop burner and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow to boil for 1 minute at a full rolling boil. Add the peanut butter and stir until completely melted. Remove from the heat.

Add the corn flakes, and fold together with a silicone spatula until most of the corn flakes are coated with the syrup.

Working quickly, scoop up heaped tablespoons of the cookie mixture and drop onto the wax paper by scraping it off the spoon with a second tablespoon. Tuck in any scraggly flakes.

Allow to harden at room temperature until cool. Store in a covered container with wax paper or parchment paper between the layers of cookies.

Makes 28 cookies.

Guten Appetit!

 

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

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Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, Cookies & Candy, Cooking with Kids, Dairy-free | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Big Batch Meat Sauce – Serve Some Tonight and Freeze the Rest

Make up a big pot of bold, hearty meat sauce to satisfy the hungriest appetites – a wonderful recipe to have in your cooking repertoire. This recipe makes enough to serve a crowd or to freeze ahead in batches for busy nights.

a bpwl of pasta with big batch meat sauce

I have a problem.

I just cannot cook a meal for less than six people – it is impossible for me. No matter how hard I try, the food just seems to grow and multiply in the pot until I’ve got a cauldron full to feed a crowd.

I guess it comes from years of cooking for a family of six people, two of which were growing teenage boys (massive meat eaters), plus a husband who likes to take leftovers for his lunch.

Even now, with only one teenage boy home for the summer, I still have to cook for six large appetites – three of us at the table, but the teenager eats for two, then both he and Raymond need leftovers for lunch (when you need to eat gluten-free, leftovers are just a much simpler option than trying to make sandwiches), so there go six (or more) servings, especially when meat is involved. What is it with men and their affinity for big meaty meals? (I could happily eat much less meat.)

So, I just give in and go with the flow. Cooking for 6 to 12 at a time it is.

(Plus, leftovers and meals stashed in the freezer make my life so much simpler).

big pot of big batch meat sauce

Like the dowdy cousin with the crackerjack personality, this hearty meat sauce may not be especially pretty to look at, but it is robust and meaty and loaded with flavour. It’s not too spicy – you can amp up the cayenne if you’d like it spicier. The glug of wine and hint of nutmeg add a subtle complexity and richness. This sauce doesn’t have the intense tomatoey redness of a typical tomato-based pasta sauce – tomatoes only play a supporting role here. Since the colour is mainly brown it’s not too exciting to photograph, but it sure wins rave reviews from all the meat-lovers in this household. And I love the fact that it’s a big batch meal – you cook once and have enough meat sauce for several family meals to stash in the freezer.

Meat sauce makes a great dish to take along camping or to have in the freezer for summer get-togethers or unexpected company. All you need to do is cook up some pasta to go with it, and maybe a green salad on the side. Or serve the sauce over buns, kinda like a meaty version of Sloppy Joes, or serve it over a big plate of spiralized zucchini noodles. Or make a pasta bake – mix up some meat sauce with cooked pasta, cover it with lots of shredded cheese and bake it til heated through and the cheese is browned in spots and bubbling.

When you invite this cousin to dinner, you know it’ll turn into a great party!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Using a mix of ground meats makes a richer, more complex flavour for this meat sauce. Use at least two different varieties, three if you can.

If you don’t have red wine, use white, or replace the wine with beef stock plus 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar, if you prefer.

Drop tablespoons of leftover tomato paste onto wax paper and freeze, then store in a zip-top baggie in the freezer to use for other dishes.

big batch meat sauce

Big Batch Meat Sauce

  • ¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 3 large onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 pound (454gms) ground beef, bison, or wild meat
  • 1 pound (454gms) ground pork or lamb
  • 1 pound (454gms) ground chicken, turkey, or veal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 large can (28oz/796ml) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) tomato paste
  • ½ cup (120ml) finely chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.

Cut the onions into large chunks, then use a food processor or mini chopper to chop them finely, together with the garlic (in batches, if necessary). Pulse carefully so they don’t turn to mush.

Saute the chopped onions and garlic in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Cut the carrots and celery into chunks and chop them finely in the food processor, too, in separate batches. Add the chopped vegetables to the onions and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the sauteed vegetables to a bowl. Don’t clean the pot, and add the ground meats. Cook them, stirring occasionally to break up any lumps, until all the meat is browned, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg and cayenne. Return the sauteed vegetables to the pot. Add the bay leaves, wine, and canned tomatoes with their juices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the tomato paste, and raise the heat slightly. Cook the meat sauce uncovered, for 15 more minutes, until it thickens slightly.

Stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat.

Serve over pasta, garnished with additional fresh parsley and shaved parmesan cheese if you wish. This sauce tastes even better when allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight and reheated the next day.

To freeze: Let the meat sauce cool, then divide it into smaller portions and pack it into freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Makes 13 to 14 cups meat sauce, serving 12 to 14.

Guten Appetit!

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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Chocolate Bark or Mendiants – Take Your Pick

Take chocolate bark to new gourmet heights by adding a wide array of tempting toppings, from fun and spunky, to healthy hippy, to irresistibly exotic.

a cascade of chocolate bark

What is it about chocolate that makes it such a universally beloved food? No matter if you’re stressed, tired, or sad, or chilling-out, happy, or celebrating – chocolate is the answer. One mouthful of that addictively sweet (or sublimely bitter) confection can make everything right with the world – or at least a whole lot better!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
― Charles M. Schulz

six variations of chocolate bark

If you want an easy, no-cook treat for summer entertaining, look no further than chocolate. Show up at any party or barbecue with a tray of fun chocolate bark chunks and you’ll be everyone’s instant friend. You can personalize the toppings to your taste (or just use up what’s in your cupboard). What could be easier than melting a handful of good quality chocolate, spreading it out, and sprinkling it with crispy, crunchy, nutty bits and pieces? Let it set for a bit, and break into nibble-sized bites. Even kids are happy to help.

Pour milk chocolate for chocolate bark swirling all kinds of chocolate for chocolate bark

Meredith helped make a couple batches. Just for fun, we swirled the different kinds of chocolate together. She loved making a fully loaded version of milk chocolate bark (below, left) with homemade sprinkles, pretzel bits, sunflower seeds, crunchy toffee bits, and mini m&m candies.

trio of chocolate barks - fully loaded, cranberry almond, and healthy hit

left – fully loaded, center – cranberry, almond, orange peel, cacao nibs, right – pumpkin seed, goji berry, bee pollen

We couldn’t decide which flavour combination was our favourite – everyone had a different one. (The dark chocolate with bacon, pecans, toffee bits, and coffee beans got quite a few votes, though, because it was so interesting.)

white and dark chocolate bark

If you want to be even more elegant, make your chocolate bark into individual rounds. Stud them with dried fruits and nuts – a variation on the traditional French mendiants served at Christmas, but really just as wonderful any time of year. Simple and classic is always in season. Mendiants are an easy make-ahead and just the right touch if you’d like to serve a little something sweet, but not too heavy, after a special dinner.

Or even after a casual barbecue.

dark chocolate mendiants with dried fruits and nuts

dark chocolate mendiants are an elegant little nibble to finish any meal

 

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Start out with the best quality chocolate you can get, whether it’s milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. (The bulk food section at our local supermarket and our bulk food store both sell wonderful Belgian chocolate.)

To make either the chocolate bark or mendiants dairy free, be sure to use a good quality dairy-free dark chocolate.

Make sure to toast your nuts first, to ensure maximum nutty flavour, or buy roasted, salted nuts. The salty hit of nuts, pretzels, or salted popcorn is a winner with chocolate.

If you’re taking a container of these chocolate bark pieces to a picnic or barbecue, stash a frozen ice-pack on top of the sealed container or keep it in a cooler to prevent the chocolate from melting in the sun.

The white ‘bloom’ that sometimes shows on the chocolate after storing for a while is just cocoa butter that has come to the surface if the chocolate hasn’t been tempered properly. It may not look pretty, but it is harmless and the chocolate is still perfectly delicious to eat.

eight varieties of chocolate bark

Chocolate Bark

  • 250 gms/9oz  of good quality milk, dark, or white chocolate (about 1 and 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
  • assorted whole nuts or seeds
  • assorted dried fruits (raisins, apricots, candied ginger, cranberries)
  • extra bits – pretzels, popcorn, candies, etc.

Toast any nuts you plan to use in a 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and fragrant (or buy them already roasted and salted.) Allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water, or in a microwave-safe glass container. If using the bowl over water, stir often until the chocolate is just melted. Lift the bowl from the simmering water and wipe the bottom with a towel so no water droplets get into the chocolate. If using the microwave, heat the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until it is just melted.

Pour the chocolate onto a flat surface lined with parchment paper and spread out into an 8 or nine inch (20-23cm) circle, or two smaller circles.

Sprinkle with ingredients from one of the combinations below, or make up your own variation. Allow to harden at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Lift the disk carefully from the parchment paper, and break gently into pieces. If the chocolate was refrigerated to harden it, return it to room temperature before breaking in pieces. If the chocolate is too cold when you break it, topping pieces can fall off too easily. If it is at room temperature, the chocolate is a bit pliable and you have more control over how you break the pieces.

Makes one 8-9 inch disk of chocolate bark.

Just Some Combinations:

  • broken banana chips, salted peanuts, mini Reese’s Pieces candies
  • salted, roasted pumpkin seeds, goji berries, bee pollen
  • toasted sliced almonds, chopped candied ginger, cacao nibs
  • crumbled crisp-cooked bacon, chopped toasted pecans, butter toffee bits, coffee beans or cacao nibs
  • toasted coconut, snipped dried pineapple, snipped dried mango
  • toasted macadamia nuts, snipped dried mango, broken banana chips
  • toasted walnuts, candied orange peel bits, cacao nibs
  • mini M&M candy-coated chocolates, popcorn, salted peanuts
  • freeze dried strawberries, slivered almonds, poppy seeds
  • dried cranberries, dried blueberries, flaked toasted almonds
  • pistachios, crushed dried rose petals, golden raisins, chopped dried figs
  • chopped nuts, sprinkles, broken pretzels, m&m’s
  • crumbled gingersnap cookies, toasted walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped dried figs
  • toasted salted sunflower seeds, chopped dried apricots, chia seeds
  • pretzel pieces, salted whole almonds, raisins
  • pecans, popcorn, cacao nibs

Have fun with this!

 

chocolate mendiants - fill 'em with whatever fruits & nuts you like

Mendiants

  • 250 gms/9oz  of good quality dark chocolate (about 1 and 1/3 cup chocolate chips) makes 16 mendiants
  • assorted whole nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, or macadamia halves)
  • assorted dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots, figs, pineapple, candied ginger, etc)

Toast the nuts in a 350° oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water, or in a microwave-safe glass container. If using the bowl over water, stir often until the chocolate is just melted. Lift the bowl from the simmering water and wipe the bottom with a towel so no water droplets get into the chocolate. If using the microwave, heat the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until it is just melted.

Drop heaping teaspoons of the melted chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper. Use the back of the teaspoon to spread the chocolate into a 2-inch (5cm) round. Make 8 rounds at a time so they don’t set before you are finished.

Top the chocolate rounds with several whole nuts and pieces of dried fruit.

Allow to set.

Store in an airtight container with wax paper separating the layers, in a cool place for several weeks.

Makes 16 mendiants.

Guten Appetit!

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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