Thursday, May 9, 2013

Iced Coffee Owns My Soul...wait, isn't that like four things that do now?

Geez, my soul must be huge for me to have so many things that own it.

I love iced coffee. It has much more caffeine (double, from what I hear!) and is super refreshing in the spring/summer. Here in NYC it goes from winter, to spring for two days and then it's insanely hot. Lately, though, the weather has been slingshotting around and no one knows what the hell is going on.

Iced coffee concentrate. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

Anyway, my day job is in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and there are like fifty coffeeshops near me (I'm sorry, Gorilla Coffee, I love you). Not kidding. I can look out the shop door and see two. It's insane. With my love of iced coffee, I had stopped in to get some and immediately wanted to never do it again. I loved the taste, loved the aroma, hated how much I had to pay. I get it, coffee is expensive, but I'm a cheapskate at heart so this needed to be fixed. Well, my fix needed to be fixed. Wait, what?

So I sat down and asked the internet how to make my own iced coffee. The plethora of articles I saw was incredible, such great info and little tidbits! However, I have next to no kitchen supplies anymore and I sure as shit don't have a french press. I had to play around and experiment!
I love experimenting.
Don't take that the wrong way.
Or do. Whatever. I won't tell you how to live your life.

I had to stop myself several times before gulping the crap out of  this on my walk to work.

Using the basics from The Nourishing Gourmet, I put together what I could and used this method:

Cold Brew Iced Coffee the Mande Way
Ingredients:
1 1/3c of coffee grounds (I have a huge bag of Blonde Roast coffee from Starbucks that my roommate gave me, but if you can get it ground fresh do so, the darker the better)
4c water
2 coffee filters
Salt, pepper (kidding, kidding!)

Method:
Mix together the coffee and water in a medium sized container (I didn't have one, so I used a small stock pot). Once it's properly mixed and all the grounds are immersed, pop it in the fridge overnight. By overnight, I mean at LEAST eight hours. You have to give it time to cold brew.

This is the part that takes a bit of time after you've waited a thousand years for your concentrate. I don't own a fine mesh strainer, so I had to improvise. I used a coffee filter positioned over another container and strained it that way. I had to do a bit at a time and be a little careful, but it worked just fine. Then, for good measure and because I know some grounds got through, I strained it a second time. This is why you'll need two filters.

Make sure you have ice cubes. I know this sounds stupid but I can't tell you how many times I wanted something cold and I don't have any. Alright, maybe it's just me.

Put a few ice cubes in a glass, and add in 1 part concentrate to 2 parts cold water. If you like to bastardize your coffee, go ahead and toss in sugar and whatever weird milk thing you put in there. Sometimes I like to add a boatload of sugar to it, but for the most part it tastes fine to me so I leave it.

This will yield about 8 cups of coffee. You can keep that concentrate up to a week in a sealed container, but honestly who can resist having 4 cups of coffee a day? You? Oh. Well don't you have some self-control.

---
And that, my friends, is cold brewing iced coffee. I'm going to keep mine in a mason jar and drag it to work with me, so I can be hyperactive and obnoxious all day long.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Roasted Vegetables and Mouthgasms!

No lie, I really wanted to title this "Roasted Veggies and Oral Orgasms" but I figured I'd get the wrong kind of traffic.

Anyway, I happen to have pretty awesome news. I think it's pretty obvious that I love cooking. I don't always love the eating part, but the idea of cooking and trying new methods and generally being in a kitchen is overly appealing to me.

So after waffling around on this for forever, I finally decided to follow my dream and do what I want to do for a living. I scheduled a tour of the French Culinary Institute and also put out my resume to a few places, explaining that I wanted to learn, had no professional experience, but God damn it did I want this bad.

I toured the school. I fell in love. Deeply, passionately in love. But then I saw the cost, and in all honesty I don't want the debt. I had gotten an e-mail the same day I sent out my "for God's sake, hire me" e-mails about meeting with some people about it. So I went to one that was disastrous, and got pretty discouraged. That lasted for all of ten minutes before I sucked it up and put my foot forward to the next place.

And holy crap, I had the greatest interview ever. The chef was realistic, reminding me that this is stressful, I'll get yelled at, I won't have a life and forget about dating. I told him I know that, I can take being yelled at, I already don't have a life and I don't care about dating. He asked me to come back for dinner service.

It was kinda grueling. I cleaned oysters, which I figured I'd be doing grunt work the entire night (which I didn't care about), then I chopped potatoes for brunch the next day, and learned how to shuck oysters. After refraining from making a reference as to my ability to shuck all night long I was called upstairs. For service. In a kitchen where people can see me. I was PUMPED. It was even better because I got to wear the cook outfit and I looked adorable.

I was put on the salad/apps station, and the chef who was running it was super patient and taught me how to do everything without getting frustrated with me. His patience was incredible especially when I'd forget to add extra sauce or how much to coat chicken with, etc. But eventually I took care of certain dishes that came up, leaving him able to focus on learning himself (this was his second night at this place though he'd been in the industry for a long time). I had a great time. I was soaked, tired, achey and I have a blister on my hand from beating the crap out of ice to crush it for the oyster plates. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Chef asked me how I liked it, and after gushing like a normal person would after a successful first date, he told me he'd take me on and teach me. We'd work on my knife skills, my speed, getting me ready for service and up to par. For now it's an internship, but he'll open a spot for me at the end if I survive. I lost it internally: I get to be taught by a chef how to do all this stuff. Holy crap!

So that is my exciting news, and I can't wait to get started. The only downfall is that I need to buy crocs - because I'm seriously going to ruin my only good pair of sneakers and they're not non-slip.

ANYWAY. Food!

I had an unexpected early day today (I really should pay more attention to my schedule) so I came home and cooked myself some noms. After raiding the veggie bin last week I wanted to roast up some in the toaster oven and have them over rice. But my protein intake has been awful, so I decided to add an egg in there and it. was. heavenly.

"But where's the lamb SAUCE?!"

It's super simple. Just veggies roasted up nicely, tossed over quick rice and topped with an egg. But the best part?

No one gets me like you do, egg yolk.

Total mouthgasm am I right? Of course I am. LOOK AT THAT. Whenever I break the yolk I hear Gordon Ramsay in my head: "It's the customer's privilege to break the yolk!"

Gordon Ramsay is in my head a lot actually. I should probably stop watching Kitchen Nightmares so much.

Anyway, I can't believe I'm even posting a method at the end, but it's easy stuff.

Method
Set your toaster oven to 425, and toss cut up veggies with EVOO, salt and pepper. Arrange them in one layer on some foil and put them in the toaster oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on how you sliced your veggies and how done you'd like them. Also, if you're making 'softer' veggies, you'll need less time. I had parsnips on there so you know those take a bit longer.

Learn to embrace Minute Rice. Honestly. Until I get another rice cooker this stuff makes me beyond happy. Just make a bag and have it ready on the plate.

Once the veggies are soft and delicious and you haven't eaten all of them as a taste test ("Taste everything!" Ramsay says. Oh God, help me) then toss them over the rice.

Since making an egg over easy takes all of one minute I usually just do it fresh at the end instead of having it ready. Coat a skillet with cooking spray, get the pan all warmed up and crack the egg into it. I add extra sea salt and pepper to the egg and cook away. Once the egg white hardens a bit, flip it. Don't break the yolk or Gordon will be so mad. It's true. He'll come to your house and have a freak out. Anyway, it only takes about 20-30 seconds on the other side before it's ready. Flip it back, place it over your veggies and tell your mouth it's in for a good time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chicken Chorizo Sausage w/ Thin Spaghetti: Oh Em Gee

Hi, guys! Long time no see. Apologies for the absence - life has a crazy way of working.

In news, I moved from Connecticut back to Brooklyn! I'm so thrilled. The opportunities here are much more abundant and I feel like I'm back at home again.

Also, being back 'home' means cooking a lot more, since eating out in NYC can get pricey! I love going to Key Foods and picking out what looks good and loading up my basket for whatever I'm going to throw together for lunch.

And then I saw it.

And I freaked out.

Guys, no one understands. I love chorizo. Love, love, love it. I don't eat a lot of meat, but when I do it's chorizo and chicken sausage. I haven't been able to find this stuff ANYWHERE in Connecticut, so imagine my complete freak out when I saw it at Key Foods. I'm surprised they didn't call the funny farm people on me.

Regardless, I restrained myself and only bought one (even though they were ON SALE thank you very much) and put it in the freezer to decide what to do with it. This is the Holy Grail of chicken sausage people, it was not a light decision to decide what to make.

So I spend that weekend in another state halfway across the country, and came home and had to hit up the grocery store again because I am perpetually out of milk (I might survive on cereal. Don't judge me).

One of my absolute favorite things to do is check the discount produce box/bin/cart. The Key Foods near my house has a little box and I rummage through it on my way home from work every day to get fresh stuff on the cheap. I squealed when I saw they had zucchini (omg) and broccoli (omg) so I snagged those up and headed home to make delicious foods.

I'm a big fan of throwing stuff together and calling it a meal. Well, I mean, I guess that's what we ALL do but I really like doing it. Whatever. Lunch time rolled around and I like to make huge batches of food so I have leftovers for lunch/next dinner since I seem to always have too many irons in the fire.

So after this long rant about nothing, I bring to you!

Chicken Chorizo Sausage w/ Thin Spaghetti
Ingredients:
1 package of al fresco chicken sausage w/ chorizo, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 apple (red), cubed into small pieces
Half a package of thin spaghetti
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
EVOO

Method:
You should be doing this during: Boil a large pot of water for your pasta. This is the easiest part of it: just let it keep on truckin' until it boils, throw in your pasta and cook to al dente via package directions. Don't forget to salt the heck out of the water. Once finished save 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.  Keep spaghetti to the side and don't snack on it.

Put your EVOO in a pan (enough to lightly coat it) and bring it to medium heat. Once the pan is all ready to go, toss in your broccoli and zucchini; salt and pepper to taste.
Let those marry together for a while, and then add in the chicken sausage. The sausage is already cooked so really you're just getting some color into it and letting the flavors meld.
Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, and reduce heat. Once the chicken sausage has some color on it, add in the apple (you don't want to cook the crap out of it, just enough so that it's refreshing but not cold).
Take your spaghetti and fold it into your chicken sausage love bath. Add in a bit of the pasta water at a time until you make something of a light sauce, as much or as little as you want. Once the pasta heats through again and everything is mixed together, you're finished! Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.