Friday, June 24, 2011

The Cupcake Pen Review is In

Check out this informative – and somewhat hilarious – review of the Tovolo Cupcake Pen from WXIA NBC in Atlanta. The demonstration of how tricky it is to get cupcake batter (I think you could use this for any kind of batter) into cupcake liners is funny – it’s that classic flustered, ultra-busy mom thing. 

Also, I love the quote, “I’m sure I could be holding one of the babies and do this.”

We’ve had one of these cupcake pens floating around the office recently. I’m tempted to take it home and see what else it could do. I was thinking: if I got three of these, I could make a July 4 cake out of red, white and blue colored batter. Anyone have any rad ideas? You could write your name in cake. In cake!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How To Make Cold Brew Coffee

Two very different types of coffee, both delicious. However, cold brew is superior. 

The difference is science, I guess. Regular ice coffee is just hot coffee poured over ice, maybe with an hour of refrigeration thrown in. But this method tends to result in a watery drink. And the ice cubes tend to either melt or wither into weak little ice balls. 

Cold brew is literally brewing coffee in a cold environment. The cold brew creates a smooth, highly concentrated liquid that tastes better – in my opinion – than hot brewed coffee. I think it’s because you don’t burn the grinds. It’s a low-labor process, but takes time. It’s well worth it. 

Here’s how to make cold brew coffee: 

1) Fill your French press with cold water and the amount of coffee you normally use. Make sure the coffee is coarse grind – it should be, anyway, if you’re using a press. (If you don’t have a press, get one; presses are the best option for those who don’t like the causticity of auto-drip coffee, but also don’t want to toy with a double-induction inverted vacuum beaker, or whatever it is coffee nerds use.)

2) Put it in the refrigerator, leaving the press/lid part off. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent refrigerator smells from getting in. 

3) Wait 12 to 24 hours

4) Check the brew. It should be opaque, but don’t fret if it’s not. If it looks good, pop on the press and emulsify the coffee and water as if you were making a batch of hot coffee. 

5) This step is optional, but you might want to strain the cold brew through a paper filter. I do this because my press is old does not filter out all the grinds. 

For whatever reason – something to do with science – cold brew coffee is stronger than hot brew, so you don’t need as much. It’s great for plain-old ice coffee, or for making fancy coffee frappe drinks. You can even mix it with a little vodka to make perky coffee liquor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let The Sun Shine - And Win A Cool Tool

Happy First Day of Summer!

Boy did we need it here in Seattle. It has been pouring down rain, dreary and all of my poor Peony buds have wilted and fallen off before getting the chance to open into the beautiful blooms I adore. But no longer!

This morning the sun was shining at 6am and it's supposed to get up near 80 degrees and let me tell you, us Seattle-ites are doing the happy dance!

To me, Summer means waking up to the music of birds chirping outside my bedroom window. Having dinner and cocktails out on our deck until the wee hours of the night. Celebrating friends and family with barbecues and bonfires. Fresh fruit and flowers from the local Farmers Markets. Guacamole and margaritas on the patio of our favorite Mexican joint at lunch. And most importantly to me, it means happy people wherever you go.

What does summer mean to you?

Let us know and you could win this month's Cool Tool! I'll give you a hint: it's perfect for summertime entertaining.

To enter, follow the steps below:

1.Follow our blog

2. Leave a comment here about what summer means to you.

Only one entry per person, we'll pick a winner at random next Tuesday.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gluten-Free Sandwich Solution!

How do you make a sandwich without bread? After all, bread is the essence of a sandwich. How can something be a sandwich without two surfaces between which to sandwich food? (Unless you’re eating one of those donut bacon sandwiches.)

Eric Ripert this weekend reminded me of the solution, which is of particular interest for those who voluntarily or for medical reasons follow a gluten-free diet. On his PBS TV show, Ripert grilled a couple of heads of romaine lettuce - it was a toss off moment, too, as he was also grilling a couple of incredible looking lobsters.

Have you ever grilled a leafy green? It sounds counter intuitive, like fried ice cream, but it’s excellent. The greens are crunchy and melt in your mouth. I used to eat at a raw food/vegan/local (etc., etc.) restaurant that served a nut paste and veggie sandwich wrapped in a big kale leaf. I copied them at home, wrapping everything from day-old fried pasta to grilled vegetables in them. It’s another dimension of sandwiching. 

Anyway, I watched Ripert’s show on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening I was to attend a barbecue. I stopped at the grocery store before and bought a package of Field Roast kabobs and, rather than hot dog buns, some romaine. I grilled the kabobs at the barbecue along with the lettuce and combined the two. Try it at your next barbecue; it works with real meat, too. You can even dress up the romaine (or kale or whatever) with soy sauce, salt or oil.