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How to Make Iced Tea

posted in Beverages by Emily Chapelle

Did you know that June is National Iced Tea Month?

Well, now you do, and there’s no better beverage to enjoy on a hot summer day!

The way the story goes, Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner, attended America’s first World’s Fair in St. Louis. He had planned to give out free samples of his hot tea, but it was such a warm day that no one was interested! So, he threw in some ice and offered his beverage “on the rocks.” The treat was so refreshing, he quickly had a long line of people waiting to taste it.

There are many ways to make iced tea, and countless variations on the basic recipe. If you haven’t tried iced tea before, maybe one of these variations will pique your curiosity. And if you’re not a fan of iced tea, it’s worth trying a new version – there’s probably one out there that suits you.

The basic method for making iced tea is:

  • Boil water (the amount depends on how much tea you’re making!)
  • Steep tea (loose or bagged, whatever flavor you like)
  • Strain the tea if you used loose leaves, or remove the tea bags.
  • Add sugar to taste. Some people prefer unsweetened, and some people use up to 2 cups of sugar for a 2 quart pitcher. It depends on personal taste.
  • Cool. Some people refrigerate it, others pour it over ice (which also dilutes it a bit), and some people mix it with ice water.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Sounds simple (and vague) enough, right?

Right! Anyone can make iced tea and its variations:

  • For a true Southern Iced Tea, read this entertaining recipe by Lemon Tartlet. She adds a bit of baking soda to the water before boiling. This cuts down on bitterness from accidental over-steeping and reduces cloudiness in the tea.
  • There’s a step-by-step guide to making Lemon Iced Tea at Cooking For Engineers.
  • Poppytalk gives us the easiest method of all. Brew loose tea in a special pitcher that has a removable diffuser, remove the diffuser, and refrigerate. No sugar, no flavoring, just pure iced tea!
  • Tea Party Girl, an advocate of loose leaf teas, gives us a simple method for making loose-leaf iced tea, which ends up costing pennies per pitcher.
  • But if you’re a tea bag person, you can try CFWhitney’s mother-in-law’s tried and true tea bag method.
  • Thai iced tea is made from a specially flavored tea and is absolutely delicious. Try topping it with coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk for another twist on this Asian favorite!
  • If you’re into more exotic iced teas, try tea sangria, which has fruit mixed into it.
  • Rhubarb iced tea sounds amazing – it calls for rhubarb stalks to be boiled before adding tea and sugar.
  • Ginger peach iced tea is one of many delicious-sounding iced tea recipes

Whether you brew for 3 minutes or overnight in the fridge, prefer a simple black tea or a raspberry herbal, enjoy your iced tea this summer!

Tip: You may have heard of “sun tea”, which is made by starting with room-temperature water and tea bags in a jar, then brewing the tea by placing the jar in a sunny spot for a few hours. This method, however is not recommended. Bacteria can develop in the tea and it can become a potential health risk. Sorry!

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Irish Coffee

print recipe card posted in Beverages by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Irish coffee is a delicious drink made with only four ingredients; coffee, cream, sugar, and whiskey. Some people vary the ingredients, but I’m going to show you the “classic” way to make Irish coffee.

The final taste is affected by the strength of the coffee, the type of whiskey you use, the way you add the cream, whether or not you use brown or white sugar and, of course, the proportions used of each ingredient.

Another choice when making Irish coffee is the type of glass or mug you will use. The “classic” glass is a 6-ounce stemmed glass. Another familiar glass or mug used is an 8-ounce mug with a handle. This type of mug actually seems a bit more practical for holding a hot cup of liquids.

The basics steps to make Irish coffee are

  1. Warm the glass
  2. Fill the glass 2/3 full of coffee
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir (3 teaspoons for the larger glass)
  4. Add 1 ounce of whiskey (1 ½ ounce for the larger glass)
  5. Top with prepared cream
  6. Assign designated driver

If you are making several Irish coffees, do one first and taste it to see if you need to adjust the proportions.

Step 1. Warming the Glass
You can run the glass under hot (or warm) water to warm the glass. Leave the hot water in the glass while you are making the coffee and preparing the cream. The thick mug type of glass is usually made of tempered glass so that it will not crack when you use it for hot liquids. If you are using a stemmed glass, you need to be more careful that is doesn’t shatter from the hot water — use water with a lower temperature.

Step 2. Fill the glass 2/3 full of coffee

Make a pot (or French Press) of fresh coffee. This is not the time to use flavored coffee.

Step 3. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir

Don’t skip this step, even if you don’t normally put sugar in your coffee. The sugar actually helps the cream to float above the coffee. You can use either brown or white sugar.

Step 4. Add 1 ounce of whiskey

This amount can be adjusted according to your taste and the size of the glass you use.

Bartenders may pour straight from the bottle but measuring cups are more accurate for the untrained eye.

Step 5. Top with cream

This is the critical step to get the classic look and drinking experience. You must pour heavy cream over the back of a spoon so that about ½ inch of cream floats on top of the coffee. You actually drink the coffee through the cream. You are not meant to blend the two layers together.

As an option, you can thicken the cream by whipping it with a whisk, ever so slightly.

This will help you to keep these layers separate when you are making your Irish coffee. My first pour of the cream was done using heavy cream which I did not whisk. The photo below is what’s not not supposed to happen!

Over in England they sell what’s called “double cream” which is much thicker than our heavy cream and probably doesn’t need to get whisked.

Do not sweeten the cream. You also may be tempted to use a can of whipped cream, but don’t!

Step 6. Assign a designated driver

Of course!

Irish coffee is actually a great drink to serve with dessert or with cookies. There are some who would like to make their Irish coffee look a bit more seasonal by adding a drizzle of green Crème de Menthe over the top. (I cringed when I heard this, then I took a sip of this Irish coffee with Crème de Menthe. It is really delicious!)

A slice of my Mom’s Irish Bread is perfect with this Irish Coffee!

Cheers!

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12 Twists on Instant Hot Chocolate

posted in Beverages by Lisa Freeman

Chilly afternoons cry out for mugs of steaming hot chocolate. It’s time to rescue all those instant hot chocolate packets wedged in the back of the cupboard! If you’ve got the time and ingredients to make homemade hot chocolate, by all means do so.

But there’s no shame in going instant, especially if you jazz it up with different flavors.

Just follow the package instructions for making the hot chocolate, and then try one of these 12 twists – topped off with marshmallows or whipped cream, of course.

  1. Caramel: A tablespoon of caramel sauce can do wonders for hot chocolate. Spoon in your favorite brand and give it a good stir right before you take your first sip.
  2. Ice cream: It may sound weird to put something cold in your hot cocoa, but a scoop of ice cream makes it really creamy and thick. Make sure your hot chocolate is as hot as you can get it without allowing it to boil, and pop in a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
  3. Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Vanilla extract: A 1/4 teaspoon of any of these always adds zip.
  4. Orange Zest: Carve three 2-inch long strips of orange rind (the skin) and let them steep in your drink for a while before tasting. That citrus flavor is a delight.
  5. Espresso or Coffee: You can either add a tablespoon of fresh brewed coffee or espresso, or you can use the instant stuff.
  6. Peppermint Stick: Drop a peppermint stick or even one of those peppermint candies you picked up at your last restaurant visit. It adds great flavor, and a great smell. This version is nice if you’ve got a cold.
  7. Dark or White Chocolate Shavings: Dig that Hershey bar out of your bag and grab a grater. Sprinkling a few shreds of the real deal into your drink – or on the whipped cream on top of it – can only make things more heavenly.
  8. Peanut Butter: If you’re crazy for peanut butter , take a tablespoon or two and mix it into your cocoa. Just be sure to mix really well until it melts.
  9. Habanero Pepper or a Shot of Hot Sauce: Got a hankering for something hot and spicy? A dash of your favorite hot sauce kicks a hot chocolate into high gear. You can even drop in 2 fresh slices of a fresh Habanero pepper into your cocoa and stir the flavor in.
  10. Hot Cherries: Nearly everyone has that jar of maraschino cherries sitting in the fridge, so drop two or three teaspoons of the juice into your drink, along with a cherry. Tastes like drinking a chocolate cordial.
  11. Coconut Milk: Put a tropical spin on your hot chocolate by substituting some of the milk required with a 1/4 cup of coconut milk.
  12. Maple Syrup: It’s not just for waffles and pancakes! A squirt of the unique taste of maple syrup livens up ordinary old hot chocolate.

Voila!

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