DIY Cold Brew

Cold brewed coffee is a method of brewing coffee without hot water — it results in a super smooth cup without any of the bitterness of hot-brewed coffee.

Starbucks has recently come out with its on cold brew, charging at least $3.50 for a cup of ice, water, and coffee. While I might pay $3.50 for a cold brew at some of my favorite coffee shops in the Bay Area (B2 in San Jose, CA has their cold brew on tap!), I have to say that their cold brew tastes pretty much the same as their regular iced coffee (hot-brewed coffee chilled to room temperature poured over ice). Here’s a DIY guide to making your own cold brewed coffee — while it requires a bit of forethought and action, I find that making your own cold brewed coffee will save you both time and money in the end. Plus, you get to use your favorite beans!

This recipe is adapted from Blue Bottle Coffee:

COLD BREW COFFEE

272 g coffee beans

1 L (1000 g) of water

Directions

1. Weigh out your beans, and grind them until they are fine enough for an Aeropress.

Shared grounds

2. Dump the grounds into a large pitcher, and slowly pour in cold water in concentric circles over the grounds. Give it a quick stir to make sure that none of the grounds are still dry.

3. Let it sit for 8-12 hours at room temperature (I usually let it sit overnight).

4. After 8-12 hours of brewing, if you don’t have a fancy filtron, you can always pour the coffee grounds mixture into a French Press to separate the grounds, or even pour it through a coffee filter (this is extremely slow but leaves you with minimal sediment).

5. Serve over ice and dilute with water if you want (this recipe makes a pretty concentrated cold brew!) Add simple syrup and creamer as you please.

*You can keep this cold brewed coffee in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Experiment with different types of roasts (my favorite is medium) and beans!

Bringing in Spring with a bit of Everest and The French Laundry

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As spring quarter has picked up, we’ve been keeping ourselves busy with exciting new projects! We started off on April 12th with a class in the art of fruit tarts, courtesy of Whole Foods and Chef Ramos from Michelin-starred restaurant Everest. Although Chef Ramos didn’t look much older than the students who attended, she knew exactly what she was doing; she expertly rolled out a soft, buttery dough and cooked up a batch of luscious vanilla-bean-flecked pastry cream, all while giving valuable advice on how to make the best tart.

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We also got to create our own fruit tarts as part of the class! Everyone used a personal piping bag of pastry cream to fill the shells and then topped the tarts off with a variety of fresh fruit.

11146462_1616438051907965_8147526971330240632_o The tarts were absolutely delicious. Tender but slightly crumbly shell, smooth vanilla pastry cream, and sweet yet tart fruit—you can’t really go wrong with any of that. (Also, there was so much pastry cream left over that some of us started to eat it by itself. It was that good.)

Later that week, on April 16th, we started up our Food Lab series with a bang: recreating a signature dish from one of the best restaurants—and chefs—in the world. Our dish of choice that night was Chef Thomas Keller’s “Oysters and Pearls,” served at The French Laundry in California.

We broke off into groups and split up different components of the dish: tapioca pudding (with hot sabayon and crème fraîche stirred in); fresh oyster; a sauce of butter, Vermouth, shallots, and white wine vinegar; and a quenelle of one of the most expensive ingredients in food, caviar.  When we put the components together, the dish looked unassuming, a kind of pale yellow porridge strewn with bits of shallot, chives, a lump of oyster, and a small shock of black caviar. In fact, it even looked a little gross… but a spoonful of it soon had us forgetting its modest appearance.

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It was soft, silky, buttery, creamy…luxury, pretty much. (And that’s not even because of the price tag on the caviar.) The briny notes of caviar and oyster added some much-needed edge and complexity to the tapioca.

Everyone scraped the first bowl clean, although we found that after 2-3 spoonfuls, the dish was too rich for us to continue eating. As we discussed, we discovered that our serving size was huge compared to the amount served at The French Laundry, which was actually about two spoonfuls—just right! Even so, we were just glad to have our own chance to bring a little of that fine dining spirit to campus. For many of us, “Oysters and Pearls” was our first taste of caviar, so it was exciting to make that—and a taste of The French Laundry—available to Cookology students.

Eggciting Times with Cookology Essentials

The egg is an unsung hero, working backstage to give you some of your favourite foods – whisking into your cookie doughs, folding into cake batters, binding flour together for a developed pasta dough. By itself, it does some pretty amazing things, too – fluffing up into pillowy scrambled eggs; setting into firm hardboiled eggs; transforming into the iconic sunny side up eggs, winking on a plate of toast and bacon. But what other magic can it do? A few weeks ago, we gathered in Parkes Hall’s kitchen for the second Cookology-run Food Essentials class of the quarter to find out by learning to make simple dishes.

We first learned to make eggs Benedict, the reigning king of brunch dishes. We learned how to not only poach the perfect egg (pssst: stirring the water helps wrap the egg whites around the yolk) but also make the accompanying Hollandaise sauce, one of the five “mother sauces” in French cuisine. We whisked egg yolks and butter together over a double-boiler into a warm, rich emulsion and spooned it over a toasted English muffin stacked with bacon and poached egg for the finished dish.

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We then ate our delicious creations…with gusto.

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Once we finished eating, we moved on to another way to make eggs: Japanese steamed eggs. We mixed eggs, water, and salt in ramekins and steamed the eggs to a delicate tofu-like consistency. They were finished with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.

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Its lightness made for a refreshing contrast to the luxurious eggs Benedict and a pleasant end to the class.

The following week, we returned to the kitchen for a second class in eggs, this time not as the star of the dish but as a crucial building block of two desserts, creme brûlée and coconut macaroons. For the creme brûlée, we tempered a blend of egg yolks and sugar into scalded heavy cream and had fun choosing what flavoured extracts to include – classic vanilla, almond, or a combination of both! The mixture was poured into ramekins sitting in a hot water bath.

As the creme brûlée was cooking in the oven, we turned our attention to the leftover egg whites. We whisked them with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of sugar into a thick foam, added lemon zest for a touch of extra flavour, and folded in shredded coconut. We then shaped the moistened coconut into balls on baking sheets and baked them until the edges were toasted a golden-brown.

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The lemon subtly brightened the macaroons’ flavour…and paired nicely with melted chocolate.

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The creme brûlées weren’t forgotten! (How could anyone forget?) Once we’d eaten our fill of macaroons, we waited for the creme brûlées to cool before spreading an even layer of sugar on top. We proceeded to learn to wield blowtorches to put the “brûlée” in “creme brûlée” – caramelizing the sugar into the amber-coloured goodness that’s essential to any good creme brulee. We were delighted to break into the desserts with their spoons, first cracking the caramelized tops and then scooping into the creamy custard.

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Poached eggs, sauce, custard, foam – we learned in these two Essentials classes that there’s much more to eggs than just sunny side up and cookies. (And with this new knowledge in hand, we now know how to impress people. A fancy brunch dish or a classic French dessert? No problem.)

A Dinner at ‘Amoureux’

In lieu of Valentine’s Day, Cookology members launched a romantic on-campus popup restaurant sponsored by Northwestern Dining. Student chefs and hosts alike spent months perfecting the dishes and setting the atmosphere for a warm dinner. After several grueling and exciting nights of preparation, we arrived at the kitchen ready to run our service!

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The weather was blisteringly cold, but our guests trekked through the snow and down the stairs to Amoureux. The hosts greeted them at the entrance of the restaurant, taking their coats and politely bringing them to their seats in a transformed Willard Dining Hall.

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With the room dimmed and tables laced with gorgeous red petals and flickering tea lights, Cookology served the first course: an amuse-bouche of french onion foam, goat cheese chive profiterole, and watermelon gazpacho.

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Guests could witness the sense of urgency in the open kitchen as the chefs plated the upcoming appetizer: scallops with morel sauce and lemon verbena on a bed of pebbles (for that seaside nostalgic kick).

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The savory scents of a beef Wellington was next to leave the kitchen. Charred carrots and red wine reduction surrounded the pink beef en croute atop a generous amount of buttery potato puree.

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The Wellington was followed shortly by crisp, golden poached pears with strawberry ice cream and macerated blueberries.

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…And what better way to end a dinner than with little bites of heaven? These Grand Marnier canelés went out to tables filled with conversation and laughter.

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It was quite a sight to see couples, friends, and family all enjoying a cozy dinner together! On behalf of everyone in Cookology, we want to thank you for choosing to spend your special day in Restaurant Amoureux!

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Modern is ‘In’ with the New Year

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Last quarter’s Basics left Cookology members with a desire to discover the present culinary world―rife with techniques pioneered by beloved chefs like Thomas Keller and the molecular gastronomical gurus of our day such as Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz.

Inspired by the chefs’ modern signature dishes, the Cookology members put together a sous-vide and basic spherification food lab this past Thursday.

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The night started off with a short introduction about the wonders of sous-vide cooking. We then split up our group into different teams, each team packing their salmon fillets and chicken breasts with a variety of ingredient and sear conditions. Taste and texture tests later determined our preferred goodies to bag with the fish and chicken.

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To explore basic spherification, the members created cucumber mint caviar and butternut squash soup one-biters. The faces of our tasters betrayed their surprise at the literal explosion of flavors in their mouths. (Not to mention the direct spherification process brought uncanny visual satisfaction to everyone in the room.)

Amusement aside, our Modernist Food Labs will continue the rest of this quarter, and the Essentials classes will begin this coming Monday. Stay tuned, folks!

Ending Meal Madness with a “Bang!”

Since our last update about the student cooking competition Meal Madness, the Cookology team moved onto the semi-finals! Their entry was a composed rutabaga cardamom soup captured in an upside-down shot glass and surrounded by croutons, pickled apples, edible flowers, and grated nutmeg. The presentation is a homage to Grant Achatz’s style when he was leading Trio in Evanston, now Quince.

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The Cookology team next advanced to the final round of Meal Madness held in the student center of Northwestern University. The team took out the big guns, i.e., an immersion circulator, and worked to prepare a teriyaki-glazed salmon with wasabi cream, beetroot puree, and apple salad; all the while, providing samples to over 80 students that dropped by to watch the competition.

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We are very happy to announce that in an exciting and long final round, the Cookology team is the victor of Meal Madness 2014! We want to thank Northwestern Dining for this great opportunity that they have provided Northwestern students not only to express their culinary creativity, but also to work with the beloved chefs and staff that have been supporting the campus. Cookology had an amazing time!

To learn more about the Cookology members that competed in Meal Madness and what makes them so passionate about food, be sure to check out this interview conducted by Northwestern Dining.

Scallops and Chocolate with Oceanique

Last Thursday, Chef Mark Grosz from Oceanique taught our members and guests from Northwestern’s French department how to prepare scallops with watercress, fruit marmalade and saffron beurre blanc, as well as a simple yet elegant chocolate pot de crème.

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During the demonstration, Chef Mark allowed us to pick his brain about recent trends in food, what it takes to run a restaurant, how to draw inspiration from different cuisines, and the importance of cooking from the soul. His stories from his travels in Hong Kong and France were particularly insightful; it was easy for us to see how his French and Asian background continues to influence Oceanique’s inventive fusion cuisine.

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All in all, it was another highly successful evening with another prolific Evanston chef! Thank you again to Chef Mark, the Northwestern Cercle Francophone and Whole Foods for making this incredible evening happen!