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Culinary designs for living - Making caramel sauce - warning, it's dangerous! · 17 March 2019 by colin newell

Caramel Sauce - there are hazards

Caramel sauce is awesome on cheesecake. This entry is specifically written for the previous blog entry.

Note: Making caramel sauce at home uses few ingredients but you are in immediate danger of serious or life threatening injuries if you do not exercise caution when making this recipe. Pay attention!

Some warnings and best practices: Do not use a heavy iron pot for this task. You want a pot that absorbs and dissipates heat fast. Do not use an iron or heavy enamel or ceramic pot that holds onto energy and releases it slowly. The process of making caramel can get out of control really fast. You want a cooking pot or saucepan that releases its heat quickly.

Wear safety glasses and if you are using a candy thermometer, wear heat proof gloves or mitts. Candy burns are extremely dangerous and can result in permanent scarring.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. butter, cubed

In a small, thin, conductive saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and salt and cover with water.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring every so often until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and cook until you achieve a deeply buterscotch-copper colour in the mix, without stirring, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Using a candy thermometer (and I hope you do) you want it to reach 350° F.

Once caramel is a deep copper color, turn off heat, remove from heat source (Oven mitts on!) and immediately stir in cream and butter. Mixture will bubble up so be very, VERY, careful!

Let cool slightly in pan, then transfer to a container to cool completely. You can keep the caramel sauce in the fridge for around one week – as if it won’t be used up within a day!

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Culinary designs for living - Instant pot salted caramel cheesecake · 17 March 2019 by colin newell

Salted caramel Instant Pot Cheesecake 2019

I don’t rant much about kitchen appliances. They are all tools and they have a job to do. Few tools, however, are true time and energy savers. The Instant Pot (a digital pressure cooker no less…) has been a revolutionary game changer in our busy little kitchen. We’ve made pastas, BBQ ribs, hot and spicy South Asian creations, cajun classics like Jambalaya, healthy breakfast standards like steel cut oats and eggs (any style) and a very passable risotto! Finally whipping up a delicious and creamy classic New York style cheesecake has been the crowning achievement for the Instant Pot. Here’s how you can do it too!

The recipe for the caramel sauce (which is one of the toughest steps) will be featured in the very next blog entry

Some tips to make the perfect Instant Pot cheesecake

  • Pre-baking the crust will make it crisper and crunchier than freezing.
    • In order to avoid lumps in your batter, ensure that all of your ingredients are room temperature.
  • Take the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to start.
    • Mixing is key to a perfectly smooth cheesecake free of air bubbles and cracks.
    • Do not overmix! 30 seconds of mixing tops per step!
    • Mix on low speed, and add the eggs in one at a time.
  • A springform pan or round cake pan with a removable bottom works best
  • If you line both the bottom and the sides of the pan with parchment paper, you should be able to get that perfect, smooth look along the outside of your cheesecake.
  • The size pan you choose will depend on the size of your Instant Pot. An 8″ pan works well with the 8-quart, while a 6″ to 7″ pan is perfect for the 6-quart.
  • Wrap a sling made of foil around the pan to make removal easier. Fold a long piece of foil in at least thirds, lengthwise. Place the pan in the middle of the foil strip and pull up over either side. When placing the pan on the trivet in the inner liner, make sure the ends of the foil sling are sticking up over the sides.

    Ingredients and process

The Cheesecake:

  • 28 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
    Graham wafer - the secret to great cheesecake!

The Crust – Spray your 7-inch springform pan lightly with cooking spray.
Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle to fit the bottom of the pan, then spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, white sugar and butter, and mix well.
Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. I used a whiskey glass – flat bottom – very handy.

Bake at 350F for 13 minutes. Remove and set aside.

The Cheesecake mix
In the bowl of your stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the sour cream and mix until smooth. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the flour, salt and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Don’t exceed 30 seconds of mixing!
Add in the eggs, then mix again until just smooth. At this stage, don’t over mix the batter. 30 seconds per step!

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.

Water - the key to cheesecake success!

The Instant Pot Process
Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the trivet that came with the pot into the bottom. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the same size as a paper towel. Place the foil under the paper towel, then put the springform pan on top of the paper towel. Wrap the bottom of the pan in the foil, using the paper towel as a barrier.

Next, take another piece of foil about 18 inches long folded into thirds lengthwise. Place this under the springform pan, and use the two sides as a sling to place the cheesecake into the pot. It will also make it very easy to remove the cheesecake from the Instant Pot when it’s done.

Once the pan is in the Instant Pot, secure the lid and press Manual.

Adjust the pressure to high and set for 35 minutes, ensuring that the vent value is in the closed position.
Cook the cheesecake in the alloted time, and when finished, allow the pressure to release naturally.

Remove the cheesecake from the pot using the sling you prepared, and place on a wire rack to cool the cheesecake for an hour.

Cover the cheesecake in the pan with foil, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, top the cheesecake with the caramel sauce (recipe coming) and sprinkle with sea salt.
Using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan and release the sides of the pan. Expect cheers of applause from the folks lucky enough to be sampling your cheesecake!

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Transitioning the chapters of life - Chapter one - hey, what's with the bow tie? · 16 March 2019 by colin newell

I was sitting with my lovely wife Andrea at the Fernwood Coffee House today at noon. Between bites of a breakfast egg bagel and sips of black coffee (and her sampling her London Fog…) we reflected on the passage of time – and how we grow and change.

Cutting to the chase: “What’s with the bow tie?” She asked.

Right. Bow ties, in the 21st Century trigger a lot of different responses – and it all depends on where you are. I work at a University (in IT) and in my wandering between classroom buildings, my lab and the cafe, my attire is usually business casual; in the Springtime, shirt and slacks – in the summer, an Aloha shirt and blue jeans. I never, ever wear shorts. What I wear is dependant on the day of the week and the time of year. Many places, schools, Universities and colleges have a casual Friday. We have flipped that on its ear and do a formal Friday. Some of the staff wear ties, scarves, fancier head gear and yes, even bow ties. It is simply a timeless look that works anywhere at anytime. At least that is what I tell myself. Today, while popping into a bookstore for some items, I was asked by the staffer at the counter if I was “going to a birthday party…” “Uhm… no I hesitated then I realized that I was dressed as a magician that would be going to a birthday party! Impression, then response!

Truth be told, Victoria B.C. is not an urban centre with a high awareness of fashion. Go to an opera in Victoria and the listener next to you is just as likely to be dressed for a hike or a dig of the root vegetables in the back garden. And not that this offends me much – actually it offends me a bit. I truly believe that clothing is not about elitism (at least entirely…) and more about the expression of “I care about my appearance!”

And yes, I am an extrovert and I am a bit of an attention suck. For what other reason would I pay attention to fashion trends and make an effort to stand out… well, at least a bit. “But where does this begin?” she asked.

“Well!” I exclaimed as I took a lung full of air.

In 1979 while attending a series of courses at one of the local colleges, I noticed a 21 year old classmate who stood out from the rest. He was wearing a Harris Tweed sport coat. I’d seen elbow padded professors wearing these beat up old classics but I thought it was their exclusive reservation. It’s wasn’t and on this blue jean clad student, it worked. It got me thinking about how we make impressions based on the image that we present. My career choices would always put me in contact with the general public so I had to craft some kind of “package” – over time, this “look” would evolve into a fashion forward sense that changed with the times. My 1st suit for my first date near the Christmas of 1980 would be a cotton corduroy thing from a mall Mens store. It was a modest beginning. Interestingly, I did not buy a tie for this outfit and my date at the time reminded me of the necessity of achieving “balance”. There could be no balance with a three piece suit and no tie.

It was a beginning. The 1980’s offered a wealth of quirky choices for men while remaining somewhat centred in the fashion mainstream – and as it would turn out, the “stream” of fashion in Victoria, at the time, was little more than a rivulet. That would change, little by little, over time.

Flashing forward, I have been working at a University since the late 1980’s (now around 6 years away from retirement!) and that is a few items of clothing under the bridge. The biggest transition is yet to come. It’s thought that graduation, marriage, death, divorce and retirement are among the most stressful of transitions. One takes stock and wonders what it will be that they will be next. Reinvention. It’s a thing. It’s healthy, too a point I guess.

So. The bow tie. For me, it is an expression of, “Hey, it’s still me and I’m still here and I still care…”

When I stop caring… well, let’s not go there.


Colin Newell is an about town writer, food and coffee guy, member of the Canadian Media Guild… and always on the hunt for a great cup of joe and a sharp looking tie.

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West Coast living in the dairy free World - Wonderful waffles · 15 March 2019 by colin newell

dairy free waffle-pancake recipe

Perhaps more than life itself, I love breakfast. If I fail to start my day with lots of carbs and a bit of protein, I might as well stay in bed.

Welcome to a re-boot of my level best most popular blog post ever! The Waffle Special!

What do I eat for breakfast? The most important meal of the day!
A typical morning for me includes granola, fruit, yoghurt, multi-grain toast and water.

I know what you are thinking: No coffee and no juice. Nope. Never. If anything, I drink water for breakfast. Your body does not need a sugar slam first thing – so don’t drink juice!

But you’re the coffee guy Colin!
Coffee is a ritual that comes later – Almost always around 10AM.

Lately, I have been doing way more baking. Muffins. Cookies. Waffles. Why? To save money and enjoy life more!

I sous-chef for 100% of our home cooking, but I tend to nibble more at work.
So, in addition to making all of my own coffee and the coffee for the lads in the lab, I make all my own baked goods for my weekdays.

But back to breakfast: I love breakfast and we all know that breakfast tends to include dairy in some form or another. It is hard to find a work-around. But you can. Here is my dairy free waffle recipe. This is not purely vegan, but I suppose with a bit of work it could be.

Ingredients and instructions.

1 3/4 cup of all-purpose unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Egg yolks
1 3/4 cups premium quality Soy, Coconut or Almond milk
1/2 cup cooking oil, ideally canola oil
2 Egg whites

In a large mixing bowl (which will ultimately hold several days worth of waffle mix) stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a smaller mixing bowl beat egg yolks. Add Soy, almond or coconut milk, cinnamon and oil.

Add your wet to the flour mix all at once. Stir or fold til mixed but still slightly lumpy.

In yet-another-bowl whip egg white to form a stiff peak.

Gently fold egg whites into soya-flour-oil mixture leaving a few whisps of egg white visible.

Heat waffle iron letting waffle mix work for about 7 minutes.
Pour batter onto preheated iron. Do not open while the waffles are cooking! Timing will vary depending on your iron.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, fresh blueberries and hot, hot coffee!

Enjoy! This recipe updated March 2019


Colin is a Victoria resident and food lover that is constantly searching for the perfect cup of coffee. His blog has been on the air since 1995… but who’s counting?

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Subscribe to this naughty blog - fresh posts to your e-mail box! · 15 March 2019 by colin newell

Drink coffee like there is no tomorrow!

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