Cold-Brewed Coffee, Date and Cardamom Milkshake

Cold-brew Coffee Milkshake

I am what some might call a “highly-caffeinated” kind of person. I love my coffee, every day, be it piping hot, iced, in dessert- it does not matter. I learned early. My parents always had a pot brewed and ready, and I never felt more like a big kid than when they would prepare a cup for me, too. It wasn’t until much later that I realized they were pouring me a cup of milk with just enough decaf to add flavor and color.

This is not that drink.

Today I will be sipping on a cold-brewed coffee milkshake made with the cold-brew coffee, vanilla ice cream I made earlier this week, and a couple of unexpected players- a pinch of ground cardamom, and a couple of big, fat dates.

Why cold brew? Besides mounting evidence that all the cool kids are doing it? Cold brewing gives you a concentrated punch of pure coffee flavor without the acid. It is pretty strong stuff, definitely something that needs to be diluted before drinking, which makes it perfect for making a well-flavored shake.

If you have never tried cold-brewing at home, it is really simple. You do not need any special machines, fancy lab equipment, a bushy mustache, or artisan-made suspenders. Pour 2 ounces of ground coffee into a jar, and pour 2 cups of cold water on top. Stir it little, cover it, and allow it to sit for a few hours on your counter top. 12-16 hours yields a good, strong brew. Pour the mixture through a coffee filter set over a fine mesh sieve. Keep refrigerated until ready to enjoy.

So, on to the milkshake:


Cold-brewed Coffee Milkshake with Dates and Cardamom









Cold-Brew Coffee Cardamom and Date Milkshake

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup cold-brew coffee (to keep the milkshake nice and thick, I froze the coffee into small ice cubes)

3 large dates, pitted (if the skins are tough, soak them in boiling hot water for five minutes before using)

A pinch of ground cardamom

1/2 cup milk

Throw everything into a blender set on the highest speed and blend until smooth. Sip!






Vanilla gets a bit of a bad rap, people. By bad rap, I mean that folks are very quick to write off vanilla as boring, or passe, or you know. Vanilla.

This is a national holiday that I kind of love, though. Vanilla ice cream is worth a celebratory nod, because it is anything but boring. Nuanced, floral, subtle, a classic. And the base of at least three other things I am making this week, much of which I will be gleefully posting!


Classic French Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. dark rum (optional, but tastes great)

Place the milk, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium pot. Place the pot over medium-low heat and stir with a rubber spatula to combine and dissolve. Bring the mixture just up to a scald. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the cream into a medium bowl and set over an ice bath.

Bring the milk back up to a scald. Whisk the milk into the egg yolks, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Return the milk/egg mixture to the stove. Over medium heat, cook the mixture (stirring constantly) until it coats the back of your rubber spatula.

Strain the milk mixture over the cream and stir to combine. Pick out the vanilla bean and stick it back in the mixture. Chill the ice cream base for at least four hours before churning.

A word to the wise- this is NOT the ice cream you want to over-churn! There is a whole bunch of rich, delicious milk fat in this recipe, which if you spin for too long will turn into a sweet, vanilla-flecked butter. Which will put a damper on National Vanilla Ice Cream Day.


I have two left feet and zero rhythm, so none of this: kevin bacon animated GIF(thanks, Giphy)


I’m thinking maybe this will do nicely, though: Avocado-English Pea Toast with Black Pepper Bacon (Of course there is bacon on Kevin Bacon’s birthday! Cake can be eaten anytime!)



2 ripe avocados, halved and seeded

1/2 pound of English peas, shucked

Fresh lemon juice, to taste

1 Tbsp. olive oil


2 slices of black pepper bacon, cooked   2 slices of of crusty bread


Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the shucked peas. Reduce the heat to a simmer and gently cook the peas until they a tender and mashable with a fork. Drain the peas and rinse the peas under cold water until they are cool. Set aside.

Scoop out the avocados and place them in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mash them up a little, then add the peas and mash them together until you have an evenly mixed but still chunky.


Grill or toast the slices of bread and remove from heat.

Top your toast with the avocado mixture, and top that with the bacon. Eat! Now go watch Footloose, or perhaps Tremors, or Beauty Shop. Or A Few Good Men!





Today is July 8th, and it is too darned hot in most areas of the country, including my kitchen. Outside, the weather is fantastically, singularly Bay Area: fog +breeze, then sun + breeze, followed by more fog + breeze, ending sometime tonight with pretty darn cold. This is not a complaint! It’s one of the reasons I love living here.

National Chocolate & Almonds Day seems a little out of place for the month of July (again, not complaining). I love the combination of a good dark chocolate and fragrant toasted almonds. I enjoy them together quite a lot, but right this minute, I don’t relish the idea of turning on my oven today.

So, what to do?

I am making these Chocolate Almond Meringue Cookies. When you have an urge to make cookies, but don’t want to actually bake, this is the recipe for you. When you have extra egg whites hanging out in the fridge and you don’t know what to do with them, look no further. Or, when a national holiday commemorating two fantastic yet kind of heavy when they are together ingredients rolls around, well, here you go.


Chocolate Almond Meringue Cookies

3 egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

5-6 drops of lemon juice

1 cup chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped


Make a Swiss meringue:

Bring a cup of water to a simmer in a small pot. Pour the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice into the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 140F. Remove from heat and whip on medium-high speed just until stiff peaks form.




Add the nuts and chocolate, and gently fold together.



Immediately spoon onto a paper-lined sheet pan and place into the oven. If you have a gas oven, the pilot light should be enough to dry these completely within about 8 hours (or overnight). If you do not have a gas oven, or you just want to speed up the process a bit, set the oven to “warm”. Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes. They should still be soft, but dry on the outside. Turn the oven off and allow the oven to cool completely before removing the cookies.



Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely. the closer to room temperature they are, the crispier they will be. These will soften quickly in a humid environment, so store them in an airtight container.












Blueberry Pie! It is National Pick Blueberries Month, after all!

Blueberry Pie! It is National Pick Blueberries Month, after all!



I start craving blueberries in January, at the height of my inability to get them at there best. Yes, I know they are available most of the year, but nothing beats them right now, when they are at their bounciest, juiciest, and most splendid.

Though eating them straight out of the basket is great, blueberry pie is what my mind is on, always.

Nearly every summer when I was growing up, my family would take a week or so to visit my grandmother in Monterey, CA. If the timing was right, my aunt and uncle, master foragers of all things local and delicious, would take us into the wooded hills close to my grandmother’s house, and with buckets in hand, we would go blueberry picking. Whatever did not get eaten as it was plucked got taken back to the house and made into cakes, pancakes, whatever Nana could think of. And thus the yearly berry craving began.

It happens that in my neck of the woods, air conditioning is almost never needed. It gets sunny and warm, but never hot enough that opening up the windows and  the back door won’t fix things. That is, until right about now. The breeze doesn’t cool off the house quite as efficiently, and kitchen stays hot a bit too long after the oven is turned off. That’s a challenge when you want to make a really pretty pie, because fiddling with the dough too much results in a sad, sticky pile of goo. Lazy-Girl Lattice is a nice solution. Shorter pieces applied with minimal handling gives you a cute, wabi-sabi lattice-like look.

Blueberry Pie with a Lazy-Girl Lattice Top

6 cups fresh blueberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. tapioca starch

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

juice and finely grated zest of one lemon (preferably a Meyer lemon)

1 Tbsp. cold butter, chopped

1 batch of double-crust pie dough, chilled (recipe below)

1 egg

2 Tbsp granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 425F.

Roll out the first disc of pie dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Line the pie pan with the dough and trim away excess. Roll the second piece of pie dough into a 1/8 inch thick, rectangular shape. I use a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with a little flour for this part. The dough stays in place and is easy to transfer back into the refrigerator this way. Chill for 5 minutes. Using a pastry cutter or a thin sharp knife, cut the sheet of pie dough into long 3/4 inch wide strips. Cut the strips into three shorter pieces. Using the parchment paper, transfer the entire sheet of dough onto a baking sheet and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.




Precision was clearly not what I was going for.

Okay, let’s make the filling!

Pour the blueberries, sugar, both starches, salt, juice, and zest into a large bowl and gently toss together. Pour into the dough-lined pie pan.

Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush a thin layer onto the cut sheet of dough. It is not necessary to move the pieces or try to brush both sides (that will only result in another form of goo and sadness). Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top, and pop back into the fridge for another minute or two to firm the dough back up.

Starting at the edge and working toward the center of the pie, place the lattice pieces evenly on the filling. No rules here, just criss-cross them evenly over each other in whatever way looks good to you.


Lazy girl lattice

Press the ones on the outer edge gently onto the rim, and call it ready.

Bake on the bottom rack for 15-20 minutes. Reduce the oven temp. to 375F, bring the pie up to the middle rack, and bake for another 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is evenly brown and the juices are bubbling out. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. If you like a thicker filling that doesn’t run, allow this pie to cool completely to room temperature.



I have tried so many pie dough recipes over the years, but I always come back to this one. It is simple, delicious, as easy as can be, and uses only butter.

Nick Maglieri’s Flaky Butter Pie Dough (Classic Home Baking, Richard Sax, 1994)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cake flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

8 oz (two sticks) cold butter (unsalted), cut into 1/4 inch pieces

6 tablespoons ice water

Place flours, baking powder, and salt into a food processor and pulse to blend. Add  the butter and pulse again for 2 or 3 seconds. Pour in the water and pulse just until the water is fully incorporated and pea-sized pieces of dough begin to form. Divide into two piles and gently press each pile into a ball. Loosely wrap each ball in plastic and press into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.