Coconut (water) Almond Milk

 

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Only in Los Angeles can you have freshly made nut milk delivered to your door twice a week. I was visiting a friend near Venice Beach who poured my a glass of this elixir––almond milk made with coconut water––oh my god! If only I could get this stuff in Brooklyn! Maybe I should move to the West Coast, where there's local produce year round, and I can get coconut almond milk delivered (by bicycle) in a Mason jar.

Well, I can stay in New York for now, because I've figured out how to make it myself, and it's not that hard. Wherever you are, you can too. It's as simple as steeping ground almonds in coconut water, then straining the milky liquid. Sure, if you could crack a coconut yourself, that would be ideal, but thankfully cartons of coconut water are available just about everywhere now (Harvest Bay and Trader Joe's brands taste freshest to me). If you don't have a food processor for grinding nuts (or you just don't want to get it out) you can cheat: Bob's Red Mill sells bags of almond meal, and they work just fine.

I'm generally not a fan of kitchen tools that serve only one purpose, but after making a dozen batches of this, I bought a nut milk bag. It makes this process even easier. They cost only a few dollars, and you can find one at a health food store or online. Before that, I used a small cotton produce bag. Doubled up cheescloth knotted with a piece of kitchen twine will also work––improvise with what you have on hand.

Describing something as ambrosial is overdone and sounds cliché, but this really is! You won't even want to use it for cereal, it's so preciously delicious. 

 

Coconut (water) Almond Milk

makes 1 quart

  • 1/2 pound (about 2 cups) finely ground almonds
  • 1 quart (4 cups) coconut water

1. Bundle the ground almonds in a nut milk bag, small cotton bag, or doubled up cheescloth, and tie it tightly.

2. Put the bundle in a large nonreactive bowl, and pour the coconut water over it.

3. Leave this for 6-8 hours, or overnight, occasionally squeezing the bag to incorporate the coconut water and nut meal. It will realease a milky liquid.

4. Squeeze and knead the bag to mix the nuts and water one last time, then lift it out and squeeze it over the bowl to wring out all the milk. (Save the spent almonds to use in muffins, bread, or pancakes) .

5. Funnel the milk into a jar or bottle. Keep refrigerated, and shake before using. Don't worry if it separates! This keeps well for three to four days. It will ferment if you keep it much longer, so drink up!

 

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Bodega Blooms

Stacie usually spends her days arranging flowers in the homes of the stars, but she met me outside a bodega to show me what could be done with the most pedestrian blossoms. With skill and style, she transformed these unremarkable bunches into high-end designs. Here are her tips for selecting and arranging corner store flowers.

Click here to read them all.

From Sweets & Bitters Volume 2, Corner Store Entertaining:

really good sushi rice without a rice cooker

eggplant with sweet miso, quick shiso cucumber pickles and sauteed shitake for Quinciple

I want rice that's fluffy and tender, never mushy or crunchy. There's this funny thing where I can execute finicky pastries and complex sauces, but when it comes to the basics I often mess up. Maybe it's just carelessness (or arrogance). But really good rice is a devine thing, and worth anyone's attention.

I'm not talking about sesoning sushi rice, but cooking short-grain rice perfectly. It turns out the trick is pressure. If you don't have a rice cooker, you can acheive this by creating a tight seal, and weighting the lid of the pan. I put a big cake pan on top of my cooking pot instead of a lid, then weight it with another heavy pot, some big cans of beans, or whatever I can find. Look around your kitchen (heavy chopping block? cast iron skillet?) and improvise.


You'll want about 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, and a pinch of salt. Rinse the rice several times in cold water, then drain it and add the water for cooking. Another way to measure is by resting your hand on top of the rice: the water should just cover your fingers.

Turn the heat to high. As soon as you hear the water rumble to a full boil, turn the burner to low and set a timer for 18 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID. After 18 minutes, turn the burner to high and count to 60, then turn off the burner (if it's an eletric stove, remove the pan from the heat). DO NOT LIFT THE LID. Set a timer for 5 more minutes.

After the 5 minutes, lift the lid and fluff the rice. (If it's too wet, cover, turn to high for 30-60 seconds then cover for 5 more minutes.)

This might sound complicated, but really its easy. And it will likely be the best rice you've ever made.

Herb Butter

You could spoon melted herb butter over pan-cooked steak. Spread it, softened to room temperature, on thick slices of sourdough. Toss green beans with a spoonful of it and a squeeze of lemon. Whisk a dollop into a sauce or creamy soup. I’m eating a sandwich spread thick with the stuff as I write this.

Herb butter is a simple way to season all sorts of things, and to use up those bunches of herbs that always seem to wilt before you can finish them. (And it makes a lot more sense to me than putting olive oil in ice cube trays.)

It’s nearly as easy to make as it is to use. Chop up any combination of herbs, to make two to four tablespoons. Stir the herbs into a stick of room temperature butter. You could add salt too, if the butter is unsalted. Press the herb butter into a dish and refrigerate it, or if you won’t get to it in a week or two you can freeze it rolled in saran wrap.

Now you’re ready to dollop and spread, season and savor.