Coffee Class Contest: Keep Naming That Recipe

UPDATE: The contest is over—congrats to Jon Low, whose amazing name Dark Matter won us over completely. He’ll get a free class and unending glory. But do watch this video to hear some of the many brilliant ideas our community came up with. You guys are seriously brilliant.

Recently, the ChefSteps kitchen concocted a chocolate-like substance made out of coffee—part of our upcoming Coffee class—and oh man, is it tasty.

But when it came time to naming this caffeinated treat, we turned to you.

The contest entries have come pouring in. And there are some serious standouts, we must say. We were so impressed, we stopped shooting another forthcoming class (stay tuned for word on that one) to share a random sample of the thousands of submissions we’ve received so far. Think you’ve got something better than Soylent Brown, Beanoise, or Black Tar Heroin? Submit your idea before midnight on February 4. The winner gets the class—full of cool techniques, unique recipes, and fun brew science—for FREE.

Join ChefSteps today to get the first word on contests, new classes and recipes, and much more.

Coffee Class Contest: Name That Recipe

What’s that stuff in the video?

It’s our new recipe for “chocolate” that’s made with coffee beans instead of cacao beans. It’s chocolate, without the chocolate. It looks like chocolate, it acts like chocolate, but it ain’t chocolate. At least, not technically.

Pure chocolate is made by combining ground cacao beans, cocoa butter, and liquid soy lecithin to form a smooth, creamy liquid. That liquid is then made into your favorite sweet treats—cast into individual chocolates; drizzled over granola bars; combined with milk powder to make milk chocolate—you get the idea. With this recipe, we simply replace the cacao beans with roasted coffee beans, and then follow the exact same procedure. The result is a robustly flavored, velvety coffee paste that behaves just like chocolate. What to do with it, you ask? Pretty much anything you’d do with regular chocolate.

With this luscious new recipe—part of our coming-soon Coffee class—we managed to use one of our favorite things (coffee) to pay homage to one of our other favorite things (chocolate), with delicious results. But giving it a good name proved trickier.

So it’s up to you, clever ChefSteps community. What should we call this caffeine-packed confection?

How do I suggest a name?

Submit your proposed recipe name by midnight on Wednesday, Feb 4 by including it in the comments below. Share as many monikers as you like, but be sure to include your email address when you submit, because the winner (chosen by the ChefSteps staff) gets the new Coffee class FOR FREE.

What do I win?

Yours for the taking: awesome advice from two of the world’s foremost coffee nerds—delivered via fun, fascinating videos along with step-by-step tips and techniques—along with four recipes, including the unnamed delicacy above. Learn to make the most of French Press, Chemex, and Aeropress brewers, dive into easy-to-understand coffee science, and connect with other java lovers along the way. This class is comprehensive, interactive, and totally results-based—you’ll have a great time learning to up your coffee game, and wind up with perfect home brew.

The winner will be announced—and thoroughly celebrated—within the class, scheduled for release in early February.

So get those creative juices percolating, coffee lovers. We can’t wait to see you win the name game.

The ChefSteps Coffee Class Is Here!

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Coffee drinkers, consider this your wake-up call. We’ve just released a brand-new coffee class brimming with techniques and tricks to help you perfect the all-important drink that coaxes you to life on the daily. Created in partnership with java Jedi James Hoffmann (Square Mile Roasters, World Barista Champion) and Ben Kaminsky (co-founder of Barismo, US Cup Tasting Champion), the class will offer step-by-step instructions for leveling up what’s in your cup. From a novel No-Press French Press technique to in-depth instructions on mastering extraction—the secret to any perfect brew—you’ll learn everything you need to know to make coffee that rivals the stuff at the world’s best cafes.

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This being ChefSteps, we’re also including fun techniques for cooking with coffee—from an easy rub for flavoring steaks and chicken to an amazing modernist confection to wow and delight your dinner guests. Kaminsky demos his Liar’s Latte, a delicious, dairy-free twist on the frothy favorite, while Hoffmann explains how to hold a proper coffee tasting, and offers a guide to the best gadgets on the market. Learn how to buy the best beans, optimize your grounds for extraction excellence, and ensure your Chemex game is on point. Supported by four sexy instructional videos, a behind-the-scenes lecture series, and plenty of pretty photos, this class promises to propel you headlong into the fascinating world of first-rate specialty coffee—we believe you’ll emerge fully energized to go forth and achieve your own perfect cup.

Sign up now, home-brew enthusiasts. Crazy-good coffee is within reach.

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Enter your email below to get the first word on our Coffee class release, or visit the forum to start talking coffee.



Best of the Forum: Sausage-Making, Chicken Wings, and the Organic Food Fight

Prolific forum member Cheryl—spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine's candies.

Prolific forum member Cheryl spent the week making sausages, as well as these lovely Valentine’s candies.

Watching the sausage getting made, and liking it.

Debunking a popular expression, Cheryl takes us inside her process for making homemade sausage. Dig that foot-long on a bun, meat lovers.

Whatever the question, the right answer is “wings.”

We are unabashed fried chicken lovers at ChefSteps, so if you’re going to put a picture of really pretty wings on the forum, we’re going to pay attention. Check out these Buffalo-style beauties from James—then quell the inevitable craving with our recipe for crispy-tender wings. Ugh, so hungry now.

Uh-oh, someone mentioned the “O” word.

Ever notice how the word “organic” tends to bring out the fight among foodies? Our community kept it civil this week when a Question of the Day focused on the issue. Care to weigh in? The forum would love to have you.

Join ChefSteps today for access to hundreds of recipes, techniques, and comprehensive classes.

Cooking and Recipe Ideas: 5 Ways to Get Inspired

 

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Not spending a lot of time in the kitchen? Don’t beat yourself up there buddy; it happens to the best of us. The antidote to that epicurean ennui? Re-inspire yourself with novel techniques and tools, a chatty community of fellow food enthusiasts, or a new look at old classics. Here, we’ve got a bunch of ideas that involve all those things. Let’s get cooking.

Treat yo’self to a new tool

Sous vide can help you create the tenderest meats and vegetables, sure, but did you know it’s also an awesome way to make no-fail Crème Brûlée? You can get started with sous vide using nothing more than a pot and a thermometer, but investing in an immersion circulator is the fastest way to master this convenient, highly predictable method. The good news is, they’re pretty cheap now. And once you’ve got yours, you can embark on an epic journey into the surprisingly wide world of this remarkable cooking technique.

Creme-Brulee

Remember a forgotten tool

You know that pressure cooker gathering dust in your pantry? Bust that out, clean it off, and start exploring amazing recipes and techniques like our Kung Pao Carnitas. And if you’ve got an immersion blender in need of work, put it to use making Green Pea Mash to go with Sous Vide Salmon—a complete dish that’s delicious, healthy, and ridiculously easy to prepare.

KungPao

Play with powders

Go modern with these five powders—all integral to creating novel textures and flavors in the kitchen. A good start: our Mayo No.4.

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Make some friends

Getting to know an online community of enthusiastic cooks is a great way to stay inspired. The ChefSteps forum, for instance, is full of recipe ideas—like the Breakfast Pizza pictured below, from Erin Z—beautiful images, and hard-to-find advice for ambitious food folk who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Rethink a classic

Maybe you’ve made many soufflés, maybe you’ve never attempted that airy, always-impressive dessert. Either way, follow in the footsteps of all the happy cooks who’ve found success with our foolproof Molten Chocolate Soufflé recipe.

Not into sugar? Then learn the art of restaurant-level meatwiches with our house specialty, the Au Jus Burger.

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Feeling fired up? Join ChefSteps today for hundreds of recipes, techniques, tips, and tricks. 

 

Best of the Forum: Ramen, Food TV, Two Pretty Plates

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Salmon wrapped in prosciutto, with lentils—a beautiful dish from ChefSteps member Davo.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

Painting with food

Wow, behold this work of art from user Stevie Provencio! In lieu of paints, Stevie worked with ChefSteps-inspired creations like Beet Fluid Gel and Reconstructed Roast (using Teres Major steak). Inspiring, right? Check out those recipes to start creating your own masterpiece tonight.

Good taste in TV

Hungry for Netflix fodder? Our forum has plenty of advice on food shows with which to fill up your queue. Heston Blumenthal proved a favorite—if you need a snack while you watch, whip up Heston-inspired Thick-Cut French Fries or Sous Vide Pork Belly.

Rad-looking ramen

David Henley presented us with a pretty killer photo of his Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Curry Acorn Squash. Doesn’t look like the work of a newbie ramen-maker, but we’ll take him at his word.

Join the ChefSteps forum today to meet our entire community of super-cool cooks.

Getting Started with Modernist Powders

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You’ve likely heard tell of the fairy dusts employed by modernist chefs to create novel textures, amp up flavor, and just generally have a lot of fun with food. In fact, these powders aren’t storybook fodder at all—they’re developed in the service of food science. (And despite their high-tech origins, most are derived from natural ingredients). The stuff that makes Velveeta melt so winningly? You can use that to transform any cheese into something equally gooey and delectable. The bonding powder developed to make artificial crab, meanwhile, can help you create an uncommonly well-textured beef roast.

To begin playing with powders, check out these five ingredients—all available online and all essential to the modernist kitchen. Use them in our recipes and techniques, and you’ll see how they got their magical reputations.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a food-thickening agent that’s common to bottled salad dressings and other condiments, including ketchup and the ever-so-popular Sriracha sauce made by Huy Fong Foods. To create our Blini-topping Beet Fluid Gel, we used xanthan along with a hydrocolloid called low acyl gellan, which helps create a smooth, shiny product that envelops your tongue in bright beet flavor. (Psst: If you want to learn (a lot) more about hydrocolloids, enroll in our Fluid Gels class). 

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Sodium Citrate and friends

You say you love baseball; we suspect you’re partly in it for the stadium nachos dipped in spicy, technicolor cheese sauce. The secret to the superior melty-ness you get with the processed stuff? Melting salts. A cornerstone of the commercial cheese world, salts such as sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, and sodium caseinate allow manufacturers to create sterile products that don’t “oil off”—an industry term that refers to the tendency of the fats in melting cheese to separate from the proteins.

Tinker-prone chefs have taken advantage of melting salts to alter the texture of great cheeses, creating slices that have all the melty, creamy quality of the plastic-wrapped stuff you’ll find on supermarket shelves, but also the wonderful complex flavors of the best fromages. If you want to try the technique at home, make Nacho Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, or Melty Cheese Slices.

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Activa

Ah, meat glue—an unfortunate nickname that undersells the game-changing possibilities of Activa, also known as transglutaminase and capable of bonding proteins together to create glorious frankenfoods. First developed to make imitation crab, Activa can improve texture and flavor in everything from fish to fried chicken. But one of our favorite applications is this Reconstructed Roast—a killer technique for taking home-cooked beef to the next level.

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MSG

Everyone loves throwing shade on MSG—the sodium salt of glutamic acid that’s used as a flavor enhancer, primarily in Asian food. For the moment, we’ll leave it to Smithsonian magazine to dissect the veracity of MSG’s unseemly reputation, and just tell you that it can seriously up the umami factor in all sorts of stuff, offering a pop of flavor that can really level up a dish. If you’re dubious, definitely don’t try it in our Potato Chips, a simple example of how MSG can be used to make a good food great.

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Citric Acid

Love sour candies? Then you’re already a fan of citric acid, which lends a tart contrast to all sorts of sweet foods. We sprinkle it into our bright Lemon Curd, a tasty topper to dishes both sweet and savory.

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Want to learn more about modernist cooking? Join the ChefSteps community today. 

Best of the Forum: Risotto, Foie Gras, and Fried Rice

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Inspiring dishes, like Hot Curry Shrimp Fried Rice from ChefSteps member Henry Wicker, abound on the forum.

Welcome to Best of the Forum (BotF), a new series in which we highlight fascinating bits from the ongoing conversation happening among our awesome community of cooks. Let’s get to it.

A Strong Start

Forum newbie Evan describes himself as a “young cook” just starting to prepare food for dinner parties. Dang, though, those dishes look pretty killer to us. Among Evan’s offerings? A foolproof Crème Brûlée, part of our Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics class. 

Foie for All!

The award for snarkiest subject line of the week goes to the ever-clever Brendan Lee, who celebrates happy news in California. Care to throw your own foie gras celebration? This pretty parfait is the best argument against the ban that we know of.

Pressure Points

How do you like your risotto? Community member Matthew Wilson has been experimenting with rice textures in his pressure cooker. Yup, you can make risotto in a pressure cooker, and a lot of other delicious things too. Want to learn more? Right this way.

Join the conversation. Head to our forum to get chatty with other enthusiastic cooks!

You’ve Got New Year’s Resolutions. We Can Help.

Jess Voelker Preparing Staff Meal

Feeling a little doughy and broke? You’re not alone. After a long, indulgent holiday, a lot of us are inspired to tighten up a bit in the New Year—exercise more, drink and spend less, step away from those leftover Christmas cookies. But don’t close down the kitchen just yet. Preparing your own food is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to a healthy eating plan, the sort of plan that you can maintain all year until next holiday season, when—don’t worry—you can resume the nog chugging and snickerdoodle snarfing once more. Whatever your food goals are, we want to inspire you to keep cooking (and learning!) in 2015. Check out our suggestions for delicious ideas on how to do just that.

Resolution 1: Follow the Paleo Diet

Devotees of this massively popular eating plan eschew dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. The premise is that these foods weren’t readily available during the Paleolithic era, when the human body evolved nutritional needs in line with the foods they could access. By following a diet closer to what our prehistoric ancestors ate, Paleo people eat in a manner befitting the way their bodies developed, or so the logic goes. Whether or not you swallow all that is your business, but sticking to this protein-and-vegetable focused regime is one way to cut down on those empty calories that come from (glorious) carbs and (delectable) sweets. How to do it: Investing in a sous vide water bath or circulator can prove crucial in sticking to a protein-centric diet, as it allows you to cook delicious meats with little fuss. To test the method without having to invest in any equipment, consult our Sous Vide 101 class, which includes recipes for amazing salmon, pork chops, and steak, along with instructions on how to create a water bath with a pot on the stove and a digital thermometer.

Coffee Butter Steak with Spinach

Resolution 2: Eat more vegetables

We all know we need them. With vital nutrients that help keep away chronic diseases, vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet. Focusing on eating more plant foods—rather than trying to stay away from stuff you love (we’re looking at you, Paleo)—can be a great recipe for success. The key to sticking with it is to make those vegetables taste delicious, and that’s where we come in. How to do it: Easy to make and surprisingly satisfying, our Microwaved Radicchio Salad is anchored by warm, slightly wilted chicory leaves; an awesome source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. We dress them with rich buttermilk, verdant chive oil, funky blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Speaking of the microwave, you can also use it to quickly cook up some mixed vegetables, then top those healthy fellas with some Bagna Càuda Foam.

Microwaved Radicchio  Salad

And at the risk of sounding repetitive, we should also point out the benefits of preparing veggies sous vide. You can achieve optimal chickpea texture (firmer for salads, softer for hummus) and maintain the vibrant crunch of kale. Carrots keep their color and signature sweetness, and tart red cabbage can be converted into a super-smooth purée that makes a great accompaniment to our pastrami.

Sous Vide Kale

Resolution 3: Eat breakfast everyday

Good one. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to wind up ravenous by the time that 11 AM meeting rolls around. Also, a morning meal sets a civilized tone for the day. How to do it: Learning to make awesome soft-poached eggs should inspire you to keep up the breakfast habit. Use our egg calculator to determine, then create, your perfect egg. And if you’re resolved to up your coffee game in 2015, be sure to consult our extensive Espresso class.

Egg White Hollandaise

Resolution 4: Spend less on food (but still eat well)

Look, we know how it is. Just like you, we’re constantly enticed by new restaurants, craft cocktail bars, and specialty shops stocked with the best ingredients. Trouble is, that stuff gets expensive. Is there a way to maintain your delicious-food lifestyle while spending a little less? Indeed. The trick is to find little ways to cut back so you can splurge on truly epic meals, tools, and culinary classes. How to do it: Pretty little microgreens are a super-impressive garnish for dinner-party dishes, and growing your own means you can afford to work them into weekday-morning smoothies or a salad to bring to work for lunch. Allow us to show you how—for free.

Microgreens

When you’re short on time, it’s tempting to order takeout for dinner—which adds up fast, and frankly often sucks. This is why we love having a pressure cooker handy. Flavor-packed braises and stews come out great in a fraction of the time they would take with other methods, and taste far better than most things that arrive at your door in a clamshell. Plus, you can use the cheapest cuts to create these comfort foods, as nothing transforms the tough stuff into succulent, velvety deliciousness as fast as a pressure cooker.

Chocolate and Mustard Stew

Ready to get cooking? Join ChefSteps today for one-of-a-kind recipes, tested techniques, and access to our lively forum.

5 Holiday Baking Recipes

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There’s baking, and then there’s holiday baking. It’s one thing to busily whip up a batch of brownies for the neighborhood block party, quite another to roll up your sleeves on a lazy winter morning—dog curled up next to a garland-strewn fireplace, ornaments twinkling in the pale sunlight, and no obligations in sight. See yourself there, a steaming cup of coffee in your hands, a dream of flaky crust or crumbly cake dancing in your head. The only thing left is to pick your project. And oh, friend, have we got projects.

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This slow, cozy season is the best time to learn new techniques as you craft a scrumptious snack for your pajama-clad loved ones to savor while watching It’s A Wonderful Life or grappling with a Game of Thrones jigsaw puzzle. It’s kitchen work on your terms—creations made solely for the joy of making something, then sharing it with your nearest and dearest. Below, you’ll find some of the baking recipes that have most delighted our community of cooks—and we’re sharing the gorgeous results they’ve shared with us. That’s right, the small images you’ll find throughout this post are the work of ChefSteps users. Inspired? Great! Let’s get started.

Olive Oil Cake

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We sometimes slice this chiffon cake riff into cubes for various deconstructed desserts, but it’s equally delicious served by the slice with a cup of tea or some festive bubbly. As you can see, ChefSteps users have found plenty of ways to showcase a straightforward cake that’s bound to become a favorite in your family.

Canelés

Caneles

Pastry enthusiasts who evangelize canelés will tell you that the real things are only available in some fairy tale town tucked away in Bordeaux—where canelés originate—to which you most certainly cannot travel. Ignore those enthusiasts. With this recipe and the proper copper molds, you can make canelés in your own kitchen, in less than an hour, that are worthy of selling at any patisserie in France. Nestle into your breakfast nook with a cup of espresso and a handful of canelés, and create your own little slice of Bordeaux. Don’t believe us? Just look at the image above to see what our community of cooks have created.

Macarons

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This is the only recipe on this list that comes at a price—our macaron technique is part of a comprehensive class—but you can get it half off until January 9th, 2015, and you will not find a better way to master this most festive of French cookies.

Kouign-Amann

Kouign-Amann

When you learn to make Kouign-amann (say: QUEEN-ah-mahn), you’re really learning to make croissant dough—also known as laminated dough. No way around it, this technique takes time and effort, and can be a bit of a bear to master. But once you do, you’ll reap the rewards usually reserved for artisans at top-shelf pastry shops. So settle in—you’re gonna make this Brittany-born treat your baking-project bitch.

Banana Bread

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You’ve already got a delicious banana bread recipe, we know. But this one goes beyond delicious to seriously blow some minds. The secret? Caramelized bananas along with freeze-dried ones. Serve it with Honey Butter for an unforgettable holiday treat you’ll return to every year. As you can see, however, Banana Bread doesn’t have quite as many photos as the previous recipes do. We strongly encourage you to remedy that by posting your results in the comments section of that recipe. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Want to find more great cooking projects for the holidays? Head on over to ChefSteps and join our community of cooks today!

ChefSteps community members who shared photos used in this post include: e. oliva, Michael Fiske, Douglas Hallett (Olive Oil Cake); Isabel Cabrita, David, Luciana, Martin, Rory (Canelés); Darragh O’Flaherty, Josh Deri, Jeff, Harry, Jyoti, Luiz Quintanilha (Macarons); Zach, Summer, Joshua Wanger, Matt, Ombibulous (Kouign-amann).