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OU Daily Dishes: Easy college-friendly recipes for morning or midday coffee-shop snacks

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daily dishes coffee

Coffee two ways: Hot French press (left) and iced cold brew (right) July 25.

Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up, and a cup, or two, or three (we won't judge) of coffee is the perfect way to do that. Pair it with a muffin, and you've got a perfect quick breakfast or afternoon snack.

If your favorite cafe has been shut down by COVID-19, or you're just trying to save a few bucks, check out The Daily's tips for a delicious and easy home-brewed and home-baked alternative.

Not everyone has the space or funds for a full-blown coffee maker. If that's the boat you're in, consider a French press coffee maker.

French presses are smaller, cheaper and more versatile than typical coffee makers. They have a beaker, filter, lid and plunger. You can make your morning coffee in about five minutes or a cold brew overnight in your fridge. 

Anatomy of a French press

A French press has four main parts: the plunger, lid, filter and beaker. 

Let's talk about beans.

When shopping for your coffee, look for whole-bean. Pre-ground beans are usually too fine to brew in a French press. (It CAN be done, but your cup of joe might have a slight muddy texture.)

If you have your own coffee grinder, grind the beans until they are a coarse, breadcrumb-like consistency. Some grocery stores have a coffee grinder with a specific French press setting. 

French press grounds

Coffee ground to a coarse texture. 

By grinding your beans one portion at a time, you'll get a fresher flavor out of them. But if you aren't a coffee snob, you can grind them all at once.

Some people weigh out the coffee they put into the French press. This step can ensure consistent flavor with each brew, but also takes time and equipment.

When making hot coffee, a good rule is 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per 8 ounces of water. If you find you want your brew stronger or weaker, you can adjust from there.

Hot coffee in a French press

  1. Fill an electric or stovetop kettle with a little more than the desired amount of water to account for liquid lost during steaming. If using an electric kettle, set the temperature to around 195°F.

  2. Grind your beans.

  3. Measure out the desired amount of coffee and place in the beaker of your French press. (2 tbsp coffee/8 ounces water)

  4. When the kettle boils, remove it from the stove and let it sit for around 30 seconds. (The electric kettle can be used as soon as it reaches the set temperature.)

  5. Begin by pouring a small amount of water into the French press to wet the grounds and cover them with water. Stir. 

  6. Wait one minute. This allows the grounds to open up and "bloom" their flavor.

  7. After one minute, pour the rest of the desired water into the French press, stir and place the top on. Don't press the plunger yet!

  8. Wait three minutes and then slowly press down the plunger. This should take around 20–30 seconds. 

  9. Grab your favorite mug, pour and enjoy.

Cold brew in a French press 

Cold brew is a super fun way to get your coffee fix in the summer heat. This brewing process makes a stronger and smoother coffee than traditional iced coffee and is perfect for non-morning people because all of the work is done the night before.

You can purchase a special cold brew maker if you're feeling fancy, but most French presses get the job done just fine.

  1. Grind your beans.

  2. Measure out 12-14 tablespoons of coffee grounds and place them in the beaker of your French press.

  3. Fill the French press to the fill line with cool, filtered water.

  4. Place the lid on top, but do not press the plunger down.

  5. Put the french press in the fridge for at least 10 hours.

  6. After 10 hours, stir the mixture, then slowly press the plunger down.

  7. Pour and enjoy.

Blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins

Blueberry muffins cooling off on a wire rack after being pulled out of the oven July 25. 

Muffins are a foolproof pastry perfect for beginners. Check out The Daily's recipe for special blueberry muffins because they have lemon — an easy way to add some zing to a classic.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

  • 1 stick of softened butter

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup whole milk, or milk substitute 

  • About 1 pint of FRESH, washed blueberries (frozen will turn your batter purple)

  • 1-2 tsp vanilla or lavender extract

  • Zest of 1 whole lemon

For crumb topping

  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar

  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 1 tbsp melted butter

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put 12 paper muffin liners in a muffin tin.

  2. Make the crumb topping: In a small bowl, mix granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon together, then add melted butter and mix. 

  3. Rinse one lemon and remove the zest with a microplane while rotating the lemon. Try to take off just the yellow part and avoid the white pith. Set aside.

  4. In a medium bowl, sift and whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt).

  5. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or using a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar to achieve a creamy texture.

  6. Add eggs, vanilla/lavender extract, and milk to the sugar and butter mixture. Whisk.

  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until barely combined. Over-mixing will result in tough muffins.

  8. Fold in washed blueberries and lemon zest.

  9. Evenly distribute the batter into the 12 lined muffin tins. Sprinkle crumb topping on top of each muffin.

  10. Bake at 350°F for 18–25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. Insert a toothpick to check for doneness.

  11. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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