Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dr Frankenstein's Peaches: The Most Pretentious Name Ever For Fresh Peach Pie

Somehow I had several hours yesterday after offering to bring a dessert to our dinner group tonight and before going to my work meeting in which I completely forgot to even think about what to make. I love making desserts, but we're trying to cut way back and get into shape, so my opportunities for making them need to be cut back to when they can be made for at least some kind of occasion, and then shared so there aren't any leftovers around. 
With that in mind, plus the abundance of ripe and delicious stone fruit, I considered options that met the following criteria:
-Good several hours later
-Didn't require ice cream etc to be its best
-I actually like it (sorry, traditional peach pie. it's not you, it's me.)
-No regular pie crust (see previous, plus I hate making it, so.)

After some smartphone googling, I came up with a blank - and took matters into my own hands. 

Obviously a pro food photographer here

Fresh Stone Fruit Cream Pie With Gingersnap Crust
The crust recipe is Martha Stewart's for a gingersnap crust with a bit of a tweak for what I had on hand. If you don't feel like turning on the oven, a store-bought graham cracker or shortbread crust would be good too.

1 3/4 c gingersnap crumbs (crush with rolling pin in a bag - I'm not sure how many cookies it was pre-crush, sorry.)
5 tbsp butter, melted
Salt: 1/2 tsp if your butter was unsalted, a sprinkle of sea salt on the top of the crust if it wasn't.
Drizzle of molassas
Cold water, a few drops

1/2 block (4 oz) cream cheese
1 c heavy whipping cream (half the pint carton)
2 tbsp sugar, or more if you'd like it sweeter
1 tsp vanilla or almond or whatever flavoring of your choice, or 1-2 tbsp brandy

Sliced peaches, plums, or whole berries, amount depending on how fruit-piled you want it to be. I think I used 6  peaces and 4 tiny plums.
Redcurrant or apricot jelly, for glazing, if desired - 1/2c melted with 1 tbsp water, strained if there are any fruit solids. Not necessary, but it does make it look pretty and keeps the fruit from looking dried out or aged if you're waiting a few hours to serve. 
Lemon juice, a slosh, for tossing with cut fruit that may brown

For the crust:  Preheat oven to 350. Mix crumbs,  molasses, butter, salt as using. If it'll press into a crust as is, leave it, if not, add a tiny bit of cold water until it will. Press into 9" pie plate, put in the freezer for a few minutes to firm, and then bake for about 10 minutes or until set. Cool before filling, or the cream will melt!

For the cream: Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and smooth. Add heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Add flavorings as desired and whip to combine and until cream is fairly stiff and holds its shape. If crust is cool, pile it in and smooth it on. Arrange fruit however you like on top - I did concentric circles of slices facing the same direction, which is super easy and very pretty, but piling it on freehand could make for a more rustic look. If using, brush on jelly glaze.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Muffins = kryptonite, raisin redemption, etc

GUYS I MADE GOOD MUFFINS. This is a big moment for me, okay? For whatever reason, I've never successfully made a batch of muffins I actually enjoyed. There was always something wrong, and every batch was either rubbery or dry, and generally very bland...or just became cake. I love a buttery, sweet blueberry muffin as much as the next person, but c'mon - that's just single-serving coffee cake. Delicious, but what I was looking for was something that at least seemed healthy and make you feel a little virtuous.

Enter bran muffins. It took no less than a tag-team of David Lebovitz and the recipe test team at King Arthur Flour to get me over my hump, but believe it or not, we had hot, tender, treacle-y muffins this morning for breakfast and I MADE THEM.

A note, first, about raisins: I don't like them. It's nothing specific, but in almost every application I'd prefer a substitution...and for the most part, that's fine. Oatmeal cookies are better with chocolate chips, granola is better with dried cranberries, etc. This is not one of those times. This recipe needs the dark, musky, molassas-y, almost caramelized fruity sweetness. This recipe makes raisins awesome.

I set out to make Lebovitz's recipe, but when I stopped by the grocery store on my way home last night and couldn't find actual wheat bran, so I needed to find a recipe that used bran cereal instead. Enter King Arthur Flour...except their recipe didn't feature the soak-and-puree of the raisins, which is what intrigued me. I decided to go for a combination, keeping in mind the varied sweetness and moisture levels. This was the result.

Overnight Bran Muffins
Oh, also: This sits in the fridge for at least a few hours, and up to two weeks. I made the batter last night, and we had hot muffins for breakfast this morning. Also, most of the sweetness comes from the raisins puree...if you wanted to cut out refined sugar entirely, puree all of the raisins and leave out the brown sugar, and tell me how it turns out.

Bran cereal: 3 c buds or twigs, or 5 1/2 c flakes - divided.
2 c raisins
2 c boiling  water, divided
1/2 vegetable oil
2 1/2 c flour - I used a mix of whole wheat and white
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 c brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk or thin yogurt

In a large bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over 1/3rd of the bran cereal, and stir to combine. While it cools, combine raisins and remaining cup of boiling water in a small saucepan and simmer until the raisins are plump, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow raisins to sit and absorb remaining water. Stir oil into now-cool bran mixture and set aside. In a blender or food processor, puree between half and two thirds of the raisins, and stir in with the bran/oil mixture. Add eggs and buttermilk and whisk to combine well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Add to wet ingredients, along with remaining bran cereal and raisins. Cover the bowl, and put it in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line or grease well and fill as many muffin cups as you want, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

P.S. In case you're now craving buttery, sugary cake muffins, make Vanilla Garlic's cranberry cake in lined muffin tins and thank me later. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beer pizza...with fennel, leeks, pears, gouda, and arugula, because of course

Okay, so it's really just beer bread as the crust, but doesn't 'beer pizza' inspire a mix of curiosity and mild revulsion, much like kamikaze all-of-the-pop-flavors-plus-ketchup-and-black-pepper drinks that one kid always liked to concoct at Jr High functions? Alright, slightly less gross, but still. 
 Anyway, I realize that to really capitalize on the whole  idea I probably should've made it the most obvious pizza: red sauce, pre-shredded mozzarella, pepperoni. Let the beer shine, as it were. And that was the plan. Fortunately for our taste buds and unfortunately for the, uh, high concept pizza, I was at Trader Joe's and the cheese was calling to me. I saw fennel on the shelf, all pre-de-fronded, and I was done. An adaptation of this recipe for pear & gorgonzola flatbread soon followed. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to mention that while I really enjoyed the toppings, the beer-bread-as-crust idea was way better as a soundbite than as an actual dish. I suspected as much, but it was worth a shot anyway. This would be an awesome pizza made on your favorite crust recipe - I'm partial to the long-ferment no-knead in the recipe above, with Smitten Kitchen's version a close second. 

I forgot to take a picture until it was mostly eaten...oops.

Beer Bread
This is the recipe I found online in several places. I'm sure it would be tasty as an actual loaf of bread, and it used up the leftovers from racking my lager earlier, but I don't recommend it as pizza dough. Many recipes also add in a step of melting 1/4 - 1/2 C of butter, pouring some in the pan before the batter and then the rest on top. Herbs, cheese, and other mix-ins are also suggested.

3 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
12 oz beer, any kind, although the consensus seems to veer more towards malty than hoppy

Preheat oven to 375. Mix dry ingredients, add beer, mix until just combined. No kneading or rise necessary - pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. 

Gouda, Pear, and Fennel Pizza with Leeks and Arugula
This is the good part. And yes, the cheese does go on after it bakes. It melts a little into the toppings, but it keeps its actual taste and texture.
Also, it's not a pizza-making tutorial. There are many wonderful ones online already, like Smitten Kitchen's or Simply Recipes's.

2 small or one large leek, finely sliced and rinsed well
1 fennel bulb, likewise sliced and rinsed
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 large or 2 small pears
Aged gouda, or any strongish cheese you like, shaved into thick curls - less than the amount of mozzarella you'd use on a pizza, but more than the parmesan you'd sprinkle on pasta. Whatever you want, is what I'm saying. It'd probably also be good with dollups of chevre!
A few handfuls of fresh arugula, washed and dried
1 batch of your favorite pizza dough

Heat your oven as hot as it goes, and slice the pears, thinly - maybe an eighth of an inch or so. Saute the leeks and fennel in butter over medium-low heat until they start to caramelize and brown. Prepare your dough however you prefer, spread the leeks and fennel over the dough, and then layer the pears on top. Put it in the oven for 7-20 minutes - sorry for the extreme variation - depending on how hot you get the oven and how thin your crust is. When the pears have softened and started to brown, pull the pizza out and shower it with the cheese. Top with handfuls of arugula, slice, and serve. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gap khao

Gap khao is literally translated as 'with rice,' and refers to, well, whatever you'd put on rice, but generally something with at least a little more substance than plain sauce. Meat or seafood or veggies, in whatever quantity, are generally added to sauces, herbs, chilis, and garlic in some combination. There are hundreds of dishes, but really, it can be anything. It means sort of what we mean when we say "eat an actual meal" - not a snack.
I worked the overnight at work last night and I'm craving something simple thrown on top of rice, something easily eaten, lazily, in front of Parks & Rec episodes on Netflix. Grapao muu saab - ground pork fried with holy basil - fits the bill perfectly, but I have no holy basil available right now, and also  I keep thinking about how delicious that stir-fried cabbage was. So this was the result - a fry-up of some of the cheapest vegetables and meats available, with a few aromatics, over rice. Hot, filling, and nutritionally a step up from buttered noodles...which, let's be honest, I probably would've had for dinner if this hadn't materialized.

Ground Pork with Cabbage and Green Beans

So I know this probably doesn't sound like the most exciting thing ever, and it wins absolutely no beauty contests, but it's surprisingly flavorful and extremely delicious, and very very economical. It's not authentically Thai, exactly, but then again, I don't live in Bangkok anymore, so this is what I have on hand...the very essence of a busy-night gap khao. I also fried up some ginger and garlic in oil to dribble over the finished product, which is tasty, but not necessary. 

1 lb ground pork
5 c cabbage, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 c Green beans or long beans, cut into managable lengths
3 cloves garlic, minced - it'd be awesome with more, but garlic tends to make me feel sick, so I go with a small amount.
2 inches ginger root, peeled and minced
1 tbsp Fish sauce
3 tbsp Black soy sauce - this is thick and sweet. If you don't have it, use regular soy sauce and a bit of brown sugar or molassas.
1/4 tsp Sesame oil
2 tsp vinager - I had apple cider vinager on hand
Lemon juice
Chilis, fresh or powder
Eggs, optional
Rice, prepared as you prefer. Thai style demands a high ratio of rice to topping, but use however much you like.

Start your rice. Then, in a heavy pan or skillet, fry ground pork with ginger and garlic over high heat until it's broken up and started to brown, but still has some pink. Add fish sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and any chili you'd like to add.  Cook until completely browned, and taste. Add more of any of the seasonings to your taste, remembering that this is going to be distributed over quite a bit more after the vegetables are added.  When you're done adjusting seasoning, scrape into a large separate bowl and set aside. Add a splash of oil to your pan, and a handful of cabbage - I did mine in two batches, but I have a huge cast iron wok that distributes heat to the sides as well, so you might want to go in smaller batches. Add to pork, and fry the remaining cabbage in batches. Fry the green beans and onions together until seared and soft-ish.  Add pork and cabbage back to pan and toss over medium high heat until re-warmed and thoroughly combined.

A fried egg is a fairly common addition to dishes like this in Thailand, and it's tasty and an easy way to add more protein. To make a Thai style fried egg, heat a generous layer of oil in a pan. When it's hot, crack an egg into it. Fry until the white is set (and crispy) but the yolk is still runny...or, if you must, break the yolk and let it set. Flip this on to your bowl full of rice and gap khao. 

Optional nontraditional fancypants addition:

1/2 c vegetable oil
1 clove minced garlic
1" section of ginger root, minced
3 drops sesame oil

Put oil, garlic, and ginger in your smallest pan and turn the heat to low. Let it sizzle away until the edges of the  garlic and ginger are looking toasty. Turn off the heat, add sesame oil, and stir. Let it all cool down together. Drizzle over plain rice, or anything with rice, or soup, or dip bread... this goes with everything. 1 tsp of chopped fresh Thai chilies or a pinch of dried chilis would be delicious too, added with the sesame oil.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Corned Venison, also brown sugar mustard glaze and colcannon

Fun fact: Corned beef - as we know it - is hardly eaten in Ireland. It was a product of cultural exchange between the Irish and Jewish populations of New York City, mixing cheap salt beef with pastrami spices. So, really, it's the perfect thing to eat on St. Paddy's as an Irish-American, because it's actually related more to our specific heritage.

* Obligatory judge-y comments about green beer etc* 

Anyway. My parents generously filled our freezer with venison from the deer my dad and brother shot last fall. We've been slowly working our way through it since November, and have two small roasts and something labelled "stew" left over, and, while thinking about how delicious corned beef is, I thought...venison is very similar to beef, so why not corn it too? 

I googled methods and recipes, and came to two conclusions:
1. This is super easy
2. I need to buy sodium nitrite.

Sodium nitrite is added when curing meat this way to protect against botulism, as well as give it that rosy pink color and distinctive flavor.  It's sold mixed with salt and dyed pink, most commonly under the brand name Insta-Cure #1. I wasn't able to track it down at Cub or Wal-Mart, and decided to buy it online instead of driving around to various stores to hunt it down. It's fairly inexpensive, but sold in much larger quantities than needed for this recipe - so if anyone in the area wants to give it a shot, let me know and I'll share! My packet of pink mixed sodiums came in the mail today, so I started out when I got home from work. This is the recipe I used:

Corned Venison
Note: I used only whole spices that I already had on hand. I buy them cheap from a local grocery story's in-house packaged bulk, and keep some around for various uses. Recipes vary, but I kept the most common elements (mustard, coriander, pepper, bay) from several and added extras from a few. 

1 1/2 cups salt - kosher or cheap sea salt is best, because it doesn't have that table salt-y flavor that can be off-putting in large amounts
1/2 c sugar
4 level tsp Insta-Cure #1
3 tbsp whole mustard seeds
3 tbsp whole coriander
1 cinnamon stick
5-10 cloves
3 whole bay leaves
2 tbsp whole black pepper
1 cardamom pod
1 star anise - I took this out after about 1 minute because it started to smell like Chinese 5 spice powder and I didn't want that, so proceed as you will. Star anise is supposed to have compounds that bring out the meatiness of meat. 
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped roughly - I just cut mine in half
1 gallon water
Venison, beef, any red meat, tougher and fattier cuts preferred, 2-5 lbs

Mix all ingredients except for beef with a few cups of the water in a sauce pan and bring to boil, and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Put the remaining water in whatever container you're brining in - I'm using a big ceramic baking dish - and then add the hot liquid. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, add meat, and cure in the refrigerator for 5-10 days.   

When it's ready, rinse it off, and prepare however you like.My favorite way is by boiling and then baking, with a sweet mustard glaze. It's got the falling-apart tenderness of the simmering method, without the boiled taste, and a caramelized, tangy crust. 

Oven-Finished Corned Beef With Mustard Brown Sugar Glaze

1 piece of corned red meat
4 tbsp sweet hot mustard
1 tsp mustard seeds, optional
3 tbsp brown sugar

Rinse meat and cover with water in a large pot. Bring to a simmer - not a boil! - and let it cook for about 40 minutes per pound. Drain water and put meat in deep, oven-safe dish, preferably one with a lid, although foil works fine. Slather with mustard, pat sugar on top, and put on lid or foil. Bake at 300 for 90 minutes, or until tender and soft. Take off the lid, and broil for 3-5 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Feast.

Finally: For the potatoes and veggies. I've never liked the common offering of boiled potatoes, carrots, and cabbage - I know it's generally accepted, but I find it bland and insipid. Instead, I like to make colcannon - mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage and green onion. I had cabbage on hand the other day, and rather than just lightly sauteeing it or boiling it with the potatoes, I browned it in butter.I also threw in a handful of frozen spinach for color.  The result smelled a little like potstickers and tasted awesome.

Colcannon, not entirely traditional but I'm Irish-American so whatever

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters - I used red potatoes and did not peel them
1 head cabbage
5 stalks green onions, chopped, green and white parts separated
1/2 cup frozen or cooked-down spinach 
Butter, a lot
1ish cups milk, warmed
Salt, pepper

Throw potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and boil until tender, 10-20 minutes depending on the size and type. Meanwhile, slice cabbage into 1/4in slices and then again into smaller segments. Fry with white parts of the green onions in butter - I think, all told, it was about 6 tbsp, since I worked in batches and wasn't going to add extra butter to the potatoes - until brown and toasty and it smells like gyoza heaven. Drain potatoes, and put back into the boiling pot. Mash to whatever level of smoothness you prefer. Add warm milk in small amounts until it's as thin or thick as you like your mashed potatoes. Stir in green onions and cabbage and and salt and pepper (and, okay, extra butter) to taste.

Corned Beef: How To Cure Your Own - This one's Michael Ruhlman's site, so pay attention
Corned Beef And Cabbage - This has the two recipes my preferred cooking method derives from 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Compilation of Bat-Themed Alcohols, Since This Is Apparently A Booze Blog Now

It really isn't supposed to be, but it just so happens that the projects I've felt like sharing lately (and by 'lately' I mean 'over the last 6 months' have all been alcohol-related. As it happens, I barely drink, but I love experimenting with flavors and it's a fun medium to work with. I promise some Baptist-friendly content soon!

But. Meanwhile.  


Joel has been working overnights for the last year and a half, and sleeping in the evenings since September. That means we haven't had any full days together (excluding two weeks in Thailand, and a few days for an out of town wedding in December) since September of 2011, and haven't shared an evening, other than the few I wasn't working or we weren't with family over Christmas break, since the beginning of the school year.

Now, we hope, this is going to draw to a close sometime this summer. Naturally we're rather excited for this, and have made several plans...things to do, places to go, long-neglected friends to spend time with, wine to drink at a time of day that is appropriate for both of us.  But nothing, nothing compares to our excitement and level of planning for Batweek.
What's Batweek, you ask? Pfft. Does it really need to be said? Batweek is the week where we:
  • Watch all 3 Christopher Nolan Batman movies
  •  Read Year One
  •  Discuss the cultural impact and conditions for the fact that he's a constant icon whose popularity may spike, but never goes away completely, and the implications that has for our view of justice, heroism, crime, and wearing batcapes
  • Enjoy the old live-action TV show, with it's beautifully awful batspecial effects
  • Add 'bat-' to the beginning of at least 15% of the words we use
  • And, most important, batdrink only bat-themed alcohol.

Bats Blood - wine from Transylvania

The Blind Bat Brewery - NY microbrewery

The Waxed Bat -Vineyard? Blend? Dunno, couldn't find the website, here's a blog post about it.

Bacardi - Oh, right, obviously.

Bat Out Of Hell - Beer for The Dark Knight Rises, obviously.  

Two Batman-themed cocktails - with impressive ice cubs containing lemon-rind bats! After recent success with a Tardis cocktail, I kinda feel like trying my hand at making one up. I feel like Mr. Wayne would be more of a sipper of single-malt or possibly martinis, but eh, The Doctor hates wine and I made the Tardis drink with brandy, so who cares, really? Theme cocktails are more representations of ideas that hopefully taste good rather than something the character would actually enjoy. 

Uh, anyway. As you were. The cider is ready to rack for a secondary fermentation, I'm just waiting for my xylitol to come in the mail so I can try some backsweetening. It should be here by Friday, so fingers crossed for a good result!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Homebrew hard apple cider, part 1

A list of places you can picture yourself while quaffing hard cider:

Any wretched hive of scum and/or villainy
Colonial Boston
The Eagle and Child (yes, that one)
The Prancing Pony

Now that you've done that, if you can't answer the question "do I want a hard cider?" with a resounding "YES!" then either you're pregnant, a teetotaler, allergic to apples, or we're probably not friends.
I've been dipping my toes into the intimidating pool of the world of home-fermented or cultured products for awhile. I kept kombucha  going for a awhile a few years ago, have kept sourdough starters off and on and used delayed-ferment bread doughs to excess, made yogurt. Every few months I go through a phase where I decide that now is the time I'm going to really brew my own beer, do a flurry of research, and then get turned off by the initial investment of time and money.
 I got a starter homebrew kit for Christmas for Joel, though, so my list of excuses got a lot shorter recently. I'm going to start up one of the batches of that soon, but first I'm tackling a project that's been rolling in my mind for awhile: Cider. Hard, sparkling cider. I mean, it's easy, fairly inexpensive, delicious, customization-friendly - maybe not as much as beer, but still - and awesome.
So I hit up the interwebs during some overnight shifts and then hiked down to Northern Brewer (highly recommended! They're extremely helpful and friendly, and I'm a first-timer!) for supplies.

Yeast, one of the jugs fitted with the airlock, Star San concentrate, measuring cup with leftover yeast/concentrate/tea,  pectic enzyme, mug of leftover cider, bowl of sanitizing solution, evidence of my messy kitchen)

What I've got:

  • 2 gallons of preservative-free (yeast + preservatives = no go) apple cider, in glass jugs. I got mine from Whole Foods. Good cider from an orchard (pasteurized, unless you want to have a go with wild yeasts, which is another post entirely) would make a much tastier brew, but it's January and this is what I've got...and I wanted the glass jugs this time to get started.
  • 1 can of the fanciest apple juice concentrate (likewise preservative-free) I could find, to add sugar (equals alcohol) and flavor, from the aforementioned lackluster juice. This will be used again to add sugar to prime the cider for carbonation in a few weeks.
  • Black tea bags - this is for adding tannins, re: weakish juice.
  • Pectic enzyme, for clarifying - not necessary, but it helps ensure a clear, sparkling end product
  • 2 airlocks 
  • 2 stoppers with holes
  • The plastic barrel that came with my beer kit
  • 5 feet of 5/16" food-grade plastic tubing
  • Star San sanitizing solution for everything 
  • Yeast - champagne yeast is the most often seen, but the super helpful guy at Northern Brewer suggested a Belgian ale yeast after I brought up the possibility of using a sweet mead yeast instead for an end product that isn't bone-dry. He said the sweet mead yeast would work, but had personal experience with the Belgian ale, so I went with that. It's Wyeast 1762 if you're interested.
  • The plastic barrel from my beer-making kit, for secondary fermentation - I'll be doing the first round in the glass jugs themselves. 
  • The plastic bottles that came with the beer kit. We have a bunch of glass bottles left from Joel's bachelor party, but I don't really want to invest (okay okay it's $15 but still!) in a capper until I know if I like this or not... and I'm pretty confident I can, uh, get rid of the products of this batch before anything near long-term storage is an issue. 
Haven't gotten yet, probably will before the primary fermentation is finished:
  • An auto siphon tool - about $10 and saves a lot of work.
  • Xylitol or another sugar alcohol - keeps some sweetness in the brew, since it can't be eaten (and turned into alcohol and carbonation) by the yeast. I don't want it super sweet, just not completely dry. It'll depend on how it tastes after the primary, so we'll see. 

It's almost impossible to talk about homebrewing without a certain amount of science, but I'm going to avoid it in this post, since you can find much better sources elsewhere. I'll put a resource list at the bottom for that!

Alright, so, here goes!

First, it's super super important to thoroughly sanitize everything involved. I made a big plastic bowl full of the sanitizing solution, and then put everything in - spoons, a plate to rest sanitized stuff on, the mug for the tea, etc. Every other surface is wiped down with the solution, too, from the outside of the cider jugs to the yeast package to the jar of pectic enzyme. Everything.
Next, I made a mug of overbrewed tea. It's just basic Tetley black - I've heard using Earl Grey can add a nice flavor, but I'm keeping it simple this time. Threw two bags in a mug with some water, and popped it in the microwave for a few minutes. Left it to brew away - the top of the mug covered by a saucer that had been dipped in sanitizer - until it was lukewarm.
This was mixed with half a can of apple juice concentrate. It was still mostly frozen and slushy, but the lukewarm tea thawed it out. I didn't want to microwave it, because heat can (in this case negatively) impact the flavor of fruit products, but I also didn't want to shock my yeast too badly by pouring it into icy liquid, so I put the bottom in a (yep, sanitized) bowl of hot water to take the chill off.
While that mixture was warming, I poured off a little of the cider from each jug into a cup, since I'd be adding about a cup of liquid to each. You don't want the mixture to be too close to the top, because the bubbles can get in the airlock or even push it out and make a mess.
Next it was time to pitch the yeast! I was using a smack pack, which is a package of yeast with a little pod of yeast nutrient inside that you break so it can proof before you open it. I had broken the nutrient pack a few hours ago and the package had expanded like a balloon, so apparently my yeast is alive! I added it to the tea + concentrate mixture, and then poured half of it into each cider jug.
There was nothing left to do at that point but put in the stopper, fill the airlocks with sanitizing solution, and let them be! Now I have to wait until the bubbling stops before I proceed, which should be in 1-2 weeks.

The Homebrew Helper - this is the most helpful resource EVER. It's succinct, and in layman's terms, and complete.
The Homebrew Talk forum's cider threads - All of the information you could ever need
The Paupered Chef - Incomplete, still useful.