Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aahh..... the aroma, the flavor of Coffee!

Luckily for me I'm not a coffee addict. Don't need it to wake up, don't get a headache if I go a day without having any, can't sleep if I've had some or get jittery if I drink too much, BUT, I love the flavor and it comforts me. Two cups in the morning is a daily ritual (unless something else comes up) and that's it for the most part. Ricardo on the other hand becomes absolutely ill if he doesn't have his coffee everyday and drinks at least 6-8 cups throughout the day with the last cup a while after a midnight meal (yes, I know...). So my usual morning routine, which Kitty shares without fail, is the grinding of the coffee beans (talk about aroma!) and the producing of a fresh pot of coffee. MMmmm.....

There is some question about the exact origins of coffee since the earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the middle of the fifteenth century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen in southern Arabia. From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas. Coffee has played an important role in many societies throughout history. In Africa and Yemen, it was used in religious ceremonies. As a result, the Ethiopian Church banned its secular consumption, a ban in effect until the reign of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. It was banned in Ethiopia and in Turkey during the 17th century for political reasons, and was associated with rebellious political activities in Europe. Several alternative etymologies hold that the Arab form may disguise a loanword from an Ethiopian or African source, suggesting Kaffa, the highland in southwestern Ethiopia as one, since the plant is indigenous to that area which tells us it comes from Ethiopia.

Of the two main species grown, arabica coffee is generally more highly regarded than robusta coffee; robusta tends to be bitter and have less flavor but better body than arabica. For these reasons, about three-quarters of coffee cultivated worldwide is C. arabica. Robusta strains also contain about 40–50% more caffeine than arabica. So, it's used as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends. Good quality robusta beans are used in some espresso blends to provide a full-bodied taste, a better foam head (known as crema), and to lower the ingredient cost. In 2009 Brazil was the world leader in production of green coffee, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia and Colombia. Arabica coffee beans are cultivated in Latin America, eastern Africa, Arabia and Asia.

So you think we all consume lots of coffee, he? Well we don't even come close! Here is a list of the major consumers in the world and out of 181 countries, ordered by annual consumption of coffee. #1 is Finland with 12.9 kg per capita annually, Norway 9.9 kg, Iceland 9.0 kg, Denmark 8.7 kg, Netherlands 8.4 kg, Sweden 8.2 kg, Switzerland 7.9 kg. Canada 6.5 kg and even Italy 5.9 kg and France 5.4 kg who we know have a major coffee culture don't occupy the first places and the United States at 4.2kg and Mexico at only 1.2kg will give you an idea of where we're at as far as our love of coffee. This of course doesn't measure our enjoyment of this beloved beverage or for that fact, our use of it in other ways as I shall explain.

Being familiar with drinking this brew is one thing but how about learning about other ways to use it? Here are a few recipes that might give you an idea or two to try. I know for a fact that in baking, coffee flavor is amazing! But you might not know that as a flavoring in BBQ sauces, coffee is pretty incredible as well.... and there are a couple of other uses too, so let's have a look see, shall we?

Pork Loin with Coffee and Port Sauce.- Just the title alone brings visions of wonderful flavors, right? Simple to prepare and amazing to serve!

4lb pork loin, boneless
1 cup strong espresso coffee
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup port
2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp cornflour or cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350F. Roll and tie the meat with string. Put the meat in a roasting tin, and roast in the oven for 15 min. Combine the coffee, half the cream, half the port and the sugar, and pour over the pork. Continue roasting the pork for 30 min, basting it every 10 min with the coffee mixture.

Remove the pork from the oven when cooked. Keep covered with foil and let rest while making the sauce. Skim off the fat from the pan juices, and transfer the juices to a small saucepan. Add 2 tbl water, the remaining cream and port, and the cornflour. Cook until thickened, then strain. Slice the pork thinly and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately

Coffee Marinated Ribeye Steaks.- How about a different marinade for grilling? Try this out.

2 lbs ribeye steaks
2 cups brewed cofThe steakfee
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
1-2 tbl honey or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

In a gallon zip-lock bag (or in a bowl large enough to hold the steaks), combine the marinade ingredients, mix. Add in the steaks, start closing up the bag, pressing out as much air as possible as you close it, then lay the bag in a dish. Turn the bag occasionally while marinating. I marinated these steaks for about 2 hours, but you could do as little as 30 min or as long as overnight.

Grill the steaks. Remove the steaks from the grill and let sit for about 5 min before serving. Great!

Chili and Coffee Short Ribs.- A wonderfully flavored sauce makes these short ribs come alive!

1-2 tbl oil
4 large or 8 small short ribs
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 dried pasilla chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 dried chipotle chili, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup strong coffee

In a heavy pot that can later be covered, drizzle oil. Over medium heat, brown ribs well, adjusting heat as necessary to get a dark crust. Take your time, and season with salt and pepper as they cook. Remove them to a plate and turn heat to low. In same pot, cook onions, garlic and chilies, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 10 min. Add wine and coffee and reduce over high heat by about half. Return ribs to pot, cover, and cook over low heat (or in a 300-degree oven) for 2 to 3 hours. Cook until very tender — beyond when meat falls off the bone — turning every hour or so. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.

Coffee Spiced Rub.- Doesn't matter what meat you use, the flavor that comes from this rub will be just the ticket!

3 tbl coarse-ground coffee beans
1 tbl coarse-ground black pepper
2 tsp coarse-ground salt, such as kosher or sea salt
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp granulated or powdered garlic

Combine all ingredients. Rub the seasoning blend into pork, chicken, quail, or duck, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Grill, broil or roast accordingly.

Spicy BBQ Sauce.- Here 's a good all around sauce you can have on hand.

1 cup double-strength brewed coffee
1 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbl ground red chiles
2 tsp salt
2 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup minced jalapeños or other green chile
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Simmer all ingredients until cooked through and flavors blend, about 25 min. Let cool slightly then purée in blender. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Aussie Style Meat Loaf with Coffee Sauce.- Great recipe for a flavorful meat loaf!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sausage, casings removed
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 tbl curry powder
1/2 cup water
1 tbl parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, chopped very fine
1-2 tbl margarine
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dry red wine OR beef stock
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
2 tbl vinegar
1-2 tbl strong coffee or 1 tbl instant coffee
2 tbl lemon juice

Meatloaf: Combine ground beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, onions, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, curry, and egg in large bowl. Mix well. Mix milk and water and add to meat mixture a little at a time until smooth but firm. Shape into loaf and put into greased baking pan. Bake 30 min at 375 F.

Sauce: Saute onions in margarine until golden. Add ketchup, wine, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, water, vinegar, coffee, and lemon juice. Bring slowly to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 to 15 min.

After meatloaf has cooked for 30 min, pour half of the sauce over the meat, return to oven and bake 45 min more, basting often with remaining sauce. Serve loaf hot in thick slices with remaining sauce. The meatloaf also makes great sandwiches.
NOTE: This sauce can be used on ribs or chicken too.

Spiced Rack of Lamb.- Here is a luxurious and wonderful dinner you can enjoy.

1 heaping tbl whole cumin seeds
1 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbl roast coffee, finely ground
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-bone; 24-to 26-ounce) rack of lamb, cleaned
3 tbl canola oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbl butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Using spice or coffee grinder, grind cumin to semi-fine powder, then transfer to small bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder, coffee, and pepper. Rub exposed lamb bones with 1 tbl canola oil, then wrap each bone in foil, covering bones completely and leaving meat uncovered. Sprinkle both sides of uncovered lamb with kosher salt, then rub with spice mixture.

In heavy pan over high heat, heat remaining 2 tbls canola oil until hot but not smoking. Sear rack, meat side down, moving occasionally to prevent sticking, until deep golden brown and crust forms, about 2 min. Flip to sear underside in same manner, about 2 min, then sear bottom of rack in same manner, 2 min more.

Flip rack back to meat side up, then transfer pan to oven (if you can or else put in roasting pan) and roast 7 min. Add butter, garlic, and thyme to pan and continue roasting until thermometer inserted 2" into thickest part of lamb (do not touch bone) registers 130F (for medium rare), 7 to 8 min more, don't ovrcook. Tilt pan to collect juices and spoon those over meat. Transfer lamb to rack with pan or plate underneath to catch juices and let rest 10 to 15 min.

Remove foil from lamb bones. Slice rack into 4 double chops or 8 single chops (your choice) and transfer to plates. Serve immediately.

Coffee Rub for Grilled Hamburgers.- Add some flavor to your burgers with this do-ahead rub you can keep on hand to use as needed. We love grilled burgers!

1 tbl freshly ground coffee
2 tsp (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight jar at room temperature.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle 1 tsp coffee rub on top side of each burger. Place burgers, rub side down, on grill rack. Grill until slightly charred, about 4 min, turn. Sprinkle more rub on other side. Serve.

I couldn't let you go without inserting something sweet and what could be more decadent or wonderful? Capuccino Fudge Cheesecake, of course! Make one day ahead to let all the flavors come together, ok? Oh, one more thing.... don't get put off because it seems like it's hard or involved- this is easier than it looks and it is SOOOO worth it!

1 box chocolate wafer cookies
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
7 tbl hot melted butter

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
20 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

4 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbl all purpose flour
2 tbl dark rum
2 tbl instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
2 tbl ground whole espresso coffee beans (medium-coarse grind)
1 tbl vanilla extract
2 tsp mild-flavored (light) molasses

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For crust: Finely grind cookies, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and nutmeg in processor. Add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 1 min. Transfer crumbs to 10" springform pan with 3" sides. Wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2" of top edge, then over bottom of pan.

For ganache: Bring whipping cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 2 cups ganache over bottom of crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 min. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for creating lattice pattern.

For filling: Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350F. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in flour. Stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Pour filling over cold ganache in crust. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and center 2" moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 min. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 min while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly). Maintain oven temperature.

For topping: Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. Bake until topping is set, about 10 min. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours.

Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Spoon reserved ganache into pastry bag fitted with small star tip. Pipe 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1" apart. Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice. Pipe rosettes of ganache around top edge of cake. Garnish with coffee beans, if desired. Chill until lattice is firm, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Wrap loosely in foil, forming dome over lattice; keep chilled.)Ready, set, GO!

Okay, I'm done- coffee's cold (which always happens) and Kitty wants to see some action and there's lots to do so off I go. I hope you will try and make some of these so you can taste the "extra" coffee can give your dishes. Don't worry about getting more caffeine and being jumpy or whatever since the recipes don't contain so much coffee that it will cause a negative effect on your help, it's flavor enhancement only.
The smoky extra imparted by the coffee adds a subtle richness that really adds a lot, you'll see. Enjoy!

Hoping everyone is well and enjoying your day.... Talk soon!

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