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Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Coffee is far more than simply the brew that wakes people up in the morning. Coffee shops dot the city streets around the world with specialty coffee drinks drawing lines of customers. We will share the nuances of coffee from how to select the roast that suits your palate, to secret recipes of your favorite specialty drinks. We even have some marvelous recipes using coffee as a flavoring or spice to add a very special touch. If you love coffee, you will love these secrets. affiliate

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The Coffee Connoisseur's Secrets

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Coffee's Not Just A Morning Eye-Opener

Jazzy Java

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 11/2/05

Your familiar morning beverage, coffee, has a hidden side - a dark side, you could call it.

You've seen it in a variety of light drinks from the hot or cold latte made with milk to a white Russian made with vodka and coffee liqueur.

It has pushed your calorie budget over the edge with sweets when paired with chocolate for mocha-flavored cakes, or cream for a dreamy coffee milk shake or a bowl of coffee ice cream streaked with caramel.

Multitudes of recipes for these coffee-flavored drinks and desserts populate the pages of popular cookbooks and restaurant menus.

What you might not have thought about is the aspect of coffee that enhances savory foods. You have to dig a little harder to find recipes for sauces, soups, marinades and entrees featuring coffee as an ingredient — your secret ingredient.

In these places, the coffee flavor doesn't scream out at you. Instead, it provides subtle undertones that add a depth of flavor that's hard to identify — something like soy sauce when it's used with a light hand, except that coffee isn't salty.

There are certain flavor pairings where coffee works best.

Coffee and tomatoes seem to have a particular affinity for one another. When you add it to tomato soup or to your favorite spaghetti sauce, you'll find that there is a new, slightly smoky flavor in it that wasn't there before. If you add too much, coffee's undesirable bitterness shows up, so it's best to start with a little.

Robust coffee flavors of the darker roasts bring out meaty flavors of beef and other meats when it's used as a rub or marinade.

It also blends well with spices and strong-flavored sweeteners such as dark brown sugar and molasses in a barbecue sauce. Here, coffee flavors add a richness if used judiciously. Too much and they overpower the other ingredients, potentially leaving a burned aftertaste — not at all the goal of this secret seasoning.

Coffee provides an undertone of earthy flavors in a beef stew or in other long-simmered meat dishes including chili. In these dishes that call for a fair amount of liquid, you can easily use freshly brewed coffee.

Using coffee to deglaze a pan is not a new idea. Remember country ham with red eye gravy? In a recipe from "Southern Country Cooking From The Loveless Cafe," by Jane and Michael Stern (Rutledge Hill Press, $19.99), you use a little brewed coffee with a little brown sugar and water in the cast iron skillet when you cook your ham. It gets its name "because when you cook a slice of ham in a pan, the ham bone, surrounded by the ham's juices, looks like a red eye."

Instant coffee granules come in handy when you need only a little bit of coffee taste. Use it as you would pepper or other powdered seasoning. Most recipes calling for powdered coffee ask for instant espresso because it delivers a robust flavor in small amounts.


Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes.

Cooking time: two hours.

2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups chopped

1 quart low-sodium, no-fat beef broth

3 large carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons instant espresso granules

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon sorghum molasses

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Trim beef of gristle and most of the visible fat, cut into bite-size pieces and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Toss to mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the butter in a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven. When butter foam subsides, add half the floured beef. Saute about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rest of the beef and onion; saute until meat is browned and onion slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Return the reserved beef to the pan and add the beef broth, stirring to remove browned bits from the sides and bottom the pan. Stir in the sliced carrots, espresso granules, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, thyme and bay leaves. Cover with the lid ajar and cook, stirring from time to time, until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.


Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons pure ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika (pimenton dulce) or regular sweet paprika

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup brewed coffee, preferably dark roast

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter in the oil over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the ancho powder, cumin, coriander and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ketchup and brown sugar and cook, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the coffee, broth, vinegar and Worcestershire, season with salt and pepper, and simmer over medium-low heat until the onions are very soft and the liquid is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and process until smooth. Will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Use with grilled or baked chicken or pork.


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours marinating time.

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes.

1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin

1 tablespoon espresso granules

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 large clove garlic, grated

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon olive oil

Trim pork tenderloin of all fat and gristle. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the espresso granules, salt, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, garlic, ginger and lemon rind into a paste. Rub the paste all over the tenderloin. Place it in a glass or other nonreactive dish, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Prepare charcoal grill, allowing the coals to burn down to a gray ash or preheat gas grill for 10 minutes.

Drizzle olive oil all over the pork tenderloin and place it on clean, oiled grates. Cook, covered over medium heat 10 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow meat to rest 5 minutes before carving.

Source: Thayer Wine, The Tennessean and "Get Saucy," Grace Parisi (Harvard Common Press, $32.95).

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