Archive for January, 2010

Coffee Stains

“Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!” Quoting Macbeth has become a regular part of my tooth brushing routine. You see coffee stains teeth and I drink a lot of coffee.

That yellow-ish, brown colour often seen on old men walking down the street with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth has crept onto my enamel and I am less than pleased.

I probably consume about three coffees a day. I skull the first cup and the second then slowly sip the last. Out of these two common ways to enjoy a coffee, only one slows down the eventual stain.

Coffee is a chromogenic food, which means that over time it will stain teeth. Basically, the dark colour in coffee works itself into your teeth making it harder to work itself out.

This kind of surface stain requires more money for teeth whitening. In order to truly get rid of those nasty spots a professional is needed.

Tannins, chemical substances found in plants, are the cause of what makes coffee such a dark colour. These plant polyphenols (technical word for tannins) have been used to dye leather and all sorts of goods for centuries. It is no wonder that they will stain your teeth.

Polyphenols also cause dry mouth which interferes with natural saliva production leaving teeth more susceptible to decay.

Yellow teeth and decay! That morning long black is beginning to look like a downer. So how do you fix a wilted smile and not give up coffee?

There is the straw option as it will get the coffee from point A to B without any need to touch the teeth. However, you will look like a wanker and might as well drink everything else with your pinky finger pointing straight up.

The second more desirable option is to have a glass of water once your coffee drinking is complete. This will wash away all the little scientific words I mentioned above and slow down the staining process.

There is, however, another way. You can chug. Sipping espresso is the worst way to drink coffee when teeth are concerned, it’s like soaking them in dye. By pouring your latte down the hatch, you may avoid too much of a stain, but then again how are you ever going to enjoy your coffee?

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Magic Brownies

My Magic BrowniesI knew I had reached culinary gold when I tip toed into the kitchen late last night and indulged once again with the brownies I so carefully cooked. The only problem was it took me another hour to fall asleep.

Baking is a lot like making coffee. Measured ingredients, extensive taste testing and the anticipation of the end result you hope will satisfy time well spent. I used coffee in the ganache that topped my brownies for the first time and they were nothing short of magic.

Coffee is the forgotten spice that adds so much to a meal. There are over 900 different flavour compounds in coffee, wine has a measly 150 and is more accepted in the kitchen. Yet coffee can provide the same full bodied element to more than just baked dishes.

The richness of coffee compliments dark meats such as game, beef, pork, bacon and ham. Using it in marinades will add extra oomph to an afternoon bbq as, like a spice, it brings out the best in tomato sauce, chilli and soy.

Robert Del Grande the owner and chef of Café Annie in Houston, Texas did just this to cement his signature dish. “When you cook it on a roast or filet of beef, it gets very dark…You get tremendous richness on the outside, and it doesn’t come across as coffee,” he also suggests sprinkling grounds on French fries, I’m not so sure but I’ll give it a go one day.

Famed chef Emeril Lagasse has been caffeinating his dishes for some time. Apart from the obvious tiramisu, he glazes duck and baby back ribs with coffee creating marinades that allow the palate to grab every part of his complex sauce.

The flavours of coffee can be described as buttery, acidic, fruity, nutty, smokey and sweet. Its diversity seems endless and capable of turning a standard topping into a gourmet masterpiece.

I’m still enjoying the punch that coffee has added to my brownies. Since coffee is roasted it truly knows how to flatter other toasted ingredients like caramel, nuts and chocolate. Next time you make a batch of brownies, cupcakes, or muffins, add a little coffee, or put some in the frosting it’s a different sort of start to the day.

For the ganache:

½ cup of dark chocolate

½ cup of milk chocolate

½ cup of thickened cream

1 teaspoon of instant coffee

Use a double broiler and mix with a whisk until smooth and shiny. Then spread evenly over brownies, or dunk the top of delicious cup cakes.

You can find the brownie recipe I used here (omit the cheesecake part), if you don’t want to bother with the ganache, just put 2 teaspoons of instant coffee when you’re mixing the butter and chocolate on the stove.


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