Archive for the 'Coffee and Food' Category



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.

A Bitter End

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When a customer complains about a drink, it makes me want to shrivel up and die. Imagine coming to uni, paying three bucks out of your tiny Centrelink fund and getting something you thought would be glorious, only to find it’s not hot enough, too bitter or worse…skinny milk.

It happens, bad coffees cross the line here and there which is all part of the process. As long as your coffees are consistently satisfactory, take the hit, it probably won’t happen tomorrow. But if you receive more than three out of ten crap coffees, that’s our problem.

I wondered this the other day as I dined out in a restaurant, always packed with the doorway littered by amazing reviews. Not a breakfast place, but a bona fide five star restaurant, which I have chosen not to name.

I had a fantastic dinner giving my palate the orgasm it craved. I all but licked the plate clean and decided dessert would only enhance this experience further. I ordered a single shot of espresso between the meals in hopes to refresh my appetite.

The coffee looked terrible. Completely under extracted with absolutely no crema, I wondered if they had added food colouring to the water. Yet I decided to take the hit, maybe the dim lighting was being rude to this single shot of horror. It wasn’t, I was right, it was awful.

This wasn’t my first bad coffee from a supposed great restaurant, there have been others. It stumps me that they are all so proficient when it comes to wine, yet completely unreliable when it comes to coffee.

Restaurants in Melbourne know their wine and can pull out any adjective and regional clue that could help anyone decide which best suits their pork, poultry, pasta or fish, why not coffee? Shouldn’t the same routine be used in order to compliment your mousse, cheesecake, cheese or chocolate gateau? It adds to the experience just as a latte brightens your morning.

It’s rather shameful that a lot of these fabulous restaurants can put so much time and effort into wine, yet none into the second most traded commodity in the world.

Yes, wine is more expensive and more money is made out of it compared to a cappuccino. But going home with a bitter taste in your mouth seems like far more of a bargain. Of course, if you’ve taken several hits with the wine, maybe you won’t really notice.


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