Monday, August 1, 2011

August is National Coffee Month!

“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”
Johann Sebastian Bach

When I realized August was National Coffee Month, I got a sudden jolt of much needed energy. My initial thought was to dig out one of my favorite "liqueur" booklets featuring Kahlua. But then, I got to thinking, how about a post aimed at exploring coffee as an ingredient? Many of us are already quite aware of the benefits of a good cup of coffee in the morning, not to mention the relaxing aroma of a pot of freshly brewed coffee after dinner. That's coffee history! Fact is, "java" adds a dynamic dimension to many a baked, braised or grilled dish. It may surprise you to learn that coffee as a beverage was actually an after thought, it did me too!!! At first, it was used as a food (and not only by those infamous berry eating goats)

According to a coffee history legend, an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi found his goats dancing joyously around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red cherries in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Kaldi soon determined that it was the bright red cherries on the shrub that were causing the peculiar euphoria and after trying the cherries himself, he learned of their powerful effect.  The stimulating effect was then exploited by monks at a local monastery to stay awake during extended hours of prayer and distributed to other monasteries around the world.  Coffee was born. (source)

Discerning coffee drinker that I'm not, the notion of cooking with coffee intrigues me. What of the perks? In my travels, I read that some tribes in Africa eat coffee as portable little cakes. They crush the berries up, add some fat and shape them into balls much like meatballs!

Coffee was believed to have medicinal properties. Avicenna, an Islamic physician and philosopher of the eleventh century, said of coffee: "It fortifies the members, it cleans the skin and dries up the humidities that are under it, and gives an excellent smell to all the body." (source)

Coffee Cuisine is not a new concept.

...Thanks to celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse making it a part of their repertoire, more and more people who only cook for family or as a hobby are discovering the many ways coffee enhances the flavor of every dish from the appetizer to the entrée and, of course, dessert...Coffee’s nutty, chocolaty or fruity undertones make it the ideal complement to a number of dishes. In fact, coffee experts have identified and categorized no less than 900 unique flavors that may be present in coffee. Most cooks recommend utilizing coffee in the same method that a spice would be used. Coffee’s naturally robust flavors require other accompanying strong flavors so that the coffee taste does not dominate the entire dish. Essentially, the coffee should enhance the dish’s flavor, rather than providing the main thrust of the overall taste...Pairing the often bittersweet flavor of various coffees with the sweetness of desserts makes a natural and pleasing contrast, one that many people enjoy. Yet the more recent innovation of using coffee in savory dishes seems less intuitive. However, the complex flavors inherent in most coffees actually serve to bring out the flavor in meats. A coating of coffee and other spices also helps seal in juices and can also actually tenderize a cut of meat, making for a more succulent and tasty main course...For instance, coffee can be an excellent spice for meat dishes like ham, game and beef. Use it in a marinade or add it to a gravy for a unique, distinctive flavor. Coffee has been used as part of a rub for various grilled meats and adds an interesting kick to any barbecue. Try using a dark, heavy roast for red meats while matching a lighter roast with more delicate dishes like chicken and fish. In many ways the use of coffee in cooking can be compared to the use of wine. Just as red wine goes hand in hand with red meat, so dark roasts go best with red or dark meat. (Daily Shot of Coffee)

Couldn't you just dive into that roll of goodness? No surprise it's a winner!!! I found the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Annual for 2003. And yes, coffee is an ingredient!

Barbecue sauces, glazes, chili and even pot roast all lend their flavors to coffee enhancement. The next time you're braising meat, use brewed coffee in place of wine and enjoy the rich, bold flavor it imparts. Brewed coffee also makes a wonderful deglazing liquid. That delicious southern favorite Red Eye Gravy comes to mind. Personally, I'm addicted to Red-Eye Mayonnaise.

Coffee should be used just like you would use any strong spice. Similar to cinnamon or cumin, coffee flavors are best carried through tepid oils and moisture. Whether gently infusing the brunette characteristics into delicate liquids, invigorating meats with spicy rubs, or adding the distinctive brew to soups, stews and even tomato-based sauces, coffee has the ability to heighten other flavors with similar profiles. Adding a small amount of coffee to chocolate-based recipes, for example, or incorporating coffee into recipes with chilies intensifies the chocolate or chili essence because those flavor profiles are inherent in all ingredients. (Chef 2 Chef)

Pot roast is simply delicious when "brewed" with coffee. Whether you prepare it in the oven, on the stove or in a slow cooker, be sure and add at least a cup of leftover coffee to the liquids. Not only does it act as a meat tenderizer, the coffee adds a depth of flavor without imparting any coffee residue.

Grilled Chocolate Coffee Steak? Oh, yeah!

The Perks of Leftover Coffee

I don't know about you, but I always have leftover coffee in the morning. Not much, since I still use a good old fashioned percolator, but enough to hesitate when dispensing with the leftovers. The grinds are no problem, I throw them in the compost or around my house plants. However, the less than a full cup of liquid that is left seems to pose a problem. I just detest tossing it. Sometimes, it too becomes liquid fertilizer. Lately, I've been freezing it in ice cube trays. After they are frozen, I store them in freezer bags for future frozen coffee drinks.

1. Use leftover coffee in place of the water in chocolate cakes.
2. Add black coffee to pot roast to create a rich, brown gravy.
3. Acid loving plants such as begonias and tomatoes adore leftover coffee as a mild fertilizer.
4. Add to leftover coffee to your favorite chili recipe.
5. Use it to dye fabrics (some use it to dye their hair too but that's an entirely different post:)
6. Use a cotton swab and rub it on scratches in dark furniture.
7. Make a mocha sugar glaze for donuts.
8. Mix freshly brewed cooled coffee with equal amounts of sweetened condensed milk and pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Wah la, Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles.
9. Jazz up some ribs!!!

Bonne Bouche

In French, the term Pousse-café, literally means "push the coffee." In general, it refers to cordials and brandies that might be served after dinner with coffee.

There is no better way to conclude a fine meal than with brandy, served at the same time as the coffee. Without it a dinner composed of the most splendid dishes, accompanied by the noblest wines, remains incomplete. Coffee, small and black, high roasted and strong, provides a perfect complement. Together they facilitate digestion. (Coffee by Claudia Roden p. 101)

The Pousse-café {poos ka-FAY} was introduced in New Orleans in the mid-19th century and was all the rage by the early 1900s. Here's a recipe from The Bartender's Guide by Jerry Thomas (1862) that also gives us a dollop of history.

Santina's Pousse Cafe
(Use a small wine-glass)

Take 1/3 fine old Cognac brandy

1/3 Maraschino
1/3 Curacoa

Keep all the ingredients separate (and in order, yes the cherry goes second:) The Pousse was invented by Santina, proprietor of Santina's Saloon, a celebrated Spanish Cafe in New Orleans.

According to the Online Bartender's School, there are two versions of the "coffee chaser" story. Here's one:

The name Pousse cafe is said to have been derived from chasse cafe, literally "chase coffee" or a coffee chaser," a potion of liquor taken after a meal ostensibly to remove the taste of coffee, tobacco, or what have you. The term, usually shortened to chasse, was applied as a rule to brandy, creme de menthe, or like cordials, but in time became definitely attached to the ringed drink of various cordials, now known as Pousse cafe.

Pousse Cafe is a general description for rainbow like drinks which are gingerly layered into a glass. There is no one pousse cafe. As a matter of fact, there are many Pousse-café recipes. Just be sure and carefully layer the ingredients in the order they are given. With a bit of practice and patience, you will quickly discover how to make easy layered drinks. Here's an Alcohol Density Chart and a video to get you started.

"Art of the Drink" Sunset Pousse-Café

Here are a few more "tasty {coffee} morsels"

Café Chocomalt
1 cup cold strong coffee
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate ice cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons of malted milk powder

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.
(The Coffee Book; A Connoisseur's Guide to Gourmet Coffee) ©1976 pg.85
Note: My sister drinks this with low-fat ingredients and a sugar substitute. She LOVES it!!!

"Inspired by the drinking of tea with milk, Nieuhoff, the Dutch Ambassador to China, was officially the first person to try coffee with milk, around 1660." (Claudia Roden; Coffee © 1977.)

Here's another recipe from the The Coffee Book (I'm thinking this could easily start in the food processor. I don't have one of those:)

Coffee Cream Horns
1/2 pound butter or margarine, well chilled, divided
2 cups plus 2 tbs. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ice water
1 tbs. lemon juice
12 foil-wrapped ice cream cones
1 egg, slightly beaten
Coffee Almond Cream (recipe below)

1. Cut 1/4 lb. butter into flour until mixture resembles cornmeal.
2. Add water and lemon juice all at once.
3. Stir with a fork until pastry stays together. Cover; Chill 1/2 hour.
4. Roll out 1/4-inch thick into rectangle 18x12 inches.
5. Cut remaining butter into thin pats; Cover 2/3 rectangle.
6. Fold uncovered third over middle third.
7. Fold opposite end over top. Then fold pastry in thirds crosswise
to form a block.
8. Roll out again 1/4-inch thick. Repeat folding.
9. Wrap in foil. Chill 1/2 hour.
10. Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling
three more times. Wrap pastry. Chill overnight, or longer.
11. Roll pastry 1/8-inch thick into rectangle 20x12 inches.
12. Cut into 12 inch-wide strips. Brush with water.
13. Wrap each strip, slightly overlapping, around foil-covered cone, starting at point.
14. Brush with egg, chill 1/2 hour.
15. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F. Bake 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
16. Cool on Racks. Remove cones carefully. Before serving fill with Coffee Almond Cream.

Coffee Almond Cream
Combine 1/2 cup whipping cream, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tbsp instant coffee. Chill. Whip until stiff. Fold in 1/3 cup diced almonds.

Just around the corner
There's a rainbow in the sky
So let's have another cup o' coffee
And let's have another piece o' pie!

Irving Berlin

1. Coffee Terms - Drinks and Recipes
2. Making Iced Coffee- Tips And Tricks
3. 14 Coffee Recipes and 7 Other Ways to Use Leftover Coffee
4. Affogato al Caffe (sounds heavenly:)
5. Coffee & Brown Sugar Bacon
6. Coffee Nut Muffins
7. Coffee & Nocello-Glazed Duck
8. Coffee Beef Stew
9. Chicken Mole with Coffee Extract
10. Flan de Cafe "Coffee Flavored Flan"
11. 5 Minute Creamy Coffee Frosting (uses Betty Crocker pre-made frosting)
12. Basic Campfire Coffee (check out the new products reviews in the left column; cool:)
13. Coffee Poppy Seed Cake
14. Coffee Pairing
15. Cooking with Coffee: Our Favorite Recipes (@ epicurious)
16. A Tribute to Jerry Thomas author of The Bartender's Guide 1862.
17. Cocktail 101: How to Make Layered Cocktails
18. Feasting Our Way in August (more August celebrations:)


  1. Hmm...coffee month. I'm not a huge fan of coffee, but I'll definitely think of something to make to celebrate this month!

  2. Louise, this got me up and moving this morning! I've heard so much about coffee as an ingredient, but short of coffee ice cream, I've never really tried it. Now, let's talk about how much I LOVE coffee ice cream! However, I think I will have to try a brisket braised I coffee.

  3. Coffee mayo? Sounds really interesting...what do you use it with?

  4. hi louise, nice tosee you're back. hope you are all well. Thanks on the info on cofee, never cross my mind of using coffee in cooking and probably never seen in a recipe yet until now. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. I've been reading Cleo Coyle's Coffee House cozies, and there are recipes in the back of each book, and most include coffee somehow, some way. Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts, so the idea isn't totally unfamiliar.

  6. Wonderful post about coffee, so much interesting history in it. And I didn't know the phrase of Bach LOL

  7. I love coffee but I didn't know that there were so many other ways of cooking with it!! Thanks for the post!

  8. and Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

  9. Oh, Louise! You are speaking my language in the most articulate way. I ADORE coffee and have to restrain myself from baking with it too frequently. It's such a wonderful companion to chocolate. :) I, of course, also love Kahlua. I love the story about the goats prancing around. I feel like one of those goats sometimes, after a couple of cups in the morning. (Have I ever told you how much I love the detail you provide in every post?)

  10. Louiae Im happy to see you again. I missed you. Love coffe so much, normally I make coffe dessert and others,and Tiramisu I love it, hope you are well,huggs, gloria

  11. My mother made a frozen dessert called "coffee mallow" which was marshmallows melted into coffee and folded into whipped cream (except that she used whipped Pet milk). I just googled it, and it looks as if there were lots of recipes for this treat back then.

    When we had a primitive refrigerator (with a motor on top) the frozen desserts would be soft, which was better than later when we had a real freezer and the desserts were hard. I guess the freezer was better for most other purposes, though.

    Glad you are back!
    ... mae from maefood.blogspot.com

  12. Did I see and hear coffee? My hubby will be delighted!

  13. Years ago, I used to make something I called "Coffee As An Ingredient" - a sort of bar cookie, which my dearly beloved greatly enjoyed. I really should dig that recipe up and make it for Coffee Month!

    It's good to see you back.

  14. Louise, so nice to hear from you and so glad you are back. Coffee keeps my Quay Lo's heart pumping! He will always welcome if I give him anything with coffee.

  15. Petra,

    Bach adored coffee! He actually wrote an entire Cantata to coffee-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6-PRCv7SfM

  16. I love coffee and need my daily dose of coffeine! My favorite way of making it is à la Turkish.. Those sloppy joes look extremely tempting.



  17. This post is a coffee delight, Louise! Now here's the funny thing....I don't drink it in the morning. It smells divine when I make it for others, but it's not for me. However, in cooking, I use it all the time. It's wonderful with chocolate and what great ideas you posted today for other ways to use it, the grounds and leftovers.
    Besides, I love coffee ice cream. Very odd.

  18. Fantastic post as usual Louise! I learned so much today and those vieos; great stuff. That sloppy Jo sure looks fantastic. Welcome back my friend. Love coming to read you.

  19. Oooh this is a great repetoire of coffee recipes. I love drinking coffee; I'm not a big fan of coffee desserts, but the idea of coffee savory dishes sound so intriguing!

  20. Coffee month! What is life without coffee? I grind the beans the night before and set the timer on the coffee maker so that every morning I literally wake up and smell the coffee. You're killing me with these delicious recipes. What to try first?

  21. I luuuuv coffee! The coffee popsicles are a must try this hot summer!

  22. Louise I love the new header too,l I forget to say you, and thanks for always stopping by at my blog, I love your blog and posts, LOL, gloria

  23. Louise, I do keep leftover coffee for lots of uses, several of which you list here. Don't forget RI's coffee syrup! http://littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com/2007/11/coffee-syrup-native-rhode-island.html

    Very nice writing, Louise. And re the last post: I can sing the entire Teddy Bear's Picnic song, in a very scary voice.

  24. Yeah - I love coffee! The spicy sloppy joes look amazing.

  25. Welcome back, Louise. It is always good to see you.

    I must find something to do for coffee month. I do throw coffee into my chocolate cakes and cupcakes and yummy, the chocolate flavor sings.

    Coffee, here I come.

  26. Have you ever heard of cooking brisket with coffee?

  27. Interesting about coffee.
    I live in one of the highest per-capita coffee-consuming countries in the world. Drinking coffee in a café or at home is a social ritual for us.

  28. Thanks for another interesting post and all the great recipes!!

  29. I can't wait to see what you come up with, Yummy. I'm sure it will be delectable!

    I adore coffee ice cream too, T.W! Although, Coffee braised brisket is sounding might fine too!!!

    Personally, Jesse, don't laugh but I love it on home made french fries and onion rings!!! Now that you mention it, I may just need to make some tonight!!!

    Coffee in cooking is definetly worth exploring, Lena. You will be delighted!!!

    I'm intrigued, Chan. I must check that series out. In the mean time, did someone say Tiramisu?

    So Glad you enjoyed it, Petra. The Bach Sonata seems to be quite popular with coffee enthusiasts.

    You are welcome, Peachie, on both accounts. Thank YOU for dropping by...

  30. I know exactly what you mean, Jane. I was at the farmer's market this morning and boy oh boy when that coffee kicked in, the poor women selling organic chickens didn't know what hit her! I jabbered endlessly. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post:)

    Thanks Gloria, It's nice to be back too. I'm not sure about the header yet. But, thanks for noticing!!!

    Thanks for that story, Mae. I've come across that recipe quite a bit in my travels too. Some newer versions try to pass it off as a "mousse."

    You did, tigerfish all month long...

    You really should Marjie I'd love to "try" it!!!

    I adore Turkish coffee, Rosa Did you see the post about Tasseography, fortune telling by reading leftover coffee grounds; much like tea leaves. The custom is to use the grounds left in a cup of Turkish coffee. It's fascinating...

    I know quite a few people who can't resist the aroma of freshly brewed coffee but don't drink it. Since you you like coffee ice cream, Barbara I have sneaky feeling you will enjoy using it as a savory ingredient. Give it a try and let me know!!!

    It's nice to be back, Rita. Thanks for visiting. It's always nice to "see" you.

    Try one, Sophia you will be pleasantly surprised!

    May I suggest the ribs Pattie. They are fabulous!!!

    Indeed they are Inger.

    Thanks Duckie I'm still making a few changes. And yes, I have heard of cooking brisket with coffee. It's awesome!!!

    Oh goodness, how could I forget the coffee syrup! I did have intentions of including it. Thanks Jane. I've finally replaced the Teddy Bear song with the Ant song. Oh will it never end. I'd luv to hear your scary version though. Mine is more high pitched, lol...I'm seriously considering making that Peach Pizza of yours this weekend. Wish me luck!!!

    They taste good too Pam.

    Thank you Chaya It feels good to be back. Looks like we could use a good coffee ice cream recipe. Have any on hand?

    That's fascinating, Karin. I thought the citizens of Belgium were big coffee drinkers I didn't know the Swedes were too. I'd love to learn of the social rituals. Do I smell a coffee post in your future? Thanks for sharing...

    Glad you enjoyed it Tiffanee. I wouldn't mind a cup right now with one of those delicious looking cheesecake bars of yours!!!

  31. What a great post! Coffee! Love it. And, of course, the chocolate coffee steak which I may make tonight.. Thanks

  32. How cool that August is a Coffee Month! Perfect too - we just gave my dad a coffee sampler for his birthday.

  33. I just knew you would like that recipe, Janet. Please share when you prepare it.

    Happy B-day to your dad, Natasha. Now he can celebrate all month!

  34. I love coffee too! Have you tried making coffee granita?

  35. I was curious about National Coffee Month, Louise, and headed straight over here to see what my favorite food celebration person had to say about it. I'm so glad you had done this post. I'm going to print it out and savor it. You may be done with the food blogging (for now ;) ) but I'm so grateful that all your knowledge and research is still up here for the world to enjoy. Thank you again for your wonderful posts.

    1. Oh Lynn, you are so kind:) I'm really betwixt and between as to the fate of this blog. I must admit, your encouraging words have always been most welcome. Thank you my friend:) We'll see what happens:) A very Merry Christmas to You and Yours!!!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise