I was delighted to have been featured in the October issue of Ahlan Gourmet magazine for a feature they ran on cooking with store cupboard essentials, in this case Coffee which was provided by Coffee Planet.  Here are my recipes :

ESPRESSO

Using an espresso machine of your choice, or French Press, make up a batch of strong espresso coffee using your favourite beans. Leave to cool and use in any one of the recipes below.

I used Organic Coffee from Coffee Planet. 4 Tablespoons of ground coffee made up in a 3 cup french press. After adding the hot water to the coffee, leave to steep for 4 minutes, plunge the coffee then pour into a glass container and cool.

RICH ESPRESSO & CHOCOLATE TORTE  – Serves 8-10 people

Ingredients

  • 170g unsalted butter cut into small pieces plus more for the cake tin
  • 200g dark chocolate chopped
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 115 g Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons strong espresso
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely ground fresh coffee (optional – add if you like your cake really rich with coffee taste).
  • 140g Unsweetened Cocoa Power plus a little more for dusting the cake tin

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan and dust with a little cocoa powder.

Add the chocolate and butter to a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until melted and combined. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile combine the eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and thick, approx 5 to 8 minutes. Whisk in the espresso and ground coffee beans (if using) and cocoa power.

On slow speed mix the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes – to check the torte is cooked the top should no longer shiny, check by inserting a tooth pick which should come out with just a tiny trace of cake on it or clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely in the pan. Remove the springform ring and transfer to a platter; dust with cocoa powder.

To Serve

Serve as is, with raspberries which cut through the richness of the torte beautifully, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or for a further coffee ‘hit’ with some espresso whipped cream.

Espresso Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 2 Tbs Espresso

Whip the whipping cream on high speed in a blender until the cream forms stiff peaks, add the espresso and whisk again combined. Serve on the side.

ESPRESSO SPICY RUB – works well of chicken, fish and steak

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs Finely Ground Coffee
  • 2 Tbsp Chile Power
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Paprika (smoked if you have it but regular will also do)
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Salt

Combine all of the above ingredients together and store in a plastic or glass container until required.

Coat chicken, steak or fish (I used salmon) with some of the dry rub and leave to absorb the flavours for 30 minutes, if you are short of time you can miss out this stage. Any dry rub not used will keep in an airtight container for a good month or so.

Cook your meat in the usual way, just lightly spray the dry rub with some olive oil before cooking. This works particularly well for meat/fish cooked the BBQ, Grill or pan fried.

ESPRESSO BISCOTTI 

Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons strong espresso coffee
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Cream eggs and sugar with a mixer until the mixture thickens and the mix falls from the beaters in ribbons. Add the vanilla extract and espresso coffee to the mix and whisk thoroughly. Meanwhile mix together the flour, baking soda, baking power and salt in a separate bowl. When the egg mixture is thick, add the flour to the eggs at low speed until combined.

Pour the thick biscotti mixture over the the wax paper. If you like long biscotti biscuits then you can make one long wide line of batter mixture. If you prefer them less wide then use two baking trays and pour two lines of batter approx 4 inches wide.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until the biscotti mixture is light golden in colour and fully set (they will spring back slightly when touched with a finger, like a cake).

Turn the oven down to 300F

Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice logs into 1/3 inch thick slices (1-1.5 cm) and arrange upright on the baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until they feel dry and crispy.

Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container when cool.

To Serve

Serve with a side of your favourite coffee. Works particularly well with hot espresso, iced coffee (2 tablespoons chilled espresso added to 200 ml cold milk over ice-cubes, or as a side to an Affogato (1 scoop rich vanilla ice-cream with a single hot espresso poured over the top).

The Story Behind The Article : During Ramadan I got a phone call which actually made me jump for joy yet sent a little quiver of fear down my spine.  I had been asked by a PR company to submit 3 recipes using coffee which would be featured in a magazine.  For lots of foodies that’s usual, and they’ve done it before, but for me it was my first request and I was flattered, excited and nervous.  Sure I bake and cook a lot, sure I love my coffee, but I’ve never had to do anything for a magazine before or have my work showcased so publicly.

So I started out my research and decided that I was going to make a number of different recipes all containing coffee, from that I would make a shortlist and would keep on baking until I had whittled down and perfected my 3 recipes.  Then it all went horribly wrong, but it’s not what you are thinking. I treated myself to a weekend away at the end of Eid, a little staycation was planned at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.  I’d researched the hotel and the restaurants and had planned a relaxing foodie getaway which I would be able to enjoy and also write about.  Better still, using LastMinute.Com I’d also got a great rate for my trip, the hotel was part of the Jumeirah Group so there were plenty of great restaurants to chose from and I was excited.

On the morning of my trip I didn’t feel so good, and by the time I checked in I felt significantly worse.  Fever, aches and shivering meant that I stayed in my bed for the whole of my trip (I can do a thorough review on the comfort level of the bed and the snugness and warmth of the dressing gown and the benefits of wearing two when you are really freezing !).  I can also advise that the room service tomato and pepper soup tasted amazing as did the excellent ginger and lemongrass tea which the waiter brought to me regularly.  The turtle in the bathtub is cute and the cupcakes served in reception are simply stunning – hardly the eating, drinking and reviewing that I had planned !

Anyway, coming home was no better and I still felt terrible and the flu that I thought I had was actually diagnosed as pneumonia.  I felt really rough.  Daily trips to the doctor for intravenous antibiotics and nebulisers helped but I also had a deadline to work to for the magazine (I never thought to ask for a delay, I’m fairly sure this could have been arranged if I had asked).

Part of the process was testing out the recipes to check they worked and for this I needed to do a lot of baking and a lot of drinking of coffee – hurrah ! The article was pitched by Coffee Planet  and they despatched a driver around with some great coffee beans and ground coffee for me to experiment with, even suggesting which coffee should be paired with which recipe.  Not having the energy to do much more than write out a few things, my best friend came to my rescue and the lovely Gill popped in daily to look after me and to do all my ingredient shopping, some recipe tasting and to generally help out.  My other lovely friend Janine popped in and made fresh honey, lemon and ginger tea plus delivered lunch for me and so fuelled by coffee and tea I soldiered on.   Gill also loaned me some of her crockery for the photo shoot for the magazine (remember this, it comes back to haunt me later).

Developing and testing recipes is an interesting challenge in itself, especially when you are doing it whilst slumped over the kitchen side or sat on a stool trying to summon up another hit of energy to do the next step let alone the mountain of washing up which follows a whole bunch of baking.  But of course I did it, again and again and again.  Coffee and Walnut cakes were made which were reminiscent of my childhood. A Coffee meringue was made which looked stunning. The Biscotti ended up in me cutting through a fingernail mid chop and having to dash for plasters and a latex glove to stem the blood flow! The Torte was made few times as my the oven temperature started playing up and at one point I resorted to sitting on the floor kind of  British Bake Off style manually adjusting the oven as the temperature was fluctuating.  And through all this, I drank a ton of coffee, slept between baking a lot and battled through pneumonia.

By the day of the shoot I was exhausted, but was pleased to have 3 recipes finalised, a great looking Torte, some crunchy Biscotti and a Rub which was in the fridge marinating with some chicken.  The photographer arrived and helped me out with styling the food for the shoot accompanied with some coffee, props such as coffee beans and pretty serviettes and cutlery and of course the plates which Gill had lent me.  After a few hours it was all over and I was elated and exhausted but pleased to have been chosen and to have learnt so much throughout the process.

Clearing up was the final part of the day, the easy part right ? Except NO ! I had an accident of monumental proportions ! The bottom of the box in which I had all of the plates fell out and all of Gill’s lovely plates were smashed!

Imagine :

  • me holding an empty box, staring at the scene of devastation around me
  • barefooted yet surrounded by a shards of broken plates and glasses
  • with a cut toe which was shooting out blood like a geyser !
  • wondering how am I gonna tell Gill about this ??

Of course our friendship survived and we can even laugh about it now …. (seriously I blame Gill, she gave me the defective box, she overloaded it without doing a full risk assessment, this resulted in my injury and I should consider suing !! LOL)

In memory of Gill’s plates which used to look like this and ended up looking like this

 

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