I’m fascinated by the origin of coffee and the complexities that give it flavour and depth. So when I was approached to help Nespresso open its first boutique in Scotland, I jumped at the chance to learn more about it.
I was lucky enough to meet the brand’s coffee guru Jonathan Sims. He helped me create recipes using some of the 21 grand crus and the experience was inspiring. This idea of terroir that we talk about when it comes to wine applies to coffee too. Sims illustrated the ways the flavour of different coffee blends depends on the type of bean, where it has grown, how it’s been roasted and how it is brewed – similar to the considerations I take into account when I’m cooking with any ingredient. We worked closely together to experiment with seasonal flavours I use in my kitchen, and match them with their coffee blends. For me, it was all about finding the connection between nuances in the coffee, and matching it carefully with food.
Cooking with coffee tends to conjure up images of desserts, but it can be used to bring depth and flavour to savoury dishes too. It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient to work with. The key is to find a coffee which has the right intensity, character and aroma to complement the flavours of the other ingredients you’re working with.
One of the dishes I enjoyed creating was the roast mallard with endive tatin and a beetroot and Dharkan coffee sauce. This blend of coffee is long roasted at a low temperature, which brings out the character of the arabicas from Latin America and Asia. It’s a really powerful and intense flavour with hints of bitter cocoa and toasted cereals which stand up to the gamey flavour of the roast mallard. It’s a beautiful complement to the earthiness of the beetroot too and the result is a smooth, velvety sauce with a little kick.
I’ve also created a recipe for my take on tiramisu; with seasonal pumpkin, which lends a balance of sweetness and the intensity of just a hint of Kaazar coffee – which is a bitter, peppery yet creamy blend of South American beans that works well with this type of dessert.
Coffee, like most ingredients, can be used to give a fresh twist to a dish, but the key is to embrace it and understand it – how it smells, tastes and works with other ingredients. Adopt this approach in all of your cooking and 2014 may be the year you make some delicious new discoveries.
ROAST MALLARD WITH ENDIVE TATIN & A BEETROOT & DHARKAN COFFEE SAUCE
butter (for greasing moulds)
150g caster sugar (for lining moulds)
1 tbsp butter
150g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 A4 size sheet puff pastry
2 mallard carcasses, chopped
50g bacon, chopped
6 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
50g Dharkan coffee, removed from pods
1 tsp peppercorns
50ml coffee liqueur
300ml chicken stock
300ml veal stock
2 whole beetroot
150ml chicken stock
1 dash sherry vinegar
2 whole mallards
For the endive tatin
Pre-heat oven to 190C/Gas 5. Using a pastry brush, butter the moulds. Sprinkle the sugar into them, making sure all the inner surfaces are covered. Put the moulds under a preheated grill to caramelise the sugar and butter, then set aside.
Trim off the bottoms of the endives and cut them lengthwise, removing the centre core. Slice into 2cm strips. Heat the tablespoon of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan and gently cook the endive strips. Season them with the 150g of caster sugar and a teaspoon of salt and continue cooking slowly until the endives are soft and a golden caramel colour. Pour the mix into a colander and leave for five minutes to drain off the excess liquid.
Lay out the puff pastry and, using a 9cm round cutter, cut out four circles. Prick each circle all over with a fork. Leave the pastry to rest in the fridge. When the endive is cool enough to handle, arrange in neat strips in the mould. Place the pastry circles on top and gently push down and tuck in the edges. Brush with beaten egg and dust with a teaspoon of caster sugar.
Place the tatins on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is a deep golden colour Remove from the oven and loosen the pastry edges. Turn out the tarts, upside down, so the pastry becomes the base under the endive.
For the sauce
Pre-heat oven to 180C/ Gas 4. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with oil and add the mallard carcasses and bacon. Caramelise the bacon for a couple of minutes and add the shallots. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, coffee and peppercorns. Sweat gently before adding the coffee liqueur and reducing. Now add the chicken and veal stock and cook for an hour, slowly adding a little more stock as it is needed. Pass the stock through a sieve and reduce by half, then add a knob of butter before setting aside.
For the beetroot purée
Dice the beetroot into 1cm cubes. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook for four or five minutes. Add just enough chicken stock to cover the beetroot and a dash of sherry vinegar and cook for eight to ten minutes until the beetroot is soft. Purée in a liquidiser, season to taste.
For the mallard
Pre-heat oven to 180C/Gas 4. Season the mallards all over and heat a non-stick frying pan and add oil. When the pan is hot, colour the mallards all over before placing in the oven. Cook for eight to ten minutes then remove and rest. Remove the breast and slice thinly.
Place the sliced breast on to the tatin and garnish with raw endive and beetroot purée.
PUMPKIN TIRAMISU WITH KAZAAR COFFEE
Serves eight to ten
For the sponge
25g cocoa powder
6 inch square cake frame
For the syrup
2tbsp Kazaar coffee
For the filling
1 leaf gelatine
45g egg yolks
125g thick crème fraîche
125g whipped cream
pinch of ginger
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of all spice
pinch of nutmeg
For the ganache
75g 64 per cent manjari dark chocolate
To make the sponge
Pre-heat oven to 170C/ Gas 3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until they double in volume. Heat the milk with the glucose before whisking in to the eggs until the mix takes on a pale colour. Sieve the flour and cocoa then fold into the egg mix. Spread evenly over two baking trays lined with baking parchment until 2mm thick then bake for four or five minutes. When cooked, remove and leave to cool completely.
To make the syrup
In a heavy-bottomed pan add the water, sugar and Kazaar coffee and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the rum and leave to cool.
To make the filling
Soak the gelatine in cold water. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until pale in colour. In another bowl, mix the mascarpone and crème fraîche until smooth. Whip the cream, leaving some aside for warming with the gelatine.
Fold the mascarpone mix into the egg mix. To the pumpkin add the spices and then add this to the mascarpone and egg mix. Warm the leftover cream and add the gelatine. Keep on a low heat until the gelatine melts. Take a little of the pumpkin mix in to the cream and fold. Then, little by little, fold the cream in to the rest of the pumpkin mix.
To make the ganache
Boil the cream then pour over the chocolate until it melts and becomes completely smooth.
To prepare for serving
Weigh out 350g of the pumpkin mix and fold in the ganache then set aside. Using the cake frame, cut out three layers of sponge for the tiramisu. Place the first layer in a tin and soak with a third of the coffee syrup. Pour 450g of the pumpkin mix over the base and leave to chill and set for 15 minutes in the fridge.
Place the second sponge on top and soak with half the leftover syrup. Spread the ganache over the sponge and leave to chill and set for ten minutes in the fridge. Place the third sponge on top and soak with the last of the syrup. Spread over the remaining pumpkin mix and leave to set in the fridge for at least six hours.
Dust with cocoa and a little cinnamon before removing the frame. Slice and serve.