Coffee: Beyond the Morning Mug

Coffee-marinated flank steak. Photo by Keri White

I am a coffee fan. I love the morning jolt. I love the taste of coffee, the ritual of making it, the smell of it as it brews and the social aspect of “let’s have coffee.”

But I don’t like waste, and often there is surplus coffee in the pot after everyone has drunk their fill. Sure, iced coffee is an option, but a dose of caffeine in the afternoon can be a hazard for those seeking a good night’s sleep.

To combat this admittedly minor problem, I sought ways to use leftover coffee instead of dumping it. In addition to the recipes below, which are simple and delicious, consider using coffee as follows:

Watering plants — the nitrogen in coffee is great for your garden. Use a 1-part coffee/3-parts water solution to nourish your plants once a week.

Make coffee ice cubes — adding these to iced coffee or espresso martinis enhances and preserves the drink’s flavor without diluting it.

Use in place of water in baked goods — especially chocolate cakes!

Swirl it into a smoothie.

Use it in overnight oats.

As an ingredient, the acid in coffee is a useful culinary tool used to great advantage in the recipes below. It helps balance the flavors in the salad dressing, breaks down the flank steak and works as a tenderizer, and adds complexity and sophistication to the pudding by countering the sweetness.

Balsamic Coffee Dressing | Pareve
Makes about ½ cup or enough for several salads

This dressing is wonderful on green salads, pairing especially well with strongly flavored greens such as arugula or kale.

Store it in a sealable container and shake well before using. If the olive oil separates and solidifies, bring the dressing back to room temperature before tossing it over salad for the best texture and distribution.

2 tablespoons leftover coffee, completely cooled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon honey
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Flank Steak Marinade | Pareve
Makes about 1 cup marinade, or enough for 4 pounds of meat
This worked wonderfully tenderizing and flavoring the meat; I marinated the flank steaks overnight before grilling, but even a few hours can deliver excellent results. Use this mixture on brisket (or any beef cut), chicken, turkey or lamb.

2 tablespoons ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup leftover coffee, cooled
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Sriracha, Tabasco, etc.) — this is optional
¼ cup mild oil such as canola or vegetable

Mix all the ingredients well. Coat the meat thoroughly and marinate as desired.

Coffee pudding. Photo by Keri White

Coffee Pudding | Dairy
Serves 4 sensibly or 2 generously

This looks like chocolate pudding, but it doesn’t contain any chocolate. Coffee lovers will delight in this dessert!

As for the dairy portion of the ingredients, you can use 2 cups of half-and-half in place of the milk/cream below. Or you can use just milk if you wish to reduce fat, but the pudding will be thinner.

3 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup whole milk
1 cup light or heavy cream
⅔ cup sugar
Pinch salt
⅓ cup brewed coffee
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, mix all the ingredients with a whisk except for the butter. Heat over medium, stirring constantly: Be sure the pudding doesn’t stick to the bottom. You may wish to switch to a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula for this step.

When the mixture begins to thicken and boil (after about 6 minutes) continue stirring for 1 minute. Remove it from the heat and add the butter. Stir to melt and let the pudding sit for a few minutes to thicken further. Serve warm or chilled.

Variations: For mocha pudding, add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the pudding mixture and finish it with ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips added with the butter. For “Mexican Coffee Pudding,” aka “caffe de olla pudding,” add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to the pudding mixture and finish it with 1 teaspoon of freshly grated orange zest when adding the butter.



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