Disclosure: I was sent a complementary copy of Patricia McCausland-Gallo’s Passion for Coffee to review. All links to purchase the book on Amazon are affiliate links. I am also proud to be running an ad for Passion for Coffee at the top of my website. If you click it, the link takes you to Amazon. The ad is not one of my affiliate links.
I think Patricia McCausland-Gallo must be a genius. She’s the author of this cookbook, Passion for Coffee: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Coffee, by the way. So you’ll know who I’m talking about.
When I think of coffee and using coffee in my baking and cooking, I stick to some basics. Apart from drinking Chemex-brewed coffee almost every morning, I have added espresso powder or coffee in some form to brownies, to sweet rolls, to cakes, to frosting, to flan. I even make a mean coffee-orange coffee cake that is a very unattractive color but is completely delicious. And at the end of the day, I’m pretty pleased with myself.
And then, I get a copy of Passion for Coffee in the mail, and I realize that I am but a very young and green padawan when it comes to baking and cooking with coffee. McCausland-Gallo is a Jedi Master. In her capable hands, coffee makes an appearance in everything from breakfasts (wouldn’t you almost kill to have Chocolate-Dotted Waffles with Caramel Coffee Sauce for breakfast?) to caramels and dessert sauces to cookies, all manner of cakes–almond coffee meringue cake, anyone?–to mousse and crepes and cheesecake to beverages from frappes to milk shakes to macchiatos.
If you’re not impressed yet, just wait.
She goes on to explore coffee in a dizzying array of savory dishes. Sometimes the coffee makes an appearance in a rub, and other times, it is used in very small quantities for nuance of color, aroma and flavor:
- Filet mignon with Coffee-Blueberry Sauce
- Pork Tenderloins with Port Wine Sauce
- Tuna with Yellow Pepper Chutney
- Grouper with Almonds and White Wine
- Balsamic Salmon and Portobellos
At this point in my reading, I was pretty much ready to go find her and learn at her feet, even if I had to live in a swamp and try to levitate space ships with the power of my mind. And then, with the next chapter “Greens and More” she really went where no one has gone before. I realize I’m mixing my pop culture space references, but there is no help for it. Friends, Patricia McCausland-Gallo has such a passion for coffee and for stretching the limits of what coffee can do that she has created some unique and mouthwatering salads and salad dressings.
This changes everything.
Coffee, used in judicious amounts, lends a whole new dimension to foods that I didn’t think could benefit from its addition. Until I started reading this book.
- Squid Salad with Caramelized Coffee Pecans
- Artichoke Heart and Pearl Onion Salad
- Pasta Salad with Chevre, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes
- Roasted Vegetables with White Balsamic Dressing
- Spiced Almond and Brie Salad
What I Love about Passion for Coffee
I’ve given you an overview of the book, and I hope by now you already want to pick up a copy (and certainly enter the giveaway). If you’re still not convinced, I have some more to say about this book.
McCausland-Gallo’s impetus to write this book was this: Being a native of Colombia and having just completed the book Secrets of Colombian Cooking, she asked herself “Why…if we have the best coffee in the world, are there no recipes in our cuisine that incorporate coffee?” (p. 15) In many cookbooks, just writing that question would be the teaser, the reason for us to keep reading. In Passion for Coffee, the author takes great pains to explain how she conceptualized the dishes, the trial and error, the research that went into her recipe development. Initially, she was not going to include chapters for savories until a friend of hers basically dared her to.
The resulting book, Passion for Coffee, is aptly named. If you also have a passion for coffee, you will want to own this book. The recipes are thoughtful and balanced, and most importantly, they work. No, I have not made all the recipes in the book. I’ve only made a very small fraction of them, but it’s the little things about a recipe that signal that it will work. That the person who developed it was meticulous and cared about what she was doing. Things like using brown sugar in some applications and granulated in others. Nuanced seasoning or sweetening: 5 Tablespoons of sugar; 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder; 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk. Very specific instructions. After years of reading, following and writing recipes, you just know.
Over and above all of that, what I love most about this book are the component recipes. The Basics chapter includes very specific yet versatile recipes that can be used in a wide variety of preparations. Once you make Basic Crepes or Basic Coffee Pie Dough for example, you can fill them according to the other recipes in the book that specifically call for those components, or you can fill them with anything you can imagine.
What I Wish Were Better About Passion for Coffee
We live in a visual world, especially so when it comes to food. With the proliferation–explosion–of food blogs and food porn sites such as foodgawker and tastespotting, not to mention Perfect Pinterest Pictures, readers and foodies have come to expect that the photographs that accompany recipes are more stunning than the recipes themselves. This is why gorgeous photographs of dubious sounding “2 ingredient cakes” get Pinned a hundred million times when beautifully, thoughtfully prepared and executed food gets ignored because the photos aren’t stellar. As much as this state of affairs saddens me, it is still the state of affairs in the food world today.
And this is where Passion for Coffee suffers a bit. There are relatively few photographs in the book, and many of the photos that are included just aren’t that great. For a book that has earned multiple awards, including Best in the World from Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, I wish that the photos leaped off the page and made people weep with joy and run straight to their kitchens to start baking or cooking. Because the recipes most assuredly will.
Please, enter the giveaway or, if I’ve already convinced you that you need this book, click on any of the links in the post or on the ad at the top of the website, order yourself a copy, and get ready to be wowed just like I was.
In 2007, the year that Dominique Ansel (yes, the Cronut Dude) won a Golden Scoop Award for Best Dessert Menu at Daniel, Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef at Anthos in NYC, won the award for Most Innovative Dessert for his “Sesame in Sesame.” I have dreamed about and been inspired by this dessert ever since I saw a picture of it. He used sesame in every form he could think of. Layer upon layer of sesame in varying states and textures. A monochromatic but intricate and well-conceived exploration of what sesame could be. From Halva to toffee to ice cream to brittle. It was a sesame symphony, and you can see it here. Sadly, the Golden Scoop Awards are long-since defunct, but I did find the recipe for Sesame in Sesame, if you are interested.
Since I’m already primed to be intrigued by recipes that layer the same flavor in different ways, I was drawn to the Café Bomba. Here’s the introduction to the recipe:
This dessert was created during a party at my house honoring three Japanese chefs. I forgot to prepare dessert, but because I was in the middle of creating the recipes for this book, I had lots of coffee products in my freezer and fridge. When I served the dessert to one of the Japanese chefs who spoke no English or Spanish, he just said, “Café Bomba.”
That’s right. She just whipped this up from a well-stocked refrigerator. This is truly one of those “on the fly” desserts that the harried pastry person has to throw together at the last minute. The components, all singing their coffee song, harmonize beautifully.
And let me tell you something about the Coffee Anglaise. I made it exactly according to her recipe, down to leaving the salt amount alone at 1/8 teaspoon. As I cooked it, I thought it might be a bit thin. Maybe it should have more yolks? Surely, there’s something that it needs from me other than just following the recipe?
Friends, it needed nothing. It cooled down to the perfect texture. The flavor is perfect. The color is perfect. I tasted it with a spoon. I tasted it again. And again. I held the bowl and shoveled a few spoonfuls of Anglaise into my face as if I were eating cereal. And then, I tipped that bowl up, and I drank some. Not all. I mean, I showed a modicum of restraint, but that is how good this Anglaise is.
I must admit that I did not make the coffee ice cream. As some of you know, I’m making ice cream once a week as it is, and adding more ice cream to my freezer seemed ill-advised, so I read the ingredients for Cooked Coffee Ice Cream and bought one that I thought would most closely fit: some Talenti Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Recipe from Passion for Coffee: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Coffee, Patricia McCausland-Gallo, 2007. Printed with permission from Creative Culinary Works/Favorite Recipes Press.
- 1/2 cup sweet coffee syrup (pg 37)
- About 1 pint (1 recipe) cooked coffee ice cream (pg 120)
- 3/4 cup (1/2 recipe) coffee creme anglaise sauce (pg 33)
- 3/4 cup vodka
- 12 small martini glasses
Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of the coffee syrup in each glass.
Add 2 small scoops of ice cream and drizzle with sauce.
Pour 1 tablespoon vodka over each and serve immediately.
I cannot tell you how much I wish I could share more than one recipe, because the coffee Anglaise is amazing. I really do hate to be too much of a tease. At the same time, I highly recommend buying a copy of Passion for Coffee. And even if you do, enter the giveaway anyway. You can always give a copy to a coffee-loving friend. They will be very grateful.
Passion for Coffee Giveaway This Giveaway is Now Closed I truly hope by now that I’ve convinced you that you need this book. Still, it’s always fun to win something, so I’m giving away a copy of Passion for Coffee: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Coffee (supplied by the publisher). Please enter for up to 3 chances to win! Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Open from publication of this post through Friday, June 13, 2014 at 7pm, ET. Please make sure that a valid email address is associated with your comment/s so I can reach you if you win. Respond within 48 hours of my email or I will weep and then choose a different winner. Now, here’s how to enter: Leave a comment here telling me what’s your favorite way to use coffee in your baking or cooking. Or if you never have, you can tell me that, too. (Please don’t just say “this book sounds good,” or something similar, because that won’t count). Follow Patricia McCausland-Gallo on twitter and then come back here and leave a separate comment telling me that you did. If you’re not already, please follow me on twitter and then leave a comment saying you did. If you are already following me on twitter, just let me know and leave your twitter handle. And that’s it. I will draw a winner using Random.org on Friday, June 13, 2014 at 7pm, ET and email the lucky winner immediately!
This was a long one today. I tend to get long-winded when I’m passionate about something. I will be sharing another post about this book in a few weeks. The advertising package I offer comes with a blog post, and I am more than thrilled to be able to share another recipe from this incredible book.
Thank you for spending some time (a lot of time) here today. Have a lovely day.
Best of luck in the giveaway, too!