Most of us have to be suffering from a pretty mind-blowing caffeine-withdrawal migraine before we’ll reach for instant coffee.
Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy some. Because while instant coffee makes a generally lousy cup of java, it can do astounding things for your cooking.
And that is why it is such an overlooked and underappreciated ingredient.
First, an instant-coffee primer.
Coffee hounds have been tinkering with versions of instant coffee since at least the late 1700s, but it wasn’t until just before World War II that it became widely available.
Those early varieties were made by spraying brewed coffee into heated towers and drying it into granules. By 1964, a freeze-drying method had been perfected, which boasted superior aroma and body.
Get the recipe for Bourbon Java Steak Tips »
We asked, you answered. Food Network recently posed the question: “Iced coffee or hot coffee?” to Facebook fans and the response was overwhelming. More than 3,000 fans cast votes in Battle Coffee. It was a close one, but a majority preferred a piping-hot cup of joe.
Instead of making a morning coffee run, try Alton’s tips at home for a perfect True Brew every time. Once you’ve got that down, add some heavy cream, brown sugar and Irish whiskey for an Original Irish Coffee treat. Or try Giada’s version of Spiked Coffee with Kahlua and dark creme de cacoa.
To spruce up your java with fall flavors, make Paula’s Caramel Cinnamon Latte. Stir with a cinnamon stick for extra seasoning. Top Ree’s Dulce de Leche Coffee with grated chocolate and whipped cream for an after-dinner drink so decadent you’ll think it’s dessert.
(Today, we have a guest FN staff contributor to The FN Dish)
By Secretary Confidential:
I’m stepping away from my desk. Where to? The vending machines! This isn’t a casual snack, but an FN Vending Machine break. Depending on season, scents of chicken pot pie may fill our office.
Shall I select Paula’s amazing Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie (i heart chocolate) or maybe her yummy Piggy Pudding? (Paula, I love ya but “piggy”? Not a great mental image while I’m digging in.) Ellie’s Spiced Chicken & Grape Skewers or Giada’s Spicy Bean Soup are healthy… Who am I kidding? I want the mousse.
Ok, clearly I’m a little FN delusional. Too much toner, too many stamps, WAY too much coffee! The vending machine doesn’t have Ina’s Chicken Pot Pie, though I’ve requested it as a replacement for Twizzlers. It’s your average, run-of-the-mill vendor. Candies, crackers…you get the idea. Each item only costs a quarter, but nothing fancy here.
I could sneak into the FN kitchens, hope the stars are aligned and find myself munching on a little sumthin’-sumthin’ that was tested for a show, challenge or cookbook. It’s all good there. Wait, is that Anne Burrell heading for a shoot in the kitchen? Definitely time for my snack break!