Friday, July 30, 2010

The Secret Ingredient

Are you one who shares their recipes, secret ingredients and all? Or are you the kind who gives your recipe but sneakily leaves out that one addition that makes it great? I recently discovered, almost by accident, a "secret" ingredient - strong coffee.

A few weeks ago, I made cold-brewed coffee and My Beloved and I have been enjoying tall glasses of iced coffee ever since. It's a hit in this household - powerful and smooth, it has jazzed up several sagging afternoons.

Fast forward to last night, when I was making a quick pasta sauce with meatballs. Squeezed Italian sausage out of its casing to brown in a wide skillet, then removed the "meatballs" and sautéed garlic chips, chopped onion and chunked mushrooms in the same pan. Added a 16 ounce can of organic tomato sauce, two fresh chopped tomatoes, a handful of dried herbs (use your imagination) and a big glug of red wine. Simmered for about half an hour, then turned it off and went about my day, returning at dinner time to simmer it again. It was good in that rich and friendly way that Italian food always is, but not spectacular until I added the secret ingredient.

A splash of that crazy-good coffee. The sauce darkened and deepened dramatically, changing from Margaret to Sophia Loren. The coffee also made the sauce just a little too bitter, so I added about two teaspoons of sugar and stirred it all in together. Tossed with some straw and hay fettucine from Eduardo's of San Francisco, it was like love - messy, delightful and lifegiving. Next time you make red sauce, don't forget the secret ingredient.

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Blogger Greg said...

The sauce sounds superb. Hearty fare just might cast off this permanent fog bank.Where the heck is summer?

Friday, July 30, 2010  
Blogger katiez said...

Okay, I'll share - my secret ingredient is cocoa. Add unsweetened cocoa to beef bourguignon or coq au vin.... You will be converted!

Friday, July 30, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

There's never any coffee in my house, so unsweetened cocoa might be just the thing. In moderation, right, Katie?
Beautiful shot, Zoomie. Lighting, etc.

Friday, July 30, 2010  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

It’s disingenuous to share a recipe and leave the magic bit out – glad to see you’re one of the good ones who shares, wholeheartedly :)

Friday, July 30, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, I've been wondering the same thing. So far, we've only seen a day or two that could be defined as "summer."

Katiez, thanks for sharing your idea - sounds wunderbar!

Cookiecrumb, if you like coffee flavor but not coffee, you might try keeping a small jar of freeze-dried coffee in the cupboard. I never drink instant coffee but I do sometimes use it in cooking.

Ms Mouse, disingenuous is a nice word - I'd call them downright sneaky!

Saturday, July 31, 2010  

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