Cooking With Tea & Coffee

That Arancini Guy

When I went to the Lara Food and Wine Festival earlier this year, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by a food stall with a fun name – That Arancini Guy 🙂 But when I tasted those deep fried rice balls, served with Japanese mayonnaise, I was hooked. There were four choices but I could only try three as the Beef Ragu with Peas & Mozzarella Arancini contained tomato and other ingredients I am allergic/sensitive to. But three out of four ain’t bad – in fact they were delightful.

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My risotto balls containing Mushroom & Mozzarella, Pumpkin & Mozzarella and Spinach & Mozzarella were so delicious. One bite into the crunchy crust and I was rewarded with the taste of gooey, savoury rice. Each one was distinct and I had a hard time deciding on a favourite. The Japanese mayonnaise added a sharp and creamy note. I could have eaten a bowl of them, with or without mayonnaise.

I couldn’t wait to try making these moreish morsels at home. I went with a basic recipe but added my own unique twist – green tea. Instead of cooking the rice in stock, I thought it would be fun to use tea. I chose green but you could experiment with black teas. Next time I’m going to try Earl Grey 🙂

Green Tea Arancini

This recipe is being published in an upcoming publication!
I’ll post a link when it becomes available.

A Cup Of Coffee Comfort

I spent International Coffee Day (October 1st) thinking about how important a warm cup of coffee can be at certain times. My partner and I had planned a short trip to South Australia hoping to visit Adelaide and Monarto zoos. It was our second trip to the zoos this year. We went early in the year to see the giant pandas and for this trip we had a few more encounters planned. We were expecting our giant and red panda encounters to be cancelled as it is mating season, what we weren’t expecting was to drive into the worst storms in South Australia in 50 years.

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Pandacino at Adelaide Zoo. That’s right, a cappuccino decorated to look like a giant panda!

We drove through torrential rain, losing complete visibility of the road for one terrifying moment because the rain was so heavy. All we could think of was getting to our hotel safely and having a hot coffee and a warm shower. But as we continued driving we could see, or maybe not see, that there were no lights. The entire state was experiencing a blackout! We arrived at our hotel in almost darkness and had to sign in via candlelight. It was romantic and gothic. Hungry and in desperate need of a comforting coffee we were told that there was no hot food and no hot drinks. I didn’t care about the food but I did care about the coffee! As I sat down to eat my ham and cheese sandwich I did the only thing I could – order a coffee liqueur 🙂 The power came on just as we got to our room so at least we could have warm showers. Even better, there was hot coffee for breakfast!

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My first coffee in Adelaide!

The rest of the trip was quite an adventure. The blackouts continued and all of our Adelaide zoo encounters were cancelled. Happily, we did get to hand feed rhinos at Monarto zoo. We even found a restaurant that had its own generator so we could have hot food, and most importantly, hot coffee 🙂

Next time I travel I think I’ll take some of this granola so I always have some coffee with me. Naturally it goes great with a hot coffee – when you can get one!

Coffee Granola

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Ingredients
1 + 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup cashews
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg white

Method
Preheat oven to 150C / 300F.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix together the oats, coconut, walnuts, cashews, coffee, salt, honey and oil in a large bowl until combined.
Whisk the egg white until frothy. Stir into the granola and mix until combined.
Spread mixture out onto prepared tray and bake for 50 – 55 minutes.
At the halfway point, remove the granola from the oven. Place a piece of baking paper over the granola and top with another baking tray. Carefully flip over so that the granola is now on the new tray, being careful not to break up the mixture too much.
Return to the oven and bake until granola is brown and dry to the touch.
Allow to cool completely before breaking up the granola into desired size clusters.
Store unused granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

You can try different combinations of nuts. I think macadamias, pistachios or brazil nuts would be great.

Leaping Days

2016 is a leap year, which means an extra day has been added to February. The Gregorian calendar used in the western world is a solar calendar and marks the position of the earth in relation to the sun. In the Gregorian calendar, a year is 365 days. As it takes the earth a little bit more than 365 days to revolve around the sun, an extra day is added to the year every 4 years. So any year that is evenly divisible by 4 is a leap year. But even this adjustment isn’t accurate enough. So any century year (a year that ends in 00) that is evenly divisible by 100 and 400 is a leap year. If they are evenly divisible by 100 but not 400 then they are not leap years. To make things interesting, cultures that use a lunisolar calendar (which marks moon phases as well as solar ones) add a leap month to their year – but not every 4 years.

So why the name “leap year”? What is actually being leaped? In the Gregorian calendar a fixed date advances one day of the week year by year. So if April Fool’s day falls on Monday one year then it will fall on Tuesday the next year, Wednesday the next and so on. When a leap year happens, this progression changes after February 29 and all fixed dates advance or leap a day. So if April Fool’s day was going to fall on a Thursday the next year it will actually fall on a Friday if it’s a leap year. This happens all the way to the end of  the next February when the daily progressions turn to normal – until the next leap year 🙂

One of the most common folklores for February 29 is that women can ask men to marry them. While there are many stories as to how and why this tradition came about, there are no definitive answers. One legend suggests that women who were planning to propose were supposed to wear a red skirt, presumedly to warn their beloved of an imminent proposal. Men who said no to the proposal would have to pay a fine to the woman. The fines ranged from a kiss, buying her enough material to make a dress, buying her a pair of gloves or buying her 12 pairs of gloves. The gloves were probably to cover her naked ring finger.

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Thinking about lady fingers naturally drew me to food, as to me a lady finger is either okra, a small banana, a cylindrical filo pastry or a sponge finger biscuit. As I continued on my culinary musings I wanted to pay tribute to the current leap year by creating a Lady Finger recipe using sponge finger biscuits. Tiramisu came to mind. But as my partner hates coffee based desserts, I decided to make a green tea version using both green tea leaves and matcha (powdered green tea).

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So let’s all raise our ringed and un-ringed Lady Fingers to the 2016 leap year!

Green Tea Tiramisu

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Ingredients
4 teaspoons green tea leaves
2 cups almost boiling water
3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2 teaspoons plum wine
250g mascarpone
50ml whipping cream
2 teaspoons matcha
200g ladyfingers
Extra matcha for dusting

Method
Combine tea and water and brew for 3 minutes. Strain and allow to cool.
Beat egg yolks, sugar and plum wine until light and creamy.
In a separate bowl beat mascarpone and cream until smooth and creamy. Do not overwork.
Slowly add the matcha and gently mix to combine. You can control the strength of the green tea flavour by adding less or more matcha so taste as you go.
Fold mascarpone mixture into egg yolk mixture until combined.
Pour brewed green tea into a shallow dish. Dip a lady finger biscuit into the tea, long enough to soften but not too long or they will go soggy.
Arrange half the soaked biscuits in a large serving dish or individual dishes. Cover with half the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers.
Dust generously with extra matcha.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cheers Mr Stoker!

Dracula author Bram Stoker was born on the 8th of November 168 years ago. I love remembering the birthday of a man who achieved symbolic immortality by creating an unforgettable immortal being – Count Dracula.

I wanted to create a recipe in his honour. Normally I would go for something more gothic, but I found myself wanting to pay tribute to his Irish heritage. I thought Irish Stew or Irish Soda Bread (or both!) would be great but it’s nearly summer here so hot stews and breads are a bit heavy. Maybe I will make them for his Deathiversary in April – hopefully it will cool down by then.

Thinking of the long, hot days ahead made me think of drinks and as a big coffee fan I thought of Irish Coffee. Early versions of Irish Coffee were simply hot black coffee with Irish whiskey and brown sugar stirred through, topped with thick cream. Later versions added a slug of Irish cream liqueur – yum! Naturally I wanted to add a twist. I played around with a dessert version of the classic drink and decided to make an Irish cream liqueur panna cotta, dotted with cubes of coffee jelly and topped with a whiskey cream.

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An Irish Coffee I ordered in Chengdu, China. 🙂

Working with gelatine is an adventure in itself. I use the leaves as sometimes the powder is difficult to combine and can become grainy. Leaves are great but they come in different strengths and you’re not always sure what strength they are. For jelly I usually follow the recommendations on the packet for the water/gelatine ratios. For panna cotta, I often use a bit less gelatine as I sometimes like my panna cotta creamier and less set. The panna cotta below is soft set so it contrasts well with the jelly. If you like your panna cotta set more firmly, just use more gelatine.

As this recipe is assembled on serving, you can add as much or as little coffee jelly and whiskey cream as you like. You can also choose whether you want the panna cottas to serve two, four or more people.

Irish Coffee Dessert

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Ingredients

for the panna cotta
4g of gelatine leaves
1 + 1/2 cups double cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur

for the coffee jelly
6g of gelatine leaves
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 cup sugar

for the whiskey cream
1 cup double cream
2 teaspoons icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Method
To make the panna cotta:
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes to soften.
While gelatine is soaking heat the cream and sugar together in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat.
Squeeze the gelatine leaves to remove any excess water then add them to the cream mixture. Whisk until the gelatine has dissolved. Stir in the Irish cream.
Pour panna cotta into a heatproof jug. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring regularly with a whisk. Give a final stir then pour evenly into glasses or bowls. Leave some room on the top for the jelly and cream.
Cover and refrigerate overnight or until set.

To make the coffee jelly:
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes to soften.
While gelatine is soaking heat the coffee and sugar together in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze out any extra water from the gelatine leaves then add to the warm coffee. Whisk until the gelatine has dissolved.
Pour jelly into a square or rectangle container.
Allow to cool before covering and refrigerating until set. Cut into rough squares for serving.

To make the whiskey cream:
Using a wire whisk, beat together the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Whisk in the whiskey until combined. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

To serve, dot the panna cottas with coffee jelly cubes and pipe or dollop on the whiskey cream.

A Fool’s Journey

A year ago I answered the question – “what day should I start my blog?” The answer was April Fool’s Day.

A year later another question has been answered – “will anyone be interested in what I have to say?” Happily the answer is yes!

Like the Tarot Fool, I took a leap of faith and leapt into the world of blogging. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on this Fool’s Journey. I hoped people would like what I wrote and that I would get a few followers. I also hoped that I would find people I liked and could follow. I have been blown away by the encouragement I’ve received and the friends I have made. Visiting other blogs and reading what others have to say has also been fantastic.

What has surprised me is how cathartic blogging has been. Writing about painful moments in my past and present has facilitated healing I had not expected. As I wrote each piece, I felt burdens melt away on the tide of written words. Each piece made me feel lighter and happier. I was stunned and delighted as years of anger and resentment were transformed. I was also surprised by how my words resonated with others. I have been humbled by the responses and the amount of support I have received. I’m still learning the ropes, but I am so happy I began this Fool’s Journey.

One of things I have loved the most is sharing my passion for food, recipes, cookbooks, eating and drinking! Nothing brings people together better than good food and drink 🙂 I recently wrote of a cookbook that was lost to me decades ago and how happy I was when I found another copy.

Another of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try from this cookbook was Istanbul Eggs. The recipe calls for eggs to be simmered in olive oil and Turkish coffee for 30 minutes. Yum! As it is Easter time I thought I would make them. The eggs were lovely but lacked the Turkish coffee flavour I was expecting. To get more flavour into the eggs I decided to combine this recipe with one called Beid Hamine, a slow cooked Egyptian egg dish with Jewish roots. Rather than 30 minutes, the eggs would now be simmered for 8 hours! The eggs ended up having a subtle coffee flavour and turned a lovely nutty brown. I am happy to say that combining the two recipes was a success 🙂

Slow Cooked Istanbul Eggs

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Special Instructions
Make these eggs the day before you need them as they need to simmer for 8 hours.

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons Turkish coffee grounds
1/4 cup olive oil
ground cumin (optional)

Instructions
Add the eggs, coffee and oil to a large saucepan.
Pour in enough water to cover the eggs by 5cm.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting.
Partially cover the pot and simmer for 8 hours.
Check to make sure the eggs don’t boil dry and top up with water if needed.

To Serve
Drain and rinse the eggs before peeling and slicing in half.
Sprinkle lightly with cumin if desired.
Serve at room temperature.

The Battle Of The Cream Tea

What goes on my scones first – the jam or the cream? That is a question many face when confronted by a cream tea. So when the CWA (Country Women’s Association) were offering Devonshire teas (the popular name for cream teas in Australia) I couldn’t resist asking them. Their answer –  in Australia – whatever way you like! Free from the burden of choice I decided to try both ways.

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My verdict is if you like the jam to be the dominant flavour then put the jam on last, if you like cream to be the dominant flavour then put the cream on last. Either way they are delicious and a great way to spend an afternoon. But how did this battle of the cream teas begin?

While the origins of the cream tea are in dispute, it is generally accepted that a cream tea is a light afternoon snack that is comprised of scones, jam, cream and tea. The scones are cut or broken in half and then spread with jam and cream. Traditionally served in Devon or Cornwall, cream teas are now served worldwide. The confusion about which order to spread your scones has arisen because in Devon you put cream first then jam while in Cornwall you put jam first then cream. They take this issue very seriously so if you visit either county and have a cream tea, make sure you remember which order is “correct” for the county you are in. You don’t want to be thrown out of a tea room without tasting the scones! Now that is clear – problem solved! Not really … Unfortunately the type of scone, jam and cream are also the subject of much debate.

IMG_9177cScones
The original Cornish scone was actually a type of yeasted sweet bread roll called a Cornish split.
The scones of today are usually small cakes or quick breads leavened with baking powder rather than yeast.
Scones can be sweet, savoury or filled. Popular fillings are dried fruit or cheese.
There are different types of scones such as potato scones, drop scones, griddle scones and lemonade scones. American biscuits are similar to British scones. Some scones, such as griddle scones, are fried.
For a cream tea the scone should be plain, unglazed, baked and served warm.

Jam
Strawberry jam is traditional but as long as the jam is well made there doesn’t appear to be much angst over using other fruits.

Cream
Clotted cream is best but as it is difficult to get outside of Britain, whipped cream is a suitable substitute. Canned cream is totally unacceptable!

Tea
There doesn’t seem to be much debate on the tea issue. It should be black, very strong with a splash of milk and there should be plenty of it! Green or herbal teas are not acceptable substitutes. Sadly neither is coffee, as the name suggests 😦

So how do I enjoy my cream teas? In true Cornish style with butter first – that’s right butter first, then jam, then cream. Butter was part of the original Cornish cream tea. My experience in Australia is that you are served jam and cream or butter if you prefer, but never both. I save my butter indulgence for cream teas at home. My tea of choice is Earl Grey with a dash of milk.

If you’re a fan of cream teas I’d love to know what you do at home and what you are served when you go out.

And now from the traditional to a very untraditional cream tea – A Panda Afternoon Tea!!

The recipe below is from the (coming soon) cookbook – The Panda Chronicles Cuppycake Cookbook: Favourite Recipes of the Panda Kindergarten. The cookbook is a collaboration between me and artist Anne Belov, creator of The Panda Chronicles. Each cuppycake recipe will have a cartoon and an original painting by Anne. Want to know more about The Panda Chronicles? Just click here to visit Anne, her pandas and Mehitabel the Cat!

Please enjoy this “taste” from the Panda Kindergarten 🙂

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Bob T Panda’s Afternoon Tea Cuppycakes
Bob T Panda reinvents the Afternoon Tea with his Earl Grey cuppycakes served with Earl Grey cream and strawberry jam.

Ingredients
for the Earl Grey cuppycakes
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup superfine granulated (caster) sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 + 1/4 cups flour, sifted
2 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

for the Earl Grey cream
4 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
1 + 1/2 cup double cream
2 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar

for serving
strawberry jam
cups of tea

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 10 paper cases.
Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves and allow to steep for five minutes.
In a medium sized bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
Strain the tea into the batter then add the milk and flour. Beat for 2 minutes or until the batter is light and fluffy.
Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly into paper cases.
Bake for 10 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cuppycake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the cream by pouring the boiling water over the tea leaves and allow to steep for five minutes.
Whip together the cream and powdered sugar with a wire whisk until combined. Add the strained tea and beat until fluffy.
Serve with lots of jam and tea.

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Coffee Daze

Today is International Coffee Day. Its origins are a bit obscure but who needs facts to celebrate coffee!!

I was wondering what I should do for my blog to honour this day and thought I could talk about the different types of coffee or the different ways to make coffee or coffee paraphernalia but I just wasn’t inspired. Then I thought I could share some of my favourite coffee photos or share some of my coffee recipes. That’s when inspiration struck! I was about to have a late lunch and feeling lazy today I was going to make my “Cheat’s Sushi” which is simply a bowl of rice mixed with tinned tuna – I do season my tuna and add other ingredients so it’s not as boring as it sounds 🙂 But, in the spirit of International Coffee Day, I decided to make a lunch that featured coffee.

The thought of combining coffee, rice and tuna wasn’t grabbing me but boiling udon noodles in coffee and adding seasoned tuna was! So here is how I went about creating my fancy named:

Coffee Udon Noodles with Sesame Tuna

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I started by bringing to the boil 4 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of instant coffee.

I added 90g of udon noodles to the boiling water and, following the packet instructions, cooked for 10 minutes.

While the noodles were cooking I opened a 125g tin of tuna in oil and drained most of the oil before placing the tuna in a bowl and lightly flaking. I added a 1/4 teaspoon of white sesame seeds, a 1/4 teaspoon of black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of ground ginger and mixed them through.

Once the noodles were ready I drained and rinsed them under running water before placing them in a serving bowl. I added the tuna and tasted my creation. The noodles definitely tasted like coffee but they had a slight bitterness which wasn’t pleasant. I thought a bit of sweetener might work so I added some mirin (a type of Japanese sweet rice wine) and tasted. It was nearly there. After splashing in some tamari (Japanese soy sauce) I was ready to eat!

This is definitely a dish in progress and I will explore different flavour combinations. I really want to try it with fresh tuna. The basics of tuna, coffee and noodles is a real winner for me. If you give it a go just add enough mirin and tamari to suit your personal taste. You can also play around with the amount of coffee if you want weaker or stronger flavoured coffee noodles. It would be great served with Asian greens.

You can see my food and other photography at my Red Bubble site v-something  🙂

No Trouble Brewing

I celebrated my Name Day last week by going to a short barista course. It was a hands-on workshop on how to use an espresso machine. We learnt how to grind coffee correctly, how to tamp it, which was surprisingly difficult, and how to brew it. I was okay at making coffee but excelled at frothing the milk! Something about controlling that steaming hot pipe and watching the milk heat and foam appealed to me. My frothed milk was so good the teacher used it to do some latte art. Sadly my attempt at doing bamboo latte art didn’t work so well. The class have asked her to run a workshop on that. Hopefully she will.

A few weeks before the course I checked out a local coffee shop with spectacular results. The biblically named Corinthians is a typical coffee lovers’ place featuring the usual coffee paraphernalia – syphons, drip filters, pour overs and my favourite – a cold dripper. This is the one piece of coffee paraphernalia I don’t have and want. Oh wait – I also want a home coffee roaster, and a proper espresso maker and … And that’s the problem with coffee! It’s not just the coffee that’s addictive but everything that goes with it!

Coffee Syphon

a prized possession – my coffee syphon

Managing to tear my eyes away from the cold dripper I scanned the chalkboard menu for the brews on offer. When I asked which coffee would be best for a flat white they suggested one from Rwanda. It was the best coffee ever!! For once I could taste all the flavours on the tasting notes – especially the blood orange. They asked my thoughts and I said it tasted like an orange creme brulee. Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw the waitress climb on a ladder and make an adjustment to the chalkboard menu. Under the tasting notes for my coffee she wrote – (+milk= orange creme brulee). Naturally I have been back for many more coffees!!

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my tasting notes immortalised for .. well until the next brew arrives!

When I’m not drinking coffee I am experimenting with it in my culinary pursuits. Two of my favourite recipes are my Coffee Soup

Ingredients
1 slice sourdough bread
unsalted butter for spreading
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup strong freshly brewed coffee

Method
Toast the sourdough bread and lightly butter.
Cut the crusts off.
Cut remaining bread into cubes and place in the bottom of a soup mug.
Heat milk in a saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon until almost boiling.
Pour the freshly brewed coffee into the milk and stir through.
Ladle soup over the bread.

Notes:
Replace sourdough with different types of bread.
Try soy milk for a nutty difference.

Coffee Soup

piping hot goodness

and Coffee Lamb Cutlets

Ingredients
for the marinade
1 tablespoon ground coffee
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
6 lamb cutlets, French trimmed

for the crumbing
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
olive oil for shallow frying

Method
Place the coffee and boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Stir until the coffee has dissolved. Add the salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
Lay the cutlets flat on a board and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Gently tenderise with a mallet.
Place the lamb in a glass or ceramic dish. Pour over the cooled coffee mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Mix flour and salt on a plate. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Combine the cornmeal and mint on another plate.
Remove lamb from the marinade and wipe off most of the marinade.
Working with one cutlet at a time, coat cutlet in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in the beaten egg. Dip in the cornmeal mix, pressing firmly to coat. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pour enough oil to cover the base of a large frying pan. Heat over medium heat.
Working in batches, cook the cutlets for 3-5 minutes each side or until they are golden brown and cooked to your liking.
Drain on paper towels before serving.

coffee lamb cutlets

a marinade made in heaven

Let me know if you have found new ways to use coffee in your cooking or if you know of interesting coffee paraphernalia I can add to my list of wants.