Have you seen coffee flour in stores? I first encountered it — in a barrel in the bulk section — at Sprouts. You can also find jars of it at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere.
Last week, the proprietors of CoffeeFlour — which owns the trademark on the name and the production process in some countries, but not the U.S. and are the original producers of this product — were in Austin for a food innovation competition called FoodBytes. (The local cricket company Aspire won one of the prizes.)
Here’s the idea: In order to make coffee, you have to discard the outside of the coffee bean. It’s the flesh of a fruit that rots and puts off methane and has all the other problems associated with food waste. But this company dries out the fruit, or cherry, of the coffee plant, and then they turn it into a powder that’s a mix between a flour and a spice. This fruit has nearly as many antioxidants as blueberries, and it also has some fiber and other good-for-you-nutrients.
The company suggests replacing 15 to 25 percent of your flour with the coffee flour, but Food52 experimented with this and found that, unless you want a significantly stronger flavored product, it’s not wise to use quite so much. Sugar cookies made with the coffee flour were much darker, and Food52 compared the taste to molasses or gingersnaps. They said there was a slight graininess, too.
On Epicurious, the editors tried 3/4 cup coffee flour in a pound cake, which made the cake look like it had been baked with chocolate. That baker concluded that she’d use coffee flour for the health benefits, but the taste was slightly bitter without the addition of any additional sweeteners, such as actual chocolate.
Coffee flour has about as much caffeine as dark chocolate, so you might notice a perkiness after eating a whole cookie or a slice of cake.
I think I might fall into the camp of bakers who will use coffee flour as a spice to add complexity to breads, muffins, cakes and cookies. Recently, I used coffee flour in a maple oatmeal raisin skillet cookie, and it was one of my favorite treats I’ve ever baked. I wasn’t sure if it was the coffee flour or the dates that I also threw in at the end, but the cookie had rich undertones that reminded me of figs and chocolate, and some of that had to have come from the coffee flour.
Because it’s still a new-ish product, you’ll find coffee flour in different forms, and that will evolve as the product evolves. You’re most likely to find it in a grocery store with a natural or health focus, maybe in a bulk section. Trader Joe’s sells theirs in the baking section.
Gaga’s Goulash fed many; now, here’s the recipe
I was moved by so many of your emails last week after my column about losing my grandmother. So many of you had similar memories of your grandparents and are making those memories with your own grandchildren now. Thank you for sharing them with me. I didn’t have my grandma’s goulash recipe in time for last week’s print section, but enough of you requested it that I decided to publish it this week.
Like my grandmother, the recipe is short and to the point and assumes that you know a thing or two already. Cook the meat over medium-high heat in a large skillet that has a lid. Use the empty can of diced tomatoes (always one of those 14-ounce cans) to measure the water. My grandma didn’t list how long to simmer the tomatoes and ground beef, but my mom remembers it being about 10 minutes. If you simmer it for longer, you might not have enough water for the pasta shells, but that’s something you’ll just have to figure out as you go. Exactness was not my grandmother’s specialty, but patience and practicality were. If you have to add a splash or two of water or drain it if it’s too watery, just do it.
The last cooking tip, passed from my grandma to my mom to me to you, is make sure you have a jar of Better Than Bouillon condensed bouillon in your fridge. My family still swears by that stuff. It’s as strong as Swedish coffee and will make your dumplings, and goulash, sing a song worthy of the angels making it.
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 teaspoons Williams chili seasoning
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 can water
2 1/4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon beef broth
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup dried small pasta shells
Salt and pepper, to taste
Brown meat and onions. Add chili seasoning while browning hamburger. Add diced tomatoes, water, bouillon and sugar. Let cook, covered, about 10 minutes. Add shells and cover. Boil 10-12 minutes until done.
— Carolyn Cook
World’s largest ramen expo coming to Austin next week
Ramen is having a decade. The number of ramen restaurants in America has exploded in the past five to 10 years, and the largest ramen event in Japan is hosting its 10th annual Ramen Expo in the U.S. this year, with Austin as the host city.
On Oct. 9 and 10 at the Travis County Exposition Center, 7311 Decker Lane, in East Austin, a few thousand distributors, buyers, manufacturers, markets, restaurant owners and more from all over the world will gather for the convention that is hosted, in part, by the Japan External Trade Organization. According to the website, “This event is aimed to help build future business opportunities for ramen industry companies from Japan, by introducing them to those who are already established in the United States, and to others who are looking to start.”
The event is mostly business-to-business, but they are selling public tickets online for $40 (or $50 at the door, if not sold out) that will let you tour the exhibit hall from 2 to 5 p.m. each day. If you are involved with the restaurant/catering industry as a distributor, owner, purchaser, member of the media or a food blogger, the event is free to attend if you register online. You can check out their Instagram @ramenexpousa for updates and find more info at ramenexpousa.com.