Besides the myriad of great cafés where I live, I order my beans from a coffee roaster a few hours to the south of me, Roast Coffee and Tea. The roaster/owner Nez Hewitt is a kind, beautiful person who started in one of the farmer’s markets in Calgary. She has since moved into roasting from her own home and either home delivers (In the Calgary area) or through the post.
I ordered more coffee earlier this week and when the package arrived it was distinctly bulkier that usual. I opened the package and it contained an extra bag of coffee with a decorative evergreen branch and a note wishing me a Merry Christmas.
I was touched and speechless.
Her kindness is nothing new. One of my first interactions with her was at the farmer’s market and it was just before Christmas a few years ago. She was giving away coffee during the weekend before Christmas to everyone who ordered. I thought it was a “pay it forward” idea and left an extra $5 to continue it. She said it was just her way to give all of her customers a gift for Christmas.
That kindness has stayed with me every since and it is a large part of why I still order my coffee from her. And, of course, her coffee is roasted perfectly 😉
I wanted to honour her latest gift and create something completely different. I recalled a recipe from UK chef Heston Blumenthal on his “In Search of Perfection” TV series about a Mushroom Ketchup. I thought that the basic idea would make an earthy base for a Coffee Ketchup.
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
- ½ cup vinegar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup fresh brewed espresso (I used a stovetop espresso maker like a Moka pot)
- ¾ cup coarsely ground coffee (you could use leftover coffee grounds from a French press coffee)
- 1 Tbsp corn starch + 2 Tbsp water
- In a large pot over medium high heat, add 1 tsp oil. When the oil is hot, smouldering, but not smoking add the onions and salt. Stir and sauté for 5-7 minutes to soften and start to brown. Add a splash of water if the onions start to stick and stir more. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir and sauté until the colour starts to become a deeper brown. Add a splash or two of water throughout the course of the next 15-20 minutes to get a deeply caramelized onion. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium high heat, add the other 1 tsp of oil and the mushrooms. Allow to sit without stirring for a minute or so then stir vigorously for a moment and leave them again undisturbed for another minutes. Start stirring for a few minutes until most of the moisture is drawn from the mushrooms and they are deeply golden in colour.
- Add the caramelized onions back to the pot with the vinegar, cardamom and cloves. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-7 minutes to reduce the vinegar slightly and infuse the vinegar with all of the flavours.
- Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly for another 3-4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth.
- Add the mushroom purée back to the pot with the brewed espresso. Wrap the coffee grounds in a double layer of cheesecloth, tying the bundle together with string. Add the coffee-cheesecloth bundle to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir constantly for 7-10 minutes.
- Take off the heat and allow the coffee to "steep" for at least 15 minutes. Remove the coffee-cheesecloth bundle, press the remaining espresso-mushroom mixture though a fine sieve, discarding the solids left behind.
- Add the strained liquid to a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisk in the corn starch mixture and stir until it becomes thick. Makes about ½ cup. Serve with eggs, on a burger, sausage or steak.