Angostura Bitters, that is.
My favorite Inspiring Ingredient.
Angostura Bitters is the true flavor of Trinidad. It’s in the Caribbean culture; no kitchen is complete without a bottle – and not just for drinks. My grandmother was born and raised there and it was she that introduced me to the flavor, very simply, in a glass of milk with sugar. I can remember once after not having it for a long time and recognizing its flavor and asking what it was and she told me all about it. Telling many Trinidad stories was her forte but I will always remember hearing about her friend Patsy Seigert and Angostura. She always had it on grapefruit with a sprinkling of sugar but together we tried it on all kinds of things, mainly sweet things and fruit.
She once made a Planters Punch for a Pool Party and I tasted it after she had to make a second batch. The secret she held up was Angostura, saying it like she liked the way it felt to say it. There was pride attached. She and her sister were quite clear about the fact that there really was no party if there was no Angostura and that her punch was not American punch. I had no doubt even then that they knew how to party.
Most of my adult life I have always had a bottle in the kitchen; for the milk and sugar and grapefruit. I’ve been experimenting with bitters for several years now. My natural instinct was to add it anything sweet, so that’s were it started. Mixing it with vanilla and fruit and sugar. Advancing to chocolate and adding it to sweet/spicy things like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It is potent and a little goes a long way.
It’s a bit of an acquired taste and some people love it and know it can be used in many different ways. It’s always a bit of an experiment. A ‘let’s see how it would taste’ thought comes to mind and then being pleasantly surprised.
Add it to Anything Sweet – add it to vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, spice cakes, pumpkin pie (pumpkin anything). Have a vanilla latte with several dashes of bitters. A hot chocolate. Fruit. Yogurt. Always add a bit of sugar to taste. Add it to marmalade and conserves and chutney. An upside down cake like mango or pineapple. Custards. Puddings. Fruit Cobbler. Chocolate Fudge or Truffles. When you make a smoothie, add some bitters. OMG don’t forget cheesecake. Banana bread. Lightning strikes and the possibilities are ENDLESS!!!!
Add it to Anything Savory – Add it to marinades, anything with the combination of soy, ginger and garlic, like pork dumplings. Meatloaf. Turkey Burgers. Add it to your ham glaze with pineapple juice. Any Asian recipe like sweet and sour.
Whenever there is citrus in a recipe, think to add bitters, whether sweet or savory.
Mixed with savory ingredients and a very slight amount of sweetness it blends with other flavors like it should have always been there.
Explore with it. Have some fun with it. Maybe you’ll fall in love with it, I did.