BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘cardamom

Buckwheat Cookies

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I’ve been experimenting with buckwheat flour, thanks to the 5-lb. bag I scored from Open Oak Farm (my winter C.S.A. source) at a fill-your-pantry event last fall. I’ve made several variations of buckwheat crepes (or galettes)–all good, except for this version where I subbed a leftover blueberry stout for the I.P.A. the recipe calls for. Keep it simple. I made thick, pillowy buckwheat pancakes from Simply in Season cookbook, by Corvallis locavore Cathleen Hockman-Wert.

Then, flipping through the massive new Essential New York Times tome, I stumbled upon a recipe for “buckwheat cookies.” These crumbly morsels truly are the revelation Melissa Clark describes. Or as Amanda Hesser puts it in her head note about the cookies, “If it’s engaging flavor and not too much sugar, you have found the holy grail. These cookies, which are great with tea, taste like sweet wet stone–in a good way, I promise.” Spot on. Delightfully pebbly, I would add. Who knew wet pebbles could taste so right. The buckwheat flour (actually not wheat  at all, but a relative of sorrel and rhubarb!) provides a tangy, mineral quality.

I added a pinch of ground cardamom to the recipe, which married well with buckwheat’s flavor. In fact, the crumbly texture of these buttery cookies very much reminded me of the magical Honey-and-Cardamom Cookies I discovered years ago, reviewing The Spice Bible for The Sun. The texture also reminded me of my late grandmother McCandlish’s beloved spicy cheese straws (with their added Rice Krispie crunch). Lots of butter must be the common denominator there.

Next in my buckwheat adventures, I’ll have to try Italian buckwheat polenta and the pasta they call pizzoccheri. I’ve still never made good ole’ Kasha Varnishkes with buckwheat groats and farfale, but my husband says he can’t stand the smell. Buckwheat can have an aroma off-putting to some. But not to this soba-loving gal!

Written by baltimoregon

March 28, 2012 at 2:05 am

Craving Cardamom: in My Cookies, Oatmeal, Applesauce, Quince Paste and of, course, Chai Tea

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Green vs. bigger black cardamom pods. Both are fragrant and yum! (by FootoosVanRobin/Flickr Creative Commons)

Candied Ginger (with Cardamom) Bars.

I seem to put spicy-sweet Indian cardamom, which most people associate with chai tea, in just about everything these days. The peppery spice (seeds contained in green or black pods) always appeals to me. I knew of green and black varieties but didn’t realize cardamom falls into the ginger family Zingiberaceae (makes sense since the two spices go so well together). I recommend buying your pods whole and then using a mortar and pestle to crack them and grind the inner seeds. Cardamom has a powerful aroma but it fades rather quickly after the spice is ground, I’ve learned. It’s shocking to buy some fresh and compare its pungency to that of the forgotten jar that’s sat on the shelf.

So where should you start in your cardamom adventure? It melds magically with butter and sugar in cookies. Try these Candied Ginger Bars I just made (the butter is worth it) with gobs of crystallized ginger. They reminded me of the also butter-rich Honey and Cardamom Cookies (with ground almonds as part of the flour) when I reviewed The Spice Bible cookbook for The Sun.

My cardamom-laced oatmeal.

The fresh apples still in season also beg to be dressed up with cardamom. This weekend, I mulled my local apple cider with whole cardamom pods, star anise, nutmeg, cloves and a cinnamon stick. I jazzed up steel-cut oatmeal with grated apples (thank you, S-I-L Julia!), freshly ground cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed walnuts, flax seeds, maple syrup, and dried coconut. I’ve heard it takes some folks a while to warm up to potent cardamom. This is a good place to start. I also threw some into applesauce and the quince paste I concocted, although in the case of the later, it may mask some of the quince’s subtle flavor.

How have you been cooking with cardamom these days? In Indian dishes, to be sure. In your chai tea, though you might not even know it. I cheated and drank some from the boxed mix tonight. I keep meaning to get around to brew my own chai blend sometime. I used the stickier seeds from larger black pods earlier this fall for a Rajasthani eggplant recipe. Indian ethnic markets are great sources of big bags of cardamom pods for cheap. Now I just challenge you to use them quickly, before the spice loses its magical but fleeting verve.

Written by baltimoregon

December 14, 2009 at 12:12 am

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The Death of Gourmet

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The end is near: this is an unripe quince on the recipes for everything in season September issue.

The end is near. They couldn't even find a ripe quince for the "recipes for everything in season" September issue.

I’ve meant to blog about Gourmet magazine’s fate but can’t seem to manage posting more than once a week these days. Folks have a special fondness for it here in this food-loving state. And Gourmet loved Oregon back: see this recent feature on Portland Food Carts.

But I came late to the Gourmet table. I didn’t have the same heart attack/heartbreak other foodies did when the news of its demise broke. Yet it’s trumped-up website, rolled out by the magnetic (and tireless-that woman is always on the road) editor Ruth Reichl, drew me in this past year. Particularly Politics of the Plate columns. And their cookbook club reviews of new ones like Corey Schreiber’s Rustic Fruit Desserts. That’s where I got the apple-blackberry pie recipe. The website even encouraged me to subscribe for $12 a year. Wonder if I’ll ever get that first issue? But I can barely keep up with Bon Appetit. Two increasingly identical food pubs under one house is redundant, especially in these times. Why not keep the website though?

The September cover does now seem a harbinger of Gourmet’s imminent demise. Why would they put an unripe (green, still fuzz-covered) quince on the cover of an issue devoted to cooking with produce at its peak. Quinces don’t really come on ’til October. At least they got the favored quince preparation method right: poaching, in cardamom syrup, which really brings out the Caucus region fruit’s rosy fragrance and flavor.

These Oregon quinces are ripe. You can see-and especially smell-the difference.

These Oregon quinces are ripe. You can see-and especially smell-the difference.

Written by baltimoregon

October 9, 2009 at 12:26 am

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