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Sweet Cardamom

I'll admit it right here: I've been sniffing a spice jar.

Cardamom might be my favorite spice, along cumin and turmeric. Not the most versatile, though, but taking a whiff of cardamom and tasting it in a dish offer you many reasons to try to add it in all the recipes that command cinnamon.

Cinnamon on apples? Familiar, comforting and homey. Cardamom on apples? All this plus the wow factor. I've learned lately that cardamom has an important place in Scandinavian cooking. Cooks liberally use it in breads, cookies, cakes. In fact, cardamom is more popular than cinnamon is in Scandinavian countries.

I'm not surprised: cardamom is intensely aromatic but not overpowering, it is spicy but not hot. Tearing a pouch of ground cardamom awakens your sense of smell: it has a very distinctive powdery, spicy aroma recalling citrus. Grating a pod also liberates its distinctive smell and will have the tips of your finger smelling heavenly. I also read somewhere that cardamom is one of the most expensive spice there is, right along saffron.

(1,49$ should buy you a 4oz (100g) pouch. Cods are more expensive, but if you use it sparingly, it will keep its freshness longer.)

Indian cuisine leaves a big place to this spice - the heady smell of chai tea owns its aroma in part to it. There is some in my garam masala jar, another important blend of spice commonly used in Indian dishes.

There are many usages to this sweet spice - chicken, fish, rice, couscous, and of course baking.  This Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake will have you sighing with satisfaction for two days. Cardamom and orange are two ingredients that blend tastingly together.

All notes in italics are mine.

Orange Cardamom CakeCollapse )



Am I serious? Do I really want to write about food and to blog about it?

Why not, after all. I restrain myself not to post gushing foodie essays on my personal LJ. To be honest,  I talk about food all the time. I discuss it with my mother, with my brother, with friends, heck, with people at the grocery store.

And with the Dear too. But it's hard to discuss when he has his mouth full.

Food is central to the relationship I have with my family. I was lucky enough to be raised by a woman who firmly believed that  meals would be satisfying only if taken at the dinner table. My mother was pretty experimental in the kitchen, and we had tofu and carob in the late 80's and early 90's - a few years before my friends discovered those staples. She never shied away from a challenge - she'd cut out fancy recipes with mysterious names, and we'd eat duxelle, or soup with vegetables a la brunoise.

She still have a drawer full of recipes from the 60's, the 70's and the 80's, and while I believe she'll never make those stomach-churning Velveeta stuffed bread with 50 kinds of cold cuts, I open the drawer with nostalgia every time I go home. In those recipes, I find pieces of my chilhood - red soup, steak with wine sauce and vegetables, orange cake.

My extended family open their arms and pull out a chair from the long, wonky dinner table(s) they set up when they welcome a new member - temporary or not.  Food is prepared with much care.

Nothing fussy, simply made with lots of love and attention.  And wine, of course.

As for myself, cooking rhymes with well-being, which might explain my meager poetic successes. Difficult moments in my life often coincide with less cooking. However, the most joyous moments have always been moments where I thrived to cook. Falling in love included seduction in many ways, including with food. Making new friends needed me to cram people around a too small table in a cramped apartment. Loving a job means coming home with a smile, and wondering what in the fridge would make the evening as fun.

I'm planning to have fun in here - probably post a couple of times a week some recipes, and think with the tips of my fingers.

While there is a lot of of cooking communities on LJ, I wanted my own little space to jot down simple recipes that I'm trying out and experimenting with.  I don't know yet what I wish to do with the comm, but if others find interest to it, it will probably change.

I'm trying to eat more healthfully and to prepare fruits and vegetables in a tasty way so I can reach the 7-10 fruits and veggies a day recommended by many of the cancer research groups that promote healthy eating. This is not a  strictly vegetarian community. Some recipes might include meat, that can be easily replaced by tofu or legumes.

Because pears are abundant at this moment where I live, t I will be cooking pears tonight to accompany the light main course and steamed broccoli.

Baked pears with cheeseCollapse )



The Sweet Pear
The Sweet Pear

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March 2009


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