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Posts Tagged ‘Spices’

 

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make something luxurious for breakfast.  And what is more luxurious than saffron?

To make these, I just followed my standard scone recipe.  I left out the berries, and replaced it with the goodies scraped from a half a vanilla bean and the zest from one lemon. 

To make the glaze, juice half the lemon.  Add about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a pinch of saffron.  Whisk together, adding water or lemon juice by the drop or sugar by the teaspoon, until you reach the desired consistency.  When the scones come out of the oven, place them on a rack to cool and frost with the glaze.  Enjoy with your honey.

 

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As I’ve said before, I could take or leave chocolate.  What I really like in dessert is ginger.  I keep bags of candied ginger on my desk at work, and I eat Trader Joe’s Ginger Cashew Almond granola every single morning for breakfast.  So, if there’s a way to get more ginger into a dish, I will do it.

Which brings me to my pumpkin pie.  I use a basic pumpkin pie filling, but I add in some fresh ginger.  Instead of a pastry crust, I use gingersnaps.  Then I top it all off with pepitas, candied with cinnamon and ginger.

I use the pumpkin pie filling from Joy of Cooking, plus 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger.  Feel free to use whatever you like.  This would even work well with a pumpkin cheesecake. 

Gingersnap Crust

Ingredients
5 ounces gingersnaps
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar

Directions
Using a food processor, grind the gingersnaps into fine crumbs.  Add the sugar and mix.  Add the butter and mix to combine.

Press into a pie pan and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  When it comes out, you may need to use a rubber spatula to smooth the crust out a bit, in case the sides slip down a bit into the bottom.

Let cool, fill with filling, and bake as directed.

Candied Pepitas
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 cup (approx 6 ounces) raw pepitas
6 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg white, beaten
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together all ingredients in a bowl.  Spread mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake until pepitas are golden and slightly puffed, about 10 minutes.   Stir gently, leaving some clumps.

After they have cooled completely, crumble them up.  Sprinkle over pumpkin pie when you are ready to serve.  Or, sprinkle it over just about any dessert, or just serve in little bowls as a snack.

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If kindergarten teachers watched me in the kitchen, they’d probably give me a lecture about following directions.  I’m not very good at it.  To me, recipes are usually just suggestions or loose guidelines.

So, when I found this James Beard recipe for persimmon bread, the fact that he is practically the godfather of modern American cooking didn’t really stop me from deviating from the script.  Clearly, I have no shame.

Despite my wanton disregard for Mr. Beard’s recipe, the finished product was delicious.  My husband, however, said that he would have preferred the original.  If you are like me and get the shakes if you don’t find ways to consume as much ginger as possible, my version is right up your alley.  Otherwise, I imagine the original is pretty spectacular too.

If you’ve never tried persimmon, you are missing out.  The ripe Hachiya persimmon, which is used i this recipe, is essentially this fragrant orange pulp held together by a thin skin. 

 I just had to squeeze it slightly and it burst.  I just picked out the skin and membrane and no further preparation was needed.

Ginger Persimmon Bread
Adapted from James Beard, as found on David Lebovitz’s blog

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cognac, bourbon, or whiskey
1 cup persimmon puree (from about 2 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2/3 cup minced candied ginger

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 1 loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.

Sift the first 6 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center then stir in the fresh ginger, butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree.  Mix gently, then add the candied ginger.  Stir until everything is combined and the ginger is evenly distributed.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The bread will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature, and should freeze well.

The bread was delicious.  Persimmons have a subtle spicy taste to them, so they worked well with the ginger, cognac, and other spices.  It was almost like a really gorgeous tasting fruit cake. 

 

 

 

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Pears + Saffron + Ginger = Heaven
And, this cake is really easy to make.
Ingredients
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Pinch of saffron threads
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 Comice pears, (6 to 7 ounces each)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Note: I couldn’t find nonfat buttermilk, so I used low fat. It worked fine.
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
Pulse saffron and 1/4 cup sugar in a spice grinder until well combined. Put butter and saffron sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. The recipe suggests using a rubber spatula, but I found a spoon to be easier to spread it.
Whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Stir in crystallized ginger.
Peel pears; halve lengthwise, and core. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut pears lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively in pan over saffron-butter mixture. Only the first layer has to be laid down decoratively. You won’t even see the pears underneath the top layer, so I just piled them in.

Spread batter over pears. Bake until set and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
Place a serving platter upside down over pan; flip to unmold cake. Peel off parchment.
The butter and sugar and saffron seep into the cake, making a delicious glaze on the top.

And voila! The finished cake. It’s absolutely delicious.

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This is a belated post on a dish I made a couple weeks ago, when my CSA box contained collard greens and apples. I had never tried collard greens before, and found this recipe on Epicurious and thought I would give it a try.

The recipe was essentially a salad, and the collard greens were raw. I didn’t realize this until halfway through my preparation, at which point, I tried a nibble of raw collard greens and realized that they really don’t taste good raw. Maybe some people like them, but I don’t. So, I decided to try wilting them a bit, but keeping the basic flavors of the recipe. That worked, and my husband really liked it, but if I were to do it again, I’d cook them down a little more than I did because they were just too raw tasting for me.

The flavors are excellent though, and really unique. So, I recommend trying this, but adjusting the cooking time based on your personal preference for the green. I think this would be really good with chard or even spinach as well.

Ingredients

2 red apples such as Gala or Idared
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1/2 cup walnut halves (3 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch collard greens (1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 shallot, finely diced (this is my own addition)

Note: I didn’t have any pickling spice so I used a half a teaspoon mustard seeds, a bay leaf, a pinch of cinnamon, a couple of cloves, and salt & pepper. There’s a bunch of different suggestions for pickling spice combos online, so if you don’t feel like buying a jar of it, you can google for ideas.

Directions

Pickled Apples

Quarter and core apples, then cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Boil vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pickling spice in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add apples and return to a boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool. Chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.

Walnuts

Coarsely chop 1 tablespoon nuts and finely chop remaining nuts. Toast walnuts in olive oil in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until a shade darker. Cool nuts in oil.

Collard Greens

Halve each collard leaf lengthwise with kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cutting out and discarding center ribs. Stack leaves and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

To Assemble

Here’s the part I made up. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of the walnut infused oil in a large saute pan. Add the finely chopped shallot and saute for a couple minutes, until the shallot is soft and starts to brown.

Add the remainder of the oil and the walnuts, then add in all of the collard greens. Add water…about a quarter of a cup to help braise the greens. Cook for a few minutes, until the greens are soft enough for your liking.

Strain the pickled apples. When the collard greens are just about done, add the apples. Stir together and add salt and pepper, if needed.

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When I lived in Washington, there was this local chain, Lebanese Taverna, that had this one amazing dish…consisting of either chicken, lamb, or eggplant, served with yogurt, chickpeas, pomegranates, and tons of garlic. It was to die for.

There is no Lebanese Taverna in Berkeley, and I had a craving. Through the magic of the internets, I was able to hunt down a recipe for this dish. The recipe I used was posted by a poster on the Chowhound boards. I improvised a little, so I’ll try to describe it the way I did it. And while I used a whole chicken as the recipe suggested, next time I will just use boneless chicken pieces, which will make preparing this a lot easier. Or perhaps I’ll try lamb or a vegetarian version with eggplant.
While not exactly like Lebanese Taverna’s, this version was still really, really good. I’ll definitely make this again.
Fatteh Bel Djaje
For chicken and broth:
1 chicken, quartered (or 2-2.5 pounds or so of boneless chicken pieces)
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters (I used half an orange)
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tb salt
2 cups water (I needed a little more water to cover everything in the pot)
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 large can chickpeas
For serving
1 quart plain yogurt (i use labneh or the thick greek yogurt, they work best)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mints leaves, torn
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tb butter
2 pita breads cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 a pomegranate (if available)
Rice or couscous, for serving, if you want.
First, mix the yogurt with garlic and a pinch of salt and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. I’d keep it out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Brown the chicken in a large large dutch oven or stockpot. Add lemon or orange, ground cinnamon, salt, water, onion with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. If you are using boneless chicken in small chunks, you can probably just leave it on the stove to to simmer. If you are using bigger pieces with the bone in, bring the water to a boil and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth. Let it cool if you need to debone it. Strain and skim broth, pour over chickpeas and cook for 15-20 minutes. I reserved a little bit of broth and poured it back over the deboned chicken, covered it, and simmered on very low heat to keep it warm.
Cook the rice or couscous, if you are using it. (I used basmati rice, which works well with this.)
Fry pine nuts in 1 tb butter until brown.
Set them aside and fry the pita cubes in remaining butter until crisp.
To serve
Put rice or couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of broth, and the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle the pine nuts, pita, mint, and pomegranate on top.
And convince people that despite the odd ingredient list, it is actually an incredibly delicious meal. The pomegranate seeds add sweetness, the pine nuts and pita are crunchy, the mint makes it fresh and bright, and all of them compliment the spicy chicken and garlicky yogurt beautifully.

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Nothing in this recipe comes from my farm box, but it just looked so delicious I had to try it. It is pretty simple to prepare, though it does involve a fair amount of spices, including saffron. I recommend the investment, as the dish really is delicious.

Again, another recipe from Food and Wine.

Ingredients

1 cup water
10 ounces baby spinach
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Kosher salt
Pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas with their liquid
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (I skipped the peeling and seeding, it was fine)
1/4 cup golden raisins
Directions
Pour the water into a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing hard on the leaves to extract the liquid. Coarsely chop the spinach.

I did this step, though I don’t know if you need too. There’s enough liquid in the recipe to add the spinach in at the end, if you’d prefer. You’d have to chop it first though.

Using the flat side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the saffron.


Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the paprika, cumin, cloves and black pepper and mash until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chickpea liquid.
Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spiced garlic sauce to the onion and tomato in the skillet and cook for 1 minute.


Add the chickpeas and the remaining liquid to the skillet. Add the raisins and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 15 minutes.


I ended up simmering it for about 5 extra minutes to make it slightly thicker, and served it over couscous. The recipe suggests drizzling each bowl with olive oil before serving, which I skipped and it was still delicious.

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