Cardamom Coffee


Cardamom – the Queen of Spices – is my most favorite spice. It is warm, delicate, and in about 10 seconds can take your average cup of coffee into something lovely and romantic, straight out of Arabian Nights. Cardamom coffee appears in Arabian Nights…as an aphrodisiac.

You could just crack a few pods and put them on top of your coffee in the coffee maker. I love to use a French press, with espresso, and I love to drink it from a tea cup.

Cardamom Coffee

1 1/2 tbsp espresso (I like Bustelo)
2 cardamom pods, cracked
1 teacup water
milk or cream, optional (I take it)
sugar optional (I don’t)

Put espresso and cardamom pods in a French press. Heat water to a boil and pour over espresso. Let steep for a minute or two, press, pour, and fix as you like.

Thanksgiving: Always the Hostess


An evite to Thanksgiving at our house.

Remember that episode of Friends where the girls and the boys have switched apartments, and Monica exhausts herself cleaning and decorating the place? “I am always the hostess!” she screams.

I love to be the hostess. I love to stress myself out and spend too much on food and clean and cook myself into a frenzy. I’ve gotten pretty good at the art of timing. I know exactly how long it takes to scramble around in the kitchen as a crazy be-aproned hag, then leave something simmering on the stove just long enough to run upstairs to fix my hair and makeup and arrive downstairs looking lovely and relaxed, sipping a glass of wine and stirring something languidly as my guests arrive.

Two years ago we hosted our first Thanksgiving at our home, and this year I am so excited to do it again. Everyone is kind enough to bring food of course, but I planned the base menu.

Thanksgiving Menu 2011

Pistachio and Sour Cherry Goat Cheese Ball
Sage Butter Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy
Cardamom-scented Cranberry Sauce with Apricots
Scalloped Potatoes and Fennel
Walnut Green Beans
Pear and Blue Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Butternut Squash with Pecans and Vanilla
Chocolate Ginger Pie

Several of the dishes (the turkey, the potatoes, the green beans, the salad) will be repeats from the first Thanksgiving we hosted, though I do deviate from the recipes just a little – they are all delicious and I’m working to make them yearly family Thanksgiving favorites! Others like the butternut squash and chocolate pie are close to things I’ve made before, but with little twists I’ve been wanting to try. I borrowed most of these, but the cranberry sauce – something I think gets too little love – is all mine!

Remember that other episode of Friends where Monica puts the turkey on her head and dances around?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Edit: My uncle took pictures! Here are a couple.

The food:

The fam:

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets


Cute little French lentils have an earthy flavor – perfect for fall! – and take nicely to flavors both sharp (dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar) and sweet (carrots, molasses). They go really nicely with roasted beets, which I just love, mostly because they turn everything they touch an obscene magenta. I learned an ingenious method to cook them, which is just to trim the stalks and roast them whole with a little olive oil. After they cool, the skins will slip right off, and you can avoid staining your fingertips and cutting board.

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets

For lentils:
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp molasses
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 c French lentils
dash balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook onion, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add paprika, stirring for a minute, then tomato paste. Add dijon, molasses, carrots, lentils, and about 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until lentils are softened. Adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt), and finish with a dash of balsamic vinegar (and maybe another little drizzle of olive oil).

For beets:
1 bunch beets, trimmed
olive oil

Heat oven to 450°. Arrange beets in a pan lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until a fork easily goes through the beet. Allow to cool, remove skins, and slice.

Rosewater and Cardamom Burfi


Not to start out with a hate, but to be perfectly honest, I am not a huge fan of Indian and Pakistani sweets. They are sickly sweet – although that can be cut since they are meant to be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea – and while Indian and Pakistani food is complex with spices, the flavor profiles of sweets are comparatively flat.

For some reason though, I have a soft spot for burfi. I’m not sure why, it may be the milkiness. This was my first attempt. I always have fun experimenting with an ingredient I’ve never used before and this time it was khoya, which is basically milk that has been cooked down until it’s solid, and you can grate it like a block of cheese. It can be found in the refrigerated section of Indian markets. Rosewater and cardamom I use a lot, like in my Rosewater and Cardamom Lassi…I can’t help it, I just love them.

Rosewater and Cardamom Burfi

a little ghee or butter
12 oz khoya, grated
1 cup honey
scant 1/2 cup water (maybe a little less)
1 tbsp rosewater
seeds from 8 cardamom pods
small handful almonds, chopped

Grease a glass dish with ghee or butter. Heat the khoya on low until it melts. Separately, heat honey, water, rosewater, and cardamom seeds. When it is hot, add to the khoya, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Spread in the dish, and sprinkle with almonds. Cover and refrigerate a few hours until solid, then cut into squares or diamonds.

Note: I cut the sweetener to less than half what I saw in most recipes (although I did use honey which is sweeter than sugar) and it’s still super sweet. Which actually means the taste is pretty authentic, but next time I plan on cutting it even more for my unauthentic taste.