Tag Archives: cardamom

It’s Springtime, which means Rhubarb…

Or in this instance, a rhubarb crisp.  Okay, so I have a little bit of an infatuation with this long, sometimes slender, sometimes chunky, red/speckled red & green/green vegetable.  Yes, rhubarb is actually classified as a vegetable, but heaven’s to Betsy–whatever Pioneer woman made use of this manna–I am forever grateful.  While Ben and I were dating, we would be walking in some new neighborhood of Bellingham & I would stop in my tracks.  Ben thinking I found something remarkable or writhing in pain, because of the deep sigh & deer in head lights stare.  What? What? He’d ask.  Then, I would point.

rhubarb leaves

I had a gift of spotting those huge, elephant like leaves protruding from behind a high backyard fence at least 100 meters away.  In fact, as I sat gazing at some (meanwhile, Ben was probably thinking how silly it was) rhubarb, the owner of the house came out back and said hello.  But also kind of wondered what I was looking at.  I said I was admiring his rhubarb and then he offered me to take some.  I really wanted to, but I felt like that was crossing a line.

rhubarb stalks

Rhubarb to me says Springtime.  The quintessential springtime pie is a Strawberry-Rhubarb (I’ll be saving that recipe for a bit later).  The house I lived in the year I was engaged had a big window looking out to the neighbors yard.  I had been admiring their rhubarb plant in early April (I even inspected it for it’s bounty).  When it hit May, the time at which the stalks were ready for harvesting, I walked to the neighbor’s door to ask them if they were going to use their rhubarb (that line I was fine crossing–they were college students who most likely didn’t have a clue as to a rhubarb plant being there).  My prediction was correct and they didn’t know anything about it and gave me the green light.

Well, I wasn’t quite ready for pulling off the stalks as I needed some strawberries.  A few days later, in the morning, I got awoken by the sound of a tractor outside my window.  When I came into the kitchen, I absolutely freaked out.  There was a mini bulldozer/tractor (I have girls, not boys) something or other outside my window.  It was pulling up all of the ground along the side of the house and I feared for the safety of my rhubarb.  They were plowing right next to my love and I didn’t know if they were alright.  There was only one thing to do.  I went outside in my pajamas to stop the man on the John Deere to see what he was doing and if he was aware of my bounty awaiting its fate I had planned out?  And there, like a diamond in the rough lay my rhubarb–right next to plowed up ground.  I didn’t hesitate and pulled them up right there on the spot, brought them into the safety of my home.  Where they intoxicated me with their tangy, red smell as I cut them into slices and mixed them up with sliced strawberries.  We enjoyed our first Strawberry-Rhubarb pie of the season that night.

And last night we had our Japanese Community friends over.  Their names are Ayumi & Maho and I taught them how to make spaghetti from scratch & introduced them to what will hopefully not be their last taste of rhubarb.  I found rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market yesterday, but strawberries are not quite in season.  So, we made do & made a crisp, which to me is just as satisfying without all the primping that comes from a pie.  Here’s to kicking off Spring!

Rhubarb Crisp (printable recipe)

I made this on the fly, because crisps are so forgiving & easy.  It’s a humble cousin to a rhubarb pie, but I find it just as good.  It reminds me of my favorite summer breakfast of plain yogurt, fresh fruit & granola, except in dessert form.  And if you don’t have a food processor for the crisp, then use a pastry cutter, or a fork, or best of all–your hands.

Rhubarb Filling

4-5 cups sliced rhubarb (around 6 rhubarb)
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Crisp Crust

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachio
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 Tb unsalted butter, cold cut into 1/4 inch squares
pinch of salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Clean rhubarb stalks & slice into roughly 1/4-1/2 inch slices.  Put sliced rhubarb into a medium bowl, along with 1 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, orange & lemon zest.  Dive in with your hands and mix it all together.  Dump this into an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, pistachios, & salt into a bowl of a food processor.  Mix to combine (3 seconds).  Put in the butter & pulse 7-9 times.  Some of the butter will most likely still be in whole form.  Dump the contents into a large bowl.  Then, use your hands & fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Don’t be bashful, imagine you’re a kid playing with play dough.  At the end, your crisp part will look comparable to wet sand.  Spread the mixture atop the rhubarb mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Okay, so I didn’t time it unfortunately.  But what you’re looking for is a golden crust, the smell of rhubarb-spiced goodness & if you can pierce a fork through the rhubarb–it’s good to go.  You can let it cool for a bit (10-15 minutes), or serve it up right away.  No judgment.  Top with some vanilla ice cream as any crisp always tastes better with it.  And there you have a slice of Spring.


Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans)

What was Christmas morning like in your family growing up?  Waking up at the crack of dawn, scurrying to see what booty hung from the stockings, and a candy frenzied gaze after all the gifts were opened might be a typical American memory of a not too distant past.  There’s also the spiritual side in the retelling of the Christmas story.  Where a young girl, chosen by God, is to carry the Savior of the world in her womb.  Having found favor with God, but is in the least of finding favor with her fellow neighbors, as I’m sure they snickered and cringed as she passed since the idea of a virgin birth was less than plausible for them.

As the only daughter, middle child between two brothers, Christmas morning turned from the coveted, “let’s just open our presents,” to drawn out expectation, but not due to a spiritual exercise.  My father turned the one morning of glory into a full fledge DMV line.  We would awaken bright and early with “OOO’S & AWWW’S” and running to our parents bedrooms to waken them from their slumber, in hopes of opening our presents.  My mom would shuffle into the living room with half opened eyes & gingerly sit on the couch.  On the other spectrum was our dad.  Although he would rarely eat a full course breakfast the other 364 days of the year, he thought Christmas morning was the perfect morning to do so.

You might be thinking that a breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, coffee & orange juice, which Kenny the Bear eats regularly (Richard Scarry), is a splendid Christmas morning meal.  You would be right if it wasn’t the prelude.  Not only did my dad insist on eating Denny’s Grand Slam prior to opening presents, but personal hygiene tied for first on Christmas morning.  When he woke up, he headed to the bathroom to shower, neatly comb his hair, clothe with a belt and put on some socks.  Meanwhile, us kids, all under the age of 10 salivated at all the presents. But once he was done with his hygiene, he would head to the kitchen to make & eat his breakfast.  No matter how much we tried to rush him, he would not budge.

With us on his heels, watching that final drop finish off his fork, we ran to the living room mumbling about our slaughter.  However, my dad liked to teach us about anticipation & patience by saying, “Not yet, I need to get the camcorder out.”  Now, we had one of those heavy duty kind, which my dad had to get just the right lighting, put it on the tripod, and connect it with the TV to see the final product.  Finally, it was time to begin.  But when the present opening actually started, my dad instituted the following rule, ‘We take turns opening presents, no two people at the same time, and say thank you for every gift received.’  I can still recall my older brother Willy’s friend Steve calling to see what he got for Christmas.  Willy said, “I dunno, we’re not done opening our gifts yet…yeah, I know, by this rate we’re never gonna make it to San Diego (we went every year to my Aunt’s house).”

And now, as I experience Christmas on the other end, being the parent watching my girls experience the joy of what lies beneath the green/red wrapping…I can understand some of what my dad gave to us on Christmas morning.  He taught us to slow down & to avoid the consumerist spirit, which lie so deep in my seven year old body.  It was a gift to know that it’s okay to breathe in what I was being given and appreciate it; rather, than just throw it aside and search for more hidden treasure to rip to shreds.  This is one tradition I hope to pass down to my girls.  Well, the slowing down when it comes to opening the presents part, but not the four course breakfast eaten beforehand…instead, we’ve instituted the Vetekrans for Christmas morning.  And that’s what I love about family traditions…you can keep some, throw some out, and create new ones altogether.  **We’re also throwing out the camcorder.

Vetekrans (printable recipe)

This recipe is taken from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  This is a refrigerator yeast dough, which is also a no-knead.  This is a perfect sweet bread to have on Christmas morning, New Year’s or some other brunch where you don’t want to spend all your time with kneading & proofing.


2 packages active dry yeast (one packet is 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

3 slightly beaten eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons hot coffee or milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, the eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups of flour until dough is smooth (I used about 4 1/2 cups).  Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Turn dough onto a floured board and roll out to make a 20-to 24-inch square.  Spread with a thin layer of softened butter right to the edge.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter.  Roll up like a jelly roll.

Grease a baking sheet or use parchment and place the roll on the sheet, shaping it into a ring.  Pinch ends together to close the circle.  With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1/2-inch intervals.  Turn each piece so that the cut side is exposed.  Let rise until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until just golden.  While ring bakes, mix the glaze ingredients.  Brush while hot with the glaze.

Cardamom Orange Cookies

The other day I heard these words from my very imaginative daughter’s mouth, “Put in some nutmeg, then cinnamon & CarDAmom in the crisp!” She was playing with her kitchen stuff, while replaying the time we made the P.A.C. Crisp together. It was a proud moment as a mama & lover of all things culinary…my almost three year old remembering the key ingredients to make a crisp “pop.”

Not only does she remember these sorts of things, but her delight in food is music to the ears. After baking the Cardamom Orange Cookies with her help, she eagerly awaited their arrival out of the oven (don’t you love how kids are really saying & doing what we as adults restrain). Once it was cool enough to handle, I put some of the citrus glaze on top and asked, “Is there any little girls who would like a Cardamom cookie?” She ran up & volunteered herself for the feat. Upon the cookie entering her mouth (as she is with most food she enjoys), the sounds of satisfaction like, “MMM…OH MY…(another)MMM, this is DElicious!” And so forth.

She has never been shy vocalizing her love for good food. When she nursed she let out big “MMM’s” and her first tastes of solids are equated with Bob Wiley eating Faye’s handschuked corn. I love this about her, which makes baking with her all the more enjoyable. I also love that she knows what cardamom is & how orange zest pairs well with it. So, in honor of cardamom and all things that go, “MMM,” I hope you’ll make these over the holidays to share (but don’t feel too bad if you eat more than you give away).

Cardamom Orange Cookies (printable version)

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious. I chose to take out the roll & cut method and simply rolled them into a log & cut slices from them instead. YUMMY!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (I used a mortar & pestle to grind the cardamom from the pod)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Citrus Glaze

  • juice of one orange
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • splash of orange oil essence (or extract)
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

Make dough:
Whisk together flour, zest, cardamom, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in yolk and cream. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Put the dough on parchment paper.

Mound the dough together and roll into a log. Once you get a basic log shape, position the dough in the middle of the parchment. Then, take the parchment that’s north of the dough and cover it over the dough. Take a bench scraper and push the edge of it at the base of the parchment covered dough, trying to make a concentric log. Roll the log so the parchment covers the whole thing and twist the edges. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.

Cut and bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Remove firm dough. Unroll the parchment so the dough is still sitting on top of the paper. Place on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 1/8 inch. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, arranging them 1 inch apart.

Bake until edges are golden-brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then slide cookies, still on parchment, onto a rack to cool completely.

Make Icing:

Combine powdered sugar, juice orange, orange zest & splash of orange oil (or orange extract). Glaze atop cookies.

Cranberry-Orange Crostata

It’s been extremely cold outside lately.  I took my oldest with me to the grocery store and just walking from the car to the store, I was regretting my decision to leave my gloves at home.  But what got me was what I witnessed on our way home.  A middle school aged boy walking home with shorts, lightweight sweatshirt & basketball jersey.  Seriously?!  I checked the temp stat once I got home…31 degrees, but feels like 21.

This makes me happy knowing we have heat in our home, a pot of chicken stock cooking, beds that are “just right” (I’ve been telling a lot of Goldilocks these days) and a family that is in anticipation during this Advent season.  I was reminded yesterday about the need to believe again.  Believe in the unseen & seen.  To believe what continues to turn up empty.  So, as Ben is sick in bed and me listening to the rhythm of the dishwasher, I will continue to hope.

And I think part of that hoping is tied up with food.  We look forward to events to share life with one another, but also the food involved in the communal feast.  This crostata or galette (there pretty much the same thing) is a delightful Holiday feast with the flaky crust, tangy cranberries, zest of orange & cardamom to bring it all together.

Cranberry Crostata or Galette (printable recipe)

I made this for a dear friend after she had her first baby.  The crust is one I have used to make mini pecan tartlets, which is from The Pampered Chef.  When I made it, I doubled the crust, in order to make another for later.



1/2 cup butter

1/2  cup cream cheese

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 beaten egg

turbinado sugar for sprinkling


2 cups frozen cranberries or fresh

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

zest of one orange

juice from one orange

2 tablespoons Triple Sec (or Cointreau)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Crust: Combine all ingredients into a food processor to combine until it forms a ball.  You could also beat your butter & cream cheese in a mixer, then add your flour.  Separate into two equal disks.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling: Combine all of the ingredients into a pan over medium heat.  Stirring to combine and wait till it starts to bubble.  Turn to low heat and allow the cranberries to pop.  Some of the cranberries will keep their form, while others will not.  It will thicken up a bit, around 15 (if frozen) minutes.  Taste to see if it needs more sugar.  You still want the sour tang, but not overpowering you that you’re in a constant pucker face. Take off heat.

Assemble: If you have a pizza peel, then you could put some parchment on it and roll out your pastry dough on top.  I have a pizza stone in my oven at all times & I simply slide the parchment with galette onto the stone.  If you don’t have either of these, then put the parchment paper on a jelly roll sheet or cookie sheet.  Roll it to 12 inches.  Pour all of the cooked cranberries in the middle of the rolled out dough.  You should have about a 2-3 inch circle of dough without cranberries on it.  Carefully, fold up one part of the dough onto the cranberries.

Then, going counterclockwise, continue making folds with pleats, until you get to the last fold of dough.  Brush your beaten egg over the dough & sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  OR…till the pastry puffs & is a lovely golden color.  Let it cool for around 25 minutes before you slice into it.