Category Archives: Spice Rack Challenge

May Spice Rack Challenge ~ Coriander

Oh, she may be pretty, but you can't trust her.

I’ll be the first to admit that cilantro is my nemesis.  Not in the good way either.  Not in the way that you want to use it but you’re not sure how and you experiment with it but can’t seem to conquer it and bend it to your will.  A challenge is always a good thing.  Flexibility makes you broaden your horizons and think about things in new ways.  Stretching yourself is good.  Cilantro, however is not good. 

Cilantro is my nemesis in the full sense of the word.  According to Merriam-Webster, a nemesis is one who inflicts retribution or vengeance.  Cilantro was put on this earth to punish me.  For what, I do not know, but that it does I am sure.  I hate cilantro.  It tastes like soap.  And not good, homemade, bacon-soap either.  Something horrid and chemical-riddled like Irish Spring or Dial.  Cilantro has ruined more salsas and chutneys for me than I care to count.  Apparently I’m not the only one that hates cilantro; this blog: http://ihatecilantro.wordpress.com/ is devoted entirely to the loathing of the icky stuff.  So, when I saw that coriander was the spice of the month for the Spice Rack Challenge (Hm.  Maybe there is a marketing niche here: Spice of the Month Club, anyone?) I was distraught.  Coriander is unfortunately, the offspring of a cilantro plant.  Anyone Any food with genes as bad as cilantro’s can’t possibly turn out well. 

I’ve purposely avoided coriander for years because I’m afraid of its fiendish lineage.   So, I put this challenge off as long as possible and then decided that something sweet might help mask the flavor that I assumed would be horrible.  Luckily for me, coriander isn’t nearly as wretched as her mother.  In fact, she’s actually quite pleasant. 

I halved the recipe because I was afraid it would be horrible and noted other changes as well.

Curry Coriander Shorties Courtesy of epicurious

Ingredients:

  •  1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/ cup sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7/8 cup all-purpose flour

 Preparation:

(The original recipe called for the spices to be toasted.  I did not toast mine so I can’t tell you if it is worth the time it takes to complete that step.) Preheat oven to 350°Fwith racks in upper and lower thirds.(I baked mine in the middle and didn’t rotate.) Blend butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt with a rubber spatula. Whisk together flour and spices, then blend into butter mixture with spatula. Form 1-inch balls of dough and arrange 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets. With side of a floured pencil or chopstick, press an X into top of each cookie, gently flattening to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  I just shmeared the batter into the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool.

While I wasn’t disgusted by the flavor, I have never understood the attraction to shortbread.  Sure, it’s easy and doesn’t taste terrible, but it’s typically dry.  And crumbly.  If I ever decide to bake cookies with coriander again I’ll probably try a nice sugar-cookie base.  Actually, a coriander-curry sugar cookie with a ginger frosting would probably be amazing.

I took pictures, but they were very un-exciting.  The golden color from the yellow curry didn’t really show and they just looked like plain shortbred squares so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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April Spice Rack Challenge: Fermented Dill Beans

Okay, I’ll admit it.  Dill is almost exclusively a pickling spice for me.  Maybe reading all the delicious recipes everyone else in the challenge came up with will help me, but I didn’t actually have dill in my spice rack.  I grow it and use it fresh but don’t really do anything with it outside of the summer months.  I did have a few sad-looking heads of dill lingering in the kitchen, so I threw them into a quart jar with a handful of cleaned green beans, some water, a chili, some garlic and 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt.  Then I filled a Ziploc bag with water, tucked it down into the jar to keep air out and ignored it all for a while.  After about two weeks I had delicious dill beans. 

Lame I know, but there it is.  Spice Rack Challenge.

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March Spice Rack Challenge: Cardamom Rolls

I’ll admit I’m a slacker procrastinator.  I’ve always been that way.  I used to pull all-nighters to get my college papers done.  I could have paced myself like a reasonable human being, but that wouldn’t have been much fun.  So, as usual, my post is going up on the last day of the window.  At least it isn’t midnight.  Yet.

Add to the procrastination the fact that I didn’t even know what I was going to make until my lunch break this afternoon and you begin to get the full picture. I didn’t even find the recipe myself.   When I walked home for lunch I was grateful to see Mr. Hippie had googled some recipe choices.  (Is googled a proper verb???)  The first was a delicious-sounding Indian recipe.  I wanted to try it out but it required me purchasing (and taking the time to shop for) several spices we are currently out of.  And yes, I know I just dangled a preposition but, “spices of which we are currently out.”  just doesn’t sound right, now does it?  I also just started yet another sentence with a conjunction; DO NOT TELL MY THIRD GRADERS!!!  Indian chicken would have been nice, one of my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days is: 40. Make an Indian meal from scratch.  However, since as I have previously mentioned, I am a procrastinator and procrastinators do not have time to go gallivanting around town procuring spices at the last-minute.

Back to the point.  When I came home at lunchtime, Hubby also shared the recipe for Grandma Georgie’s Cardamom Rolls with me.  He knew I was working on a deadline and had even taken my time constraints into account.  I printed out a copy, wolfed down half my lunch and headed back to school.

After school, my afternoon went something like this:

  1. Get dressed for spin class at Yen Yoga.
  2. Read Recipe:Grandma Georgie’s Cardamom Rolls
    (Mind you, she’s not my Grandma, but her rolls sounded delicious.) Ingredients:
    1 cup butter
    1 3/4 boiling water
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 T. salt
    2 teaspoons ground cardamom
    7 1/2 teaspoons yeast
    2 eggs
    7 cups flour
    1 teaspoon oil
  3. Cut the butter up into the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer.  Add sugar and salt.  Pour boiling water over it.  Drag out the coffee bean grinder, wipe it out and coarsely grind 2 teaspoons of whole cardamom.  Dump the cardamom into the bowl and stir the mixture until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. 
  4. Put on your running shoes and wash your hands again while you wait for the liquids to cool to 105 degrees so that you don’t kill the yeast and coddle the eggs.
  5. Add the yeast, eggs and flour to the liquids in the bowl.  Mix to form a runny dough. Lightly oil the top of the dough, cover it with a damp cloth napkin and let rise in the slightly warmed oven until doubled in size.
  6. Run to spin class.
  7. Discover that, for once you are early for class. 
  8. Realize that, while you may be early, you have forgotten both your hair tie and your water bottle.
  9. Find a hair tie and get a compostable paper cup of water.
  10. Spin.
  11. Walk/ run intervals home.
  12. Clean up, punch down the dough and knead in the Kitchen Aid until soft and springy adding more flour as needed, about 12 minutes.  Grease a cookie sheet. 

    They were golf ball-sized.

    Form the dough into golf ball-sized rolls and place them 2 inches apart on the greased sheet.  Grease a muffin tin.  Fill it with golf ball-sized rolls.   Grease another cookie sheet. Repeat.  Let the rolls double in a warm place until double, about 50 minutes.

    Doubled in size and ready to bake.

  13. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls until the bottoms are browned and the tops are golden, 12-15 minutes.

    Finished rolls.

Mine took exactly 12 minutes and made exactly 28 rolls as the recipe stated. 

Verdict?  Excellent.  The texture of the rolls is perfect and the cardamom adds a subtle flavor.  The kids loved them.  Probably because of the 1 1/2 cups sugar.  We’ll definitely be making these again.  Next time I make them (with or without cardamom, because I think this is a great basic roll recipe) I will cut the sugar in half, but it could probably be reduced even more.  I’ve never made hot cross buns, but I think this recipe would make a great hot cross bun.

The only downside???  I used all the butter.  Don’t worry about me, Mr. Hippie already went to the store to buy another pound so that I won’t have to go without.

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