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Cardamom and Coriander Soda Syrup


The cilantro we planted in our garden around Memorial Day, has already started to bolt some from the heat in recent weeks--it is nearly July after all--and shortly will start to go to seed.  Those seeds, as you may or may not know, are coriander.  They will first be plump and bright green, a wonderful ingredient in and of themselves, then maturing and drying to the tan spice with which we are more familiar.  They'll probably be showing up at the farmer's markets shortly too.

Cardamom comes from a tropical plant, so probably won't be making any appearances at my New York State farmer's markets or gardens, but is a flavor that seems to scream summer and snuggle up exceptionally well with summer flavors.  Peaches, apricots, lemons, pears, warm weather baked goods, and definitely coriander, all have a great affinity for pairing with cardamom.

This soda syrup is a vacation in a glass on a steamy summer day.  Mix it with seltzer (from my favorite appliance ever, the Sodastream Seltzer Maker) and a twist of lemon, for an "ethereal" homemade soda.  Or get a party started by adding some to your favorite cocktail; a splash in a vodka tonic, or a cardamom-coriander mojito, or just iced tea.  It would also be stunning drizzled over poundcake or tossed with berries or stone fruit.

Sip.  Sip.  Fizz.  Fizz.

CARDAMOM AND CORIANDER SODA SYRUP
by Catie Schwalb

Makes about 2 cups.

4 tablespoons whole green cardamom pods, crushed gently to expose inner black seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water

Place coriander seeds in a small pan on medium-high heat.  Toast gently, swirling frequently, until the seeds just start to become fragrant.  Immediately remove from heat and pan.

In a sauce pan combine sugar, water, coriander and cardamom.  Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a moderate simmer for about three minutes, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear.  Allow the syrup to sit and infuse with the flavors for at least and hour and up to overnight.  Refrigerate if leaving for longer than a couple of hours.

Strain syrup and discard spice solids.  Store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

To make cardamom and coriander soda--Combine about 1 oz of syrup to 12 oz of seltzer, fill the rest of the glass with ice.  Stir well.  Adjust syrup, if you prefer a stronger flavor.  Garnish with a slice of lemon.


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What I’m cooking this weekend.

a dog day of late spring.


Sparkling Panakam: This recipe from Heidi Swanson's (101cookbooks.com) new book Super Natural Every Day, is for a sparkling, spiced Indian beverage, certain to refresh between weeding turns in the gardens.  With lime, ginger cardamom and salt, it is described on Epicurioius.com as "a frosty cold, light, bright ginger beer".  Yes please.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake: This recipe was given to me by a great friend a year ago--a great friend indeed, as it came binder-clipped to a big paper bag full of homegrown rhubarb.  The rhubarb went to very good use, but I still haven't had the chance to try this recipe.  It came with a rave review and I can't wait.


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Spiced Cranberry, Ginger, and Pear Sauce


I was recently asked to be a guest blogger for the wonderful heart-healthy food blog What Would Cathy Eat? Cathy asked for a cranberry sauce for thanksgiving, that was less sweet than usual.  Here is the post and recipe below, in case you hadn't caught it on her site.  --Catie

For years, as a child at the 1970’s American thanksgiving table, I too believed that cranberry sauce was always cylindrically shaped, with neatly organized parallel rings encompassing it. That is not to say that my family were not great cooks, slaving for days before over dozens of homemade recipes. However, somehow that little wobbly dish seemed like a required fixture on the holiday table, that someone very well might miss if absent. Though it felt far from “food” and as a result, usually went untouched.

It also seemed somewhat sacrilegious to think of smearing that puckeringly sweet jelly on that luscious turkey meat that I had waited an entire year for. How could this red goo possibly improve on roasted perfection?

So I took a crack at it myself this year. Drawing on ideas of recipes like Duck with a Sour Cherry Sauce, or a deeply flavored Indian Chutney stirred into a chicken salad, ending up with a condiment that I would actually want to add to my turkey to add to it’s flavor. I eliminated a lot of the sugar found it most recipes (up to a cup of white sugar was common). It’s on the tart end of the spectrum, but balanced, with lovely spice notes that will be beautiful with the richness of the meat. I think it would also be outstanding dolloped on top of a bowl of Greek yogurt for breakfast the next morning, and though not yet tested, I imagine pretty great pureed and used as a base for a holiday prosecco cocktail.


SPICED CRANBERRY, GINGER AND PEAR SAUCE
By Catie Schwalb

Yields approximately 2 ½ cups

12 oz (3 cups) Fresh Cranberries
2 Bosc Pears, very ripe, peeled and finely diced
1 ½ TBS Fresh Ginger, grated
¾ cup Water
3 TBS Light Brown Sugar
1 3” Cinnamon Stick
¼ tsp Ground Cardamom
¼ cup Honey

Combine cranberries, pear, ginger, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and cardamom in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add the honey. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until the berries have collapsed and the pear had started to breakdown and dissolve.

Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and will also freeze well.
Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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