Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Spice - Cardamom

When I was 18, I moved out of my mom's apartment in Los Angeles to shack up with my then-boyfriend in San Francisco. At this time in my life, I really liked going to the supermarket.

The market was the perfect place to exercise my new found, albeit misguided, freedom. What, you don't think I can live off of Camel Lights and parmesan Goldfish Crackers this week? Watch me. Apparently, moving 450 miles north of everything and everyone I knew to live with a person who was earning his degree in, get this, performance art wasn't quite daring enough. Oh, no. I needed needed Steak-umms and Rice a Roni to introduce the freaky to the deaky. Why? Because I was raised in the 70's on bland, rennetless cheese infused "health" foods before any of that stuff tasted like something you'd feed to someone you loved. Also, I always went to the market stoned.

I was young. It was SF. Sue me.

Anyway, the reason I mention all of this is because I don't really like going to the market that much anymore. Not because I no longer smoke the marijuana but because the market closest to me is cramped and unreliable- sometime they have mint and horse radish, sometimes they you're shit outta luck.

After living in the Bay Area for awhile, one can't help leaning a little towards the foodie side of life. It's simple math: chanterelles outnumber Burger Kings there. And in all honesty, if it tastes divine, why the hell wouldn't you put macerated nasturtiums in your butter?

The need to skip so many trips to the foodlandia is why I'm excited that pantry weather is here and I can start relying on my spices to make goodies. No more hauling ass to Chinatown for fresh fruit for me.

First on the list - cardamom ice cream for Remy's birthday. Happy Birthday, Rem!

This recipe is from Sally Sampson's book Ice Cream: 52 Easy Recipes for Year-Round Frozen Treats published by Wiley.

Cardamom Ice Cream

2 c half and half
1 c sweetened condensed mil
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground cardamom*
4 large egg yolks, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

Place the half and half, condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cardamom in a small pan and cook over low heat, whisking from time to time, until it is warm.

Place the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a small metal bowl and whisk until completely mixed. Add 1/4 c of the warm half and half mixture to the eggs, whisking all the while.

Continue adding the half and half mixture to the eggs, 1/4 cup at a time, until you have added about 1 1/2 cups. Slowly, whisking all the while, return the now half and half and egg mixture to the remaining half and half mixture in the pan and continue cooking until it just begins to thicken. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain into a metal bowl, discard the solids and set aside until it reaches room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Transfer to an ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

*I did it this way but next time, I think I will do an infusion with the whole seed so it has a little bit of a more subtle taste. That is, I will use the seeds instead of ground cardamom, let it sit for awhile, strain, then continue with the recipe. Perhaps the cardamom that I bought at Patel Brothers is a bit stronger than the one Ms. Sampson uses. Don't get me wrong, it's fine but there is room for less - if that makes any sense.

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