Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts

18 November 2007

Winter-Fruit-and-Walnut Crisp

Each kitchen has its own unique aroma. When I was young, my mother's tiny yellow kitchen in the apartment she and my father rented near the harbor was redolent with the spicy scents of ginger and cinnamon.

It was that kitchen that came to my mind as I sampled the first bite of my walnut crisp filled with winter fruit drenched in Calvados.

The taste was rich and sweet and layered, which is what I intended. It reminded me of the inside of my mother's spice drawer, or a photograph in a shelter magazine showing a kitchen filled with pine boughs and pewter.

It is entirely my invention, in that I did not seek inspiration anywhere but my own cupboard, intent on using up what I had on hand. There is nothing extraordinary about it - except the taste!

Winter-Fruit-and-Walnut Crisp

  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4-5 apples, chopped
  • 1-2 small red pears chopped
  • two tablespoons Calvados
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  • three tablespoons sugar
  • dash or two cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or graham flour
  • 1/2 stick or more cold butter
  • three tablespoons brown sugar

Place chopped fruit in bowl and toss. Drizzle with Calvados. Add vanilla, fructose and cinnamon and toss again. Place in greased 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

In a second bowl, mix chopped walnuts, flour and brown sugar mix. Cut in butter and blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour topping over fruit.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, until topping turns deep golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Even my husband liked it.

09 January 2007

McCormick Spice Flavor Forecast 2007

Grandma Annie always had a filled candy jar, especially this time of year, when Christmas leftovers were plentiful. More often than not, her jar was packed with little red-and-white striped pillows stuffed with peppermint creme.

What I very soon discovered was that more goodies were tucked away behind the centerpiece on her dining room buffet: Salted peanuts.

At about age 6, I tried the two together — mint and nut — and a lifelong craving for salt and sugar combinations was born.

I still cannot resist an unusual combination. It need not be sweet and salty. Mustard is one of my favorites: When honey-mustard flavors became widely available in everything from pretzels to potato chips, I was ecstatic.

A recipe that features unconventional pairings is irresistible to me. Fortunately, they are all over the blogosphere.

In January, when McCormick Spices sends out its annual flavor forecast to food writers I am always intrigued.

This year the top 10 pairings are, according to McCormick:

• Clove and green apple
• Thyme and tangerine
• Tellicherry black pepper and berry
• Sea salt and smoked lavender
• Lavendar and honey
• Crystallized ginger and salted pistachio
• Cumin and apricot
• Toasted mustard and fennel seeds
• Wasabi and Maple
• Carmelized garlic and Riesling vinegar

Lavender and honey, of course, are old friends.

Clove and green apple I can imagine: A burst of fresh tempered by a bite. I dipped a dried apricot into cumin and was instantly transported to a Middle East bazaar.

Thyme and tangerine: A heady night in the Mediterranean. Mustard seed and fennel? Provence, sunny and sweet. Sea salt and smoked tea: Imagine this rubbed into a steak, grilled to perfection.

You can try these and the others in recipes offered by McCormick. (No, I am not paid by McCormick. But I do get a a lot of interesting food mail at my day job. The annual flavor forecast is my favorite.)

What's your favorite taste combination? Be bold — and unconventional. (I like apple jelly on soda crackers, another throwback to childhood.)