2.17.2010

The first step to food...spice



Where to begin with food. I'm obsessed with spices...I don't mean a little obsessed I mean A LOT obsessed...I want to know about every spice in the world and what use they have in terms of health and taste, and what recipes they are used in. I like finding creative ways to use spices in more contemporary and non-traditional ways. I think this is a new trend in the chocolate world (eg.vosges chocolates) and it seems to be picking up in the world of pastry and desserts. There are books galore on the spice route (I find the history of the relationship between colonialism and spice quite fascinating) Spices have healing qualities and there is new research all the time proving the benefits of eating (or drinking) spice. Here are a few of my favourite little spice additions to everyday classics.


spiced up coffee 
recipe for one...just multiply recipe for more folks

1 cup of espresso
soy milk or whatever milk you prefer (everyone likes a different amount)
1/4 tsp cinnamon or cinnamon stick
a teeny weeny drop of ground clove or a whole clove
1/4 tsp cardamom - ground or pod

To start steep the spices in your milk over the stove or in the microwave (for the cheaters) and then add hot espresso...or for the quicker version, what I do is place the ground spices in a mug, add the hot milk and then pour (from high above..be careful not to spill everywhere - this happens) the hot espresso. There you have it, hot and frothy spiced up coffee. Perfect to have with a fresh banana (my perfect compliment with its creamy texture against the spicy, hot smooth coffee) or morning muffin (muffin recipes to come soon - promise)

cardamom vanilla infused ricotta cream
recipe for 2
This is an absolutely easy and delicious (and even low fat!) alternative to cheesecake. I make this dessert often when I don't feel like heating up the house with my oven.

150-200g low fat ricotta cheese (basically a small little tub)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla bean paste - use fresh vanilla bean please - if you don't have it than use real vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar/something sweet - I use maple syrup sometimes or unrefined demerara sugar
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice and zest (this keeps it fresh)

Basically place all ingredients into bowl and whip with whisk or beater until all mixed. I don't like to have the ricotta too sweet as you can serve it with sweeter items.

some ideas...
Cut up some fresh fruits - mangoes, strawberries, kiwis (whatever might be in season where you live) or use frozen blueberries and other fruits if not in season. Let them defrost and place the ricotta cream on top. I crumble homemade biscuits (or graham crackers, granita cookies) on top and voila! delicious and healthy dessert.
You could also serve this ricotta with pancakes or crepes for a delicious accompaniment. What a yummy morning that would be...

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