From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I have had in my lifetime, the good fortune to include in the circle of my cherished familiars, two women whose powers of observation gave them the uncanny ability to see what others could not. One was a constant figure in my childhood and I spent many hours sitting at her table, absorbing by osmosis the lessons she chose to share. Her roots were Swedish and, as the mother of five, four of whom were boys who ranged in age from 10 to 41, I was taken under her wing because she missed having a girl to teach. She was a tall, raw-boned woman with a keen and empathetic eye. Her appearance was imposing and her demeanor, while often stern, hid a shyness that she spent a lifetime trying to conceal. She fascinated me because her 10 year old boy was uncle to her daughter's 12 year old son and things like that really messed with my 6 year old mind. My uncles all had beards and here was a family where an older child called one younger, uncle. I inched my way into her affection with questions about that relationship, and I was slowly welcomed into the belly of her kitchen where I began to learn the glories of the Swedish table and the hospitality it offered. My keenest memories of her home and kitchen are triggered by certain smells. While the house smelled of starch and Murphy's flax soap, the kitchen was awash with the fragrance of cardamom, which back in the day, at least on the south side of Chicago, was considered to be an exotic spice. I learned how to make bread and pastries in that kitchen, and when I was troubled or overly thoughtful, which she could determine with a glance, I was plunked in a chair and given a cup of tea that was sweetened with cardamom sugar and we would have a "talk". We talked over bread and meatballs and the embroidery she tried to teach me, and while my house would never be as clean as hers, my pastry is a near match, as is the love of cardamom I carry to this day. I've chosen a simple cardamom cookie to share with you tonight. It's meant for the cookie jar rather than the tea table, but it shows what this spice can do to something as homely as an oatmeal cookie. These are large chewy cookies that have crisp edges and I really think you'll like them. The recipe, which I found in Food and Wine magazine, is truly simple and the cookies, which are deliciously sweet, come together easily. Here is how they are made.
Cardamom-Oatmeal Cookies...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food and Wine magazine
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) Whisk flour, cardamom, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
3) In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. At medium speed, beat in egg. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla until just smooth, then beat in dry ingredients. Fold in the oats. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
4) Using a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop 10 mounds of dough onto each baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake in lower and upper thirds of oven for 13 minutes, until cookies are puffy and set.
Halfway through baking swap sheets, top to bottom and bottom to top. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Yield: 20 3-inch cookies.
One Year Ago Today: Two Years Ago Today:Spiced Pumpkin and Oatmeal Cookies Pumpkin Scones with Whipped Orange Butter
Three Years Ago Today: Four Years Ago Today:Fennel and Celery Salad Mincemeat Tart with Apple and Streusel Topping