Saturday, February 2, 2013

Food Matters Project: A Magical Combo of Cardamom and Pear x 3

We've come full circle and I am thrilled to be hosting The Food Matters Project once again, my first for 2013. Last April I selected a recipe full of Springtime flavors: Fish Braised in Rhubarb Sauce. My first attempt was rhubarb-less; my second attempt was successful. I will definitely be making that again when rhubarb appears on market shelves in a few months. In November, I hosted Braised Beef with Barley.

This time, my recipe pick was driven by an admittedly silly play on words; I wanted to cook a "We're quite a 'pear'!" dinner for Jake...not for Valentines'. I actually - and unapologetically -  boycott Valentines' (click to read why I really dislike this 'holiday.'). So, we did this dinner this weekend, two full weekends early.

I chose Mark Bittman's Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp for The Food Matters Project piece and - inspired by the magical combination of cardamom and pear - rounded out the dinner, using them in all three courses. I'd made an Earl Grey Poached Pear Salad for Thanksgiving that was fabulous. So I repeated it and drizzled it with a vinaigrette made with cardamom, pumpkin seed oil, olive oil, and pear vinegar that my parents had given me.

I: Earl Grey Poached Pears on Winter Greens 
with a Cardamom-Pear Vinaigrette

If you know nothing else about making vinaigrettes, remember this ratio: three parts oil, one part vinegar. Then you can add any herbs or spices that you want.

II: Cardamom-Scented Lamb Stew with Pears
Click Title, above, for Recipe Post

With the last of the lamb from the EcoFarm Butchery Seminar (click to read my piece - From Carcasses to Culinary Masterpieces -  for Edible Monterey Bay), I decided to make lamb stew...tagine-style: slow cooked and braised at a low temperature.

And what you've all been waiting for...

My recipe differed from Bittman's; you can find my recipe here. However, since I'm playing hostess this week, here's Bittman's original version:

4 T butter + some for greasing the pan
2 T vegetable oil
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C chopped nuts
1 T lemon juice
1 C rolled oats
1/2 C whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
3 lbs pears, cored and sliced
1 t cardamom

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8 or 9" pan with a little bit of butter. Cream the butter, oil and sugar together, using a mixer or fork. Stir in the nuts, lemon juice, oats, flour, and salt, until combined and crumbly. You can make the topping ahead of time, if you like.

2. Put the pears in the prepared dish, sprinkle with cardamom, and toss to coat. Crumble the topping over all. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is starting to brown, 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately, or at least while still warm.

Click to read what all of the creative cookers in The Food Matters Project made: here. Look in the comments section. Then, join us next week when Aura, of Dinner with Aura, hosts us making Bittman's Oatmeal Griddle Cakes!


  1. what a great idea - we're quite a ear dinner. I also hate the holiday but have been having fun with heart shaped food. Don't ask.

  2. Loved your pic this week Camilla! I didn't have time to cook but it sure sounds like a great recipe.

  3. Love the idea of doing a theme for dinner in all 3 courses- so creative!!! I didn't get a chance to make the fall recipe when you hosted, this was definitely a hit this time, thanks for choosing a great one!


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