Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cardamom and Pistachio Bread

Ever since I moved to our new home, I've been in a very "receptive" mood lately, enjoying to receive guests over - whether it be planned or a last minute surprise visit. I always enjoyed having guests over and cook a good meal for them. So far it's been a pleasant and satisfying experience. Having a custom designed kitchen doesn't really make a difference in the way I prepare food, because as most of us know, preparing a good meal really comes from the heart. However, cooking in an environment where I feel very much at home, does make a difference in the way I greet guests. I'll do the little extra things that I would normally see in magazines, such as making more interesting hors-d'oeuvres, appetizers or desserts.

I really enjoyed the company of our last dinner guests because the company and the conversation were both interesting elements of the evening. When we start discussing about anything from silly tabloids on Michael Jackson to heavy topics on Sartre's philosophy....the evening just flies by....especially when your discussion ends up revolving around food. These little cardamom and pistachio breads were great for an-after-dinner tea seance. They were light, yet very tasty. I never realized how versatile cardamom can be in cooking. They just bring out so much flavour in a very simple dessert, when combined with another aromatic ingredient, such as vanilla and almond extract...and now with pistachios.

Cardamom with pistachio is a heavenly combination. The fragrance is very buttery and nutty.

For this recipe, you may want to add more pistachios if you'd like to taste them more as I find that the cardamom overpowers the pistachios. This bread is also great for an afternoon tea or even a brunch.

Preparation: 15 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes

Recipe "au pif":
3/4 cup (about 140g) pistachios, shells removed
1 1/2 tsp (about 18
cardamom pods), ground cardamom (shells removed and seeds ground in mortar and pestle)
1/3 cup softened butter (heart friendly alternative : Becel Gold buttered flavoured margarine -with a hint of saltiness with the aroma of butter)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granular raw cane sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup fresh cheese (fromage frais) * if you can't find it in your grocery store - plain yogurt can also be used

Preheat oven at 350F

In food processor, grind the pistaschios untilyou reach a grainy texture.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the ground pistaschios, the cardamom, the butter and vanilla, with an electric hand mixer.

Then add in half of the flour and half of the sugar. Mix.

Add in the rest of the flour and the sugar, in addition to the eggs and the fresh cheese. Mix for a good 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are well incorporated. The texture of the batter should be grainy and thick.

Pour the batter in a greased baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out clean.

Serves 6-8 people
Share and enjoy with a great cup of tea or coffee.

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