Almond-Cardamom Biscotti

Cardamom: an amazingly delicious spice that too many people are unaware of.

If you are one of those people, you may have had it in chai without knowing.  In fact, I have a recipe for Chai Snickerdoodles coming up that puts such a lovely, refreshing new twist on a classic.

I’ve been familiar with chai for much longer than I’ve been familiar with cardamom, itself.  I often wanted to get some cardamom goodness in the form of gelato, but every time I go, my local gelato joint doesn’t have it in stock.  At the grocery store, it’s a whopping $15 for a regular-sized spice jar of it.  There’s no way I can justify that!

Finally, last Saturday while dining out at Tapas Teatro in Baltimore, I got the hit of cardamom that has eluded me.  On the dessert menu was cardamom ice cream.  It turned out to be vanilla bean ice cream with ground cardamom sprinkled on top.  That was slightly disappointing to see, but after one bite, I was in heaven.  This. Was. Delicious.

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Phyllo Dough Pizza

It wasn’t long ago that I discovered phyllo dough.  I was browsing the internet one day looking for a new idea for preparing salmon.  I came across a recipe for salmon topped with cut asparagus and wrapped in phyllo dough.

I spent at least 20 minutes trying to find the stuff in the grocery store.  Finally, I located a store-brand box of phyllo dough in the freezer section with pie doughs, after looking there at least five times.

As you may know, phyllo dough is paper thin, and a million times more fragile.  It wasn’t pretty getting a thin section cut and wrapped around the salmon.  Phyllo dough and I weren’t off to a great start.

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My Grandmother’s Almond Biscotti

This is a childhood favorite.  Unbeknownst to me, I took my Italian grandmother’s biscotti for granted as a child.  She made it often, and it was delicious!  Later in life however, she no longer lived nearby, and she was no longer healthy enough to be slaving in the kitchen.

Store-bought biscotti is just awful in comparison, by the way.

I enjoy cooking, of course, but I’ve never been that interested in baking.  I like to improvise as I go along, after all, and baking has little room for doing so.  However, I recently was lucky enough to obtain a KitchenAid stand mixer, so I decided to bite the bullet and get my hands dirty.

I didn’t even have to think about what I wanted to make first: my grandmother’s biscotti, no doubt about it.  I was driven to accomplish this task, no matter the sacrifice.  Even if I had to fly to Florida and sift through everything in my grandmother’s residence to find the recipe, spend days in the kitchen covered in flour from head to toe with nothing but failures in the oven to show for it, mark my words I would prevail.

In reality, I texted my nearby aunt in case she had the recipe, and she texted me back with a picture of it.  Looking over the recipe, it seemed like some simple baking.  So that was easy.  Onward and upward to the kitchen, now.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Mushroom with Shrimp and a Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

I made this meal up as I went along.  I had been craving stuffed mushrooms, but the nice large portobello caps have been far too expensive at the grocery store.  Thankfully, I was able to get a pack of two big beautiful ones at Trader Joe’s for just over $2.

Mushrooms have such a great meaty texture that you could simply serve the stuffed mushroom with a salad without feeling like you were lacking a main dish.

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Panko-Encrusted Tilapia with Ribboned Asparagus Salad

This is another meal that’s on the quick and easy side.

I chose tilapia for my fish because it is affordable and mild.  I often buy swai for the same reason.  Check it out next time you’re at the store if you haven’t heard of it.  It’s only $3.99/lb around me, even for the version stuffed with a lobster and crab mix.

I usually cook my fish bare with some seasoning, but we’ve been eating a lot of fish lately, so it was time for a change-up.  Panko is much lighter and crispier than ordinary bread crumbs; it makes a big difference.

I also wanted to do something different with the asparagus I had bought.  I ordinarily cook the spears whole on a cast iron grill pan (which is fantastic, by the way).

I served the dish with a chipotle-sriracha mayo.

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Country-Style Pork Rib with Squash and Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous

I’m glad you made it.

As you can see, I’m just starting things off here, so please do check back often for new content!  Hopefully you’ve already read the “About” page to get an idea of what this place is… about.

Okay, let’s get on with it, then.

I have a delicious meal to share with you.  I chose this meal for my first post because I feel it is a prime example of what this blog represents: simplicity, approachability, and some darn good looks.  After all, I love a fancy-looking plate of food that was a breeze to make.  I promise.  You really don’t even need a recipe.  I don’t even like using the word “recipe” because it’s a bit of an oxymoron in relation to this blog.  I encourage you to use your intuition and personal taste in all things savory.  You can do it!

Without further ado, here’s the deliciousness we’re talking about today:

A country-style pork rib with a squash & sun-dried tomato couscous.  The sliver of cucumber serves a purpose, too.

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