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    Entries in flowers are food (11)


    Dessert from the desert

    So, it seems that over the past week recipes have not only specialized in having naughty words or phrases in the title, they've also been from the same general area.

    Hummus and pita are pretty well known middle eastern / Mediterranean foods and make a great meal on their own, or on a platter with a few other nibbly things. Of course, at the end of dinner, there's always dessert. Baklava is the usual thing, yes, but never one to be normal, I decided to go for something a little different.

    I've moved south into the area known in trashy romance novels as Persia. I write medievals mostly, and Iran was known as Persia until well into the 20th century. Persia was quite the superpower, and held its own against the Romans in ancient times. But its proximity to the east, bordering Pakistan, seems to have removed it not only from western culture, but also a bit from the rest of the middle east, at least in culinary terms. Spices that feature prominently in curries and other Indian dishes (curry is English yes, but the spices are Indian) appear regularly in Persian foods. Cardamom being one of my favourites.

    Cardamom is what drew me to these little cakes. And then I saw the rose water. There is something exotic and luxurious about eating flowers and I will take any opportunity to do so. Put the two together and I am guaranteed to want to try the recipe.

    LIke this one:

    Yazdi Cakes

    What you need:

    2 eggs

    1/2 cup white sugar

    3/4 cup butter, melted

    1/2 cup plain yogurt

    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

    3 teaspoons rose water

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1/4 c chopped pistachio nuts


    What you gotta do:

    Preheat the overn to 350.

    Get a pan of water simmering on the stove.

    Crack your eggs into a metal or glass bowl, add the sugar, and set the bowl over the pan of simmering water.

    With a whisk (or electric mixer if you insist), beat them together until they look pale and creamy. It will take about 6 or 8 minutes, and you'll think at first that they're never going to change colour and thicken, but they will. And when they do, they'll look like this:

    Srsly, there is nothing in that bowl but eggs and sugar. What you've basically made here is a the beginnings of a very light custard called zabaione. This is the Mediterranean influence.

    Once you've decided that you do want to make cakes, and not veer off into the land of custard, remove the bowl from the heat, and keep whipping it until it's cooled a bit. Yes, I did this by hand with a whisk. No, I don't have forearms like Popeye, but I also don't have (or want) an electric mixer. I can make whipped cream by hand in less than 3 minutes.

    Anyway, once it's cooled a bit, add the butter, yogurt, rosewater and cardamom. The last two are your more eastern ingredients.

    See how thick and creamy that yogurt looks? That's because it has fat in it. I've managed to find a brand of yogurt with 10% milk fat. The typical complaint about yogurt is that it's unpallatably sour. Well, that's because most of what you find in the grocery has a mere 0 - 2% MF. It's watery and thin, bluish in colour, and virtually inedible unless it's loaded with sugar (or more commonly, artificial sweeteners). You want something with at least 5% MF. Even if you're using yogurt to decrease fat content, such as a replacement for sour cream, you're still ahead of the game since sour cream is usually 14% MF. And you know why it tastes good? Yeah, that's why 0% yogurt tastes like crap.

    Once you've mixed in the butter, yogurt, cardamom and rosewater

    sift the baking powder into the flour, add them to the batter, and switch to a wooden spoon (no mixer allowed here).

    Mix until smooth, then fill 12 cupcake liners about 3/4 full.

    Coarsly chop your pistachios, (the above pic is pistachio porn for Taneasha, who loves them) and sprinkle them on the top of the cakes.

    Bake at 350 until they're golden, about 25 minutes.

    The smell is divine. They have a decidedly exotic aroma, but that familiar and comforting cupcake shape. 

    If it weren't for the pistachios on top, you'd probably want to put icing on these, but really, they're just not made for it. They're wonderfully rich and flavourful all on their own. The texture is dense, almost muffin like, which makes them a tempting breakfast. Particularly with a side of yogurt and berries.

    If you absolutely insist that they need something on them, I recommend splitting them open like a muffin and topping them with butter, honey or rose petal jelly.

    Yes, more roses. Have you ever eaten flowers?

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