Cardamom Ice Cream

Cardamom Vanilla Bean Ice Cream w/ Pistachios

There are flavors that defy description because they are so unique to a single source and so unlike anything else that it’s virtually impossible to draw a comparison to anything. Cardamom is one of those flavors for me. Any attempt to describe it as tasting like anything else seems futile. I’ve read descriptors like “camphor” and “eucalyptus” and “lemon” and I suppose I can taste the eucalyptus in cardamom. It’s a sweet spice like cinnamon with the cool of mint but it tastes like neither. Cardamom is warm and intensely satisfying in its uses in both sweet and savory dishes. From chai tea to curry, basmati rice to ice cream, cardamom rocks whatever it touches.

Green Cardamom Pods

We had some heavy cream that needed to be used before it went bad and Jason suggested we make ice cream. I love vanilla ice cream but I wanted a little something more. Cardamom came to mind almost immediately. I found a recipe at that included both green cardamom pods and a vanilla bean – perfect! With a sprinkle of chopped pistachios, this beautifully flavored ice cream satisfies a craving for the exotic.

Cheers, Steve

Cardamom Ice Cream Recipe

2 cups whole milk or light cream

1 vanilla bean

8 whole green cardamom pods, cracked

¾ cup sugar

4 egg yolks

¾ cup heavy cream

Heat milk or light cream in a saucepan with the cardamom pods and vanilla bean. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove pan from heat and cover, allowing cardamom and vanilla to steep for approximately 20 minutes. Remove cardamom pods, split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into heated milk.

Beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow. Reheat the milk. While continuing to slowly beat the sugar/egg mixture, gradually add about ½ cup of the milk, enough to thin and temper the egg mixture, then scrape the egg mixture back into the milk and heat slowly until the custard thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t let the custard come to a boil. If it gets too hot too quickly the egg in the mixture will cook into lumps and the custard will “break.” Once the custard has thickened, take the pan off the heat and set the pan into an ice bath and continue stirring until the custard cools.

Beat the remaining heavy cream until just beginning to thicken and fold into the cooled custard. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is finished it will look like soft-serve ice cream. Scoop it into a freezer-safe container and freeze for another 2+ hours to allow it to harden before serving. Scoop and enjoy!

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Pink Lady Apple, Whole Milk Yogurt and Pistachio

I used to be a breakfast skipper. As a teenager, breakfast seemed out of the question because of my poor eating and sleeping habits. The thought of eating first thing in the morning made me feel ill because my belly usually felt queasy from my food hangovers. I’d stay up late every night, sleep in until the last possible second and then dash out the door to class, school was a short few blocks from home. Cereal took too long to pour into a bowl and my folks weren’t paying attention to my mid-week eating habits. Breakfast wasn’t a big deal in our home unless it was prepared on a weekend morning. I suffered from the lack of calories and struggled to stay awake in class. By the time afternoon rolled around, I would have made up for it by downing a couple of sodas, a Mars Bar and a Hostess Fruit Pie … or two! By the time most people were headed to bed, my gut was full of fat and sugar and sleep wouldn’t be possible even if I wanted it. The sugar and caffeine were enough to keep me going well into the night and the cycle continued.

Kashi Autumn Wheat Cereal, Whole Milk and Strawberries

Breakfast is now a must, no matter how pressed for time we might be. If we’re thinking ahead, we’ll prepare muesli and set it in the refrigerator before bed. Or we’ll set a pan on the stove, add water and steel cut oats, and then cover it to soak overnight. It cooks much more quickly the next morning. We keep boxed whole grain cereal on hand for a quick bowl before dashing out for the day. At the very least, breakfast on-the-go means a pb&j taken in hand for a quick nosh on the train or in the car on the way to the office.

If you google the phrase “importance of eating breakfast” you get approximately 250,000 hits, all on point and each reiterating the other. We need food when we wake to help us manage our blood sugar levels. If you think skipping breakfast will help you lose or keep the weight off, you’re missing an important fact of weight control. By starving in the morning we set ourselves up to give in to the temptation to eat more later on in the day. And we tend to succumb to the temptations of “junk food” more easily when we feel we’ve “earned” a reward for our morning abstinence. But I’m no dietitian or nutritionist and I’m writing from personal experience here, not from any position of authority. Honestly, we all know we should eat small meals throughout the day and that our consumption should be when we get out of bed and stop well before returning to bed in the evening.

Waffles with Vanilla Bean Scented Pan Roasted Pineapple

On the weekends, we pull out all the stops and indulge in all the things we equate with a bountiful, decadent breakfast – eggs, bacon and/or sausage, potatoes, pancakes, waffles. We don’t hold back on hollandaise and cheese. We cook with butter or bacon fat without thinking twice. If we had the time, we’d probably eat that way every morning and reduce our consumption throughout the rest of the day.

I can’t imagine returning to breakfast-free mornings. Thankfully, I never have to worry about where my next meal will come from.