raisins: 4 posts

Chocolate Cake with Pistachios and Apricots

The romance that appeals to me has a dark side, such as the poetry of Paul Verlaine, novels by Mary Shelley, gowns by Elsa Schiaparelli and Alexander McQueen, and music by Modest Mussorgsky. In perfume, dark romance is expressed in fragrances like Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, Caron Nuit de Noël, Arquiste Nanban, and Guerlain Vol de Nuit. If I extrapolate this idea even further into flavors, then it would be my dark chocolate pound cake with pistachios and apricots. It’s darkly romantic and decadent.

Bitter chocolate is complex enough to be paired with a variety of other flavors, but the combination with pistachios and apricots is one that I love for its harmony. Apricots give a tart floral note, while pistachios hold their own. Their sweetness becomes more pronounced against the dark chocolate foil.

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Rum Raisin Cake

Next to the cookbooks written by my great-grandmother Olena, my other beloved ones are by the Ukrainian food writer Daria Tsvek. I love her voice, advice, and of course, recipes that highlight the flavorful Galician cuisine of Tsvek’s native Lviv. Last week I tried Tsvek’s rum raisin cake that comes from a book called For the Festive Table (До Святкового Столу). Published in 1973, it offers menus and recipes for holidays and celebrations, along with suggestions on how to organize one’s time and host dinner parties.

I picked up the book for my cookbook collection, but I ended up cooking so much from it that I made a photocopy to use in the kitchen. Tsvek’s imaginative and inventive flair fill the pages. She’s able to concoct an elegant feast out of the simplest ingredients, and reading her book I’m not even aware of the endemic Soviet shortages that must have made the task of a recipe writer difficult. Her rum raisin cake turned out to be buttery, crumbly and fragrant, a recipe to add to my baking repertoire.

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Sweet Tomato Chutney with Pistachios and Raisins

That tomato is a fruit becomes obvious once you pair it with sugar or sweet ingredients. One of the main aromatic components of tomato, furaneol, is also called strawberry furanone by fragrance and flavor chemists, because it’s such an important note in the complex berry aroma. Incidentally, it’s one of the reasons behind difficulties with tomato accords in perfumery–they smell of red berries if there is even a modicum of sweetness in the formula. It’s therefore natural to treat tomato in much the same way as you would a fruit–cooking it into jams, combining it with sweet pastry or melting it down with vanilla and caramel for an ice cream sauce. Or you can make it into a sweet chutney to be served with grilled meat or rice dishes.

tomato chutney

Chutney is an Indian sauce that may be raw or cooked, and the ingredients run the gamut from fruits and vegetables to beans and nuts. I’m a chutney fiend. I firmly believe that a dollop of chutney makes anything better–a sandwich, a bowl of rice, a piece of grilled chicken. So do many Indians, because not only do they excel in coming up with the most unusual chutney combinations, they don’t hesitate in pairing them together. For instance, spicy green coriander chutney is often partnered with a sweet date one. As you dip crisp eggplant fritters first in one, then the other and experience the explosion of flavor, you understand how silly is the whole idea of “less is more.”

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Saffron Cake Recipe

Saffron_cake2_1

Michelle Krell Kydd ended her article Saffron : The Flavor and Fragrance of Joy with the promise of sharing the recipe for saffron cake. Although saffron lends itself to many preparations, both sweet and savory, I find that the nutty warmth of whole wheat and the piney freshness of cardamom are the perfect backdrops for the full range of saffron’s flavor. In Indian and Middle Eastern desserts, saffron is often paired with cardamom, rose and the velvety richness of milk. Whispers of this classical composition can be noticed in this quick-bread. It combines the lightness of the crumb with the delicately chewy texture of the toasted crust. The voluptuous flavor of saffron lingers beautifully, attesting to the perfect name for this cake—Saffron Kiss.…

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Latest Comments

  • rox in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: I adore gingerbread!! I always buy some at my local German market because my family isn’t crazy about it, so I don’t need to bake a ton. I love L’Artisan’s… February 23, 2018 at 10:41pm

  • Emilie in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Woods-and-cola. It sounds like a fun new category of scent 🙂 It could rival the fruitichouli craze! I’m not sure I love the cola accent but would like to smell… February 23, 2018 at 5:31pm

  • Emilie in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Ah, thank you Victoria. I will have to build up the courage to ask the SA at David Jones if I may try a little of the pure parfum (they… February 23, 2018 at 5:25pm

  • Kate in Perfume With the Aroma of Gingerbread: Yes, I agree about the cola aroma! The ultimate woods-and-cola for me is Donna Karan Black Cashmere, of course 🙂 February 23, 2018 at 5:24pm

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