Monday, February 4, 2013
Orange Cardamom Cookies
A few months ago, I received some Barnes and Noble gift cards. I briefly considered buying a Nook, thinking that it would be easier to use an e-reader while taking care of a baby, and that it would be nice not to have to go to the library in order to pick up something to read.
It's almost like I forgot who I am!
I have always loved libraries and used bookstores. Truly, they are some of my favorite places in the world. I love the musty smell, the cozy cluttered feeling, the sheer feeling of possibility! What will I find around the next corner? What adventures lie between the covers of that well-worn volume? I find the whole situation very romantic.
Did you know that only an estimated 3% of Americans actually use the public library system? That is a shockingly low number. It's like people don't realize that it's completely free, and super convenient! Especially in a large city like Chicago, there's almost always a library within walking distance, and if the closest branch doesn't have the title you're looking for, you can request it online. They send it to the branch of your choice, notify you by e-mail when it's ready, and you just go pick it up! So easy! So completely free, too.
Whether my trip to the library is just another stop in a day full of errands, or the destination of a morning walk with my girl, I usually don't just beeline it to the holds shelf, get my requested books, and head out. I usually take at least a few minutes to take a peek at new arrivals, or browse for fiction I might not have heard of anywhere else. I don't always find something, but sometimes I find little gems like this book, Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen, by Donia Bijan. I'm honestly not that far into it yet (true to form, I'm in the middle of several books at a time), but the first few chapters have been delightful. I love memoirs where each chapter is accompanied by a recipe or two. It's as if the author is using the food to tell the story, which just makes sense. Food is so tangled in all of our stories.
I made these cookies on a snowy afternoon last week, and as they cooled I brewed a pot of black tea with crushed cardamom pods; it was a fragrant and comforting treat. The cookies have a buttery, crumbly texture, aren't too sweet, and are just lightly kissed with cardamom. I hope you'll give them a try!
Orange Cardamom Cookies
adapted from Maman's Homesick Pie
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
grated zest of 2 oranges
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until white and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and blend well, another minute or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg yolk and orange zest, and blend well again. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cardamom and poppy seeds and fold in, mixing until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead a few times to bring it together. Divide the dough in half and shape the halves into 8- to 10-inch-long logs. Wrap the logs in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, and arrange them 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden on the edges.