It’s About the Spices!

I love spices, I collect spices, I use spices.

Enter Istanbul.  There was no question that I would wander the aisles and stalls at the Spice Market.  The sights, colors and aromas!  No question that I would pack the suitcase with little bags of spices. All types of spices.  No question at all.

What I didn’t know was that I would bring back pistachios, dates, figs, teas, manti and a wonderful spicy red pepper paste used during our culinary class (and lunch) with Eveline at Cooking Alaturka.  Eveline and her chef were the most gracious instructors providing all the “ins” and “outs” of the Spice Market.  Right down to the stall where she buys her red pepper paste.

I am dreaming of Istanbul today…and yes, my spices need replenishing!

In honor of my beloved SPICES,  on my plate today is Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls and Pistachio Cardamom Cake.

Istanbul Spice Market

Spice Market Front Entry

Spice Market

Spice Market

Spice Market

Amazing sweets at little shops and the market.

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Delight

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Sweets

Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls ~ Based on Eveline’s Spicy Red Lentil Balls substituting 1 pound ground chicken breast for Bulgar and lentils.

Turkish Spices

Saute Chicken Balls

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

My only regret of the evening was that I did not jot down the ingredients as I created this dish.  Red pepper perfection…my husband asked for it again soon….so…will make a recipe card for round two.

Dessert was perfect….spicy and nutty!

Pistachio Cardamom Cake ~ Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert.

Pistachio Cardamom Cake


2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) unsalted or salted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup (60 g) sliced almonds, preferably unblanched


3/4 cup (95 g) shelled unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup (35 g) plus 3/4 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) butter in a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan set directly on the stovetop over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool briefly. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the melted butter, then add the almonds, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute them evenly. Set the pan aside.

To make the cake, in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulverize the pistachios with the 1/4 cup (35 g) flour until as finely ground as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.

Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or seal them inside a sturdy plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add the crushed seeds to the pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the 1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) butter and 1 cup (200 g) sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (110 g) flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir it into the butter-egg mixture. Stir in the pistachio mixture just until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan by dropping 4 or 5 mounds on top of the almonds. Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, trying not to disturb the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.

Cardamom, Pistachio and Almonds

Crushed Cardamom

Last Egg into Batter

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

Linked to: Wanderlust and Lipstick


5 responses to “It’s About the Spices!

  1. Carole DelTurco

    WOW So many choices.

  2. What a colorful array and a very inspiring cake! GREG

  3. A Turkish Delight indeed! I love your photos – it really brings the place and those spices to life.

  4. Everything looks so beautiful– I want to get those spices, too.

    Love your photos and the cake recipe sounds fantastic.


  5. Is it wrong of me dreaming of jumping into those spice baskets and just “basting” around the smells????

    Yeah, I think it may be wrong…

    let me go back to dreaming it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 21 other followers

{Random food and photos}
%d bloggers like this: