Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Most folks think of cardamom as a spice found in Chai tea and Indian curries, but did you know that cardamom is used in many Finnish baked goods?


New York City is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. On the other side of Sicilian-born “Cuchidati” Joe, lived Madi, Steve and their three sons, second and third generation New Yorkers with roots in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Madi, a talented quilt designer, was the person who convinced me to move from a small apartment in Brooklyn Heights to a three-story house in West Midwood (an area further south in Brooklyn.) She even found me the house I bought.

As a "welcome to the neighborhood" gift, Madi gave me a copy of The Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook.

Ellis Island is a small island in the middle of New York harbor very close to the Statue of Liberty. From 1892 to 1954, it served as the main immigration station for over 12 million immigrants entering the United States. Today it is a historic site and offers tours.

The Ellis Island Cookbook features everything from Irish soda bread and Italian Easter egg bread to Austrian sweet and sour cabbage and Finnish cardamom cookies.

Through the years, I've changed the recipe several times. I removed the egg, changed white sugar to brown, and increased the amount of cardamom.

The cookies are best when you make them with freshly-ground cardamom, so before you try my recipe, go out and buy fresh cardamom pods, then remove and pulverize the seeds OR buy a fresh jar of ground cardamom.

Then, get a copy of the Ellis Island cookbook. Try the recipe as printed and do your own taste test, or try some of the other fascinating recipes in the book.
1 1/2 sticks butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp ground cardamom seed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Place butter, sugar and milk in the bowl of a food processor. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients, except for currants, and mix until barely blended. Do not over-mix. Dough should not be tacky.

Roll into small balls and stack in a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in freezer for no more than an hour or refrigerator for 2 hours (overnight in the fridge is fine.)

When you are ready to bake the cookies, take the bowl out of wherever it is and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place balls on a cookie sheet, leaving a bit of room for them to spread. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Cookies should still be very pale and slightly soft. As soon as you take them out of the oven, press a currant into the top of each cookie.

Makes about 3 dozen mysteriously delicious cookies.


NeereAnDear said...

These recipes are making my mouth water.... I have never thought about cardamon in cookies ... what an interesting twist...

Where can one find the Ellis Island Cookbook?



Barbara Jacksier said...

Just click on the Ellis Island Immigrant Cookbook (I linked it) or check out Amazon for used copies. It's definitely worth having.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog and your Hanukah cookies look yummy too! Thank you!
Sue H.