When I think of spices, cinnamon is the first one that comes to mind. There is just something enthralling about the golden quills and something exotic about the aroma of cinnamon that keeps me coming back for more. I love the way it enhances my morning porridge and makes a wonderfully decadent morning snack used in the universally common cinnamon toast. Ever had cinnamon toast with sliced strawberries on top? Exquisite!
Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Complex spices are built up in mixtures by using spices (or herbs) that complement each other. Some are used for their taste, others for their aroma” (Norman, 2004, pg 137). I have to say, I use cinnamon mostly for its aroma. Try making a fresh cinnamon cake before guests arrive. I can guarantee you that you will be complimented for your cooking simply by the appealing scents winding their way out of the kitchen. Freshly baked bread will do the same thing, so try making your own raisin toast, with a few pinches of cinnamon thrown in as well of course, and you’ll be salivating before the bread comes out of the oven.
You can buy cinnamon in powdered form as well in the sticks (officially called quills). I tend to use the powder most and there is really no scientific or culinary explanation for this, only that I was exposed to the powdered form from an early age. My mother doesn’t use many spices but the one she did religiously have in the house was cinnamon. We used to make our own cinnamon toast, and of course we had apple and cinnamon muffins too. But I find the quills to be exciting now that I have my own kitchen. I love the way the bark slowly opens out as the meal cooks, and the subtle hint of the cinnamon when used in this way.
I love the way Norman (2004, pg 144) describes cinnamon, “Cinnamon has a warm, agreeably sweet, woody aroma that is delicate yet intense; the taste is fragrant and warm with hints of clove and citrus”. Are your interests peaked like mine? Are you excited to try cinnamon at your next meal? I know I am so I’m thinking breakfast tomorrow will be apples and dates spiced with cinnamon and served atop pancakes – yum!
So, what will you have with cinnamon in it?
Will you have:
- Chai tea? Add 5 cardamom pods, 10 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1cm piece of thickly diced fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to 3 cups of boiling water and steep with 4 teabags while simmering in a saucepan for 5 minutes, and then cool for 10 minutes. Add milk and warm together with the spiced tea and sweeten. Makes 1 litre of tea (The Australian Women’s Weekly 1000 Best-Ever Recipes from AWW, 2008, pg 13).
- Pears poached in apple juice and spiced with a cinnamon stick? You could reheat the spiced apple juice and you’ve basically got warm apple cider.
- Add cinnamon to your coffee or hot chocolate?
- Vegetarian or lamb tagine?
Don’t just use cinnamon in sweet dishes either, as its woody aroma is fantastic when paired with meat. I really recommend you find a tagine recipe and try it out as it tastes great and is well worth the effort (and I say this as a non-red meat eater who will occasionally eat the lamb tagine just because it tastes so good). And you know what, cinnamon also has health benefits. Evidently it will lower your cholesterol as well as help with a host of other ailments and illnesses. It’s an amazing spice and one that I love for so many reasons and now I found out it also promotes great health.
So, are you going to try some cinnamon? Will you make a great healthy choice by using some cinnamon this week and spicing up your life? Please leave a comment and tell me what happened, or why you love cinnamon.
Norma, J. (2004). Herb and Spice: The Cook’s Essential Companion. Dorling Kindersley Limited, London.
Australian Women’s Weekly (2008). The Australian Women’s Weekly 1000 Best-Ever Recipes from AWW. ACP Books, Sydney.