Cloves Whole - 45g pouch
Have a sore throat? That over-the-counter spray or mouth wash you’re gargling just may contain clove oil. Cloves and their oil are a source of eugenol, an anti-inflammatory compound that can leave a numbing sensation in the mouth. Eugenols also help to remove environmental pollutants from the body.
Superpowers: That’s not the only thing cloves have going for them. They offer fiber, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium, according to whfoods.com.
Cash crop: Cloves are the dried, unopened buds of the evergreen tree Syzygium, which is believed to have originated in Indonesia. Cloves provided an important - and expensive - export for the country and dominated hundreds of acres.
Hidden flavor: When I think of cloves, I think of pumpkin pie, chai and spiced apple cider. But it turns out those little buds also provide a flavor boost in garam masala, biryanis and pickles in Indian cuisine. They also flavor ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, says McCormickScienceInstitute.com. Chinese and German chefs rely on cloves to spice up their cookies and meat products.
Oily: High quality cloves release oil when squeezed. Another test of quality? Add one clove to one cup water. Good cloves float; stale ones sink, whfoods.com says. As with many spices, experts recommend buying whole cloves (which keep for one year) and grinding them yourself, rather than ground cloves (which only last for six months in the spice rack).
Cooking applications: Cloves have a strong bite to them, so go easy with them in recipes. If you want a better control over the flavor, try piercing an onion with whole cloves for soups and broths; remove after cooking. Or give your stuffing an update and add cloves, walnuts and raisins for a sweet remix.
Growers: Today cloves are grown commercially in the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, Pemba and Brazil.
Robin’s Favorite Gingerbread
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light molasses
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda and spices, then whisk together to mix evenly. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the molasses and egg to the creamed mixture and beat until blended. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until incorporated.
Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap, not your fingers, to press the dough together to form a thick, flat disk. Wrap it well and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the baking sheets. On a floured surface or pastry rolling mat, roll out the dough to about a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use gingerbread cutters to cut out the dough. With a metal spatula, transfer the cut dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. If desired, make holes in cookies for hanging as ornaments.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for small cookies and up to 10 to 12 minutes for the larger ones, or until firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. When completely cool, decorate with royal icing.
To make the icing: In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients on high for 5 to 7 minutes.
Variation: While the cookies are still hot, press raisins, currants, cinnamon red-hots or other decorative candies as eyes and buttons. Decorations can also be attached, using dots of royal icing as glue, after the cookies have cooled.
“The Cookie Party Cookbook” by Robin L. Olson