It's all about the... cardamon and the kale and the artichoke.. - Jen's Kitchen

It’s all about the… cardamon and the kale and the artichoke..

Back in the kitchen with a bang this morning, and as I walked into cookery school I remembered how awfully nervous I was this time last week, and how wonderfully at home I feel this week.  The cooking went well, I did not seem to have an extensive list of dishes, but jointing the chicken and segmenting the grapefruit tutorials took time.  The Arjard salad I made took me out of my comfort zone in both taste and methodology.  But the resulting dish was pleasant and fitting with the other courses.

Arjard Salad
The Arjard Salad

The Grapefruit Starter was time consuming to prepare but the resulting taste was wonderfully fresh, and well worth the effort of grape peeling.

Grapefruit Starter
Grapefruit Starter

We started the demo after lunch, as per usual, and settled in to watch Rachel ( and Pat) run through a miriad of dishes and techniques.  Some of my favourite foods were included; Green Cardamon, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chocolate and Kale.

Kale is the epitome of the healthy winter vegetable, and my grandmother often put it in mashed potato for dinner, I presume to try to get greens into my sister, as opposed to some haute cuisine.  We only ever had the curly variety, and I’m not sure, even now, I’ve ever tasted the other two in the below picture.

Different types of Kale
Different types of Kale

My Finnish Sister in law use to keep me in stock of cardamon prior to its availability in this part of the world.  We were introduced to the Black or Brown variety today, of which I had never seen or heard.  Although not strictly related, they both belong to the ginger family. I just love the fragrance of the green cardamon, and am particularly fond of the Finnish Sweet Bread, pulla. Worth noting that cardamon is the third most expensive spice in the world…. just aswell I use it sparingly.


The poor Jerusalem artichoke is a much maligned vegetable.  I personally love it. I love it’s knarls and imperfections.  Here’s a poem I wrote about it while studying Food Writing in UCC. Worth noting, it is not strictly an artichoke, but is, like a true artichoke, also a member of the daisy family.

“Ode to Pimmy”

Although knarled and twisted like the old gardeners hands that tend your roots

You sit patiently in the sodden ground

Not wishing to shine in the sun like your cousins

Content to rest, the earthbound apple.

AND it’s a true super food.  10% protein, very little starch, and no oil.  What is does contain, especially in the colder countries it is cultivated in, is the carbohydrate inulin.  This gives this particular vegetable it’s sweet taste, as inulin is a polymer of fructose.  But take care, inulin cannot be broken down by the human digestive system, only by bacteria found in our gut, so sometimes this particularly plain looking vegetable, can, when eaten, cause a little bit of an upset!

John Goodyer’s entry for Jerusalem artichoke in the 1633 edition of Gerard’s Herballconcluded: In my judgement, which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir up and cause a filthie loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be much pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than man; yet some say they have usually eaten them, and have found no such windy quality in them”.

And the Chocolate? That’s tomorrows story..

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