The Spice Trail: your caraway recipes

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We always receive such a diverse array of entries for The Spice Trail, and this month’s caraway challenge has been no exception.

Caraway is certainly one of the less commonly used spices used in our kitchens and this is reflected in the lower number of entries this month. But even so, I have been enormously impressed by all the delicious, and sometimes surprising, caraway dishes entered. Each and everyone is a winner in my eyes, although there can only be one winner – more on that later. For now it’s time to take a look through your caraway recipes…

caraway pretzels

Caraway Pretzels from GoodFoodSeeking

Jacqui from GoodFoodSeeking is working her way through a 1948 Good Housekeeping cookbook she inherited and is blogging as she goes. After seeing pretzels being made in the Great British Bake Off she rather fancied trying some herself and was delighted to come across a recipe in the Good Housekeeping cookbook as a German bake in the ‘world’ chapter. I think they look absolutely wonderful, especially with that sprinkling of caraway seeds on top.

heart shortbread

Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt & Caraway Shortbread Hearts from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

These shortbread hearts from Sarah at Tales from the Kitchen Shed are a perfect Valentine bake and look absolutely divine. I’ve never combined caraway with chocolate but it sounds like a wonderful match and, as I’m a sucker for salty-sweet foods, it’s a recipe I plan to try out very soon.


Kale & Caraway Crisps from Eat Your Veg

Lou from Eat Your Veg brings us these creative Kale and Caraway Crisps next. She says she often sautees kale or other greens as a side dish for Sunday lunch and throws in a generous pinch of caraway at the end. So when Lou was considering how to flavour her first ever batch of kale crisps, caraway was the obvious choice. “By heck they were good,” is Lou’s brilliant response to these surprisingly moreish, healthier-choice crisps.

pumpernickel tuile

Pumpernickel Tuiles from The Lass in the Apron

Although Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron disliked caraway as a youngster, it is one of those flavours that she has grown into over the years. After she graduated from pastry school, Alexandra worked in a German bakery where she  found herself eating lots of the stuff. Alexandra was keen to make something Scandinavian for this month’s Spice Trail and has adapted a havreflarn recipe, a sort of oat tuile, using caraway as well as cocoa and orange.  Don’t they look simply incredible?

spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese from Bangers & Mash

I don’t always include caraway in my Bolognese. In fact every time I make spag bol the ingredients are different, all depending on my mood and what we have in the house. But caraway is a surprisingly good addition, and adds a beautifully intense and slightly sweet flavour to the sauce.

cauliflower cheese pasta bake
Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Bake from Spurs Cook

Martin from Spurs Cook has also used caraway to flavour a pasta dish, this time an ingenious hybrid of two classic comfort foods – pasta bake and cauliflower cheese. Also featuring leeks, red onion, garlic and bacon, I think this could rapidly turn into a family favourite in the Bangers & Mash household.

caraway and linseed bread
Caraway & Linseed Bread Bangers & Mash

I really should have baked rye bread for this month’s challenge, as it is of course the loaf synonymous with caraway, but I’m not sure I’d have persuaded the rest of my brood to eat rye bread just yet. I’ll be working on them. In the meantime, this caraway and linseed bread did go down very well, which is absolutely delicious served with soup or cold cuts and spread thickly with good, salty butter.

polish sausage sauerkraut
Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Casserole with Beer from Lavender & Lovage

I find it impossible to look at this photograph from Karen at Lavender & Lovage of her Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Casserole with Beer without drooling. This is my perfect kind of meal and I am just so thrilled Karen entered it into this month’s Spice Trail, as we really couldn’t have a caraway challenge without some sauerkraut in there. She made hers in the slow cooker but I know it will work just as well in my Aga or any conventional oven whacked right down low.

braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash
Braised Pig Cheeks from Bangers & Mash

Finally, I couldn’t run a caraway challenge without sharing (again) my Braised Pig Cheeks cooked slowly in red wine and vegetables and flavoured of course with caraway. It really is so good and is what I consider to be the ultimate in classy comfort food.

So there you have February’s fantastic recipe round-up. Huge thanks to everyone who entered their recipes; I have been genuinely inspired by your creativity with caraway!

And the winner is…

But who will take the crown as our caraway king or queen? That decision was made by Lara Light-McKelvaney from Bart Ingredients who are providing this month’s prize, a wonderful gift bag containing fabulous Bart’s goodies.

And Lara’s decision? It just had to go to Jacqui Gourlay from GoodFoodSeeking for her brilliant Caraway Pretzels, which Lara says look incredible. Congratulations to Jacqui – a very worthy winner, don’t you agree? A Bart Ingredients gift bag will be on its way to you very soon – enjoy!

bart spices

If you’d like to find out more about Bart Ingredients and shop online, do check out their new Bart Market, where all their products are now available, showcasing an impressive array of spice blends from around the world, spice infusions, individual herbs and spices and other associated cooking products. I feel like a child in a sweet shop whenever I’m on there!

Thanks again to everyone who got involved this month. March’s Spice Trail challenge will be announced very soon…

The Spice Trail: cooking with caraway

feb spice challenge

In this month’s Spice Trail, I am calling on fellow food bloggers to get carried away with caraway.

As with most foods, caraway holds nostalgic associations for me. Just one sniff and I’m straight back to North London as a young girl, visiting my Dad during the summer holidays; being taken to a corner shop Jewish bakery somewhere between Tottenham and Stamford Hill, where the whole shop is filled with the distinctive, heady aroma of caraway, and from where we come away with warm bread rolls, rum babas and, my favourite, big fat rum truffle chocolate cakes.

But back to caraway…

If you’re unfamiliar with caraway seeds, here’s what the Leon book of Ingredients & Recipes has to say on the subject:

Indigenous to Europe and Asia Minor, this seed has been long used in Arabic cooking. The plant looks a bit like carrot leaves (same family), with its hollow stalks, and the pre-seed flowers are pinkish. Became popular in Elizabethan England mainly as a sweet snack, sugared and called comfits. The flavour can be most easily discerned in rye bread. Caraway is also big in Jewish food, harissa, apple dishes, sauerkraut and a delicious after dinner stickie drink called kummel (those little seeds are excellent for digestion – just chewing on a few can really take your wind away). One of the oldest cultivated spice plants in Europe, going back to the 13th century. If you don’t have any… go and get some. It’s worth the trip and this spice walks alone.

Caraway is a spice I don’t cook with all that often. But when I do, I wonder why I don’t use it more. That’s why I really can’t wait to see what recipes you come up with this month, as I’d love to cook more with caraway.

Win a Bart Ingredients gift bag

If the honour of being crowned The Spice Trail’s caraway king or queen wasn’t enough of an incentive, this month our winner will also receive a gift bag full of fantastic spices from the good people at Bart Ingredients.

The Bart Ingredients Company has grown over the last 50 years and now sources ingredients from across the globe. Back at the Bart base in Bristol, their culinary experts work with flavours to create herb harmonies and spice symphonies, which add an extra touch of magic to home cooked dishes. By working with suppliers in different corners of the world, they have come to realise that not all ingredients are equal and a myriad of reasons can change the flavour profiles of our favourite spices.

How to enter The Spice Trail

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  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient, caraway seeds.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Wednesday 26 February 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a tasty gift box from Bart Ingredients.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

So what caraway dishes will you come up with for this month’s Spice Trail? Any questions, please tweet or email me.

And if you’re wondering where the round-up of January’s Spice Trail challenge is, which saw us cooking with paprika, I’m working on it now and it will be with you very soon. So watch this space!

February’s entries

  1. Caraway Pretzels from GoodFoodSeeking
  2. Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt & Caraway Shortbread Hearts from Tales from the Kitchen Shed
  3. Kale & Caraway Crisps from Eat Your Veg
  4. Pumpernickel Tuiles from The Lass in the Apron
  5. Spaghetti Bolognese from Bangers & Mash
  6. Cauliflower Cheese Pasta Bake from Spurs Cook
  7. Caraway & Linseed Bread Bangers & Mash
  8. Polish Sausage & Sauerkraut Casserole with Beer from Lavender & Lovage
  9. Braised Pig Cheeks with Carrot & Parsnip Mash from Bangers & Mash

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