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All photos © J.Lowe 2009

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I rarely think to use pomegranates in my cooking and I need to address this
shortcoming. Why overlook such a health giving, versatile ingredient that has been in
this world for about 5000 years?  The brilliant ruby seeds provide glinting eye candy in
desserts, salads and aromatic stews. The blood red juice turns jellies, cocktails, syrups
and glazes a stunning, tantalizing colour and provides a bitter sweet taste.

There is something darkly sensual about this fruit. Itʼs curiously exotic, pregnant with
seeds, unashamedly bloody and an alluringly luscious deep glossy red, like the mouth
of a harlot. To handle the pomegranate, to extract the seeds and feel the slippery arils, to suck them in and taste the sharp sweetness is really rather erotic.  It’s no wonder there is mention that the tree in the garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate tree.  Who wouldnʼt be tempted by such a provocative fruit?

When shopping for pomegranates, choose heavy smooth fruits and at the same time
pick up a bottle of pure pomegranate juice to augment your recipe if necessary. Itʼs a
great pantry staple. Use it in making salad dressings or marinades, add a splash to a
vodka martini or a glass of champagne, thicken it by reduction and the addition of sugar
to glaze ribs, pour over ice cream, just drink it or use to dye your knickers pink!

Before I continue with a recipe (which is not something I commonly do in my blog posts, preferring to simply write and let the idea of the dish capture interest rather than provide a presciption to my readers) you should know that the instigation for this post came from foodiefights.com

I signed up as a potential contestant for their 12th food challenge and was picked to
compete alongside the following fine bloggers:

Bake-Off Flunkie
Bite Me New England
Felice in the Kitchen
NomNomNom Blog
Om-nom-nomnivore (Lazy Sumo)

The challenge is to cook something showcasing two ingredients chosen by the
foodiefight hosts from suggestions sent in.  Since pomegranates are now in season and
I rarely use them I thought it would be an interesting suggestion for an ingredient.

It ended up being chosen, along with semolina flour.  I found and adapted a recipe from tesco.com called

Yogurt Cake with Pomegranate Syrup.

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So, read on, enjoy and check out foodiefights.com to see how we all performed in this

3 cardamon pods
4 oz semolina flour
4 oz all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

6 oz superfine sugar

5 oz low fat natural yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
10 fl oz pomegranate juice
1 pomegranate (but buy a few in case some are light on seed count)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Crush cardamon pods, remove the seeds (discard the husk) and grind them in a pestle
and mortar. Place in large mixing bowl.

Add to the bowl the semolina flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and 4 oz of the
caster sugar. Mix together well.

Beat the yogurt, eggs and vanilla essence together (I used an electric hand mixer)
and add to the flour mixture, blending until smooth. Pour into a well greased 9” cake pan
and bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden stick inserted into the middle of the cake
comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, put pomegranate juice into a saucepan and heat to boiling,
turn down to a slow boil and reduce by half. The recipe says to add the rest of the
sugar at the end and just dissolve it but I wanted the syrup thick and sticky so I added
the 2 oz of caster sugar while the liquid was boiling and reducing. This way I got a
lovely syrupy mixture.

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate(s) and add to the syrup. When the cake
comes out of the oven, allow it to cool, turn out onto desired plate and pour the syrupy
sticky goodness all over the top.

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In addition to the Tesco recipe, I also made a yogurt cream to serve with the cake.
1 cup low fat natural yogurt
1/2 cup plain low fat cream cheese
juice and zest of one orange

Mix all the above ingredients together and serve in a bowl alongside the cake. The
bright, citrus note of the orange melds wonderfully with the deep sweet syrup and the
dense vanilla and smoky cardamon cake.

(It did occur to me to put the cardamon seeds in with the syrup. Perhaps the next time I
cook venison or lamb Iʼll try that as a glaze for the meat)

The resulting cake is dense, moist and fragrant, not overly sweet. It would be good
served plain as a breakfast cake with coffee but by adding the syrup, the resulting
dessert is a veritable crown of jewels.

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