May 29, 2005

Spiced Pork Chops & Peaches

Spiced Pork Chops & Peaches
from Eating Well (Summer 2003)

An exquisite spice blend of cardamom and curry dresses up pork chops and spotlights fresh peaches in this easy family supper.

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Four 4- to 5-ounce boneless loin pork chops (1/2 inch thick), trimmed of fat
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups thickly sliced peeled peaches (3 medium peaches)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, stir brown sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, soy sauce, cardamom, curry powder and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Lay pork chops in a 7-by-11-inch (or similar) shallow glass dish. Pour the spice mixture over the chops and turn to coat both sides. Let marinate for 10 to 15 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess marinade off the chops and place them in the skillet (reserve marinade). Cook until the chops are browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Meanwhile, add peaches to the reserved marinade and stir to coat.

Add the remaining 1/3 cup orange juice to the skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, turning chops occasionally, until the chops are just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pork chops to a plate and set aside, covered loosely with foil.

Add the marinade and peaches to the skillet; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced to a light sauce, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in any juices that have accumulated from the pork chops. To serve, spoon sauce and peach slices over the chops. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

Notes: The cardamom was decidedly more pronounced in this than I anticipated, but in a good way. Also - my pork chops from the local butcher were thicker, so I used just three and also let them simmer a few minutes longer. Plus, I didn't have mild curry powder on hand, having ordered the hotter version from Penzey's - so I used a generous 1/4 tsp. Personally, I liked the extra kick it gave and think it contrasted nicely with the citrus from the orange juice and the peaches (which got nice and soft and sort of roasty). A definite keeper and great for pre-summery weather.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:17 PM | Comments (4)
May 15, 2005

Cardamom-Crusted Pork

Cardamom Recipe #3

Cardamom Crusted Pork with Mushroom Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit (November 2001)


3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 boneless pork chops (about 1 pound)
1/2 lb. baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 TBSP flour
1/2 TBSP butter
parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree 1/4 cup shallots, 1 TBSP oil, 1 tsp cardamom and garlic in processor. Spread 1/4 cup of shallots in center of roasting pan; top with pork. Sprinkle pork generously with freshly ground black pepper; coat with puree mixture. Toss mushrooms, remaining shallots and 1 1/2 TBSP oil in bowl; sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper; arrange around pork.

Roast pork 15 minutes. Spoon mushrooms into large saucepan. Add 2/3 cup broth to roasting pan. Roast pork until cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to platter and tent to keep warm.

Scrape juices from roasting pan into saucepan. Add cream, remaining 1/3 cup broth, and 1/8 tsp cardamom to pan; bring to a boil. Blend flour and butter in a small cup; mix into mushroom sauce. Cook sauce, stirring often, until reduced enough to coat spoon, about 5 minutes. Serve with pork, sprinkling whole dish with parsley.

Serves 2.

Notes: The original recipe calls for onions and is made with a pork rib roast. Since I was going for a smaller version and suspected that onions wouldn't have enough time to cook through and might give the dish a more bitter taste, I switched to the shallots. Overall, an interesting dish with a lot of texture, but some conflicting flavors. To be honest, I ended up liking the mushrooms and sauce more than the pork with its topping.

Served with Solaris 2003 Pinot Noir.

Posted by Jennifer at 2:30 PM | Comments (1)
May 13, 2005

Thai Shrimp Curry

Notes: Having been warned that focusing on one spice per month was a bit over-zealous on the tastebuds, this was attempted between stops on the cardamom trail. I think, perhaps, I was somewhat generous with the shrimp, a 1/2 pound would likely have been better. Served over rice. Tasty and spicy -- if you don't like heat, I'd take the thai green curry paste back to 1/2 TBSP.

Thai Shrimp Curry
adapted from Bon Appetite (February 2004)

1/2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 TBSP thai green curry paste
7 oz. coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
3 oz snow peas
3/4 pound cooked shrimp
1 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliceed


Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir-fry until soft and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add green onions and curry paste; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to boil. Add tomatoes and snow peas, and boil 2 minutes. Add shrimp and mushrooms, and cook just until shrimp is opaque in center, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

2 servings

Posted by Jennifer at 9:54 PM | Comments (1)
May 6, 2005

Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken

Cardamom Recipe #2

There are many versions of this recipe floating around London's Indian restaurants, and it was probably created by a British-Indian chef. It is a quick and really delicious dish, perfectly geared to restaurant cooking since boneless chicken breasts are convenient to buy and prepare. The marination can be done ahead of time and individual orders take just minutes to cook.

Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken
from from curries to kebabs

For marinating the chicken:
6 TBSP finely chopped onion
2-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boned and skinned chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices

For cooking the chicken:
3 TBSP corn, peanut, or olive oil
1 medium stick of cinnamon
8 whole cardamom pods
1 cup onion, sliced into fine half rings
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 TBSP plain yogurt
5 TBSP grated tomato
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 to 3 tsp lemon juice

To make the marinade: Put the onion, ginger, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper and 3 TBSP water into a blender. Blend to a smooth paste, pushing down with rubber spatula when needed.

To marinate the chicken: Put the sliced chicken in a bowl. Add the marinade and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

To make the dish: Pour the oil into a wide, nonstick pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cinnamon and cardamom. Stir for 10 seconds. Put in the onion and fry, stirring at the same time, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the onion turns a reddish-brown color. Add the cumin and coriander. Stir once. Add the yogurt, 1 TBSP at a time, and stir until it is absorbed. Add the tomato and stir for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken, together with its marinade, and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chicken pieces turn white. Add 3/4 cup water, the salt, and garam masala. Stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

Serves 4.

Notes: I keep ginger in a jar in the fridge for ease of use, and used about 1 1/2 TBSP in this recipe, and might kick it up to 2 TBSP next time around. I ordered both black and green cardamom pods from Penzey's for this month's expeirments. I've never cooked with whole pods before. For this recipe, I used the green ones, even though the book didn't specify, as they are more common. I had the chicken in the marinade for the full three hours.

Mise en place is very important for this recipe as the ingredients are at first added in such quick succession. I also learned (after a quick online search) that grated tomato means exactly what it says - using the coarsest side of a box grater, which leaves just the pulp in your hand, but watch out for your fingertips. I served it over cous-cous, and the juices soaked down through. Very tasty. Though the book claims this serves 4, two of us shared this and had very little in the way of leftovers.

Posted by Jennifer at 1:04 PM | Comments (2)
May 3, 2005

Cardamom

Cardamom (scientific name: Elettaria cardamomum is one of the most expensive spices in the world. As such, it is frequently adulterated with inferior substitutes. The fruits of the plant have small capsules, or pods, that contain around a dozen seeds each. There are two natural varieties: the larger "black" and the smaller "green." The bleached white pods are much more bland. The plant itself is a perennial herb and a member of the ginger family.

History: Native to India, it grows wild on the Malabar coast, and is now cultivated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central America, Mexico, and Thailand. It is known to have been grown in Babylonian gardens, and is also listed as an import on which duty taxes were charged in Alexandria. The ancient Egyptians chewed the seeds as a teeth cleaner, and it appears in the 1550 B.C. medical document "Ebers Papyrus." Vikings discovered it in Constantinople and introduced it to Scandinavia where it remains very popular as flavoring for breads and cookies. The Normans first introduced cardamom to England in the 11th century, but it wasn't imported to Europe on a regular basis until the 17th with the advent of easier trade routes by sea.

Uses and Properties: It may be used whole or ground. It is best to buy whole pods to get the sharpest flavor. It should be stored in an airtight container out of direct light and away from heat, and will keep for many months. When a recipe calls for whole cardamom, crack the pods slightly before adding them to the dish to extract the full flavor.

Used mostly in the Near and Far East, it is often featured in curries and desserts. It is also an essential ingredient in pilaus. However, more than half of the world's consumption is accounted for by its use as an ingredient in coffees in various Arab countries. Its most common use in Western cuisine is in baking. Cardamom is a stimulant and carminative, and has been used as a digestive since ancient times. It is also mentioned in the Arabian Nights as an aphrodisiac, and in old Vedic texts as a cure for impotence.

Sources: thespicecentre.com, wisegeek.com, botantical.com

Posted by Jennifer at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)
May 1, 2005

Grilled Cardamom-Cumin Lamb Chops


On the weekend of April 30th-May 1st, was visiting tryslora's place for my first game of Dogs in the Vineyard (details over on Flaming Monkey). Saturday night, for dinner, we had a version of Cardamom-Cumin Lamb Chops that we grilled rather than sauteed. Naturally, it had a smokier taste, but the spices still came through. Served with a mix of carrots and french-cut green beans and sliced french bread. And thus, unofficially, cardamom month was begun.


Cardamom Recipe #1

Posted by Jennifer at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)