Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Things Cardamom.....

I have been a little obsessed lately with all things cardamom. A friend turned me on to this spice, in it's singular glory, many years ago. Since then, every time I hear or see the word cardamom, my ears prick up and my eyes get big. You see, I love cardamom.

Cardamom is a spice that is in the ginger family and you can use it in savory dishes such as indian curries and in sweet dishes and pastries as the Scandinavians love to do. I'll take it any way I can get it. Cardamom ice cream, cardamom pods ground with my coffee beans for my morning french press, I even have cardamom mint body wash!

When I cook with cardamom, the first thing I do is take a big whiff of it, in what ever form I am using; it just seems to set the tone and puts a smile on my face. Cardamom evokes a spectrum of notes from heady to light, citrus to nutty. I feel it may be one of the most versatile spices out there. I was trying to think of what would be a good recipe to create for dinner with my friends this weekend at the South Jersey shore. Of course, seafood!!! I decided to make scallops since you can get them fresh at the shore this time of year. My mind twirled around the thought of what would complement scallops and cardamom well and this is what I came up with.

Scallops with Cardamom Orange Bourbon Cream Sauce

The results were amazing. The citrus from the orange brought out the cardamom's citrus notes and the bourbon anchored all the flavors. I served it with a clean cous cous (cooked with plain water instead of broth.) Golden raisins, dried cherries and pinenuts were added to the cous cous, adding a bite of sweet to the meal every once and a while. Sauteed minted sugar snap peas finished off the plate.

My friends and I enjoyed the meal tremendously. My friend Lynda came late and after eating her dinner kept coming back for seconds and thirds. I was then convinced that the meal was a success and my friends weren't just trying to be nice! The next evening a bunch of us gathered for a cook out and the leftover cold cous cous and gently warmed scallops were just as delicious as they were the night before. Here is the recipe, hope you, too, get on a cardamom craze!

Scallops with Cardamom Orange Bourbon Cream Sauce

  • 1-2 lbs. of fresh sea scallops, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1/2 T. green cardamom seeds lighty crushed with the back of spoon (you can get green cardamom pods and hull them to get the seeds as I did, making it fresher tasting)
  • 2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 T. bourbon
  • 3 T. orange zest
  • 3/4 C. heavy cream
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • salt
  • pepper

Lightly dredge the scallops in the flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Heat about 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet and when it is heated add 1-2 T. of butter. When the butter and oil mixture begins to sizzle (med high heat) add scallops and sear them about 4 minutes each side, depending on their size. Do not over cook, nothing worse than an over cooked scallop! Do only a few at a time as to not crowd the scallops in the pan. Take the scallops out of the skillet and place on a plate and set aside.

In the pan that you seared the scallops in, add a bit more oil and about 1 T. of butter. When that begins to sizzle add 2 of the 3 T. of orange zest and the cardamom seeds. Scrape all the bits and pieces in the pan left from cooking the scallops and stir all around with the seeds and the zest to make it fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and the bourbon and stir for for about 30 seconds to heat. Lower heat to medium and add the cream. Stir and reduce until the sauce sort of coats the back of your spoon.

Now at this point you have a choice of either placing the scallops in with the sauce and coating them with it or using the sauce to "bed" the scallops on the plate and for drizzling. I prefer the latter, but it's all personal preference. Either way, sprinkle the tops of the plated scallops with the remaining orange zest (this step is not to be forgotten because it really makes all the difference.)Voila! Sheer scallop yumminess! Enjoy and let me know how you like it!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baking Biscuits

In travels and research for his own knowledge and his cookbooks the Texas Chef made many friends. This recipe comes from one of them.

It is my intent to post some inserts from his cookbooks. Try them out you will be pleasantly surprised. So lets start off with the best. Heck, you gotta have something in your left hand Why not a really good biscuit?

Biscuits are and have been a part of Texas roadside Café, Cajun, and
Soul food for ages. I use this recipe because it is not only good but
representative of the product.
My friend Larry Crawford is living temporarily (2004) in Tulsa where
he is remodeling an old restaurant of his there. He is good at baking;
he says he got this from his mother.
2 C. Flour 2 Big TBS. Shortening
1 Tsp. Salt 4 Tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Tsp. Baking Soda Buttermilk
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Cut the shortening into the dry
ingredients until you have the consistency of rough corn meal.
Mix in the buttermilk gradually and stir until the dry ingredients are
just moist. The dough should pull away from the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl, dust with flour, and roll out and cut
out the biscuits. Bake at 400° for 10 to 20 minutes, or until just the
right brown.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Here I go, Dad!

My Dad, Bill Moran (the Texas Chef, died on July 23rd, 2009. I was on my way to see him in Texas with my daughter, Stella, but he died the day before we arrived. Stella and I mourned with my step family and our visit revealed so many things that one usually takes for granted. One is my most wonderful step family. My Dad's wife, Gloria, my step siblings, LuLu, Nilda and Roel all welcomed us as if we were blood. In our short visit we mourned, loved, cried, laughed, cooked, went to a wedding, and visited the cows at Roel's ranch. I love all of them and will never forget the love they showered on Stella and I. I learned family means love in whatever form it takes.

The second revelation was the amount of people that my dad touched in so many ways. He was a touchstone to many people, many who shared his love of people, food, and life. I had the joy of corresponding and talking with many of my dad's friends and it is because of their inspiration that I will try to carry on blogging where my dad left off. Bill Bradshaw and Bill Farrell, both friends of my dad, will be contributing authors.

I live in Baltimore, MD but have lived so many places I never know where to call home. My heart is pretty much three places: Texas, NYC, and Baltimore. I was born in Texas and you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl. There is something about the big, wide open spaces, the matching big, beautiful sky and of course, the blue bonnets that will always draw me back, make me want to take off my shoes and breathe a big sigh.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have NYC. I lived in NYC for 8 years from '82 until '90 and I had the time of my life. I had visited there every now and then with my mom since I was little but living there was a totally different animal. I always like to describe living in NYC as being linked into pure energy, if you are open to it. I would walk out my door everyday and just feel the energy in my veins; energy from people, experiences, history, you name it. I would walk around the streets of NYC and take it all in and breathe a big sigh.

My happy medium is Baltimore, MD. I moved here in 2000 in search of living in a place where I could be close to NYC without having to take a vacation, live a more city life, own a home and find work as a nurse (by the way, I'm a nurse.) I moved here not knowing anyone, but if you ask my friends, that is something that I like, not something I shun. Baltimore is such a quirky place, it fits me well. It is the place where I had my baby, Stella (my little Baltimorean with a Texan soul.) Baltimore has a little bit of everything and that I think is why I love it so much. One more year and it will tie Dallas as the the place I have lived in the longest.

As I set out on my blogging journey, I hope to continue my dad's vison but also have it evolve as my own. I love many things, so this blog may end up being a winding road of experiences, revelations, music, food, art and ideas that I just have to share! Wow, dad was on to something, this blogging stuff is fun already! So join me and my dad's memory as we walk down the dusty road my dad always talked about, the road called life, as we know it.

Nicole Moran Furney


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