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!



ChileFarmer said...

Nicole, really looks great. I bet you had some happy folks. I know I could enjoy a meal like that. CF

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