Thursday, May 10, 2007

Time well spent on a dinner laced with citrus flavors...

Tonight's dinner is one that might be best left to prepare on a weekend when you have some extra time for prep work. Even though there was a lot of time spent chopping and waiting for things to progress, it was certainly worth it, if a little time consuming.

For a side tonight, we started out with an exquisite way to spice up carrots with a recipe for Cumin and Orange Glazed Carrots. After sectioning and squeezing three juicy and sweet navel oranges, a mess of carrots are given a fancy look by cutting them on the diagonal and then rotating them forward 90 degrees before making the next cut. If the directions in the recipe sound confusing, try to picture a trapezoidal log as you prepare them. Once a skillet coated with olive oil is hot, a healthy pinch of cumin seeds are added and allowed to briefly toast. The carrots, along with water, fresh lemon juice, a dash of sugar, salt and fresh ground pepper are added into the skillet. Since these carrots will cook for almost an hour, a large piece of parchment is placed on top to cover the carrot, still allowing some liquid to evaporate, but keeping most of it in. After about half an hour, the parchment is removed and the carrots are left to simmer until the liquid reduces to a thick and shiny glaze. Jeff was a little concerned with this process as he really dislikes vegetables when they are mushy - however, he was quite surprised that even after 50 minutes, the carrots were tender, but still had a pretty firm texture to them. Behind the smoky hint from the cumin, the carrots shined with a bright sweetness and tangy citrus bite that transformed simple carrots into a classy side dish.

To continue the citrus theme, we also added some flare to pork chops in this dish for Pork Chops Stuffed with Feta and Spinach. The filling for these chops is a mixture of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach that has been cooked until heated through. To give the stuffing a creamy texture and a bit of tang, cream cheese, feta cheese and a pinch of lemon zest is stirred into the mixture. A pocket in each chop is then created by using a sharp knife and cutting through the thickest portion, almost to the other side. A generous scoop of filling is stuffed in each chop and they are then coated in a citrusy mixture of fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard and a dash of oregano. Instead of cooking these in a skillet, they are quickly done under the broiler in just about 8 minutes. The lemon flavor was pretty strong, which we liked, but you may want to reduce the juice a bit if you're not a big fan. If you want to make the pocket-creating process a little easier, it may help to freeze them for about 15 minutes to firm the chops up. Rich and a little salty, the creamy filling makes for a dramatic presentation and was a fun way to change up boring ol' pork chops.


  1. I made those chops on Sunday and they were delicious! My husband really enjoyed them too. I liked the broiler method for cooking, gave them a really nice coloring (as is evident from your picture).

  2. The carrots and pork sounds like a yummy supper. I'm the only one in my family that likes spinach, so if I could have a little taste please that would be great! The stuffing just looks fab!

  3. Jill - I agree, the broiler did give them a rich color - not very messy either.

    Kelly-Jane - You could always half the recipe and make one for tonight and have the other for lunch tomorrow!