12 June 2008

Cinnamon-Lemon Pork with Stuffed Pimento and Spanish Rice

I made Spanish food today, from my Tapas cookbook, though I kind of changed it up a bit so it's not so much tapas as it would have been. (And also, I made rice from a packet. Also not really part of the tapas family, I don't think.)

The pork chop was meant to be the a nicer sounding "Miniature Pork Brochettes" but I couldn't see the sense in cubing it and putting it on skewers when I was only doing it for myself. It worked as well, I imagine, leaving it in one piece, anyway. And tasted as good.

I had to make my own Ras El-hanut, which is the spice blend used on these, as I couldn't find it at any of the local stores (I need to find a Middle Eastern store somewhere, I guess). The ingredients for a proper ras el-hanut are as hard to find as the pre-made blend - it's meant to have rosebuds, lavender, galangal, nigella, cassia, and a whole host of other things I CAN find in a regular grocery store - so I used (again) an easy recipe that I found online some time ago. The flavour of the cinnamon is what stands out most in that variation, and it tasted really nice with the lemon juice that makes up the bulk of the liquid in the marinade.

Apparently the recipe is Arab in origin, and so this would generally be done on lamb, rather than pork (outside of Spain, anyway), and if I weren't scared of cooking lamb, I'd try that some time in the future. (I've got a terror of ruining lamb, since it's so expensive.)

The stuffed pimento was... amazingly good. I used quark for the cheese in the stuffing, since the recipe only asked for a 'curd cheese' and I wasn't really sure what to use. I think a ricotta would probably work as well, but I don't like the texture of ricotta, so I decided to try out quark instead. This particular quark, which is made in Canada, was a lot healthier than ricotta, anyway, and didn't have a grainy texture and was thicker than low-fat ricotta, so I'm glad I decided to try it out. The quark was flavoured with a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic, and diced mint and parsley.

At any rate, I liked all of this a lot, so I'm definitely keeping the recipes in mind for the future. (I could take or leave the rice, but that's generally how I feel about rice from a package anyway.) Definitely food I'd cook for someone else, if I were ever cooking for more than just me and my sister/bro-in-law. (Who don't like peppers anyway.)

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