Cardamom

cardamom

Cardamom is a spice native to the Middle East, North Africa, and Scandinavia. There are three types of cardamom; green cardamom, black cardamom and Madagascar cardamom. It is best to buy cardamom still in the pods, which are removed and discarded. You can also buy cardamom seeds however; they lose much of their flavor. Ground cardamom has even less flavor than the fresher ones. Most recipes usually call for green cardamom. Cardamom has a strong, unique spicy-sweet taste, which is slightly aromatic. Cardamom is more expensive than average spices. A little goes a long way. If a recipe calls for 10 pods that would equal 1 ½ tsp ground. Ground cardamom is readily available and found in grocery stores.

Ethnicity: Scandanavian, East Indian Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to select: Purchase in the pod or ground.

How to prepare: Grinding the pod yourself will result in a fresher, stronger representation of the spice.

Matches well with: chicken, coffee, curries, duck, lentils, meat, oranges, peas, rice, squash

pomegranate

PomegranateA fruit about the size of a large orange with a thin leathery skin or rind that is typically yellow overlaid with a light or deep pink or rich red. The interior is separated by bitter cream-colored membranes backed with hundreds of seeds. The tiny edible seeds are surrounded by a translucent, bright-red pulp that has a sweet-tart flavor. The juicy, sweet seeds are eaten on their own, used as a garnish, or squeezed to yield a juice. Grenadine, a reduced juice from fresh pomegranate seeds, is common in Northern India not only for desserts, but also to marinate meat; due to its content of proteolytic enzymes,it acts as a meat tenderizer.

plural: pomegranates

Ingredient

Season: October - November

How to select: Choose fruit with a bright color and blemish-free skin. The ripe fruit makes a metallic sound when tapped.

How to store: The fruits improve in storage, becoming juicier and more flavorful. Refrigerate for up to 2 months or store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.

How to prepare: Can be eaten out of hand by deeply scoring several times vertically and then breaking it apart. The clusters of juice sacs are removed out and eaten. The sacs also make an attractive garnish when sprinkled on various dishes. To juice: Remove the sacs and put through a basket press or extract the juice by reaming the halved fruit on an ordinary orange juice squeezer.

Matches well with: bananas, cheese, chocolate, cream cheese, grapefruit, yogurt

Chicken

Chicken

Chickens are mostly classified according to their best use: Broiler-fryers are up to 3 1/2 pounds, 2 1/2 months old. Roasters (have greater fat content so better roasted) are 2 1/2 - 5 pounds, up to 8 months old. Stewing chickens, aka hens, boiling fowl, and fowl, are 3-6 pounds, 10-18 months old. A capon is a rooster castrated before 8 weeks, up to 10 months old, 4-10 pounds with large tender breasts from a fattening diet, perfect for roasting. Rock Cornish game hens are hybrid of Cornish and White Rock chickens which are up to 2 1/2 pounds, between 4 and 6 weeks old (because of their small size they are often served one per person). Squab chicken, aka poussin in French, are not squab, but are small less than 1 1/2 pound chickens, between 4 and 6 weeks old. Cocks and roosters are older, tougher birds, best of soups and broths. Free-range chickens are guaranteed 2 square foot of space each indoors and freedom to roam outside (as opposed to mass-produced chickens which only have 1 square foot on indoor space), and are often fed a special diet free of antibiotics, growth enhanders or hormones, which is said to give them a better flavor.

plural: chickens

Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to select: Available fresh or frozen, whole or in parts or ground. Look for meaty chickens with smooth soft skin (skin color differs depending on the breed and diet, so is not a good indication of quality).

How to store: Remove from tight plastic wrap and store in waxed paper to prevent bacterial growth. Keep in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 2 days or cooked up to 3 days. Keeps frozen up to 2 months.

How to prepare: Handle raw chicken carefully and never eat raw. Wash all tools, surfaces and hands which touch raw chicken thoroughly with soap before they come in contact with anything else. Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. bake, braise, broil, fry, grill, marinate, roast, saute

Matches well with: almonds, apples, asparagus, bacon, barbecue sauce, basil, bread crumbs, cheese, cherries, chives, cider, coconut, Cognac, coriander, corn, cranberries, cream, curry, dill, fennel, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, grapes, herbs, horseradish, lemon, lime, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, olive oil, olives, onions, oranges, oregano, Parmesan cheese, parsley, peas, pecans, pineapple, rosemary, savory, sour cream, soy sauce, stuffings, star anise, sweet potatoes, tarragon, teriyaki sauce, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, walnuts, wine, yogurt

Wallnut

WallnutsThe fruit of the walnut tree, which grows throughout the world in temperate climates. The two main varieties are Persian/English and Black. The Persian walnut is often incorrectly known as "English Walnut" in the United States. The black nuts are edible, but have a smaller kernel and an extremely tough shell and are not widely grown for nut production. The word "walnut" originates from wahlnut, an Old English word for "Welsh-nut." Walnuts were a delicacy of the ancient Romans and were used not only for eating but also to dye wool and color hair.

plural: walnuts

Ingredient

Season: September - November

How to select: Select from among three sizes: large, medium and babies. Look for shells free of cracks or holes. If shelled, look for plump, crisp nutmeats.

How to store: Store in a cool dry place for up to three months if in the shell. Once shelled, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or frozen up to a year.

Matches well with: blue cheese, caramel, cheese, fish, mushrooms, pork, port, raisins, salads, sherry, zucchini