Sunday, May 24, 2009



This month's Gourmet magazine's focus is on world travel. Consequently, the Gourmet's Cookbook Club feature for May 2009 is similarly themed: Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries, which takes the reader on a culinary journey to Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa and Italy.

The only disappointment that comes from travelling is losing the magic that makes the experience. Sure, there are lovely photos and purchases to aid in recalling the memories, but the atmosphere and scents sometimes remain out of reach. But this can be overcome with cooking at home. Paying attention to ingreidents, methods of cooking, and combinations of textures and flavours as presented on trips abroad can be reworked in the comfort of your home. My angelheart Eric and I often recall such details when we are in the mood to recapture the moment.

When abroad, I usually look out for things that I wouldn't ordinarily eat at home (or, at least, could not find so easily at home). I have not been to any of the countries featured in Tessa Kiros' culinary memoir, so when flipping through its colourful pages, I thought about what I would eat were each of the dishes on a menu. The clincher was practicality, of course. What combination of ingredients sounds intriguing, and what do my angelheart Eric and I have on hand?

Afelia is a Cypriot (and Greek) dish of wine-braised pork shoulder and lightly crushed coriander seeds. I have neither marinated pork exclusively in red wine nor had a dish that calls for such a heavy usage of coriander seeds. Actually, I couldn't quite imagine how they'd taste together, so I just jumped right on in, making a light dinner for two with ingredients that are almost always available (providing one is not hyper-sensitive to Swine Flu fears).

(from Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries)

750g shoulder of pork, cut into 2cm/ 3/4" thick slices (boned, excess fat removed)
1 cup red wine (we used a tempranillo)
2 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup water

1) Marinade the pork pieces and one tablespoon of coriander seeds in red wine. Cover with clingfile and refrigerate overnight.
2) 15 minutes before cooking, bring pork out, and pat dry. Reserve liquid.
3) Heat oil in pot and fry pork until caramelised (I did this in two batches so as not to steam the pork pieces).
4) Season with salt and pepper.
5) Add garlic and rest of the coriander seeds.
6) When you can smell the garlic, add the marinating liquid, bay leaf, and water.
7) Bring to boil, then cover and reduce to simmer until the pork pieces are tender, approximately 30-40 mintues. You want liquid to become sauce - be sure to add water if most liquid evaporates during the cooking process.

When I first read this receipe, I did wonder how it could be typical of Cypriot cuisine, given that I had previously read of gorgeous dishes with lemon and tomato sauces, mostly bolstered by bay, celery and parsley leaves. The coriander seeds, however, do add a lemony punch to the rich pork, taking it to new, unexpected heights. Without having been there, I have now seen Cyprus through Tessa Kiros' senses.

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It's fun to see how our season's differ, Shaun - we're getting into summer here, so our dishes are becoming lighter and lighter - contrary to yours :)
I've made afelia twice before - a lovely winter stew, indeed.
Shaun, I love your approach to food and new cuisines.
Shaun - Having had enough freshly harvested coriander seeds to crush and experiment with, I can see how the flavor (especially w/ the red wine) would enhance pork, but need to be ample in order to do so. It's a lovely aromatic, unlike juniper berries, yet can function similarly.
Pille ~ Your blog is one of my favourites as it is seasonally-focussed, thereby giving informing ideas for my turn in the summer or winter :-)

Cynthia ~ The only downside to being open-minded/flexible about food is that I'm now finding it hard to have a favourite. I tend to critique and adapt very quickly to new flavours and ideas. I especially love to encounter different approaches to ingredients when I'm travelling.

Susan, lovie ~ The comparison to juniper berries is an interesting one - I had not thought of it, but it makes perfect sense. It might an idea to use them interchangeably to see what efect it has in the end - now I'm thinking of making pate with coriander seeds instead of the usual juniper berries.
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Shaun: I think coriander seeds have a wonderful wine-y flavor, so I can imagine them working well here. You write about how to make this, but you don't tell us how it tastes! How was it? I imagine wonderful . . ..
I just bought this cookbook and made my first dish last night for dinner. The photos are gorgeous.
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