Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

I haven’t really talked about my life before Mr BT, meaning my single girl days, because it is not really a subject that is relevant to this food blog. However, when I decided to make a dish from my single girl past, it brought back memories of living in the quaint German town of Schwaebisch Hall. It is a time where I expanded my cooking repertoire: I learned how to make Kaesespaetzle from a local friend, and Zimtsterne from my landlady.

I also learned about Turkish cuisine thanks to my Turkish boyfriend at the time. He took me to his aunt and uncle’s house for an authentic meal. I remember every dish his aunt made was delicious. I used to hang out at a lovely Turkish restaurant that made the most delicious Turkish Pide. The Turkish family that owned the little restaurant were from Eastern Turkey and they would stuff the flat, long oval-shaped dough to order. They filled it with feta and aubergine or my personal favorite, ground lamb. I think they had a couple of other varieties, but I don’t remember. They made them on a long wooden paddle and then put them directly on the oven floor to bake. I am going to have to try and make them sometime.

I shared a flat over a bar with two Greek guys  from Thessaloniki, an Italian guy from Genoa, and an Italian girl from Friuli. The two Greek guys ran the bar. We had a lot of fun at the bar, especially when we would sweet talk our two Greek roommates into having a “Greek Night” in the bar with dancing and plate throwing. On the rare occasion when the bar was closed and we were all home together, we would take turns making dinner. One time the Italian guy made pasta with his mother’s homemade pesto. You haven’t had pesto until you have had Genovese pesto. One night the female Italian roommate and I made pasta with my marinara sauce. And one night, the Greek guys made Kotopoulo me Lemoni sto fourno me Patates or roasted lemon chicken with potatoes. It is a very simple dish, but bursting with lemony goodness. It is better if you make this with fresh oregano, but you can use dried. I used fresh zaatar, which is a distant cousin, because I did not have any oregano on hand.

Kotopoulo me Lemoni sto fourno me Patates - (Roasted Lemon Chicken and Potatoes)

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 chicken cut into eight pieces

3-4 medium-size red potatoes, cut into quarters

Juice of 3 large lemons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2-3 teaspoons of dried oregano

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves, with skins left on

1 large onion, sliced thinly

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place the onion, garlic cloves and potatoes in a roasting pan, sprinkle half of the oregano, salt (omit if using kosher chicken) and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over everything in the pan and then gently toss until the potatoes are coated with the oil and oregano. Place the chicken on top of the potato-onion-garlic mixture and the rest of the oregano on the chicken. Pour the lemon juice over everything in the pan, and bake at 180C (350F) for 1 hour or until the chicken and potatoes are a nice golden brown.

Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken for Hannukah

I used to be quite active in several food forums like eGullet, but I started having problems when I posted a recipe or a link to a blog post where I had changed the recipe slightly due to kashrut issues. People started arguing with me about how the recipe was no longer authentic, such as my mother-in-law’s chicken paprikàs recipe. She is 100% Hungarian and the recipe doesn’t contain sour cream, so I was very annoyed when someone who claimed to be half-Hungarian told me not once, but three times that the recipe was not chicken paprikàs, that is was pörkölt and that I couldn’t call the dish paprikàs because it didn’t have sour cream in it. I have another recipe for pörkölt with slightly different ingredients, and frankly didn’t have the patience to argue with him other than to tell him that I would like for him to tell my 92-year-old mother-in-law Holocaust survivor,  a tough woman who survived two Gestapo interrogations, that her recipe was not authentic. Why can’t kosher versions of a national dish also be authentic, especially when they are made by a native of that country and they were made by generations of Jews while they lived there?

My family has always made variations of a dish, especially when the dish called for pork, such as bacon or sausage. For example, frijoles negros (black beans). The recipe my father made called for pork knuckle, so he used to make it with beef kielbasa sausage. A lot of cooks in Eastern Europe and France would substitute smoked goose for bacon in dishes that called for a smokey pork flavour. Does it change the taste from the original? Probably. But one could argue that the kosher version is also original.

When a meat recipe has a dairy ingredient, I do not replace it with a non-dairy substitute. I really dislike non-dairy creamers,  while rice and soy milk are usually too sweet to substitute. So when I found another Ad Hoc recipe for Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken, I had to think long and hard if I wanted to make it because it called for buttermilk. I read a couple of kosher sites that suggested substituting coconut milk with lemon juice, but I was afraid that the coconut taste would be a more than subtle flavour additive. I decided to replace the regular flour with self-raising whole wheat flour and dip the chicken in water. I know that this altered the recipe significantly because the crust was not as crunchy, but it was partly my fault by not double-dipping the chicken. I should have first dredged the chicken in flour, then the water, and then again in the flour. I only did a single dip. However, even with all the changes I had to make, the chicken was delicious and I will make it again. Next year, though, I will use half the salt because there is already enough salt on a kosher chicken. The lemon brine tenderizes the chicken and also adds a nice flavour from the thyme and rosemary. The flour mixture is just peppery enough.

Ad Hoc Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

Serving Size: 8

Adapted recipe from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

3-3/4 liters (1 gallon) cold water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 large rosemary sprigs

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch of parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Two 1-1/2 kg (3-pound) kosher chickens

3 cups whole wheat self-raising flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

In a very large pot, combine 1 liter (1 quart) of the water with the salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Cool completely and stir in the remaining 2-3/4 liters (3 quarts) of cold water. Add the chickens, making sure they are completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces. Make sure you keep the chicken on the bone to ensure moistness.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. Put cold water in a medium size bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the water, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat 2.5 cm (1 inch) of vegetable oil to 165C (330F). Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 71C (160F), about 20 minutes. Drain the oil from the chicken on paper towels, and keep warm in a low oven while frying the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

Assyrian Inspired Hannukah

I know I should have made something Greek for Hannukah if I wanted to make something from the relevant ancient enemy of the Macabbees, but I couldn’t find anything that sparked my interest. So, I decided to make an Assyrian dish. They did conquer Israel in 772BC and scattered the tribes throughout the Middle East. But don’t worry, I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards the Assyrians. They are our brothers and still speak a variation of the language of my forefathers, Aramaic. The Assyrians have been Christian for almost two thousand years and make up a small, persecuted, minority in Iraq; many of them fled during the period since the fall of Saddam Hussein because of the violence between the different Muslim factions in Iraq.

Mr BT forgot that we would not be eating at home on Thursday and had taken out some ground beef from the freezer. So, I had to figure out what Hannukah inspired dish I was going to make with ground beef. I didn’t want to make kebab or stuffed vegetables like I normally do. I remembered that I had seen recipes for potato patties stuffed with ground meat, but was always afraid that they would be lead bombs in the stomach. But, in the spirit of Hannukah, I decided to give it a try. Potato patties are eaten in a variety of countries, using a variety of spices or no spices at all. The Russian version are quite bland, while the Algerian and Iraqi versions are quite flavourful. I decided to make a fusion version from Algerian and Assyrian recipes for potato patties filled with minced beef or lamb. The potato exterior is from an Algerian recipe and the meat mixture is Assyrian.

Mr BT calls this type of cooking “Con-fusion” cooking. Con, as in Congress, the opposite of progress. Okay, I know, stop with the bad jokes and get back to cooking.

The potato chaps were surprisingly light and full of spicy goodness. The spices are quite subtle, so make sure you taste the meat before making the patties. If you want to see a good step-by-step pictorial of how to make them, see Mimi’s photos from Israeli Kitchen.

Chag Hannukah Sameach from Mr BT and Baroness Tapuzina!

Potato Chaps or Potato Kibbeh

Serving Size: 4-6 as a main course

Potato Mixture:

1kg (2lbs) white potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

2 eggs

1 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Meat filling:

1/4 kg (1/2lb) lean ground beef

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canola oil or oil of your choice

Flour for dredging

Cook potatoes in water, until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them until smooth. Add eggs, onion, garlic, salt, turmeric, cinnamon and parsley.

In a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the ground beef, parsley, pine nuts, and all of the spices. Cook until the meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Moisten your hands with water, and take a couple of tablespoons of the potato mixture, flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the the meat mixture in the middle. Carefully bring the sides of the potato over the meat mixture. You may have to add a little more of the potato mixture to the top of the patty. Close the patty and flatten it. Moisten your hands in cold water before you make each patty. Place the patties on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dredge the patties lightly in flour before frying.

Comfort Food – Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Even though it is December and it should be raining in Israel, winter hasn’t really begun. On Friday, I was out in a short-sleeved shirt planting baby pansies, some unknown flowering purple and white plants, and burgundy and white petunias. I am preparing the “garden” for the winter. I am cutting down the basil and lemongrass. The rest of the herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, should endure the winter weather.

Since it isn’t that cold, I haven’t felt like making the hearty winter soups that I usually make to keep us warm and cozy, but there was a sale on cauliflower and I saw an interesting recipe for cauliflower soup from Thomas Keller’s latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. It is very easy to make and has a slight hint of curry in it. The recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of curry, but I used one teaspoon of hot madras curry and it was still subtle. I also used 10% fat cooking cream instead of heavy cream and it was still luscious and creamy.

After a small bowl of soup, I served baked salmon with a lemon-artichoke pesto on a bed of mashed Jerusalem artichokes and petit pois on the side. The pesto had the perfect amount of acidity from the lemon juice and capers. It was a nice and light addition to the thick soup.

Comfort Food – Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Serving Size: 10-12 as a first course

From Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

2 heads cauliflower (2 to 2-1/2 kg or 4 to 5 pounds total)

50g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder or curry of your choice


2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups water

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves from cauliflower, and cut out the core. Trim the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups of florets about the size of a quarter and set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower and the stems into 1-inch pieces so that they will cook in the same amount of time. You need 8 cups of cauliflower.

Melt 40g (3 tablespoons) of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, curry, and chopped cauliflower. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Pour in the milk, cream, and water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time-to-time.

Using a stick blender, puree the cauliflower at the lowest speed, and blend until smooth and velvety. Check the seasoning, and add more salt if needed. If the soups is too thick, you can dilute it with a little water. At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets, and blanch until tender, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. The vinegar will help keep the cauliflower white. Drain. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and saute until the cauliflower is lightly brown.

To serve, top each serving with a few cauliflower florets, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Salmon with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

4 salmon fillets, skinned

1 can artichoke hearts

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers, drained well

2 teaspoons finely minced lemon zest

3 tablespoons pesto

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Combine the artichokes, lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, oil, capers, lemon zest, and pesto in the food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is still chunky. Stir in the fresh herbs.

Lay a fillet on top of a large square of foil and spread 2 tablespoons of the mixture on top of the salmon , fold up to enclose the fillets, and tightly crimp the edges to seal the pouches. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Baked Redfish with Cashew-Garlic Crust

Over the past few weeks we have been eating a lot of fish that we purchased from the Dubkin Brothers, a fish farm on Moshav Tekuma in southern Israel. They sell fish to restaurants all over the country, and also to individuals at an arranged pickup point every two weeks. The owners are very friendly and they prepare the fish any way you want. The fish is very, very fresh, most of it coming from their own fish farms and they have the best source for salmon I have found. Your order is packed in ice in a Styrofoam cooler  and they always include a bag of fresh lemons. They had a special sale on redfish (Rotbarsch in Hebrew and German) which is a nice semi-firm fish that can be broiled, baked, and pan-fried.

I found an interesting recipe from Emeril Lagasse that called for 220g (2 sticks) of butter. I couldn’t subject our bodies to that much butter, so I changed the recipe.The recipe also called for baking the fish on a bed of spinach, but I didn’t have any fresh spinach on hand so I served the fish on a bed of one of my favorite comfort foods from my mother, creamed spinach. I don’t really have a recipe, but I tried my best to create one for you. Let me know if you have any problems making it. I will make it again and try to come up with a better recipe.

I am sure Emeril’s recipe is divine, but I think my “healthier” version is delicious and really goes well with the redfish.

Baked Redfish with Cashew-Garlic Crust

Serving Size: 2

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 redfish fillets (or other 8 ounce white-fleshed fish fillets such as snapper)

Cashew-Garlic Paste

1 cup salted roasted cashews

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a few drops of Tabasco

Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Season the redfish fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.

To serve, transfer the packages to warmed dinner plates. Open at the table, using scissors.

In a food processor, pulse the cashews until coarsely chopped, being careful not to over blend into a paste. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and hot pepper sauce, and pulse until the cashews are finely chopped. Add just enough olive oil (start with 2 tablespoons) to bind the mixture together.

Using a flat metal spatula or your hands, smear both sides of each fillet liberally with the cashew paste. Don't worry if it doesn't spread easily, just make sure that you have cashew-garlic paste on both sides. Lay 2 fillets on top of a large square of foil or parchment paper, fold up to enclose the fillets, and tightly crimp the edges to seal the pouches. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 15 -20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Serve on a bed of creamed spinach.


Mom's Creamed Spinach

Serving Size: 4

1 small onion, minced

50g butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup milk or light cream

500g (1lb) frozen chopped spinach

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Saute the onion until lightly browned and add the flour. Cook until the flour is incorporated with the butter and onion, and is a light brown roux. Add the milk or cream and stir until thickened. Add the spinach and cook on medium low heat, stirring until the spinach is defrosted. Add the nutmeg and mix thoroughly in the spinach. Cook until hot.

Erev Yom Kippur 5770

I think my grandmother (z”l) would have been quite shocked by my erev Yom Kippur menu. It was definitely not the usual family fare. But, I have finally realised that we shouldn’t have a heavy meal before the 25 hour fast. It is just not healthy. So, I collected some interesting recipes for the meal.

I found a very interesting Iraqi fish dish that was adapted from a 13th century Baghdadi cookbook called Kitab al-Tabikh.

Al-Baghdadi’s Kitab al-Tabikh was for long the only medieval Arabic cookery book known to the English-speaking world, thanks to A.J Arberry’s path-breaking 1939 translation as `A Baghdad Cookery Book’ which was re-issued by Prospect Books in 2001 in Medieval Arab Cookery. For centuries, it has been the favourite Arab cookery book of the Turks. The original manuscript is still in Istanbul, and at some point a Turkish sultan commissioned a very handsome copy which can still be seen in The British Library in London. – From Amazon.Com

The recipe called for 1/2 cup of sumac and I was a bit skeptical, but the dish was outstanding. I used a large drumfish, called  מוסר in Hebrew or Mussar, which is a nice firm, meaty fish that was perfect for this dish. The Iraqis probably made this with a type of carp that is found in the Tigris river called Mangar.

I only stuffed one fish for the two of us, so I have enough stuffing left over for one more fish.

Baked Fish with Sumac Stuffing

Serving Size: 4

(Samak Mashwi bil Summaq) From A Baghdad Cookery Book (Kitab al-Tabikh) by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Baghdadi

1 to 2kg whole fish, such as drum fish, barramundi, grey mullet or gilt-head sea bream (you may need 4 fish, depending on the size)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Sumac Stuffing for Fish

For the stuffing:

1/2 cup sumac

1/4 cup fresh za'atar or thyme

1/2 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, and cinnamon

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 220C (450F).

Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process into a paste, as pictured above. Add more water, if needed.

Cut 2 to 3 diagonal slits in the fish and rub the oil and the turmeric on the outside and inside of the fish. Stuff the fish with the sumac mixture and close the incision in the fish with kitchen string, tooth picks, or the silicon ties as shown in the picture above.

Place the fish on a roasting rack and bake in the second level of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Cooking time will vary according to the size of the fish.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash and Olives

My husband is not a big fan of ptitim (in Hebrew and maghrbiyya  in Arabic) or what the rest of the western world calls Israeli couscous. I have been trying to convince him to let me make it, so when I found an interesting recipe on Epicurious, I decided to push him a bit. He said ok. I found some whole wheat ptitim at the supermarket and I could have bought spelt ptitim, but I didn’t want to scare him off too much. This dish calls for preserved lemon which I like very much, but I didn’t have any at home, couldn’t find any in the olive sections of two different supermarkets, and didn’t have time to make any. So, I decided to add some lovely tart Tsuri olives instead that I cracked and pitted. The sweetness of the butternut squash with the tartness of the olives and the crunchy pine nuts and the fragrant hint of cinnamon gave a wonderful texture and taste to this dish. It was a perfect accompaniment to the fish and the salad I made. I think I have converted Mr. BT.

Janna Gur’s Carrot and Date Salad

I am in love with this carrot and date salad. I do not like tzimmes in any shape or form, but I really loved this dish. It calls for fresh dates which I have never cooked with.

Fresh dates are high in vitamin C. They are also a special food for Rosh Hashana. Moroccan Jews dip a medjhoul date in anise seeds, sesame seeds and powdered sugar to “mark the new year that is beginning as one of happiness and blessing and peace for all mankind.”

The crunchy dates and the cooked carrots were perfect together. And the silan (date honey) did not make the dish too sweet. I will definitely make this again.

The finishing piece to this meal was the semifreddo I made the day before. This is a very easy dish to make and would be perfect for any dinner party. I recommend using a strong-tasting honey such as chestnut, eucalyptus, thistle, or heather. The rosemary was quite subtle, so I will steep more rosemary in the milk next time. You need to factor in the cream that you will be folding in later. It will mute the honey and rosemary flavor.

Chestnut Honey, Rosemary, and Goat's Milk Semifreddo

Serving Size: 8

2 cups goat's milk

3 sprigs of rosemary

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup chestnut honey

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

Put the goat's milk in a heavy saucepan and heat until the milk is steaming, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the rosemary. Let it steep for 45 minutes. Taste the milk to make sure that it has a significant rosemary taste. If not, let it steep for another 20 to 30 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg yolks, honey and salt together.

Strain the milk mixture and place the milk in a clean heavy saucepan. Reheat the milk on medium heat, but do not boil. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves a path on back of the spoon when a finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.

When the custard is cold, whip the cream to soft, thick peaks. If the cream is added when the custard is still warm, it will melt the cream.

Goose Ossobuco with Quince

It is finally quince season here in Israel and I love to make savory autumn meals with this tasty fruit. The supermarket had a special on goose right before Rosh Hashana, so I decided to buy several packs of goose ribs from Hungary. At least that is what they are called on the package in Hebrew.

Goose ribs, you say with a laugh….well, actually they are goose drumsticks that have been trimmed to look like lamb ossobuco. So, I decided to make goose “ossobuco” with quince for Shabbat dinner. I wanted to serve it over polenta, but it is not cold enough to have that hearty a meal. I served it over couscous and with Mr BT’s grilled asparagus as a first course. I would recommend making this a day ahead to enhance all of the wonderful flavours of this dish. The taste actually got richer when I reheated it the next day. Goose can be fairly tough, but the meat absolutely fell off the bone.

This dish should be served with a hearty red wine, such as a Shiraz.

Goose Ossobuco with Quince

Serving Size: 4

2kg (4 1/2lbs) goose drumsticks (skin removed and half of the leg bone has been cut off)

2 quince

Juice of one lemon

8 large shallots, chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 bottle dry red wine

2 liters (4 pints) chicken stock

Few sprigs of thyme

1 large bay leaf

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Peel, core, and cut the quince into quarters. Place in a small bowl and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top of the quince. Set aside.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and gently cook them until soft and lightly colored. Add the flour cook the flour mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and gradually add in the red wine to avoid forming lumps. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the goose drumsticks, quince, thyme, bay leaf, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the dutch oven to the oven, covered, and cook for two hours or until the goose is tender.

Serve over polenta, couscous, quinoa, or pasta.

Happy as a Duck in Andalusian Sauce

Last Friday we were invited by a dear old friend of ours to a wine tasting in Har Adar, near Abu Gosh. It is a beautiful drive up to the Jerusalem Hills that always reminds me of Provence. Yossi and his lovely wife Dina, who makes lovely biscuits,  were our gracious hosts. Yossi, who writes a blog called Yossi’s Wine Page, invites vintners from boutique wineries around the country to do wine tastings about once a month at his home .

This month’s event was a tasting of wines from Ben-Shoshan winery at Kibbutz Bror Hayil in the South. The award-winning winery makes approximately 12,000 bottles a year which are sold mostly in wine boutiques. Yuval Ben-Shoshan and his adorable son Gefen (which means a grape vine) were showing off their delicious wines.Bror Hayil in the Sou

Yuval makes his wine from grapes grown in two completely parts of the country. One is Avdat, in the northern Negev desert, an area that 1500 years ago was the center of the ancient kingdom of the Nabataeans, who also built Petra in Jordan. In spite of the desert climate, the Nabataeans were famous for developing irrigation systems, including underground storage cisterns, that allowed them to farm the land successfully with very little rain water; and modern Israeli farmers have done very much the same thing except using modern technology. The other area is at Kfar Shamai, in the northern Galilee, which is one of the countries grape-producing regions.

The result is an outstanding Shiraz 2007, which won a bronze medal at the Israel Wine Awards this year, Cabernet Sauvignon Avdat, Cabernet Sauvignon Kfar Shamai, and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. We tasted the first three wines and came home with a bottle of Shiraz and Cabernet Avdat. The Shiraz was unusually light and fruity, and just right to drink a little cooler than room temperate, which is how it was served due to the heat of the hot Israeli sun beating down on us.

Mr BT’s birthday was last Sunday and I was lucky to find a whole duck on sale that I snapped up right away. I had never cooked a whole duck before, but I knew that I had to find something special to make for Mr BT’s special day. I found a recipe for duck with an Andalusian sauce where the duck is first marinated in a boiling marinade flavored with star anise and tumeric. It is served with an delicious sauce made of oranges, lemons, honey, and balsamic vinegar. I served the duck with pan-roasted potatoes and sauteed artichoke hearts and mushrooms. If I had served this dish in the winter, I would have served it over creamy polenta.

We toasted his birthday with the Ben-Shoshan Shiraz 2007. It was a perfect match to the sweet and sour Andalusian sauce.

For dessert, I served a light dessert of beautiful fresh figs with a drizzle of Provencal chestnut honey.

Roast Duck with Andalusian Sauce

Serving Size: 4

1.4 kg (3lb) whole duck

For Boiling Marinade:

1 quart of water

6 cloves garlic (skin on and bashed)

6 bay leaves

4 star anise

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon tumeric

For the sauce:

Juice and zest of 2 large oranges

Juice of 1 medium lemon

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 a pint of chicken stock

60g (2oz) sultanas

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 teaspoons cold water for slurry

For the boiling marinade: Put all of the ingredients in a tall pot, such as an asparagus steamer, and bring to the boil. Boil for ten minutes and then reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, cut the wings tips off the duck and make two cuts into the carcass, parallel to the wing bones. This will allow the duck fat to escape during roasting.

Suspend the duck, using a butcher's hook or similar into the neck over the pot, without letting it fall into the marinade. Using a small soup ladle, pour the marinade all over the duck. Keep doing this until the duck has a nice golden yellow color from the tumeric. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and dry for approximately one hour.

After the duck has dried, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and roast the duck on a rack over a roasting tin of water for approximately one hour and a half. Check the duck half way through cooking because you may need to put a tent of aluminum foil over it to prevent the duck breast and wings from overcooking.

While the duck is roasting, prepare the sauce. Put all of ingredients in a small saucepan, except for the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. Then, make a slurry of cornstarch and water, and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it. When the sauce is sufficiently thickened, take it off the heat and reheat it before serving.

Fish, Fish, and more Fish with a Smattering of Cherry

I love to experiment with all of the wonderful fresh fish we can get here in Israel. And the other day, they had some small fish at the fish monger in the supermarket. I don’t usually buy fresh fish there, but this looked especially fresh. I have been buying my fish from Dubkin Brother’s located at Moshav Tekuma near the border with Gaza. They sell their fish to restaurants and come up to the center of the country every two weeks to make deliveries to individuals. They are lovely people, have good prices,  and most importantly their fish is a high quality and very fresh. The fish comes packed in ice in a Styrofoam cooler that they take back with the next delivery. So far I have ordered baramundi, sea bass, gilt-head sea bream, and red mullet.

The best way to cook it is to not do too much to it.  Most of the time I saute it in a pan or grill it under the oven, depending the type of fish. If I saute it, I slice garlic thinly and place it in a hot pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add the fish, and then add the juice of two large lemons and a couple of tablespoons of chopped thyme, fresh zaatar, oregano, or chives. If I grill it, such as trout, then I stuff the cavity with rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon slices, and sliced garlic and grill in the oven.

I bought small red mullet and another fish that I have never heard of and don’t know the name in English, but they were both wonderful. I just lightly coated them in flour and cooked them in a shallow pan of oil for about two to three minutes on each side. I served them with basil-garlic red potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Mr BT made red mullet with a mango sauce. He sauteed the fish in a little butter and olive oil. He added mango juice, white wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar, removed the fish and reduced the sauce. He has also made drumfish with a sour cream and herb sauce. You could also make it with yogurt. Skies the limit.

For one of the meals, I used the last of the cherries that we picked at the cherry festival. I had frozen them and they were perfect for a nice fruit crisp. It brought back childhood memories when my mother used to make a delicious apple crisp. She didn’t make the topping with oatmeal, but this recipe is British fruit crisp. The crisp was delicious and the cherries didn’t need any additional sugar.

Fresh Sour Cherry Crisp

Serving Size: 6 to 8

4 cups pitted sour cherries

4 tablespoons flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

100g (1/2 cup) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Butter medium size baking dish, approximately 22 x 32 cm (9 x 13 inches).

In a medium bowl, mix the cherries and the flour. Evenly distribute the cherries in the baking dish.

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and melted butter. Crumble evenly over the cherry mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Georgian Chicken with Walnut and Garlic Sauce

Mr BT and I have been busy in the garden planting artichokes, sugar snap peas, lavender, and sunflowers. I hope to show you the fruits of our labour in about six weeks. We also have a nice array of herbs growing: lemon thyme, rosemary, oregano, regular thyme, basil, purple basil, and zaatar. I really love cooking with herbs and we cook with them several times a week. Fresh herbs really add a special flavour to food that you can’t always get with dried herbs.

I decided to try another Georgian recipe for Shabbat. This time one of their famous chicken with walnut sauces. Since, Mr BT is half  Hungarian and can’t live without a garlic dish, I decided to try Chkmeruli  (pronounced ch’k-muh-roo’-lee) which is made with walnuts and 10 cloves of garlic. The sauce is so creamy that you may think there is cream in the recipe. Next time I want to try Satsiv, which is another chicken with walnut sauce that has cinnamon, clove, fenugreek, and coriander in the recipe.

Chicken with Garlic and Walnut Sauce - Chkmeruli

Serving Size: 4

1.5 kg (3lb) chicken cut into pieces

Salt (for non-kosher chicken)

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup of walnuts

1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsely

1 cup of water

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Brown the chicken over medium high heat for 10 minutes; turn and brown for 10 minutes more. Cover the pan and continue cooking over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Meanwhile, finely grind the garlic and walnuts.

When the chicken is tender, transfer it to a plate and keep warm. Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the pan drippings. Add the ground garlic and nuts mixture, water and the parsley to the pan. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and simmer the sauce on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Place the chicken pieces back in the pan, turning them to coat them with the sauce. Heat thoroughly before serving.

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