Chicken with Clove, Cinnamon and Chestnuts

Chicken with Cloves, Cinnamon and Chestnuts

Today, with a heavy heart Sarah, Miriam, and I shut down Flavors of Israel. It was a project that we were all very excited about, but work and other things interfered with us devoting as much time as we needed to devote on the website. I haven’t talked about my professional life on the blog, but I do have a demanding full time job in the software industry. This really only leaves me with the weekend to find exciting and interesting food-related adventures to write about and photograph. In my case, maintaining two websites was more than I could handle. But don’t worry, we are all still great friends and plan to continue collaboration in the future. The most important thing is that we all still have our own blogs, with different flavors of Israel; and I intend on still showing you the beauty and bounty, dear readers, of the country that I found love and grown to love, my home, Israel.

Enough with the tears now…

I hope that all of my Jewish friends and family are having a nice time in their Succahs, enjoying family time. David and I spent the first night with a lovely couple in our Moshav.

I already showed you the light dessert I made for the pre-fast dinner for Yom Kippur. The main course was a delicious Spanish dish that originally called for pheasant and pancetta. Since we don’t have access to pheasant here, I made the dish with chicken and did not substitute the pancetta, which you can substitute with smoked goose.

Chicken with Clove, Cinnamon and Chestnuts

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Pollo con Clavo, Canela y Castañas) Recipe adapted from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette - Basque Red Chili Pepper

6 whole cloves, roughly ground

1 x 400g (14oz) tin plum tomatoes, drained, broken up

1 large chicken, cut into 8 pieces

300ml (1-1/4 cup) dry white wine

200g (7oz) chestnuts, boiled, fresh or vacuum-packed, cut in half

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large, deep frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, brown all sides of the chicken pieces and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the remaining olive oil, and add the onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and cinnamon, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Add the thyme, paprika and cloves, and stir well for a minute, then add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken to the tomato mixture and then add the white wine. Reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat with the lid on for 20-40 minutes. Then add the chestnuts and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

2nd Wedding Anniversary Dinner

December 30th was my 2nd wedding anniversary and we decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate. I try very hard to keep politics out of my foodblog, but I will say that even though terrible things are happening around us, we still felt we should celebrate our anniversary by making a nice meal. We have postponed birthdays and other special events over the years, but decided that we could have a comforting and quiet meal at home. We hope that the fighting will stop soon and that we can find some way to make peace with our neighbors.

The meal that we made had an unintentional color theme of brown. Brown is really not one of my favourite colors, but in this case, it was represented by one of my favourite meats that I rarely have a chance to eat, lamb. The supermarket near my home has been running a special on lamb for the past month and it is such a great deal that we decided to buy some. The butcher explained that a meat company has bought large quantities of lamb on the hoof and is marketing the meat both through selected supermarkets and directly to hotels and restaurants, making it possible for us to buy young lamb at a great price.

We more or less followed a recipe from Nigella Lawson for “Moroccan Roast Lamb”. This recipe is very simple, you make a simple marinade that you rub on the meat and let it marinate overnight. The main ingredient of the marinade is ras al hanout, a spice that I have a love affair with and have used in numerous dishes that I have posted on this blog. It is such a versatile spice that you can use in both savory and sweet dishes.

We served this with a steamed artichoke and vegetarian brown rice maklouba (rice layered with courgette and eggplant), which is a layered rice dish that I made a while ago with chicken. For dessert, I made a chocolate and chestnut torte that was light and airy. It was a perfect meal to celebrate actually eight years with my partner for life. Mr. Baroness Tapuzina has brought a great richness to my life and I love him very much. Thank you for a very interesting eight years, here is to many more to come.

Moroccan Roast Lamb

Serving Size: 6

Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

2kg (4.4lbs) lamb shoulder

2 tablespoons ras al hanout

Juice of two lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups of red wine

Mix all of the above ingredients except for the red wine and make incisions all over the lamb shoulder. Using your fingers, push pinches of the mixture into the incisions and then rub the remainder of the marinade all over the meat. Place in a large freezer bag or some other covered container and marinate the meat in the refrigerator overnight.

Take the meat out the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

Marinated Lamb Ready for the Oven

Heat the oven to 200C (400F). Place the meat in a covered clay pot or foil covered roasting pan, add the red wine and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160C (325F) and roast for 2-3 hours until falling off the bone. Drain the fat from the sauce and serve over the lamb.

torta morbida di castagne e cioccolato

Rich Chocolate and Chestnut Cake
Torta Morbida di Castagne e Cioccolato
From La Cucina Italiana, December 2008
Serves 12

Passover Preparations

I am busy deciding what to prepare for the main dish and dessert for Passover, since most of the other items on the menu are the expected traditional fare. I am considering the following:

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pinenuts (from my friend Chef Farid Zadi)

Patatine e Carciofi Arrosto (Roasted Potatoes and Artichokes)

Torta del Re

Nottingham Nut Cake

Lemon, Creme Fraiche and Chestnut Cake (for a dairy meal)

Damp Apple and Almond Cake


For more ideas, click here. I will post my menu in a couple of weeks.

Chestnut Heaven

One of the things that I really like about winter is chestnut season.

I remember fondly when my grandmother would splurge and buy chestnuts every december. They were quite expensive when I was a child, but the house smelled so nice when she was roasting them in the oven. My first experience of eating fire roasted chestnuts was not until I lived in Europe. I couldn’t wait to see the vendors rolling their carts yelling “Roasted Chestnuts” in German, Italian or French. I loved biting into their floury goodness and now I enjoy finding recipes in which they can be used to accent a dish.

I had some goulash meat in the freezer that needed to be cooked and I started looking at recipes I hadn’t made yet. And since winter has begun here in Israel, and I had just bought a big bag of chestnuts, I started craving a hearty winter dish. I found an amazing recipe bursting with flavour. I am not sure where this dish originates from, but I know that it is from somewhere in the Caucasus. The spices, the walnuts, the pomegranate juice impart an amazing, dare I say orgasmic flavour to the dish and the house smelled like a spice market. I highly recommend this recipe and I will definitely make it again and again.

I didn’t have any sour apricots on hand, so I used dried sour cherries, but they were lost in the dish. I served it over a brown rice.

Beef Stew with Chestnuts and Pomegranate

Serving Size: 6

455g (1 lb) chestnuts roasted and shelled

2 medium onions

1/4 cup canola oil

800g (1-3/4 lbs) goulash or stew beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes ( I used frozen goulash meat that I thawed out)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric ground

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads crushed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground

1 cup walnuts, minced fine

1/4 - 1/2 cup of sour apricots, cut into quarters

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed

1-1/2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon honey or date honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, minced fine

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup fresh parsley as garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the meat, turmeric, salt, pepper, and brown meat on all sides. Stir in the saffron, cinnamon, walnuts, sour apricots, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

Note: Depending on the cut of meat, you may need to cook this for 2 hours. Just make sure you check it half way through because you may need to add a little more liquid.

Add the lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and chestnuts. Stir well, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over a bed of saffron rice.

Wedding Fit for a Baroness

I was married for the first time this past December. Originally the wedding was planned in the spring in Israel. It was going to be a beautiful garden affair in an old Arab villa, called the Green Villa, overlooking Tel Aviv. But, unfortunately we had to cancel this wedding and two long years later, we finally had an unexpected dream wedding.

Wedding planning can be quite stressful on a couple and we were certainly not devoid of this stress. After much deliberation, we decided that it was more important to have my family at the wedding and so we embarked on planning a wedding in my hometown in the US. It was a difficult decision because my husband wanted his friends at his wedding, but he had already been married once and he knew that since it was my first wedding, my family was more important.

My dress was made in Israel two years ago. I co-designed it with the dress designer I hired. It was made of gold duponi silk, with an embroidered ribbon on the bottom of the dress and topped off with a gold veil. The train was made of a slightly darker gold duponi silk with tiny embroidered flowers in the same color thread. It was two pieces cut like the sash of a Kimono and joined together with a small bow.

My parents asked the Rabbi that married them in 1963 to officiate the wedding. He is the current Rabbi at my hometown synagogue and he had met my husband twice before. Being married by the same Rabbi that married my parents 43 years before was a real added bonus to the special event.

Everyone in my family had been married under the huppah my great grandfather built for the synagogue, but unfortunately it finally fell apart several years ago and the synagogue had not purchased anything to replace it. I am from a small town, so you can’t just call up the local huppah company and rent something. I had to think of something creative. At first, I thought I could make my own huppah cover. I would buy a piece of silk and paint it, but that was going to be a lot of trouble and what if I messed it up? So, I started looking on the internet for ideas, but a ready made one cost a minimum of 400USD. Then, my husband suggested that since we couldn’t get married in Israel, how about getting married under the Israeli flag. So, I started looking for a huppah-size one and they cost a minimum of 300USD. It was way over our budget. Then, something drew me to checking on eBay. I had never bought anything on eBay before, but I searched for “Huppah” and ‘lo and behold…. there was my huppah cover up for bid. It had never been used and was simply beautiful. I bid immediately and on the final day was in a bidding war with another person. They contacted me by email and asked when I was getting married. I told him and he said if I won, would I sell it to him for the same price I bought it because he was getting married two weeks after me. I said sure. I won the bid and he received the huppah a few days after my wedding.

The week before the wedding we still had to get flowers and get the poles and decoration for the huppah. Because I got married between Christmas and New Years, there were no flower deliveries, so there were no flowers to be had. No problem, we went to Home Depot, bought tropical plants and the four poles for the huppah. My husband drilled holes in the poles and attached hooks to the poles to hold up the huppah cover. We bought ribbon at the fabric store and a cousin and my sister painstakingly decorated the poles.

My sister decorated the synagogue with the plants we bought and I had a spa day at the salon/spa that my cousin works at. She is a wonderful massage therapist and she gave me the spa day as a gift.

We rented a CD player and played a medley of classical baroque music for the wedding ceremony. It began with Jewish Baroque music, Monteverdi and Rameau pieces, then my grandmothers walked to Tres Morillas (Spanish Baroque music performed by El Cancionero de Palacio), then the huppah holders, the Groom, Rabbi and Cantor walked down the aisle to to La Bomba (Spanish Baroque music performed by Ensalada; not the Mexican song). I walked down the aisle with my parents to Monteverdi’s Orfeo Toccata and we closed the ceremony with Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.

The reception was at a event hall/restaurant called Classic on Noble that is owned by friends of my family.

The menu was simple, but elegant:

Blood Orange Caipirinha

Antipasti (seasonal grilled vegetables)

Spanikopita triangles

Salad with dried fruit, nuts and pears

Salmon with goat cheese grits and roasted baby vegetables

We decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and decided to have a dessert table:

In honor of David’s Hungarian heritage and our love for chestnuts, I made two Gesztenyetorte (Chestnut Torte). This cake is three slices of walnut sponge cake with a delicate chestnut cream filling. Melts in your mouth.


Serving Size: 8 to 10

(Chestnut Torte) Recipe from George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang

For the sponge cake:


10 egg whites

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

½ cup finely ground walnuts

Butter and flour for pan

Chestnut filling (below)

Chocolate, grated or shaved

For the chestnut filling:

1kg chestnuts in shells or 450g canned Swiss or French chestnut puree

3 oz semi sweet chocolate

225g + 2 Tbs sweet butter

¾ cup vanilla sugar

1 whole egg

¼ cup light rum

For the sponge cake:

Preheat oven to 190. Add 1 tsp cold water and a pinch of salt to the egg whites. Whip egg whites until soft peak stage. Continue to beat and add the sugar, spoon by spoon until egg whites are very stiff. (A spoon should be able to stand up in the meringue if it is beaten stiffly enough.)

Gently add the flour, walnuts and another pinch of salt. Fold in, making sure you do no break the egg white foam.

Line a baking sheet 17 x 12 inches with wax paper. Butter paper lightly, sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.

Spread batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 min, until firm and golden brown on top.

Cool completely with wax paper over top to keep cake from getting crusty; then cut lengthwise into 3 pieces.

For the filling:

Cook the chestnuts, shell and skin them and puree while still warm. You should have about 1 lb of puree.

Soften the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler over hot water. Beat together the butter, vanilla sugar, egg and rum until the mixture is very light and foamy.

Add the softened chocolate and the chestnut puree, and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Fill cake layers with chestnut filling and cover sides and top with more of it. Decorate with grated or shaved chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve thin slices, this is a very rich cake.


This cake can be round, square or oblong. It is an easy cake to make and yet quite different from the run-of-the-mill torte. The layers have the texture of a moist sponge cake. Make smaller layers and have a torte with more than 3 layers if you prefer. If you bake the dough a little longer, you will get crisper layers.

And, I gave the restaurant the recipes for two other desserts:

Anacapri Tart – An orange mascarpone tart with a rosemary crust. A slice of heaven. This tart is an Italian confection and represents our love of anything Italian.

Anacapri Tart

Serving Size: 10

For the pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp minced rosemary leaves

Grated zest of 1 orange

12 tbsp sweet butter, cubed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

For the filling:

1 1/4 cups orange juice

grated zest of 1 large orange

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup mascarpone, or similar sweet cheese

7 large eggs

3 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

Confectioner’s sugar

For the pastry:

Place the flour, salt, sugar, rosemary, and the orange zest in a medium bowl and rub the cold butter into it with fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles very coarse crumbs. Combine the egg, the egg yolk and the liqueur and, with a fork, stir it all into the bowl with the flour mixture, forming a rough paste.

Turn it out onto a lightly flowered work space and, with a few short strokes, form the mixture into a dough. flatten the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. press the rested, chilled dough over the surfaces of a buttered 12- to 14-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. cover the pastry-lined tin in plastic wrap and chill it again, for twenty minutes, in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

With a fork, prick the chilled pastry over its surface and bake it for 10 minutes. lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking the pastry for an additional 5 or 6 minutes or until it is firm and barely beginning to take on some color. Cool the pastry thoroughly on a rack. Proceed with the orange cream.

For the filling:

If the oven is not already hot, preheat it to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together the orange juice, the zest, the sugar, and the mascarpone, amalgamating the ingredients as well. add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously, incorporating each before adding the next. add the liqueur and beat thoroughly.

Pour the orange cream into the prepared pastry and bake the tart for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cream is just firmed and has taken on patches of burnished skin and the crust is deeply golden.

Cool the tart on a rack for 15 minutes before removing its ring and permitting it to cool thoroughly. Thickly dust the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Serve the tart on the day it was baked; do not refrigerate.

Gâteau Surprise Chocolat Pistache (from the Chocolat & Zucchini blog) – A rich pistachio cake with a dark chocolate ganache. To remind us of our Mediterranean home. And, we both adore pistachios.

All in all the wedding was simple, elegant and beautiful as the title of this entry says, A Wedding Fit for a Baroness. I want to thank all of my family, especially my parents, my sister and my cousins Gil, Dionne, Allen and Heather, for making my special day very special. It was my dream wedding and more.

And especially to the love of my life, my beautiful husband David who works so hard to make our dreams come true. I love you baby!

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