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.

Chicken with Pasta

We’re having a heatwave.
A tropical heatwave.
The temperature’s rising,
It isn’t surprising,
We’re having a heatwave.

Okay, I changed the last line…

It is really hard to be motivated to cook in this heat right now, but I am trying to make things that I can either make ahead of time or make something that doesn’t require me to be in the kitchen for too long. This pasta dish looks time consuming, but you can make the chicken stock ahead of time and freeze it.

Hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying the last dog days of summer. It is time to start planning for the holidays and I will be posting some Rosh Hashana ideas in the coming days and weeks.

Chicken with Pasta

Chicken with Pasta

Serving Size: 6

by Dr. Eli Landau and Haim Cohen

1 whole chicken

1 bundle of herbs (10 sprigs parsley, 10 sprigs dill, 2 bay leaves, 5 sprigs thyme)

2 carrots (1 chopped and 1 whole)

2 onions (1 chopped and 1 whole)

5 black pepper corns

3 juniper berries

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Flour, for dredging

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon of rosemary, chopped

2 sage leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup green peas

1 kg penne, rigatoni, gemelli or other short hollow pasta

For the stock:

Remove the wings and necks from the chicken and place in a medium size pot with the herbs, the whole carrot and the onion, black pepper corns, juniper berries and bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour and a half. Discard the vegetables and herbs, and set aside the chicken pieces. Dissolve the tomato paste in the stock and set stock aside.

For the chicken:

Remove the fat that is on the inside of the chicken cavity and chop it coarsely. Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken into eight pieces, dredge them lightly into flour, and set aside. Put a half a cup of olive oil and the chopped chicken fat in a large dutch oven or deep frying pan with a cover on medium-high heat. When the chicken fat begins to dissolve, place the chicken pieces in the pot, in small batches, and brown on all sides. Set the chicken aside.

Put the chopped vegetables (carrot, onion and garlic) in the pot and saute for three to four minutes. Add the chopped herbs (rosemary, sage and thyme) and continue stirring for two more minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and stir. Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pot. When the wine evaporates, add enough chicken stock to cover, bring to a boil, lower the fire, season with a little salt and black pepper, stir once and simmer uncovered. Every so often, add a ladle of stock and stir. The cooking time will be an hour and a half to two hours, at the end of which the stock will be gone and the dish will be dense and nicely browned. Add the green peas at the very last minute and cook until heated through.

Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water according to instructions on the package; drain. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Place the chicken with its sauce on top, stir gently and serve.

Chicken with Garlic, Pinenuts, Raisins and Saffron

It is very rare that I buy a cookbook and want to make 90% of the recipes in the book….very rare. So, when Moro: The CookbookDavid Lebovitz recommended all three Moro cookbooks, I had to check them out. It took me about 2 minutes to decide to purchase all three:

Moro is a restaurant in London that specializes in Moorish cuisine, which has Moroccan and Spanish influences. It is owned by Sam and Sam (Samantha) Clark, who met at the River Cafe, married, and went on a three-month honeymoon in their camper-van to Spain, Morocco, and the Sahara desert. When they returned with a slew of ideas, they opened Moro in 1997 and have been enticing customers with their delicious offerings ever since.

So far, I have made two recipes from this cookbook and I can’t wait to make more. Even though there are some seafood and pork recipes in the cookbook, you can easily replace them with fish, lamb, beef, or chicken. There are also quite a number of vegetarian recipes in all three books, especially Moro East, which is based on the allotment they had at the famous Manor Garden Allotments, which were unfortunately bulldozed in 2007 to make way for the 2012 Olympics. The allotments were started in 1900 and had 80 plots which were owned by a diverse ethnic population. Some of the recipes in Moro East were inspired by the Clarks’ allotment neighbors from Turkey and Cyprus.

For Shabbat, I made a delicious chicken dish with saffron, whole garlic cloves, raisins and pinenuts. The sauce is creamy with a subtle hint of saffron. It is very important that you use high quality saffron for this dish. I served it with a Persian short-grained brown rice mix of herbs, pistachios, almonds, and raisins, and French green beans. It is easy to make and could even be made a day ahead.

Mr BT was in heaven over this dish. Now I have to convince him to take me to the not cheap (!) Moro restaurant next time we go to London.

Pollo Al Ajillo con Piñones y Pasas y Azafrán - Chicken with Garlic, Pinenuts, Raisins and Saffron

Serving Size: 4

From Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark

6 tablespoons olive oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled

1 medium chicken, cut into eighths

150ml (2/3 cup) light white wine or fino sherry or half white wine and half sherry

50 threads saffron, infused in 7 tablespoons boiling water

100g (2/3 cup) golden raisins, soaked in warm water

75g (1/2 cup) pinenuts, lightly toasted

Salt and pepper

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic, fry until golden, remove from the pan and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (pepper only if using kosher chicken) and place the breasts, skin-side down in the pan. Cook on both sides until the skin is crispy and a deep golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown.

Add the white wine or sherry and the saffron in its liquid to the pan, shaking the pan until the oil and the wine are emulsified. Reduce to a simmer and cook the chicken legs and thighs for about 15 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, garlic, drained raisins, and pine nuts. Season with additional salt and pepper, and cook with the cover on for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the breasts are fully cooked.

The sauce should have the consistency of single cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water or reduce the sauce if it is too thin. Serve with rice or roasted potatoes and a salad or a green vegetable.

Chicken Hamin with Israeli Couscous and Butternut Squash

As the weather get warmer here, I like to start lightening up the dishes. My husband just returned from a two week trip where he only had fish, so I had to make a chicken dish before he started growing scales and gills. After the first successful attempt at making a hamin, I decided to try a summer recipe from Sherry Ansky’s Hamin cookbook.

This recipe just calls for chicken legs, israeli couscous, onions, and water, which sounded too bland for our taste, so I kicked it up a notch and added garlic, slices of butternut squash, Hungarian paprika, and ras el hanut. The dish was delicious and the sweetness of the butternut squash was a perfect addition. This dish can be made overnight or you can cook it for 4 hours and serve it on Friday night like I did. The best part of this dish is that you line the pan with parchment paper, so there is easy cleanup; no muss and no fuss.

Chicken Hamin with Israeli Couscous and Butternut Squash

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Adapted from a recipe in Hamin (in Hebrew) by Sherry Ansky

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 small butternut squash

1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

6 whole cloves garlic

2 rounded tablespoons Hungarian paprika

1 rounded tablespoon ras el hanut

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

500g (1lb) Israeli couscous (ptitim)

4 cups of water and another 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 100C (200F) for overnight cooking or 150C (300F) for 4 hours cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan that has a lid over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly brown. Add the whole garlic, paprika, ras el hanut, salt and pepper; stir for a couple of minutes. Add the Israeli couscous and lightly toast it, stirring constantly. Add the water, cover, and cook the couscous for 8 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cut the butternut squash in half vertically, keeping the peel on, and seed it removing all of the stringy parts. Then, cut the squash horizontally into 6mm (1/4 inch) slices. Set aside.

Line a large clay pot, or other large roasting dish that has a cover, with parchment paper. Place half of the couscous mixture in the bottom of the pan, patting it down to make sure you have an even layer, and then add a layer of butternut squash slices. Add all of the chicken on top of the butternut squash, and then layer with rest of the butternut squash. Place the rest of the couscous mixture on top and add the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pan and cover tightly with the lid.

Place in the oven and cook overnight or for 4 hours at the higher temperature. Invert on a platter for presentation.

Freekeh Friday at Shuk Ramle

Two Fridays ago Mr BT and I went on a lovely nature walk near Uriah (from the sordid tale of King David, Uriah the Hittite and his wife Bathsheva) with Sarah from Foodbridge and Mimi from Israeli Kitchen. I learned that you can stuff cyclamen leaves just like grape leaves. I saw wild asparagus, zaatar, fennel, borage, a mastic bush, which is used to make chewing gum and is also used in ice cream, and navel wort, which Mimi uses as an ingredient in the amazing moisturizer that she makes. We did not pick any of these plants because most of them are protected by law, but it was fun learning about them. I can’t wait to go on another walk with them.

After the walk, Mr BT, Mimi, and I went to the town of Ramle (derived from the Arabic word Raml, meaning Sand), founded around 716AD.

A geographer, el-Muqadasi (“the Jerusalemite”), describes Ramla at the peak of its prosperity: “It is a fine city, and well built; its water is good and plentiful; it fruits are abundant. It combines manifold advantages, situated as it is in the midst of beautiful villages and lordly towns, near to holy places and pleasant hamlets. Commerce here is prosperous, and the markets excellent…The bread is of the best and the whitest. The lands are well favoured above all others, and the fruits are the most luscious. This capital stands among fruitful fields, walled towns and serviceable hospices…”

Ramle is no longer at the peak of its prosperity, and in fact is now one of the poorer cities in Israel, but it should be proud of its ancient architecture, such as the Pool of Arches, pictured above, which is an underground water cistern, currently under restoration. Also known as St. Helen’s Pool and Bīr al-Anezīya, it was built during the reign of the caliph Haroun al-Rashid in 789 AD (the early Islamic period) to provide Ramle with a steady supply of water.

The shuk is rich and vibrant showing off our beautiful produce and the multi-cultural diversity of the city.

The stalls are full of interesting vegetables and greens that grace local kitchens. The purplish root vegetables, on the left in the picture above, are purple carrots. When carrots were originally brought to Europe from Central Asia, they were in fact purple and yellow, not the bright orange color we know nowadays, which was developed in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The green-eyed Arab woman selling them, who must have been a great beauty when she was younger, was so happy that we knew what they were. She also sold beautiful fresh peas that I have not seen since I moved here. I bought some and we savored every morsel.

Mimi and Sarah had told me about the Bukharan baker who sold traditional Uzbeki flatbread. I had seen a travelogue a couple of years ago about Uzbekistan, which showed a local baker making flatbread stamped with beautiful geometric designs. Apparently, women used to bring their loaves to the local baker and put their own unique design on the bread so that he would know who to give them back to.

The baker in Ramle puts lovely floral and Star of David designs on his bread. We bought a couple of steaming hot ones to take home.

They also make lovely round challot.

Ever since Mr BT and I ate at Ezba in Kfar Rama, I have wanted to make a dish with freekeh and I had the great fortune to find some at a Halal butcher shop in Ramle. The shop was very nice and sold all sorts of interesting items to cook with. I thought about recreating the dish we had at Ezba, but I decided instead to stuff a chicken with freekeh. To offset the smokiness of the wheat, I added dried sour apricots that I soaked for 20 minutes in hot water and also added toasted pumpkin seeds for a little added crunch. The dish was delicious and the dried apricots really went well with the freekeh. I will definitely make this again. You could use cornish hens instead of a chicken for a more elegant meal.

I served the chicken with the purple carrots that I tucked in under the chicken. The roasted carrots were sweet and delicious with more carrot flavour that their orange cousins. I thought the carrots were going to be solid purple, but when I cut into them, a beautiful yellow and orange sunburst revealed itself.

Roasted Chicken stuffed with Freekeh

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 roasting chicken, 2kg (4lbs)

1-1/4 cups freekeh

1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup dried apricots, soaked in warm water

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Soak the freekeh in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes, skimming off any debris that floats to the surface. Change the water twice and drain well in a colander.

Cook the freekeh, uncovered, in a medium sized pot of salted boiling water, stirring and skimming occasionally, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes; drain well in a colander and transfer to a bowl.

While the freekeh is cooking, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and add the onions, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent. Add the coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper. Cook stirring for a minute more and add the onion, dried apricots, and pumpkin seeds to the freekeh. Set aside until the mixture has cooled completely.

Stuff the chicken cavity with as much stuffing as you can and tie the legs together with string. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the chicken. Place the remaining stuffing in the bottom of a small roasting pan and place the stuffed chicken on top. Brush the chicken with olive oil and bake 180C (350F) oven for 1 hour or until the chicken is completely cooked and is a nice golden brown.

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.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Since my surgery, I have been trying to get back in the kitchen, but I have been working long days at work and so I haven’t had a lot of energy to cook. Most of our meals have not been special enough to blog about. Last Shabbat, I decided it was time to cook again. There was a whole chicken staring at me in the freezer and I knew that I wanted to try something new. I had a hankering for curry, so what better than curry roasted chicken. You can be very flexible with this recipe by using a curry and other spices of your choice. This chicken is even better the next day. You could easily make this dish the night before and pop it in the oven the next day.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Serving Size: 4

1 roasting chicken about 2kg (4lb)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

4 green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon medium madras curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 head garlic cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons finely grated ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots , unpeeled and quartered

3 sticks cinnamon

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 230C (450F). Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish. Set aside.

Spices for Curry Rub

In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, nigella seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and cardamom pods. Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle. (To save time, or if you don't have equipment, use pre-ground spices and toast in pan 45 seconds.) Mix with curry powder, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Add six finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub mixture over entire chicken.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Place the unpeeled garlic, shallots and cinnamon sticks inside the chicken cavity. Tie legs with kitchen string. Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Continue cooking until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes in total. Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes.

Erev Yom Kippur

Tonight, I making a simple two course meal consisting of a Moroccan Kdra called Djej Kdra Touimiya or Chicken Kdra with Almonds and Chick-Peas, green beans, and some fresh fruit for dessert.

A Kdra is a tagine that is cooked with smen (I have to use olive oil), onions, saffron, cinnamon and sometimes ginger, depending on where you live. I am making a Fez version, which is made with a little dried ginger.

I think I was Moroccan in a former life because I am in love with the food, the architecture, the music and the culture in general. My earliest introduction to Moroccan food was when I bought Paula Wolfert’s, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, at a cookery shop in Seattle, Washington. The first dish that I tried got me hooked and I have exploring Moroccan food ever since. Since moving to Israel, I have been intrigued even more.

Chicken Kdra with Almonds and Chick-Peas (Djej Kdra Touimiya)

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 cup blanced whole almonds

1/2 cup dried chick-peas, soaked overnight or canned (if you must)

1/4 teaspoon pulverised saffron (mixed with a little tumeric)

Salt to taste (omit for kosher chicken)

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 large cinnamon stick

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil or 2 tablespoons smen

1-1/2 kg (3 to 3 1/2 lb) chicken, quartered

2 medium yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and finely sliced

4 cups chicken stock or water, more if necessary

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Put the almonds in a pan, cover with cold water and simmer, covered for approximately two hours. Set the almonds aside, submerged in water.

In another saucepan, cover the soaked chick-peas with fresh cold water, boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour. Drain and rinse with cold water. Rub the chick-peas to remove their skins. Discard the skins.

Note: For canned chickpeas, rinse and skin them and set them aside. Do not add them until the chicken has finished cooking.

Place the butter, smen or olive oil in a casserole. Add 1/2 of the saffron-turmeric mixture, the spices and the chicken. Cook on a low flame for two to three minutes. Chop 4 or 5 slices of onion fine and add to the casserole. Add the stock or water. Bring to a boil and add the fresh chick-peas. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered.

Add the remaining sliced onions and parsley. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove the chicken from the casserole. If relevant, add the canned chick-peas to the sauce. Boil the sauce at a high heat, uncovered and reduce the sauce to a thick gravy.

Drain the almonds and add the remaining saffron to the sauce. Cook for an additional two or three minutes and spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve with couscous or rice.

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