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.

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.

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.

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.

Pomegranate, Garlic & Ginger Lamb

Even though we have had a few cold and rainy days, it is definitely looking more like spring every day. More people are hanging out at our beautiful beaches. We had some friends visiting from the States and took them on a tour of the North.

We went to Caesaria,

the Carmel Forest and saw beautiful wild flowers,

and then a late lunch at my favourite fish restaurant, Uri Buri , in Acco.

I had a whole grilled gilt head sea bream with roasted vegetables and Mr BT had Baramundi with spinach puree and feta (pictured above), served with side dish of mejaddara.

The last package of lamb necks was staring at me in the freezer, so I decided to cook it for Shabbat dinner. I found a very interesting recipe on a foodblog called Habeas Brulee. The pomegranate and ginger were a perfect addition to the lamb. I couldn’t get enough of the sauce.

Slow Cooked Lamb Neck with Pomegranate, Garlic and Ginger

Serving Size: 4

Adapted from Habeas Brulee food blog

1kg (2.2lbs) lamb neck, bone in

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

An equal amount fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 cups red wine

1 to 2 cup water

4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 teaspoons cardamom

2 big pinches saffron threads

2 dried chilies

2 teaspoons honey

Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a hot dutch oven, sprinkle salt and pepper on the lamb neck pieces and brown on both sides. Remove the lamb from the pan.

Add the ginger and garlic, and saute for a couple of minutes on low, until the garlic and ginger is slightly softened, but not yet caramelized. Add the wine, water, and the rest of the ingredients.

Cover and braise over low heat for approximately 2-3 hours on a low flame, or until tender. Serve over rice or polenta.

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