Chicken with Apples and Fennel
Question: How long does it take five young professionals in San Francisco to come to consensus on high holiday plans via email and text? I’ll never know the answer. My friends and I started discussing it at the end of August and went in circles for weeks. It was like the set-up to a bad joke – liberal Jews, raised reform, reconstuctionist, conservative, one a convert, all of us with a slight twinge of traditionalism mixed with egalitarianism, and none of us are currently members of a particular synagogue. We even specifically started “shul shopping” by going to some shabbat services looking for a place with the right mix for all of us. The only thing I learned is that the perfect shul does not exist, but in line with the old joke, the one that each person won’t set foot in, does. Luckily, through an impromptu shabbat dinner, we all ended up at the same table and settled on plans within ten minutes. It was a High Holiday miracle!
The dinner came together because I was looking for a Rosh Hashana recipe and serendipitously one appeared in my inbox. I subscribe to a few recipe list and one for salmon with apples and fennel appeared and I knew I was on the right path. Salmon is a pain to make for a crowd because it can easily get dried out, plus it is expensive, not to mention that my good friend, Sarah, now won’t eat fish because she believes it is all unsustainable and toxic. Chicken is almost always the answer for a meal for a crowd of Jews and what I turned to. Since I was sort inventing this recipe I decided a test run was necessary before my larger Rosh Hashana shabbat dinner and invited my friends to serve as guinea pigs.
After working all day and grocery shopping the thought of doing the photography was feeling a bit overwhelming so I called in an old debt and enlisted my good friend Ryan Simon to serve as the official photographer. He has been nagging me to upgrade to an SLR, so this seemed like a good opportunity to let him show me the goods and if it might be worth the investment. All the photos on this post are his, and I threw in a couple of extra because they were particularly good, so I urge you to click and enlarge them.
I also suggest you to look back at some past Rosh hashana recipes as we have a really nice collection going. I personally will be reviewing the how to braid a spiral challah post so I can impress my guest next week. L’Shana Tova!
Sesame Seed Candy
Marc’s halvah post had me contemplating sesame seeds. I have always really enjoyed the flavor of sesame seeds and am fascinated by their versatility in both sweet and savoy dishes. My personal preferences generally categorize certain flavors and seasonings as sweet or savory and never the twain shall meet, but sesame I like in a variety of forms. One of my favorites is in sesame candy. My first exposure to it was the packaged variety from the Brooklyn based kosher candy maker Jovya. (they also make packaged halva and an odd array of kosher marshmallow product) Later I discovered an almost identical treat in Asian grocery stores. In general, every country on the Asian continent and around the Mediterranean has a recipe for sesame seed candy, all of which call for sesame seeds and some form of sugar to be cooked, cooled, and cut. (Indians call it Til Gajak, the Greeks, Pastelli and of course, Sukariyot Soomsoom in Hebrew) This isn’t surprising given that sesame seeds are one of the world’s oldest know condiments and have been incorporated, in someway, into most cuisines. Additionally, sesame seed have high nutritional content, being a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and calcium. This way you can almost claim that this is a healthy candy…and it is incredibly easy to make and allows me to use more of my honey. These candies are a particular favorite among the Sephardim, and Israelis, as a Hanukkah treat.
recipe after the jump
“Why the number 1?” you might ask. Well roast chicken is such an integral part of the Jewish family kitchen I am confident that the heathens will produce multiple roast chicken recipes. Roast chicken is a staple of Friday night dinners and holidays alike. This most likely has to do with the fact that kosher chicken was more readily available and cheaper than beef, and this has become the case once again as well. I tend to eschew meat and poultry that has been produced using factory or CAFO farming practices ,and given the propensity of these practices and a rash of other embarrassing scandals in the kosher slaughter business, I almost never buy kosher meat these day . That aside, kosher chicken has one distinct advantage: the salting process essentially makes it pre-brined. So if you don’t feel like going through the hassle of brining, which I believe is a must, get yourself a kosher chicken. If you want to brine your own, I suggest the Cooks Illustrated Basics of Brining guide, which is free for download.
Today I have discovered that the level of attraction between brine and my kitchen floor is intractable. For the third time in about six months I have spilled several quarts of brine, soaking my throw rugs. This may have a bit more to do with my bumblebee attention span and propensity to forget to close the jumbo zip-top bags I use for brining, before I walk away to get my meat. But a load of laundry and a second batch of brine got me back on track. One particularly handy piece of kitchen gear when roasting a chicken is (surprise) a roasting pan with a rack. You can go crazy and spend anywhere from $25 to $200 on a pan, but I think ones in the $50-75 are your best bet, giving you a good sized pan with a v-shaped rack. If you don’t have the cash to shell out for a pan you can also just make balls of aluminum foil to prop your chicken up off the bottom of the pan.
Last week I came into a large jar of local honey , my sweet tooth has yet to dissipate and my rosemary bushes went crazy this summer, so I decided to do a honey-lemon-rosemary chicken.
recipe after the jump
With Rosh Hashana approaching I’ve been contemplating recipes with honey (including honey cake, but more on that later). When I realized just how much honey I was going to need for baking over the next week, and looked in my pantry, I came to the conclusion that I have a little bit of a honey problem:
I love honey. I love honey in any sweet item. I love topping vanilla ice cream with honey. I love honey in my tea. I’ve been know to occasionally stick a spoon in a jar of honey and lick it. Due to my ridiculous hay fever, I have also developed an obsession over local honeys, because someone once casually mentioned to me that it might be a homeopathic remedy. Seriously, set up a stand at my farmers market, tell me its local and I’ll pay way more than I