OTTOLENGHI & TAMIMI’S ROAST CHICKEN WITH CLEMENTINES

For someone who only roasts chicken by the “low and slow” method followed by a “high and fast” step, trying this recipe from Jerusalem cookbook was quite a change: the pieces are blasted at 475F from start to finish. They advise to check the state of the skin after 30 minutes, and reduce the temperature slightly in case it’s darkening too fast. I was curious to see how our Supernova handled this challenge. but it cruised through the test! All pieces were nicely and homogeneously browned, the meat cooked to perfection.  This is a super festive dish, perfect for entertaining.

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Jerusalem is one of the many cookbooks sitting on my bookshelf, but my inspiration to make this dish was a post from “Alexandra’s Kitchen” ,  a blog I love! You can read, and print her version of this recipe (which I followed) by jumping here.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH CLEMENTINES: An outline

This is a simple but unique treatment of chicken pieces. A flavorful marinade is prepared with a mixture of arak (or ouzo), honey, orange, lemon juice and spices.  You can use a whole chicken cut up, or go for chicken thighs as I did.  The main flavor will be fennel and anise. Reading Alexandra’s blog as well as a few other sources in the net, it became clear that if you are not a fond of anise, better modify the recipe.   It turns out that I absolutely despise ouzo (as well as Pastis, which brings a sad tale to my mind that shall be told some other time), so I used dry Vermouth instead. I also added only 1 teaspoon of fennel seed instead of 2 + 1/2  as originally called for.  It turned out perfect for us.

The clementine slices add a lot visually to the dish, but I did not care for their texture, even the ones that cooked protected from direct heat seemed a bit bitter and tough to me.  They release a lot of juice and flavor into the sauce, so even if you don’t eat them in the end, no big deal.

After the chicken is roasted, the sauce is transferred to a saucepan, reduced almost to a glaze, and poured over the meat on the serving dish.  You might be tempted to skip this step. Do not.  It is one of those details that take a dish from great to spectacular, trust me on that…

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Additional comments:  Probably one of the reasons this recipe works so well with intense heat from beginning to end, is the fact that the pieces are surrounded by quite a bit of liquid during roasting.  The final texture is perfect, and the sauce tastes amazing, a powerful kick of fennel and the sweetness of clementines pairing with it.  If you like anise flavor, go for Ouzo or, if you can find (and afford it), opt for the more authentic Arak.

I know that most people associate recipes from Jerusalem exclusively with Ottolenghi, so I made a point of including Tamimi on the title of my post.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for  being the co-author of such an amazing cookbook.

This dish was our first dinner in the year 2014, and I thank Alexandra for the inspiration. It was a  perfect meal to launch the New Year!

Roast Chicken with Clementines1Dinner is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Eight-Ball Zucchini: The Missing Files

TWO YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

THREE YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ossobuco Milanese: an Italian Classic

CHEDDAR AND FENNEL SEED CRACKERS

Cheddar Fennel Crackers
These crackers were part of the appetizers we served at a small dinner get-together.  I’ve always wanted to re-visit crackers, as my first experience with them was pretty awesome. But way too long ago, this blog was just a baby back in September 2009.  Fun times. These are completely different creatures, thick and flavorful, they stand by themselves without the need of any spread.  The fact that you can make them ahead of time, then slice & bake is an added bonus. I am all for making my life easier when entertaining. Let me rephrase that. I am all for making my life easier. 😉
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CHEDDAR AND FENNEL SEED CRACKERS

(adapted from the blog Lemons & Anchovies)
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¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (grated with a Microplane)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 + ¼ cups all-purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
Pinch kosher salt
A pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
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Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for about one minute. With the mixer on low-speed, add the cheese, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and fennel seeds just until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  With the mixer still in low-speed add the flour,  and turn off the mixer once the mixture is in large crumbles, about one minute.
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Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, press into a ball then roll it into a 9-inch log. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before slicing and baking.
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When ready to bake, heat your oven to 350℉. Slice the dough into roughly 3/8-thick rounds and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can sprinkle more fennel seeds on top of the rounds if you wish.
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Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the cooking time, until very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature. They keep well in an airtight container for a few days.Makes about 24 rounds.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments: 
At first I had some trouble shaping the log of dough, and had to add a little more flour, but finally it all came together smoothly.  These crackers have a shortbread feel, they crumble as you bite into them, and their flavor gets more and more pronounced as you chew them. The lemon zest definitely adds a lot, even though fennel and cheese are strong components in the overall taste.  The basic recipe could be taken in many different directions with different cheeses and spices…  I think that an experiment with a little bit of dried lavender could be quite interesting, but it might be tricky to pick the right cheese to go with it.
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This was my first time baking this type of cracker. After slicing it would have been nice to smooth out the surface gently with the tip of the finger, particularly the edges.  Something to consider for next time. Bake and learn, my friends, bake and learn…
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TWO YEARS AGO: My First Award!
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THREE YEARS AGO: A Message from WordPress
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FOUR YEARS AGO:
Turkish Chicken Kebabs

IN MY KITCHEN: JANUARY 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 

May 2014 bring a ton of happiness for you and all your loved ones!
If you like to set goals for yourself, try to make them realistic, so they won’t turn into a personal ordeal. Remember to enjoy the ride!

I thought a great way to start 2014 would be by joining the virtual party initiated by Celia many moons ago: her “In My Kitchen” series.  Stop by her site to see what other bloggers are sharing from their own kitchens.

In our kitchen….

Many gifts to start this virtual tour…

FoodProcessorA Cuisinart mini-food processor, great gift from a couple of colleagues at  KSU.  Works like a charm, and is powerful enough to grind nuts and spices into a nice paste.  Love it!

PepperGrinderA new pepper grinder, gift from one of my stepsons, I’ve been struggling with our old pepper grinder for 14 years, it’s one very temperamental gadget! This one, from Williams-Sonoma is stylish and functional,  I can change the coarseness with a simple twist.

AmericanCupA special cup for hot or cold liquids that my stepson gave me to celebrate my 20 years away from Brazil. Love it! Oscar takes a nap in the background, dreaming with chubby squirrels.
PearsIn our kitchen… A box of ultra special pears from Harry & David, sent from our dear friends and former neighbors from Oklahoma. They are by far the best pears I’ve ever had, juicy, and sweet.   I even used them in a special salad, a recipe that will be on the blog soon.  Stay tuned!
BrevilleIn our kitchen…. My gift to Phil for Christmas and his Birthday (12/27)… a sexy-red Breville espresso maker. Of course, it matches our Supernova stove, and brightens up our mornings!

In our kitchen.. a labor of love from my super-skillful partner…  It all started with these: a box of wine corks saved for years and years + a sheet of plywood.

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For our home in Oklahoma, Phil made a wine cork board many years ago. He was just waiting for the kitchen hellnovation to be over to build a new one here,  bringing to our new kitchen something we missed from the old home.   My stepson was visiting us and  helped with the final installation.

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Can you figure out what his design represents?  I can tell you it is very clever…
Cork Board


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In our kitchen…. Black Volcanic Salt from Hawaii…  ever since I bought the new book by Anne Burrell and saw a recipe using this salt, I wanted to try it.  It has a smoky taste on top of the salty flavor.  Love it!  Plus it looks gorgeous sprinkled over certain foods like asparagus and sea scallops.

CitrusOlivesIn our kitchen... Citrus-Stuffed Olives.  These are amazing!  I almost passed them by at the grocery store, but one thing I’ve learned living here is that the products labeled as ‘Private Selection” from Krogers are not to be ignored.

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In our kitchen… Little glass vials that are perfect to store those loose spices sold in bags.  Like the gift from my friend Gabi, a spice mix from Brazil… and some other goodies I had laying around the pantry in a less than ideal “living situation”.

compositechipsIn our kitchen… tapioca chips, something I had never heard of, found them in the great Asian market in town.  They are less greasy than potato chips, with a  slightly harder texture.  They are made from cassava (manioc) flour.  A product from India. I wonder if they are available in Brazil, since manioc products are so popular back home.

compositeCopcoIn our kitchen…  a great find by yours truly, on ebay.  Have you heard of a Le Creuset-like product from Denmark called Copco?  Well, these are not made anymore, they are vintage items that you can only find in auctions like ebay, or garage sales.  Their design is super-stylish and the quality of the enamel cast iron supposed to be superior to Le Creuset.  After patiently stalking many of these babies on ebay and watching them sell for small fortunes, I managed to snag this little baby for less than 40 bucks.   I was happy, happy, happy….

OatNoodlesCan you detect an impulse buy when you see it? I have no idea how to cook them (no instructions in the bag or online), or what they taste like. But they were too interesting to leave behind. Another fascinating product found at the Asian Market. They are packaged like soba noodles, but are made from oat flour. I am intrigued.

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And now, it’s time for a message from our four-legged friends….

ChiefBedChief is very happy with his new bed. It is fluffy, a lot more comfortable to rest his tired bones. Two paws up! Well, four paws down, actually. Blissfully down.

LordBuck2Buck believes that elegance and poise will bring good fortune. He is also versed in Geometry & Statistics, and knows how to position his body on the spot with the highest probability of “food-fall”.

compositeOskyOscar was completely in love with his new friend, and wishes he would still be around to play with him. It’s ok, Osky, we all miss him! Let’s hope he will come back soon…  In the meantime, Oscar will have to settle for another of his favorite activities: making sure Mom is ok after her workouts. That Tony Horton guy is one mean master!

OskyGym
I hope you enjoyed this little tour around our kitchen and home! Make sure to stop by Celia’s spot – Fig Jam and Lime Cordial – to visit other kitchens around the blogosphere.

I would like to close this post with a message for the New Year, a text written by Neil Gaiman. I love it, and thank Rosa for sharing it on Facebook.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

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ONE YEAR AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

THREE YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye