Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sweet

Friday night was the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I celebrated by cooking dinner for my sister Angie and her family. I think it was Wednesday that I extended the invitation, thinking that I would throw something together from that night's CSA delivery and sort of forgetting that I had plans on Thursday night.

After I picked up the CSA produce, I stopped by the Andersonville Farmer's Market. I figured that at least one farm would have apples for sale, and if I was lucky, some bottles of honey (yes, we finally finished those 3 bottles of honey in our pantry).

I arrived around 7pm, an hour before closing time. It was a good thing that I didn't show up 10 minutes later because some of the vendors were already packing up. Luckily I saw baskets of apples on one of the tables manned by a woman who seemed in no hurry, so I rushed over and learned that the market now closes at 7pm instead of 8pm because of the darkness.

That's right, the darkness.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chicago winters, the darkness starts creeping in around late September until suddenly, you wake up and it is dark. You go to work, and it is dark. You come home from work, and it is dark. The darkness cannibalizes the day, like a ravenous beast. The snow, cold, and wind, I can handle. It's the darkness is the hardest part about surviving a Chicago winter.

But some time around March or April, mercifully, the light returns. With it comes a more even ratio of day to night. The darkness recedes not in defeat, but in hibernation for the next winter. But I digress.

Back to the farmer's market...I picked up some honey crisp apples and honey and decided to do menu research on Thursday. By the time Friday rolled around, I had a few different ideas but nothing was set.

There was this chicken with lemon and pepper recipe that seemed easy and safe. Then there was the dish that I wanted to make but was a little afraid because I had never made it before. As I learned early on in my blogging experience, it is very important to test a recipe.

But this dish that I wanted to make was so tempting. Somehow Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Honey seemed more appropriate for Rosh Hashanah, which is all about wishing each other a sweet new year.

I also learned that my nephew had an aversion to lemons. So that was that. I decided to go for it. Angie would bring noodle kugel. Someday I will make it and post this recipe, which is rich and sweet beyond belief and quickly becomes a pile of crumbs that get picked up by sticky fingers. I would also make one of my favorite fall salads - greens with sliced pear, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries mixed with balsamic vinaigrette. We'd finish with a dessert of sliced apples dipped in honey. Simple and sweet.

I already had tomatoes, onions, and lettuce from my CSA, the apples and honey from the farmer's market, and all the spices in my pantry except ginger, which we had run out of a few weeks earlier.

I 1 1/2'd the recipe to accommodate the 6 of us, and let me say that my gamble paid off. The recipe calls for the chicken to be sauteed and then slow cooked in a mixture of onions, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and honey for about 50 minutes, which infused the meat and the juice with so much flavor that Angie declared it the best chicken she had ever tasted! (I didn't serve over couscous like the original recipe called for because I thought the kugel would suffice.) The nephews chowed down too. They ate at least half of their pieces of chicken, which is always the highest compliment.

It was a sweet new year indeed.

Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Honey (adapted from Jessica Denise Steinmetz, bellaonline.com)

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
6 medium skinless chicken breasts
4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
6 Tbsp. honey
Salt to taste

Heat oil in large Dutch oven and deep pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until golden, about 6 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to plate. Add chicken and saute, turning frequently until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes (depending on the size of the boob!). Since I was crunched for time, I sauteed 3 pieces of chicken in a Dutch oven and a saute pan at the same time. Remove chicken from pan.

Add 1/2 cup water to Dutch oven, scraping bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen all browned bits. Add tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes, until soft. Add turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, honey, and salt. Return chicken and onion to pot. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes, until chicken is tender.

Makes 6 servings.

2 comments:

Whitney said...

The darkness is what gets me too.

Made By Angie said...

mmmm it was yummy. thanks again for sharing the new year with us linds :)

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