Monday, January 28, 2013

COTM: Jerusalem, family dinner


So I could not help myself and made another round of shakshuka for dinner last week.  How is it possible that it tasted even better?

Well January is coming to a close and I wanted to make at least one more recipe from the book before the Chowhoud Cookbook of the Month (COTM) changed.  I even tweeted back and forth with one of the authors about what he recommended I try.  (Yes, that completely made my night, thanks Sami.)

The meal started off simply enough with my intentions on making roasted chicken.  Then I decided I wanted to try the spicy carrots.  Then more people were coming to dinner and I needed to make another side dish and didn't want a plane salad so the spicy beet and walnut salad was added.  Okay, ready to go..and then the middle sister asked me what dessert was.  Okay, Coconut Marmalade cake was now on the list too.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  If you give a mouse a cookie... So the final menu came down to this:

Main Course
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Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Arak

Side #1
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Spicy Carrot Salad

Side #2
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Spicy Beet, Leek, & Walnut Salad

Dessert
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Semolina, Coconut, & Marmalade Cake


Once again, this book is amazing.  First of all, my house smelled like citrus and spice the whole time the chicken was cooking which kept making my stomach growl.  The roasted chicken with fennel and clementines (tangerines in my case) was a show stopper.  First of all, the smell would convert a vegan.  Second, the presentation looked unreal with the bits of char on the chicken and fennel and tangerines made this dish look like something straight out of a magazine.  Third, and most importantly, the chicken tasted like the best chicken ever!  I am not a dark meat fan and for some reason have not yet come to love chicken cooked on the bone and with skin.  That was until last night.  I have been converted.  So easy to make and yet the effort paled in comparison to the finished product.  Ottolenghi and Tamimi you rock!

My dad said his favorite dish was the spicy carrots.  I of course like anything cooked with chili sauce or harissa which of course this dish had a touch of.  The carrots were huge and from the farmers market that morning which might have made the taste go up a level as well.  In all the carrots were, in my opinion, delicately seasoned and a perfect side.  (I am going to make another batch to have with lunch with week.)

Spicy beet salad I of course loved with the exception of the leeks.  I just could not seem to find the right texture for them.  Other recipes tryers had the same problem and we all agreed to wither leave the leeks out next time or to try artichoke.  Other than that I loved the dressing and the walnut paired with the beets.  Another great side dish.

Last came the cake/bread.  I wish I had more dazzling pictures for this but in truth the cake was easy to make and to dress it up would have taken away from the simplicity of the dish.  Citrus and coconut marry in the dense but moist cake with a tough of ground almonds to give it a bit of texture and background flavor.  I can see this dish being translated to a lovely tea party for a warm afternoon.

Now for the problem.  I had checked this book out from the library and it now seems I need to purchase it for my collection and to support the chefs.  Well good thing that I named this year the "Year of Cooking and Cookbooks"!

(photo credit everyAugust)

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