What to serve for the holidays? For many people, chicken is obligatory. But what do you serve if your guests are vegetarian? The following two dishes are bound to please; the first redolent with spices, and the second a symphony of flavors. Since both these recipes are somewhat lengthy, I'll end the text here and just wish you all a happy, healthy and delicious new year!
FRAGRANT CHICKEN WITH FIGS
Why are the words of the Torah likened unto the fig tree? The more one searches it, the more figs one finds. The more one studies the words of the Torah, the more wisdom one finds in them.
(Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 54A)
So simple yet so special, this dish combines three of the biblical Seven Species - figs, olive oil and honey - to create nuances of flavor that are appealing, satisfying and a delight to the senses.
Makes 6 servings
1 large chicken, cut into
12 dried figs, tips removed
11â„2 cups Muscat wine
(preferably Golan Muscato)
4 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1â„2 tsp. pepper
2 bay leaves
1. Rinse the chicken and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over to cover and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Using a sharp knife, scrape the skin to remove excess surface fat. Pat dry and set aside.
2. Rinse the figs and snip off the tops with scissors. Place chicken and figs in a single layer in a large roasting pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix wine, honey, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper and bay leaves and pour over chicken. Cover and marinate for 1-4 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
4. Preheat oven to 190ÂºC. Roast, basting and turning occasionally, until chicken is tender and brown, about 1 hour. Serve chicken and figs with a little pan juice poured on top. (Can be prepared several hours in advance and reheated in the oven. Leftovers can be reheated the next day in the microwave).
Adapted from The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking, by Phyllis Glazer with Miriyam Glazer, Harper-Collins 2004.
RISOTTO WITH A SYMPHONY OF MUSHROOMS
This fabulous dish can serve as a vegetarian main course or a side dish for mushroom lovers. Serve with a green salad and a bean-based salad for complementary protein and enriched fiber. The more types of fresh and dried mushrooms you use, the better it will be. Make the dish parve by substituting extra-virgin olive oil for the butter, and forgoing cheese (it really doesn't need it) as a garnish.
NOTE: The secret of the flavor is making your own fresh vegetable broth, which can be used for other purposes as well. It's so easy, you might want to make double the amount and freeze.
Makes 4 main dish servings
41â„2 cups vegetable broth (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup risotto rice (Sugat brand recommended)
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dry
1 bay leaf
For the mushroom mixture:
2 tsp. olive oil
250-300 gr. mixed fresh mushrooms (portobello, button, shiitake, king oyster, shimeji)
40-50 gr. dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, oyster )
3 cups boiling water
1 large garlic clove
2-3 Tbsp. parsley, tarragon or coriander
For the broth: 3 medium carrots, broken in pieces, 1 large onion quartered, 3 celery ribs with leaves, 1-2 dill or parsley sprigs, 7 cups water, salt and pepper to taste
1. Make the vegetable broth by putting all the ingredients in a medium pot, covering and cooking for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced to about 41â„2 cups. Drain well and return to the pot. Keep covered over very low heat.
2. Soak the dried mushrooms in 3 cups of boiling water, cover and let stand until the mushrooms are soft. Drain and save soaking water. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
3. Measure the broth; if there is less than four and a half cups, make up the difference with the mushroom soaking water. Keep hot.
4. Remove the stems of the mushrooms (especially fresh shiitake) and slice. If using shimeji mushrooms, separate from the base and leave whole. Rinse fresh mushrooms briefly and dry on a kitchen towel.
5. Melt the butter in a medium pot or large frying pan and cook the onion 5 minutes. Rinse, drain and add the rice together with the thyme, bay leaves and 2 cups of hot broth. Bring to boil and cook over low heat, stirring almost constantly until the liquids are absorbed, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the remaining two and a half cups of broth one half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquids are absorbed. The rice should be somewhat sticky with a very slight bite in the center of the grain (al dente) and the rest tender. If necessary add some more of the mushroom soaking water and continue cooking.
7. While the risotto is cooking, heat a frying pan with olive oil and add all the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes until they begin to wilt, stirring often. Add the garlic and parsley and let cook covered over low heat for an additional 3 minutes. Stir into the rice mixture and serve with grated Parmesan on the side, if desired.