I want to wish all of my Jewish friends and family a very Happy New Year! For those who may not know this is Rosh Hashanah also known as the Jewish New Year. Also, the Jewish calendar is not the same as the Gregorian Calendar so in Judaism it is not 2014, it is actually the year 5775. What?!?!That is kind of hard to wrap my head around but I do my best.
As I have come to embrace my hubby and his Jewish faith I have grown to love cooking for the High Holidays. Anyone who knows me knows that I love spending the holidays with my family. I think part of loving Fall is because it means that they holidays are coming and that means lots of food, family, drink and conversation. Since the hubby’s family lives in Cali I know how important it is for him to have a piece of home during the High Holidays.
I have done my best to master the traditional foods including the Matzo Ball Soup and Grandma Toby’s Noodle Kugel. Each year I think I get closer and closer to make it feel like home. We have even shared these dishes and traditions with my family so that they can become familiar with all of the holidays and meals. I had to prepare them for the fact that the meal tends to be on the sweeter side since Rosh Hashanah is all about ringing in the new year with sweet things (who wouldn’t get behind that?). I probably used a ton of honey and I certainly saw my fair share of raisins in the last two days.
One of the greatest things about coming back to Pittsburgh is that there is a pretty substantial Jewish population. The grocery stores have everything we need and it helps to make the hubby feel even more at home and special. I always had Jewish friends growing up so I feel like an honorary member of the Jewish community. I guess being married to a Jewish guy helps solidify that.
As we were leading up to the holidays I must have been feeling a bit Mediterranean. I decided it would be perfect time to do my lemon garlic chicken. The hubby demanded that we pair the chicken with Israeli Couscous, I guess he was feeling Mediterranean as well.
Let’s take a minute to talk about Israeli couscous. The couscous is also called Ptitim and is actually a small pasta shaped like pearls. According to Wikipedia (this is always a credible source…) Ptitim is more commonly served to children in Israel. You can call it a child’s dish if you want but I’ll still love it. My favorite way of preparing the couscous is to impart a sweet element along with a buttery note. It is literally a side I could eat all alone.
As we celebrate the new year (in Judaism) I will think about all the things I want to accomplish in this year. I’ll also think about the world and hope that we can finally have some moments of peace. I seriously cannot read the news without feeling some sort of despair. Thankfully I have all of you to come to and vent and share. The kitchen will always be my way of dealing with the chaos. Sorry I took a weird somber turn there but you know, you have to be reflective during the holidays.
Lemon Garlic Chicken
4 Chicken Thighs
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Cup White Wine (Chardonnay)
3 Lemons Thinly Sliced
3-5 Garlic Cloves Sliced
1/2 Cup Black Olives
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large skillet with lid over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in skillet and then add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook chicken until the skin starts to brown and get crispy. Flip chicken over and cook on the other side until it begins to brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add butter to pan, slowly add white wine to the pan and using a wooden spoon scrape any pieces of chicken from the bottom of the pan. Place half of the lemon slices in the pan along with the garlic slivers. Allow all the ingredients to simmer in the skillet.
Return chicken pieces to the skillet and top with remaining slices of lemon. Add olives to the pan and give everything a quick stir. Place lid on your skillet and allow the chicken to bake in the over for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Serve chicken as is or over rice.
Adapted from Trader Joe’s Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley
1 Box Israeli Couscous (May be labeled Pearl Couscous)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 3/4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Carrots Diced
1/2 Cup Raisins
Zest of 1 Lemon
In medium pot melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the dry couscous to the pan and stir until the couscous begins to develop color and smells toasted. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf giving the couscous one more stir. Add you chicken stock, carrots, and honey to the pot and cook until boiling. Once boiling cover and lower the heat to a simmer and allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
Finish the couscous by adding the raisins and lemon zest. You can also add other dried fruit such as apricots or dates to this couscous.