Friday, September 14, 2007

L'Shana Tova

Last night Kevin and I quietly rang in the Jewish New Year. It wasn't much of a celebration as I'm a gentile and Kevin is non-practicing. Still, I felt I needed a little observance, so I tried to make a butt-kicking meal that incorporated a few traditions.

I made a sweet chicken dish. I browned some leg quarters and breasts in oil until they were nice and browned. Then I added my sweet sauce made with a cup of fruity white wine, a big fat glop of honey, cinnamon, and freshly-grated ginger. I also threw in a handful of chopped dried apricots. I simmered the browned chicken in this until it seemed cooked through. (Have I mentioned that I tend to cook by the seat of my pants sometimes? I'm sure I've never said that. /sarcasm)

I roasted a giant jewel yam, an apple, and some parsnips and pureed this together. I used three parsnips, which was a bit too much. The parsnip flavor was a bit overwhelming. I like countering my sweet veggies with spice, so I used plenty of salt with some cayenne and chili powder.

I also sauteed some spinach in butter and mixed it with a handful of roasted pine nuts, a handful of dried cranberries, and a grating of nutmeg. Not surprisingly, no one said, "Hmmmm...what is that?"

I should have at least purchased a dessert like some ruglach or a honey cake. I got lazy.

I considered making latkes, but I wasn't in the mood to do something so labor intensive. If the labor were worth it, I would have gone for it, but I'm not a good latke maker. I never get the consistently quite right. They're almost always heavy and greasy. When they're good, I never figure out why they're good, so I don't guarantee getting it right the next time.

Traditional Jewish cuisine is not something I do a lot of. I have to admit I'm not always fond of the traditional recipes. I often find dishes too bland or too sweet. I don't have a lot of guidance when it comes to cooking these things either. Kevin's mother doesn't like cooking much and he will admit she wasn't much of a cook when he was a kid (although he loved her homemade chicken soup). It was his grandmother who was the great cook and made all of the great traditional foods. It's unfortunate that she died before I had a chance to meet her. Kevin said she would have loved me. I would have loved to have had some of her guidance in the kitchen. Maybe she could have helped me perfect my latkes.

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