Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ringing in The New Year A Day Late

I know Rosh Hoshanna was Tuesday, but Tuesday night is dance class for me, so it was leftover city at our house that night. I could have made an early observation on Monday night, but I was just soooo eager to make the gnocchi and I wanted to make tomato sauce before my farmstand tomatoes went bad (as it was I had already lost one by Monday night). So I put off my New Year's Dinner till Wednesday.

I've said it many times before. I'm a gentile and I cook like one. I have no bubbe to teach me the right way to make traditional Jewish cuisine. My mother-in-law is a non-cook by her own admission (although I wouldn't know personally as she has never cooked me anything) and my husband's grandmother (said to be a fantastic cook) was dead before I ever had the pleasure of meeting her. This makes it especially difficult for me because I am The Disorder Cook. I have trouble sticking to recipes. I always want to play with things, so even if I try to use a traditional recipe, I often end up tweaking it and it becomes less authentic. I have no person to guide me to tell me the right way to do it.

For the past few years I have been making a chicken dish every Rosh Hoshanna that might not be authentic, but to me echoes the flavors of traditional cooking. It's a sweet chicken dish that consists of dried fruit, honey, and ginger. Sometimes it's tomato-based and somtimes it isn't. Sometimes I use wine, and sometimes I use cider. If it's not authentic, it is at least my way of wishing my husband a sweet new year.

Then there is the latke issue. Have I mentioned what a bad latke maker I am? I'm sure that I have done so a dozen or so times (/sarcasm). I know that latkes aren't necessary for Rosh Hoshanna - they are a Hanukah tradition after all - but I do have that big canister of matzah meal in the cabinet. It might be nice to use some of it up now.

I used to saute` spinach in butter and sprinkle it with nutmeg and dried cranberries. Then I realized that if I really wanted to be authentic, I wouldn't be mixing my dairy and meat. Bad Rachel! This year I made sauteed spinach again, but I used olive oil.

Anyway, I swore this year I would stop improvising and actually write down my New Year Chicken recipe so I would make my own Rosh Hoshanna food tradition once and for all.

My chicken recipe last night, which I hope to be the permanent one, consisted of wine, honey, ginger, cinnamon, and apricots. This is where I hit a slight snag. I only needed a handful of apricots for this dish. I usually like to shop on my lunch hour. However, due to road construction, when I tried to drive anywhere yesterday during lunchtime, there was a ton of traffic on the road. Stew Leonards is in walking distance of my office, so I decided to just go there. They have plenty of chicken and all of the vegetables I need, so I saw no reason not to go there.

I found my chicken, potatoes, onions, and spinach, and was only needing the apricots and the dried cranberries. Stew's has a whole wall of dried fruit. There is only one problem with it. Remember how I said I only needed a handful of dried fruit? This was the only container of dried apricots I could find.

I was miffed to say the least. This kind of stuff is expensive. Well, they had a captive audience, so I ended up shelling out their exhorbitant fees for more fruit than I can possibly eat. On my way out, I put a note in their suggestion box. Stew's in the kind of place where they assume everyone is shopping for a large family (the Westport Housewife demographic). Their shelf goods are wildly overpriced unless you plan to buy huge quantities.

Latkes are one thing I never wing. I am always looking for the perfect recipe. I got my latke recipe here. I like this because it lets you off the hook for grating the potatoes in a food processor. I suppose my use of the food processor to grate the potatoes is why my latkes never come out right. At least I'm sure that's what all the bubbes think.

See how I grated my potatoes. I'm sure the bubbes are cursing me now and will tell me this is why my latkes never turn out right.

Frying up in the pan.

The finished meal of chicken, latkes, and spinach sauteed with onions and dried cranberries.

Kevin loved the whole meal. He even loved the latkes. This man will eat a potato just about any way under the sun and still love it. I'm lucky that way.

The Meshhugge Shiksa's New Year Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbl olive oil
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbl grated fresh ginger
1 cup chopped dried apricots

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cinnamon on both sides. (I mixed salt, pepper, and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkled on the combo for even distribution.) Heat olive oil in a large pan and place chicken in . Brown well on both sides.

Mix together wine, honey, and ginger. Add it to the pan and then add the apricots. Simmer chicken until cooked through.


StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Meshhugge Shiksa! You crack me up! I love your chicken recipe. It sounds wonderful. I make a similar dish with apricots and prunes. Fruit and chicken go so great together!

Lore said...

Sounds like a terrific meal! Sticking to a recipe is really hard for me too (even sticking to my own recipes :)) ) but I like to think that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Dried apricots and cranberries seem to be the most expensive dried fruits around here.

noble pig said...

OMG the Meshhugge Shiksa...I am laughing so hard it, love it!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks everyone. It's a good combo, but yeah, it is pricey.

Glad you all like my holiday moniker. It's very hard to come up with a Yiddish equivalent of Short(dis)Order Gentile Cook.

Adam said...

I absolutely love latkes :) They are just so crispy and good. The food processor is a "grate" idea haha, I would hate to grate all those potatoes. You'd be Rachel two fingers after all that time :)

The whole dinner sounds wonderful, and now you have plenty of apricots. Do we see apricot desserts in the future?

Darius T. Williams said...

I'm sooo not a jew either - but yea, sign me up for this meal!


Emiline said...

Oy vey! Or is it, Oy vay!
I don't know.

This looks like a wonderful Kosher meal. I love latkes! And the sweet and spicy chicken soundd really good,

We have to find you a dessert using dried apricots! I can't think of one right now.

Bellini Valli said...

I am with your husband and will eat a potato any way at all. The latkes do look excellent though.....I think I'll have roesti for breakfast I am that hungry and don't have any matzoh:DF

Sue said...

You are so nice. That looks good. Does he make you pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Darius - I'm loving your latest pork recipe, so bring on the gentile food!!

Adam - You'd be surprised at how the bubbes think the blood from the hand grater makes the potatoes taste better.

Em - Get to work inventing me a new dessert!

Sue - Make me pancakes? In the 10 years we have been together and 7 years we have been married, he has never made anything more than a phone call to the Chinese/Pizza places. :-D

Lo said...

Oh, gosh. I'm laughing up a storm over here too!

Great meal! Great celebration! And those latkes look just great. I love a bit of crispy potato hanging off the sides of my latkes...