There is nothing more wonderful then receiving a birthday present from a friend. Especially if your birthday happens to occur right at the start of what some would refer to as ‘Academic Hell’ aka spring finals and you are so stressed that you’ve forgotten completely about the fact that you’re turning twenty-two because you have a final in your Weapons of Mass Destruction chem class and still have to memorize the top ten deadliest animals in the world. But then, amidst this male-storm of exams, presentations, and papers, your friend from freshmen year pops over to wish you a happy birthday and then hands you one of the most beautiful cookbooks you have ever seen. Beautifully written and photographed, this cookbook is a food porn addict’s dream. If you are acquainted with food porn than I you know what I mean. If you have never ever heard of food porn before, click this link right away, foodporndaily.com, now. I can promise you, it’s worth it.
Ironically, my mother had purchased this book for my older sister some months ago. When I saw it before she handed it off to her, I asked my mom why she hadn’t gotten me a copy. This is how the conversation went.
Me: You know that I’m the sister who cooks and stuff. Where’s my cookbook?
Mom: Your sister cooks, she just doesn’t have as much free time as you do. Besides, I think your sister would appreciate this book more. She did spend a lot of time there.
Me: I went to Israel too mom.
Mom: I know, but this doesn’t really seem like a cookbook you’d like. Anyway, if you want a copy, buy one yourself.
In summary, what she was referring to is the fact that 1). my sister did spend a lot of time in Israel (about 6 months) and really fell in love with the country and 2). she has a closer connection to our Jewish culture than I do. What this is has to do with whether or not I’d appreciate an attractive and unique cookbook like Jerusalem its beyond me but clearly, my mom saw it differently. Needless to say, you can guess what I didn’t get as a holiday present from my mom.
Jump forward to May 3rd and there, in my hands was the very book my mom had denied me. Contrary to my mom’s initial theory I can honestly tell you that it was love at first sight. Just flipping through the well photographed pages bought me right back to my personal journey to Israel four years ago. Almost immediately, my memory started recalling all the delicious food that I had had there. And when I say food, I am talking about more than just falafel. There is just something about Mediterranean flavors that I love. They are both vibrant and subtle. The additions of saffron and tarragon really gave this mean a punch when combined with the lemon and its juices. As for the artichokes, I can proudly report that, unlike those wicked olives, I love them. I can’t recall if I had ever had artichokes before I made this but I can guarantee that I will be eating more. There are only two things that I would do differently. The first is that next time, I will let the chicken marinate in the mixture (see below) for at least four hours or even over night. My mom and I were in a rush so we only let it sit for maybe two hours. The second thing is to finish off the chicken on the grill or leave it in the broiler longer so it can get a bit more crispy. When I make it again, I’ll let you know what happens.
Roasted Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes and Lemon
From Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yoyam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
1 lb/420 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges 2/3 inches*
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 skin-on, bone in chicken thighs, or 1 medium whole chicken, quartered
12 banana or other large shallots, halved lengthwise*
12 large cloves garlic, sliced*
1 medium lemon, halved lengthwise and then sliced thinly
1 tsp saffron threads
3 1/2 tbsp/50 ml olive oil
2/3 cup/150 ml cold water
1 1./2 tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/4 cup/10 g fresh thyme leaves
1 cup/40 g tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
*Since I couldn’t find these specific artichokes, I used frozen artichokes from Trader Joes
*I used 5-6 shallots and about 4-5 cloves of garlic. Remember my mom hates intense flavor so using 12 cloves of garlic was absolutely out of the question
- Put the artichokes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and add halt the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, lower the hat, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, until tender but not soft. If you are using frozen artichokes it will be about ten minutes. Drain and leave to cool
- Place the artichokes and all the remaining ingredients, excluding the remaining lemon juice and half of the tarragon, in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Cover and leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours
- Preheat the oven to 475F/240C. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in the center of a roosting pan and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. At this point, the chicken should be completely cooked. Remove from the oven and add the reserved tarragon and lemon juice. Stir well, taste, and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.
*Special thanks to my friend Therese for getting me this cookbook for my birthday. If hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t be the foodie I am today*
Till next time,