I, like everyone else in North America right now, am a bit obsessed with Yottem Ottolenghi. My copy of “Jerusalem” is littered with so many post-it notes that it resembles something from “A Beautiful Mind”. I have turned to Yottem on many a special occasion and my sister’s birthday was no exception. After mixing and matching dishes from “Jerusalem” and “Plenty”, his vegetarian offering, I had it sorted. We would celebrate with a menu of Braised Quail with Dried Apricots, Steamed Rice with Herbs, and Roasted Beet And Fennel Salad.
The first time I make a dish, I normally follow the recipe religiously. However, when I caught myself pondering whether or not the spices would be better toasted, I knew I was going rogue.
Braised Chicken with Dried Apricots and Figs (adapted from “Jerusalem”)
2 Corish Game Hens, butterflied and halved down the breast bone. You can just as easily use a chicken, quartered.
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1.5 tsp dried chile flakes
0.5 tsp coarse salt
healthy dose of ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c dried apricots, sliced
1/2 c dried figs, sliced
1/8 c raisins
1.5 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 c white wine
1 c water
Fresh flat-leaf parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish
We are so lucky…some good friends generously invited us to spend the weekend with them in Whistler. As a thank you, I offered to take Chez Wittmann on the road and prepare a feast for Saturday night’s dinner. I took full advantage of the beautiful kitchen and our large appetites, built up from an afternoon paddle on the lake, to create a menu that could safely be considered “rich”.
We are fortunate enough to have a glorious fig tree in our backyard. Every spring, it is the last tree in the yard to reveal its leaves, but when it does, it’s spectacular. Big broad leaves and so many of them. Now, that the hot days of summer are upon us (and is it ever hot), the figs are starting to ripen which means that it is time to share this delicious recipe with you. The great thing about this one is that it does not require turning on a stove, which, when it is 36 degrees seems mandatory.
Grilled Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Honey from Fine Cooking, Issue 40
1/2 c. soft fresh goat cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
Handful of mint leaves, rolled up and sliced thinly (the fancy term is frisee)