I’m not an expert on poetry, I can’t even claim to get immense pleasure from reading it regularly, but there are some poems that stick in my head. One such poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Different lines from it seem appropriate at different times.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
That seems to be the part that resonates right now, and I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to you all for your kind words of support and encouragement while Big Man and I deal with the highs of a wonderful year of hard work behind us, and the lows of the ill health of loved ones in the here and now.
However, life really does go on. We live, we laugh, we cry and of course, we cook and eat. Cooking soothes the soul, eating does too. Well, we all knew that didn’t we?! Today I have another beautiful Ottolenghi recipe that is stunningly simple and simply stunning. I followed the recipe almost exactly, which is rare, and I wouldn’t change a thing. When we ate this dish, I found myself thinking what beautiful Arab flavours it contained. As I looked up the recipe again to pull this post together, Yotam Ottolenghi says that he was influenced by a recipe from Claudia Roden’s book, Tamarind and Saffron. Aha, now I need to buy that one too!
- 1 large (organic, free range if possible) chicken cut into portions
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon
- A generous pinch of saffron strands (but use turmeric if you don’t have saffron)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp cold water
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 100g hazelnuts (actually, I did change this, he says unskinned, mine were skinned!)
- 70g honey
- 2 tbsp rosewater
In a large bowl mix the chicken pieces with the onions, olive oil, spices, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper and leave to marinate (from 1 hour to overnight in the fridge)
Heat the oven to 190 degrees (Gas 5). Brown the hazelnuts on an oven tray for 10 mins (I dry fried mine in a pan), cool slightly, roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large tray or oven dish (you want to spread it all out) and bake for about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile mix the honey, nuts and rose water to make a rough paste and spread it over the almost cooked chicken. Return the meat to the oven for about 10 minutes (or until cooked) and it is all golden brown.
This dish looks so beautiful (well, less so in my photo!) and is good even when cold.