Food Friday–House Guest Edition

Our Minneapolis friends, Alfie and Judy have spent most of their time in New York staying at a B&B across town. They are back with us for Shabbat.  They have been having a blast running around the city. One of their adventures took them to Brighton Beach, known locally as Little Odessa.  They bought us some Russian spices, a Russian spice mix meant for meat and sumac. I have been dying to try sumac. Yesterday I made an amazing salad with sliced cucumber and carrots dressed with olive oil, vinegar, sumac and smoked paprika. It was really delicious. The combination of sour and smoky is quite intoxicating.



I decided to cook tonight’s chicken in the same mixture. I mixed generous amounts of both and rubbed each chicken piece with the mixture. I had thought that the rub would go on easier if I mixed it with olive oil. At the last minute decided that it would make the chicken too fatty.  I’m glad I didn’t go that route because I pulled over two cups of chicken  fat out of the roasting pan after the chicken was cooked. After the chicken was cooked I put all of the chicken into a clean roasting pan. Then I dumped three trays of ice cubes into the juices that were left and  spooned off the fat into a measuring cup. After I got rid of the fat, I then reduced the pan juices and added the juice of a lime. I reduced the juices until they were about 1/4 of the amount they were when I began.This way you have a really flavorful chicken juice to pour over the chicken. I’m not fat phobic, but too greasy a meal is kind of unpleasant a few hours later.


When I cook on Friday’s I’m usually done by early afternoon, but we won’t be eating until about 8:00 pm. I need to put the food into the oven to warm just before Shabbat starts, so the food needs to be improved by a long warming period. by warming the chicken in the reduced cooking juices it’s even better than it was fresh out of the oven.



Alfie and Judy also brought some kale. I made a salad with the kale, celery, chickpeas, rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.


I also baked rice in the oven while the chicken was cooking. I added cardamom to the rice ( those are the black dots) .I think it will be a nice foil for the chicken.



We will also have a green salad and a fruit salad for dessert. Judy and Alfie brought a ton of fruit. I will make that a little later today. I also roasted some tofu in sesame oil and rice vinegar for our vegetarian guests. I find that tofu is tolerable only when roasted in a deeply flavored marinade. Otherwise it tastes like eating soggy Styrofoam. An overnight marinade and a few hour in the oven and the tofu is fit for human consumption.


Best wishes for a productive and peaceful  2012 for all of us.


  1. Try pressing the tofu before you marinate it. The firmer slices are 'meatier'. I cover with paper toweling and a pan weighted with something for at least half an hour, but an hour is good too.

  2. baking the sodden tofu for so long while the oven was also cooking the chicken the tofu became chewy, meaty with a nice crispy crust. I wouldn't turn on the oven for three hours just for tofu...but since the oven was already working was just another thing int he oven. i like to cook several things at once. it's a bit time saver. i tend to cook things that take not so much prep work but long cooking time.


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