Archive for September, 2019

Tonight, for the first time in a long long while, I looked forward to dinner. I planned the menu the day before, made a list of what we needed, and shopped for ingredients. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment but ever since Passover — now officially my least favorite holiday — I’ve mindlessly passed food through my lips in the evenings, sometimes skipping dinner entirely and eating candy. Sometimes not even eating candy, just burrowing under the covers.

Maybe it’s through the passing of time that tonight I was able to find joy — if only just a glimmer — in the things that used to inspire me. Maybe it’s just random. But I dug out my (real) camera, greeted by a “battery empty” message when I tried to turn it on. Funny, I’d only ever seen my camera complain “battery exhausted.” I guess empty is what happens when the exhaustion is too much to bear. Battery charged and replenished, I hastily snapped a few shots of dinner prep before the sun faded.

At least part of the motivation for dinner was the cookbook that arrived at my door exactly a week ago. It’s Adeena Sussman‘s Sababa and if anything could lift me up in the kitchen, even just a bit, it would be her words and her food and a hug from her over the weekend when she popped down to DC on her book tour.

I’m not going to fan girl all over Adeena, but she deserves it. She got me back here. I might retreat tomorrow and it could be months before I again find myself in this creative space I carved out for myself years ago.

But I’m here, now.

Missing my dad who set up this site and handed-me-down cameras and read every single word and commented on the stories and photos and corrected my spelling and grammar in just the nicest way possible and reminded me of the importance of chocolate as a major food group.


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Tonight’s dinner was sumac-roasted chicken and lemony cauliflower from Sababa and a chopped Israeli salad.

Sumac grilled/roasted/broiled chicken

Just barely adapted from the sumac grilled chicken, citrus, and avocado salad in Adeena Sussman‘s Sababa. I tried the salad over the weekend at my friend Rachel’s Sababa-centric shabbat lunch, and she baked the chicken breast instead of grilling. The last time I used my grill pan, the whole house filled with smoke, so I opted for a hands-off method, roasting at the same high temperature as the cauliflower. I added the zest, scallions, and thyme to the pan, and the scallions came out caramelized and luscious. When baked, the chicken breasts emerge tinged pink from sumac. Adeena suggested broiling as another option, one that gives the chicken a nice dark char to approximate grilling.

– 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
– 1/2 C fresh clementine or orange juice (from 2 clementines or 1.5 oranges), plus 3-inch-thick strips of zest
– 1 T sumac
– 1 t kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pus more for seasoning
– 4 scallions (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch lengths and bruised lightly
– 5 sprigs thyme
– 1 1/2 lbs thin-cut chicken cutlets (about 8 pieces) – I used 4 regular chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)

Marinate the chicken: Combine the olive oil, clementine juice and zest, sumac, salt, pepper, scallions, and thyme in a gallon-sizes resealable plastic bag. Using your hands, move the ingredients around to incorporate them. Add the chicken to the bag, move it around to coat it, seal the bag, and chill to marinate for at least 1 hour and un to 8 hours. Ten to 15 minutes before before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to come up to room temperature.

Roast: Preheat the oven 450ºF. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off excess liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Spread chicken on a baking sheet, tucking citrus peel, scallions, and thyme under and around the chicken. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Transfer chicken and scallions to a plate.

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