Fireworks Picnic Fried Chicken with Maple Dipping Sauce


Fried chicken picnic

In many Jewish households, Fridays are for chicken. A roasted chicken for Shabbat is as commonplace as fireworks on the Fourth of July. If you’re creating a Jewish home, or a home with a Jewish flavor, a great way to do so is by sharing a delicious Shabbat or holiday meal. I love gathering with friends and hearing about their grandmothers’ roast chicken or the best roast chicken they had at a friend’s house growing up.

This time of year, it is hot outside and having the oven on for a long time roasting a chicken is less appealing. For Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th) we’ve got this simple fried chicken recipe, which is perfect for a picnic, and as always, the secret is in the sauce. The dipping sauce for this recipe is all about Canada Day because it’s a sweet maple syrup sauce that explodes with flavor thanks to some Dijon Mustard (a nod to Bastille Day, July 14, perhaps) and some fresh minced garlic.

Picnic Fried Chicken with Maple Dipping Sauce

(serves 6-8)

apple cider vinegarSpecial equipment needed: a candy thermometer to measure the heat of the oil.

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 full chicken breasts with the skin on (this will be four pieces)
    If the chicken breasts have the bones ask your butcher to split the breasts and remove the bones for you.  
  • 1 full skinless boneless chicken breast (this will be two pieces)
  • 1 400 ml can of coconut milk, divided
  • 1 cup of water, divided
  • 2 tsp. of smoky paprika (if you only have one kind of paprika just use that twice)
  • 2 tsp. of sweet paprika, divided
  • paprika1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • 3 tsp. of cider vinegar, divided
  • additional salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (optional 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch
  • vegetable oil for frying: enough to fill your pot about 1 1/2 inches which should be no more than 1/3 of the way up the pot.
    (I like canola or peanut oil)



garlicDipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
    I prefer the dark/grade B maple syrup
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard


Note: I make two different soaks for the chicken. One is more child-friendly and is a bit milder. My daughter does not like pepper so the children’s chicken is pepper free. I also make chicken strips for the children that cook quickly and are perfect for little fingers to hold.

The chicken is made in two steps: soak & fry.


Wet ingredients

1. You will need two bowls: one for the children’s chicken and one for the adult’s. In the larger bowl (adult bowl) mix the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Whisk the mixture together and then pour 1/3 of the mixture into the other bowl (kid’s bowl).

chicken soaking2.  To the adult bowl, add 2 tsp. of smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika, 2 tsp. of cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.

3. To the kid’s bowl add 1 tsp. of cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of salt.

4. Whisk the mixtures in each separate bowl until everything is combined.

5. Place the 4 chicken breast pieces that have skin into the adult bowl. If the chicken is not submerged you can add a little bit of water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.

6. Take the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into 1-inch strips with scissors or a kitchen knife.

7. Place the chicken strips into the kid’s bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.


fry the chicken1. Take the bowls out of the refrigerator and remove the chicken from the cold coconut milk soak to a wire rack over a tray. Let the chicken sit for a while so that some of the chill is removed from the meat. The coconut milk will begin to “melt” off the chicken. Let the soak drip off and remove any excess coconut milk before you coat the chicken in flour.

2. Fill your pot no more than 2 inches high with your oil and warm it up over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees.

3. In a large plastic bag add 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and mix well with a whisk.

4. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Then put the chicken into the flour mixture in batches. Shake to coat.

5. Have a baking tray or plate ready with a double layer of paper towels for the chicken to drain on as each batch is ready.

6. The full chicken breasts take 20 minutes to fry. Once your oil has reached 375 degrees, you can start frying in batches. I like to put a timer on for 5 minutes at a time. Every 5 minutes you can turn the chicken in the oil. After 4 turns the chicken will be ready. Take it out with a slotted spoon or very carefully with tongs and place it on a plate layered with two paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper to finish. The chicken strips take only about 8 minutes and can be done in two or three batches. Turn them every two minutes.


In a measuring cup pour 1 Tbsp. of honey, 3 Tbsp. of maple syrup, 1 clove of garlic minced, and 1 tsp. of Dijon. Whisk together. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

Happy Fourth of July and Canada Day!

Fried chicken

July Fourth BBQ Sauce


When I started dating my husband he was living in Atlanta, and through my visits down south I was introduced to a whole new world of food–barbeque. I don’t want to instigate a war between barbeque lovers and the intricacies of what makes a North Carolina BBQ sauce different from a Kansas City sauce, but, suffice it to say, I think it’s all pretty delicious.

Growing up, BBQ meant chicken breasts covered in store bought sauce, baked in the oven (my mom is from Ohio). And I ate it happily, but after I spent some time eating my way through Atlanta, I’ve learned how much better something can be when it’s fresh and homemade, and I love being able to adjust the seasoning based on what I’m serving or how I’m planning to use the leftovers.

After taste testing many different recipes for BBQ sauce, the ones I liked best have both brown sugar and molasses, with something smokey and spicy to cut the sweetness a bit–in this case chipotle in adobo, one of my go-to-ingredients for chili as well. All of these ingredients work in perfect concert together to create a sweet, smoky, spicy sauce. Whether it’s brisket or chicken, even veggies or tofu, everything tastes better slathered in this amazing and simple sauce.

BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce ingredientsAdding the honeyIngredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo
  • 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper



Mix the sauceDirections:

1.  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. It’s important to add the onions first or else the garlic will burn.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the ingredients, the more liquid ones first. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Using an immersion blender, blend, still in pan, until completely smooth.

If you do not have an immersion blender, consider investing in one! It’s great for everything from baby food to soup to sauce. However, if you don’t have one, the sauce would be delicious slightly chunky: Just make sure to dice everything very finely, or you can pour the slightly cooled sauce into a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

5.  For use on grilled meat, let the sauce cool completely and then marinate the meat in sauce for up to an hour before grilling, and then continue to baste with sauce while cooking.


Immersion blenderIf using kosher meat, use less salt, as the meat is already salted.

This is fantastic for a typical American style BBQ feast, but can also transport you around the world. Using it on steak that is then thinly sliced is wonderful on top of a Vietnamese Bun. Used on pulled chicken you can create great sliders or tacos. Inside a simple chinese-style crepe pancake, it’s a wonderful start to mu-shu, along with some sauteed cabbage and carrots. The options are really limitless, and help you get a glimpse into the fact that grilled meat is really a staple in most cuisines.

Just another example of how food can bring people together across cultures and continents, when other factors just seem to divide us. What better way to celebrate the melting pot of America on the 4th of July than a recipe that can transcend? Wishing you the best for a Happy Fourth of July!

Sweet & Savory Palmiers for Papa: French Treats with a Twist


sweet title

When I was about to enter second grade and my brother was about to begin Kindergarten, our parents packed our lives up and moved the family to France for the year. We did it all again four years later as well. At the time, especially in sixth grade, I didn’t appreciate being plucked from my life in North America and put into public school in France where they didn’t celebrate birthdays at school with cupcakes, but rather celebrated each child’s Saint Day. Who knew there was even a Saint Leah?

This was just one of the many adjustments we made, but looking back it was all worth it. There are two things that sweetened the deal at the time: The wonderful French patisseries and spending time hiking in the mountains and foraging for blackberries with my brother and mom, and for mushrooms with my father. My dad and I both still consider mushrooms to be the best treat on earth. And while my father is not a huge fan of dessert, he and I do have a sweet tooth when it comes to candy.

The French biscuits known as palmiers (palm leaves) are sometimes called elephant ears. They are a perfect treat to whip up and bring along for a father’s day picnic or BBQ in celebration of the great guy who raised you, or the guy who is raising your kids. Put them in a basket lined with a cloth napkin and they make the perfect hostess gift.

These petit palmiers can be made either savory or sweet. The sweet version turns these little hearts of puff pastry into lacquered caramelized treats that pastry and candy lovers alike will enjoy. My bubbe used to make delicious biscuits called Nothings; they were light and airy and not too sweet. Adults enjoyed them dipped in coffee (and I just enjoyed sneaking them off the platter). Even though these palmiers are rich with butter from the pastry and have a shiny sugared coating, the light little heart-shaped biscuits remind me of Nothings because they both have a lightness to them and are delicious dipped in coffee.

The sweet version of palmiers are shiny and golden thanks to the caramelization of sugar. The savory version make an impressive appetizer or amuse bouche and bursts with the flavors of summer thanks to the pesto. Either one is a great way to show that you #ChooseLove.

Sweet Petit Palmiers
(makes about 20 little biscuits)

Setting upIngredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 a pack of 17.3 oz or 490 g of puff pastry)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, split into thirds
  • a pinch of salt

1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400℉.

2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.


Pastry with sugar

3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table. Sprinkle 1/3 of your sugar onto the parchment paper on the counter or table.

4. Put your puff pastry on top of the sugared parchment paper.

5. Sprinkle another 1/3 of your sugar over the puff pastry. My children love making treats for family and friends. They take great pride in sharing something they have made themselves or had a hand in making. Let the kids help with the sprinkling of the sugar. They can then also help with rolling the sugar into the dough.

Rolling the dough

6. With a rolling pin, press the sugar into the dough. Add a pinch of salt, sprinkled over the sugar here.

Roll dough in sugar

Rolling dough7. Fold the dough onto itself in thirds lengthwise. It will be folded the same way that it came in the package. If the puff pastry is more square, don’t worry about it. You can cut it in half to make two smaller rectangles.


8. Roll the rectangle out into a larger rectangle. As you can see, it will not be perfect, but you can take a butter knife and trim the edges to create a rectangle again.

Rolling into tubes

9. Sprinkle 1/2 the remaining sugar (the last third of your 1/2 cup) onto the puff pastry and put the rest of the sugar on a small plate or saucer. Without handling the pastry too much, roll the long sides in on themselves until they meet in the middle. They will form one long scroll.

10. Brush a little water along the middle seam to help the rolls stick to one another. Then, with a butter knife cut 1/4 inch slices. The dough will look like snails facing one another. To transform these into hearts, pinch the bottom and press the rounded “shells” of the snails together.

11. Place each heart on the plate of remaining sugar and gently coat both sides of the heart with sugar.

sugared hearts


sweet  palmiers

12. Place the hearts about 3/4 inch apart on the tray. Bake for 8 minutes on one side at 400℉. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, and with a fork or butter knife flip the cookies over. They should be a golden caramel color. If the hearts have begun to unravel you can try to reshape them now before cooking the other side.  Do be careful as the sugar is very hot. Continue cooking the other side for 5-8 more minutes until they’re dark, golden brown.

13. Take the palmiers out of the oven and cool the tray on a wire rack. If you are cooking a second batch or will be making savory palmiers right away, then carefully pull the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and the cookie sheet will be ready to go with the next batch.


Savory Petit Palmiers
(makes about 20 little biscuits)

savory title


  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 2-3 Tbsp. pesto
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg

1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400 ℉

2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.

3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table.


Grating parmesan4. Spread up to 3 tablespoons of homemade or store bought pesto over the puff pastry. You want the pastry nicely coated with the pesto as above, neither spread too thin nor overloaded with pesto.

5. Grate Parmesan on a plate or right over the pesto to create a thin layer of cheese.

6.  Roll the pastry lengthwise from both sides (as above) until they meet in the middle creating a long double rolled rope (pictured below). These rolls are attached in the middle like a long scroll.tubes of dough

7. Brush the middle with a little water to help the sides stick together.  Then (as above) slice the rope into 1/4 inch slices and pinch the bottom to create a heart shape.


8. Beat one egg and brush the beaten egg over the savory pesto hearts.

9.  Put the tray into a 400 ℉ oven for 18-20 minutes. You can flip the palmiers 1/2 way through so that they are golden on both sides, but they are just as tasty if you are too busy playing with the leftover dough with the kids to flip them.

For fun, you can try to make words or shapes out of the leftover scraps.  Bake them for 12-18 minutes and you’ll have a few extra tasty treats.