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Chicken is a mainstay in most Jewish homes. We love our chicken stock (homemade or store-bought and doctored will do) for matzah ball soup. You’ll find chopped chicken livers at the holiday table because every family has those who love it among the haters. For Shabbat, a nice roasted chicken kicks off the weekend and the Sabbath. But when you always cook with the same ingredient it is easy to get in a rut. The good news is that it isn’t that hard to get out of it! Just add a little spice. This summer, go Indian with this Indian spiced grilled chicken served with a cilantro mint sauce. For interfaith families with Indian backgrounds, this is a great way to fuse your cultures!
Cilantro Mint Sauce
1. Into a large bowl, grate the ginger. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime, salt, Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix that can be found at most grocery stores) and fennel seeds (I like to buy whole seeds and toast them on a pan on the stove and then crush them with a mortar and pestle). Pour in vegetable oil and mix together.
Toss the chicken into the marinade and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Wash and dry the cilantro and mint. You can use a salad spinner or dry the herbs on a towel. They do not have to be bone dry. In a blender, add the mint, cilantro, shallot cut into quarters, the juice of 1 lime, water, sugar and salt. Puree the mixture.
3. Carefully slice a jalapeño in half, remove the inner seeds and mince the pepper. Stir the tiny pieces of pepper into the sauce.
4. Take the chicken out of the fridge so it can lose some of the chill. Then, pre-heat your grill. Cook the chicken on a medium heat grill until done. Timing varies based on size of the chicken pieces, so just refer to your meat thermometer for doneness. Or, cut into the chicken to see that the meat is opaque and the juices run clear.
Serve with delicious summer vegetables.
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
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. 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.
6. With a rolling pin, press the sugar into the dough. Add a pinch of salt, sprinkled over the sugar here.
7. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.