Greek Lemon Chicken

I met Maria P. at the Shoah Foundation about 15 years ago, when she was hired to catalogue  the testimonies of Greek Jews.  A petite woman, with dark, medium length hair and olive skin, my mother would have described her as being made of “fire and flame.” Maria was from Saloniki and had a Mediterranean temperament.  Warm, passionate, and full of life, she had many of the qualities that I admire.  We once invited Maria to join us for dinner during Sukkot and, when she arrived, she walked into my kitchen and took charge.  I remember her taking off her shoes, donning an apron, and then… she began to cook.  She had the ability to make herself at home in such a way that you never wanted her to leave.  I lost touch with Maria but the dish that she made that night was memorable.  Maria didn’t bother measuring anything, she placed peeled and quartered potatoes around whole chickens  and poured fresh lemon juice and olive oil (half a bottle) over the entire thing.  An hour and a half later we had a delicious Greek dish in a Sukkah in Los Angeles, and tonight, I am serving it for Shabbat.

 

Greek Lemon Chicken

2 whole chickens

juice of 3 large lemons

1/2 cup olive oil

2 Tbs dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Place whole chickens in roasting pan (breast side down)  and rub salt, pepper and oregano into skin.  Pour lemon juice over both chickens and then drizzle olive oil over top. Refrigerate overnight or for at least several hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roast chickens for about 1 1/2 hours.  Turn chickens breast side up after about 45 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Enjoy,

Irene

Moroccan Salmon

My mother always hummed when she cooked.  Typically, the small radio on the kitchen counter was turned to the Yiddish radio station, but if not, there was always a station that played sentimental music, lots of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  I loved knowing that when I came home, music would be in the air and dinner on the stove.  She didn’t like the sound of silence and I must admit, neither do I.  My ritual is almost identical, with a modern twist.  I walk into my kitchen and head straight for the radio, or my IPOD, and only then do I begin to cook.

I have family members in three different countries this weekend, and so here are my plans for a quiet Friday afternoon.  A glass of wine, some music, and Moroccan Salmon.  It’s raining outside and So Far Away is playing on the IPOD.  Not too bad. Shabbat Shalom.

Moroccan Salmon

1 pound of salmon fillets

salt and pepper to taste

4 thin slices of  lemon

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. harissa

1/4 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika

2 tbs. orange juice

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a small baking dish, large enough to hold fillets in one layer.  Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, and place into the baking dish.  In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, harissa, and smoked paprika.  Spread the mixture over the fish, then cover with the lemon and onion slices.  Add drained garbanzo beans to dish.  Pour the orange juice around the salmon.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  Turn on broiler and broil the fish for a few minutes to brown.
Enjoy,
Irene

Lemon Chicken

Three of us share one office.  Granted it is an executive space, with large  floor to ceiling windows and a great view of the city.  Still, the day I learned that two of my colleagues and I would have to reconfigure this space to accommodate all of us, I was filled with trepidation.  Our jobs (caseworkers) require spending a fair part of the day on the phone, helping parents or volunteers deal with whatever issues they may be grappling with.  How was this ever going to work?

It took a willingness to compromise and talk things over,  but two years later, we are more than just colleagues.  Our different approaches and personalities could have been an obstacle, but it turned out to be our strength.  We support and encourage each other when we need it, we confer with each other when faced with challenging situations, we laugh, one of us cries, and two of us cry from laughter.  We talk about our families, pets, books, movies, vacations, work, and, of course, food.

Barbie’s dad owned the famous Nibblers Restaurant and shares her wonderful memories of growing up there.  A creative cook, Barbie often describes the concoction she had prepared the night before, using whatever she had in the kitchen.  Susan, not so much a foodie, has some dishes that she has perfected and relies on, like Mac N’ Cheese, Butter Tarts and Lemon Chicken.

Some would find our situation impossible.  We spend more time together than we do with anybody else, eight hours a day, five days a week, in close quarters.  There is no privacy, sort of like three children sharing a bedroom, but I must admit, I never really liked having my own room.

Susan’s Lemon Chicken

2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts  (I used strips)

flour for dredging

6 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves minced garlic

juice of 1 1/2 lemons

salt and pepper to taste

Lightly dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.  Using a frying pan, brown chicken in olive oil and remove from pan, placing in a Pyrex dish.  Add garlic, broth and wine to frying pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and pour mixture over chicken. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy,

Irene