Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Cookery Calendar Challenge - May

Welcome to another cookery challenge. For April I chose a book I've only cooked one recipe from before, which was Classic Potato Latkes, which were very nice. First of all I'd like to explain why I even have this book on my cookbook shelves. I'm not Jewish, but have been brought up with the same love and respect for the Jewish people that my Mum has.
When I chose this book it was mainly because of how the chapters were laid out. They follow a dated order that reflect the festival seasons of the Jewish calendar. This appealed to me because it wasn't just put together to celebrate seasons of food produce availability, though that would've been nice. It was arranged to inform you about the festivals and the significance they have in Jewish lives. It's not only a celebration of their history but their future as they strive to pass on their traditions celebrated at festival tables.

The book itself is divided into chapters starting with Rosh Hashanah - New year Sept/Oct and finishing with Shavuot - Pentecost or Feast of Weeks May/June 6 Sivan. The book information is here. Browsing through the book I decided to cook my recipes within the Jewish festival calendar too. At the time of cooking this was Pesach Passover March/April 15 Nissan. Below is a clip with the correct pronunciation according to youtube.

My first recipe was Baked Breasts of Chicken in a Crunchy Coating. I wish I could tell you that we all ate round the table as a family thinking about the message within this chapter but alas we did not. M was working and home late, so I ate with both teens and teen 1 girlfriend. It did feel like a pleasant meal together though so I hope that counts for something. It was a while ago now and I can vaguely remember serving this meal with a horderve dish filled with coleslaw, carrot and pepper sticks. Teen 1 opted to bring some cool salsa to the table too - not sure if that was instead or as well as the ketchup. In it's simplest form this is a kind of KFC but without the dairy. Normally this type of food would be marinated in some form of butter milk, but I don't think the Jews mix meat and dairy, or at least not within this particular festival time.  

Baked Breasts of Chicken in a Crunchy Crumb

The timings were all a bit of a disaster too as I just wasn't very organised. The chicken needed marinading in the juice of 4 lemons for at least an hour and preferably 4 hours. Ours had about an hour. The recipe called for Matzah meal fine and course but I was unable to source these locally so I improvised. Which is what many good cooks do. I used both fine and course Polenta which worked equally as well. You need to mix the polenta together and spread it over a baking tray to heat for 15 minutes in the oven. Then have 2 bowls ready for coating, one with whisked egg, oil and herbs and in the other bowl the cooked meal, lemon rind, salt and pepper. You then brush the chicken breasts with one and roll them in the other and place the chicken breasts on an oiled tray.
If I made this again I would make extra marinade mixture and spread over the top of the meal covered chicken breasts. Just in the hope I could brown up both sides without turning the chicken as this is how it lost its crumbs. The book doesn't give serving suggestions but it would definitely be nice with chips, coleslaw and some salad. It was very tasty.    

Lemon Lamb

My next meal was Lemon Lamb which though everyone else liked it, I found the flavours too overpowering. Like the recipe above, better preparation would've been helpful, not least because for both recipes, I used the stated ingredients but only with enough meat to feed 4 or 5 people. Both recipes were for 6-8 people. Maybe in the case of the second meal it if I make it again it'll be more palatable next time.
I've never cooked a lamb casserole without tomatoes before but I soldiered on, hoping it'd be nice. Starting with marinading the lamb for 2 hours (not 50 minutes) in oil, garlic cloves, lemons, black pepper (always seems to be 10 or 20 grinds), cumin, coriander, ginger and fresh ginger.
Then lightly fry the lamb to brown, add onions, and add flour, then stock. Cover with water and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hr. It said you can add more lemon juice later and add the mushrooms but I put everything all in at once and cleaned up in the kitchen.
Then came the tricky part - the recipe wanted the meal to go in the fridge overnight once it was cool. Well, that didn't happen, we ate it with buttered new potatoes but could've had some vegetables with it too. The recipe suggested a garnish of almonds and herbs with new potatoes.

I did enjoy making both dishes but (er umm) would definitely try and read the recipe through a day before hand to allow for any complications. Including the reduction in flavourings if needed.

For next time I thought I'd try Peter Sidwell's book Simply Good Family Food. I never saw him on TV but it says on the cover he was on Channel 4's Lakes on a Plate. I've cooked two things from his book before, some oat cookies and mocha wheels which are a brioche dough. You basically roll the dough flat, scatter with dark chocolate pieces and roll it up like a Swiss roll and slice. Bake, cool and then drizzle mixed coffee and icing sugar over the tops of each swirl. Delicious!

Thank you for reading my adventures as I've joined with the Cookery Calendar Challenge. Do click on the button below to read how others have got on.


  1. I am the opposite to you, I love strong flavours so lemon lamb with garlic would have been food heaven to me. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Good to hear from you.Jo x

  2. I am lover of strong flavours also! Lemon, garlic and lots of black pepper are favourite flavours of mine though I don't eat lamb. I imagine these flavours would go well with pork, too. The coated chicken breasts look delicious, too. I don't think I would bother cooking the polenta first in the oven :-) This is the kind of food I like!

    1. The flavours would suit pork very nicely. I'm not sure why the polenta needs cooking first. I suppose to release the oils or the toasted flavour, it did smell nice. The polenta was ideal for me as cooking with breadcrumbs would be problematic due to the soya flour content. All bread and some related items seem to contain soya flour which I just can't eat.

  3. We enjoy the combination of lemon flavour with chicken, but I've never used it as a marinade before doing the coating with some sort of crumb - egging the chicken first - so might try that for a change. I usually use very fine breadcrumbs from the Italian deli that stick easily when I cook the thin slices of chicken breast in a pan on top of the stove using a little oil, but fine polenta would be a good alternative to the breadcrumbs. The book sounds good as I like the idea of following Jewish recipes through the Jewish calendar and festivals. I have a similar written by Marlena Spieler about Jewish communities in different places with recipes from them. It's a good read because of all the extra information.

  4. Lemon seems to enhance many meals including cakes. Whenever we order a Chinese takeaway we always order 2 lemon chicken dishes. It just tastes so good and everyone loves it. There are other things to use instead of breadcrumbs in health food shops, rice flakes are good but they can be quite crunchy. I've put them in rissoles before and they were ok. I did have a quick look on-line to see if there was a British festival cookbook but only found some as individual festivities such as Christmas. In this particular book, the main thing that comes across after each introduction to the chapters is - 'to celebrate the festivals', not just to feast but to understand the festival and keep the traditions going.

  5. These sound like good dishes from a really interesting cookbook, though I also find it a little disappointing when I come to make a recipe and realise I should have been preparing hours earlier!! x

    1. Hi Katie, thank you for visiting. Yes the cookbook is definitely interesting and I do need to cook from it more often. The introduction to the Pesach chapter gives a quick explanation of the Passover ingredients. We were going to have a Passover supper with the church youth group but maybe next year now. I've been to one many years ago, if it's done properly, I think you learn so much more than merely reading about it. I think this book generally has lots of preparation to the dishes. There aren't many pictures but it's an enjoyable read if you just wish to browse through and gain knowledge.

  6. PLease allow me to apologise for my dreadfully late comment on your lovely post, and to thank you for joining me again this month. It's nice to see some of the other bloggers who take part in the Challenge have popped over to visit you too. May was hectic with some significnt family birthdays and my husband and I celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary, and somewhere along the way I failed to make it round my fellow Challengees, so please be assured you are not alone in being neglected, very poor hosting skills on my part.
    Sounds like you chose a fascinating book to cook from. I love books that talk about the cultural or historical meaning s of foods,what certain foods symbolise, or wjy they are made at a certain time. It outs food into its true cultural context. Your chicken dish sounds really good, I think my teens would probably like that. No mealtime is compete in our house without the addition of chilli dipping sauce and tomato ketchup; you are not alone there! Shame that the flavours of ypur second dish were a bit overpowering, but it sounds like with a bit of modification you would enjoy it another time. Thank you again for joining me, and I promise to visit more promptly in June! x


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