Tuesday, January 29, 2013

OTTOLENGHI SAFFRON CHICKEN SALAD {+ A BOOK UPDATE}





Whenever I buy a new cookbook, I bookmark the recipes that tempt me. Do you do that too? Well, when I brought home Ottolenghi's new book Jerusalem last fall, this chicken salad was the first thing I needed to make. It took me a while to get to it, but here I am, and it was worth the wait. The chicken salad is infused with a not-too-sweet orange syrup - its flavor reminiscent of kumquats, which I love. All the herbs and crisp fennel makes the dish super refreshing. And the sliced chili gives the whole thing a nice kick. I can see making this salad for a lunch with friends - I think they would ooh and aah at the wonderful flavors. Ottolenghi mentions the option of substituting arugula for the fennel; being that I'm a huge fan of both fennel and arugula, I think I'll toss both veg into the salad bowl next time.

INGREDIENTS closely adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini
{printable recipe}
  • 1 orange
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 spicy chili - Ottolenghi calls for a red chili, I used a serrano
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice the ends off one orange. Leaving the peel on, slice orange into 12 wedges. Place wedges in a small saucepan with honey, white wine vinegar, saffron, and just enough water to submerge the orange slices. Add more water as needed during cooking. Simmer for 1 hour. In a blender, or food processor, puree cooked orange and its liquid - this syrup will be your sauce.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet (I use my beloved cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil to the hot pan. Sear both sides of the chicken breasts for a couple of minutes. Season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Transfer pan to the hot oven to finish cooking the chicken - about 15 minutes.

Place 1/2 of the orange puree in a large salad bowl. ( Save the other half of the puree for another salad dressing - or add a bit more to this salad if you so desire.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear it into large pieces. Toss the chicken with orange puree. Add to the bowl: 3 more tablespoons olive oil, thinly sliced fennel, cilantro leaves, torn basil leaves, and sliced chili. Toss everything with your hands. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6 

A little book update...

As many of you know, I have been busy writing and shooting my own cookbook. The project is a huge one, and I'm loving the challenge. It feels strange to be doing all of this cooking, and to not be able to share it with you guys until the book is done. I'm bursting! So, I thought I'd share a few photos of my little home studio with the walls plastered with book images, and other tid bits from the book work.

This book has changed life at our house. Our dining room is no longer for dining, as it has become a (very messy) prop zone.  My recipe notes are bursting from their files and are covered with food stains. The daily piles of dirty dishes have been epic. Mostly, we are eating like royalty, but once in a while the redundancy of perfecting a recipe gets to be a bit much  - there are only so many muffins, quinoa salads, galettes, gimlets, etc a person can ingest in a day. The perfectionist in me is on high alert - I am testing and retesting, writing and rewriting recipes to make sure that not only are they delicious, but that they really truly work in all of your kitchens as well as they do in my own.

(No, that little note from my Lilah doesn't have anything to do with my book other than the fact that I keep it on my desk for a little inspiration. It always makes me smile)

The book is starting to feel (and look) REAL and I couldn't be more excited!




74 comments:

  1. A wonderful salad and combination of ingredients! Great props. I wish I had that many...

    I bet your book will be great. Those are promising pictures.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Thanks Rosa. I never thought I'd have such a slew of props myself, but I figured with 90 photos in my book - each one better be great, right?
    xo
    E

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  3. Erin, I cannot wait to see your book in print!

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  4. so looking forward to purchasing and cooking my way through you're book! we're big fans of the recipes o the blog here at our house.

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    1. Mary Jo - that's SO great to hear! I've got a big smile on my face right now:)
      xo
      E

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  5. Eeeek how exciting! It all looks so fantastic - I can't wait to see more .

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    1. Emma thank you! I can't wait to show you EVERYTHING!
      I hope you'll be back in the Bay Area soon. Will you bring your mum again? You two are such a great pair.
      xxoo,
      E

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  6. That salad is beautiful. How could it not be a joy to eat?

    Can't wait until your cookbook is available. Do you have a planned pub date?

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    1. Dulcie, the orange puree in the salad is brilliant. I never thought to cook an orange and then make it into dressing. Yet another great way to eat citrus!
      My book will come out in the first half of next year:)
      xo
      E

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  7. Oh Erin, I'm so excited to see your book. I can tell it's going to be an absolute stunner and something that I will cook from time and time again!

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    1. Thank you thank you for the enthusiasm! I'm so excited to share it all.
      xxoo

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  8. You are teasing me big time! I wish I could just zoom in to see the photos. I seriously can't wait to read from the book. I know I will love it :)

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    1. Kankana, I figured just a tiny tease would be okay;)
      xxoo to you,
      E

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  9. Thanks for sharing a bit of your book writing journey Erin. Love the note from your daughter and the wall with the photos array. They look so bright and colorful. I am so excited for you and looking forward to seeing the book!

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    1. Jenn,
      Totally my pleasure!! I wish I could invite everyone over to talk food, eat, look at photos etc. Since we are scattered all over the globe, I figured a little virtual visit was better than nothing.

      And yes there is a ton of color. More than I expected, really. So much of this process has been an organic one.... I often feel surprised (in the best way) by the way the book is emerging.
      xxoo
      E

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  10. I'm such a fan of saffron and will definitely try the chicken salad. It's so fun to peek into your workspace- all the photos on the walls look great!

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    1. Jess, the salad is delish - great flavors!
      And I'm glad to share a peek with you:)
      xo
      E

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  11. Erin, I'm so happy for you, I'm sure your book will be wonderful, filled with delicious recipes and stunning photos, people will be happy to own a copy :). The salad looks fantastic! xxoo

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    1. Thank you! I'm feeling really great about the book. I still have a lot to do, but I'm proud of what is finished so far. Plus, I'm loving what a big juicy project it is. I feel lucky.
      xo to you,
      E

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  12. Your photos are always so gorgeous that I bet the book is going to be phenomenal. And fyi, I think every food blogger has commandeered their dining room table as a studio. My husband just shakes his head at all the stuff on ours now. ;)

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    1. Carolyn,
      It's so good to hear my piles of plates, dish towels, etc are "normal." I'm not a pack rat by nature, but now, one look at my dining room and you'd think I'd become a serious hoarder!
      xo,
      E

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  13. Erin - I am thrilled for you that you are taking this journey! I applaud you! Your salad looks and sounds amazing. Perfect for a light dinner. It always fun to see how a cookbook comes to life and the process that it takes. Thank you for sharing a glimps into your world. I can hardly wait to purchase a copy - I know it will be amazing!

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    1. Lisa, I bet you'd love the salad! The flavors are really fresh and the orange puree is brilliant.
      And thanks for your support! I so appreciate it:)
      Hope you have a good week,
      xo
      E

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  14. First of all: I'm so exited for your book to come out! Although we haven't meet in person (yet), I feel as if I know you a bit and I'm just so proud of you. Can't wait to see the results!

    And this is so funny. I bought Jerusalem a few months ago, (and yes: I always bookmark interesting recipes too) and decided I needed to make this exact same dish soon. Somehow, it never happened. That is until this reminder, thanks. It will be on my menu soon.

    xoxo Denise

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    1. Denise, you and I are really on the same page these days aren't we!

      And I have to tell you.... I did bookmark this recipe right away, it took my neighbor (a hug fan of Ottolenghi) saying how much she loved the salad to remind me to get cooking. Glad to pass the reminder on to you;)

      And thanks for your words of support about my book. Hopefully we will meet in person some day. You never know!

      xo
      E

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  15. All the book plans sound so exciting and that note from your daughter is too cute :-)

    As for recipe books, I always bookmark what I want to try. In fact, I'm trying to use my books more - I get so tempted by gorgeous blogs like this that I forget to use them sometimes!

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    1. I know! With all the tempting recipes on blogs (like yours!), it's hard to get back to the cookbooks on the shelves. But it also feels so quiet and peaceful to flip through the pages of a great cookbook. I always feel grounded by the experience.
      xxoo
      E

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  16. Wow, you are so much more organised than I am at this stage! Well done you, your pics look amazing. And I'm totally oggling over your props! Much love xx

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    1. Emma, Just wait until your kiddos are busy at school.... you will be shocked at how much you'll get done in a few days in a quiet house.
      I cannot wait to see your book, photos, recipes. I know I will want to cook everything!
      xo
      E

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    2. Thanks love, likewise! xx

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  17. Stunning book planing! Congratulations!

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  18. You always make such yummy foods, and take stunner pictures. I am so excited for you and wish for you the best sellers list. Excellent, keep it coming.

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    Replies
    1. Oli, Oh my, do I love your wish!!!
      xxoo
      E

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  19. Wow, so exciting! Even from the distant view, I can tell your photos are lovely. I can't wait.

    The salad looks delicious but I can't get over the excitement for your book. Thanks for the sneak peek into the process- just knowing your working on a book is quite different; seeing it as part of your daily life makes it palpable. So great!

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    1. Cred, I have a huge smile on my face this morning reading all of these generous comments. What a community we have!
      xo
      E

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  20. This looks so fresh and delicious! Love the inclusion of Serrano peppers in the recipe. I am very much looking forward to your book and all the delightful recipes I'll make from it. I know it will be amazing!

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    1. Kristen, I've been on a serrano kick as of late. My good friend grows his own Serranos and he pickled a jar for us. YUM!
      And thanks for the book-love... makes me so happy.
      xo
      E

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  21. Yes! I do exactly the same thing. I get my post-its out and mark the recipes I want to make from a new cookbook. This salad looks scrumptious, Ottolenghi is a genius. And you have been busy! I love the behind-the-scenes photos of your studio and your daughter's drawing is so cute. Looking forward to more updates on your book, Erin! My post-its await... :)

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    1. Magda, I'll be totally honored to have your post-its tucked into the pages of my book!!!
      xxxooo
      E

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  22. Erin, what a great flavor combination! I NEED to try it :)
    Your daughter is so cute!
    I´ve to say that your office looks pretty with that huge amount of photos and it´s not messy :p
    You´re a genius and i admire you a lot :)

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    1. Oh my Andreia, you're too kind.
      It's true... my office isn't messy - I keep it pretty clean for the peace of mind. But oh my if you could the tornado of mess in my kitchen right now. Yikes!
      xxoo
      E

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  23. Wow Erin! You are doing amazing work - thank for the behind the scenes peek! It looks so wonderful - you should be proud! The salad is gorgeousness - can't wait for warmer temps to try it. Right now I'm all about the warm comfort food to keep me cozy :)

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    1. Renee, It's been strangely sunny here and I guess I'm craving these bright flavors, but once the gray days return, back to comfort food for me too. Glad you are keeping yourself cozy - you deserve it.
      xxoo
      E

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  24. I am so excited for you! Thanks for sharing about the book -- it is so neat to see it come together for you! The sauce on that salad sounds amazing!!!

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    1. Thanks Jane! Ohhh that sauce it good. I hope you'll try it.
      xo
      E

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  25. We made this chicken/salad last night, the book is fabulous. Made a few changes, will be posting this week.
    Best wishes with your cookbook, love your props, especially the silverware...
    LL

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    1. Great Lori, I'll look forward to your write up:)
      Thanks,
      E

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  26. I bet you are having great time working on this book :)

    I can't wait to try out your recipes and devour your gorgeous pictures!

    more behind the scenes photos, please!!!

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    1. M! I really am having fun. Getting the chance to tell a book-long story through photos and recipes is amazing!
      Hope you are well,
      xxoo
      E

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  27. Can't wait to see (both officially and un-). Everything looks gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Elissa.... I wouldn't be doing this without you!

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  28. Wow Erin! I am so excited for your book. I love all of the photos on the walls, they look gorgeous.
    xoa

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  29. Ashley, Thanks! Are you ever up in the Bay Area? Come by for a visit if you are. I'd love to see you and talk food!
    xxoo
    E

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  30. What a great salad! The orange sauce sounds fantastic. I love that it makes enough for another salad--I can imagine the extra gets used quickly. Your book progress sounds exciting! Can't wait to see it.

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    1. Lisa, you would love this sauce - so yummy.
      Hope you're well!
      xxoo
      E

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  31. I love your inspirational picture walls! Can't wait to see all those pictures in your book. And little notes like from your Lilah are so important with big projects like this. They can be daunting and it's hard to sometimes see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's nice to have such a great support system like I'm sure you have to help get you through the long process. Keep up the good work, we're all so excited to see what you've got in store for us! I'm dying to have your book already. xoxo

    <3,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks for your sweet words of support Christina. You are so right... it all counts!
      Can't wait to share my book with you.
      xo
      E

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  32. such stunning photos! love the herbs on that saffron chicken, too.

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    1. Thanks Kale:) It is such a tasty salad.

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  33. I just cannot wait for your book. Will you sign my copy? :)

    Hopefully someday we can walk on that agate beach together, but until then, your signature will have to do! xoxo

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  34. The orange purée is wonderful. I haven't actually made this entire recipe yet, but I paired the purée with olive oil and a touch of sea salt to dress a roasted butternut squash, arugula, walnut + pomegranate seed salad--it was delicious--the bittersweet purée paired very well with the arugula (might make a good bed for the chicken in your salad). I've since also used the purée to give a hint of orange flavor to a roasted butternut squash and leek soup and am now dreaming up ways to use it in baking. I stumbled on the Ottolenghi cookbook after seeing this recipe--it's gorgeous and going on my bookshelf--as will yours!

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    1. Marian, That's so cool that you've been experimenting with the orange puree. With butternut squash, arugula, walnuts, and pomegranate... YUM!

      A friend of my mom just made us a delicious chocolate cake that uses a whole cooked orange - great flavor and moisture for baking.

      xo
      E

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  35. Erin, I also got Ottolenghi's Jerusalem this fall and have yet to cook from it, though I've dogeared several of the recipes. I'm so glad to see and hear that your book is coming along well (and beautifully, from the looks of it!). My mom self-published a couple of books when I was young. Watching her tackle those projects and have books to show for her hard work later instilled this feeling that I could so the same someday... that I could make big ideas happen. I'm sure your kids will feel the same when they look back at this time.

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    1. Kathryne, my kids have been really cute about the project. Lilah seems especially proud and likes to tell everyone that her mom is making a cookbook. I had no idea your mom was an author too. That must have been inspiring. I cannot wait until you make your own cookbook!
      xxoo
      E

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  36. How exciting! Congrats on the book project. It was fun to see your pics of a work in progress.

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  37. So many fun props and gorgeous, colorful photos on your walls! I'm glad to hear the book is coming along well. I look forward to seeing it! xo

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    1. Laura, so nice to hear from you!!
      Yes, the book is really coming along. Can't wait to share it all.
      xxoo
      E

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  38. I tend to mark magazine recipes. Your lovely adapted salad looks like something I would be inclined to eat in the coming spring.
    Great to see your book project progress Erin, as there is so much involved for one person. The prop finding also takes a
    little time. Looking forward to the end result!

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    1. Thanks Julie! I do mark my magazines too. There's so much great cooking inspiration out there.
      And thanks for the support on my book - so appreciated:)
      xo
      E

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  39. How exciting! I relate so completely to the process of your book writing and shooting - the perfectionism, the desire to share (!!), how it has seeped into and taken over so many elements of my home and life. I cannot wait to share notes and talk with you in person!

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    1. Hey there Kimberley! I figured this would all feel familiar to you. And yes it will be fun to finally meet one of these days! I can't wait to see your book.

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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