Saturday, 7 November 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #27 – Saffron

Dee – I have to admit it; I’m not a saffron fan.  It’s the flavour that puts me off it, as it just reminds me of plasticine.  Just like fellow yellow peril Turmeric, I find that when using it in recipes, a very fine line exists between just enough and too much.  Go too far in the wrong direction and a meal can be ruined.

It was the featured ingredient from November 2014 and as I moved down my list of what had been chosen each month I could see it getting closer and closer.  I finally reached it earlier this week so began a careful search for an appropriate recipe.

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad
This recipe, detailed on page 188, didn’t originate in Jerusalem.  It was devised in Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant in Belgravia, but I chose it because I felt confident that I could make it work while keeping the saffron under control.
The saffron was one of the ingredients for the salad dressing.  Accompanying it were orange, honey and vinegar; three equally strong flavours, and it turned out that the orange was the main focus.  The dressing was prepared by boiling the ingredients together until the orange softened, at which point everything was blitzed together to form a paste.
The chicken breasts should have been cooked on a griddle pan, but as we don’t have one at the moment, we seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and cooked it in the oven.
As this was a salad, there wasn’t any more cooking required.  Once the chicken had cooled down it was mixed with a portion of the dressing before being added to the fresh ingredients; fennel, coriander, basil, mint and red chilli.  We left the garlic out as the salad was intended for lunches.

The finished salad was fresh and colourful, both in appearance and taste, and fed Jay and me for 3 lunches.

The photos show it as we served it; on a bed of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce.  That turned out to be a sensible choice for two reasons; firstly because the dressing proved to be quite strong and secondly because bread or other carbs would have been left us over-full.  The strength of flavour came from the orange rather than the saffron, which wasn’t too evident in the overall taste.  We still have some left but haven’t decided what to do with it yet.  Jay fancies trying it in a cake batter, as mentioned in the book, but I am curious to see how it fares in a tomato based sauce or soup.

In conclusion; while the recipe didn’t originate in Jerusalem, it was the right choice for the featured ingredient and I’m glad that we made it.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)

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