Saffron Chicken & Herb Salad

Here is another delightful recipe from Jerusalem (by Ottolenghi & Tamimi). I made the most delicious chicken broth I've ever had (true life, no hyperbole) from Oma & Bella on Saturday, and used the leftover chicken to make this salad. It was really quite prescient of me because I promptly came down with a 24-hour bug of some sort on Sunday. I essentially lived on broth, saltines, and diluted Gatorade for a couple days before feeling normal again. Truly, this broth is magical. I can post the full recipe if you'd like, but suffice to say it was an almost three hour affair involving celery root, parsnips, carrots, leeks, dill, and parsley. How could that not be excellent? There's a special place in my heart for parsnips, so it already couldn't go wrong. I think the most instrumental techniques were a) covering the raw chicken in Kosher salt and letting it sit for half an hour before rinsing and cooking and b) constantly skimming any foam off the top of the pot to keep the broth crystal clear. I'm sorry to say that I've eaten (well, drunk for the most part) it all already.

These are crazy times, friends. I'm starting to think seriously about my move to Washington, D.C., after graduation. I'll be working there for the next two years as a financial analyst in the relatively new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and I'm super excited. I haven't done anything quite like this before, but my seemingly disconnected experiences throughout college came together nicely for this opportunity. I've started apartment hunting, searching for an adult volleyball league, and looking for [cheap] language classes for my abundance of spare time (in comparison to UChicago life). Exciting!! But first I need to graduate, which entails me finishing my honors thesis. That's been going fairly well, in the sense that I haven't hit any major road blocks in experimentation or writing, but a lot more slowly than I had anticipated.

Otherwise I've been taking two absolutely fabulous linguistics classes to finish my minor, one on language and identity in Southeastern Europe and another specifically on contact linguistics. I've been so happy and engaged that I'm considering linguistics graduate school now, with an eye toward international policy work slash foreign service slash international economic consulting. That's not terribly specific, but I know at least that I do not want to go into academia per se. I've become increasingly interested in studying Ukrainian identity, especially as a function of language, in such a contested area with an incredibly interesting history and currently volatile political situation. Not to mention that I identify as ethnically Ukrainian, without really understanding why I personally identify as such, what that means for others, and what that identity entails among Ukrainians living in Ukraine or who recently emigrated. I'm writing a term paper on the emergence of Ukrainian identity through the establishment of its literary language, so we shall see what I dig up there. I'm also writing a term paper for my other linguistics class on a Ukrainian-Russian mixed language spoken in Ukraine called surzhyk (a pejorative term for flour made from mixed grains), which will be incredibly interesting for me.

All in all I am actually having a fabulous, albeit stressful, penultimate quarter, full of excellent reading, excellent food, and excellent quality time with my favorite people.

Saffron Chicken & Herb Salad
adapted from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi & Tamimi

1 orange
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoons saffron threads
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 kilogram (2 1/4 pounds) chicken, cooked and shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, sliced thinly
Handful cilantro leaves
Handful basil leaves
3-4 sprigs-worth of mint leaves
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim and discard about a 1/2 inch off the top and tail of the orange. Cut it into 12 wedges, keeping the skin on and removing any seeds. Place the orange, honey, saffron, and vinegar in a small pot with just enough water to cover. Simmer for 1 hour. You should have a soft orange and about 3 tablespoons of syrup left (If the liquid gets too low during cooking, just add a little more). Puree the orange and syrup together to create a smooth paste, adding small amounts of water as needed.

In a large bowl, season the shredded chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and toss to coat (reserve the other half of the sauce for another purpose, like serving with fish or vegetables). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and fennel, then toss to combine. Add more salt, pepper, oil, or lemon as needed. Tear the herbs over the bowl with your fingers, then toss in the chile. Toss everything to combine. 

Grapefruit Cookies

I truly want to like grapefruit. I buy a couple of them every so often, thinking that this time, my palate will be sophisticated enough to appreciate it. Inevitably, I will struggle through the first couple segments of the fruit, before declaring that I do not, in fact, like grapefruit - then the remaining segments will languish for a week in a bowl in the fridge as I pick them out one by one, nibble on them, and twist my face at the incredible bitterness. The problem is that, three years ago in Florida, I timidly tried and subsequently devoured the most excellent grapefruit known to humankind - tart, vaguely bitter but in a pleasant way that offset the sweetness of the juice running down my fingers. That was a glorious fruit indeed, and a mental taste-image to which I keep returning, only to be disappointed again. Over Christmas break, I fell victim to my memories once more, but this time, after picking at one of the fruits for a while, I used the other for these cookies. Can't go wrong with butter and sugar.

On an unrelated note. I made pizza with Jimmy a couple weeks ago and snagged this glorious photo of the dough. Behold.

This post was pretty short; I'll have more next week or even this weekend (hopefully), but I'm under water on all of my obligations for the quarter already. Surprise. At least it's my second to last quarter, and once I finally turn in my thesis and graduate I'll be traipsing around our nation's capital for a while. Spoilers! More soon!

Grapefruit Slice-and-Bake Cookies
adapted from Bon App├ętit Lemony Slice-And-Bakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks

Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, sugar, zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy (3 minutes).

Add the egg yolks and beat just to blend. Reduce the speed to low, then add the flour mixture and beat, occasionally scraping down sides, just to blend. 

Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 10 inch long log about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap one dough log at a time. Using a sharp, lightly floured knife, cut log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Transfer to the prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.

Bake until cookies are firm and golden brown around edges, 16–18 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough log, using cooled baking sheets and new parchment paper.

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh grapefruit juice

Whisk sugar and juice in a small bowl, adding more juice if too thick. Spread or drizzle icing over cookies. Let stand until icing sets, about 10 minutes.