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Home April 2023 L‘Chaim!

L‘Chaim!

Roasted Garlic Chicken Stuffed with Dried Fruits Photos courtesy of John Uher

Raise your glass to delicious kosher wines

    Not so long ago, the words “kosher wine” brought to mind that syrupy sweet, almost cough medicine-like concoction served as an accompaniment to prayers.
    Not anymore.
    Forty years ago, observant Jewish baby boomers, hipper and more sophisticated than their parents, demanded the same selection and quality found in the non-kosher world, and winemakers took notice.
    “Kosher wines have exploded onto the market,” noted Susie Fishbein, who set off an explosion of sorts herself with her “Kosher by Design” series of cookbooks with over 500,000 copies sold.
    What makes a wine kosher is the use of certified kosher yeast and filtering agents, the exclusive use of equipment under rabbinical supervision, and its handling by Sabbath observant Jews from the crush to the bottle.
    Flash pasteurization renders some kosher wine “mevushal” with no sacrifice in quality or flavor. Mevushal wines may then be handled by anyone.
   The choices are endless.
    “There are award-winning wines from all over the world. It’s no longer Malaga and blackberry syrup,” Fishbein said.
    “Kosher by Design” (Mesorah Publications, 2003, $29.52), the first in the series, captures the beauty of the holidays with a feast for the eye as well as the palate. With 120 lavish photos, each holiday is presented as if it were a party.
    To achieve this effect, Fishbein enlisted the help of party planner Renee Erreich, and the luscious table settings and presentation ideas the two created—and photographer John Uher shot—fairly leap off the page.
    Set in spectacular Manhattan apartments, the dazzling photos inspire rather than intimidate. These are very showy menus, but everything in the book is doable.
    “The recipes and serving ideas require a minimum of fuss to achieve the maximum esthetic impact,” the author said.
    “I really felt this was a book about entertaining and celebrating, so after considering what to serve and how to present it, my next thought was what are the appropriate wines. I’ve been so impressed with what I’ve been reading about how kosher wines are winning awards, not just in the kosher world, but in the real world. That’s how the idea came to include wines.”
    Wine lists accompany each holiday menu in the book, but with more and more wines added to the list every year, I consulted Gabriel Geller, public relations director for Royal Wine Corporation, the largest manufacturer, importer, and exporter of kosher wine and spirits, for the latest updates.
   “Consumers looking for wines from renowned regions throughout the world can satisfy their thirst with more options than ever before,” explained Geller by email. “The problem is not the availability of great wine but the overwhelming number of great wines to choose from. Royal Wine offers a delicious selection of kosher for Passover wines from around the world. Some of the top producers are creating award-winning varietals at every price point.”
    Because kosher wines are virtually indistinguishable from their non-kosher counterparts, the same rules apply to pairing wine with food. Within minutes at the Seder you are eating sweet haroset and bitter moror, closely followed perhaps by gefilte fish and matzo ball soup. How does one choose a wine for such varied flavors? I wondered.
   “Sparkling wine is so versatile that it goes with almost everything,” Geller noted. “The Herzog Lineage Momentus ($20), which is made from chardonnay and chenin blanc grapes grown in the Herzog family estate Prince vineyard in Clarksburg, California, is a lovely option as it is slightly off-dry which allows for a wide variety of food pairings, from matzo ball soup and gefilte fish to coconut macaroons.”
    For a sweet chicken dish, like the Roasted Garlic Chicken Stuffed with Dried Fruits and Nuts featured here, Geller suggested Pacifica Riesling 2021 ($20). “It’s a fantastic off-dry white wine from Washington’s Columbia Gorge area, riddled with mouth-watering acidity.”
    More and more we are finding vegetarians and vegans at our table.
    “All kosher wines are suitable for vegetarians, and most are suitable for vegans, as well,” Geller said. “Among hundreds of great kosher wines that would fit the bill, one can enjoy a delicious full-bodied Barkan Reserve Gold Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($22) from Israel or a crisp, mineral-driven and refreshing Château Roubine Cru Classé 2021 ($27) rosé from Provence. Those sensitive to added sulfites in wine will be delighted with Herzog Variations Be-leaf Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($26) from CCOF-certified grapes grown in Paso Robles, California, and Or Haganuz Elima 2020 ($35), a great Bordeaux-style blend crafted by Or Haganuz Winery in Israel’s Upper Galilee.”  

Roasted Garlic Chicken Stuffed with Dried Fruits

You can prepare this dish with chicken parts as well. Lay the orange slices and sprigs of rosemary in your baking pan. Placed the stuffed chicken pieces on top. Bake as directed below.

Serves 4

1 head garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

10 to 12 dried apricots

5 dried Mission figs

1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts (unsalted and not roasted)

1 whole (3-5 pound) chicken or pullet, washed and patted dry

1/2 orange, unpeeled, sliced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Kitchen twine

3 tablespoons margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Holding head of garlic on its side, cut top of bulb to expose cloves. Place head into center of square of foil on small baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Close foil packet. Roast 45-60 minutes until soft, golden and fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, in food processor fitted with metal blade, chop apricots, dried figs and pistachios into very small pieces.
3. With your finger, loosen skin of chicken going under skin of breasts, thighs and legs. Massage fruit mixture under skin, getting it into cavities where skin was loosened. Stuff orange slices and rosemary into cavity of chicken. Tie legs closed with kitchen twine. Place chicken on rack in roasting pan. Try not to let too much of fruit and nuts drip out into pan or they will burn.
4. When garlic is soft and caramelized, remove it from oven and squeeze roasted garlic from skin onto cutting board. Mash garlic with back of knife to make a smooth paste. Rub it all over outside of chicken. Drizzle margarine over top of chicken, letting it run down sides. Tent with aluminum foil. Bake, covered 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting 2 to 3 times with pan juices. Uncover and roast until skin is brown and chicken is cooked through, watching to make sure garlic doesn’t burn. 

Lemon Meringues
2 egg whites
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup sugar, super-fine if possible
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Lemon Cream:
11/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup potato starch
2 cups water
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
3 egg yolks

Garnishes:
1/4 cup nondairy whipping cream
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon dairy-free margarine
6 hazelnuts or cashews

1. Meringues: Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you are short on time, place egg whites in stainless steel bowl and set it in bowl of warm water for 2 minutes to bring whites to room temperature quickly.
2. Preheat oven to lowest possible temperature, 140-175°F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place egg whites in bowl of mixer. With whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt about 5 minutes or until soft peaks form; tips will curl.
3. Gradually add sugar, beating on high until stiff peaks form; tips will stand straight and sugar will be dissolved. Fold in extracts. Evenly spread meringues to form 12 circles on prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly to diameter of about 3 to 4 inches. Place baking sheets in oven for 4 hours. When they are done, remove them from parchment; if bottoms are sticky in center, return them to oven. You want them completely dried out but not browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Then place in airtight covered container. Store at room temperature up to 3 days.
4. Lemon Cream: In medium saucepan, combine sugar and potato starch. Whisk in water, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/3 cup lemon juice.
5. Garnishes: In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, whip whipping cream. Reserve for whipped cream dollop on top.
6. Over a double boiler or in microwave, melt chocolate with margarine. Roll each nut in chocolate and gently remove with fork to sheet of wax paper. Let stand until chocolate is set and shiny; can be put in refrigerator for 5 minutes. Store in airtight container until ready for use.
7. To assemble, spread half the meringues with lemon cream. Top with remaining meringues. Place small dollop of whipped cream on top of each “sandwich,” and top with chocolate-dipped hazelnut or cashew. Serve immediately.

Jlife Food Editor JUDY BART KANCIGOR is the author of “Cooking Jewish” (Workman) and “The Perfect Passover Cookbook” (an e-book short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.

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