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Chocolate olive-oil mousse and other blessings of a #QuarantineShabbat

My Instagram feed has news photos and food photos. This week the food photos showed some pretty wonderful, cozy quarantine feasts, challahs and sourdoughs. The news photos showed pictures of thousands of cars waiting in a giant parking lot for handouts from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

In case we’d been able to ignore it before, this pandemic has laid bare the day-to-day effects of America’s gross economic inequality. The New York Times reported this week that one-fifth of young mothers say their children are not getting enough to eat.

For those of us fortunate to be eating well, the lesson is clear: we have to extend the blessing of our food to others. That can mean supporting local food banks, supporting restaurant workers, and urging political representatives to extend the food-stamp program, and, as always, not wasting the food we are fortunate to have.

This week’s menu, which you can watch me cook live on Friday via The Forward’s Facebook page, features dishes that my friends, mentors and teachers have shared with me over the years.

The boneless, skinless chicken thighs marinated in date syrup come from my Israeli sister-in-law, Etti Levy. The recipe for cauliflower, tahini and date syrup is from the Israeli chef Erez Komorovsky. It’s widely copied, but I saw Erez make it first and best -– as he does so many dishes. And the olive-oil chocolate mousse is from Joan Nathan, who has shared not just her recipes, but the blessings of her knowledge, talent and friendship with me.

Their generosity inspires me to share the blessing of food with the many people in this rich country who need it now, more than ever.

Please join me for the cooking demonstration, Friday, May 9, at 3 p.m. EDT, 12 noon PDT. Click here to sign up for a reminder.

Etti’s Chicken Thighs

Grilled chicken thighs marinated in date syrup

Grilled chicken thighs marinated in date syrup Image by @foodaism

My Israeli sister-in-law Etti Levy taught me this dish. The key ingredient is silan, or date syrup, which gives the meat a deep glaze.

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. balsamic vinegar
3. T. olive oil
1 t. Dijon mustard
2/3 cup date syrup
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. paprika

Mix everything in a large bowl and set aside until ready to cook. Best to let it marinate an hour or more, but you can do less.

Preheat BBQ grill to high or your oven broiler. For the broiler, line sheet pan with two layers of foil. Take out pargiot and lay flat on foil. Broil about 7-10 minutes. Check—they should look light brown with darker spots.

Flip over and cook 5-7 minutes on the other side. Check for the same. Remove from oven, then cut one open to check for doneness.

On a BBQ grill cook about the same time. Serves 4.

Erez’s Cauliflower (Roasted cauliflower with tahini and date syrup)

I watched the Israeli chef Erez Komorovsky make this dish in front of top chefs from all over the world at a seminar on Mediterranean food at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. When the deeply-roasted cauliflower emerged from the oven, Erez drizzled it, Jackson Pollack-like, with the pale tahini and the dark syrup. The chefs were mesmerized. The dish is sweet, salty and earthy, and I’ve been making it ever since.

2 large whole cauliflowers
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup tahini
1/8 cup date syrup
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash the cauliflower and dry it. Trim any dark spots off the stem, but leave the leaves intact. Stand the cauliflower on its base and with a long sharp knife cut whole slices, about ¼ inch thick. If your slices look like cross-sections of the human brain, you’ve done good. If they crumble a bit, that’s fine too.

Coat a large sheet pan with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the sheet pan– you might need two.

Roast for about thirty minutes. The cauliflower should be a deep golden brown. Some bits will be crisp. A couple may burn– that’s a good sign. You want this cauliflower deeply roasted.

Remove from the oven and place in a single layer on your serving platter. The pieces can overlap, or you can leave them on the pan (Erez did). Drizzle the tahini all over the cauliflower. Next, do the same with the date syrup.

Serve warm. Serves 4.

Joan Nathan’s Chocolate Olive-Oil Mousse

Olive oil chocolate mousse

Olive oil chocolate mousse, birthday candles optional. Image by @foodaism

I adapted this recipe from from one Joan Nathan taught me. She adapted it from Dulce lo Vivas by Ana Bensadón (Ediciones Martínez Roca).

Chocolate and Nut Oil Mousse

6 ounces bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil or nut oil
1 tablespoons brandy, marc or grappa

In a double boiler (or microwave), melt chocolate. Cool slightly. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until light. Whisk in olive oil, brandy and melted chocolate.

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, whisking until stiff but not dry.

Fold whites into chocolate mixture so that no white streaks remain. Spoon into an 8- or 10-cup serving bowl or divide among 8 or 10 dessert cups or glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before topping with cacao nibs or cocoa powder and serving.

4 servings.

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