Jewish Food

The Tale of Mimi Chicken (AKA The Dish That Started It All)

As I mentioned in my last post, I was never great in the kitchen. In fact, up until I moved in with my husband my cooking skills rarely ventured outside the realm of grilled chicken and salads. But having someone … Read More

By / September 29, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, I was never great in the kitchen. In fact, up until I moved in with my husband my cooking skills rarely ventured outside the realm of grilled chicken and salads. But having someone to cook for inspired me to try my hand at a serious dish. In other words: Mimi Chicken. (Disclaimer: Mimi Chicken is actually more like “Spanish chicken,” but we named it for a friend who handed over the recipe).

The recipe is well… let’s say it’s not for the beginner. But I’ve always been one to challenge myself, so off I went. At the time, my husband Gil and I were living in an an old building, the kind where the apartments are still huge but the neighbors were rarely under the age of 70. I spent hours chopping and prepping and simmering, then covered the pan and left it to cook. Long story short… I burned the ever-living bleep out of it. It was literally black. Needless to say, we ate pizza that night. I soon realized that my old apartment and old neighbors came with equally aged burners, one of which had no setting other than “high.” So I tried it again. This time I accidentally added four times the amount of tomato paste and ended up with chicken that was more Italian than Spanish. Sigh.

The third time wasn’t a charm, but it was better. And the fourth was better than the third. Today I can make Mimi Chicken in my sleep. The lesson in all of this? Not everything is going to be perfect on the first try. The biggest step is to jump in and give it a shot.

For this Shabbat, try something small (Kugel is very, very easy- see our tutorial on You Tube!) and see how it goes. One the greatest motivators in the kitchen is confidence. The first time you make something that garners rave reviews or second helpings I can assure you, you’ll be hooked. My best advice for the novice? If you’re going to someone’s home, bring a dessert. It’s a great excuse to bake a cake (nothing wrong with cake mix- you can add things like instant pudding or orange juice to liven it up), and if you’re feeling inspired, try something from scratch such as mandelbrot or a classic honey cake. There can never be enough desserts. The key word here is TRY. Because even if it’s not “Top Chef”-worthy, the time, effort and love that you put into your dish will come through. And that’s what it’s all about.

With that, I challenge Jewcy readers to tell me their best kitchen disaster story and then make an attempt to start over with this New Year. I’ll even provide the recipe! (I know a great honey cake.)

HONEY CAKE

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 Cup presifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 3 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp allspice
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup honey
  • 1 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup brewed coffee at room temperature (instant works fine)
  • 3/4 Cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup sliced almonds (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, and orange juice
  4. Use an electric mixer on slow speed to mix everything together.
  5. Using cooking spray, grease a 10-inch Bundt pan, a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, or three 9-or 10- inch loaf pans (whichever you prefer).
  6. Spoon the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with almonds (optional).
  7. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake turns golden brown and springs back when gently pressed.
  8. Let the cake sit for 20 minutes, then loosen the sides and invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely
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