Monday, July 13, 2020

I know I’ve overplayed my hand when my kids walk through the door and see the delicious cake I’ve made, eye me suspiciously and ask, “There’s no techina in there, right? Please, no more techina!” What? I’ve been having such fun, making all the recipes with techina drizzled here, techina drizzled there. Here some halva, there some sesame seeds. Has it all been too much? I thought I was being creative and innovative, following the latest trends on ingredient popularity. What a shame. It seemed so current, so cool. But I guess I overdid it and it’s time to move on. And while I’m at it, I should mention that they’ve requested that I cut out the hummus and chickpeas too. (Especially after I whipped up the liquid from the can of chickpeas into a meringue! That really put them over the edge!)

It’s funny how some ingredients become so popular and they seem to appear in every variation possible. I admit I was surprised to see a recipe for halva babka and tahini brownies, but what the heck, I gave it a try. Personally, I liked it. But, OK, I get it. They have had enough. So I made my braised chicken thighs in coconut curry tomato sauce, and the first thing my son says is, “Enough with the coconut milk, you put it in everything.” Seriously? There are 365 days in the year and, for now, I make dinner on most of those nights (OK, so even if it’s only half of that it’s still 180 days of dinner). There are going to be repeats! Yes, and there are going to be leftovers. So now what? Back to basics? Roasted chicken, broiled steak?

Since I dubbed myself the Kosher Dinner Lady over two years ago, the expectations have only gotten higher. I am expected to transform everything into something else, never repeat a recipe and continuously adapt to everyone’s likes, dislikes and allergies, and, oh yes, now I’ve got a vegetarian among us. Well, bring it! I thought it would be an ironic move to give you a version of a chicken dish by Yotam Ottolenghi, who is my biggest supplier of recipes with tahini. Of course, this one doesn’t have a chickpea or sesame seed in sight, but a little inside joke for myself. Thanks for laughing along.

Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken

(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi)

  • 2 medium red peppers, roasted (or jarred)
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-4 chipotle chilies, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained, seeds and
  • stalks removed
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), skin-on
  • 4 tablespoons dark chocolate, finely grated
  • 12 baby red or white potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and halved
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cut into small wedges
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and
  • quartered
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


If not using jarred, roast the peppers: Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place peppers on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, until the skin has blackened. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Once cool enough to handle, peel the peppers and discard the skins, seeds and stalks. Place the pepper in the bowl of a food processor, and add the cinnamon, chili, garlic, vinegar, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of water. Process for a minute, until smooth, add the chocolate and stir to combine. Place the chicken, potatoes and onions in a large baking pan and drizzle with the remaining oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Pour the red pepper mixture evenly on the chicken, potatoes and onions to coat. Roast at 400 for about 50 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked and nicely colored. (Cover loosely with foil if it starts to brown too quickly, and uncover during the last ten minutes.) Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

By Rachel Berger

Rachel is a recovering real estate attorney, currently creating a secret recipe with techina, chickpeas and coconut milk. Check out her blog at and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @TheKosherDinnerLady. You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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