Charoset is a sweet, sometimes alcoholic spread or chutney served on Passover. As a ritual food it’s spread on the cracker-like bread substitute called matzo, and meant to symbolize the mortar between the bricks of Egyptian building projects in the story of Exodus. As an Egyptologist I find this topic problematic, but let’s stick to the food: Ashkenazi Jews–those of European ancestry–usually make charoset with chopped apples, walnuts, wine, and raisins, while Sephardic Jews–who trace their ancestry to north Africa, Spain, and the Middle East–make theirs with dates, figs, or apricots, and lots of spices. I much prefer a date base for my charoset, and I recently decided that this spread is far too delicious to make only once a year. I’ve been eating it on toast, and sometimes with a spoon. My recipe adds a New England twist–maple syrup–and the balancing tang of salted almonds.
And I really mean next level. I had actually never cooked a delicata squash before, but I received one in my farm-share this week, and I figured that I should take the opportunity to create a new dish rather than follow someone else’s recipe. So I combined it with several of my favorite foods–obviously we’re talking garlic, cheese, and almonds–and put the temperamental oven in my new apartment to good use. This is the first PhD Kitchen recipe I’m posting from our new home. It’s fantastic. It will make you want to make casseroles out of all of the squashes ever.
I’ve been so busy with my prelim exams that I’ve completely neglected this recipe for pulled chicken. It’s very easy, but does require some turning and some time to let the chicken fall apart, so be prepared to let this do its thing while you’re available to watch it from time to time. The secret ingredient is apricot jam!
Another recipe inspired by quickly expiring produce from my friend’s market share! In this case the basil I received had begun to oxidize, so I wanted to use it before it went completely dark and limp. I also used some basil from the plant I am growing on my window sill. I really do not like pignoli (pine nuts), so I decided to make my pesto with almonds, but you can use pignoli and follow the same basic recipe if you’d like.