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New Spring Recipes and 16 Red and White Wines

Welcome a season of renewal with two great recipes from an acclaimed cookbook, matched with Pinot Noirs and aromatic whites

Laurie Woolever
Posted: March 22, 2013

No matter the temperature, or how many inches of snow might currently be on the ground outside, it's official: Spring is here, with its promise of ramps, artichokes, morels, peas, tender young herbs, asparagus, shad roe and everything else we've dreamed of through a long, cold winter. And, even if those iconic spring ingredients are weeks (or months) away in your area, you can still celebrate spring's delights with the recipes below, whose ingredients are easily sourced year-round.

The recipes come from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, the second book from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, whose restaurant and takeout shops bring a particularly flavorful burst of Mediterranean–Middle Eastern flavor to the four London neighborhoods they call home. In Jerusalem, the pair set out to tell the food story of a city with a complicated history. "We both grew up in the city," they write, "Sami in the Muslim east and Yotam in the Jewish west ... the flavors and smells of this city are our mother tongue."

To pour with the dishes below, we've suggested a list of recently rated Pinot Noirs and blends, whose red fruit, herb and spice notes would work in harmony with either the chicken or the artichokes, and aromatic whites with enough sweetness, acidity and body to stand up to either dish's bold flavors.

Chicken with Caramelized Onion & Cardamom Rice

Both recipes reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

"Cooking meat with rice and water in one pot is a good way of introducing a good meaty flavor to the rice while keeping things relatively simple—no stock is needed and only one pot is used," write Ottolenghi and Tamimi in Jerusalem. "Bukharan Jews (from Uzbekistan) have a more sophisticated version than the one below, called plov, which is at the center of all Bukharan celebrations. There, the chicken and rice are layered more carefully so that when the pan is inverted at the end, the chicken that was perfectly fried on the bottom now crowns the top of the elaborate creation."

• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 3 tablespoons water
• 2 1/2 tablespoons barberries (or currants)
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced (2 cups in total)
• 2 1/4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, or 1 whole chicken, quartered
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 10 cardamom pods
• 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
• 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
• 1 2/3 cups basmati rice
• 2 1/4 cups boiling water
• 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
• 1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped
• 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
• 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries, and set aside to soak. (If using currants, you do not need to soak them in this way.)

2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and wipe the pan clean.

3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and use your hands to mix everything together. Heat the sauté pan again and place the chicken and spices in it. Sear for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan. (This is important, as it partially cooks the chicken.) The spices can stay in the pan, but don't worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper to the pan. Drain the barberries and add them as well. Stir thoroughly and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.

4. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm, with the yogurt and oil mixture if desired. Serves 4.

Stuffed Artichokes with Peas & Dill

"Thrifty Jerusalem cooks make good use of the abundance of spring vegetables and preserve fava beans, young vine leaves, and artichokes at the height of their season. The artichokes are trimmed and their hearts are frozen, ready to be used when needed. Increasingly, though, prepared frozen artichoke bottoms are available in supermarkets and they are pretty good. Look for them in Middle Eastern stores and you will save yourself a lot of work. Serve these as a main course with Basmati rice and orzo."

• 14 ounces leeks, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 9 ounces ground beef
• 1 large free-range egg
• 1 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons dried mint
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 12 medium globe artichokes or thawed frozen artichoke bottoms
• 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus juice of 1/2 lemon if using fresh artichokes
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• All-purpose flour, for coating the artichokes
• About 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
• 1 1/3 cups frozen peas
• 1/3 ounces dill, coarsely chopped

1. Blanch the leeks in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh, and squeeze out the water.

2. Coarsely chop the leeks and place in a mixing bowl along with the beef, egg, spices, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Stir well.

3. If using fresh artichokes, prepare a bowl with water and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Remove the stalk from the artichoke and pull off the tough outer leaves. Once you reach the softer, pale leaves, use a large, sharp knife to cut across the flower so that you are left with the bottom quarter. Use a small, sharp knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layers of the artichoke until the base, or bottom, is exposed. Scrape out the hairy "choke" and put the base in the acidulated water. Discard the rest, then repeat with the other artichokes.

4. Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan wide enough to hold the artichokes lying flat, and heat over medium heat. Fill each artichoke bottom with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture, pressing the filling in. Gently roll the bottoms in some flour, coating lightly and shaking off the excess. Fry in the hot oil for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Wipe the pan clean and return the artichokes to the pan, arranging them flat and snugly side by side.

5. Mix the stock, lemon juice, and the remaining oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Ladle spoonfuls of the liquid over the artichokes until they are almost, but not completely, submerged; you may not need all the liquid. Place a piece of parchment paper over the artichokes, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. When they're ready, only about 4 tablespoons of liquid should remain. If necessary, remove the lid and paper and reduce the sauce. Set the pan aside until the artichokes are just warm or at room temperature.

6. When ready to serve, blanch the peas in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and add them and the dill to the pan with the artichokes, season to taste, and mix everything together gently. Serves 4.

RECOMMENDED REDS

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

MEIOMI Pinot Noir Monterey-Santa Barbara-Sonoma Counties 2011 Score: 92 | $22
Dark and rich, showing toasty mocha oak flavors, with a beam of wild berry, raspberry, cola, vanilla and spice. Long on the finish. Drink now through 2020. 92,000 cases made. —J.L.

ELK COVE Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 Score: 91 | $29
Light on its feet and intense in flavor, offering tea leaf–accented cherry and pomegranate flavors, with nicely buffed tannins. Finishes with richness and deftness. Drink now through 2018. 7,227 cases made. —H.S.

ST. INNOCENT Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Villages Cuvée 2011 Score: 90 | $24
Tight, focused and juicy, with blackberry and currant fruit playing against mineral flavors and tangy acidity as the finish lingers enticingly. Drink now through 2017. 2,940 cases made. —H.S.

KINGS RIDGE Pinot Noir Oregon 2010 Score: 89 | $17
Light on its feet, with ripe blackberry and floral flavors that linger nicely on the generous finish. Drink now through 2015. 6,000 cases made. —H.S.

SAN PIETRO Pinot Noir Alto Adige 2010 Score: 88 | $16
There's good energy to this, showing bright acidity and flavors of black raspberry, fragrant tobacco, smoke and pomegranate. Offers a creamy finish, with light tannins. Drink now through 2016. 6,500 cases made. —A.N.

NICOLAS POTEL Bourgogne 2010 Score: 87 | $15
Dense tannins underscore the cherry and spice flavors in this red. Rustic in style, with ample fruit and moderate length. Drink now through 2015. 10,000 cases made. —B.S.

MEZZACORONA Pinot Noir Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2010 Score: 86 | $10
Fresh and juicy, with ground spice, floral and dried herb notes winding through flavors of raspberry ganache and wild strawberry. Drink now. 40,000 cases made. —A.N.

VINA CONO SUR Pinot Noir Central Valley 2011 Score: 85 | $12
An open and honest version, delivering fresh cherry, currant, game and light mineral notes on a medium-bodied, easy-drinking frame. A hard to find value for this varietal. Drink now. 13,000 cases imported.—N.W.

RECOMMENDED WHITES

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

ROBERT EYMAEL (MÖNCHHOF) Riesling QbA Mosel 2011 Score: 90 | $17
Fresh and racy, this features firm minerality and flavors of ripe apricot, baked pear and guava. Lush midpalate, finishing with notes of clove and hints of basil. Expressive. Drink now through 2018. 15,000 cases imported. —K.M.

MILBRANDT Riesling Columbia Valley Traditions 2011 Score: 90 | $13
Fresh, light and vibrant, with juicy, tangy pineapple and pear fruit, picking up floral notes as the off-dry finish lingers. Drink now through 2017. 7,000 cases made. —H.S.

HOGUE Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley 2011 Score: 89 | $11
Fresh, tangy and off-dry, with a peppery edge corralling the apple and lime flavors toward a zippy finish. Drink now. 17,000 cases made. —H.S.

LOOSEN BROS. Riesling QbA Mosel Dr. L 2011 Score: 89 | $12
Shows touches of richness to the wild berry, currant and cherry flavors. The plush finish is filled with plenty of mineral and spice, with creamy notes. Drink now through 2016. 100,000 cases imported. —K.M.

NxNW Riesling Horse Heaven Hills 2011 Score: 89 | $12
Light and silky, displaying pretty flavors of pear and peach that linger on the dry, generous finish. Drink now through 2016. 5,400 cases made. —H.S.

CHARLES SMITH Riesling Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2011 Score: 89 | $12
Fresh and lively, this is off-dry, but with tangy balance to the pineapple and lime flavors, lingering on the finish. Drink now through 2015. 64,800 cases made. —H.S.

DOMÄNE WACHAU Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Trocken Wachau Terrassen 2011 Score: 89 | $15
There's a smoky edge to the ripe, lush flavors of pear, white plum and ruby grapefruit in this full-bodied white, with plenty of juicy minerality on the rich, spicy finish, featuring notes of white pepper. Drink now through 2017. 17,000 cases made. —K.M.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley 2011 Score: 88 | $9
Fresh and soft, this brims with spicy pineapple and floral flavors, finishing with mild sweetness. Drink now. 65,000 cases made. —H.S.

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