To Life! Festival:Chicken with prunes complements a Moroccan menu

The Chicken With Stuffed Prunes is inspired by Kitty Morse, who is an authority on Moroccan cooking. Typically it is cooked in a clay tagine, but I used a covered roasting pan and it was just as delicious. Of course, it is perfect with saffron-scented couscous and other specialties of Sephardic cuisine.

For a dairy meal, the Roasted Figs and Onions is a luscious, sexy appetizer — memorable beyond words. Perfect in autumn when the second crop of figs ripen.

Chicken with Stuffed Prunes | Serves at least 4

2 medium onions
1 large whole chicken
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
11/2 Tbs. ground turmeric
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups pitted prunes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock or water
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Peel and thinly slice one of the onions. Finely dice the other and set aside each in separate bowls.

Season the chicken by sprinkling it with the turmeric, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken and the sliced onions in a baking pan that can be covered. Brown in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and cool until you can handle it.

Meanwhile over medium heat, in a sauté pan, warm the olive oil and cook the diced onion with the carrot until soft. Add the almonds, honey, mace and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife, slice the prunes on one side. Fill with the stuffing. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the prunes. Push any remaining prunes under the skin toward the thigh joint.

Turn the oven heat down to 350 degrees. Cover the chicken and put it back in the oven. Roast for another hour or so, until the internal temperature, when tested with a thermometer, is 180 degrees.

Remove from oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Spoon any juices over all.

Roasted Figs and Onions with Warm Cambozola Brie | Serves 8

8 large very ripe figs
1 medium onion, sliced very thin
2 Tbs. chopped rosemary
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
pinch of cayenne or dried chili flakes
1-2 Tbs. of sugar, if needed
6 oz. Cambozola (or kosher) brie cheese
1 small baguette cut into eight 1-inch diagonal slices
chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the figs in half or quarters depending upon size. Put them in a baking dish along with the onion, rosemary and olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes minutes or until the figs and onions are very soft. Remove from oven, season with salt and pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar, chilies and sugar to taste.

Warm or toast the slices of baguette. Spread some of the cheese on the bread. Top with the figs and onions. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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