Hello there, me again, back from a brief pause as my website got a little facelift. What do you think??
For those of you who know me outside the walls of this blog, you know that for me, a pinch of thyme is not exclusively about the food. It’s a roomier project than just cooking. It’s about learning how to take and edit a photo, about lighting and composition, about writing and using social media. And its about learning how to build a website. Turns out, that last bit is no joke. These are some of the things involved: Hosting, coding, domain names, favicons, breadcrumbs, SEO, plugins, gravatars, widgets and what’s it’s galore. Seriously. I have learned, and am learning still, crazy-volumes. It’s a nice mix of overwhelming/drowning at times, but still being able to close out the day feeling like I made some tangible progress. Anyway, it is still a work in progress, but I am calling on the ol’ Facebook adage “Done is better than perfect” and getting back in the swing of things. (As an aside, I have called on that same motto in my own job, and let me warn you—it doesn’t fly so much in a bank setting.)
So. I hope you enjoy my new little corner of the web.
And now, on to the food! This dish is my new signature grilling dish. It’s easy, busting with flavor, won’t heat up your summer kitchen, and demands little prep and cleanup.
I love Moroccan food…Seductive spices that conjure up a colorful bazaar. Moroccan fare can typically be characterized by the subtle blending of spices (cayenne, chilies, cinnamon, mint, turmeric, ginger, saffron, paprika) and flavors used to enhance the dish, not mask it. The lemon and herbs in this dish are transformative, turning plain old chicken breasts into something magical. Simple to make, the flavor is deep and definitely has some kick, thanks to the cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and ginger.
You know what else I love about this dish? Definitely the artichokes. And better yet, you can used jarred artichoke hearts here and they taste every bit as yum, so you can rest easy and bypass the whole rigmarole of the typical artichoke trimming, soaking, broiling or boiling and carving.
I have loved and eaten artichokes for as long as I can remember—I requested them on my special birthday dinners when I was in elementary school if you can believe it. Yep, I was a very cool kid… But, the first time I actually saw and understood how artichokes grew was just a few years ago, right after I got engaged. California is home to the self-proclaimed artichoke capital of the world—Castroville—where the temperature remains mild and predictable year in and out. Even Steven. While artichoke farms are concentrated on the Monterrey Coast, we saw them growing up in Point Reyes. The plant can grow nearly 6 feet tall! For some reason, I always imagined it hugging the ground, like a pumpkin.
While my love of artichokes may border on the obscene, I understand that, as Deborah Madison notes, “it’s not easy for everyone to warm to something that vaguely resembles a large hand grenade”. If you’re not hot on artichokes yet, this dish is your perfect gateway drug. Trust.
- 1.5 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1inch cubes
- 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1 bunch of (thicker) asparagus, cut into fourths
- 2 lemons, grated and juiced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- ⅕ cup high quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- In a food processor, combine garlic, ginger, cilantro, parsley, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Give it a whirl until everything is finely chopped. Pour in olive oil and combine until the mixture is evenly distributed.
- Place cubed chicken in a glass dish or bowl and pour marinade over, making sure to cover all sides of the chicken (including underneath!).
- Let marinade soak for at least 2 hours. The longer the better.
- Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Add lemon juice and finely chopped zest to a saucepan and bring mixture to a simmer for about 1 minute or until the zest begins to absorb the juice. Don’t walk away from the stove here; the juice can burn quickly.
- Remove zest from the saucepan and place into a small bowl, along with the remaining vinaigrette ingredients and whisk. Set aside.
- Light up your grill and set to medium high heat. Lightly oil the grates.
- Skewer alternating pieces of chicken, artichokes and asparagus. You can use metal skewers or wood ones that have been soaked in water. Cook skewers on grill for 4-5 minutes, then turn to cook other side.
- Serve with vinaigrette, couscous and Greek yogurt.
food for thought
Your body is your home, it’s where you’ll live your entire life. You have to love and respect it