Have you ever tasted something so delicious that you can’t imagine why you’ve never had it before? With all the traveling we’ve done, I couldn’t believe the flavor explosion in my mouth when I took a bite of the Moroccan Roasted Carrots at Mediterraneo in Westlake. Wow – they were amazing! I couldn’t get enough of them, or believe that I’d never had anything like them before. Surely, they weren’t difficult to make, but the spices elevated a simple root vegetable to a delicious and unforgettable dish. Drizzled with yogurt sauce and topped with roasted chickpeas, these carrots were the highlight of my meal!
Then, I read an article about Chef Ana Sortun in Fine Cooking Magazine. She talks about how, after attending La Varenne Cooking School, Paris, where she learned to infuse food with flavor by adding fat through butter and cream, she was astonished to discover the spectrum of flavor Eastern Mediterranean food achieves without it. I just ordered her book, Spice, so you’ll be hearing more about her recipes and techniques in coming months. John and I have become intrigued with the aromatic flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean lately and are anxious to try them and share them with you.
For this meal, we adapted this recipe from Epicurious. The only thing that would have made this meal better is a bit of yogurt sauce to temper some of the intensity of the spices. This meal was truly delicious and we will be experimenting with it further. We’d like to create skewered chicken with this marinade and serve it with pita bread, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and yogurt sauce, Gyro-style the next time we have a family gathering.
- 1 small (or half large) onion
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries, ground in spice mill or coffee grinder (I strained these through a sieve)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (you would want 2-inch cubes for brochettes) - this amount of marinade is easily enough for 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, honey, ground allspice, ginger, thyme, salt, ground black pepper, hot sauce, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the bowl of a food processor.
- Purée marinade until coarse paste forms.
- Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag.
- Add marinade to chicken in bag and seal.
- Turn chicken to coat.
- Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally.
- Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken, stirring until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Pour remaining marinade into pan and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and ladle on top of Cinnamon and Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes.
These sweet potatoes are amazing! They are so much richer and more flavorful than many typical American preparations and would make a welcome change to the bland, sweet casserole many of us eat at Thanksgiving and Easter. The edges of the skin caramelize and the flesh is soft and delicious. The most difficult part of making them is using the mandolin to slice them. Other than that, they’re super easy! I know we’ll enjoy these, again, with all kinds of entrees.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into ⅓-inch-thick rounds - I used a mandolin for this
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Drizzle foil with olive oil and spread evenly with a paper towel.
- In a small bowl, whisk butter, honey, lime juice, and cinnamon until thoroughly blended.
- Add sweet potato slices and sauce to a gallon-size reasealable bag.
- Seal bag, and turn until sweet potatoes are evenly coated.
- Arrange potato slices in single layer on prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven and turn them over.
- Return pan to oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
Look for more forays into the flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean with us soon.