Recently, my cooking school friend, Cathy Arkle, gifted me with the newest book from Karen Page, “Kitchen Creativity.” She’s also the author of “What to Eat with What You Drink” and “The Flavor Bible.” Come to think of it, Cathy gave me those, as well! Is that a thoughtful friend, or what?!
It totally took me by surprise when she sent me a text that said, “Look for a package coming for you!”
“Really?! What’s it for?”
“Happy everything!” she wrote. “I thought of you right away. This book had you written all over it.”
And it’s true. It’s not just about using food in the kitchen-it’s a primer on how to see the world differently, with quotes and tips from some of the worlds most creative people, from Sir Ken Robinson to Albert Einstein. Of course, there’s a plethora of quotes from famous chef’s all over the world. Chef’s need creativity almost as much as they need the food they cook with and there are wonderful insights about how to be creative, stay creative and see the world creatively.
Cathy told me how she was highlighting a ton of tips and ideas. Personally, I don’t like highlighting hardcover books, so mine looks like it has fringe on it because of all the little sticky tabs I have in it. There’s a lot of inspiration for future PlayMore blogs, that’s for sure! It also inspired me to cook something without a recipe, challenging me to find the right balance of sweet, umami, salty, bitter and sour flavors that will marry well to make a complete dish that has layers of these flavors….all from the pantry and fridge in my house. And don’t get me started on the need for mouthfeel-that combo of smooth, crunchy, chewy, etc.
SOOO….I looked in my fridge; some chicken breasts and a bunch of lemons (sour) and a 1/2 used bunch of parsley (fresh and a tad bitter). OK, good start! I always have garlic available (sweet when cooked down), a little white wine, and when I looked in my pantry…voila! A small jar of marinated artichoke hearts for a touch of umami and salt, along with pistachio nuts for a slightly sweet crunch.
After shelling about a 3/4 cup of pistachios, I took a step back to look at what I had and a dish just gelled in my head. I have to admit, it was pretty darn good! The first thing I did was to take the marinade from the artichokes and add the juice to two of the lemons, along with some fresh pepper to brighten it up. I then marinated the chicken breasts for about 2 hours. Wait…here’s the whole thing. Why don’t YOU try it and tell me what you think? I added some lovely roasted asparagus as a side. Their smoky bitterness meshed well with the chicken.
Chicken with Artichoke, Lemon and Pistachios
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 chicken breasts, about 2-2 1/2 pounds total
- 1 12 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, keeping the marinade
- 4 lemons
- 3/4 C shelled raw pistachio nuts
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1/2 C chicken broth
- 1/2 C white wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the reserved marinade in a large ziplock bag and add the juice of 2 lemons plus a generous amount of black pepper. Add chicken and let marinate in fridge for about 2 hours.
- In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add minced garlic and stir, cooking for about 90 seconds.
- Add marinated chicken (pat dry before adding to pan) and let brown, about 4 minutes a side.
- Take the chicken out of the pan and put aside on a plate.
- Add 1/2 the artichokes and the nuts, stirring for about 3 minutes.
- Add wine and stir for about a minute.
- Add chicken broth and cook another 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add back chicken and whatever juices accumulate under it.
- Lower heat and simmer, covered, for another 4 minutes or so.
- Add parsley right before serving.