I recently (if approaching 2 months ago can still be considered recent) received a review copy of On a Stick!, by well-known food photographer and blogger Matt Armendariz. First of all, I was super excited about getting a review copy of the book as I’ve never received a review copy of anything before (and hopefully this won’t be the last time)! Second, Matt’s blog, MattBites.com, is beautiful and funny and I knew that any book with his name on it would be the same.
As expected, On a Stick! is a visual delight. I far and away prefer cookbooks to have loads of photos and this one delivers with gorgeous images of all types of foods prepared and/or served on a stick (as promised by the title). Containing a nice variety of sweet and savory recipes, lots of the recipes immediately screamed “Make me, make me!” One downside of the cookbook for me is the number of recipes that are deep fried. I do eat fried food (despite my desire to quit eating it) but I don’t cook fried food at home. Despite this, I’ll probably try to make non-fried versions of a least a few of the fried recipes.
For my first go at a recipe from On a Stick! is an adaptation of Matt’s Lamb Souvlaki with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce recipe. Since I didn’t have lamb lying around in the fridge or freezer, I decided to make it with chicken. Aside from switching out the meats, I didn’t change the recipe much. There was an onion and tomato accompaniment included in the original recipe but I didn’t prepare that part of the recipe at all and have omitted it from the recipe below.
This recipe was easy to make and absolutely delicious fresh and as leftovers. It’s definitely going in the grilled chicken recipe rotation and I might even have to try it with lamb someday. If the rest of the recipes in On a Stick! are anything like this one, the book is without question a keeper! And I hope Matt continues to write cookbooks.
I think the use of fresh oregano and thyme really made a difference in this recipe (plus I got to use my fabulous new Microplane herb mill for the first time). If you don’t have fresh herbs around, dry would probably work but I think a lot of flavor will be lost.
One other note: I didn’t want my cucumber yogurt sauce to be as sweet or spiced as what I imagined it would be based on the ingredients listed…so I left out the honey, cumin and paprika. I did, however, list them in the recipe below since that’s how they are listed in the cookbook.
Chicken Souvlaki with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients
- Bamboo skewers (I used short ones)
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch strips (or 1-inch cubes if you so desire)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce Ingredients
- 1/3 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mint, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Salt and pepper
1. Soak skewers in water for about 30 minutes.
2. Make the cucumber yogurt sauce: Place cucumbers, yogurt, mint, lemon juice, sour cream, honey, cumin and paprika in a small bowl and whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place chicken in a large bowl. Whisk oregano, thyme, shallot, lemon zest and juice, garlic and oil together in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Thread chicken onto skewers.
5. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high and brush with oil. Grill chicken skewers for about 5 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with cucumber yogurt sauce.