Chicken Tajine Chermoula – Conquered!

So I was in NYC visiting friends a few weeks ago and I got a chance to go to one of my favourite places to eat there, a fantastic Moroccan restaurant called Cafe Mogador.  On their menu there is a dish called Chicken Tajine with Chermoula sauce that is a piece of culinary perfection. Numerous times during my meal I had a strong urge to face-plant myself into my plate, yes that’s how good it was!  This time when I was enjoying the dish I promised myself to try and make it when I get back, which brings us to last night.  I finally decided to give it a go and see how close I can get to Café Mogador’s magic.  Yes I am ware, delusions of gastronomic grandeur!  The secret to the dish’s moist, tender and perfectly seasoned chicken are two things.  First, cooking it in a Tajine.  Second and even more important, the delicious Chermoula sauce!  Tajine is special earthenware pot that is used in Morocco and Tunisia, however it is not an absolute requirement for this dish.  You can do a perfectly good job in a regular pot, which is what I used.  To make the Chermoula you are going to need the following.

Chermoula Marinade:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Juice of 1 to 1 ½ lemons
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 -2 bird’s eye or cayenne or green chili pepper (depending on your own preference)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp of ginger
  • 1tsp of turmeric

Rest of the ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (depending on serving size)
  • 5-10 fingerling potatoes – peeled
  • ½ cup of pitted green olives
  • 2 cups of reduced salt chicken stock
  • 1 tomato chopped (optional)
  • Pinch of saffron – dissolved in a little warm water

Process all the marinade ingredients in a food processor until finally chopped and almost a paste like consistency is formed.  Wash and dry chicken, remove excess fat and leave in chermoula marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.  You don’t really want to let it marinade longer than overnight since the acid and salt in the marinade can chemically cook the chicken, and nobody is into chicken ceviche.

Chicken in chermoula marinate ready to go into the fridge!

After marinating, pour the entire mixture (chicken & chermoula) into your pot, add tomatoes (if using any), add potatoes, pour in the chicken stock, pour in saffron mixture,  put on the lid and put the stove on a medium heat and bring to boil.  When it gets to a boil reduce heat and let it simmer for 40-50 minutes (I left the little breathing hole on the pot lid open to also slightly reduce and thicken the liquid while simmering.  Now take the lid off add the olives and cook for another 10-15 until the liquid is reduced to a desired consistency, the reason I don’t add the olives earlier is because I don’t want to them to become too mushy, but that is a personal preference.  It is important to taste during this process; if the chermoula is reduced too much the flavour can get very concentrated, making your food too salty.

Empty out the pot into a dish and serve your chicken chermoula with either rice or couscous.

Done!

Consumers Love Pinterest, Marketing Execs….. Meeeeh!

A recent survey of marketing and advertising executives by The Creative Group found a major lack of interest for Pinterest (I know, that totally rhythms!)  Here is a small break down of the findings:

  • Only 7% said they are currently using the platform
  • 10% said they are planning on utilizing it
  • 44% said they had no interest in using the platform
  • A shocking 18% didn’t even know it existed!

Image via The Creative Group

This lack of attention to Pinterest resembles the initial lack of interest many marketing executives were showing for various social media platforms or social media as a whole, haven’t we learned our lesson yet?  As a social network Pinterest has grown to a user base of 20 million in the last year, and has raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation by Japanese ecommerce experts Rakuten.  I can’t see how any marketer can ignore a platform that can provide them with access to millions of users, either for the purpose of of direct communication or just monitoring and analysis.  As a marketer you must know anything that keeps your potential audience engaged and browsing is worth spending some thought on.  I can even see how Pinterest can be used during design or idea stages of product, in a way it could be utilized as  indirect crowd sourcing.  It is shocking how still some marketing executives are so quick to dismiss new social platforms or technologies. It is simple, more time spend on Pinterest equals more eyeballs on your brand/product.  And with the introduction of third party app such as Pinfluencer (Klout for Pinterest), Pinshopper (putting price tags on Pinterest items), and Curalate (image recognition & aggregation) the show has just begun!

If consumers are voluntarily going on your website and sharing products they find appealing with their friends wouldn’t you want to know about it? and perhaps engage them in some sort of dialogue? It is ok for brands to ignore their fans simply because they are on a new platform that the brand doesn’t have time for?!?!  Isn’t ignoring your brand admirers marketing sacrilege?!

While recent data from Jirafe, a New York-based ecommerce analytics company suggests Pinterest is more of a traffic driver than revenue, it is still too early to tell what type of effect Pinterest will have on ecommerce.  Even though Jirafe’s study points to low conversion rates for Pinterest, there is other data that suggests the contrary.  A recent article in Forbes magazine states:

Online retailers, like Katia Beauchamp from Birchbox, have noted that the increasing number of referrals generated by Pinterest makes it extremely valuable as an acquisition channel. According to MSNBC, 40 percent of all social media driven purchases are expected to come from Pinterest during this quarter.  Shopify, a company that offers software for creating online stores, notes that Pinterest users are 10% more likely to make a purchase (within the Shopify network) than those who arrive from other sites.

So what to make of all this? Like I said, it is still too early to tell, and we can’t base these decisions on a couple of studies, especially since the type of metrics used in each study might differ and could potentially skew the data and hence the findings.  But what doesn’t change here is the need for marketing executives to be open and accepting of new technologies, this is not to say that every company needs to on every platform (we all know social media mishmash can be a serious disease), but at least give these platforms the benefit of the doubt, and some much deserved thought and analysis.

3 Ways to Update Your CV Web 2.0 Style!

Technology has been making our lives easier for some time now, changing how we do almost everything, and that includes applying to jobs. It is true that the internet, social networks (i.e. Linkedin), and Web 2.0 as a whole has made accessing job opportunities easier, but that doesn’t necessarily equate into getting that job. The downside to equal access is the fact that now your resume will be lost in a sea of other candidates. So what is the solution to this dilemma? Easy! Utilize more tech! that’s right, if you want to stand out you have to push yourself to be on the edge of everything new and exciting and this is where some new services available can really make a difference. Here is a list of a few I have found interesting and useful.

  • Essentially what Vizify does is turn your personal data into an interactive infographic. There is a large degree of customization with the capability to connect other social services such as Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. There are some really cool animations and features that can potentially engage the right recruiter or hiring manager!

  • This is a social based resume builder and career advancement site; it also does have some interactive and graphical features, not as pretty as Vizify but certainly better than a plain old resume.

  • This is a Facebook-powered app that attempts to visualize your social profile. You have two choices, either connecting through Facebook or Linkedin, your choice depends on what type of a visual profile you are aiming for. The Linkedin option provides a more professional looking graphical profile

    ResumUP sample profile