LEMON VERBENA TISANE

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When we first moved to the bay area, Chez Panisse was absolutely one of the restaurants on our bucket list. As the restaurant that started the ripple effects of how we are eating today – seasonal, high-quality and local ingredients I was excited to make my pilgrimage.

Booked months in advance we finally made it for our sixth wedding anniversary. Of course the entire meal was just amazing. I had the single best salad of my life there – and I really do believe it was because every salad leaf and each ingredient in that dressing was of upmost quality and the best it could be. I just can’t even put it into words. But this post isn’t really about the perfection of every course and how satisfying each portion of it was.  It’s about a small little detail after all the plates had been served.

I pleasantly discovered the tisanewhich was given to us after our meal.  A tisane is an herbal infusion, an herbal tea if you will, and the one served at Chez Panisse was made with lemon verbena. And there are many beautiful variations of infusions you can make.

The lemon verbena tisane piqued my interest with its refreshing and clean flavor that seemed to be so simple to make. I decided to try making one at home and it was so easy and a wonderful way to recall our anniversary dinner.

A simple “recipe” from the Kitchn for lemon verbena tisane below.

  • Pick 1-2 handfuls of lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves. You can include the stems, too.
  • Place them in a teapot.
  • Heat water to nearly boiling. Boiling water will oversteep and cook the delicate leaves and give a grassy taste. The water should be the same temperature as you would use for French press coffee, or for green tea.
  • Let steep for several minutes before drinking, but leave the herbs in.
  • Pour into tea cups and enjoy!

And here are some great ideas to add more complexity and play around with other flavors.

 

 

 

ROAST CHICKEN AND PRESERVED LEMONS

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Preserved lemons have been on my radar for a while and I had a feeling I would love it. I first tried it at a friend’s house who brought out a jar to accompany our Indian take out dinner. And as I suspected, I loved its salty, lemony-umami blast of flavor on the warming spicy Indian flavors.

Tonight as I was contemplating dinner, I opened my fridge and was greeted by the whole chicken and the jar of preserved lemons that I snatched up when I spotted them at Whole Foods. And lightbulb, lemons are a classic ingredient in a roast chicken so why not the preserved kind?

Roast chicken is usually a meal reserved for weekends but I was motivated and eager to try the combination. Plus, I wasn’t sure this bird was going to last another day. Surprisingly making roast chicken on a Tuesday night is really not that bad in terms of the prep work,  the important ingredient of time is what might make it a bit intimating for a week night. So, while my kids ‘Netflix and chilled’, I got started. No time to lose before the kids unleash their hanger on me.

I went to my ultimate go-to Thomas Keller’s roasted chicken over vegetable recipe from Ad Hoc at Home Have you tried it? It’s the best for crispy salty skin and juicy meat. It has never failed me. Then I looked up simple recipes using preserved lemon.

Roast chicken is something that can be personalized and the combinations are endless. So feel free to tweak this with spices and flavors that you like. I added some cumin and used vegetables that I already had on hand in the kitchen – which did not include rutabagas, fresh thyme, or leeks like the classic recipe called for! But no worry it turned out amazing!

Notes:

  • I like to make bone broth after making roast chicken. But in reality that next step of doing more work in the kitchen after cooking dinner doesn’t always happen. My new strategy to actually get it done, is to take out the slow cooker before I start cooking so that it’s ready to go. I put the carcass into the slow cooker after removing all the meat and fill with water so that its level with the carcass.  Adding some apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the good nutrients.
  • Pureed preserved lemon is a really great condiment to have around. I cut the lemons into quarters, removed the seeds and threw them (flesh and rind) into my Vitamix to make a puree. I put some puree out on the table as a condiment with the roast chicken for extra oomph.
  • I’d love to try making preserved lemon one day. Here’s some inspiration and 2 ways to go about it.

Recipe after the jump.

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HEARTY VEGETARIAN CHILI

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I’ve been looking for a good vegetarian chili recipe for a while. When I say good, I mean healthy, flavorful and filling without missing the meat. I found a few that called for interesting and non-traditional ingredients like lentils and quinoa – all darlings of healthy eating and a good source of protein! So I decided to give it a go for a Meatless Monday family meal.

I think its imperative to serve with some good bread. And by good bread, I mean the best bread you can find. Around here, Acme bread reins and I can find it at my local Safeway too.

And of course serve with a side of more veggies – it’s Meatless Monday, go all out! I made a 2 ingredients salad. Roasted Golden Beets and Kale with a simple apple cider vinaigrette.

A couple of notes.

  • I love heat, but my kids can’t take too much yet so I added half a jar more tomato sauce to tone it down. After I realized the chili was too spicy for my 4 year old’s taste, I asked the google how to reduce spiciness. So adjust the spices to your liking.
  • Sky’s the limit on variations of this. Some ideas I’d like to try spotted on the internet include: squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, chick peas, etc. Just load it up with the good stuff!
  • And ditto for the toppings. I went California style and added avocados (the lemon tops in the picture above were to keep them from browning) and cilantro, chopped onions and some shredded cheddar cheese for the kiddos.
  • Chili is a mom’s best friend. Makes great leftovers and is freezable. #momwin

Here’s the recipe adapted from TasteLoveandNourish.com

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LINKS FOR THE WEEKEND

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Photo Credit: Curiousnut.com

Hope you had a nice short week and enjoy the weekend coming up.  I promised my four year old we would make pizza tonight so I  stocked up at Trader Joe’s who makes it so easy with their pre-made pizza dough. Toppings requested are pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese. Classic.

Have you ever wondered why prices for produce in Chinatown is so low? I’ve always been baffled by this and questioned its quality from time to time but this article
helps explain.

We just got a charcoal grill and my second thought (after Galbi – Korean BBQ) was Yakitori (Japanese BBQ).

Do you own a rice cooker? Do you cook other things in it? I’ve seen my mom steam dumplings but that’s about it. Apparently you can do a lot more according to this cookbook that’s on my wishlist. 

There’s a farmer’s market happening everyday in the bay area. One of the reasons why I love it here.   Here’s a schedule if you’re in town.

And while this blog is really an escape and creative outlet for me, I have to acknowledge this week’s tragic headlines. This post from one of my favorite food blogs is right on.

 

 

FRIDAY LINKS

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Photo Credit: Food52, James Ransom

Happy Friday! Thought I’d start a series sharing links (instead of hoarding them on my bookmark tab 🙂 ) that caught my eye this week. If you’re taking a break, you can check them out below.

The easiest way to de-stem Kale I’ve ever seen! No Knife needed. Demo starts at 1:40 mark in video.

This looks like a fun project – Drawing daily purchases.

Nice to see recyclable disposable coffee pods.

Farmer’s market fruit salad recipe for the weekend.

Weekend decluttering mini-project.

It’s officially summer. Are you making cold-brewed coffee yet?

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, the Musical at Children’s Fairyland. If you have a toddler, you probably know this beloved book by heart.

 

INSPIRATION & INDIAN LENTIL SOUP

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Indian Lentil Soup

I admit, there are days I need a lot of motivation to roll up my sleeves and take action in the kitchen to get dinner started. We recent got back from a weeklong trip to NYC and with our normal rhythm out of whack, I’ve been needing a little more push to do the normal dinner routine.

One way I’ve tried to snap myself back into motivation is to tap into the wonderful world of Youtube and the great content out there that seems devoted to passing on recipes as much as it is to get people motivated to cook. While there’s a lot of bad (IMO) content out there, I found a wonderful gem called Green Kitchen Stories. It’s filled with gorgeous food photography and all the recipes are vegetarian/ plant-based. My eyes and mouth were watering. I’m not a vegetarian, but I love my greens and this channel just might convert a carnivore to vegetarianism.

The videos did their job of convincing me that my experience in the kitchen will be filled with music, beutiful ceramic dishware and an ease that comes with having a long afternoon to slowly chop my vegetables. Far from the truth. I had at least 3 piles of laundry to do, which was urgent because for the first time ever, my 4 year old son ran out of clean underwear (SMH), aaand my toddler was about 2 minutes from waking up from his nap.

But something about it worked – my brain’s synapses were fired up (not sure if that’s technically correct, but I’m going with it) and ready to make dinner. I went on the blog to look around for some easy recipes and found a straightforward Indian lentil soup recipe on their blog.

The recipe was super easy with spices that I already had in my pantry (curry powder, tumeric powder, lentils!) and basic fresh produce that I always have on hand. I put it together before picking up my son from school and finished it off when we got home.  This will definitely be in my regular dinner rotation.

Because I can use more inspiration in my arsenal, what are your favorite blogs or video channels you go to for inspiration to get in the kitchen? Leave me a comment to share!

Below is the recipe.

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