Sources & Resources
During this hectic Christmas season, I still had time to read, watch, collect, cook, and ….eat! Lots of events, both at home and with friends, kept me busy and engaged. I have to say that it has been super, super fun. And because we are in the midst of lemon season….
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.(Penguin Random House) Not a surprise that this book has become so incredibly popular. It is really a must-read. Totally inspiring, uplifting, and shocking in a charming, mouth-open, I-cant-believe-what- just-happened sort of way. I couldn’t put it down.
Treason. Netflix. As you know, I am a huge fan of British espionage, MI6, CIA, and other stories. This limited thriller is entertaining and perfect to watch on a rainy afternoon.
The Inside Man. Netflix. Stanley Tucci plays a murderer who solves complicated cases while on death row. It sounds depressing, but it is actually fun, well done, and totally entertaining.
Keeping notes, lists, ideas, and plans is great on a computer, but I really LOVE doing it in beautiful journals. I also (I know, I know) love writing notes, letters, and all my party books with a fountain pen. I even do the NYT crossword in ink. And this year, I have decided to write a bit more on my party book… not only who came and what I served, but a couple of sentences on the ambiance and decor…. just to keep better records….
Staples and Office Depot were out of fountain pens. Who knew it was such a popular item? These two companies focus on fountain pens from $20 to… and are just beautiful. So, order away! Goulet Pens and Jet Pens
Notebooks and journals are other things I have to restrain myself from ordering. These from Papier are irresistible. Especially as you can order them with your name (or a friend’s). Oh, and they also have charming notecards and stationery.
Historically I have always been against the pot-luck concept. I found that meals ended up being bad mac & cheese and wilted salads… or whatever was easy to carry. But I am now warming up to the plan, especially if:
The host organizes the menu, assigning specific dishes.
There is the ability at the host’s kitchen to do last-minute prep.
Everyone contributes! Non-cooks with drinks and dessert…
Think about the containers and how you are going to carry the food. Nice insulated totes and pretty bakers make the food look much better and are perfect for re-heating and serving. Love this picnic basket from Williams Sonoma and these stoneware bakers with lids from Sur La Table
I know, I know, sometimes I am a bit slow, and it takes an actual event to change my mind. I will explore this concept (new to me!) further in a newsletter….
Preserved lemons are an essential flavor in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. They are used to add brightness and tangy flavor to a variety of dishes and stews. Once you start using them, you’ll find them a key ingredient in salad dressings, pound cakes, and even gravies and sauces. I love adding them to homemade mayonnaise and in making chicken tagine.
Invest in organic lemons and do rinse them under warm water to remove their waxy exterior. Any type of lemon works well and if you have Meyer lemons, use them too. Their thin skins and sweeter flavor will yield wonderful results.
You can also add other flavors when pickling the lemons, like bay leaves, chili, cardamom, and anise seeds. Play with your favorite or none at all. In my world, a handful of peppercorns is all I need to add a bit of depth to these sensational lemons.
1 cup Kosher Salt
1/4 cup whole peppercorns
To prepare the lemons, cut off the stem tip part, and then, without cutting all the way through, cut the lemons into quarters. Place them in a large bowl and add salt inside and outside. Toss them so they are well covered. Place them in a sterilized glass jar and pack them in so they fit snuggly and release some juice but are not crushed.
Squeeze the juice of the 3 lemons and pour inside the jar to cover the lemons completely (you may need fewer lemons depending on how juicy they are) Add the peppercorns. Cover the top lemons with a few tablespoons of salt.
Close the jar and let it sit in a darkish place like the pantry, fridge, or shelf in the kitchen. After a week or so, turn the jar upside down to “cure” all the lemons and turn them every week thereafter.
After a month, the lemons should be soft and slightly translucent. To use, rinse them under cold water to remove the salt, discard any seeds, and if you like, just use the rind for garnishes and sauces. For stews and tagines, I use the whole lemon.
Preserved lemons can be then stored in the fridge for up to 6 months.
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