I’ve been utterly immersed in the new book, My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss, creator of the popular Wednesday Chef blog. So immersed, in fact, that I tried to comment on her blog yesterday because not only did she make me laugh out loud several times, but I felt a strange kinship with all the random commonalities that we share. Her comments were “closed” (which I don’t understand at all) so I thought I’d tell you all about it instead and then urge you to get this book. It’s a real charmer.
1. We both have mothers that would rather do anything else, for my mother that’s reading, than cook. Mine, too, thinks I’m a little weird and actually once suggested, many years ago outside a Vancouver hotel, therapy. Food therapy that is.
2. We both learned the hard way that living in Paris is not quite as magical as visiting Paris. It can be a very lonely place, wandering those lovely streets by oneself.
3. My dad, like Luisa’s, calls me sometimes just to tell me what he had for dinner.
4. An only child like Luisa, I also lived with my dad after my parents divorced, which was highly unusual at the time.
5. We both started our blogs cooking for enthusiastic eaters named Sam.
I’m only a third of the way through this book.
I know that one major thing we do not have in common is a love for Berlin. I’ve been there once. It was nice but I don’t see myself going back. Now that I’ve reached that section of the book, the one in which she returns to Berlin, I do, in fact, want to go back. Her descriptions of its leafy boulevards, chirping birds, friendly green markets and even the iciest of icy winters are absolutely intoxicating. I’d like to know her Berlin. It makes for mighty entertaining reading here on this chilly fall afternoon (the one in which I’ve played hooky to read all day!)
do also love about her Berlin descriptions, though, is that for her, it’s home. And while I doubt many people are clamoring to move over here to the Mitten State, for me it’s home, and Luisa’s musings on Berlin drive that point, well, home.
You should really read it. Then try one of her recipes, or two.
I did and it’s certainly worth posting.
Provençale Braised Chicken Thighs
Serves 4, adapted from My Berlin Kitchen, Luisa Weiss.
I added the roasted zucchini, mainly because it was meant to be a side dish and I ended up throwing it in at the last minute. I liked it. Luisa uses a whole cut up chicken but I wanted my pieces more uniform and since thighs are inexpensive and braise well, I went that route instead.
- 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 12 oil-cured black olives, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
- coarse salt and black pepper
- 2 medium zucchini, roasted (optional)
1. If using the roasted zucchini, preheat oven to 425°. Dice zucchini into 1/2″ pieces and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.
2. Add 2 tbsp. olive to dutch oven or large skillet and heat over medium heat. If using a dutch oven, only add half the oil and brown your chicken in two batches. Add the second half of the oil for the second batch.
3. Prepare the thighs by trimming off excess fat and drying with paper towels. Place flour (about 1/4-1/2 cup) in a wide shallow bowl. Pass chicken through the flour, shake off excess, then season on one side with salt, pepper and herbes de provence.
4. Place chicken in pot with seasoned side down. Now season the top pieces with salt, pepper and herbes. Brown for about 4 minutes per side. Turn down heat if they seem to be burning. Remove to a plate.
5. Reduce heat and add minced shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add wine and allow to reduce to half, about 5 minutes.
6. Add tomatoes, chopped olives and minced garlic. Add chicken back to pot and stir. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.
7. Add the roasted zucchini, chopped parsley (and/or basil) and stir. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.
S and I had this for Sunday dinner, which has been quite an affair of late, usually yielding us at least another serving each for lunch. I’m just sayin’, it makes Mondays (and freshman boys) a whole lot easier to endure when there’s something homemade waiting for me in the teachers’ lounge.
Look out for more Sunday Dinner features. We have been eating so well chez nous.
And now for a random photo of Provence. Pourquoi pas?