Strawberry Lemon Verbena Chia Seed Jam

Adapted from Marisa of Uproot Kitchen.

I started making morning oats earlier this year after watching a video tutorial by the Sweet Potato Chronicles for easy breakfast recipes on Skillshare. It is an extremely easy, time-saving way of getting yourself to eat a full-hearty breakfast every morning. But after about a month of consistently making this oats, I got tired of eating it every day. Yes, I know it is good for myself, but I need some flavors in my life!

So, as I was flipping through Instagram, I saw that Marisa from Uproot Kitchen had posted a recipe for Chia Seed Jam (I definitely recommend you to check her blog out if you also are a food and gardening enthusiast). This was a totally new concept to me. But a jam that is ready within half an hour without all the water bathing and processing? I’m sold! I made her blueberry jam recipe and it turned out very well. It’s simple and delicious!

As you already know though, I get bored of the same thing easily. So, I immediately started thinking of ways to reinvigorate this jam. I rummaged through our refrigerator to see what fruits I had and found a box of strawberries. But just strawberries sound boring. I know I had wanted to try a lemon verbena infusion because I had a big unused pot of it growing in my backyard with plenty of sprigs. So, I decided to try the infusion in this jam. End result? It was good. It was very reminiscent of a strawberry lemonade taste with the citrus taste from the leaves but without the acidity. Try this out or try it with different ingredients with your own twist!

1 pint of strawberries
1-2 sprigs of lemon verbena
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp of chia seeds
Slice and chop the strawberries into small chunks.
Place the strawberries and maple syrup into a pot and heat over medium-low heat. Keep an eye on the strawberries and stir to prevent it from burning.
As the strawberries begins to soften, tear the lemon verbena leaves a bit to release its flavor and add to the pot.
Stir until the strawberries has broken down into syrup like (about 5 minutes). Break down chunks with your spoon.
Remove and discard the lemon verbena leaves. Add the chia seeds and stir until thickens to jam-like consistency.
Remove from heat and refrigerate overnight. Eat within a week.




Simple Tomato Sauce (Sugo di pomodoro)

Adapted from Florentine: The true cuisine of Florence by Emiko Davies

Back in May, Dono and I traveled to Florence and we took a cooking class where we made a 3 course meal, one of them including a simple tomato sauce over tagliatelle pasta. Incredibly, it was one of our best meal in Europe! Unfortunately, the recipe booklet they gave us did not exactly match the sauce we made, so I have been unsuccessfully trying to recreate that sauce.

I was craving a good, simple tomato sauce to go with my pasta. While shopping around the Market Hall in Rockridge, Oakland, I noticed a book that was titled “Florentine” by Emiko Davies while waiting for my cut-prosciutto order. Flipping through it, I found a simple recipe for tomato sauce! Did it taste good? I had to buy the book to try it out. When I finally cooked it, it tasted great! Highly recommend you to check out her book!

However, there were some tweaks that I had made to the recipe to better suit Dono’s taste. We both are a huge fan of flavors, especially garlic. So I added 4 times the amount. I also added half of a shallot to add a more fragrant onion flavor. As for the tomatoes, I always tried to use fresh tomatoes as we always have plenty growing the in garden during the summer. However, I noticed that Emiko uses canned tomatoes. For one, it really cuts down the cooking time because you’re cutting down time for the sauce to reduce and thicken. So, I decided to follow suit with a 28 oz canned whole-peeled tomatoes. Why whole? I like to control the texture of my sauce with my immersion blender. For tomato soup, I like to have it runny smooth while for tomato sauce, I like it a bit more pulpy. Also, in the interest of washing fewer dishes, I  did everything in one pot.

This sauce is one that tastes a whole lot better the morning after. And it freezes well, so make a big batch for a time-saving meal. Slap it on some pasta or do what I did and buy cheese tortellini from Costco and slap this sauce onto there for a quick meal. It’s good with almost anything!

1 onion, diced
1/2 shallot, diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 clove of garlic, minced
10 basil leaves
28 oz canned whole-peeled tomatoes
28 oz water (yes, use the same can to measure!)
Salt and Pepper
Heat heavy pot with oil over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot into the pot and saute until softened (about 10 mins). Okay to put onion and shallot into pot before oil warms. Add a small pinch of salt.
While the onions are cooking, take an immersion blender and blend the tomatoes to the consistency of your liking, either pulpy or runny smooth. Set aside.
As the onion softens, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more until the garlic becomes fragrant (do not let it brown/burn). Add the basil and stir for about 30 seconds until you can smell the basil aroma.
Pour the tomatoes and the water into a pot with a pinch of salt (be sure to taste) and heat mixture over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer.
Once the sauce begins to simmer, turn it down to a low simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour until it has thickened to your preferred consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.