Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Baked Eggs in Sautéed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce

Baked Eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce Recipe.

It’s time for me to revise my list of brunch meals and come up with more selections. I have a couple of good options, like Zucchini Frittata or Maple Apple Dutch Baby Pancakes, but I wanted something different and made with eggs. One of the best ways to cook eggs for a crowd is to bake them in the oven. Oven baked eggs are very convenient and becoming more popular. One dish that is particularly popular now, is Shakshuka. I wanted something similar in style, but with hearty greens as the base instead of tomatoes.

Ultimately, I decided to combine the two and sautéed hearty greens with tomatoes as the foundation for the baked eggs. Additionally, I wanted a bright creamy sauce to drizzle over the eggs, but nothing too heavy because I did not want it to detract from the vegetables and eggs. I pushed myself to stay away from cheese and heavy cream and try something lighter instead. It is rare to come across a healthy and creamy combination, but recently I discovered yogurt is a great substitute for heavy cream. Yogurt brings more tang to the meal, but it has a similar smooth texture as cream without the weight. As a result, baked eggs in sautéed greens with zesty yogurt sauce was born.

Baked Eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce recipe.

Baked eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce recipe

I love baked eggs with greens, but they are usually cooked with lots of heavy cream and melted cheese. I live for creamy-cheesy foods. Yet, there are times I want a lighter start to my day and not require a nap after breakfast. Yogurt comes to the rescue. I first learned about how well yogurt and eggs taste together when I made Julia Turshen’s Olive Oil Fried Eggs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce. These eggs are delightful. The lemon yogurt sauce invigorated the fried eggs with a creamy and bright citrus flavor. Keeping the flavors of this dish in mind, I set about to create the same zesty flavor with baked eggs and greens.

Eggs and spinach is a classic food pairing. Unfortunately, cooking spinach causes it to wilt down to nothing. You need five times the amount of fresh spinach to make one small spoonful of cooked spinach. I decided a combination of Swiss chard and spinach would provide more foundation to bake the eggs in. Swiss chard is one of my favorite hearty greens to cook with. It’s texture and flavor are somewhere in the middle of spinach and kale. Spinach is soft and mild, and kale is hearty and tough. Swiss chard is the perfect compromise of the two. Combining the two greens with the tomatoes adds more depth of flavor and body for the eggs to nestle in.

Baked Eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce Recipe.

To give this recipe some pizzaz, I decided to layer the spices and seasoning by steeping them in the juices from the canned tomatoes. Then, I divided the perky tomato sauce between the vegetables and the yogurt sauce. My seasonings include minced ginger, saffron, and mini pinches of ground cayenne and cinnamon. There are many flavors here and require a delicate touch for everything to blend as one. The main flavors are saffron, ginger and lemon. The cayenne and cinnamon round out the flavors and highlight the swiss chard and tomatoes.

Baked Eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce Recipe.

A small pinch of cinnamon adds warmth and sweetness to the sauce. The amount is intentionally small. Too much cinnamon will ruin it and be overbearing.

In my opinion, Swiss chard tastes better with a little dash of chili pepper. The spice helps reduce the bitter taste. Be cautious when adding both the cinnamon and cayenne so they do not overpower the other spices.  Keep in mind when you taste the steeped tomato liquid the flavors will seem strong, but become less potent when added to the vegetables and the yogurt. If needed, add more granulated sugar and/or Kosher salt to balance them out.

I find the most difficult part of making baked eggs, is determining when the eggs are done. Just like making any egg meal, it takes practice to learn the visual clues. It is not like you are going to cut one open to check. For this recipe, the eggs bake in the oven nestled in sautéed tomatoes and leafy green pockets. Ideally, the eggs are done when the egg whites are just cooked through. Hopefully, at the same time the egg yolks are cooked, but are soft and runny. Have faith and trust your intuition and experience. 10 minutes was the perfect amount of time in my oven set at 400°F (204°C), but your cooking time could vary.

Baked Eggs in Sauteed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce Recipe.

Baked eggs with sautéed greens and zesty yogurt sauce has the right balance of spunk and comfort to ease into your day. It is creamy, bright and nourishing.  If you are not a fan of yogurt, substitute it with crème fraîche. Serve baked eggs with crusty artisan style toasted bread, like a baguette or sour dough batard, to mop up the vegetables laden in runny egg yolk and sauce.

Baked Eggs with Sauteed Greens and Zesty Yogurt Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Category: Breakfast or Brunh

Cuisine: American

4 servings

Serving Size: 1 egg with greens

Baked Eggs with Sauteed Greens and Zesty Yogurt Sauce

Eggs baked in Swiss Chard and tomatoes get an extra kick with a zesty yogurt sauce. This recipe is perfect for brunch or a light supper, and for the times you want something creamy without the weight or guilt. The yogurt sauce is made with lemon juice and the spiced tomato juices for an invigorating flavor when paired with the baked eggs and cooked vegetables.

If you are not a fan of yogurt, substitute it with crème fraîche. You can also substitute the heavy cream with more stock.

This recipe is easily doubled. You might not need a double amount of stock, so adjust as you go. Instead of a skillet, cook the eggs with the vegetables in a large shallow baking dish, large enough to hold all your eggs, but not too big that your vegetables get spread too thin.

Ingredients

  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 TB boiling water
  • 1 14.5 oz (411g) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • Shy 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • Shy 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 TB Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1- 8 oz bunch Swiss chard, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1- 8 oz bunch spinach, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup (125 ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 TB heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices of toasted and buttered baquette

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the rack in the middle position in your oven.
  2. Place the pinch of saffron into a small bowl and add 1 TB boiling water to the saffron. Let the saffron threads steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the liquid from the diced tomatoes into a small bowl. Reserve the tomatoes and pour the tomato liquid into a small sauce pan. Turn on the heat to medium and add the minced ginger, the saffron threads with their water, and a tiny pinch of each cayenne pepper, cinnamon, sugar, and Kosher salt to the liquid and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, zest your lemon and reserve it for later. In a small bowl add the juice of one lemon, a small pinch of Kosher salt and the yogurt. Stir to combine. Set aside to rest.
  5. Fold the chard and spinach leaves in half and slice in one-inch slices across the width. Heat an
  6. 8-inch skillet on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and when the oil starts to shimmer add the chard leaves and spinach. You will need to add them gradually into the skillet, so they do not spill over the sides. Turn the greens over to get coated with olive oil and begin to cook the greens. Sprinkle a small pinch of Kosher salt and a few rounds of freshly ground black pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
  7. Drain the tomato liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve the liquid. Add the collected minced ginger and saffron from the strainer, 3 TB of tomato liquid, vegetable stock, and heavy cream to the skillet. Stir. Cook until the greens are tender and most of the liquid is almost completely reduced, about 10-12 minutes.
  8. While the greens are cooking, add the remaining tomato liquid to the yogurt. Add just enough to reach your desired consistency. You want the yogurt to have some body, but thin enough to easily coat the vegetables. Add any remaining liquid to the chard, spinach and tomatoes. Make sure you scrape out any stubborn saffron threads from the strainer and add to the greens or the yogurt.
  9. If you added more liquid to the skillet, cook it down with the greens a few minutes more.
  10. Use the back of a wooden spoon to make 4 impressions in the cooked greens, creating a nest for the eggs. One at a time, crack the eggs and carefully add them to the vegetable nests.
  11. Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are done. The whites will be set and the yolks runny. Or to your desired level of doneness. I check the eggs after 7 minutes to see how they are progressing.
  12. Garnish the eggs and yogurt sauce with the reserved lemon zest.
  13. Serve immediately family style, or plate for individual servings. One egg with greens and one piece of toasted bread.
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Baked Eggs in Sautéed Greens with a Zesty Yogurt Sauce Recipe. A healty brunch or light supper recipe.

 

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Orange Spice Belgian Waffles

Orange Spice Waffles Recipes

If it wasn’t for an Instagram cookbook club, #rainydaybitescookbookclub I participate in, my Belgian waffle maker would still be hiding in the farthest reaches of my corner cabinet. It took some blind faith while I groped around the black hole, knowing I would recognize it as soon as I felt it. I almost pulled a muscle stretching to grab the waffle iron just out of arms reach. Surprisingly, it was still in good shape even after fifteen plus years of neglect. Something old becomes something new and I rediscovered the wonders of homemade waffles.

Orange Spice Waffles Recipe

My cookbook club challenge has a deadline, so I did not waste time and started making waffles as soon as the waffle iron got tidied up. The featured recipe is Indonesian Fried Chicken with Ginger and Sesame Waffles from,  Meyers and Chang At Home by Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz. Their recipe for Ginger and Sesame Waffles is light and crispy and delicious. I loved the fresh ginger in the waffle. It was bright without being too strong. Between making the recipe and cooking the waffles, everything was so darn easy it inspired me to try my own ideas creating delicious waffles.

After making our family favorite pumpkin bread, I realized there was more pumpkin purée to use up. Originally, I planned to make pumpkin waffles with fresh pumpkin purée and my favorite blend of pumpkin pie spices. Unfortunately, the pumpkin waffles did not wow me, or Joe because there was no noticeable pumpkin flavor in the waffles. Based on how much I like the ginger sesame waffles, I decided to make waffles using a standard base recipe and add in orange zest and a blend of spices often used in pumpkin pie. After testing several waffle recipes, I decided on Meyers and Chang’s base waffle recipe without the flavors. Of all the recipes I tested, their waffles were the lightest and crispest.

For a gluten-free breakfast pancake, try my Banana Oat Pancakes

 

Orange Spice Waffles recipe

Orange Spice Waffles Recipe

My waffle iron is a Belgian Waffle Maker by Nordic Ware and makes large, Belgian style waffles. There are many types of waffle makers on the market and all produce different size waffles. The amount of batter in this recipe, produced two waffles using my waffle iron. Whereas, for Meyers and Chang the amount of batter produced 3 waffles using their waffle maker. But like pancake batter, waffle batter is easy to double. So I kept the original proportions and just made some minor adjustments using my spices.

First, I added orange zest. I believe citrus zest is one of the best flavor enhancers in any type of recipe. Before squeezing out citrus juice, I grate up the zest. It’s a shame to have that big flavor boost go to waste. Orange zest gives a slight bitter-sweet accent and pairs well with warm spices like cinnamon and clove. Lemon zest would also work, but play around with different spice combinations like nutmeg and ginger.

Like a spice cake, these waffles have a lovely blend of spices that create one flavor. For this recipe I included ground ginger, because not everyone loves ginger. However, if you are like me and love fresh ginger, add about a tablespoon instead of ground ginger. Fresh ginger is special in this waffle recipe and does not have the bite often associated with it. It just tastes fresh. Ginger along with a blend of spices is often associated with pumpkin pie or gingerbread. I love these desserts and the flavor the blend of these spices brings. Especially with a pinch of ground clove. It is a spice blend without one dominate spice overwhelming the others.

Orange Spice Waffles Recipe

There are a couple of things to keep in mind making waffles. Butter is a key ingredient. It helps create the crispy texture and prevents the waffles from sticking to the waffle iron. Most recipes I tested use no less than 4 tablespoons of butter for 2 cups of flour. However, I found using more butter made it lighter and crisper. Joy of Cooking gives you a choice of using anywhere between 4 tablespoons (57 g) of butter, up to as much as a cup (226 g) of butter. So, this recipe is somewhere in the middle.

The next key ingredient and technique to achieve crispy and light waffles is, separate the eggs and whip whites until soft peaks form. All recipe sources I referred to recommend using this technique. If you want light and fluffy waffles, whipping the egg whites will make that happen. Of course, it is not necessary, but it makes a difference in taste and texture.

Orange Spice Waffes recip

Orange Spice Waffles Recipe

This is a great foundation waffle recipe. It is easy to play around with different flavors with the key elements intact. I happen to like buttermilk, but you can substitute it with yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche. If you do use one of these ingredients, add about a quarter cup of milk to thin them out. Keep the total about of liquid the same as the buttermilk.

Play around with different flavors and fruit. Like pancakes, waffles are easily amendable to all sorts of additions like bananas or pears. Serve waffles as soon as they are made with your favorite toppings, like maple syrup and/or fruit. If you follow the instructions for your waffle iron, making waffles is straightforward and easy.

Orange Spice Belgian Waffles

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Category: Breakfast or Brunch

Cuisine: American

2 large Belgian style waffles

Serving Size: 1/2 to 1 waffle depending on size

These are wonderful light and crispy waffles with the familar flavor of pumpkin pie spices and orange zest. Use fresh ginger if you have it. Fresh ginger tastes a lot better than ground ginger, and is not too strong in this recipe. Feel free to adjust the ground spices as you wish. Keep in mind, cinnamon has a strong flavor and will also affect the appearance of your waffles.

For me, the original recipe from Meyers and Chang At Home, made 2 large Belgian style waffels. For them, using their waffle iron, the batter made 3 waffles. So, depending on what type of waffle iron you have will depend on how many waffles this recipe makes. Fortunately, this recipe is easily doubled, but adjust the amount of spices as you prefer.

Serving size depends on what size waffles your waffle iron produces. One half of a large Belgian waffle is a reasonable serving. One whole Belgian waffle is a generous serving which I believe teenagers have no prolem chowing down.

Ingredients

  • 2 TB (28 g) of granulated sugar
  • 1 TB orange zest
  • 5 TB (63 g) butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup (144 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger, (or 1 TB fresh ginger, grated)
  • ⅛ tsp ground clove
  • 1 egg, room temperature and separated
  • 1 cup ( 250 ml) buttermilk room temperature (or ¾ cup of yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche with ¼ (60 ml) cup milk to thin it out.)

Instructions

  1. Remember to bring all your ingredients to room temperature before starting.
  2. Preheat oven to 250°F / 120°C / Gas Mark ½. Place a wire cooling rack in a sheet pan, then place the sheet pan in the oven to warm up.
  3. Measure the granulated sugar into a small dish and grate the orange zest over the sugar. Mix the sugar and zest with your fingers to combine and get the sugar coated with orange zest. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Then whisk together until evenly combined. If using fresh ginger, mix that in with the wet ingredients.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, buttermilk, melted and cooled butter, orange sugar, and (if using fresh ginger.) Stir until combined.
  7. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold in until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter. It is ok to have some lumps. Over-mixing the batter makes dense and tough waffles.
  8. Heat up the waffle maker.
  9. Whip the egg whites in a small bowl with a hand-held beater or wire whisk, until soft peaks form. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the batter.
  10. Lightly baste the waffle iron with vegetable oil or shortening.
  11. Cook the waffles. Follow the instructions given with your waffle iron. For my waffle iron I poured one cup of batter into the hot waffle iron. Other waffle makers will use less batter.
  12. Keep waffles warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batch.
  13. Serve immediately with maple syrup and fresh fruit.
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Orange Spice Belgian Waffles recipe. Light and crispy waffles with the spices of pumpkin pie and fresh ginger.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasoning

Sometimes when I begin a new cooking project, I need to forage ahead with blind faith and fingers crossed. Lingering in the back of my conscious is a belief that everything will work. The last thing I want to worry about is my latest “masterpiece” ending up in the trash can. This tomato tart recipe is a perfect example of my latest cooking adventure starting with confidence from blind faith.

I have always wanted to make a tomato tart. Every time I see a photograph of one, I drool over the pictures and imagine tomatoes roasting in the oven, cradled in a buttery pastry crust. Unfortunately, I don’t always believe photographs of tomato tarts show any real likeness to a real-life fully cooked one. Tomatoes consist mostly water and a tart baked with a lot of tomatoes could easily become a soggy mess. So, I often wondered what I was seeing in the tempting photographs was accurate. None the less, I never made a savory tomato pastry, so I can’t say for certain how they look in real-life.

A tomato tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean seasoning.

Tomato tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean seasoning.

Tomato tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean seasonings

Taking inspiration from a cookbook I am reading, Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden, I finally managed to motivate myself and make a tomato tart. I also needed to use up some leftover ingredients as well. Often some of my best meals are the result of needing to use up the leftover ingredients from a former meal. If you haven’t noticed already, a regular statement of mine is, “I created … because, I had leftover …. Now … is a family favorite”.

Tomato Tart recipe with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasoning

There are two recipes in “Six Seasons” cookbook that create the foundation for my tomato tart recipe: Israeli-Spiced Tomatoes, Yogurt Sauce and Chickpeas, and a recipe for Pecan Pie Dough.  The Israeli-spiced tomatoes have a bright flavor that compliments the natural sweetness in fresh summer tomatoes. It is a delicious salad with the yogurt sauce and chickpeas. This recipe gave me the idea of making a tomato tart using the same seasoning and preparation technique for marinating the tomatoes. I also had two ripe heirloom tomatoes on my window sill giving me the use or lose stare-down.

I also wanted to make the nut pie pastry crust, and Joshua McFadden has an alluring recipe using pecans. A tomato tart seemed like the perfect recipe to use a nut pie crust. Plus, and I am always open for any excuse to bake. For my recipe, I substituted the pecans with walnuts, and reduced the amount of sugar to one tablespoon.

More recipes inspired by Joshua McFadden, Summer Vegetable and Steak Salad. 

Tomato tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean seasoning.

Israeli-Spiced Tomatoes with Yogurt and Chickpeas from Six Seasons Cookbook

The biggest challenge when baking tomatoes and pastry dough, is keeping the crust from getting a soggy bottom. If you know the challenges ahead, taking the necessary steps to prevent them, will guarantee a beautiful flaky pie crust.  With the two foundation recipes set, I went about making the tart and using a few necessary steps to create a tomato tart with a nutty and flaky crust that was anything but soggy.

Tomato Tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean spices.

Tomato tart with ricotta and Mediterranean spices.

For my first step, I par-baked the pie crust. Par-baking a pie crust is a technique used for many types of pies and tarts, like lemon meringue pie. Partially baking a pie crust before adding the filling helps produce a dry and flaky pie crust. It might take longer to finish the pie, but this technique really works.

Even a par-baked crust needs a layer of protection between the crust and the filling. For this recipe, I decided to baste a thin layer of Dijon mustard across the bottom of the pre-baked crust. The mustard adds some tang and will mix well with the ricotta cheese. If you do not like Dijon mustard, baste a layer of egg wash over the bottom of the par-baked crust. It does the same job as the mustard without adding any additional flavor.

Tomato Tart recipe with ricotta cheese and Mediterranean spices.

Try this recipe for potato salad with tomatoes and summer vegetables.

Firing up the grill this weekend? Grilled Chicken with Poblano Chili Cream Sauce 

Spread over the mustard, I added a layer of ricotta cheese. Good quality fresh ricotta is so creamy it is worth the higher price. If you can find some at your grocery store, I recommend it. In this tart, the ricotta cheese layer absorbs any of the juices from the tomatoes which helps keep the ricotta from drying out and the crust dry. A lot of tomato tart recipes do not call for ricotta cheese. I added it because it was another leftover ingredient I needed to use up before it expired.  The ricotta’s creamy flavor is a nice contrast to the roasted tomatoes. Also, adding the ricotta makes the tart more substantial as a main course for lunch or a light super.

Tomato tart recipe with ricotta cheese and Mediterranean spices.

For the final step, I seasoned the tomatoes and let them marinate for an hour. The salt with the spices cause the tomatoes to release some of their liquid. Later, before I arranged the tomatoes around the tart, I used a paper towel to blot the tomato slices and dry them up a bit. The tomatoes marinate while the crust par-bakes, so no additional time is added to the whole process.

Tomato Tart recipe with ricotta and Mediterranean spices.

Tomato Tart with ricotta and Mediterranean spices.

It might seem like a lot of steps, but they all add up and work. The result is a tomato tart with a nutty and flaky crust, with a creamy ricotta and roasted tomato filling. I started making this tomato tart with blind faith and fingers crossed. Fortunately, after thinking ahead I came up with solutions to solve any challenges along the way. With inspiration from creative chefs as guidance, I made a tomato tart that I am proud of. There is no false advertising with these photos. What you see is what you get.

 

Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasoning

Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 52 minutes

Category: Lunch or Light Supper

Cuisine: Mediterranean - American

4-6 servings

Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasoning

This is a great recipe to use up sweet farm fresh tomatoes and creamy ricotta cheese. For a Mediterranean influence, the tomatoes are seasoned with sumac, coriander, cumin and red pepper flakes. This marinate also draws out some tomatoes juices to keep the tart crust from getting soggy.

The walnut crust is more fragile than a traditional one, so lift it and place it carefully in the tart pan. You will need a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom for this tart. If you do not have a tart pan make this tart a galette. See instruction in my notes.

Please do not substitute Dijon mustard with a different type of mustard, like Gulden's or French's. They have a very different flavor profile. Use an egg wash instead of the mustard if you do not have it.

This recipe is influenced and adapted from two recipes in Six Seasons Cookbook by Joshua McFadden, Israeli-Spiced Tomatoes with Yogurt and Chickpeas, and Pecan Pie Dough.

Ingredients

    Tomato Tart
  • Walnut Pastry Dough (recipe follows)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sumac*
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 2 tomatoes, medium to large size
  • 1 cup (8 oz / 241 g) fresh ricotta
  • Zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • 2 tsp lemon thyme, roughly minced
  • 4 medium size leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade
  • Kosher salt if needed
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 TB (3/4 oz / 11 g) Dijon mustard
  • Finely grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (optional)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garnish with fresh lemon thyme and torn basil leaves
    Walnut Pie Dough
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz / 58 g) walnuts
  • 1 2/3 cups ( 7.25 oz / 208 g) All-purpose Flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 oz (113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (1 stick)
  • 2 TB ice cold water (more if needed)

Instructions

    Walnut Pie Dough - Makes enough for one 9-inch (cm ) single crust pie or galette
  1. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until a fine and even crumble. Be careful to not over-process the nuts into walnut butter. Pour the walnuts into a mixing bowl and add the flour, sugar and Kosher salt. Mix the ingredients together with a wire whisk until evenly combined. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with flour. Smush the butter with your fingers into the flour until you get a pebbly mixture of all different sizes. Add 2 TB of ice water and using your hands briefly toss to mix and form a ball. If the dough seems dry add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time.
  2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and place the dough ball on the surface. Starting at the upper edge of your dough, use the heel of your hand to press down and smear a portion of the dough away from you. Use only one motion per part. Continue to smear a portion of the dough away from you until you have worked your way through the ball of dough, about 4-5 smears. Gather the dough and form a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days. The dough will keep in the freezer for 3 months.
  3. When you are ready to bake, take the tart dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 400°F (204°C). If you have a baking stone place it on a rack in the middle of the oven. Once rested, sprinkle your counter surface with flour and place the dough in the center. Whack the dough with a lightly floured rolling pin. Whack the dough moving from left to right to flatten it out. Turn the dough a quarter turn and whack 4 more times, moving across the disk from left to right. Turn the dough over and repeat 2 more times. Turn the dough over again and repeat. This process helps the dough to form a circle shape.
  4. Roll out the dough with your rolling pin. Always starting at the center of the dough, place your rolling pin in the center and roll away from you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll across the dough beginning in the center and roll out. Repeat. Turn the dough over and roll our the dough until you have a 12-inch (30 cm) circle and the dough is about 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Dust the countertop with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
  5. Once you have completed rolling out your dough, place your rolling pin across the middle and lift and drape the dough in half over the rolling pin and towards you. Lift your pastry draped rolling pin across the center of a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom, and unfold the dough over the pan. Lift the dough edges and ease the dough into place, carefully pressing the dough into the corners without stretching it. Trim the edge of the dough and fold over, into the tart pan to form a thicker tart side. Press the sides of the dough up against the side of the tart pan and even out the edge. Fix any cracks. You want the sides of the tart pastry to be even all around and not too thick. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Par-bake the walnut pie dough. Once the dough in the tart pan has chilled for 30 minutes cover the dough with aluminium foil and make a well. The foil should be wider than the tart pan to lift the sides and remove it filled with the pie weights. Fill the interior of the foil well with pie weights or dried beans. Spread them out so they evenly cover the surface of the tart bottom. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan the place the whole thing on the middle rack or baking stone. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the aluminium foil with the pie weights off the tart shell and remove. Turn the heat down to 325°F (162°C) and continue baking for 20 minutes. You want to dry out the crust, but not let it get too brown. Reduce the heat to 300°F (149°C) if the crust edges starts to get too dark. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature up to 375°F (190°C)
    Tomato Tart
  1. Meanwhile, while the dough is chilling for the first time (before you roll it out), mix together the minced garlic, sumac, ground colander, ground cumin, Kosher salt, and red pepper flakes into a small bowl.
  2. Slice the tomatoes into thick slices across the middle about 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Set the tomato slices on a sheet pan in one layer. Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over the tomatoes and let it marinate for one hour.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, stir until smooth and creamy the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, minced lemon thyme and basil. Taste the ricotta. If your fresh ricotta is salty leave it alone. If you think it needs salt, add about 1/4 tsp Kosher salt and stir to combine. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
  4. While the par-baked tart shell is cooling, line a couple of plates with paper towels. Place the seasoned tomato slices on the paper towel lined plates, seasoned side facing up. Pour any tomato juices and seasoning into the bowl with the ricotta cheese and stir.
  5. Once cooled baste a thin layer of Dijon mustard across the bottom of the tart pastry. If you are not a fan of mustard, baste a lightly beaten egg across the bottom of the tart.
  6. Spread the ricotta cheese evenly over the mustard in the tart.
  7. If using , sprinkle a light layer, about 1-2 TB, of Pecorino Romano cheese over the ricotta cheese.
  8. Layer the tomato slices, seasoned side up, evenly around the tart in a decorative fashion. You will need to overlap each slice because they will shrink while baking. If you have large heirloom tomatoes, you might need to cut them in half to fit as many tomatoes as you can in the tart pan. Any leftover tomato slices you can eat for lunch or a delicious snack.
  9. If using, lightly sprinkle Pecornio Romano cheese over the tomatoes, then drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes.
  10. Place the assembled tart on a sheet pan, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then check to see if the crust is browning to dark. If the crust edge is browning too quickly, cover the rim with a aluminum foil, but careful not to cover the tart filling. Continue baking, checking the tart every 10 minutes or less, when you get closer to the end. It could take around 50 minutes total time. The tart is done when the juices all around the tart are bubbly, the tomatoes are shriveled and the Romano cheese is browning on top. Also, the crust is a nice golden-brown color.
  11. Remove the tart from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the tart pan rim. Carefully place the tart on top of a large can of tomatoes or other can or bowl with stable flat top. Carefully hold the pan rim and slide it down off the tart. Place the tart on a cooling rack and continue to cool. When cool use a wide spatula to help slide the tart off the bottom portion of the tart pan. (Or you can leave it alone if you don't want to take any chances). Garnish right before serving with fresh lemon thyme and born fresh basil leaves.
  13. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best eaten the day it is made.

Notes

Sumac is the ground berries from a Sumac bush. It has a slightly bitter taste and a popular seasoning in Mediterranean cuisine. There is no great substitute to resemble it. If you do not have it, or cannot get it. Sprinkle finely grated lemon zest over the tomatoes when it is done baking.

If you do not own a tart pan, you can make this tart a galette. However, there are some changes in the preparation and baking. There is no need to par-bake the dough. After rolling out the dough, Move the dough to a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Arrange the tart ingredients over the pastry dough in the same order as in the instructions, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the rim of the dough over the ingredients and pleat to seal. Refrigerate the galette for 30 minutes. Brush the dough with melted butter, olive oil, or egg wash and bake, following the instructions above.

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Some Mediterranean spices are easily available at your grocery store. Kalustayan’s in New York City is a very reliable store for all kinds of spices and food items. You and buy online or in person. Click here for Aleppo Pepper, and Sumac.

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata

Eggs are one of the best foods because you can eat them for any meal of the day. Scrambled eggs for breakfast, or an egg salad or spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs make a wonderful lunch. Dinner meals like quiche, soufflé, or omelets are perfect for a quick and easy supper. Eggs also make great appetizers. Who can resist mustardy or spicy deviled eggs? In fact, you could put an egg on almost anything and call it a meal. I believe eggs are perfect comfort food.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata recipe

Zucchini and Basil Frittata recipe

One outstanding egg dish, and perfect for all four meal categories, is the frittata. A frittata is an Italian omelet, like the Spanish tortilla. It is not folded over or rolled like a French or American omelet, but the principles are similar. Simply, whisked eggs cooked in a pan with cheese and fillings. Unlike the French omelet, Frittatas require a two-part cooking process. The first stage of cooking is on the stove, then it goes in the oven or under a broiler to finish cooking.

There are two standard ingredients in a frittata, eggs and Parmesan cheese. Add to this foundation, inspired combinations of cooked vegetables, herbs, more cheese, cured meats, or all of the above, and a frittata turns into a substantial meal. Frittatas are a light egg pancake of goodness. It’s also a great pantry meal to use up all the leftover vegetables or pasta hiding in your refrigerator.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Reicpe

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Reicpe

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe

I first discovered frittatas in the mid 1980’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cucina Fresca by Viana La Place and Evan Kleinman. At the time, this cookbook was a novelty and showed how fresh ingredients, simply prepared, produces great tasting food. It is also a good cookbook for entertaining, because it is filled with recipes that taste great at room temperature.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe

Zucchini and basil frittata is one of their recipes. It is a light omelet, filled with garlic infused zucchini and the warm sunshine of basil. I enjoy eating it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. If I remember correctly, the first time I made it was for a bridal shower. It was so long ago. The specifics of that time have faded, but the general feeling remains: a bright sun lit room, a table full of friends, laughter, and everyone happily enjoying this new meal. This memory returns to me every time I make zucchini and basil frittata, and so I always associate celebrations, bright sunshine, and good friends whenever I make it.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe

It is an easy meal to make with your kids and won’t require too much thought before you drink your first cup of coffee. I know I need a cup of coffee before I start working with sharp knives, fire or follow new instructions. Getting the frittata out of the skillet requires the steady and large hand of an adult. But, your children will think you are a magician as you reveal the surprise frittata out from under your pan, voilà.

Making a Mother’s Day Meal try these recipes:

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Dried Fruit

Rosti with Mushrooms and Onions

Apple and Apricot Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Pink Champagne Cake

Grilled Chicken Salad with Avocado Dressing

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe
Tips for success making Zucchini and Basil Frittata

You will need a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet, or a non-stick skillet.  The frittata will need to slide or flip out the pan and the non-stick surface and sloped sides of the skillet will make it easier to work with.

Mix the eggs thoroughly with a wire whisk. You do not want streaks of egg whites throughout your cooked frittata.

Plan ahead, salt the zucchini and let it drain for 30 minutes. This is important first step that gets rid of excess moisture in the vegetables.

Cook the frittata on medium heat to prevent excess browning on the bottom and cook the eggs too quickly.

To serve as an appetizer, cut the frittata into small diamonds, or 1 ½ inch squares and offer toothpicks for easy picking.

Frittatas are perfect cooked with tomatoes, leftover pasta made with red sauce, spinach, onions, herbs, or extra cheese.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe

Zucchini and Basil Frittata Recipe

Whether you want a to make a special breakfast, luncheon, or need an appetizer, Zucchini and Basil Frittata is an unexpected dish for all appetites. Serve this frittata at your next friendly gathering and create your own associations paired with fun, family and friendship. I like to serve frittata warm, but can be served at room temperature paired with fruit, like strawberries mixed with mint or basil, or a green salad, and a baked treat such as crusty bread, muffins or pastry.

Zucchini and Basil Frittata

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner or Appetizer

Cuisine: Italian

4-6 servings

Zucchini and Basil Frittata

Zucchini and sweet basil are a wonderful combination in this frittata. The zucchini is grated, salted and squeezed of excess juice to create a quick and easy meal with warm summer flavor. This is a light meal perfect for any time of the day or occasion.

Recipe from Cucina Fresca, by Viana La Place and Evan Kleinman.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb / 453 g zucchini
  • About 1 tsp/ 4g Kosher salt
  • 4 TB / 36 g Olive oil- divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup / 29 g Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/ 2 cup / 14 g coarsely chopped basil leaves
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash dry and grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater or food processor. Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with Kosher salt. You do not need a lot of salt, about 1 teaspoon (4g), just enough to season the zucchini and cause it to release the juices. Let stand for 30 minutes. Then press the zucchini with the back of a large spoon or clean hands to remove all the excess liquid.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F
  3. Heat 2 TB (18 g) olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet, Add the minced garlic and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until the garlic is translucent and not browned. Add the zucchini and turn the heat up to medium-high heat. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally so the zucchini cooks evenly and the excess water has evaporated. .
  4. Turn off heat and remove the zucchini from the skillet. Place it on a plate to briefly cool.
  5. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, making sure the whites and yolks are well combined. Add the Parmesan, zucchini and basil to the eggs and stir to combine.
  6. Wipe out the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high, then add 2 TB (18 g) olive oil. Swirl the oil around so it coats the sides and bottom of the pan.
  7. Pour the egg mixture directly into the center of the pan, so the oil and eggs are dispersed evenly from the center out. Allow the egg and zucchini mixture to settle then run your rubber spatula around the rim to loosen it up. With the spatula at 12 o’clock, move the outer edge of the eggs towards the center, like you are making an omelet. Let the loose liquid fill in the empty space. Repeat at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. This will help the middle of the eggs cook.
  8. When the eggs are mostly congealed except for the center, place the frittata into the preheated oven. Cook until the eggs are set in the middle and lightly browned 2-4 minutes. (You could also cook it under broiler if you prefer. Watch so it does not burn).
  9. Remove the skillet from the oven and let it rest on the counter for a minute. Run a rubber spatula around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the sides from the pan.
  10. Place a plate upside down, over the top of the skillet. Place your hand centered on the bottom of the plate and hold the skillet handle in the other hand. Turn the skillet over, place the plate on the counter, then gently lift the pan up and away from the frittata.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancake with Mushrooms and Onions

What do you get when you have a cake with a creamy and delicate interior protected by a crispy caramelized exterior? You have a rösti. A potato pancake like no other. Its’ soft creamy interior holds together with just the right amount of the potato’s natural starches, creating a pancake that is tender, creamy and crunchy. Rösti originated in Switzerland and was a breakfast staple for farmers.  Now, people from all over the world enjoy these potato cakes.

I have enjoyed rosti in restaurants and wanted to see if I could recreate them for myself. After researching many recipes, I decided to use a recipe from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. His science based technique is typically spot on, inventive, and not too difficult to follow. After making his recipe a few times I picked up a few skills and some new information.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

Like life in general, the key to making a successful rösti is all about balance. They are like fritters or latkes, but are thicker and creamier. The type of potato and the technique used to prepare them, work together and create the perfect amount of starch necessary to hold the whole pancake together. Too little starch and the rösti falls apart when you cook it. Too much starch and you have a sticky pancake. Have you ever played with potato starch mixed with water? Its gooey stuff and not something you want in your pancakes.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reiccpe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

Kenji believes Russet potatoes are the best ones to use. They are high in starch and will create pancakes with fluffy interiors and crunchy outsides, like the perfect French fries. I agree with him if you follow his technique. For experimentation, I tried a different parcooking method using Russet potatoes and the results were not so great.

Rösti has essentially one ingredient and the key to keeping them intact is the initial preparation. Good sharp tools, like a mandoline or a very sharp knife will cause less potato starch from releasing. A box grater is not as sharp but does a good job cutting the potatoes into the right size.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and onions reicpe

Parcooking helps prevent the potatoes from oxidizing and give the rösti the right texture. He likes to parcook the potatoes in a microwave which is easy enough, and eliminates a step common in other recipes. I often read potatoes are grated raw, then squeezed to rid them of excess water before assembling. Parcooking potatoes gives the potato cake great texture and fully cooked potatoes throughout the pancake.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Unfortunately, my potatoes oxidized even though I sliced them with a mandoline and parcooked them in a microwave. I am not sure why, but one theory I have is my potatoes where doing what potatoes do, oxidize when exposed to air. Maybe I did not work fast enough, or my knock off Japanese mandoline needs sharpening.  After several trials, I am still working this out.

To experiment, I parcooked the potatoes whole in a microwave, let them cool, then grated them using a box grater. This produced rosti with a light and creamy color, but looked and tasted like mashed potato cakes, not a rosti.  Maybe a medium starch potato like, Yukon gold is better suited with this technique. Oh, so many variables to figure out, and so little time.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushroom and Onions reicpe

If you have a non-stick pan, it will be a lot easier to make. I do not own one and used a cast iron skillet. They are good pans to use just harder to maneuver the rösti out of the skillet. The sides of my pan are more vertical than they are slopped. My rösti had to slither up and over a cast iron mountainside before it could ease on to a plate. It required some extra encouragement with my spatula to get the rosti to “slide” out of the pan.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

As I cooked rösti, I was reminded of making a traditional Spanish tortilla. The amount of oil and the heat of the pan had to be just right so the tortilla would cook properly and slide in and out of two different skillets multiple times. Rösti has less ingredients than a Spanish tortilla, which makes the delicate balance all that more important. It is not hard to make rösti, just more particular.

Traditionally, rösti is considered a side dish, but I love to serve rösti as a meal topped with an egg and salsa. They are also delicious served with any vegetables like spinach. I used Kenji’s suggestion and mixed in a layer of mushrooms and onions because they are one of my favorite foods. I really like this idea and will make it a staple feature whenever I make them.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Serve rösti as an appetizer with garlic or saffron aioli. It is a delicious small plate option for any cocktail party.  Add smoked or cured fish, pickles, eggs, vegetables, aioli, and your guests have a satisfying and unexpected meal.

I would love to hear from you about your experience making rösti. Let me know in the comments section below the recipe how you like to prepare rösti. Enjoy!

Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch

Cuisine: Swiss

4-6 servings

Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions

Rösti can be served for any meal at any time of the day. It is a great brunch food when served with eggs or sausage, or a delicious appetizer with saffron aioli. My favorite way to eat it is with a poached egg and tomatillo salsa or saffron aioli.

You can serve this plain without the mushrooms and onions if you wish.

The rösti recipe is from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Best eaten hot off the skillet.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium russet potatoes, l lb- 1.5 lbs /680 g rinsed peeled and cut with a box grater or mandolin
  • 5 Tb/ 62 g olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 oz / 125 g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the prepared potatoes in a microwave dish and cook on high for around 5 minutes. You do not want the potatoes overcooked and mushy, they should still have a slight bite in the center.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tb olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms and onions until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, around 6 - 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to mix and cook until you begin to smell the garlic's perfume. Remove the mushrooms and onion from the pan and set aside.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean and return it to the burner. Turn the heat to medium and add 2 Tbs to the skillet. Heat the oil until shimmering. Make sure there is an even coating of oil across the whole pan, then spoon half of the potatoes into the skillet. Press down on the potatoes with a rubber spatula and form the potatoes into a pancake. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread the mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes to cover the mushrooms and onions, then press down on the potatoes to cover the top of the pancake.
  4. Cook the rösti on one side for around 7 minutes. Do not disturb the pancake for at least 4 minutes into the cooking time. After 7- 8 minutes, run a thin spatula around the edges and underneath the potatoes to loosen it from the bottom.
  5. Slide the potatoes onto a plate large enough to hold the rösti. Place another plate, upside down, on top of the plate holding the rosti, so the rims are kissing each other. Flip the plates over, so the bottom plate is now the top and lift off the plate. You should see a beautiful golden brown crusty rösti.
  6. Wipe off any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan and add 2 Tbs olive oil.
  7. When the oil is shimmering, slide the rösti back into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Cook for 7 more minutes.
  8. When finished, loosen the rosti from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate.
  9. Keep warm or serve immediately.
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