Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

In the US roast pork has several names: roasted pork, slow roasted pork, pulled pork, Italian pork roast, Roman Style pork roast, the list goes on. In Italy, especially central Italy around Rome, roast pork has one name, Porchetta, [por’ ketta]. According to Wikipedia, Porchetta  , the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali has designated Porchetta to be a “traditional agricultural-alimentary product” of Italy.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Traditionally, Porchetta is a major production to make. A whole pig is gutted, deboned, massaged with garlic, lemon, wild herbs like fennel, and sometimes other meats. Then it is reshaped and cooked on a spit over an open fire. It is a meal that is served for a celebration, as well as a street food sold out of vans. Currently, you can find white vans all over Italy, but especially Rome, selling Porchetta sandwiches from the van. A special occasion meal turned Italian street food for the world to love.

I have yet to enjoy a Porchetta sandwich in Italy, but I am confident someday I will. Until that time, I can make a scaled down adaptation of Porchetta in my home. You don’t need to break down a whole pig, and you don’t need a fire pit with a rotisserie to enjoy this meal. Thanks to the fortitude of Italian immigrants and enterprising chefs, like Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, us homebodies can create this Italian Roast Pork without it being a major production.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs reicpe

Following a recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, I started making my roasted pork with a pork shoulder. I had the butcher butterfly it to easily spread the herbs throughout the pork, then refrigerated the pork to marinate overnight. I baked it in the oven the next day with root vegetables. The final result was a scaled-down Porchetta, a succulent roast pork with golden crispy skin and filled with herbs and lemon.

Porchetta: Italian Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Judy Rodgers does not butterfly her pork shoulder. Instead, she creates pockets throughout the pork shoulder to stuff with the herbs. I thought it would be easier to spread the seasoning all over the meat with it open in one big flat piece. I also wanted to have extra herbs to rub over the top layer of fat. Did I mention the golden crispy skin? The kind you want to pick at when no one is looking. Getting extra crispy and golden skin is one of your goals creating this roast pork.

Rosat Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Keys to Success: Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

There are some key elements to keep in mind. First, Porchetta is all about the dark crispy skin. It is difficult to find pork shoulder that has not had the fat trimmed off. If you have a good butcher, then you can get quality pork with a thick layer of fat on top. Yet, if you are like me and dependent on the grocery store to supply your meat, you can still create succulent roast, but lacking some of the cracklings. Once the pork roast is tied, rub olive oil and any extra herbs over the top.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

If you have a built-in rotisserie in your grill or oven, you are a lucky person. This recipe for roast pork shoulder is perfect for roasting on a revolving spit. The results will be closer to the traditional Porchetta, and you will get dark crispy skin all around your roast.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Several recipes for Porchetta have you cook the pork to an internal temperature of 180˚F/ 82˚C. However, this recommendation comes from chefs who are sourcing high-end quality pork. It is not the pork commonly available, and affordable, to the average person. Pork roast, cooked to 180˚F is a well done piece of pork. If you cook with pork sourced from a small farm that allows the pigs to graze and bred for flavor, therefore has more fat, the high internal temperature should not dry out the pork. In my opinion, most grocery stores do not sell pork containing the same amount of quality fat. If cooked too long the roast will dry out. The best practice roasting standard pork, is to finish baking when the internal temperature reaches 160˚F -165˚F/ 74˚C.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Finally, traditional Porchetta is stuffed with wild herbs. If you have fennel pollen, or know where to get some, I highly recommend substituting the fennel seed with fennel pollen. You will not need as much fennel pollen, because it is more concentrated in flavor. It is not too overbearing because there is more of a floral flavor in the pollen, than an anise one. I love to use fennel pollen in roasts. It is also great sprinkled over goat cheese. If you do buy fennel pollen, it will be worth it as there are plenty of ways to use it up.

One does not have to go to Italy to enjoy Porchetta. You can make it right in your own home. If you do, thank your nation’s Italian heritage. They brought their traditional foods with them to have and share for their new life in a foreign country, and we have all benefited from their journey.

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Enjoy Porchetta in New York City.

Porchetta: Italian Roast Pork

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

6-8

You will be more than satisfied if you take the extra time to season a pork roast with herbs and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The pork will be well seasoned and will develop great flavor. I never miss an opportunity to roast vegetables with any roast. Vegetables add extra flavor to the pan juices and get seasoned with the juices and fat from the roast.

Cooking time will depend on the size of your pork shoulder. If you have a temperature probe with your oven, you will be able to gauge the cooking time without always having to take the pork out and check it with an instant read thermometer.

Ingredients

  • One 3-4 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder, butterflied
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest from 1 ½ lemons
  • 18 leaves of fresh sage, crushed and minced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 tsp fennel seeds, gently crushed
  • 1 ½ Tbs capers, rinsed and patted dry
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 lbs of assorted vegetables cut into large chunks for roasting, (onions, carrots, parsnips, fennel, turnips, potatoes, etc...)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 - 3 Tbs Dry Vermouth or dry white wine

Instructions

    Preparation
  1. Open the butterflied pork shoulder with the top fat layer on the bottom and cut side up, and lie flat on a work surface. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt evenly over the whole section. If your pork shoulder is smaller than 3.5 pounds, use less salt. Let it rest on the counter while you prepare the herb mixture.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon zest, minced sage, mince rosemary, fennel seeds, and rinsed capers. Stir and crush the herbs until evenly combined. Sprinkle the herb mixture evenly over the opened pork shoulder, reserving some for the top. Roll up the pork to resemble its natural shape, with the fat side up. Secure the pork with kitchen string by tying it in 4 or 5 sections around the width at one inch intervals. Make one more loop around the length of the pork, looping the string around a couple of the tied sections so the string will not slip off. Tie the ends and secure. Trim any loose string. Sprinkle the outer surface of the pork with the remaining herb mixture and ground pepper.
  3. Put the pork in a dish, like a Pyrex baking dish, then loosely cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
    Roast
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F / 175˚C / Gas Mark 4
  2. Cut the vegetables into large bite size pieces or wedges. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl. Lightly coat them with olive oil and season with Kosher salt. Toss the vegetables to evenly mix.
  3. Place the pork roast in a 12 inch - 14 inch oven proof skillet, or medium roasting pan. Add the vegetables around the pork. Put the pan with the pork in the oven and roast until done. After 45 minutes if you notice the roast is not browning turn the heat up to 375˚F /190˚C / Gas Mark 5 until the roast starts to brown. Then turn the heat back down to 350˚F.
  4. After one hour of cooking, turn the vegetables around in the pan to get well coated with the rendered fat from the roast. Check the internal temperature of the pork. This will help you gauge how much longer you will need to bake the pork. Put it back in the oven. At the hour and a half mark, add ½ cup of stock to the pan. If you believe the vegetables are done, remove them before you add the stock. Add any extra herbs like rosemary or sage to the liquid. Bake until the roast is done, with the internal temperature of 160F -165˚F / 74˚C. The pork will be golden brown with crispy skin.
    Make the pan sauce
  1. Separate and remove the fat from the remaining pan juices. Add about 3 tablespoons of dry Vermouth and the remaining 1/2 cup stock. Set the skillet on a burner and turn the heat to medium. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with a wooden spatula or spoon to dissolve all the caramelized bits. Skim off as much fat from the liquid as the sauce simmers. Carefully add any juice that has accumulated on the carving board from the pork roast to the pan juices. Taste and correct the seasoning and put in a spotted serving dish. The sauce could take around 5 - 10 minutes to make.
    Serve
  1. Remove the string that is tied around the length of the roast and the first string located closest to your carving end. Slice the pork into slices no thicker than ½ inch. Remove the strings as you carve.
  2. Serve with the roasted vegetables and pan sauce.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/roast-pork-with-lemon-and-herbs/

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

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

It won’t take long to muscle your way through a big bowl of these spicy mussels. Chances are, your bowl will be empty before you realized you started. Eating this shellfish can consume ones’ attention, especially when they are steamed in wine, garlic, and spices. No one wants to miss out of getting every drop and morsel of the flavorful broth. It is a fun and messy affair, but well worth it.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

I have grown to realize people either love mussels, or refuse to eat them. In the past, clams and oysters had a better reputation, because eating mussels was considered risky behavior. Only Gods like Hercules should eat them, for they were invincible to everything. For the longest time, I was a member of that camp. They just did not appeal to me. Fortunately, I have grown-up and changed my attitude.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

When I was a child, I saw mussels everywhere anchored to pillars, rocks and boats throughout the intertidal zone. I believed they were the strangest creatures around. At low tide, I would play under the docks, looking for the perfect skipping rock and other hidden treasures. I saw colonies of mussels tightly glued on pillars, like bunches of grapes ready to be picked. Purposefully, I would attempt to pull one off, and always fail. How they managed to cling so tightly to every surface along the shoreline intrigued me. Their beards were thin and stringy, and I was dumbfounded at the holding strength of the tiny fibrous strands. If someone told me back then, mussels were alien creatures from another galaxy, I would have believed them. The thought of eating these sea creatures never crossed my mind.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Several years ago, I was researching healthy foods and mussels kept showing up as a superfood. Based on my research I became more open-minded to try them. After all, how can I have an opinion on something I know nothing about? Fortunately, I did change my mind, because now I love them. Unlike clams, they are very tender and slightly sweet with lots of protein, low in fat, and tons of beneficial nutrients.

There are many ways I like to prepare mussels, and this recipe with chorizo sausage is just one in a collection. One of the best aspects of cooking with mussels, is you do not really need a recipe to create a delicious meal. Exact amounts are not necessary. Put them in a pot with a little liquid and garlic and you have an easy dinner. My recipe is a little more involved than that, but still simple to execute. I have written this recipe as a guideline for you to learn the process and hopefully inspire you.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Tips for Success Cleaning and Eating Mussels

Where to get mussels? If you are lucky enough to know a secret spot along the coast where you live, this will be your freshest option. Please only take what you need and be aware of the health of the waters you harvest in.

The most available option is to buy mussels at the store. The ones that are most common are from, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Mussels from PEI are farm raised, reliable and sustainable. They are also a great bargain with a 2 lb bag costing around $7.00. Harvesting date and best used by dates are provided on the label of each bag.  Ask the fishmonger to pack them in ice, if they have not already done so.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Care and cooking: As soon as you get home, take the mussels out of the plastic bag and store loosely in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel. Put the bowl immediately in the refrigerator. No plastic wrap, and not submerged in water. If you are keeping them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, pour out any accumulated water from the bottom of the bowl.

When you are planning to cook the mussels, inspect each one and clean them. Most farm raised mussels come cleaned, but they still need a once over for stray grit and beards. Run cold water over the mussels and inspect for broken shells, grit and the beard along the straight edge of the shell. Slice off any stray beards with a sharp paring knife.  Throw out any mussels with broken shells.

If a mussel shell opens, tap the top of the shell with your finger. If the shell does not close, throw it away. Store the clean mussels in the refrigerator in a bowl loosely covered with a towel until you are ready to cook them.

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Recipe

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

4 large main course servings, or 8 first course servings

Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo

Mussels steamed in wine, tomatoes, garlic and spices creates a delicious broth that will have you licking your fingers. The chorizo adds some warmth and kick to the mussels, providing more depth of flavor. If you are cooking for non pork eaters, this meal is just as delicious without the sausage. Serve with a salad and lots of crusty bread to soak up all the sauce. You will need extra napkins.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs / 1k mussels
  • 2 Tbs olive oil divided
  • 1/2 lb / 225g chorizo sausage
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 6 medium size garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1 1/2 cups / 250 - 375ml dry white wine like sauvignon blanc
  • 8 tomatoes from a 28oz can of whole tomatoes (or 8 fresh plum tomatoes)*
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Small pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • two sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • Finely grated zest from one lemon, and juice from half a lemon
  • 1 long strip of orange zest (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 4 oz / 125g watercress, or arugula, or swiss chard, thick stems removed and rouch chopped

Instructions

  1. Before cooking, clean and inspect the mussels. Check for grit and stray beards. Discard any mussels that have broken shells and the ones that the shells remain open after tapping them with a finger. Put the cleaned mussels in a bowl loosely covered with a cloth, no plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until you are about to cook them.
  2. Remove the casings from the sausage. Pour 1 Tbs of olive oil in a Dutch oven and turn the heat up to medium high. Add the chorizo sausage and cook, stirring often to break the sausage up. Continue to break up the chorizo while the sausage cooks to get different size pieces that resemble cooked ground beef. Remove the chorizo from the pot and reserve for later. Taste the cooked chorizo to see how spicy the sausage is so you will know how to adjust the seasoning for your broth.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil and turn down the heat to medium. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally so the onions don't brown. Cook the sausage until they soften and look translucent, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until the garlic begins to release its scent, about one minute.
  4. Pour in 1 cup / 250 ml of white wine and deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to boil down slightly for a couple of minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme bundle, pinch of saffron, orange zest, and lemon zest.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into irregular bite size pieces, then add the tomatoes to the pot with the wine and onions. Reserve the juices from the can to thin the broth if necessary.
  6. Bring the tomatoes to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Simmer the tomato sauce for 15 minutes so all the flavors blend. Half way through the simmering, taste the tomato sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may need a small pinch of granulated sugar, (1/2 tsp) if the tomato sauce tastes to sharp. Add more salt, paprika and red pepper flakes if more punch is needed, or based on how spicy the chorizo is.
  7. After the tomato sauce has simmered taste for the balance of flavors. Add more wine if the sauce need to be a little thinner. The mussels will also emit their own juices so don't make the sauce thin. Add the cooked sausage and turn the heat up to medium high. Bring the sauce to a full boil then add the mussels. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened. No peeking under the lid for the first 5 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately in bowls with crusty bread and a spoon, and lots of napkins. Mussels are best eaten the same day it is made.

Notes

If you want to cook with fresh tomatoes, cut plum tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Rough chop the tomatoes for irregular shaped pieces.

The meal can be made ahead of time up to the point of adding the mussels. Keep the tomato sauce in the pot covered in the refrigerator if you will be saving it for longer than one hour. Keep the mussels in the refrigerator up to the minute you are ready to add them into the pot to cook.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/spanish-inspired-mussels-with-chorizo/

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

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce

Have you ever heard of wild sea spinach? I hadn’t until I read about it in, The Forgotten Skills of Cooking, by Darina Henry. Wild sea spinach grows along the coastline of Ireland, and other countries in the UK. Another species of wild spinach grows in New Zealand and parts of Asia. Sea spinach is related to most cultivated beets. However, casting family lines aside, prepare sea spinach the same way as cultivated spinach. Darina has made me so curious about wild sea plants. I wonder how they taste and if they are salty from being bathed by the sea.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce recipe

Anyway, I saw a recipe of hers where she prepares wild sea spinach in a butter sauce and serves it spooned over oven poached sea trout. Maybe I am a romantic at heart, but the idea of cooking vegetables and fish from the local coastal area made me want to jump into the cookbook and be there. If you read my post about crispy potato skins, you know about my fantasy wanting to forage wild plants with Darina. It is very possible this recipe could have been the one that got my fantasy in full gear.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce recipe

In Darina recipe, she poaches a whole sea trout “en papillote”. This is a technique where you wrap fish in foil or parchment paper and bake it in the oven. I love to prepare fish using this technique. The fish is very moist and the natural juices accumulate in the pouches. I have never poached a whole fish en papillote before. My visual of a whole salmon wrapped in foil is rather massive and would be hard to handle. For my purposes, I decided to scale the recipe down.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce recipe

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce

Salmon filets are a great substitute for sea trout. I also believe arctic char or small rainbow trout would work too. Perhaps, I may have to go to the UK to get sea spinach, but now and then sea trout is available in our stores in the Northeast US. I substituted baby spinach to replace the sea spinach. It may not have the ocean saltiness, but the baby spinach has a wonderful smoothness and flavor in a butter sauce.

The spinach butter sauce is an adaptation of a beurre blanc, a French white butter sauce, and is traditionally served with fish. It is not difficult to make, but you must be patient and not let the butter get too hot. While I am whisking in the butter, I usually move the pan on and off the heat to control the temperature. It is important to keep whisking away until the butter is all incorporated. Your whisking, and keeping the temperature low, are the keys to get the butter emulsified in the sauce.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce recipe

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach butter Sauce

Baked salmon with spinach butter sauce is a delicate and rich dish. Because the spinach sauce must stay warm, and is not easily reheated, it is not a meal that can easily be made ahead. It is possible to cook the fish ahead and serve at room temperature. However, the spinach butter sauce must be warm. I have read that a thermos will help keep the butter sauce warm, or placed in a double boiler on very low heat. Ultimately, it is best to eat salmon with spinach butter sauce as soon as it is done.

This is an elegant meal, and I believe a treat to be served on occasion. Serve along with baby potatoes boiled in salted water then drizzled with olive oil and herbs. You need the boiled potatoes because whatever amount of sauce the salmon does not soak up, the potatoes will. You should not serve this meal with anything else that is rich and fancy. The spinach butter sauce is all the embellishment you need.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce recipe

A delicious dinner of oven poached salmon with spinach butter sauce, boiled baby potatoes with parsley and chives, green salad with a light dressing, white wine, and good company. Your special dinner is ready.

Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

4-6 servings

Serving Size: 4- 8 oz servings or 6- 5 oz servings

Fish wrapped in foil or parchment paper packets, en papillote, then baked in the oven is a great way to cook fish. The fish stays moist and the natural juices accumulate in the pouches. The spinach butter sauce adds a luxurious element and compliments the fish nicely. Perfect with boiled baby potatoes.

This recipe is slightly adapted from The Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen

Ingredients

  • 5 oz / 150g baby spinach
  • 2 lbs / 1 kilo salmon filet, or one side of arctic char
  • Kosher Salt
  • 4 tarragon sprigs, divided
  • Fennel Fronds (optional)
  • ¼ cup/ 60 ml dry vermouth or dry white wine (optional)
  • 5 Tbs butter plus 1 Tbs
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml heavy cream
  • 1 lb / 455 g fingerling potatoes
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1 Tbs minced chives
  • About 2 Tbs chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F / 190˚ C / Gas Mark 5
  2. Wash and remove the stems from the spinach. Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water for one minute after the pot returns to a boil. Drain the spinach then shock in ice water. Place the blanched spinach on a clean flour sack towel, or thin kitchen towel, to dry, then squeeze out all the water from the spinach. Finely mince the spinach and set aside.
  3. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is at least 6-8 inches (20 cm) longer in length, and wider, than your piece of fish. Lay the aluminum foil on a sheet pan, large enough to hold your piece of fish, and smear half a tablespoon of butter across the center part of the foil. Place the salmon on the buttered surface and smear, or dot, the surface of the salmon with a half tablespoon of butter. (If your piece of fish is larger or your a cooking a whole fish, you will need more butter). Sprinkle the salmon with salt and scatter half of the tarragon leaves over the salmon and some fennel fronds. (If you are cooking a whole fish, add the herbs and salt in the cavity of the fish). Add the vermouth or wine if using.
  4. Cover with another piece of aluminum foil and fold in and crimp the 4 sides of the foil to create a tight seal.
  5. Place the fish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your fish. Start checking to see if your fish is done at 20 minutes. Press down on the top of the salmon at it thickest part. If it feels tender but firm with some give, then the salmon is done. Once the salmon is done cooking, take it out of the oven and let it rest in the foil for 10 minutes. You can take the salmon out of the oven slightly before it is done, as it will continue to cook while it rests.
  6. In the meantime, mince the remaining tarragon and set aside.
  7. Boil some salted water in a saucepan large enough to hold all your potatoes. Add the fingerling potatoes, whole, to the salted boiling water and cook until done. Depending on the size of the potatoes, they could be done between 10 and 20 minutes. The potatoes are done when you pierce them with a knife, and the knife slides easily in and out of a potato without resistance. Check several potatoes to determine if they are all cooked. Drain the potatoes, and when cool enough to handle but still hot, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, chopped parsley and minced chives.
  8. While the salmon and the potatoes are cooking, make the spinach sauce. Add the heavy cream to a wide mouth saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. Carefully bring the cream to a boil. Once the cream starts to boil turn the heat slightly down, simmer until the cram is reduced by half its volume, ¼ cup. Once reduced, add the minced spinach and remaining tarragon and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low then add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, to the sauce and whisk in completely. Once the butter is thoroughly whisked in, add another knob of butter then whisk and repeat whisking it in. Repeat until all the butter is emulsified in the sauce. While you are making the sauce, watch the heat carefully and whisk constantly, you do not want the butter to get too hot or it will separate or brown. Once the fish is rested, carefully pour out some of the juices from the fish into the sauce, then whisk until combined.
  9. Place the fish on a platter and spoon the spinach butter sauce over the fish. Put any leftover sauce in a bowl for your guests to help themselves. Serve with the boiled potatoes.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/salmon-with-spinach-sauce/

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

Not My Mother’s Swedish Meatballs

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

I have a distinct food memory for Swedish Meatballs. Not the ones Mom made when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s. Her meatballs were made using the 1960’s secret ingredient in everything, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Now I enjoyed Mom’s Swedish meatballs, enough to order them in a restaurant as an adult, but hers had a familiar taste. They always reminded me of something we ate before, like the chicken enchilada casserole or baked chicken and mushroom dinner. Individual flavors did not stand out. Everything tasted “good” but that was it. No wow factor. My Swedish meatball memory is significantly different.

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Joe and I were eating at a restaurant one night after a long work day. This was in the time before we became parents and could eat out during the week. I do not remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a wine tasting bar and very different from all the restaurants in the Mt Kisco, NY vicinity. It was a great place to go. I loved their idea creating a bar focused on wine and served small plates. This restaurant was open before tapas and small plate establishments were popular. Sadly, the bar did not last very long. Maybe it was a restaurant before its time.

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

I ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon and a small plate of Swedish meatballs. They were a revelation. I have no idea if they were authentic or not, but the meatballs were bathed in a light cream and fresh dill sauce. The fresh dill in the Swedish meatballs changed everything for me.  It transformed a rich and traditional meal, to a fresh and light dinner that was truly unexpected. Not a can of Campbell’s soup in sight.

Fresh dill and I have an on again off again relationship. When I was in my early 20’s I cooked with dill all the time. It got to be too much, so I stopped eating dill. Fortunately, I adapted and appreciate fresh dill not only with fish, but in stews and chicken. Every time I eat dill it surprises me, as if I had forgotten what it tastes like. The flavor of dried dill must still be seared in my brain. Thankfully, now when I eat fresh dill, it is always a welcome surprise and not a recurring nightmare.

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Honestly, what excites me about cooking is using fresh herbs.  Adding, fresh herbs differentiate food from the walking the same routine to dancing with happy feet. The fresh herb flavor elevates the meal to new levels and defines the foundation, like hearing Mavis Staples singing, “I’ll Take You There”. Food, like music, ground you and lift you up at the same time, and there is always a welcome invitation.

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Recipe Development for Swedish Meatballs

Is my recipe for Swedish meatballs authentic? Maybe, I am not positive. Based on my research, traditional Swedish Meatballs are spiced with allspice or nutmeg, a blend of different ground meats, cooked in a gravy with or without cream, and served with Lingonberry Jam. I researched many recipes and used the similarities for my base recipe. My sauce is a total improvisation, but I believe it works. The sour cream in the sauce has such a wonderful and welcome tang. I would miss it if I made this recipe using heavy cream. Adding fresh dill to any meat dishes always adds dimension and pairs well with the lightly blended meat and sour cream.

Based on my experience making meatballs, I decided to try a different technique recommended by Daniel Gritzer from Serious Eats. Instead of baking the meatballs in the oven, or frying them in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of butter, I deep-fried them. Well, if you can call ½ inch of oil deep-fry, but this recommendation worked perfectly. The meatballs were evenly browned with a smooth round shape. The thin crispy exterior was the perfect thickness protecting the tender meat inside. Also, frying the meatballs got rid of my typical problem of having too much flour coating the meatballs. Joe is our in-house meatball expert and loved them a lot. He especially liked the contrast of the crispy exterior and the tender and juicy interior.

Not My Mother's Swedish Meatball Recipe

Whether or not my version can authentically be labeled Swedish Meatballs, I believe they are respectful to its history. What matters to me, is they are a welcome change and fun challenge for me to make. It is not a fancy dinner, but a pleasing one with enough distinct and delightful flavors to have its own identity. Careful, they are quite addictive. It was hard for me to stop nibbling them while I was photographing the Swedish meatballs.  If Mom were here enjoying a dinner of Swedish meatballs with us, I am certain she would like them so much she would lick her plate clean.

Not My Mother’s Swedish Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

52 small meatballs

Serving Size: 3 meatballs for an appetizer, 6-8 for dinner

Not My Mother’s Swedish Meatballs

Delicately flavored Swedish meatballs with a welcome tang from sour cream combined with a bright taste of fresh dill. Deep frying the meatballs creates a light and crispy exterior that protects the tender and juicy meat inside.

Serve Swedish meatballs with buttered egg noodles and a dark green vegetable.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbs butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2-3 Tbs flour
  • 1 Tbs oil used for frying
  • 2 cups beef broth plus extra
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher or Flakey Sea Salt to taste
  • Fresh Ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 sprigs of fresh dill, minced

Instructions

  1. Put the milk and the bread crumbs in a small bowl and let them soak for a few minutes.
  2. Add 2 Tbs butter to a small skillet and add the minced onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and softened. Turn off heat and slightly cool the onions.
  3. Add the ground beef, ground pork, milk soaked bread crumbs including the milk, the egg, nutmeg, minced parsley, Kosher salt, and ground pepper to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor.
  4. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are just combined. Turn the speed to medium high and mix for about one minute.
  5. Roll the ground meat mixture into small meatballs the size of a walnut, about 1 inch in diameter. Place the rolled meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Wet your hands with water to keep the ground meat from sticking to your hands while you are working.
  6. Turn the oven on to 200˚F and place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack.
  7. Use a 12-inch skillet and pour in vegetable oil until the oil reaches a depth of ½ inch. Heat the oil to 350˚F.
  8. Fry the meatballs until they are evenly golden brown and have the internal temperature of 160˚F. This will take about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs. While frying the meatballs, turn the meatballs over so they get evenly browned. A fish spatula is perfect tool to guide the meatballs over. You will need to fry the meatballs in batches, and being careful not to crowd the pan. I cooked 9-10 meatballs at a time in my 12-inch skillet.
  9. When done, remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon, or spider, and place on the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven. I found it easier to transfer the meatballs to the oven in two steps. First, I removed the meatballs from the skillet and placed onto a dinner plate. Then I used the plate to transfer the meatballs into the oven and roll them off the plate and onto the rimmed baking sheet. (The plate was also useful as a staging area to check the internal temperature of the meatballs. Additionally, if red juices dripped out of the meatballs I knew more cooking time was needed.)
  10. Repeat frying the meatballs in batches until all the meatballs are cooked. Make sure the oil in the skillet reaches close to 350˚F each time you start a new batch.
  11. Keep the meatballs warm in the oven while you are making the sauce.
  12. In another skillet or Dutch oven, add 1 -2 Tbs of the oil used to fry the meatballs with. Add 2 Tbs of butter and turn the heat up to medium. When the butter is melted add 3 Tbs flour and stir into the butter with a wire whisk. Cook the flour and butter until the mixture is a nice light brown color and you do not smell the flour, about 2-3 minutes. Pour 2 cups of the beef broth into the butter and flour and whisk the ingredients until it is smooth and incorporated, do not let it boil.
  13. Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and mix together. Taste for salt and add Kosher salt, a small pinch at a time, to correct the seasoning.
  14. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream. Taste and correct the seasoning if needed. Add more beef broth if it is too thick for your taste. Place the pan back on the burner and turn the heat on low. Add the minced dill and stir.
  15. Add the meatballs and mix together with the sauce. Correct your seasoning to taste and serve.

Notes

The meatballs can be made a head in two ways. 1- Cook the meatballs and refrigerate them until you are ready to serve them. When ready, make the sauce 30 minutes before you want to serve them, and heat up the meatballs in the sauce. 2: Prepare the meatballs and the sauce in a Dutch oven. Cool the Swedish meatballs, cover with the lid, then refrigerate until needed. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Put the covered meatballs in the oven and warm up. About 30 minutes. Check the warming meatballs to make sure they are not drying up. Add more beef stock if needed.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/not-mothers-swedish-meatballs/

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

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

What I love about cooking is its split personality. Cooking requires technical precision, but also a certain amount of flexibility. It seems like an odd arrangement, but both precise technique and the ability to be spontaneous and adapt, happily co-exist when the heat is on. Technique, experience and intuition dance together and enlighten the cook toward a delicious masterpiece.

Inspiration and real-time situations influence a cook’s technical strengths and creativity. How many creative works of art and scientific truths have evolved out of “mistakes”? And, where would the world be without the creative spirit to “fix” them? I do my best to plan and be prepared whenever I start to cook a meal. However, I can’t tell you how many times I started cooking something and realized I was missing one or more of the required ingredients, the chicken went bad overnight, or had the wrong size pan. Damn, now what? A quick survey of the situation and my pantry, something unintended develops and who knows could be a new family favorite.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

I rely on recipes I call my foundations. These recipes can easily adapt to any of life’s unexpected adventures, or my creative whims. One foundation recipe is Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel. I fall in love with roasted fennel every time I eat it, and this recipe is no exception. The subtle sweetness of the fennel compliments the richness of the caramelized shallots and roasted chicken. I will also seek out any excuse to use fresh tarragon. Still, the bones of the recipe allow me to develop many reincarnations at whim or by necessity.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is not complicated to make, or have a lot of speciality ingredients. A total bonus is, it does not require my full attention while it is cooking. Yet, there are a couple of technical factors that will influence the recipe’s outcome. The obvious one is knowing when the chicken is properly cooked. Undercooked chicken will make you sick and overcooked chicken is chewy and dry. The not so obvious influence is the baking pan.

Tips for Success making Oven Baked Chicken

In this instance size, does matter. The size and type of pan will determine how long the chicken will cook, and how it will cook. The higher the sides the more pan juices will develop. Too large of a pan and the juices will dry up.  A pan that is too small will not allow for enough air circulation to achieve crispy skin and have the chicken cook properly.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel recipe

I baked eight pieces of chicken with all the vegetables in a roasting pan that was 16″ x 11” x 1 1/2″ (41cm x 27.5 cm x 4 cm) in size. The finished meal was perfectly baked chicken with crispy skin, caramelized shallots and plenty of pan juices. Yet, being flexible is my mantra so use whatever baking pans you have. The size of the pan is more important, than the type of pan. Hopefully you have a baking dish with sides. If you only have small pans, divide the recipe between two pans. The outcome might be slightly altered, but more importantly you can still make this delicious baked chicken dinner without making a trip to the store.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel Recipe

Second, be observant and listen to the chicken with your senses. The chicken will tell you when it is done. Pierce the chicken at its thickest part with a fork, and take note about how much resistance you feel. The fork will slide through a perfectly cooked piece of chicken with little resistance. You should see clear liquid flowing out of the holes made by the fork. If you see cloudy or bloody juices spilling out of the chicken, the meat needs more time to cook.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Additionally, you can cut open the meat and look inside. It is better to cut across one piece of chicken then serve undercooked chicken to your friends and family. Chicken meat that is properly cooked, is not pink or appears raw. It should be juicy as well. The meat is overcooked if it looks dry and there are no flowing juices. The internal temperature for just cooked chicken is between 165˚F and 170˚F.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel Recipe

One Pan One Meal Chicken Diner

Flexible Tips for Oven Baked Chicken

I like to follow the recipe exactly as instructed the first time I cook it. I learn about how to prepare a new dish and about the author. Learning new techniques is fun, but so is being creative and adapting to my set of circumstances. So, after the first trial run, I am comfortable adapting a recipe to fit my mood, or to what is in my pantry.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is a balanced chicken dinner accented with tarragon, vermouth, garlic and lemon. If necessary you can adjust the ingredients, including the amount of time to marinate the chicken. Don’t like vermouth, no problem switch it with a dry white wine. The fresh herbs are not available at the store, fear not and use dried herbs. Can’t find shallots, regular onions sliced into thin wedges will suffice.  No time to marinate the chicken, no worries it will still taste fine if you mix everything together right before you cook it. The depth of flavor may not be as intense, but it will be satisfying and delicious.

 

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Chicken Recipe

Cooking a meal should not be stressful. I always say use what you’ve got and enjoy the process. Technique is your friend that sets the foundation but also allows you to be creative and adapt to any of life’s mistakes and adventures.

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

6 - 8 servings

Serving Size: 1 piece of chicken

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

The combination of fresh tarragon, shallots, fennel and vermouth add subtle and sweet flavor to the baked chicken. If you have time, marinate the chicken and vegetables for one to four hours. Not to worry if time does not allow for marinating the chicken. The baked chicken will still be delicious.

Use a Pyrex like baking dish, roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet to bake the chicken. The pan should be large enough for all the chicken pieces and vegetables to fit in without being too crowded or too big.

Ingredients

  • 8 Skin on bone in Chicken Thighs or combo of breasts and chicken*
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, divided
  • Zest of half a lemon plus 1 whole lemon cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth, divided
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 fennel bulb and fronds
  • 8 small shallots

Instructions

  1. Trim the chicken thighs of extra skin and if using chicken breasts cut each breast in half. Arrange the chicken on a tray. Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with Kosher salt and let rest on the counter while you make the marinade.
  2. Peel the garlic, remove the green germ, and mince half of the garlic cloves. Place the minced garlic in the mixing bowl. Strip the thyme and tarragon leaves from their stems and finely chop. Add the herbs to the bowl. Add the lemon zest, mustard, honey, olive oil, ground pepper and 1/4 cup vermouth to the bowl and whisk together until incorporated.
  3. Cut the fennel bulb in half, remove the core and thinly slice the bulb, no more than a 1/4 inch. Reserve the fennel fronds and set aside.
  4. Peel each shallot then cut each bulb in half. Set aside with the fennel.
  5. Add the chicken to the marinade then use your clean hands and mix the chicken until each piece is thoroughly coated with the marinade. Add the sliced fennel, remaining garlic cloves, and shallots then mix them all together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for 1 - 3 hours. Marinade the chicken in the refrigerator if longer than one hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 F, 15 minutes before you want to bake the chicken.
  7. Spread the chicken, fennel and shallots over a large roasting pan that is just large enough to accommodate all the chicken without crowding the pan. You can slip the fennel under the chicken.
  8. Place the lemon wedges around the pieces of chicken, fennel fronds and the remaining 1/4 cup of vermouth to the roasting pan.
  9. Bake the chicken and vegetables for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with pan juices and bake for 20 more minutes. Check to see if the chicken is done. The chicken is done when piercing the chicken with a fork, there is little resistance and the juices are clear. The internal temperature should be between 165F and 170F.
  10. When done, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve the chicken with the fennel, shallots and lemon, drizzled with remaining pan juices.

Notes

If you prefer, you can make this dish with boneless and skinless chicken thighs. Reduce the oven temperature to 400F. If the chicken did not brown as much as you like put the chicken and vegetables under the broiler for a couple of minutes. I do not recommend making this with boneless chicken breasts because they will cook to quickly and the vegetables will not be done. Boneless chicken breasts get mushy if they are marinated for more than an hour.

The roasting lemon wedges with chicken adds great lemon flavor. You can eat the lemon slice rind and all. Use only lemons with a thin rind. Too much lemon pith does not taste very good.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/oven-baked-chicken-shallots-fennel/

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

Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

I am craving some cozy comfort and additional heat. My immediate options are to curl up wrapped in a blanket and read a sultry book, or I could build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy a nice cocktail with my husband.  However, dinner is pressing and although I have been known to get passionate, no one can be comforting when they are hungry. A steamy pasta dinner comes to mind. Eating pasta is always comforting, and the heat can easily be added. Putting all my available ingredients together, I can create a pasta dinner with Brussels sprouts and sausage. A plateful of comfort and spice, all bathed in olive oil, garlic and hot red pepper flakes.

Pasta Dinner with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

What I love about cooking with pasta is the ability to immediately create a meal with absolutely anything. If all you have in your pantry is a box of pasta and a can of tuna, a delicious dinner is at your fingertips. A no fuss, use what is available, pasta dinner. This recipe is an example of just that. I created a pasta dinner with spicy Brussels sprouts and sausage because, Brussels sprouts and sausage were my only options for dinner.

Pasta Dinner with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Our cupboards are not usually so sparse. We have all had those moments of staring blankly into the refrigerator or pantry, wondering what to make for dinner. Pizza delivery can often win out on such occasions.

I have to admit that for the past 33 years there has always been at least one box of pasta in my pantry. A box of pasta has saved the day more times than I can remember. With three sons who were all swimmers, a box of pasta always ready and available in my pantry, was an absolute necessity. These boys were always hungry.  If I had pasta, additional vegetables, some protein, or a can of beans, I could squelch their hunger pains with a satisfying pasta dinner in 30 minutes.

I used to despise Brussels sprouts. They smelled bad, and in my opinion had a rancid flavor. Fortunately, my attitude was surprisingly altered. A few years ago, I tasted Brussels sprouts at a holiday dinner. The Brussels sprouts were bright green with a surprising sweet flavor and I had never tasted them like that before. Since that time, I turned into a devout fan. I realized that up until that point the Brussels sprouts I was familiar with were not properly cooked. In fact, they were overcooked. Unfortunately, this happened frequently to all the prepared vegetables of my youth, and I find it amazing that I have overcome my childhood disdain for them. If the Brussels sprouts are cooked properly, they will appeal to everyone.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

Brussels Sprouts with Lardons

Now a warm blanket of a delicious pasta dinner has enveloped me. The comfort of being with my family surrounds me, and my craving pangs are subdued. However, the idea of building a fire in the fireplace and enjoying a cocktail would be an added bonus. Reading a sultry book not a bad idea either. Enjoy!

Pasta Dinner with Brussels Sprouts and Pasta

Easy Substitutes for Pasta Dinner with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Substitute the Brussels sprouts with 1 head of broccoli or cauliflower. Cut the vegetables up into bite size pieces. You can blanch the broccoli in the pasta water before you cook the pasta, then add them to the sausage in the skillet. Be careful not to overcook the broccoli.

Substitute the sausage with 6-8 oz of diced pancetta or chopped bacon. Cook them until nicely browned.

Instead of pork sausage use chicken or turkey sausage. Depending on how they are prepared, keep the chicken sausage in its casings and slice them into bite size pieces on the diagonal.

For a lighter meal, replace the sausage with 6 anchovies filets. Add the anchovies with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir the anchovies so they dissolve into the olive oil.

For a vegetarian option add walnuts or pine nuts to replace the sausage. Toast the nuts, then add them when you add the pasta.

Add some extra sweetness by adding a handful of golden raisins. They are a perfect pair with the Brussels sprouts and pine nuts.

Pasta Dinner with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

 

Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

4-5 servings as a main course

Pasta Diner with spicy Brussels sprouts and sausage is an easy dinner that can be adapted to any taste. I prefer the heated spicy additions of a pasta dinner to be a background flavor and not overpower the meal. Add more or less of the dried red pepper flakes to suit your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb box favorite pasta, such as campanelle, penne, or farfalle
  • 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lb sweet sausage*, casing removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, green germ removed and minced
  • ½ tea red pepper flakes
  • ½ tea crushed fennel (optional depending on type of sausage)
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • Zest of 1//2 a lemon
  • Small handful of parsley, chopped
  • Fresh Fennel fronds minced (optional)
  • 1 Tb butter
  • About ¼ cup reserved pasta water
  • Grated Romano Cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Trim off the ends of each Brussels sprout, remove any discolored or loose leaves, and cut into quarters. Set aside.
  2. Fill a stock pot with water. Turn heat to high and boil water.
  3. Place a 10 – 12-inch skillet on a burner and turn it on to medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot and shiny, add the sausage. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink and completely cooked through. Use a wooden spoon, or fork, to stir the sausage and break it into crumbly chunks. When just cooked through, turn off the heat and remove the sausage from the pan using a slotted spoon. Set the sausage aside on a plate, or in a bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, when the water comes to a boil add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the back of the box, making sure the pasta is al dente when finished. Frequently stir the pasta to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  5. Turn the heat back on and add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and crushed fennel. Cook briefly until you begin to smell the garlic then add the Brussels sprouts and ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt. Stir to mix the Brussels sprouts with the garlic and red pepper flakes, then allow the Brussels sprouts to cook through and get golden brown on the sides. Add extra olive oil if the pan if it is dry.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water to the pan then stir to combine. Cover the skillet with a fitted lid, and cook the Brussels sprouts until they become soft but still bright green, about 4 minutes.
  7. Uncover the pot and turn off the heat if the pasta is not ready.
  8. Once the pasta is done, collect about ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the cooked pasta back into the stock pot then add the sausage and Brussels sprouts. Stir to evenly combine then add the parsley, lemon zest, fresh fennel fronds if using, about 3 Tb of pasta water, and butter. Gently stir to combine.
  9. Serve immediately while hot with grated Romano or Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

Notes

A lot of stores and brands make their own sweet or spicy Italian sausage. I have not discovered one that I really like. The sausage is usually seasoned with an herb or spice, or other ingredient that dominates the flavor. usually that added ingredient does not go well with what I am making. Often black pepper is overwhelming and I find it to be very bitter. Thus, I usually do not buy the store brand. I have had consistent results with Premio Brand, Sweet Luganiga Sausage, or their breakfast sausage. It is available at most supermarkets in my area. A breakfast style sausage, not Jimmy Dean, is another option. If you have a favorite sausage that you prefer, please use it. However, I recommend to taste and adjust the seasoning throughout the cooking process.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/pasta-dinner-spicy-brussels-sprouts-sausage/

 

 

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

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

My family loves cod because they like the delicate taste of white fish with large flakes and sturdy body. Unfortunately for us in the Northeast US, Atlantic Cod is on Seafood Watch list of fish to avoid. I don’t usually buy frozen fish, but I came across frozen Pacific Alaskan Cod at Trader Joe’s and wanted to try it. As I mentioned in my post  Arctic Char with Basil Sauce, I try my best to buy sustainable fish when I can.  Since cod is an affordable fish and works in so many different types of recipes, I was happy to consider frozen Pacific Cod as a viable option.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

I also treated myself to a small tin of Spanish saffron and everyday I have dreamed about how to use it.  Remembering a Spanish seafood stew, I decided to prepare the cod with  Mediterranean flavors and style. Additionally, I wanted the saffron to be the primary seasoning, creating a recipe elegant enough to be served on Christmas Eve.

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Tomato and saffron are a classic Mediterranean pair. Both ingredients balance each other because of the saffron’s warmth and distinct flavor cuts the acid in the tomatoes. To be honest, I love anything made with saffron but particularly enjoy tomato saffron broth with fish. The floral scent of crocus drifts up while I am cooking with saffron, and I feel like I am walking through a field of crocuses. Put these two family favorites together, and we have a special family dinner of cod braised in tomato saffron broth.

I am a big fan of using the simple technique of braising fish of which cod is very suited for. The fish is gently cooked in a broth that is also an integral part of the meal. The chunky tomatoes make the broth more substantive, while still keeping the broth bread dunking worthy. The final result is a fish dinner that is moist, delicate and multidimensional in flavor.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

The total cooking time will vary depending of the thickness of the fish. Figure on  the total cooking time to be anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes until done. My Pacific Cod fillets ranged in size from 5 oz to 6 oz, and was at most an inch thick. They took about 8 minutes to cook. Atlantic Cod tends to be thicker at the head end and should take longer to finish cooking.  The fish is done when the meat sections gives way to the gentle pressure of your finger, and the sections begin to separate. The color of the fish will be a translucent white.

Do Ahead Tips for Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

To make life easier you can prepare the braising liquid ahead of time. About fifteen minutes before you want to eat, heat up the broth, then braise the cod.  This recipe is very easy to make and flexible in design to fit into any schedule and a great meal to make for entertaining.

For those of you who like to serve fish for Christmas Eve dinner, or any special occasion, cod braised in tomato saffron broth would be a delicious treat. To send this recipe over the top, serve with saffron aioli smeared over toasted bread. Dunk the aioli smeared baguette into the broth and delight in a double saffron indulgence. Saffron aioli with cod in tomato saffron broth is out of this world delicious. Jamie Oliver has a short cut saffron aioli recipe with his Fabulous Fish Stew. It is really easy to make using store-bought mayonnaise. The instructions for the aioli saffron begin at step 2 in his recipe.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

cod-braised-in-tomato-saffron-broth-9

Hope everyone has a wonderful Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas.  Enjoy!

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

4 4-6oz servings of cod fillet

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Cod with tomato saffron broth is a moist and delicious fish dinner. It is elegant to serve at a dinner party, or for a casual family meal. The broth can be made ahead of time then reheated to cook the fish just before you want to serve it.

Serve with thick crusted bread like at baguette and green salad. For a double saffron treat spread your baguette slices with saffron aioli. Link to saffron aioli recipe in blog.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 leek, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced across the width (can substitute with 1 shallot, minced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 28 oz / 794 g can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup / 250 ml dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml fish stock or clam juice
  • 1/2 cup/ 125 ml juice from the can of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of thyme tied together
  • 1/2 tea saffron thread
  • 1/2 tea Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tea granulated sugar (optional)
  • 4 4-6oz / 113 - 180 g cod fillets or other white fish fillets, black sea bass or halibut

Instructions

  1. Peel the garlic then slice each clove in half lengthwise. If there is a green grem remove it. Thinly slice each half across the width. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large 12" saute pan, (see note.) Add the sliced leeks or minced shallots and saute until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the the sliced garlic to the leeks and cook until it becomes fragrant, 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes, breaking up each tomato with your fingers or a knife while you add them to the pan. Add the wine, fish stock, canned tomato liquid, bay leaf, bundled thyme sprigs, saffron and Kosher salt. Stir to mix and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the sauce for about 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning. If it is too acidic add the sugar and add more Kosher salt if needed.
  4. Place the fish fillets evenly spaced in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Cook the fish fillets until just done. The amount of cooking time will depend on the how thick the cod fillets are. I cooked using Pacific cod and they were thinner than Atlantic cod. The cod was just cooked at around 7 minutes. The cod is cooked through when you pres down on the thickest part of the fillet with your finger and the flakes give into the pressure and start to break apart. The flesh will have a translucent white color.
  5. Spoon some broth in 4 large wide-mouth soup or pasta bowls. Place a fillet in each bowl with the broth. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serve with crusty french bread to help soak up the broth.

Notes

A sautee pan with its high sides is a perfect pan for braising fish. If you only have a skillet by all means give it a try, as long as you have a matching lid. Another option is to make the tomato saffron broth in whatever pan you have, then pour the broth into a large baking dish. Add the fish fillets and cover the fish with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F / 175 degrees C / Gas Mark 4, oven for 10 minutes. Check for doneness, and, if necessary, continue cooking checking every couple of minutes until done.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/cod-braised-in-tomato-saffron-broth/

 

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce

There are many Christmas Eve traditions in this country and the holiday menu is only one part of it. My childhood Christmas Eve dinner was traditionally a beef dinner. Mom would put together a simple but elegant meal of beef stew, rice or potatoes, a green vegetable, and salad. For dessert she made persimmon pudding with hard sauce. Mom steamed the persimmon cake in a clean repurposed coffee can. Why bother to buy another pan to bake one cake, when there was a perfectly useful container right at home?

One Christmas Eve stew I remember very well, is Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce. It is different from traditional American beef stew and beef bourguignon, but no less worthy of recognition. Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce had more pizzazz than American beef stew, not as rich as beef bourguignon. I can distinctly remember loving it upon first bite.

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce Recipe

 

I get very nostalgic when I think about my childhood Christmas Eve celebrations. It has been a long time since I celebrated Christmas at 10 Barner Lane, but despite the years gone by, I can clearly visualize the evening. On Christmas Eve, Dad always wore his red plaid wool vest along with his blazer and plaid bow tie. Mom wore a long red wool skirt, white ruffled blouse with black embroidered trim, and a wide black belt. The rest of us wore our best clothes that were au courant for the season. For us “kids,” getting dressed up on Christmas Eve was never a chore, or formality. Putting on one’s “party clothes” symbolized a special occasion was here and we were going to celebrate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When dad was all finished dressing for the occasion, he would kneel by the dining room cabinet, reach inside to turn on the record player, place Joan Baez’s album Noël on the turntable, and turn the volume up. Her soprano voice would confidently but gently sing out, “O come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel … Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee Israel….” With the beginning notes of her enchanting voice the party began.

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce recipe

I would wait in the dining room for dad, anticipating his arrival and turning on the Christmas music. As soon as he was near the record player I would stand by his side and watch him turn on the “Victrola” as he called it. Next to the our tradition of singing Christmas Carols around a candle lit tree, playing Joan Baez’s album was one of my anticipated events of the evening. To me it signaled the beginning of our Christmas festivities and all the glory that was to come. Joan Baez’s clear voice filled our home for all to hear.

As Mom finished preparing the dinner in the kitchen, we built a fire in the fireplace, then Dad and I would sit on the couch in the living room, he with his wassail and I with my hot cider. We sipped and listened to Joan Baez sing, and waited for the rest of the family to gather and our guests to arrive. Dad was just as excited about Christmas Eve as I was. I could always count on Dad’s routines and traditions, as I could always count on him.

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce Recipe

Mom acquired the beef stew recipe some time the in the 70’s and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. It has a simple name, Beef with Horseradish Sauce, but don’t let the simple name fool you. There are deep, subtle, and warm flavors in the stew. Hints of curry and ginger meld with the rich seared and oven stewed beef.  To add more subtle layers of flavor I added orange zest and cinnamon to infuse in the stew. I also wanted to coax out additional natural sweetness and added carrots and extra onions. The warm caramelized flavors of the spiced beef contrasted nicely with the tang of the sour cream and the bite of horseradish.

Helpful Hints Making Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce

To start the stew off, I recommend cutting the beef into three large pieces, sear the meat until golden brown, then cut the meat into smaller bite size chunks. This technique encourages the meat to sear properly and not steam in the pot. It is also a technique recommended by Serious Eats.  I found this method to be very effective and not a lot of extra work.

For the most part the stew will cook unattended in the oven, but you cannot forget about it. It is possible to overcook the meat in a stew despite the fact the beef is cooking in all that wonderful liquid. If cooked too long, the beef will get very dry and stringy. It is worth the extra effort to check on the progress of the stew meat after an hour and a half of cooking, then every 30 minutes thereafter. There is a possibility that the stew meat will reach the desired tenderness before the specified cooking time is up.

If you are making this stew a day or two ahead, you especially want to pay attention to the consistency of the stew. The additional cooking to heat the beef stew up again, for at least 30 minutes, will continue to cook and break down the beef. Stew should have discernible chunky tender pieces of beef that are just beginning to break down, not shredded and falling apart, as if for a pulled meat BBQ or a meat ragu.

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce recipe

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce Recipe

I am unable to find the origin of Mom’s recipe. Most likely it was given to her from a friend, and from there is anybody’s guess. I have hopes that this mystery recipe will develop into its own identity and begin a new life with all of you. A new American stew. A hodgepodge stew of many possible origins, with each ingredient dependent on the other to accentuate its best features, and gel together into one big interesting and flavorful stew. Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

8 - 10 servings

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce

Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce is a delicious stew with the subtle flavors of curry, fresh ginger, orange zest and cinnamon. The creamy tang of sour cream and bite of the horseradish compliments the beef and spices in the stew wonderfully.

Not knowing the recipe's origin makes me believe this stew is an American adaption of flavors from Eastern Europe, India and the USA. Beef Stew with Horseradish Sauce now has a life of its own, as I have adapted the original recipe I received from mom years ago. Mom would make this stew for special occasions and parties. I fondly remember it as the main attraction for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs/ ~2 kilos beef -chuck or top round beef
  • 4Tbs/60g butter, divided
  • 2 medium carrots washed, peeled and cut in half both ways to get 4 big pieces per carrot
  • 3 large onions, divided
  • 2 tea/~5g curry powder
  • 1 inch/2.5mm piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tb/ 30ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon Stick
  • 3 pieces on orange zest about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
  • 1 tea Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tea pepper
  • 1 cup/250 ml chicken stock
  • 1 cup/250ml dry white wine
  • 1 cup/243g sour cream
  • 2 Tb/308g prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tb chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F /150 degrees C/ Gas Mark 2
  2. Cut the beef chuck into large steak like pieces. I had two pieces of beef chuck at 2.5 lbs each. I cut each piece into three large pieces.
  3. Turn the stove up to medium high heat and melt 2 Tb of butter in a Dutch Oven. Sear the meat on both sides until golden brown. This will take several minutes on each side. Be patient and do not touch or move the beef around while it is searing. If you are using one pot you will need to brown the meat in two batches, adding the remaining 2 Tb of butter in the pot to sear the batch of meat. (See note)
  4. Remove the seared meat from the Dutch oven and cut the seared beef into equal size pieces of around 1 1/2" to 2". Set the cut meat aside and reserve for later.
  5. Cut 2 onions in half lengthwise then thinly slice the halves across the width. Saute the sliced onions in the Dutch oven with the rendered fat from searing the beef, until the onions begin to brown. Remove the sliced onions with a slotted spoon from the Dutch oven and reserve for later.
  6. Cut the remaining onion into quarters and put in the Dutch oven. Add the carrots and brown the vegetables. About 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add the minced ginger and curry powder and briefly cook for about 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, stock, white wine, orange zest, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and salt, pepper into the pot and stir to mix.
  8. Add the beef chunks and any juices that accumulated in the pan, and heat the stew on the stove until it just begins to boil.
  9. Cover the pot with a lid, very slightly ajar, and put into the preheated oven.
  10. Cook the stew for an hour and a half. At that time check the meat to see its progress and remove the carrots and onions from the stew.
  11. Add the reserved sauteed onions to the Dutch oven making sure to scrape out of the pan any accumulated juices. Stir to combine.
  12. Put the stew back into the oven and continue to cook the stew in the oven and check for doneness every 30 minutes until the meat is tender, can easily be broken up with a fork, but still retains its shape. The beef is not completely falling apart. The original recipe called for 3 hour cooking time, but every oven is different so it is a good idea to monitor the progress to not cook the beef longer than necessary. My stew was done in 2 1/2 hours.
  13. If you are making the stew ahead of time, I would recommend to stop cooking the stew by or before the 2 1/2 hour mark. You will cook the stew at a later time to heat it up and you do not want it to turn to mush. If reserving for later, Cool the stew down and put in the refrigerator, covered in the same pot, until you plan to reheat it.
  14. Before serving mix the sour cream, horseradish and chopped parsley in a small bowl until just combined.
  15. Before adding the horseradish sour cream, remove the orange peels, cinnamon stick and bay leaf from the pot.
  16. Just before serving the beef stew, add the sour cream and horseradish to the stew and stir until well combined. You could also opt to serve the horseradish sauce as a condiment on the side. That way people can opt out of the sour cream if they want to, or add the amount of sour cream they desire.
  17. Serve with buttered egg noodles, or boiled, buttered and herb red potatoes, along with a dark green vegetable like Brussels sprouts, broccoli or green beans.

Notes

I used two pans to sear the beef and divided the 4 lbs of beef and the 4 Tb of butter equally between each pan. I used a Dutch Oven and a cast iron skillet. It cut down on my cooking time significantly and if you can manage it, I recommend it. I then sauteed the sliced onions in the skillet and reserved them to add later into the stew. I continued cooking the remaining steps in the Dutch oven.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.lemonthymeandginger.com/beef-stew-with-horseradish-sauce/

 

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Tomato Sauce With Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar á la Marcella Hazan

Tomato Sauce with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary RecipeDuring this frenetic and festive holiday season, it is helpful to have a well-stocked pantry to quickly feed the family without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. If you have a can of plum tomatoes, garlic and olive oil you can cook up a tomato sauce in 15 minutes. If you have fresh or dried rosemary and balsamic vinegar, that 15-minute tomato sauce elevates into a herby infused wonderland. There is no need to call for pizza delivery, tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce mixed in with steaming bowl of penne pasta is quick, easy to make, and will warm you up on these brisk fall nights.

Tomato Sauce with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary recipe

 

Tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce is a throwback and staple recipe of mine. I used to make it a lot during the early years of my marriage for my growing family. Some recipes are timeless and will never feel out-of-place no matter how many years have passed. Tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce is such a recipe. It is a special classic.

Tomato Sauce with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary

Tomato Sauce with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary recipe

 

I discovered it in a cookbook of mine, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan dating back to 1986. Marcella Hazan is one of my cookbook authors who I attribute to teaching me about real Italian cooking. While I read and cooked through her cookbooks, I learned how simple, but not simplistic, Italian cooking is. Using only a few key ingredients and traditional techniques, it is easy to create a fresh tasting, delicious and satisfying meal. Of course there are those traditional meals that take hours to make, but most of the food I relied on, could be prepared in 30 – 40 minutes. Many of Marcella’s pasta recipes became family favorites that over time would develop into our own.

Tomato Sauce with Balsamic and Rosemary Recipe

This recipe first caught my attention because of the added balsamic vinegar and rosemary was unlike any tomato sauce I had before. From this recipe I learned about adding vinegar to a sauce or stew to brighten up the flavor of the food. Up until that time I had only used vinegar for salad dressing. I loved the additional body and bright flavor the vinegar brought out in stews and sauces, and I continue to season with vinegar in several of my other recipes.

Continue reading “Tomato Sauce With Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar á la Marcella Hazan”

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Supreme White Chicken Chili

The chili debate might be one of the most passionate food debates out there, especially if you are from Texas. The main debate is about what ingredients make up true chili. This debate does not include chili recipes that have originated from other countries, or about where and when chili came to be in the USA, but whether beans belong as an ingredient in true American chili. If you are from Texas, Texas chili is all that you need to know and Chili Con Carne does not contain beans.

Supreme White Chicken Chili Recipe

As I understand it, American chili was a meal born out of necessity and survival, and made popular with the cattle drive from Texas to California. Each cook had to make a small amount of meat stretch to feed hungry cowboys with whatever ingredients they could find along the trail, such as chili peppers, wild onions, and garlic. I learned that cattle drive cooks would plant onions, garlic and peppers in the mesquite bushes by the trail so they could replenish their supply along the way. (International Chili Society) 

In the beginning of the 20th century, chili’s popularity spread across the nation and was no longer a regional food in the western United States. Chili joints were everywhere in the nation and provided cheap food for the poor. During the depression people believed because chili was inexpensive and so widely available,  “… and the crackers were free,” chili saved more lives from starvation then the actions of the Red Cross. (Whats Cooking America, History and Legends of Chili)

Supreme White Chicken Chili Recipe

Supreme White Chicken Chili Recipe

American chili has an interesting history and probably a tall tale or two associated with its name. What is consistent is chili came from humble origins designed out of a need for survival. It started as a simple stew using any available meat, dried chili peppers and wild vegetables and has grown into a stew with multiple ingredients focused on developing deep, rich and spicy flavor.  This humble stew, with or without beans, has a devout following from all walks of like, who are ready to defend chili’s honor in Showdowns, Throw-downs, Cook-offs, and State Fairs across the landscape of this nation. Not bad for food that started out as an inexpensive means to feed the poor and the incarcerated.

Continue reading “Supreme White Chicken Chili”

© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.