Lemon Thyme and Ginger

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Every Thanksgiving I cherish a vivid childhood memory of making stuffing with Mom. After all, this special occasion only happened once a year. Helping Mom with the dinner prep had two advantages. First, getting the turkey quickly in the oven meant the rest of our day was free for outdoor playtime. The rest of the day’s activities was on hold until the turkey was ready for roasting. My parents held Thanksgiving dinner in the early evening to allow for a full day of being outside. Traditionally, we either hiked along the Marin Headlands, or played touch football at Cronkite Beach. None of that was going to happen until the turkey was prepped, stuffed, and then popped in the oven. Not even breakfast.

Mom made a standard stuffing and it was delicious. Any little helpers got to “taste test” the mix, just to make sure the seasoning was perfect. Nowadays, the FDA discourages consuming food with raw eggs, but in the 60’s and 70’s no one thought about it. I loved her uncooked stuffing just like I love eating raw cookie dough. Together we mixed the stuffing, then tasted it a couple of times, “Just to be sure.” Slyly, I sneaked in as many nibbles as I could get away with. With the savory flavors from rich stock and aromatics cooked in gobs of butter, what’s not to like?

My favorite turkey stuffing reicpe.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

My Favorite Stuffiing for Turkey recipe

Fast forward to 2017, the spirit of my childhood Thanksgiving’s traditions is ever-present, especially when I make stuffing for our holiday turkey. Faithfully, I work to replicate the flavor memory of Mom’s stuffing. It is not as easy as it sounds because my stuffing is an entirely different beast. As a small seasonal side business, Joe bakes delicious sourdough bread. His bread is my staple ingredient, along with homemade stock and lots of add-ins.

I have nothing against the store-bought bread cubes. They make consistent and delicious stuffing. Yet, I have a freezer full of Joe’s Dough Artisan Bread, and I believe you use what you got. To be honest, it is more challenging using artisan bread for stuffing, and the results are less consistent. My theory is, the airier the bread the less stock you need. To get consistent results, it is more important to pay attention to how the bread soaks up the stock, then religiously follow a recipe. The first few times I made stuffing with Joe’s bread, the stuffing was either too wet or too dry. It took me several tries to figure it out. Fortunately, my mistakes and some extra research taught me a few tricks.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Three tricks for successful stuffing

First, when toasting the bread cubes in the oven, don’t let them get too brown. They should be just starting to brown. You are not making croutons here, just drying out bread for stuffing. The browner the bread the less stock it absorbs. It seems counter intuitive, yet keep the bread cubes light in color, but completely dried out.

The second and third tricks are interconnected. Add the stock in stages and give the bread mixture time to absorb it. At first, add half the stock then let it rest 10 minutes. Then, gently toss it about and see how wet it looks. This wait period makes a huge difference in understanding how much stock you need. I remember the first time I made stuffing with Joe’s Dough Bread, I only used half the stock required in the recipe because the bread cubes appeared to be swimming in stock. Unfortunately, the stuffing baked very dry and I was disappointed. Had I waited a few minutes, I would see the bread soak up the stock. Artisan bread has its own temperament that varies from day-to-day and year to year, no matter how consistent the baker is.

If you like your stuffing on the wet side, add more stock. If you want your stuffing moist but not wet, add less stock. Keep in mind how dense your bread is as well. I am still testing this theory, but the denser the bread the more stock you need. It takes some time to figure everything out, but eventually you will get to know the look and feel of the bread and stock ratio to get consistent results.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

Do you need a gluten-free pie for Thanksgiving? Try Double Coconut Pie.

Great appetizer idea for Thanksgiving: Crispy Potato Skins 2 Ways

Stuffing variations

If you looked at stuffing recipes from around the country, you would see regional food trends and traditions. Each region uses ingredients that are abundant in their local area and lifestyle. I have a freezer full of bread, so it is my choice for stuffing. Additionally, in the Hudson Valley locally grown apples are easy to come by, and I love their sweet taste with savory herbs and aromatics. Other regions use local ingredients that are abundant in their area, like corn, oysters, sausage, wild rice, or cranberries.

Stuffing is so easy to adapt to suit your personal preference. If you want sausage, add about one pound of crumbled cooked sausage or bacon. Substitute fennel for the apples, or dried cranberries or raisins. You can also omit the apples altogether. If you do add dried fruit, soak it in some apple cider to soften it up. Also, leeks are a great substitute for onions, or use a combination of the two. Anything goes, just adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly.

My favorite turkey stuffing recipe.

In my opinion, Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without stuffing. I love it paired with gravy and cranberry sauce. The turkey may be the centerpiece of the meal, but I think it is the foundation for all the bright and savory flavors of the other side dishes.  It’s all good.

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Category: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

10-12 servings

My Favorite Stuffing Recipe

This stuffing has great depth of flavor from good quality bread, rich homemade stock and lots of aromatics like mushrooms and apples with the traditional celery and onions. A compliment of fresh herbs like sage and rosemary, add another savory dimension. If you want to replicate the flavor of old fashioned stuffing, use turkey stock to develop a taste like stuffing cooked inside the turkey. Use the recipe as a guide and add the stock in increments. Also, allow time for the bread cubes to absorb the stock before adding more stock. Use your discretion to determine the amount of stock you need, based on how moist or wet you like your stuffing.

If you desire, there is a long list of substitutions to add to your stuffing. Add 1 lb of cooked and crumbled sausage, or 1/2 lb of cooked and chopped bacon, sliced fennel, leeks instead of onions, or dried fruits. Keep in mind the herbs in your stuffing should compliment the herbs used in the other side dishes in your meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb loaf (750 g) artisan quality bread*
  • 10 TB butter (141 g) - divided, plus more for greasing pan
  • 12 oz (350 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt, divided**
  • 1 large crisp apple like Granny Smith, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 stems of parsley, roughly minced
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3-4 cups (up to 1 liter) vegetable, chicken or turkey stock**

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C and place the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
  2. Slice the bread in even one-inch slices, then tear each slice into pieces smaller than an inch. Divide and lay the torn bread evenly across two rimmed sheet pans. Place in the oven and bake until dry, but not browned, for about 25 - 30 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom half way through the baking time and turn the bread pieces over. It is ok if it the bread cubes turn very slightly brown. When done, remove the toasted bread cubes from the oven and cool. Once cool, slide the bread into a large mixing bowl. If making ahead of time, store in an air tight container for a couple of days, or freeze up to one month.
  3. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F / 175°C and move the rack to the middle position. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish. (More surface area gives you more crispy pieces on top.)
  4. Melt 2 TB (28 g) butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the liquid is released and evaporated. Remove to a small bowl or plate and reserve for later.
  5. Add the remaining 8 TB of butter (1/2 cup / 113 g) to the skillet. Once melted add the chopped onion and celery. Stir to coat. Season with up to 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Cook the onions and celery until they are very soft, about 12 minutes. Add the reserved mushrooms and chopped apples and cook until the apples are starting to get tender and no liquid is in the skillet, about 5 minutes. The vegetables should be very tender, but the apples still have some bite left in them.
  6. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine has evaporated.
  7. Turn off the heat then add the prepared herbs to the cooked vegetables. Add the vegetable mixture to the toasted bread cubes and gently toss together. Let the mixture sit and cool for 10 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and 2 cups (500 ml) of the stock.
  9. Add the stock mixture to the bread. Add 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, (if your stock is salty add less), and 1 tsp fresh ground pepper. Stir until everything is evenly combined. Let the stuffing mixture sit and absorb all the stock for 10 - 15 minutes. Give the stuffing a good toss to help the stock get absorbed in the bread.
  10. Slowly add the remaining stock, as needed, to the stuffing mixture a cup (250 ml) at a time. Stir to get evenly mixed. Let the stuffing rest for a few minutes and stir again. Add more stock as needed. This rest time allows the bread to soak up the stock. Let it rest a few minutes more if more stock needs to get absorbed.
  11. Pour the stuffing into a prepared baking dish. Cut off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the baking dish and smear butter over the dull side. Cover the stuffing with foil, butter side down, and bake in the oven until the stuffing is hot all the way through. Instant read thermometer should read 160°F (71 °C), 30-40 minutes.
  12. When the stuffing is cooked all the way through, remove the foil and turn the oven temp up to 425°F (220°C). Bake the stuffing until golden brown, and crispy on top, about 30 minutes more.
  13. Stuffing can be made one day ahead up to the first half of baking. Toast the top of the stuffing after you reheated the stuffing, before serving. Keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to two days or freeze up to one month.

Notes

* The amount of stock you need will vary depending on the type of bread you use. Use your discretion to determine the total amount of stock.

**If you use store bought stock, look for low salt or no salt stock.

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My favorite recipe for turkey stuffing .

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

Holiday Greeen Beans with Roasted Onions

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Everyone has their favorite food during the holidays. They are so important, if for some reason this special food was not on the menu, their holiday is not complete. I think it is obvious, Turkey is high on the list. It is however an unspoken agreement. Have you ever heard anyone speaking longingly for the roast Turkey when they reminisce about the holidays? No. Yet, the turkey sandwiches made with the leftover turkey is high on the to die for list.  For me, I have more than one holiday food favorite, stuffing, cranberry sauce and green beans. Not the green beans smothered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with canned fried onions, but fresh quickly blanched green beans and layered with caramelized oven roasted onions.

Holiday GreenBeans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions recipe.

With all the rich food piled high on your plate, something fresh and green helps balance everything out. It may even lighten the food load enough to believe you have room for seconds. Or, is that just wishful thinking? A crisp salad will provide a fresh alternative, but it is not high on the priority list. People want room on their plate and stomach for all the Thanksgiving side dishes, and salad usually does not make the cut. By the end of the meal, I always have half of the salad leftover.

On the other hand, there is always room for bright and crisp green beans with roasted onions. It satisfies people’s appetite in two ways. The roasted onions satiate any rich and indulgent cravings because of caramelized onions. Plus, the green beans provide a bright taste to counter all the oven roasted foods. The other bonus, by the end of the meal there are none leftover.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Traditional green bean casserole is not high on my ‘Must Have” list. I did not grow up with green bean casserole as part of my childhood Thanksgiving meal and therefore don’t crave it. I also have a slight aversion to anything made with cream of mushroom soup. During my childhood, canned soup was an ingredient in half of mom’s dinners. At that time, during the 50’s and 60’s, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup was the secret ingredient in most foods. It was the quick and easy answer to making a béchamel sauce. In my opinion, Thanksgiving dinner requires green beans, and blanched green beans with roasted onions is the perfect substitute for this traditional casserole.

Making green beans with roasted onions requires a two-step process. Both are easy to do, plus you can make the onions up to two days in advance. The most involved part is roasting the onions. The onions are cooked in two stages. First, I roast the onions in the oven. Then, I deglaze the pan and add the pan juices to the onions and cook down the liquid. This two-step process develops roasted onions with a deep caramel color and flavor. The other benefit is, in comparison to the traditional roast caramelized onion method, the roasting time is cut in half.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions Recipe.

More Thanksgiving vegetable sides: Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms

You can make the green beans at the last minute, then season with butter or olive oil, and herbs. I love tarragon with green beans, but it competes with the traditional Thanksgiving herbs of sage, rosemary and thyme. Fresh parsley is a good substitute because it brings a fresh taste and pairs well with the other foods. A light garnish of lemon zest is a nice touch, but not necessary because red wine vinegar is added in the roasted onions.

This is a throwback recipe I originally got from Bon Appétit Magazine in November of 1995. It was a recipe in a story about Thanksgiving Menu ideas from around the country. I believe green beans with roasted onions comes from a New England Thanksgiving based on the other food items on the menu. I slightly changed the recipe by omitting the sugar, deglazing the pan, and lowering the oven temperature for roasting the onions. It is a timeless recipe and I also appreciate the ease of preparation.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I hope over the course of the month I will post additional recipes for my two other “must have” Thanksgiving sides, cranberry sauce and stuffing.  If you were to ask my children what their Thanksgiving favorite food is, they would say “It’s not Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter, without Pineapple Stuffing.”

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Category: Vegetable Side Dish

Cuisine: American

12

Serving Size: 6 oz

Holiday Green Beans with Roasted Onions

Quickly blanched fresh green beans, offer a bright and fresh taste to rich holiday foods. These green beans with roasted onions provide a welcome contrast between the bright green beans and the sweet caramelized onions. I think it is a healthy substitute for green bean casserole during Thanksgiving.

This recipe is easily scaled up or down.

For easy time management, the onions can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Warm up the onions in the microwave before adding them to the green beans.

Serve warm.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized onions
  • 3 TB Extra Virgin olive oil plus more for the green beans
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (500 ml) of water or vegetable stock
  • 2 TB red wine vinegar
  • 3 lbs (1.5 k) fresh green beans
  • 3 TB of chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • If you prefer, substitute 2 TB of butter instead of the olive oil to coat the green beans.

Instructions

    Prepare the onions
  1. Arrange the oven rack to the upper and lower thirds of your oven
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  3. Lightly spray two large sheet pans with cooking spray
  4. Peel and slice each onion into 12 wedges
  5. Spread the onion slices evenly between the two sheet pans and drizzle with olive oil, Kosher salt and a couple of rounds of freshly ground black pepper. Toss the onions with your hands to get them evenly coated with olive oil. Place in the oven and roast until the onions are nicely browned, about 45 minutes or longer. While the onions are roasting check them every 15 minutes and turn them over with a spatula so they evenly brown. Half way through, rotate the pans top to bottom. Watch and make sure the onions do not burn.
  6. Remove the onions from the oven and slide them into a skillet or saucepan. Place one sheet pan over two burners set to medium-high heat and add 1 cup (250 ml) of water or vegetable stock. Deglaze the pan. Use a flat bottom wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the sheet pan and bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the liquid to half a cup (125 ml). Pour the liquid into the pan with the onions. Deglaze the second sheet pan.
  7. Add the deglazed liquid to the onions and turn the heat to medium. Simmer the onions until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the red wine vinegar. Stir to mix. If you are making the onions in advance, don't add the vinegar yet. Cool the onions and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Just before serving, heat the onions in a microwave then add the vinegar.
    Prepare the green beans
  1. While the onions are roasting, clean and trim off the stems of the green beans. Set a large stock pot filled part way with water on a burner over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of Kosher salt to the water, then add the green beans. Stir to submerge all the green beans. Cook the green beans for one to two minutes. Drain the green beans from the water and add them back into the pot. Drizzle olive oil, or 2 TB of butter, and a sprinkle of Kosher salt over the green beans. Toss to coat. Taste and correct for seasoning. Add chopped parsley and toss.
  2. Put the blanched green beans in a serving bowl or platter and arrange the warmed onions in the middle of the green beans. Serve immediately.
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Green Beans with Roasted Onions a healthy alternative for Green bean casserole

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

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

I am just going to pretend that the summer is not fading away, but is in full swing in all its glory. It is difficult to believe that September is a month away when summer squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, stone fruit, fresh herbs, and green beans are now ripening at a sprinters pace. This time of year is wonderful, with many sunny days and cooler nights, but I am not ready for fall to be around the corner. I want summer to last, as it is my favorite season.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe

Over this past month, I wanted to make zucchini fritters. This obsession came out of the blue. Maybe because I always wanted to make them, but never got around to do it. I like all kinds of fritters. They are fun tasting with less filler than cakes. Making fritters is like producing a solo play with just enough supporting acts to hold the production together. For this production zucchini is the star attraction with just the right amount of extra ingredients to keep its shape.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe

I never made fritters before, and wanted to make some that are different from the traditional zucchini pancakes I am familiar with.  After some searching, I found a fritter recipe with a southwestern take on a Mediterranean classic, zucchini fritters with cheddar cheese and oregano by Deborah Madison.  This recipe is from her latest cookbook, In My Kitchen, (Ten Speed Press 2017). She is one of my favorite cookbook authors and is a valuable resource for me. If you need a good vegetarian cookbook, anyone of her books are a great choices. I believe she helped change vegetarian cooking from its cardboard tasting roots in the 1970’s, to the lively and fresh cuisine it is today.

Her zucchini fritters are different. Besides using non traditional ingredients, she slices the zucchini into thin coins instead of grating them. They look beautiful and unmistakable for what they are. The zucchini slices are visible and overlap each other to form a cake with flecks of fresh herbs and clusters of crunchy cheese and bread crumbs mixed in.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

I found it a little more challenging to shape each pancake, but it is worth the effort. Honestly, I am not sure how Deborah Madison artfully formed her fritters. She did not include instructions describing her process in the recipe. The several times I made them, I did the best I could with what I knew. If the thought of shaping these fritters intimidates you, please put the thought out of your head. This is your meal, shape your fritters anyway you want. Scooping up batter with a spoon and sliding the batter in the skillet works just as well. Yet please take Deborah Madison’s advice, do not apologize if they don’t turn out the way you want. You just made a homemade meal. No apologies are necessary.  They might not look how you hoped, but they will still taste great.

More zucchini recipes: Zucchini Fritatta, Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachios, Marinated Zucchini

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

I made some changes to her recipe. First, she uses fresh oregano and a lot of it. It was too much oregano for me, (which is hard to believe because I am always adding more fresh herbs than a recipes calls for). Also oregano can get very bitter, so it is not one of my favorites. I replaced the oregano with basil. I love basil with zucchini and it worked with the cheddar. Feel free to experiment with other herbs you like, and if you love oregano, go for it.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways recipe.

Zucchini Fritter 4 Ways recipe.

Other variations included corn meal and corn flour independently, instead of bread crumbs. I love zucchini and corn together and experimented with corn meal to see how it would taste and work. The corn meal is grittier and does not absorb the liquid as well as bread crumbs and corn flour do. In the photograph above showing zucchini arranged on a slotted spatula, the batter was too thin. To absorb the extra juices, adding more cornmeal would give the batter more heft. Keep experimenting and see how you like it. Each option provided has its merits and I liked the taste of all of them. The breadcrumbs and corn meal had similar textures, and the corn flour made the fritter more pancake like.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways
  1. Follow the recipe for Zucchini fritters made with basil, cheddar and breadcrumbs.
  2. Substitute the bread crumbs with the same amount of corn meal or corn flour. (gluten-free option)
  3. Make the recipe but substitute the cheddar cheese with Comté or Emmenthal (Swiss), or Gruyère Cheese. Use bread crumbs with this cheese substitution.
  4. Make a traditional zucchini fritter and substitute the basil with dill, and the cheddar with feta cheese. Add some lemon zest as well.

With all these different variations, you can make zucchini fritters for days and use up your abundant supply of zucchini before the summer is over.

Serve the cheddar basil zucchini fritter as a vegetable side dish, or an appetizer with tomatillo salsa and yogurt. They are also delicious paired with a sauce of parsley and capers.

Zucchini Fritter 4 Ways, recipe.

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Vegetable Side Dish or Appetizer

Cuisine: American

9-10 Zucchini Fritters

Serving Size: One - Two Fritters per person

Zucchini Fritters 4 Ways

A Mediterranean classic given a Southwest twist. These zucchini fritters are filled with slices of fresh summer squash, cheddar cheese and fresh basil. They are light with a delicate bite of sweet zucchini and fresh herbs. The cheddar cheese is subtle and does not over power the fresh vegetables.

For more variations, substitute the bread crumbs with corn meal or corn flour. You can also substitute the cheddar with any cheese, like Swiss, Gruyere or Comte. To make a traditional Mediterranean zucchini fritter, substitute the basil with fresh dill and replace the cheddar cheese with feta cheese. Follow the same steps in the recipe.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Deborah Madison recipe in, In My Kitchen, (Ten Speed Press, 2017).

Ingredients

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 - 1 cup bread crumbs, or corn meal, or corn flour
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • 3 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 -2 TB olive oil for cooking

Instructions

    Prepare the Zucchini.
  1. Evenly and thinly slice the zucchini into coins. If you have a mandoline this will make your job quite easy. No more than a quarter inch. Heat up 1 TB of olive oil in a large 10 or 12-inch skillet. Add the zucchini coins and sliced shallots and a small pinch of Kosher salt to the skillet, then stir to get an even coat of olive oil over the vegetables. Cook the zucchini over medium heat and occasionally stir them in the skillet until the slices are tender, but still have some firmness in them, and starting to look dry. (No liquid in the pan). This could take around 15 minutes depending on how thick your zucchini slices are and how hot your pan is. When done, turn off the heat.
  2. While the zucchini is cooking, chop the herbs and get the batter ready.
  3. Mix the eggs and 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or corn meal if using) until well combined. Add the grated cheese and chopped herbs to the egg mixture and mix. Add the cooked zucchini to the batter and gently stir to combine without breaking up the zucchini slices. Add more bread crumbs or cornmeal if the batter is too wet.
    Make the Fritters
  1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a large skillet
  2. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet or oven proof plate in the oven.
  3. Test to see if the skillet is hot enough by adding a teaspoonful of the batter to the pan. If the batter immediately sizzles, then the pan is ready. Finish cooking your sample then taste for seasoning. Correct with salt if needed.
  4. Shape and slide one fritter at a time into the skillet. I like the fritters to look somewhat flat with the zucchini slices spread out and overlapping each other. Not mushed up. I scooped up the zucchini batter with a slotted spatula or spoon, then spread out the zucchini slices to make an even pancake. Once formed, slide your arranged fritter into the skillet. I used a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to encourage the fritter to slide off the spatula into the skillet in one piece. For each batch, 3 fritters fit comfortably into a 10-inch skillet. Patiently cook the zucchini fritters on one side for a couple of minutes, until it starts to get golden on the bottom. You want to handle them as little as possible, so flip them one time during the cooking process. With a thin flexible spatula, like a fish spatula, turn the fritter over and cook for a couple of minutes more. Move the finished zucchini fritters to the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all the batter is used.
  5. Serve immediately as an appetizer or side dish with tomatilla salsa and yogurt or creme fraiche. Or, serve with parsley caper sauce.

Notes

I have made these fritters with bread crumbs, as the original recipe indicates, and also with corn meal and corn flour. The corn meal does not absorb the juices as well as the bread crumbs, but do add a nice texture and subtle flavor. You can add more of the filler if there is extra liquid in the bowl, or just let the juices drain out the bottom of the slotted spatula before you add the fritter to the skillet. Any of the three options work well. The corn flour will make the fritter more pancake like.

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

Fresh Basil Marinated Zucchini

During the busy summer months we all need those back pocket recipes. The ones you can just whip out and create without thinking about it. Marinated Zucchini is just one of those recipes. It is so easy, after you made it a couple of times you know it by heart.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe

What I love about marinated zucchini is, the cooking process is simple and (to coin a phrase from Food52), genius.  First, you slice each small zucchini lengthwise down the middle. Once prepared, sear each zucchini slice in a skillet with olive oil. Then, marinate the seared zucchini for one hour in a basic vinaigrette and fresh basil. That is it. Simple, but a recipe that develops great depth of flavor in a mild tasting summer vegetable. If properly cooked, the acid will not make the zucchini soggy. Instead, it develops a bright taste yet retains the subtle and clean zucchini flavor.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe.

This recipe is from Canal House Cooking Volume 8: Pronto (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) via Food52. There is no need to make adjustments, it is already perfect. I just added a little more fresh basil right before serving as a garnish and extra basil flavor.  You could experiment with other herbs like lemon thyme, parsley or tarragon, but the warm sunshine flavor of basil is notable.

Is your garden overflowing with zucchini? Try these other great zucchini recipes from my archives:

Zucchini, Corn and Avocado Salad

Zucchini Frittata

 

Basil marinated zucchini reicpe.

This recipe is also easy to resize. The original recipe calls for a half pound of zucchini. Fortunately, I found the perfect size zucchini at my local farm stand, each one weighing about a quarter of a pound, (113 g). I decided to double the recipe just so I could have more zucchini to photograph and work with. I was also able to fit all 8 of my zucchini halves in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. Look for small, same size zucchini at your store or market. The little quarter-pounders are perfect. Big and fat zucchini may look impressive, but are not suited for this recipe. They take longer to cook and have larger seeds in the middle.

Basil Marinated Zucchini recipe

 

Nutritional Benefits of Zucchini 

The only difficult part about making marinated zucchini is remembering to make them at least an hour in advance. This is not a last minute recipe idea. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to make marinated zucchini and realized I forgot about the marinating step. This is not a salad recipe where you add the vinaigrette just before serving. The hour marinating is important to build the bright flavor from the vinegar and sets this recipe apart from others. As a result, this is a great make ahead recipe.

 

Fresh Herb Marinated Zucchini

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Category: Vegetable side dish

Cuisine: Italian American

4-8 servings

Fresh Herb Marinated Zucchini

This is one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini. The vinaigrette gives the zucchini some character, yet still retains it's mild taste. The only thing that is difficult about making this great zucchini recipe is to remember to make it at least one hour in advance. The zucchini tastes bright and is accented from the warm sweetness of fresh basil. Vinegar will tenderize the zucchini so, be careful to cook the zucchini just enough to be tender but still have some firmness.

If you have small zucchinis, about 1/4 pound (113 g) each, I portion one zucchini per person.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 8, (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) on Food52.

Ingredients

    For Zucchini
  • 2 TB (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 lb (453 g) very small zucchini, ends trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
    Vinaigrette Marinade
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TB (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 6 TB (1/3 cup / 75 ml)extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 - 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Cook the zucchini. In a large skillet, heat 2 TB (30 ml) olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the zucchini halves to the pan cut side down. Depending on the size of your pan and zucchini, you may have to cook the zucchini in batches. Sear the zucchini until nicely golden brown. After 3 minutes check to see if the zucchini is nicely golden brown*. If not, continue to cook on the cut side checking every couple of minutes until tender. Once the zucchini is golden brown turn over each piece, then cook on the opposite side for 3 minutes more. The zucchini is done when it is golden brown on the top and tender, but not too soft in the middle. Transfer the zucchini slices to a shallow dish and sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt.
    Vinaigrette
  1. While the zucchini is searing, in a small bowl whisk together the minced garlic, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the zucchini slices and add the fresh basil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for one hour. If you need to make this well ahead of time, marinate the zucchini in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. Serve at room temperature as a vegetable side dish.

Notes

* The original recipe says to cook for 3 minutes on the first side. I have never gotten the zucchini a nice golden brown in 3 minutes. I have a gas stove top using liquid propane, and typically it takes 6 - 8 minutes to achieve a light golden brown. As with all recipes, use them as a guide because your conditions and equipment are different from the author's.

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Seared Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

If there ever is a meal that makes everyone around the dinner table happy, it’s tacos. I don’t believe this just pertains to families with young children, adults love tacos too. Say, “Come and get it. Tacos for dinner”, friends young and old will pick up their step and chassé over to the dinner table. Yippee-yi-yay, it’s taco night. Grab your partner and do-si-do, it’s taco time.

Seared Fish Taco with Mango Avocado Salsa recipe

Seared fish taco with mango and avocado salsa recipe

One of my favorite types of tacos are fish tacos. I love the light and fresh flavor of fish paired with a spicy salsa, avocado, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Soft and sweet corn tortillas make the meal even brighter. One bite of these fish tacos reveals the composed flavors of delicate fish, tangy crunchy slaw, and sweet and spicy salsa. It is a very refreshing and flavor packed meal.

Seared Fish Taco with Mango Avocado Salsa recipe

SEared Fish Taco with Mango Avocado Dressing recipe

Most importantly, I believe a taco isn’t a taco unless avocados are part of the meal. Either in a salsa, guacamole, or an added slice for a topping, my tacos must include an avocado. For these fish tacos, I wanted the avocado paired with fruit for a sweet contrast to the smooth avocado. Honestly, I designed the whole fish taco recipe around the mango avocado salsa.

Seared Fish Taco with Mango Avocado Salsa recipe

Avocados are my desert island food. I miss avocados when a day goes by without eating one. I also love avocados combined with sweet and spicy ingredients. Both mangoes and avocados have soft and creamy textures, but the mangoes add a nice burst of sweetness that pairs well with avocados. In this salsa, the sweetness of the mangoes and creaminess of avocados offsets the heat from the chili peppers. Each ingredient creates a balance, nothing is either too sweet or too spicy. Just how I like it.

Seared Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa recipe

More easy fish dinner recipes:

Pacific Cod braised in Tomato Saffron broth

Arctic Char with Basil Sauce 

I designed this fish taco recipe so all three parts compliment each other and create one perfect taco.  The cabbage slaw is made with fresh herb and buttermilk dressing for a little tang and brighter flavor. Corn tortillas are on the small side, so either serve the slaw in the taco, or on the side as a salad. Either way, it tastes great with the fish and the salsa. I added jalapeño pepper to the slaw, but kept it mild by removing the white pith and seeds. I believe it is always good to have one part of the meal without a lot of heat and spiciness.  All the recipes are on the mild side of spicy, and are easily adaptable to your desired heat tolerance.

Seared Fish Taco with Mango and Avocado Salsd

What is great about all these recipes is you can easily make them for a great dinner of fish tacos, or serve them separately for a plated dinner. You can also make each item separately and pair with other recipes. The fish is a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Mango avocado salsa makes a great dip for chips, and the cole slaw is a perfect side salad with grilled fish or meats. You have three recipes in one, and multiple options for many dinners ahead.

Seared Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Entree

Cuisine: Mexican American

4 servings

Seared Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa

Please don't be daunted by all these steps. A great taco has 2-3 layers, with each layer requiring its own recipe. On their own, each recipe is not difficult to make or take a lot of time. If you want to pare the recipe down, choose either the slaw or the salsa to serve with the fish in the taco. I love tacos with lots of fillings so I tend to pile them on.

The mango avocado salsa is best eaten immediately after it is made. Both mangoes and avocados don't age well after they are cut open and exposed to air.

Ingredients

    Buttermilk yogurt dressing for the Citrus Slaw
  • 3 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or crushed
  • 1-2 TB minced cilantro
  • 1-2 TB minced dill
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2-3 TBS Greek yogurt
    Citrus Buttermilk Slaw*
  • 1/4 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 large 4 oz carrot, julienne or grated
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, sliced of the cob
  • 4 small scallions, minced light green and white parts
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers**, minced
  • Buttermilk Yogurt dressing to taste
  • 2 TB fresh lime juice
  • Zest from half a lime
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
    Fish for Tacos
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh fish, like tilapia
  • Sprinkle of Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil Kosher Salt
    Mango Avocado Salsa
  • One mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lime, divided
  • 1/4 tsp pinch of Flaky sea salt
  • 1 TB Extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 TB minced red onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers**, minced
  • 8 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 sprigs cilantro, minced
  • Zest of half a lime
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt if needed
    Assemble the tacos
  • 8 Corn tortillas
  • Seared Fish
  • Buttermilk Citrus Slaw
  • Mango Avocado Salsa
  • Lime wedges
  • Side of crema Mexicana, or creme fraiche (optional)
  • Side of Salsa Verde (optional)

Instructions

    Citrus Slaw with Buttermilk and Yogurt Dressing
    Make the Buttermilk dressing
  1. Whisk together the cider vinegar, lemon juice, Kosher salt, lemon zest, garlic, and fresh herbs. Slowly whisk in the buttermilk until incorporated then whisk in the yogurt. Taste the dressing and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Cover and set aside until the slaw is ready to finish.
    Make the Slaw
  1. Thinly slice or shred the red and green cabbage and place in a large mixing bowl. Grate the carrot with a box grater and add to the cabbage. Add the fresh corn kernels, minced scallions and minced jalapenos. Mix together then add the buttermilk dressing. Add about half the dressing at first, mix together, then add more dressing if needed. Add the lime zest and juice and give it a final stir. Taste and adjust any seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Make the fish.
  1. Sprinkle kosher salt, cayenne and sweet paprika over each side of the fish. Before you turn the fish over to season the other side, rub about 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil over the seasoned fish. Turn over the fish and repeat on the other side. Let rest for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat a skillet or non-stick electric griddle to 350F. Spread about 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or canola oil across the pan. Place the fish on the skillet or griddle and sear for 2-4 minutes per side. The thicker pieces will need longer then the thin ones. Time it to turn the fish over only once. The fish is done when the meat is opaque and will separate when you press down on the top of the fish. Keep the fish warm in a 200F oven.
    Make the Mango Avocado Salsa
  1. Peel and chop the mango into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Peel and chop the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the avocado to a small bowl and squirt about 2 teaspoons of lime juice over the avocados and a very small pinch of flaky sea salt. Toss to coat. Add the avocados to the mangoes along with the remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Taste and add salt or other seasoning if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to serve.
    Prepare the Tacos
  1. Warm up the tortillas, either by heating them in a skillet over medium heat for about a minute per side. Keep the heated tortillas on a covered plate in a warm oven, or an insulated tortilla warmer.
  2. To assemble the tacos decide if you are using the Citrus Slaw as a side dish or as a part of the taco.
  3. If using the slaw for the taco, place the slaw down on the tortilla then add the fish, divided into manageable size pieces for each taco. Add the mango avocado salsa on top of the fish and serve with crema Mexicana or creme fraiche, and/or citrus slaw on the side.

Notes

* If you are serving the Citrus Buttermilk Slaw as a side salad, you may want to add more shredded cabbage. I originally made this recipe using a 1/2 of cabbage each of the purple and green cabbages. I found I had a lot of slaw, enough for at least 8 servings for salad. I pared the recipe down for tacos, where a small amount of slaw is required.

** The heat source in chili peppers is found in the white pith inside the peppers. This is where the seeds are attached. The seeds hold heat as well, but not as much as the pith. You control the level of heat from chilies by slicing out the pith. Wear latex gloves when working with chili peppers, or wash your hands thoroughly after holding them. The oils from the peppers get on your hands and if you touch your eyes it will burn.

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