Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing

Every time I walk around the Farmers Market I feel like I am on a treasure hunt. There is an element of familiarity with each vender, but also curiosity as the seasons transition from the sparse offerings of early spring to the abundant fall harvest. At every visit, I anticipate the changing produce and new discoveries.  Fortunately, this past week was no exception for I discovered sorrel.

Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing Recipe

In my area, sorrel is only available at Farmers Markets. It is a green leafy vegetable with a bright lemony flavor. It is a hardy plant but for some reason does not have wide appeal. However, every vegetable centered cookbook I own has a few sorrel recipes.  Therefore, it must have some appeal. If Deborah Madison and Alice Walters took the time to highlight this vegetable, it is worth bringing home to see for myself.

Continue reading “Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing”

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancake with Mushrooms and Onions

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

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reiccpe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

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

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and onions reicpe

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

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

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushroom and Onions reicpe

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

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

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

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

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

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

Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch

Cuisine: Swiss

4-6 servings

Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions

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

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

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

Best eaten hot off the skillet.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Place the prepared potatoes in a microwave dish and cook on high for around 5 minutes. You do not want the potatoes overcooked and mushy, they should still have a slight bite in the center.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tb olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms and onions until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, around 6 - 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to mix and cook until you begin to smell the garlic's perfume. Remove the mushrooms and onion from the pan and set aside.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean and return it to the burner. Turn the heat to medium and add 2 Tbs to the skillet. Heat the oil until shimmering. Make sure there is an even coating of oil across the whole pan, then spoon half of the potatoes into the skillet. Press down on the potatoes with a rubber spatula and form the potatoes into a pancake. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread the mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes to cover the mushrooms and onions, then press down on the potatoes to cover the top of the pancake.
  4. Cook the rösti on one side for around 7 minutes. Do not disturb the pancake for at least 4 minutes into the cooking time. After 7- 8 minutes, run a thin spatula around the edges and underneath the potatoes to loosen it from the bottom.
  5. Slide the potatoes onto a plate large enough to hold the rösti. Place another plate, upside down, on top of the plate holding the rosti, so the rims are kissing each other. Flip the plates over, so the bottom plate is now the top and lift off the plate. You should see a beautiful golden brown crusty rösti.
  6. Wipe off any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan and add 2 Tbs olive oil.
  7. When the oil is shimmering, slide the rösti back into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Cook for 7 more minutes.
  8. When finished, loosen the rosti from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate.
  9. Keep warm or serve immediately.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise

Every Spring tender asparagus spears emerge out of the dirt, like miniature trees from an underground world. It is so cool how the spears seem to pop up out of nothing and creep upward toward the sun. It is a wonder to me how these funny looking green stalks grow.

Up until a few years ago, I had no clue about their growth habit until I saw them sprouting in my sister’s garden. Also, the spears don’t just die away after weeks of cutting them back. Eventually, the remaining tips of the spears will loosen and sprout forth 4 to 6 foot feathery fronds for the remaining summer. Fortunately, come the following Spring, this miracle occurs again and asparagus spears emerge for another season.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe
Morning light on growing asparagus spears. Photograph by Perrin Smith

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe

If an opportunity comes your way, eating freshly picked asparagus is a special treat. Even if you do not like asparagus, you might be pleasantly surprised once you have tasted the newly picked spears. It is a wonder how different freshly grown asparagus tastes compared to the store-bought kind. There is a slightly bitter, slightly sweet, distinctive greenish earthy flavor. Honestly, any vegetable straight from a garden tastes better because it is fresher and given more TLC. I am always grateful for the garden gifts from my sister and friends.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise dressing recipe

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe

Asparagus with Orange Dressing reicpe

Like a lot of vegetables, asparagus is very easy to prepare and does not require a detailed recipe to enjoy. The most important consideration is to not over cook them. The total amount of cooking time will depend on how thick the spears are, and your method of cooking. Some of my favorite ways to cook asparagus are: simmering, braising, roasting, and grilling. All methods produce good results. Ultimately, no matter which way you want to prepare them, just cook them until they are tender and have a slight crispness when you bite into one.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing Recipe

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe
How to Prep Asparagus

If you have never made asparagus here are some tips. There is some debate about how to prep asparagus. Should you peel them? Do the ends need trimming? Do you need a fancy asparagus steamer to make them? First, no fancy steamer pot required. I am not a big gadget person and work very hard to buy kitchen items that have more than one purpose. Steaming is a great way to cook asparagus and can effectively be done without an asparagus steamer in a microwave oven.

Trimming off the woody ends is a good idea, especially for the thicker stalks. Thin stalks don’t always need to be trimmed, but the thick ones do. I usually hold the bottom of a spear with one hand and place the other hand near the center of the stalk, then bend the two points downwards. The theory is asparagus will break at the place where the woody tip ends. This sounds good in theory, but it does not work perfectly all the time. Unfortunately, sometimes bending the stalk breaks off tender and edible sections.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe
Trim off the woody end.

Another trimming method is, to line the asparagus up end to end and cut off the ends about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from the bottom. You can see a change in color in the spear as they it gets less woody. The woody part will be whiter in color. Additionally, you can feel with your fingertips where the woody part ends. The woody part will be harder and denser.

To peel or not to peel, that is the question. My answer is sometimes I peel the spears, sometimes I don’t. There is no particular reason for my decision and most of the time I leave the spears alone. Honestly, it depends on how much time I have or how fancy I want to be. If you have older and fatter asparagus, the skin is tougher and not as pleasant to eat. Whereas the thinner stalks have tender skin and easier to eat.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe

To peel the skin, hold the asparagus near the tip in your non-active hand with the cut end pointing away from you. Hold the vegetable peeler in the other hand and begin in a downward motion, peeling off the skin. Start about a third of the way down from the tip and move to the bottom. You don’t want to peel off a lot of the spear, only the thin layer of skin.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing Recipe

When I am in a hurry or preoccupied with another part of the meal, I like to simmer asparagus for around 4 minutes in salted boiling water. Once drained, I give them a light coating of olive oil, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and add minced herbs and/or lemon zest. It is as easy as that. You can add lemon juice or any acid, but it will change the color from bright green to khaki green.

There are times when I want to give my vegetables some extra pizzazz as a part of a composed meal. Asparagus with orange mayonnaise dressing adds pizzazz and offers an unexpected flavor with your asparagus and dinner. It is perfect for asparagus served at room temperature or cold. This recipe is easily adaptable, just add the amount of orange juice to give your mayonnaise the consistently and orange flavor that you want. Additionally, it is easy to prepare a head of time and If you own an immersion blender, even easier to make.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe

Homemade mayonnaise is a new discovery of mine. I love how light the flavor is. Some recipes call for extra virgin olive oil, but I find that it has too strong of a flavor so I use olive oil instead. If you do not have a blender, food processor or immersion blender, you can still make mayonnaise the old-fashioned way. Use a sturdy bowl, a good wire whisk, and a lot of continuous whisking by hand power. I think it is worth it.

This recipe is a combo of two. I used J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s technique for quick homemade mayonnaise  using an immersion blender. His technique has produced the most consistent results for me. I have made mayonnaise with my food processor, but the success depends on how slowly the oil drips into the eggs while the machine is running.

The orange mayonnaise comes from Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I was intrigued with her suggestion to use this with asparagus and wanted to try it out. I love her work and she is a great resource for vegetarian cooking.

As usual, Deborah Madison is right on. The orange mayonnaise brings a delicate and unexpected fruity orange flavor with the asparagus.  She also recommends using the orange mayonnaise with broccoli, fennel, and cauliflower.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing recipe

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Category: Vegetable side dish

3-4 servings depending on size

Serving Size: 6-8 spears per person

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing

A delightful recipe of tender Spring Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise Dressing. The delicate flavors of the dressing add subtly and sophistication to a vegetable platter or side dish with salmon, chicken or grilled meats.

The mayonnaise recipe is adapted from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Foolproof Homemade Mayonnaise, and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Ingredients

    For the Asparagus
  • 1 pound asparagus, cleaned and woody ends trimmed
  • Kosher salt
    Orange Mayonnaise Dressing
  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • zest from half an orange
  • 4 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice, or more to taste
    Mayonnaise - makes 2 cups
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • One small clove garlic, finely minced or grated with a microplane (optional)
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1-2 Tbs water
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

    Asparagus
  1. Trim the asparagus as needed. If you peel them, hold each asparagus at the tip and beginning around a third of the way down, gently peel off the thin skin with a vegetable peeler. Peel down lengthwise along the steam and work your way around.
  2. Prepare an ice bath for the asparagus. Fill a medium bowl part way with ice and add water to cover. Set the bowl aside near the stove.
  3. Put water in a shallow sauce pan and add a pinch of kosher salt. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a bowl. Add the trimmed asparagus and simmer in the boiling water about 4 minutes. The total cooking time will depend on how thick the asparagus spears are. The asparagus should be tender, but still have some crispness and look bright green.
  4. Remove the asparagus with tongs or a spider, and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking and keep the asparagus bright green.
  5. Once cooled, remove the asparagus from the ice bath and dry on clean kitchen towel. (Ahead of time note, wrap the asparagus in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator until you need them. Eat the asparagus the same day you cook them.
    Homemade Mayonnaise
  1. Immersion blender method by Kenji Lopez-Alt: Use a tall cup just large enough for the immersion blender head to fit in, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, and one tablespoon of water inside the cup. Slowly add the canola oil to the eggs then slide the head of the immersion blender inside the cup until it rests on the bottom. Hold onto the cup with one hand and turn on the immersion blender. The egg and oil will begin to emulsify. As the oil get pulled down to the bottom, very slowly raise the immersion blender up. You will see the mayonnaise begin to form and the oil being sucked towards to bottom and emulsify.
  2. Once all the oil has emulsified, turn off the immersion blender and scrape out with a rubber spatula, the mayonnaise into a small mixing bowl large enough to whisk in the remaining oil. Hold the bowl steady with your inactive hand and whisk up the mayonnaise. Drizzle in the olive oil small amounts at a time, about a tablespoon, into the mayonnaise, and vigorously whisk the mayonnaise to incorporate the olive oil. Continue to whisk in the olive oil in small increments until all the oil is added. The mayonnaise will last for two weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
    Orange Mayonnaise Dressing
  1. Add one cup of homemade mayonnaise to a small mixing bowl. Add the orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Whisk all the ingredients together. Taste the mayonnaise and add more orange juice, one tablespoon at a time until you get the right flavor and consistency you want. The orange mayonnaise will last for about one week in the refrigerator.
  2. When done, spoon into a small serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the asparagus.
  3. Arrange the asparagus on a serving plate and drizzle the orange mayonnaise across the asparagus.

Notes

Homemade mayonnaise in a blender or food processor. Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, pinch of salt, garlic (if using), and one tablespoon of water into the bowl of your appliance. Mix together. With the motor running very slowly add the canola oil through the hole of the feed tube. Add the olive oil by hand the same way as described for the immersion blender technique.

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

Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

Usually, when I’m making dinner, my primary focus centers on the main entrée. The side dishes get made, but my attention is elsewhere. It is just too stressful to cook three different recipes, that require a lot of ingredients, prepping, and everything done at the same time. I love vegetables and don’t mind eating them without a lot of flourishment. Yet, they do deserve an opportunity to be front and center. Making a composed dinner doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, just a little foresight.

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots

Most people like carrots. When my son Evan was young, carrots was one of the 3 vegetables he ate. This popular vegetable is easy to prepare and does not require a lot of pampering. It is one of the backbones used to make stocks, soup, stews and braises. If you haven’t given carrots much thought, think again. Carrots are so much more than crudité. I love cooking with them because their natural sweetness and sturdy structure make it easy to pair with bold flavors on either the sweet and/or spicy side.

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

This recipe was inspired by a recipe written by Nigel Slater titled, Harissa Carrots. His recipe is delicious and is featured in his cookbook Eats. In Slater’s recipe he blanches carrots, then mixes them with harissa paste, egg yolk, vinegar and olive oil. The egg yolk in the dressing made it nice and creamy, but not suitable for a vegan diet. My idea was to make a carrot side dish that everyone could eat. So, keeping the flavor of Slater’s Harissa Carrots in my mind, I created a vegan dressing to compliment the carrots natural sweetness, provide some spicy-heat, and lots of fresh herbs. I have said it before and I will say it again, fresh herbs elevate any food from good to awesome. I do not cook without them.

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

In this recipe for Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots, I use three different types of herbs. I realize cilantro and dill do not have a big fan club. Yet, if you are willing to be adventurous then reduce the amount of cilantro and see if you like it in a blend. There are times when less is more, but this recipe is not one of them. However, if you do not want to commit to all three herbs, use one or two of them. Mint and dill are especially delicious with carrots. I want you to enjoy your meal, so if you know you don’t like something – don’t use it.

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots Recipe

For me, I am no longer fearful or stingy with how I cook with herbs. Many recipes from Middle Eastern cuisine have inspired me to combine herbs and not use them by themselves. There are many herbs that compliment each other, and tasting an abundance of the freshness is always welcome in a recipe.

More carrot recipes: One Pan, One Meal Chicken Dinner

Fortunately, making Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots, is as easy as making a salad. Making this dish won’t take up a lot of your attention, but the results will taste as if you slaved all day. The spicy heat is in the background and will grow as you continue to enjoy your meal. I prefer all the ingredients to balance one another. This recipe is not about the heat but about balance, and bringing all these flavors together to give carrots center stage.

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots recipe

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots reicpe

Sweet n' Spicy Herbed Carrots reicpe

Serve with any grilled meats and white meat fish. They are also delicious as part of a vegan bowl made with greens, carrots, chickpeas, a grain, and nuts. Enjoy!

Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

6 servings

Serving Size: 3oz

Sweet n’ Spicy Herbed Carrots

Carrots are a great and pleasing vegetable. Their natural sweetness makes them a very versatile food that most people enjoy eating. This recipe for carrots has a nice balance of flavors, not too sweet and not too spicy. I prefer the heat to be in the background and not dominate the flavor of the food.

The fresh herbs add a bright green touch and really compliment the carrot's sweetness. Add all three herbs or just a couple. The mint adds a really nice touch and it is not too overbearing.

Perfect with grilled meats, and most fish. Sweet n' Spicy carrots are also great as part of a vegan meal made with greens, grains, these carrots and walnuts.

Ingredients

  • One inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard (smooth or grainy)
  • 2 tsp honey (or 1 tsp maple syrup for a vegan recipe)
  • 1/4 tsp ground chili pepper* (more if you want it hotter)
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • Juice from half a lime, reserve the other half to add if needed
  • 1 Tb red wine vinegar*
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tb chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tb chopped mint
  • 1 Tb chopped dill (optional)
  • 1 1/2 lbs / 683g medium size carrots
  • 2" piece of daikon radish (3 oz / 87g)

Instructions

  1. Gently scrape off the thin skin of ginger using the edge of a teaspoon. Be careful not to dig into the flesh of the ginger root. Once the skin is removed, thinly slice the ginger and mince. Add to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add the Dijon mustard, honey, (maple syrup), ground chili pepper, lime zest and juice, vinegar, and Kosher salt into the bowl with the minced ginger. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, a little at a time. While you drizzle, whisk to create an emulsion. Once all the olive oil is added, give it a good whisk to keep the oil and acid from separating.
  4. Taste the dressing and correct the seasoning to suit your taste.
  5. Add the herbs, then whisk to combine. Set the sweet and spicy dressing aside while you prepare and cook the carrots.
  6. Peel the carrots and trim the ends. Cut each carrot in half across the width, then cut each piece in half down the length. Cut all the pieces in half lengthwise to create long carrot strips.
  7. Fill a medium saucepan with water and turn the heat up to high. Add a pinch of Kosher salt, a 1/4 inch sliver of ginger, and 2 crushed garlic cloves to the water. Bring the pot to a boil and add the carrots. Cook the carrots for 1-2 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Drain the carrots and pick out the garlic cloves and ginger. Add the carrots to a mixing bowl.
  8. Peel and julienne the daikon radish in long thin strips. Add the daikon to the carrots and gently toss the carrots and daikon radish with your hands to mix together. Before you add the dressing taste it again and make any adjustments. Add the dressing, give it a gentle but good stir until the vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.
  9. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Notes

Use your favorite ground chili. The ground chili I used has a bright flavored heat, not a smokey one. Sorry I do not know the name of it. I started with a quarter teaspoon of ground chili then added a little more later. This meal is not about the heat, but about the balance of heat and sweetness. Good substitutes are: your favorite ground chili powder, harissa paste, Thai chili paste, or sriracha. Adjust the amount you add to match the chili's heat. Example, if you use sriracha I would begin with 1/2 teaspoon then add more later if needed. Just like cooking with salt, it is always good to start with less then add more.

Do not substitute balsamic vinegar for this dressing. Good substitutions are: white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

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

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

When I plan a meal the quote, “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is forever lurking in my brain, except when it comes to vegetables. I love vegetables and could easily have them take over half of my plate for any dinner meal. One vegetable I particularly love is sugar snap peas, and despite the fact that it is not spring, they are widely available at most stores in my area now.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipe

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipe

Sugar snap peas have a great sweet pea flavor and a snappy-crispy crunch. They could not be easier to prepare, just clean and trim the ends. Sometimes the fibrous string along the side needs to be pulled off, but I rarely feel it is necessary. I like to eat them raw in a salad, or quickly blanch or sauté them, then toss the snap peas with butter and fresh herbs.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe

I wanted to make a vegetable side dish that would compliment my chicken entrée that was marinated in yogurt, tahini, and sriracha and roasted in the oven. With the chicken baking in the oven, I could spend the down time on creating a flavorful vegetable side dish. Truth be told, the real inspiration came from the fact that I just happened to have all the ingredients in my refrigerator. I know I should be more studious and plan every meal for the week, but often my dinners are spontaneous creations based on what is in my refrigerator. Spontaneous or not, this is a recipe that compliments most meat entrée and can be adapted for a vegetarian entrée as well.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipes

When cooking with vegetables most of the work involves cleaning and prepping the vegetables. The actual cooking time is very short. For this recipe I have a two-step cooking process for the sugar snap peas. First I blanch them for 30 seconds and set them aside until the mushrooms are sautéed. Then I add the snap peas to the pan with the mushrooms and sauté just long enough to get the sugar snap peas heated through. The blanching and minimal cooking time help maintain the bright green color and crispness of the peas. In this recipe the contrast of the crispy sugar snap peas with the silky sautéed shiitake mushrooms is part of its appeal.

Sautéed sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms pair beautifully together.  Add minced shallots, fresh ginger and garlic to the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms you have a side dish that can stand on its own merit. Despite the potent ingredients the flavoring is subtle with the ginger adding a bright note that is not overwhelming. I happen to love cooking with fresh ginger. I do not find its flavor to sharp or biting. It is a sweet bite of spice. If you are not a fan of ginger, you can omit the ginger and the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms will have plenty of flavor.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipe

Sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger can be paired with any grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish. It would make a perfect Thanksgiving side vegetable that would brighten up the rich flavors of the turkey and gravy and stuffing. If you serve this recipe with rice or other grain, the sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger becomes a great vegetarian and vegan meal for Thanksgiving, or for any dinner. Sprinkle some chopped peanuts, almonds, or hazelnuts over the dish and it is even better for vegetarians by adding more protein.

Sugar Sanp Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe

Bits and Tips making Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipe

What is a sugar snap pea?

A sugar snap pea is a member of the legume family that originated in East Asia. It is a cross between a snow pea and a garden, or English pea and is widely cultivated in North America. Like the snow pea, sugar snap peas are eaten whole: pod and seed together. They can be enjoyed raw or briefly cooked to keep the crisp snappy texture and bright green color. The fibrous string along the side may need to be removed.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms recipe

How to store mushrooms:

Mushrooms often come packaged in plastic containers and tightly sealed in plastic wrap. Plastic creates an overly moist environment that will quickly turn the mushrooms slimy. Paper bags are perfect for storing loose mushrooms. Be careful not to crowd the mushrooms, (or any vegetable) in an overly packed crisper drawer. Air movement keeps everything fresh longer.

How to clean mushrooms:

Sometimes mushrooms have a lot of dirt on them and brushing or wiping the dirt off the mushroom is not practical or effective. You can quickly rinse the mushrooms in running water and then pat dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth. Mushrooms are like sponges, so rinse them quick and do not soak them. Clean mushrooms right before you plan on using them.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms Recipes

How to peel ginger: 

To peel the skin off of a knobby chunk of ginger root the best tool to use is a spoon. Hold the piece of ginger in your non-working had and a spoon in the other. Gently scratch the ginger skin with the side of the your spoon. The skin should scrape right off without you having to dig into the ginger root. Use a light hand when working. The spoon makes it easy to work around all the knobby ends.

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

4-5 servings as a side dish

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger is a delicious vegetable side dish.This will pair well with Asian inspired main entrees or with grilled or roasted meats, chicken or fish. It is also the perfect Thanksgiving side dish that will brighten up the rich flavors of turkey with gravy, stuffing and potatoes.

To serve as a vegetarian entree serve Sugar Snap Peas with Ginger along with your favorite cooked grain, like brown rice. and add chopped nuts and/or sesame seeds.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb/ 455 g of sugar snap peas- cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot (about 3 oz/ 92 g)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tea Kosher salt, divided
  • 8 oz/ 246 g shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • Optional garnishes
  • About 1 to 2 Tb of chopped fresh herb of your choice- parsley, scallions, mint, chives, thyme, (see note)
  • Chopped nuts like peanuts, almonds or hazelnuts, or toasted sesame seeds are a great garnish

Instructions

    Prep
  1. Wash and cut the stem off the sugar snap peas. You can remove the little string at the tip if think it is unsightly.
  2. Cut the stem off the shiitake mushrooms right at the base of the mushroom cap. Discard the stem or reserve for making stock. Slice each mushroom cap in long 1/4 inch strips.
  3. Mince the shallots garlic and set aside in separate piles. If the garlic cloves have a green germ in the middle, remove it before mincing. Peel the skin off of the fresh ginger root then mince. Keep the vegetables in separate piles and set aside.
  4. Quickly blanch the prepared sugar snap peas in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds. As soon as the water returns to a boil. Drain the water from the sugar snap peas. Keep the peas in a colander and set aside.
    Putting it all together
  1. Heat a large 10 or 12 inch skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tb olive oil.
  2. Add the minced shallots and stir to evenly coat with the olive oil. Cook the shallots until they are translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan and to prevent browning. About 4 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic, ginger and 1/4 tea Kosher salt, then stir to coat with the olive oil and mix with the shallots. Cook until the garlic and ginger become aromatic, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir until they are evenly combined with the shallot mixture. Cook the mushrooms and occasionally stir them until the mushrooms have reduced in size, look glossy and released all its liquid. About 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock into the pan and stir to deglaze the pan and cook off the liquid for a minute.
  6. Add the sugar snap peas and the rest of the Kosher salt then stir to combine. Cook the vegetables briefly just to get the sugar snap peas heated all the way through. About 2 minutes.
  7. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  8. Serve immediately.

Notes

Depending on what you are serving the sugar snap peas with, will dictates what herb or garnish you may want to finish it with. Sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms with ginger is perfectly delicious as is, but I always like to add fresh herbs to finish a meal. For this recipe the ginger should remain the dominant seasoning, choose an herb, if using, to compliment the ginger and your main entree, like parsley and mint and use a light hand adding it.

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

Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille

It is hard to think about turning on the oven when it is so hot and humid outside. It is ironic to me that during the summer when the sun and the heat produces abundant amounts of fruits and vegetables, turning on a heat source to cook vegetables, or anything else for that matter, is the last thing on our mind. Fortunately fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked, hot or cold. During this crazy hot weather it is ideal to be thrifty and make one meal that can be used later for several additional meals.

An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Mixed vegetables for fennel and chickpea ratatouille

Ratatouille is just that kind of dish. It can be used as a side dish with grilled meats or fish, a sauce to cook eggs or fish in, a sauce to mix with pasta or other grain for a vegetarian entrée. Ratatouille is so versatile it is worth turning on the oven once for the additional meals that can be served with it afterwards.

An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Eggplant
An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Tomatoes with Zucchini

I was not a huge fan of ratatouille until I tried this recipe from Mark Bittman at cooking.nytimes.com.  One reason being, I first learned to cook ratatouille by sautéing each vegetable separately then combining all the vegetables in a crock and bake until bubbly. No thanks. There can be at least five different vegetables and that is just too laborious for a summer’s day. Secondly, I like eggplant but I do not love it, so making something with eggplant is not my first idea or inspiration.  Eggplant is a stunning and beautiful plant. The color is one of my favorites and why I haven’t dismissed it altogether. The flavor, by itself, just does not excite me. With this recipe the eggplant helps give ratatouille body developing on the classic pairing of eggplant and tomatoes. The fennel and fresh herbs makes the ratatouille fresh. Each ingredient adds a layer of flavor to create a medley of roasted vegetables that does not feel heavy.

An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Fennel
An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Prepared Fennel

Three aspects make this recipe stand out: fennel, chickpeas and the simple preparation. The fennel lightens the flavor of the roasted vegetables and the chickpeas turn it into a substantial meal when served as a vegetarian/vegan entrée. I also find the concentrated sweetness of the roasted red peppers gives the ratatouille its depth of flavor and body. Thanks to Mark Bittman, who was the Minimalist Chef for the Times after-all, the cooking process is simple and effective. There is no need to sauté each ingredient separately. Add a large handful of fresh herbs and the ratatouille will be bright like the beautiful summer day you are experiencing.

An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Chickpeas for Ratatouille
An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Prepared Vegetables for Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille

Turn on the oven for one hour and you will have created a mixed vegetable cornucopia that you can enjoy, for two to three additional meals. Fennel and chickpea ratatouille can be a vegetable side dish, (tonight I am serving my ratatouille with lamb burgers,) or serve ratatouille as a sauce for pasta or mixed with your favorite grain. You can serve this ratatouille on grilled toasts or make an open face sandwich by adding cheese and putting it under the broiler for lunch or an appetizer. Add a fried egg to the ratatouille and you have a great breakfast or light dinner. No recipe needed for the additional meals, just imagine and go. The possibilities are endless.

An easy vegetable dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or an appetizer. This versatile dish can be served as a vegetarian/vegan entree or a side dish along with your favorite meat. It is also great as a sauce for pasta.
Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille

Don’t throw out your chickpea water, make aquafaba meringue cookies

Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

8 serving as a side dish

Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille

Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille is an easy meal to prepare that can be served for any meal of the day. Serve this dish as a main course vegan entree with pasta or grains. Serve as a side dish with any grilled meats or cook as a sauce to cook fish and eggs with. Spread this ratatouille on toast for an easy lunch or quick appetizer. There are so many options for easy meals at any time of the day.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from Mark Bittman' s Chickpea and Fennel Ratatouille from New York Times Cooking.

Ingredients

    Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille
  • 1 medium eggplant, 1 lb or less
  • 2 medium zucchini, about 1 lb
  • 1 pound of plum (Roma) tomatoes
  • 2 red and/or yellow sweet bell peppers
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half (green germ removed)
  • 1/4 cup (about 60ml) olive oil
  • 1 tea Kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 15oz cans of cooked chickpeas, about 1 lb, or 487g))
  • 2 Tbl minced fresh herbs such as rosemary with thyme or lemon thyme, or basil and parsley. If you do not have fresh herbs you can use 1 1/2 tea of dried Herbs De Provence.
  • You will need a large roasting pan, I used 12" x 17" x 2" pan. (30.5cm x 43cm x 5cm)

Instructions

  1. Pre- heat the oven to 425 degrees F/ 220 degrees C/ Gas Mark 7
  2. Cut each vegetable into similar size pieces, about one inch. There is no need to peel the eggplant, do so if it is your preference. Combine all of the chopped vegetables and garlic in a large roasting pan. If you do not have a pan large enough you can use two separate pans, like rimmed baking sheets, but your cooking time might change. Add the salt and olive oil and mix until evenly combined. (If you are using dried herbs add them now.)
  3. Bake the vegetables in the oven for 40 minutes. Add the chickpeas to the vegetables and fresh rosemary, if using. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are evenly cooked through and there is some browning in the pan. Once the vegetables are cooked take the pan out of the oven and mix in any reserved fresh herbs you are planning on using.
  4. Serve hot or room temperature.

Notes

There are a lot of vegetables in this recipe and a large roasting pan is perfect for the job. You can use a rimmed baking sheet and divide the vegetables in half and bake on two sheets. You just might need more time roasting the vegetables.

Feel free to substitute any vegetable with your favorite summer vegetables, just keep the sizes of the chopped pieces similar. Ratatouille is traditionally tomato based vegetable "stew" that is easily adapted to what you have on hand.

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

Fresh Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachio

The middle of the summer is here and the farmers markets are overflowing with a variety of fruit and vegetables. At last zucchini and corn are announcing their presence. Don’t let these “common” and affordable vegetables fool you, both offer a wide choice of preparations and pair beautifully together. When zucchini and corn  are eaten in its natural state, raw, the flavors are so fresh you will think you are sitting in their vegetable patch, surrounded by vegetables and feeling the summer breeze.

Zucchini and Corn Salad is an easy and fresh salad hot those hot summer days. No need to turn on the oven , slice and mix.

Up until last summer I was not impressed with corn. The corn I bought at the grocery store was bland, getting sweet fresh corn was the exception not the rule. Even corn bought at a farm stand was just ok. Fortunately, last summer the corn was outstanding. It did not matter were I bought corn, all of it was sweet and bright. I discovered eating corn uncooked, just scraped off the cob. Fresh corn just scraped off the cob, is corn at its sweetest and crunchiest. Raw fresh corn became my not so secret, secret ingredient that changed a salad from being “good” to extraordinary. Raw corn is the essence of summer – simple, carefree and bright.

Zucchini and Corn Salad is an easy and fresh salad hot those hot summer days. No need to turn on the oven , slice and mix. Zucchini and Corn Salad is an easy and fresh salad hot those hot summer days. No need to turn on the oven , slice and mix.

These hot summer days require food that helps bring the heat down and keep the stove off. Fresh zucchini and corn salad will do just that. The sweetness of the corn adds depth to the zucchini with crisp texture and bright and fresh flavor. Add lemon vinaigrette, fresh herbs, avocados and pistachios and this salad will satisfy all cravings with crisp, crunch and creamy textures and flavors. Most importantly you do not have to turn on the oven.

My recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe of Patricia Wells, Zucchini Carpaccio from her book, Salads as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season.  The paper-thin sliced zucchini paired with avocado, pistachios and a lemon dressing was elegant and inspirational. Now I do not see this as a main entrée, I would definitely be prowling in the pantry for munchies a couple of hours after dinner if I did eat this as my main meal, so I adapted  this salad to be featured as a vegetable side dish and added corn.

Patricia Wells, Zucchini Carpaccio recipe via Food52

Zucchini and Corn Salad is an easy and fresh salad hot those hot summer days. No need to turn on the oven , slice and mix.

To prepare the zucchini I used a Spiralizer and cut the zucchini noodles into smaller pieces. This made the salad easier to mix and eat. If you do not have a Spiralizer you can julienne the zucchini, or slice across the zucchini as thin as possible then, cut each slice in half or quarters. The point is to have the zucchini in extra thin pieces to reinforce zucchini delicate flavor. No big chunks in this salad.

Zucchini and Corn Salad is an easy and fresh salad hot those hot summer days. No need to turn on the oven , slice and mix.
Zucchini and Corn Salad

Fresh herbs are another key ingredient in the salad and lemon thyme is a stand out feature. If you do not have lemon thyme, substitute basil or other fresh herb that pairs well with lemon. But use fresh herbs, dried herbs will not do the salad justice.

Serve Fresh Zucchini and Corn Salad with Potato Salad with Yogurt and Sorrel Dressing and Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak for a lemony summer dinner.

Fresh Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachio

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

4 side dish servings

Fresh Zucchini and Corn Salad with Avocado and Pistachio

These hot summer days require food that helps bring the heat down and keep the stove off. Fresh zucchini and corn salad will do just that. The sweetness of the corn adds depth to the zucchini with crisp texture and bright and fresh flavor. Add lemon vinaigrette, fresh herbs, avocados and pistachios and this salad will satisfy all cravings with crisp, crunch and creamy textures and flavors. Most importantly you do not have to turn on the oven.

Recipe is adapted from Patricia Wells, Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and Pistachios.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbl fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • 3 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tea sea salt
  • 2 medium fresh zucchini
  • 1 ear of fresh corn, husked
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, ruff chopped
  • 1 Tbl fresh lemon thyme, minced

Instructions

    For the Salad Dressing
  1. In a small jar with a lib, or small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, lemon zest and sea salt until just combined. Add the olive oil and vigorously shake the jar with the lid tightly screwed on, or whisk with a fork in a bowl, until the salad dressing is well incorporated. Set aside.
    Zucchini and Corn Salad
  1. Clean and trim the ends of each zucchini. Use a Spiralizer to spiral cut the zucchini into noodles, or very thinly slice the zucchini across the zucchini then cut each piece in half, or julienne the zucchini. If using the Spiralizer, cut the zucchini noodles into smaller lengths. Put the prepared zucchini into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Hold the ear of the corn at the pointed end and rest the stem end on a cutting board. (Cut the stem off so you can have a stable surface to rest the corn on.) Take a sharp chef knife and starting an the top of the corn cut down the length of the corn, scraping the knife against the cob, to cut off the corn kernels. Rotate the corn around and continue to cut the corn kernels off the entire ear of corn. Put the corn kernels in the bowl with the zucchini.
  3. Add the chopped avocado, and chopped pistachios to the bowl and gently mix to combine all the ingredients. Add the fresh herbs and salad dressing and mix to combine. If not planning on serving the salad right away, do not add the avocado and pistachios. Add these ingredients just before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

If you do not have lemon thyme you can add basil or thyme. Any fresh herb that pairs well with lemon will work.

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