Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Taste of Mexico: Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

The more I cook with tomatillos, the more I love them. Their tangy and grassy flavor pairs perfectly with green chili peppers making them a foundation for salsa verde or green sauce in Mexican cuisine. Like tomatoes, but not related, tomatillos taste great either fresh like in a raw salsa verde, or roasted and cooked. In this recipe, it is the tomatillo sauce that sets these chicken enchiladas apart.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas with Verde Sauce

Simply put, I love this tomatillo sauce which I adapted from Rick Bayless, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce from More Mexican Everyday. As the title of the recipe link says, “It is a recipe to know by heart.” Once you get comfortable making tomatillo sauce you will want to make it repeatedly. Just like Poblano Chili Cream Sauce, it is easily adapted for recipes with eggs, cheese, or any grilled fish and meats.

Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is one of my favorite Mexican foods. Red chili sauces may have a more complex flavor, but I love the fresh and bright taste of fresh chilies when I cook with them. Fresh chilies make everything more invigorating and upbeat. I never feel heavy when I eat a meal prepared with a verde sauce, unless, of course, I loaded it up with extra cheese and sour cream. Normally I add avocado to all my Mexican inspired food, but the roasted tomatillo sauce is so satisfying, I do not miss the avocado.

Making chicken enchiladas is a great way to use up left over chicken as well. A rotisserie chicken from the store is also perfect for chicken enchiladas. You only need a shy 3 cups (750 ml) of shredded chicken to fill these enchiladas. Using precooked chicken frees up your time to make the tomatillo sauce and it is worth it. Sure, you could make a verde sauce from jarred salsa verde, but the taste won’t be as bright or have that personal touch of homemade food.

Additionally, you can fill enchiladas with just about anything that goes well with the sauce. You can easily substitute the chicken with shredded pork, cheese, fish, legumes, or other vegetables.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas Variations

I adapted Rick Bayless’s chicken enchiladas recipe by adding more herbs and spices to the sauce. In addition, I mixed together sautéed onions and poblano peppers with the chicken filling. Originally, I set out to make chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce filled with shredded chicken and poblano rajas, but I pared down my original idea to reduce some of the prep work. Also, Rick Bayless recommends garnishing the enchiladas with raw onion slices. I do not enjoy eating raw onions, so I roasted onion slices and garnished the enchiladas with them instead.

For this recipe I recommend charring and peeling the skins off the poblano pepper. Charring the poblano pepper and removing the blistered skin adds a smoky flavor to the pepper and enchiladas. You can roast the poblano pepper when you roast the vegetables for the tomatillo sauce, but unlike the serrano chilies, it should be peeled, and seeds removed before you chop them up for the chicken filling. Peeling off the skin is not necessary, but it is a nice touch. If you are pressed for time, do not roast the poblano pepper, instead chop it up without peeling it, and sauté the pepper and onions together until soft but not browned.

The sauce carries some heat which I enjoy, but I realize not everyone does. If you are making the enchiladas for your family, or for people who do not like spicy food, substitute the Serrano peppers with half of a poblano pepper and roast it along with the tomatillos. You will need to peel off the skin before you purée the roasted vegetables. The sauce will taste bright from the poblano chili pepper, but the heat level will be significantly reduced.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Vegetarian Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

For vegetarian enchiladas, make the filling with 1½ cups (375 ml) of good melting cheese like Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese. Sauté a whole onion with a whole poblano pepper, cool slightly then mix with the grated cheese.  Assemble the enchiladas as directed in the recipe. Black beans, kidney beans or white navy beans are a nice addition with the cheese and vegetables as well.  Some cooked fish like tilapia, mahi mahi, or cod will taste great as a filling for enchiladas with  the onions and poblano peppers. However, do not add cheese to fish enchiladas, or for the garnish.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe

Pointers for Success

Mise en Place – Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. This will help with the timing for making the sauce and assemble the enchiladas.

  • Gather all ingredients and place the spices near your stove
  • Slice and chop the onions then organize in three piles as you need them at three different stages. To save some time, roast the onion slices for the garnish along with the onions for the tomatillo sauce. When they are done, make sure you separate half an onion’s worth of the onion slices before you add the remaining sliced onions to the tomatillo sauce.
  • Shred the chicken
  • Grate the cheese
  • Chop the cilantro
  • Place the tortillas in a microwave safe plastic bag and set aside until needed.
  • Pull out your baking dish or dishes, and set aside.

Assemble the enchiladas when all the ingredients are still hot from the stove. This cuts back on the cooking time and helps keep the enchiladas from falling apart. The longer the tortillas cook in the sauce the soggier they get.

Use the best quality tortillas you can buy. If possible buy tortillas from a tortilleria or Mexican market.

Microwave the tortillas when you are ready to assemble the enchiladas.

Microwave the tortillas in a plastic bag leaving an opening for some of the steam to escape. My tortillas got soggy after being heated in the microwave and sat in a sealed and steamy plastic bag. Rich Bayless recommends microwaving on high for one minute, but I think it was too long. You may need to experiment with the amount of time you need to heat the tortillas up.

Assemble the enchiladas a minute after you heat the tortillas. Any later and the tortillas will get soggy.

For a Cinco de Mayo dinner celebration serve chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo sauce with a green salad, Double Coconut Pie and Classic Margaritas.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken enchiladas have such a bright and invigorating taste when paired with a verde sauce. Roasted tomatillos, serrano peppers, onion and garlic set the stage for the enchilada sauce. The tomatillo sauce is adapted from Rick Bayless, More Mexican Everyday, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce. 

There are some specialty ingredients in this recipe. You can find tomatillos at well stocked grocery stores, Asian produce markets, or Mexican markets. The dried spices like epazote and Mexican oregano you can find at Mexican markets or on line. Epazote has a unique flavor that cannot be matched. If you cannot find epazote, add one bay leaf to the sauce then remove it before you assemble the enchiladas. 

Bake the enchiladas in one large baking dish or individual dishes large enough to hold 2 enchiladas. 

Best eaten right out of the oven. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 5
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 lb. tomatillos
  • 4-5 garlic cloves peel intact
  • 2 serrano chilies or half a poblano pepper for a mild sauce
  • 1 white onion sliced across the equator in ½ in thick rings
  • ¾ tsp Kosher Salt

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 poblano chili pepper charred, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 white onion divided
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
  • 1 ½ cup (375 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp dried crumbled epazote
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Shy 3 cups shredded chicken
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese grated
  • ½ cup (125 ml) Crème fraiche

Instructions

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  1. Turn the boiler up high and place the oven rack at the top position.  

    Take the poblano pepper in the chicken filling section and slice it in half lengthwise then remove the seeds. Arrange the halves on a rimmed sheet pan then add the peeled tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic cloves, and slice onions rings for the sauce in an even layer. If you want to save some time arrange the onions slices for the garnish (half an onion) on the baking sheet with the onion for the tomatillo sauce. 

  2. Slide the sheet pan under the broiler and roast the vegetables until they get nice and charred. Check after 4 minutes and continue if the vegetables need more charring. Each vegetable will brown at different speeds, so you will have to adjust the timing for each one. Once they get browned turn them over and brown the other side. This can take from 8 -15 minutes. If the onions need more time than the other vegetables, remove the browned vegetables and place the tomatillos in the bowl of a blender or food processor and chilies and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Pour off any juices in the pan into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Set aside and continue to brown the onions if needed. Remove when done.

  3. Place the poblano chili halves in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it steam for 15 minutes.

  4. When the Serrano chilies and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin from the garlic cloves and place the roasted garlic in the bowl with the tomatillos.

  5. Cut off the stem of the serrano chilies and slice down the middle. Remove some of the seeds and pith if you want to turn down the heat., or leave them be. Add the serrano peppers to the tomatillos and blend, or process, the vegetables until smooth. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml). 

Chicken Enchiladas

  1. Pre heat the oven to 400 °F (200°C / Gas Mark 5) with the oven rack set in the middle position.

  2. Heat a 10-inch (25.5 cm) skillet with 2 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cups (500 ml) roasted tomatillo purée to the skillet and simmer until it slightly thickens. Add the chicken stock and Mexican oregano, epazote, ground coriander, and Kosher salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Simmer the sauce on low,  stirring occasionally until ready to assemble the enchiladas.

  3. Meanwhile, remove the poblano halves from the bowl and peel off the skin. Quickly rinse under cold water to remove stubborn skin. Chop the poblano into ½ inch pieces.

  4. If you have not done so already, slice the onion in half across the equator, slice one half into rings and set aside. Chop the remaining half in ½ inch pieces.

  5. In another skillet heat up 2 TB of vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the shredded chicken and ½ cup chicken stock. Stir to mix. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the chicken is warm. Add about 2 TB of chopped cilantro and stir to mix.

  6. Heat up the tortillas. Place the tortillas in a zip lock bag and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sue the bag is not closed all the way. Remove the tortillas from the microwave and let the tortillas rest in the plastic bag for a minute.

Assemble the enchiladas.

  1. Set aside a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan. Place a tortilla on a work surface and add 2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla to cover the chicken filling. Place the rolled-up tortilla in the baking dish. Continue to fill and roll up the tortillas. You should have enough chicken filling for 10 enchiladas. It will be a tight fit in the baking dish. If you have a small baking dish, perfect for two enchiladas, add the last two enchiladas to a separate dish, otherwise fit the last two enchiladas to one side of the row of enchiladas.

  2. Completely cover the enchiladas with the tomatillo sauce and sprinkle grated cheese down the middle of the enchiladas.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. If you haven’t roasted the onions for garnish already, heat up a skillet until almost smoking. Add the onion slices, intact, to the skillet and dry roast the onions until browned. After a couple of minutes check to see if the onions have browned, then turn over to brown the other side. When done, remove from the skillet.

  5. Serve immediately with crème fraiche and garnish with the browned onions and cilantro.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

What food do you crave on those warm sunny spring days? I crave ice cream, fresh fruit and salads filled with fresh herbs from my garden. One of my favorite combinations is strawberries and basil. The two just compliment each other perfectly. The strawberries taste so bright and fresh and the basil is warm and sunny. After all, what is more enchanting than the classic combination of strawberries and cream? Strawberries, cream and basil, whipped into no-churn ice cream.

Without an ice cream machine, making homemade ice cream is challenging. So, when I discovered Nigella Lawson’s No-churn coffee ice cream recipe last year I was thrilled. At last ,I can make homemade ice cream. I am not sure who came up with the idea first, either Nigella or Martha Stewart, but it doesn’t matter because it is brilliant and now is a universal recipe. No-churn ice cream is so simple and easy to make, even people with ice cream makers will want to make no-churn ice cream.

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

 

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

How to Make Strawberry No-churn Ice Cream

The basic no-churn ice cream recipe is simple with only 3 ingredients, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and flavoring like vanilla or freeze-dried coffee granules. However, if you want fruit flavored no-churn ice cream the fruit must steep in the heavy cream for about 20 minutes. It doesn’t take long for the cream to taste like strawberries, but it does take time for it to chill before you can whip it up into fluffy peaks. Flavoring no-churn ice cream with fresh fruit adds extra time to the overall amount of time to make this ice cream, but it is worth it and essential. The strawberry basil cream, or any fruit flavored cream, won’t whip unless it is completely chilled. This process takes about 3 hours resting in the refrigerator.

Additionally, you must plan for 6 hours to properly set and freeze the no-churn ice cream. This is not a dessert for those spontaneous moments, but your anticipation will be rewarded with homemade ice cream. I did notice the longer, as in days, the no-churn ice cream sat in the freezer to harder the ice cream got. I love the texture within the first 24 hours of making it. It is like a cross between soft serve and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream with it is smooth and creamy texture.

Other than allowing enough time for chilling and freezing, no-churn ice cream is easy to make and tastes just as delicious as churned ice cream. First you whip the heavy cream till fluffy with stiff peaks, then gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk. You do not need more sweetener because the condensed milk is sweet enough for the whole mix. One other area to watch out for is mashing the strawberries too much. The pulp could affect the texture of the ice cream if there is a lot of strawberry pulp in the cream.

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

#strawberriesarethejam collaboration

Along with 80 plus food bloggers and Instagramers, on April 25th we are celebrating this spring featuring strawberries #strawberriesarethejam for a social media strawberry party. Strawberries are not quite in season here in New York, but they are bursting open in other parts of the US. After this crazy sprinter I am wrapping myself in sunshine by any means possible. This collaboration is made possible by Rebecca Bloom and Ruth Bloom the mother daughter team of Square Meal Round Table. We shared our seasonal recipes and ideas over this past year following their inspiring seasonal selection. Below my recipe is the list of all the participants in the strawberry party. Please check out what other creative food lovers are making with strawberries.

More Strawberry Inspiration on Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Grilled Chicken Salad with Yogurt Avocado Dressing

Nifty Cake with Strawberries Peaches and Cream

Gluten free Nifty Cake with Strawberries Peaches and Cream

 

Strawberry Basil No-Ice Cream.

Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream

I love how easy it is to get real strawberry flavor into ice cream just by steeping the berries in cream for several minutes. It is a great technique and an easy way to build up more flavor. I love strawberries and basil together. They pair almost as perfectly as strawberries and cream, No-churn ice cream is so easy and is a great alternative if you do not own an ice cream maker. Adding the strawberry flavor takes some time and the cream must be completely chilled before you can whip it. Infuse the cream and chill it the night before, then make the no-churn ice cream the next morning. 

Note: Allow for a minimum of 3 hours to chill the strawberry basil infused cream before whipping. 

Makes about  40 oz (1 liter 250 ml)

Course Dessert
Prep Time 25 minutes
Freezing Time 6 hours
Servings 5 8 oz (250 ml) servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. (453 g) fresh strawberries, stems removed and rough chopped divided
  • 3-6 medium size basil leaves see notes
  • 1- 14 oz can (396 g) sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

Infusing the cream

  1. Pour the heavy cream in a medium non-reactive sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium. Add 10 oz (296 g) of fresh strawberries and the basil leaves to the cream. Mash up the strawberries in the cream with a potato masher. Bring the strawberry cream just to the boiling point. Turn off the heat and let the strawberries and basil steep in the cream for 20 minutes. Taste the cream and add more strawberries if you want more strawberry flavor. 

  2. Pour the strawberry basil cream through a fine mesh strainer held over a small bowl. Strain out the strawberries and basil leaves from the cream. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cream is completely chilled, about 3 hours. You can prepare this step the day before you make the ice cream. 

Making the no-churn ice cream

  1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. 

  2. Take the chilled cream out of the refrigerator and using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer beat the cream until fluffy and stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-whip the cream. 

  3. If adding chopped strawberries into your ice cream, rough chop about 5 strawberries.  

  4. Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the bowl with the condensed mile and fold in to loosen it up. Add the remaining whipped cream to the condensed milk and fold in until completely Incorporated. Be careful not to deflate the cream. 

  5. Pour the strawberry basil condensed cream into an 8-inch (20 cm) loaf pan or a 2-quart (2 liter) freezer safe container with a tight-fitting lid. If you are adding fresh strawberries to your ice cream, pour about half of the mixture into the container and scatter some chopped strawberries over the top. Add the remaining cream and sprinkle the remaining strawberries. Take a knife or chop sticks and swirl it through the cream mixture. 

  6. Smooth out the top and cover the surface with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals. Freeze for 6 hours or until set. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings like chopped pistachios, chocolate sauce, or more strawberries. Or serve in an ice cream cone. 

Recipe Notes

Depending on the size of your basil leaves will depend on how many you need to infuse in the cream. Start with four leaves, then after the cream has steeped for 8 minutes, taste the cream. Adjust the basil with more or less basil leaves if you feel it needs it. 

Nutrition Facts
Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

#strawberriesarethejam collaborators

Check out all the great strawberry recipes from all the #strawberriesarethejam participants. All blog posts should be live on April 25th 2018. As this is a collaboration of individuals from around the world the timing could be spotty. If you get a 404 page, try again at a later time. Some of the titles do not have links but you can copy and paste them in your browser. You can follow everyone on Instagram using the #strawberriesarethejam.

Square Meal Round Table’s Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova

The Cooking of Joy’s Strawberry Matcha Cream Cheese Tart

This Healthy Table’s Strawberry Tahini Shortcake

Flours in Your Hair’s Strawberry Milk Donuts

The Wood and Spoon’s Strawberry Icebox Pie

Smart in the Kitchen’s Rustic Strawberry Galette

The Herb and Spoon’s Strawberry-Jam Filled Brioche Donuts

Better with Biscuit’s Straw “berry” Cobbler  

My Kitchen Love’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Sift and Simmer’s Rose Strawberry Hibiscus Mille Crepe Cake

What Great Grandma Ate’s No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars (Paleo, Vegan)

A Modest Feast’s Greek Yogurt With Crispy Quinoa and Roasted Strawberries

Hola Jalapeno’s Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Margarita

Worthy Pause’s Strawberry-Basil Shrub Cocktail

Hot Dishing It Out’s Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jelly

Figs & Flour’s Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Apricot Salsa

Pie Girl Bakes’ Strawberry Ginger Pie

Crumb Top Baking’s Strawberry Chia Jam Oat Bars

The Gourmandise School’s Strawberry Pistachio Salad

Tiny Kitchen Caper’s Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake

Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Ganache

Something New For Dinner’s Watermelon, Tomato and Strawberry Salad with Burrata

A Spicy Perspective’s Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Easy and Delish’s Strawberry Brigadeiros

Plays Well with Butter’s Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, & Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Katherine in Brooklyn’s Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Sugar Salt Magic’s Strawberry Mousse Tart

The Healthy Sins’ Coconut Flour Crepes Topped with Fresh Strawberries and Coconut Yogurt

Lemon Thyme and Ginger’s Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream

Jessie Sheehan Bakes’ Strawberry Basil Turnovers

Bavette Meat & Provisions’ Pickled Green Strawberries

Rezel Kealoha’s Apple Cider Rose Poached Strawberries with Thyme Flowers

Made from Scratch’s Roasted Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream

Eat Cho Food’s Strawberry Basil Glazed Donuts

What’s Karen Cooking’s Strawberry Eton Mess

More Icing Than Cake’s Strawberry, Balsamic & Black Pepper Babka

 

What Annie’s Eating’s Vegan Strawberry + Basil Ice Cream

Fufu’s Kitchen’s Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Flotte Lotte’s Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Rumbly Tumbly’s Strawberry Scones

Well Seasoned Studio’s Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries

A Small Kitchen in Genoa’s Italian Riviera Strawberries Salad

Maren Ellingboe’s Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream & Strawberries

 

Cooking with Cocktail Ring’s Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

Reencontrándome con la Cocina’s Chocolate Meringue with White Chocolate Mousse and Strawberries

Le Petite Eats’ Strawberry Elderflower Ice Cream Sodas

Clean Plate Club’s Mini Strawberry Bundt Cakes with Lemon Glaze

Just Date Syrup’s Strawberry Date Syrup Oat Crumble

Well Fed Soul’s Strawberry Almond Mascarpone Cake

Marianne Cooks’ Strawberry Madeleines

Food Solutions’ Strawberry Soup (Savory and Sweet)

Champagne and Cookies’ Strawberry & Sesame Whole Wheat Pop Tarts with Strawberry Tahini Glaze

Annie Campbell’s Strawberry Pavlova

Blossom to Stem’s Mezcal Lime Strawberry Pavlova

Cosette’s Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcake

Ful-Filled’s Lilac Sugar Strawberry Shortcakes with Greek Yogurt Whipped Cream

Babby Girl Yum’s Strawberry Spinach Almond Salad

An Amazing Appetite’s Vanilla Strawberry Tart

Cocoa and Salt’s Strawberry Pistachio Tart

Frosting and Fettuccine’s Strawberry Basil Layer Cake with Strawberry Simple Syrup

Baking the Goods’ Mini Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

My Berkeley Kitchen’s Strawberry Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

No More Mr. Nice Pie’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream. How to make strawberry no churn ice cream. The ice cream is infused with fresh strawberries and sweet basil and filled with tasty bites of fresh strawberries. A smooth and creamy strawberry ice cream recipe.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake, with a recipe.

Chocolate is a separate food group in my household and just like protein, I can’t live without it. Whenever I order a dessert in a restaurant, it is the chocolate desserts I gravitate to. However, I hesitate whenever I see a flourless chocolate cake on the menu because I do not know if it going to be fudge or cake. When it comes to flourless chocolate cake, I like them on the lighter side, not the ones that taste like dense fudge. It is not that I believe they taste bad, it is just they are very rich. The type of flourless chocolate cake I prefer, have a lighter airy texture, despite being moist and loaded with dark chocolate.

So far, I have come across two flourless chocolate cake recipes that satisfy my requirement of biting into a slice of cake, not a chunk of fudge. What makes them different from most flourless chocolate cake recipes out there is the use of finely ground nuts and whipped egg whites. The nuts act like a flour replacement and give the cake some texture and body. Also, because of the whipped egg whites, there is some air which gives the cake some lift and tastes light. Just like brownies, the cake is fudgy without being dense.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

The only challenging aspect to making a flourless chocolate cake is how fragile they are. Especially the types of cakes I prefer. Without the gluten to hold it together, the cake can easily break and crack. Transferring the cake off the bottom of the springform pan onto a serving dish requires the strength of all the good karma, prayers and best wishes you can muster. As well as patience and your best problem-solving skills. It is a very moist cake, especially in the middle which makes it very delicate.

My recipe is adapted from Diana Henry’s Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe in her cookbook, Simple. She uses ground almonds which I love, but I could not bring myself to use almonds a day after I wrote a post about Earth Day Recipes and how growing almonds in California is depleting their water supply. I will not give up almonds altogether, but I should leave some time before I start using them again.

Bitter Orange Chocolate Cake recipe

Flourless Chocolate Cake Variations

In my recipe I substitute almonds with ground walnuts and I added orange zest and Grand Marnier. Chocolate pairs well with many types of nuts, so you can’t go wrong using any type of nut. I do love walnuts and chocolate, especially with bitter orange flavors from orange zest and orange flavored liqueur. I kept all the proportions the same, but I also added Grand Marnier for an extra orange punch. There is just enough of the walnuts for a subtle nut flavor with the dark chocolate the focal point.

However, the addition of Grand Marnier makes the cake more fragile than without it. I believe this is because of the extra moisture in the cake batter. I don’t believe baking it longer will help. If you are concerned about the final show stopping appearance, then don’t add the Grand Marnier. The whipped cream has Grand Marnier in it, so the dessert will have the great chocolate and boozy orange flavor.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Removing the cake off the bottom of the spingform pan is challenging with this moist and delicate cake. If you don’t care, remove the sides of the pan and place the cake still on top of the pan’s bottom, on a serving plate. No one will care or notice while they are enjoying your delicious cake. Or, you can try lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to see if that helps. If your cake does break don’t despair, you can break it up and make ice cream sundaes with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, whipped cream with orange flavors and candied orange peel. Or, cut the cake up into bite size pieces for people to nibble on with their coffee or tea.

Orange Essence Flourless Chocolate Cake is worth making regardless of its delicate nature. Because the chocolate is the dominate flavor, use the best quality of chocolate you can buy with 70%- 72% cocoa butter. I have great success with Lindt chocolate and Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate, twilight delight found in candy section of the grocery store. Here is a link for more information on the best chocolate bars for baking from Serious Eats.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Enjoy!

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

An effortless flourless chocolate cake with intense dark chocolate flavor and a light and nutty texture. The cake is very moist and fudgy but not dense.   

Serve with whipped cream 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Flourless chocolate cake

  • 6.75 oz (192 g) unsalted butter about 1 2/3 sticks
  • 11.5 oz (328 g) good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 70% coco solids
  • 3/4 cup (164 g) super fine sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) ground walnuts (see note)
  • finely grated zest from half a navel orange
  • 2 TB Grand Marnier Optional
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting the cake

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 TB confectioners' sugar or to taste
  • Zest from half an orange
  • 2 TB Ground Marnier or a 1/2 teaspoon of Orange Blossom Water

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177°C /Gas Mark 4) oven. Butter an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium metal mixing bowl, add the broken-up chocolate, the butter and sugar to the bowl. 

  3. Add some water to a large 10-inch (25.5 cm) skillet just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Set on a burner over medium heat. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and place the bowl with the chocolate, butter and sugar in the center of the skillet. Melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Do not let the water get to a brisk boil. Keep it at a gentle simmer, being careful not to splash water into the chocolate. 

  4. Remove the bowl from the skillet just before all the butter has melted and stir until all the chocolate and butter has melted. Let the chocolate cool for four minutes. 

  5. Add the egg yolks one at a time to the chocolate, stirring between each addition until each yolk is incorporated. 

  6. In a separate bowl, with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff with soft peaks and still wet. Soft peaks will form when you lift out the beaters. Gently fold in the Grand Marnier if using. 

  7. Add the orange zest to the ground walnuts and mix together. Add the walnut mixture to the chocolate and half of the whipped egg whites. Fold into the chocolate. Then fold in the remaining egg whites. 

  8. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and place on a rimmed sheet pan in case it leaks.  Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. 

  9. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a cake rack. Don't get upset if you see the cake deflate and crack as it cools. When the cake is completely cool, unlatch the pan and carefully remove the sides. Run an icing spatula, or thin sharp knife under the cake to loosen. It helps to clean off the spatula or knife every time you pull it out from under the cake. Carefully transfer the cake onto a serving plate.

  10. Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar right before serving. 

Whipped Cream

  1. Right before serving, use a hand-held mixer and whip the heavy cream until it just holds its shape. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar and Grand Marnier, if using. Whip until combined soft peaks form. Taste and correct the whipped cream for sweetness and the Grand Marnier. Place in a small serving bowl. 

  2. Serve the whipped cream with the cake and extra fruit, like berries. 

Recipe Notes

Before you start the cake, toast the walnuts in a preheated 350°F (177 °C / Gas Mark 4) oven. Spread a couple of handfuls (60 g) of the walnuts over a small rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 minutes. Spread the toasted walnuts over a clean lint free kitchen towel. Fold a portion of the towel over the nuts to cover and rub the towel with the walnuts back and forth to remove the walnut skin. No need to go crazy rubbing off all the skin. Rub back and forth a few times until no more skin comes off without scrubbing. Collect the walnuts leaving the loose skin behind and grind the walnuts in a food processor. 

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake. A flourless chocolate cake recipe made with ground walnuts and flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier. It has intense dark chocolate flavor complemented with the bitter orange essence. A very moist and light cake.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Earth Day Friendly Recips

View from Boscebel overlooking the Hudson River. Post about Earth Day with links to recipes.

Sometimes I just get so caught up in my own obligations I forget the time to set aside and pay attention to larger events going on around me. Earth Day is a couple of days away and I totally forgot about it. Besides from paying attention to keeping this planet healthy and clean, my son was born around Earth Day. It should be a day I never forget. Of course, I never forget my son’s birthday but now that my life no longer revolves around the school calendar, these extra-curricular activities are easily forgotten.

Fortunately, there are friendly reminders directing me to the goings on outside my work bubble. Recently, I came upon an article from Fine Cooking  with a list of recipes suitable for Earth Day celebrations and it got me wondering how many recipes on my website could I add to that list. Yet, because my blog includes recipes for all food groups and diets. At a quick glance I found 37 plant-based and environmentally friendly recipes out of 137 recipes on the blog. No dairy, eggs, cheese or animal proteins. If I add my fish recipes there are even more.

Spring Vegetable bounty from the Farmers Market. Earth Day post with recipes.

Earth Day Friendly Foods

What is Earth Day friendly food? Food made from plants that do not deplete our natural resources, pollute the environment, or contribute significantly to our greenhouse gas emissions. That is a tall order to fill because everything we grow, make and consume has an impact on the planet. Fortunately, there are farms that practice sustainable framing techniques with minimal impact on the environments. From my reading, I am a firm believer of buying local products from markets that source their products from local farms and venders, either livestock or plant-based food.

News to Me

From my reading and listening to Mark Bittman talk about food and the environment, I already knew anything related livestock and particularly to cattle, either beef or dairy contributes significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere. However, what I did not know about is rice. According to The Worlds Atlas, rice paddies are the “largest source of methane gas on earth.” Say whhat? Rice? Yes rice. Originally, I thought that distinction belonged to the cattle industry, but I was wrong. Carbon dioxide comes from microorganisms living in the rice paddies. As the world’s population grows, the more rice paddies there are, and hence more methane gas going into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, I also read about how almonds significantly impact the water supply. This piece of information almost made me cry and struck a chord that goes back to my teenage years living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whenever I buy a non-dairy milk, I buy almond milk. Unfortunately, growing almonds requires large amounts of water, and even more water to produce almond milk. (See The World Atlas link for reference). According to The World Atlas, a significant amount of the world’s almonds comes from California. Need I say more? That poor state goes in and out of droughts time and again. These droughts sometimes last for years at time.

While I was growing up in CA during the 70’s there was a terrible drought that lasted a couple of years. 40 years later I can still hear Mom pointing out all the wasted water and ways to reduce our water consumption. Sorry mom, I just did not know. Maybe, If I make almond milk  at home, it will have less of an environmental impact.

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Carrot top pesto

Every Day is Earth Day

How do I manage eating environmentally responsibly on an omnivore diet? I buy locally whenever possible and within my budget, especially dairy and eggs. We eat beef maybe once a week at most, however we do eat a lot of chicken. Additionally, I buy fish that is considered a “Best  Choice” or “Good Alternative” from Seafood Watch.

Fortunately, we live in an area that has local dairy farms so buying local milk is easy and affordable. Cows no matter where they live produce methane gas, but I believe there is fewer emissions because the milk does not travel as far. Grass fed cows are also better for the environment. I used to be good about making my yogurt from the local milk. Making yogurt is something that Is easy to fit into your schedule, but yogurt from a half-gallon of milk should get eaten within the week.

We are by no means perfect and have behaviors that would receive a “needs improvement” score on our report card. My pet peeve are plastic shopping bags. We often forget to use our reusable ones. Reducing the number of plastic bags, we recycle and use, is one of my goals for the year.

Additionally, after reading the 10 worst foods for the environment, I realize we should eat more plant-based meals then we already do.

How to Begin

I recommend starting small and work your way into doing more each year. Years ago, the first act I did was not buy water bottles and sports drinks. That action saved me a lot of money and reduced the number of plastic bottles in my recycle bin. I bought water bottles to reuse and bought powdered sports drinks and made the beverage in reusable water bottles. Side bar – My sons were swimmers, and drinks like Gatorade were essential to replenish their electrolytes after a day’s practice. However, I do not recommend the daily consumption of energy drinks for children under the age of 12 and who do not participate in rigorous and daily sports activities. These types of beverages are full of refined sugar and salt, as is all flavored drinks. Studies show a direct relationship between obesity and the liquid form of sugar. 

Buy local whenever possible. Visit your local farmer’s market and buy your produce there. Even if the farmers are not certified organic, they possibly are practicing organic.

Remember the recycle symbol means, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reduce your waste cutting back on the amount of containers you buy. Reuse containers whenever possible. Recycle by either re-purposing or taking recyclable items to the recycling depot.

Earth Day Friendly Recipes

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Pappardelle with Sherry Mushroom Sauce

Pappardelle with Sherry Mushroom Sauce

Cold Sesame Noodles

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, South Indian Style Vegetable Curry

South Indian Style  Vegetable Curry

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Farro with mushrooms and roesmary

Toasted Farro with Mushrooms, add some chickpeas and swiss chard for a complete vegetarian meal

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Apricots

Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Rosti, Potato Pancake with mushrooms

Potato pancakes, Rosti

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Fennel with Chickpeas Ratatouille

Fennel Chickpea Ratatouille serve with pasta or polenta

Soup

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Broccoli and Spinach Soup with Mint

Broccoli and Spinach Soup

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Puree of Vegetable Soup

Purée of Vegetable Soup

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Kabocha coconut Curry Soup

Kabocha Coconut Curry Soup

Miscellaneous Recipes

EArth Day Friendly Recipes, Parsley Juice

Parsley Juice

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Baked Oatmeal with Apples

Baked Oatmeal, made with non-dairy milk

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Aquafaba Meringue

Aquafaba meringue add whipped coconut milk with berries for a vegan pavlova

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar

Cocoa Banana Nut Snack Bar

Seafood recipes for those that need something more to eat besides plants

Buy fish that is sustainably farmed or harvested. Seafood Watch has reliable recommendations.

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Seared Fish Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Seared Fish Tacos

Earth Day Friendly Recipe, Oven Baked Sole with herbs

Oven Poached Sole with herbs 

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Cod in Tomato Saffron Broth

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth Buy Pacific Cod or from the Arctic on the east coast

Earth Day Friendly Recipes, Spanish Style Mussels

Spanish Inspired Mussels, without the chorizo

 

This is just a sample of my plant-based and other environmentally friendly recipes on my blog. Most of my vegetable side dishes are plant-based or can easily be adapted by substituting olive oil for butter, non-dairy milk for cow’s milk, and eliminating the cheese in pesto.

Happy Earth Day everyone. Here is to a healthy life and a healthy planet.

 

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Leek Asparagus Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

Often, people believe making risotto is a chore. But I find it is not much more work than making a pasta dinner with a vegetable sauce or with shellfish. It takes about the same time and you must pay attention to what you are cooking. Regardless of your perspective, risotto is a meal worth having in your dinner repertoire. This recipe is inspired by Spring, using seasonal produce with the bright zing of lemon and mint. Leek asparagus risotto with sugar snap peas is pure comfort food. It is a blend of rice made creamy from stock and stirring, with a bounty of spring vegetables separately cooked to retain their crisp bite and shape.

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

What is great about risotto, once you have the basic recipe down, the possibilities are endless. Anything goes. It is a great way to use up odds and end vegetables or leftover fish, chicken and cured pork. Any vegetable pairs nicely with the creamy rice. I like to add a lot of vegetables because I feel it is healthier for me. But many recipes include only just a cup of peas or no vegetables at all, like Risotto alla Milanese, which is the risotto that put risotto on the map. It is only made with the rice, stock, Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, and saffron.

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

When I make risotto, I have my music playing in the background or I have the pleasure of a friend sharing relaxed conversation with a glass of wine. It is also a time for meditation, especially if it has been one of those days and you need some quite time. Whatever the mood, you should never feel rushed or stressed when making risotto, you will just end up making mediocre risotto. This just can’t be rushed and defeats the purpose of making a comforting meal.

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

Variations for Leek Asparagus Risotto

If you want to give leek asparagus risotto an upgrade either for a fancy dinner or for a romantic dinner for two, add some seared sea scallops on top of the plated risotto. If you do not know how to sear sea scallops, click on this link for Dinner Salad with Sea Scallops and Greens for instructions. Brown some butter after searing the sea scallops and drizzle it over the scallops and leek asparagus risotto with a squeeze of lemon. It is a great dinner for a couple to make together. Each person has a job. One can stir the risotto, the other can keep you company and sear the scallops and brown the butter at the last minute.

The dinner salad is a great alternative to risotto when the weather gets hot and humid and you don’t want to stand over a hot stove.

Read more tips on making risotto here.

 

Leek Asparagus Risotto

A springtime risotto made with leeks, asparagus and sugar snap peas. For a romantic dinner for two, add some seared sea scallops. 

When I use a store-bought stock, I like to enhance it by adding fresh vegetable trimmings and simmer for several minutes. This adds some time to your prep, but it does add more flavor to the stock. If you are pressed for time omit this step and save 15 minutes but remember to heat up the stock before adding it to the risotto. 

I prepare the asparagus and sugar snap peas separately. This helps the vegetables retain their shape and color. I like the vegetables on the crisp side which is a nice contrast to the smooth and creamy rice. 

Serve immediately. 

Course Main Course, Vegetarian Main
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 -5 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Leek Asparagus Risotto

  • 6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable or chicken stock homemade or low salt store bought stock
  • 1 lb (414 g) asparagus
  • 1 leeks cleaned and sliced
  • 4 oz (119 g) sugar snap peas a heaping cup
  • 4 TBS (57 g) butter divided
  • cup (300 g) carnaroli or arborio rice
  • ½ cup (150 ml) dry white wine
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt (more to taste)
  • ½ cup (50 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • finely grated zest from one lemon
  • garnish with mint and parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Preparing the stock and vegetables

  1. Clean and remove the dark leaves off the leek. To clean leek, cut off the root end and slice down the middle of the leek lengthwise but not all the way through. Open the leek like a book and run it under cold running water. Peel back the layers looking for the hidden dirt and rinse off. The dirt likes to hide between the layers of the leek almost all the way through to the center. Dry off the leeks as best you can. 

    Trim off the dark green layers of the leek and reserve for the stock, then slice in half all the way through lengthwise. Slice the leek in half moon slices about a 1/8 inch (.5 cm) thick and set aside. 

  2. Pour the stock into a 3-quart sauce pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Trim off the ends of the asparagus and add the ends to the stock. Add the cleaned dark green parts of your leek. Add a small handful of sugar snap peas to the stock. 

    Bring the stock to a simmer. Simmer the stock with the vegetables for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the vegetables with a spider or slotted spoon. Discard the vegetables.  Return the stock to the burner set to low heat and keep warm. 

  3. Fill a sauce pan with salted water and bring to a boil. 
  4. While the water is coming to a boil, trim the asparagus into one-inch (2.5 cm) pieces cut on a diagonal. Start by trimming off the top tip just where it begins to get smooth, then work your way down the stalk. 

    Remove the string from the side of the sugar snap peas and trim each end if needed.  Also, while the water is coming to a boil, make a water bath by adding cold water and ice cubes to a medium bowl.

  5. Once the water comes to a boil, add a pinch of Kosher salt then add the trimmed asparagus. Quickly blanch for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the asparagus from the boiling water then add to the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Keep the water on and boiling. When the asparagus is cooled remove them from the ice bath and dry on a clean lint free kitchen towel. Set aside. Add more ice to the ice bath for the sugar snap peas. 

    In the same pot of boiling water, quickly blanch the sugar snap peas for one minute. Remove the sugar snap peas from the boiling water and add to an ice bath. Once cool, drain and dry the sugar snap peas. Cut the sugar snap peas in quarter inch slices on a sharp diagonal. Set aside. 

Making the risotto

  1. In a Dutch oven or other 5-qt pot, add 2 TB of butter over medium heat. Once the butter stops sizzling add the leeks and cook until the leeks become translucent and tender, but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. 

  2. Add the carnaroli rice and stir to coat. Cook the rice until they become opaque about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until the wine completely evaporates. 

  3. Add about a 1/2 cup (150 ml) of warm stock and stir the rice until it has absorbed the stock. Add the Kosher salt and continue to add warm stock in 1/2 cup (150 ml) intervals, stirring the rice and waiting until the stock is all absorbed until you add more. Continue adding stock and stirring until the risotto is al dente, about 20-30 minutes. After 15 minutes of cooking, taste the rice to gauge your progress. The rice should be tender but still firm. You might not use up all the stock. 

  4. Towards the end, add the asparagus and sliced sugar snap peas to warm up. Add the remaining butter and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with a 1/2 cup of stock. Stir to mix and melt the cheese. 

  5. Loosen up the risotto with some warm stock and stir if it needs it. 

    Spoon a serving into a shallow bowl or plate, and garnish with lemon zest, parsley and mint. 

  6. Serve immediately with more cheese and fresh black pepper. 

Recipe Notes

Depending on how salty your stock is, will determine how much Kosher salt you need to add. I always use low salt or homemade stock, which gives me some flexibility for seasoning my food. Taste first and season with salt as needed. 

For a really special treat, sear sea scallops separately and serve 3-5 scallops person. Arrange the sea scallops on top of the risotto in individual serving dishes. Brown some butter and drizzle over the sea scallops on the risotto. Garnish with herbs and lemon zest. 

 

Leak Asparagus Risotto, A spring risotto recipe Leek asparagus risotto is gently cooked in with a rich flavored stock, leeks, asparagus and sugar snap peas. Fresh herbs and lemon zest garnish the risotto for a bright finish. Add seared sea scallops for a romantic dinner for two.
Leek Asparagus Risotto. A spring risotto recipe Leek asparagus risotto is gently cooked in with a rich flavored stock, leeks, asparagus and sugar snap peas. Fresh herbs and lemon zest garnish the risotto for a bright finish. Add seared sea scallops for a romantic dinner for two.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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