Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Four the Love of Cheese Pizza

Four Cheese Pizza recipe.

Out of curiosity I wanted to know just how much pizza Americans eat. The information is a couple of years old, but according to an article in Food Network Dish, Americans eat over 6,000 slices of pizza over the course of their lifetime (Reiter, Amy FN Dish, News, 2015). 6,000 slices of pizza is difficult to imagine, but for some odd reason I thought it was more, Yet the other surprise is, according to The Pizza Joint, a pizza trivia website, pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza. I would have put money down that the Americans favorite pizza is cheese pizza, especially with extra cheese.

Four Cheese Pizza

In our household, if I bought pepperoni, my sons would devour every crumb of pepperoni pizza, so I should not be surprised at that statistic. Their next favorite is cheese pizza, especially our homemade Four Cheese Pizza. Globs of melted cheese oozing off pizza slices appeals to everyone’s inner cravings. I can just see the scramble to grab the first slice of cheese pizza hot out of the oven with the strings of melted cheese stretching away from the pizza pie. Ah, don’t you just want to scoop up all those stings of melted cheese and layer it on top of your slice?

Four Cheese Pizza recipe

I made this recipe with a blend of mozzarella cheese, Italian Fontina cheese, Asiago Cheese, and Romano Cheese. It is a nice blend of creamy good melting cheeses with harder sharp tasting cheeses for contrast. The mozzarella and fontina cheese get mixed together, then sprinkle a layer of grated Asiago over the top so it stands out. Once the pizza is done baking, I sprinkle finely grated Romano cheese over the top and watch it melt as it hits the hot cheesy surface.

The reason I add the Romano cheese after the pizza is done, is to prevent the Romano cheese from burning. Those crispy burnt layers of cheese taste great in a lasagna, but people like crispy pizza crust, not crispy cheese with their slice.

Four Cheese Pizza recipe.

Putting it together

Just like my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, I did not include a pizza dough recipe. If you want to try your hand at making pizza dough, try Jim Lahey’s No Kneed Pizza Dough. Or, try this pizza dough recipe from The Kitchn.  I have yet to test this recipe so please let me know how you like it.

The down side to making pizza dough is, it requires advance planning in order for it to get done in time. Yet there is a reasonable alternative, buy a store made pizza dough. This makes Friday night pizza more doable.

The cheese pizza recipe has a quick tomato sauce with lots of garlic and fresh basil. It is easy to make while you are waiting for the oven to preheat and the dough to come up to room temperature. All that is left to do is grate the cheese. For more detailed information about making pizza and special equipment please read my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, (linked above).

An extra cheese pizza lovers delight. Four cheese pizza recipe made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian fontina cheese, Asiago, and grated Romano cheese.

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Four Cheese Pizza

A delicious cheese pizza made with a blend of mozzarella, Italian Fontina, Asiago, and Romano cheeses. The mozzarella and Fontina cheeses have a creamy base and are good melting cheeses, while the Asiago and Romano cheese provide a sharp contrast and make all the cheeses pop. 

Garnish with fresh basil and red pepper flakes. 

Makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. For a larger pizza adjust the ingredient proportions as needed.  

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian, Italian American
Keyword Cheese pizza, Four cheese Pizza
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Preheating time 1 hour
Total Time 31 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 14.5 oz (411 g) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar
  • 6 leaves basil chiffonade sliced

Cheese Pizza

  • 1 7 oz (200 g) Pizza Dough
  • 3 TB (45 ml) Tomato Sauce
  • 3 oz (75 g) grated low moisture mozzarella
  • 2 oz (50 g) grated Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1 oz (25 g) grated Asiago cheese
  • ½ oz (15 g) grated Romano cheese
  • Fresh Basil leaves for garnish

Instructions

Prep

  1. One hour before you want to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500°F 250°C/ Gas mark 8
  2. If you are using a pizza steel or stone, place it on a rack according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Place the pizza dough on the counter and rest for one hour before baking.
  4. Mix together the grated mozzarella and Fontina cheese and set aside. Keep the Asiago and Romano cheeses separate. 

Make the tomato sauce

  1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and remove the core over the strainer. Place the tomato halves into another bowl. Press out the juices from the seeds and core pieces in the strainer. Pour the tomato juice in the bowl with the tomatoes and blend with an immersion blender or add to a blender. Process until smooth.
  2. In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and heat until shy of smoking. Add the minced garlic to the sauce pan, aiming away from the hot spot in your pan. Cook for a minute then add the puréed tomatoes. Turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for one two minutes. Add the salt sugar and half the basil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining fresh basil. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for two days.

Assemble the pizza

  1. When it is time to bake your pizza, sprinkle some flour over a pizza peel and set aside. Or, place a piece of parchment paper over a rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spay with cooking oil on the parchment paper. 

  2. Flour your work surface and your hands and pour the pizza dough onto your surface. Press down on the dough with your fingertips and shape into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands, shaped in a loose fist. Let gravity and your thumbs stretch out the pizza dough to a 10-inch (25.5 cm) circle. Use your thumbs to stretch out the edge and rotate the dough around. Do not pull out from the center of the dough.

  3. Place the dough on the prepared pizza peel or sheet pan. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel by shaking the peel back and forth. If it is sticking add more flour to the peel. If you have any holes, patch them up so the topping does not ooze out while baking.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce in an even layer over the pizza dough, leaving an inch border around the pizza. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Sprinkle all the cheeses, except the Romano cheese, over the tomato sauce in an even layer. Shake the peel back and forth to make sure it is not sticking to the peel.

  5. Bring the pizza on the peel over to the oven and aim toward the back of the baking stone or steel. (If you are using a sheet pan, just place it on the rack and bake). Slide the peel towards you and shake off the pizza so it slides onto the baking stone or steel.

  6. Bake for 6 minutes, or until the pizza is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Half way through baking, turn the pizza from front to back for even baking.
  7. Remove the pizza from the oven by using a spatula to slide it onto a pizza peel. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board or pizza pan. Sprinkle the Romano cheese and remaining fresh basil leaves over the pizza and serve immediately.

Four Cheese Pizza. An extra cheese pizza lovers delight. Four cheese pizza recipe made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian fontina cheese, Asiago, and grated Romano cheese.

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

Irresistible Onion Tart

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe.

For the past few months my ideas and inspiration for making new meals gravitated towards baking. Either sweet or savory, it did not matter as long as my hands are touching dough or mixing batter. My excuse is the winter weather and the need to feel warmth even if it comes from a 350 degree oven. But the truth is I love to bake. I can’t lay it all on the winter chill. Whether it is savory, like my beef empanadas, or something sweet like lemon syrup saffron cake, I get immense satisfaction stirring, whipping, kneading and baking. Now, all I want to do is bake bread and make this irresistible onion tart.

For the past month or so, I put this savory tart on the back burner. Actually, I waffled between making French onion soup, a classic French flat bread Pissialadière, and a creamy onion tart. Every time I saw a photo of caramelized onions topping a savory crust or custard on social media my hunger resurfaced. Clearly, I craved the taste of slowly browned and fragrant onions. It was time to give in.

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe

Irresistible Onion Tart, recipe.

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe.

I have Mom’s recipe for Quiche Loraine that I have made for years, but I wanted to try something a little different.  With the premise of testing a new recipe from Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetable Literacy, I forged ahead. It is a big tease looking through a vegetable cookbook in the middle of February. All these tantalizing photos of bright spring and summer vegetables dancing off the pages as I look out my window and feel the chill of the snow-covered landscape. Yet, in between my day dreams of freshly harvested greens and succulent sweet tomatoes, I kept returning to the chapter on onions and this fragrant onion tart made quite an impression.

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe

Pastry Crust for an Onion Tart

There were two things that caught my attention, the first one being she makes a 100% whole wheat pastry crust. Often, I add some whole wheat pastry flour to my flour mix when I make pie dough. It adds a nutty flavor and more texture. It is my experience, a pie crust made with nothing but whole wheat flour is often dry and heavy. In all my years of testing Deborah Madison’s recipes I never experienced a heavy or dry recipe. Her cooking is not the vegetarian cooking of the 70’s, it is much more refined. Though I am sure her whole wheat pie crust is a good one, I did change the recipe slightly by substituting some whole wheat pastry flour with the whole wheat flour. There is less gluten in pastry flour, so I knew it would help create a lighter crust.

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe.

Fillings in Onion Tart

Additionally, I was surprised that she uses white onions in the tart not sweet onions like Vidalia onions. The only times I see white onions in a recipe is for Mexican food. White onions are less sharp than yellow onions, therefore your eyes will not sting as much when you mince them. That makes a big difference when you must dice 3 large onions.  A good sharp knife helps as well because it makes a cleaner cut.

The onions are diced and cooked in butter until light brown. This process takes some time but be patient. It won’t take as long as caramelizing onions. The subtle difference between browned and caramelized onions is noticeable here with a light onion flavor that is delightfully sweet. I love caramelized onions, but I have never tasted onions so sweet before. Also, the sweet browned onions are very fragrant which compliments the onion tart nicely.

Instead of bacon, I quickly fried sliced prosciutto and added it to the filling. The smokiness of bacon tastes great with cheese and eggs, but I wanted to keep the flavor on the delicate side to compliment the sweet onion flavor of the tart. If you ever have more prosciutto than you need, this is the perfect recipe to help use up a couple of slices.

Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe.

Onion Tart for Days

After making this onion tart I still crave that luscious sweetness and fragrance of slowly cooked browned onions. It is just too good to eat once in a while. Fragrant, sweet, and irresistible onion tart is perfect for a light supper, luncheon, brunch or appetizer. They are perfect cut into small bites for a cocktail party or as part of a brunch with friends. This is a meal for any season or any time of day and a real crowd pleaser.

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Irresistible Onion Tart

Fragrant and sweet browned onions are the foundation of this savory custard tart. It may have rich ingredients, but it won't make you feel heavy. I love how aged or smoked Gouda adds some extra depth of flavor to the tart, but Gruyere or Comte are good substitutes. If you do not have whole wheat pastry flour you can use all whole wheat flour instead. You can make the pastry dough and cook the onions a day ahead. The pastry dough will keep in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap for 3 days. Or, freeze it for up to 3 months. The onions are best eaten within 24 hours of making them. Onion tart is perfect for brunch, lunch, a lite supper or as an appetizer for a cocktail party. It is a very versatile food you can make all year long. Special equipment: 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. You can use any shape, square, circle or a 11 x 8.5-inch ( 28.5 x 20 cm) rectangle tart pan. Stand mixer (optional) Rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold your tart pan. This recipe is slightly adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.
Course Appetizer, Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 as a main course 6-8 as an appetizer
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tart dough

  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tb (123 g) Whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup (38 g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 6 TB (106 g) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 TB ice water

Onion Tart filling

  • 1 TB olive oil for frying the prosciutto
  • 2 thin slices of prosciutto or 2 pieces of bacon (optional)
  • 2 TB (7 g) butter
  • lbs (725 g) white onions, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or rosemary minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) milk
  • ½ cup (125 ml) crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 1 cup (70 g) aged or smoked Gouda cheese, grated using the large holes on a box grater

Instructions

Make the pie dough

  1. Make the dough by hand or use a stand mixer.
  2. By hand: Add the two types of flour and Kosher salt to a large bowl. Add the butter and mix the butter and flour with your hands. Press down on the butter between your thumbs and fingers to break up the pieces and press into the flour. Continue to do this until the butter and flour are mixed together and looks like pebbles.
  3. Add the water and mix together with your hands. Add more water if it looks and feels dry, about a teaspoon at a time.
  4. Gather the dough and turn it out onto the counter. Press together and form a flat disc in the shape of your tart pan, about an inch (2.5 cm) thick. A circle, square or rectangle shape.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or more. The tart dough can be made 3 days in advance and kept wrapped in the refrigerator.
  6. By stand mixer: Add the flour to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the pieces of butter and mix the butter and flour on low until the flour looks like pebbles. Add the water and stir on low speed until just mixed together. Add more water if the pastry dough looks dry. Be careful not to over-mix the dough. Turn the dough onto a counter and shape into a flat disc into the shape of your tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or more.

Make the tart filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. If you have a baking stone place it in your oven on the middle rack. For a crispy bottom crust, you want to heat the stone in the oven for an hour before baking.
  2. If using the prosciutto, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Slice the prosciutto into strips, about a 1/2-inch (1 cm) wide and not longer than 2-inches (5 cm) long. When the skillet is hot, add the sliced prosciutto and cook until the strips are brown and crispy. Stir occasionally to prevent the strips from sticking and burning. About 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and spoon the prosciutto slices on a plate. Set aside.
  3. If you are using bacon add the two pieces of bacon to a hot and dry skillet and cook the bacon until they are brown and crisp. Turn the pieces over every now and then for even browning. Remove the bacon from the pan onto a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry. When the bacon is cool, crumble them into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  4. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Turn the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter is melted and stops sizzling, add the diced onions. Stir to coat the onions with butter. Add the thyme, a pinch of Kosher salt and a couple of grounds of fresh black pepper. Stir to mix.
  5. Cook the onions on medium to medium-low until they are very soft and lightly browned, not caramelized, but starting to go in that direction. This is a slow process, about 25 minutes. The onions will be very soft and translucent with an even light brown color. While cooking, occasionally stir the onions for even browning and prevent them from sticking and burning. Taste for seasoning and add more thyme, Kosher salt or black pepper if needed. Turn off the heat and cool.
  6. Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and let it rest on a lightly floured work surface for 10 minutes. Pound the dough with your rolling pin a few times to relax and shape the dough. Roll the dough in the shape of your tart pan to about a ¼-inch (.5 cm) thickness, and large enough to fit the shape of your tart pan with a slight over hang. For a 9-inch (23 cm) round tart pan the diameter should be around 12-inches (30 cm).
  7. Drape the dough into your tart pan and trim the edges to an inch (2.5 cm) overhang. Fold the edge of the dough inward and press along the sides and bottom of the pastry to fit the dough into the pan. The height of the tart is equal to the height of the pan. Place the tart pan on a rimmed sheet pan and loosely cover the tart with plastic wrap. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for 15 - 20 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and crème fraîche.
  9. When the onions are cool and just before you want to assemble the tart, add the grated cheese, onions and prosciutto if using, to the egg mixture. Stir to mix.
  10. Remove the tart from the refrigerator and add the egg mixture. Even out the filling and place in the oven. Bake until the tart is golden brown and set in the middle, about 45-50 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Remove the side of the tart pan by resting the tart on top of a large can, (like canned tomatoes), and slide the side rim down. Make sure the crust is not sticking anywhere along the rim before you slide it off.
  12. Serve warm or room temperature.
Nutrition Facts
Irresistible Onion Tart
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Irresistible Onion Tart, a recipe.

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

Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

Who doesn’t love nachos? All that melty cheese, warm beans, salsa, avocado, and crispy chips just taste so good together. Unfortunately, when I order nachos in a restaurant the chips are soggy with rubbery cheese, and half the chips are naked. What is the point of getting nachos when most of the food on the plate are plain chips? It is like ordering a cheese burger and getting one partially covered with cold cheese.

Loaded Nachos, recipe

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

There is an easy solution. When I make nachos, I spread the chips in an even layer on a rimmed sheet pan, then cover each chip with bean spread (or refried beans), avocado, pickled jalapeño, and grated cheese. Once assembled, they bake in the oven until the cheese thoroughly melts. Why bother with this nacho assembly? Because it is just not a pretty sight, watching your family and friends wrestle and compete over the nachos covered in all that Tex-Mex goodness. With this process, no one gets stuck eating naked chips when they wanted the works.

There are several ways you can put these nachos together. One, buy the chips, bean dip or refried beans, and salsa already made, along with a couple of blocks of cheese and a ripe avocado. The only thing left to do is assemble and bake the nachos. Second, you can use a combo of homemade and store-bought items to make these nachos. The third option is, you can go all out and make everything from scratch.

My version is the second option. I made chips from store-bought tortillas and made the salsa verde. Everything else I bought. If you make everything from scratch, your nachos will have more nuance in flavor, especially the beans. However, these days it is easy to source good quality store-bought salsas, beans and chips. Why not take advantage of your resources? Whichever method you choose, buy the best quality ingredients you can afford.

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

Suggestions for making Nachos:

For my recipe testing, I discovered getting tortilla chips with a deep corn flavor depends on the tortillas you use. If possible, buy freshly made tortillas from a market or restaurant, and make the chips at home. Or, buy chips from a Mexican restaurant. Both options produce the best tasting chips. Nachos require thick chips that won’t break easily and not too salty.  Thicker chips hold up better. If you don’t have a Mexican market or restaurant in your area the store brand I had success with is, Simply Organic Yellow Corn Chips by Tostitos. However, the other corn chips by Tostitos are too thin.

Making your own chips requires some cooking skill, special equipment and deep-frying in 375° F (190°C) oil. You need an instant read thermometer, a 10-inch (25 cm)cast iron skillet, or Dutch Oven, or wok, and a spider strainer. If you do not have all the equipment, please don’t make the chips. Deep frying is tricky business and buying chips a lot safer.

I also provided a recipe for a raw salsa verde made with tomatillos, serrano chilies, onion, garlic and cilantro. The recipe is from Tacos by Alex Stupak, but my method is different. (You can read my cookbook review on Tacos, here.) Instead of using a mortar and pestle, I made the salsa with an immersion blender. It was a breeze and finished in fifteen minutes. Sometimes, tomatillos are hard to find. I found tomatillos at my local Asian vegetable market, but I also saw them at Whole Foods. If you can’t find them substitute with your favorite store-bought salsa verde or red salsa.

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

Traditionally, nachos are made with refried beans. I used a black bean dip instead. Feel free to use what you like. The beans should be thick and somewhat smooth, so it stays put on each chip. The store brand I used was Newman’s Own Black Bean and Corn Salsa. It was a little too thin, but it still worked. Look for a black bean spread or dip. If you prefer using refried beans, just remember refried beans are made with lard, so if you are serving vegetarians or vegans, find or make a vegetarian one. Here are links for home-made refried beans, and vegan refried beans from Serious Eats.

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

Helpful Tips Serving Nachos:

  • Serve nachos immediately. If you are entertaining, have all your ingredients made and prepared. After all your guests arrive and settled down, assemble the nachos then bake in the oven. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble and 4 minutes to bake. Serve right away. This isn’t an appetizer which is placed on an hors d’oeuvres table and forgotten about.
  • Pass these appetizers around, or place in the center of a coffee table where everyone is sitting. Nachos are best eaten immediately. The longer they sit the soggier they become.
  • Make sure you grab a couple of nachos for yourself before they disappear. Maybe this is because I am more familiar with the eating habits of teenage boys, college co-eds, and athletes, but appetizers like nachos quickly disappear.
  • For a small cocktail party make one tray at a time. If you want more for later, make another tray just before you want to serve them. My sheet pan fit 24 chips.
  • Don’t forget the pickled jalapeño . A slice of pickled jalapeño on each nacho makes all the difference between good nachos and great nachos. They add some heat, and the acid brightens all the other ingredients.

Loaded Nachos, recipe.

 

More appetizers: Crispy Potato Skins with Cheese and Pickled Jalapeno, Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon, Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

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Loaded Nachos

Everyone loves nachos with lots of melted cheese and fixings. To make sure every person gets a chip loaded with all the nacho goodness, I have assembled and baked the chips in a single layer. With this recipe, you decide if you want to purchase all the ingredients or make the salsas and chips from scratch. If you rather not make your own tortilla chips buy restaurant style, or thick tortilla chips that are not too salty. The thicker chips stay crisp and won't break as easily. Serve immediately with creme fraiche and salsa verde.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tortilla chips

  • 3 cups (675 ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 6 fresh corn tortillas or thick cut, restaurant style store- bought tortilla chips
  • Kosher salt

Nachos

  • 4 oz (125 g) cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz (125 g) pepper jack cheese
  • 24 tortilla chips homemade or store bought
  • 16 oz 453 g jar bean dip or refried beans
  • 1-2 ripe avocados
  • 24 - 48 slices of pickled jalapeno peppers
  • Creme fraiche plus some milk for thinning
  • Salsa verde

Salsa Verde (or store-bought salsa verde)

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3-4 tomatillos about 5 oz (150 g)
  • 2 serrano chilies
  • ½ white onion minced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 handful of cilantro minced

Instructions

Tortilla Chips

  1. In a cast iron skillet, Dutch Oven, or wok, add the oil and heat until the oil temperature reaches 375°F (190°C). Stack the tortilla chips and cut them into quarters. When the oil is hot, add a few chips to the oil and cook until starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the chips over to the other side and finish cooking. Use a mesh spoon, or spider and remove the chips from the oil and place on paper towels to dry. Sprinkle a small pinch of Kosher salt over the chips while they are warm. Continue until all chips are fried.

Nachos

  1. Pre heat the oven to 425°F ( 218°C) with the rack in the middle position. Line a large rimmed sheet pan (18" x 13" / 46 cm x 33 cm) with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. Prepare your garnishes of creme fraiche and salsa verde
  3. Add the creme fraiche, or sour cream, to a small bowl and add the milk a tablespoon at a time and stir. Continue to add just enough milk so the creme fraiche will easily drizzle over the nachos. You do not want it too diluted, but the creme fraiche drizzles easier when it is slightly thinned out. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready.
  4. If you are making the tomatillo salsa do so now before you bake the nachos. See recipe below.
  5. Grate the cheeses using the large holes of a box grater, or food processor. Place the grated cheese in a medium size mixing bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. Arrange the tortilla chips in a single layer on a sheet pan.
  7. Spoon a tablespoon of bean dip over the center of each chip, spread it out into an even layer.
  8. Slice an avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Thinly slice each avocado half lengthwise and scoop out the slices with a spoon. Arrange one slice of avocado over each chip covered with the beans. Depending on the size of your avocado, you might need to cut each slice in half to fit on the chips. I was able to get enough slices from one avocado.
  9. Place one slice of pickled jalapeno on each chip, then cover them with grated cheese .
  10. Place the sheet pan with the chips in the oven and bake until all the cheese has fully melted, about 4 minutes.
  11. Immediately place the nachos on a serving platter and serve with the creme fraiche and salsa verde. You can drizzle the salsa verde and creme fraiche over the nachos and sprinkle with some chopped cilantro, or you can serve the creme fraiche and salsa verde on the side.

Salsa Verde

  1. Peel and mince the garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with the salt and use the side of your chef's knife to make a pulp with the garlic. Move the knife back and forth pressing the side of the blade on the garlic and salt until the garlic turns into a smooth pulpy consistency. Add the garlic pulp to the bowl of a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.
  2. Husk, wash and dice the tomatillos. Place the tomatillos in the bowl with the garlic.
  3. Add the minced onion.
  4. Cut the Serrano peppers in half lengthwise and cut off the stem. If you want a milder salsa, remove the seeds and the white pith. They contain most of the heat, especially the pith. Mince the serrano chilies and add them to the bowl with the tomatillos. Add the honey and process all the ingredients until you get a smooth salsa, or to your desired consistency. Stir in the minced cilantro and pour the salsa into a small serving bowl.
  5. Serve immediately or cover with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Homemade salsa is best used the same day it is made. If several hours pass before serving, hold off from adding the cilantro until just before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Loaded Nachos
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Loaded Nachos with black beans, avocado, pickled jalapeno slices and grated cheese.

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

Fresh Herb Omelet with Goat Cheese

Fresh Herb Omlet with Goat Cheese Recipe.

One of my earliest posts on my blog was a story about when I first learned to make an omelet. It was a treasured moment between me and Aunt Bunty. I will never forget it. The post included two omelet recipes. Currently, my recipe plugin only allows one recipe per post, and now each recipe must stand on their own. Fresh herb omelet has bright flavor from the fresh herbs, goat cheese and roasted peppers. I believe it is outstanding, and compare all other omelets to this one. Click on this link to read the story and recipe for Cheese Omelet.

I still stand by my premise from my original post: If you can only learn how to cook one thing let it be with eggs. An omelet is perfect for any meal of the day, inexpensive, and provides a nutritious meal. Fresh herb omelet with goat cheese is fancier than the standard cheese omelet, but it is worth knowing how to make. You never know when you will need to make something impressive.

Fresh Herb and Goat Cheese Omelet recipe.

Fresh Herb Omelet with Goat Cheese recipe.

No matter what age, starting out on your own is daunting. Learning to cook is no different. Having the skill of making a meal, such as an omelet, can help soften any transition be it work, school or learning how to cook.  There will come a time when friends and/or family members will put out a call to action for the in-house “chef” to satisfy a hankering of a home cooked anything. The person, who can satisfy this need, usually reaches celebrity-nobility status for life.

Your friends might not remember your record-breaking accomplishments throughout your tenure in college or successful career, but they will remember your late-night comfort food and thank you for it. An omelet is a great place to start. If you can only cook one thing, make it with an egg.

The fresh herb omelet with goat cheese and roasted red pepper is inspired by a Barefoot Contessa episode “Fines Herb Omelet”.   It is a creamy and luxurious omelet. Fines herb is a French term for the fresh herb combination of tarragon, chervil, chives and parsley. Unfortunately, I cannot get chervil at any market around me, so I usually use whatever fresh herbs I have at home. Use equal amounts of fresh herbs in any combination of 2 to 4 fresh herbs to your liking. Great combos are: 1) basil and parsley (you could also add mint), 2) chives, tarragon and parsley, 3) Fines Herbs, 4) dill, 5) whatever suits your taste.

Enjoy.

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Fresh Herb Omelet with Goat Cheese

For all the goat cheese lovers, this omelet is for you. It is brusting with fresh flavor from the blend of your favorite herbs and roasted red pepper. The goat cheese gets really soft and creamy. You will want to savor every bite.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Servings 1 omelet
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 oz 28 g goat cheese (crumbled)
  • 2 TBS mixed fresh herbs any combination of minced herbs, tarragon, chive, parsley, basil, mint, chervil
  • 1 oz 28 g chopped roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 TBS 7 g butter

Instructions

Mise en Place

  1. Get all your ingredients prepped and ready for cooking.
  2. Mix the two eggs in a small bowl until they are completely combined.
  3. Chop the herbs and mix half of the herb mixture into the eggs.
  4. Chop the red pepper.
  5. Measure and gently crumble the goat cheese. Set all ingredients to the side of the stove for easy access.
  6. Get all your cooking utensils and pan ready. I use an 8-inch frying pan, a heat proof rubber spatula and a pancake spatula.

Cooking the omelet

  1. Place an 8-inch frying pan on a burner and turn the heat to medium high. Heat the pan and melt the butter.
  2. When the butter is completely melted, lift the pan and swirl the butter around so that the butter completely covers the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  3. Pour the mixed eggs into the center of the pan. Let the egg mixture settle for a few seconds. Using your utensil, (fork, wooden spoon, heat proof rubber spatula), gently pull the eggs from the edge of the pan towards the center. If needed, slightly tilt the pan by lifting the handle, to help guide the eggs into the cleared space.
  4. Repeat this step 3-4 times going all the way around the perimeter of the pan.
  5. Before the eggs are cooked all the way through, the eggs will still be a little wet on the top, place the rubber spatula between the edge of the pan and the eggs and slide it all the way around the perimeter to make sure that the eggs are loose and not sticking to the pan.
  6. Slide the spatula under the eggs then flip the omelet over like a pancake. Once flipped, immediately sprinkle the goat cheese, roasted red pepper and half of the remaining herbs down the middle of the omelet.
  7. Turn off the heat.
  8. Tri-fold the omelet: Using your spatula, fold over one side of the omelet over the center of the omelet to cover the cheese and herbs
  9. Continue to gently roll the omelet over, using your spatula to encourage the omelet to roll over onto itself, towards the other side of the omelet.
  10. Place your serving plate at the edge of your pan and slide the omelet onto your plate seam side down.
  11. *A slightly easier way to tri-fold your omelet after you have sprinkled your fillings down the center of the omelet, fold over one side of the omelet to cover the cheese filling in the center, then fold over the opposite side toward the center to cover the filling. Use your spatula to lift the omelet out of the pan and place it seem side down onto your serving plate.
  12. Sprinkle the omelet with salt and pepper and the remaining fresh herbs and serve.

Recipe Notes

I prefer to make an individual omelet with two eggs verses a larger omelet with more eggs and for more portions. The one portion omelet cooks quickly and more thoroughly. If you want to make larger omelet you should use a 10-12-inch skillet, (depending on how many eggs), and possibly not flip the omelet over like a pancake, just fold the omelet in half. A larger sized omelet will be more fragile and it could rip. Once folded in half the eggs will continue to cook while the cheese melts.

Nutrition Facts
Fresh Herb Omelet with Goat Cheese
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Why make ricotta cheese and add one more thing to do in your busy day? Is it really necessary to make ricotta cheese if I am already making a lasagna that takes too long? The answer is an unflappable yes because the taste is 100 times better than store-bought. Ricotta cheese bought in grocery stores tastes gummy, gritty, and filled with additives to prevent the whey and curds from separating. Ricotta should have a pure milk flavor, not a chemical flavor.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

Another good reason to make homemade ricotta is a small gesture, but a good one. Sourcing milk from small farms will reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, milk from cows that are allowed to graze, eat a natural diet of grass, and produce hormone and antibiotic free milk, tastes better and is better for our health. Further, clean farming practices and less plastic containers in the world will ultimately make it a healthier and cleaner place.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

I wanted to share this recipe because it is so simple and quick. If you are at all skeptical about starting another project, I believe this is a great way to ease into making ricotta cheese. The recipe makes a small batch, enough to use in pancakes, or to make one of my favorite appetizers, ricotta with lemon zest, mint and honey spread on toasted bread.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta Recipe

This recipe is from the cookbook, Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Additionally, Kenji is the founder of the website, Serious Eats, which I reference a lot. He is all about the science of cooking and puts recipes through rigorous testing to come up with the best practice to produce the tastiest results. This recipe will produce about 1 cup of fresh ricotta and could take 5-15 minutes from start to finish. Another easy bonus is, it is prepared in the microwave.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

However, the recipe is not without its challenges. When I first made it, the bowl I used barely fit inside my microwave. I believe the lack of space around the bowl made an unevenness in the way the milk heated up. The temperature of the milk between the top and bottom of the bowl differed by 10 – 15 degrees. This resulted in producing less ricotta from the quart of milk than the recipe indicated. The next time I made the recipe in the microwave, I used a Pyrex mixing bowl and had better results.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

Keys to Success making Ricotta

You will need an instant read thermometer. Getting the milk to 165F is crucial to making ricotta. It’s important to make sure that the milk doesn’t get too hot and start to boil.

Do not use ultra pasteurized milk. The milk carton label must inform the consumer of the type of pasteurization process. All organic milk sold in the grocery store is ultra pasteurized. This is done to make sure the milk has a longer shelf life. Ultra pasteurized milk will not turn into ricotta cheese since the good bacteria needed to help create the curds is non-existent.

Distilled vinegar produces the cleanest taste. Lemon juice will give the ricotta a distinct lemon flavor. Regardless of which acid you use, the flavors in warm and freshly made ricotta were more pronounced. The flavors mellowed after sitting in the refrigerator overnight. The ricotta became drier overnight as well.

A microwave safe bowl with a wider mouth had better results than an 2 quart liquid measuring cup. Additionally, remember that this won’t work exactly the same across all microwaves.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta reicpe

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe
What to make with fresh Ricotta?

Mix one cup of ricotta cheese with zest of one lemon and 1-2 tablespoons of minced fresh mint. Spread the cheese on toasted baguette and drizzle with honey. It is a creamy, bright and slightly sweet appetizer plus it is easy to prepare.

Creamy Homemade Ricotta recipe

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Creamy Homemade Ricotta Cheese

A simple recipe for homemade ricotta and finished in about 5 - 7 minutes. It produces a creamy ricotta, perfect as a spread on toast. (See blog post for ricotta spread recipe). It is a great recipe to use and get familiar with the ricotta making process. This is a recipe from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Servings 1 cup ricotta
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 4 cups/ 1 liter whole milk not ultra-pasteurized
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup distilled vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice about 2 lemons

Instructions

  1. Line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large and deep bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Gently stir. Use a bowl with a 2-quarts capacity. Place the bowl in the microwave and turn on high for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Check the temperature of the milk, if it is not 165˚F / 74˚C, continue to microwave checking every minute or 30 seconds until the milk reaches 165˚F / 74˚C. You will see the milk curdle and the liquid (whey) become clearer and separate from the curds. If the liquid is milky and without a clear separation between the whey and the curds, the ricotta is not finished. There is a 165˚F/ 74˚C to 180˚F / 82˚C temperature window to work in.
  4. Once the milk/ricotta cheese reached the desired temperature, take the bowl out of the microwave and lightly stir for a few seconds.
  5. Use a spider or slotted spoon to scoop out the curds into a cheese cloth lined strainer. Scoop out as much of the curds as possible, then gently pour the remaining liquid into the strainer. Drain the ricotta to your desired texture. 5 minutes will have the creamiest and moist texture. 15-20 minutes will produce a texture that is spreadable and slightly moist. 2 hours or refrigerated overnight, will produce dry and crumbly curds.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made on the stove top in a large saucepan. Add all the ingredients into a medium saucepan with the heat set at medium to medium-low. Stir the milk constantly and gradually heat the milk to 165F / 74C. Continue as directed to drain the whey.

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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