Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread

Celebrate with Sweet Easter Bread recipe

In many cultures, bread is symbolic for life and sustenance. If there is bread in the house, no one will go hungry. Bread has symbolic meanings in different religions as well. Throughout Europe, Easter bread symbolizes new life and served at breakfast on Easter morning. The history of Easter bread goes back hundreds of years and is enjoyed during a meal at the end of Lent.

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Sweet Easter Bread

This is a delicious bread perfect for any breakfast. It is lightly sweet with hints of orange zest and fennel pollen. The eggs will cook perfectly in the oven with the bread for an extra bonus. Recipe is slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2012. Recipe by Melissa Roberts
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings 1 , 12- 16 inch loaf
Author Ginger

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2/3 cup / 150ml whole milk
  • 5 Tbs / 70g granulated sugar- divided
  • 1 3/4 tsp / 1/8oz / 6g active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups / 405 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp / 3 g Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup 10 stick / 113g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tb / 23 g melted butter
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange optional
  • 1/2 tsp of ground anise or fennel pollen optional
  • Poppy Seeds for decorating optional
  • 1 egg plus 2 teaspoons of water mixed (for egg wash)

For the decorative eggs

  • 5-6 large eggs
  • Food coloring of your choosing

Instructions

Make the Dough

  1. Heat the milk in a 2-cup microwave safe glass measure in the microwave until the milk reaches 110-115F (43-46C). (Can also heat the milk on the stove in a small sauce pan). Start at 30 seconds and check the temperature of the milk and add 10 seconds until you reach the desired temperature. You do not want it hotter than 115C because the higher temperature will kill the yeast.
  2. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon (13g) of the sugar, and the yeast into the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The milk should get foamy from the yeast. (If the milk does not get foamy your yeast is not active).
  3. Melt the butter and let cool.
  4. Whisk the eggs into the milk and add the cooled melted butter.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the remaining 4 Tb (58g) sugar, all-purpose flour, and Kosher salt, orange zest (optional), and ground anise or fennel pollen (optional). Mix together with a whisk or fork to get the ingredients evenly combined. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  6. On low speed, add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix to get the ingredients combined. Stop and scrape the bowl when necessary. About one minute. Turn the speed up to medium high and mix for 5 minutes until the dough gets soft and silky.
  7. Brush the insides of a medium mixing bowl with the remaining half tablespoon of melted butter. Add the bread dough into the bowl and butter the tops and sides of the dough with the remaining butter. Turn the dough around in the bowl to get a good coating of butter all over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter in a warm spot until it doubles in size, for 1 1/2 hours up to 2 hours.
  8. The dough can be made ahead up to the point of the first rising. Refrigerate the dough, then when ready, rest the dough at a warm spot on the counter and let it rise for 2 1/2 hours.

Color Eggs

  1. Color your eggs according to the directions of your food coloring. You do not need to hard boil the eggs first, just be careful not to crack any eggs while you are coloring them. The eggs will cook in the oven while the bread is baking. Refrigerate your decorated eggs until you are ready to use them.

Assemble the bread

  1. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide the dough into three equal pieces.
  3. Lightly sprinkle flour over your work surface and dust your hands with flour.
  4. Roll each piece of dough into long tapered ropes about 16 inches (41cm) long. If your dough is springing back and not lengthening, cover the strands with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange the strands lengthwise across the sheet pan and pinch the top of the strands together. Loosely braid the dough. Drape the outer left strand over the middle strand, then drape the outer right strand over the (new) middle strand. Repeat alternating the left and right outer strands until you are at the bottom. Pinch the bottom strands together and secure. Tuck the eggs between the braided strands down the middle of the bread. The eggs will slide out if they are too close to the sides of the bread. Loosely cover the bread with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and let the bread rise for 45 min - 1 hr. The bread will puff up but not double in size.
  6. Meanwhile, arrange the oven rack to the middle position, and if you have a baking stone place it on the middle rack. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 175C/ Gas Mark 4. When baking bread, I like to preheat my oven for an hour. I believe the temperature is more even and accurate.
  7. After the final rise, whisk together one egg with 2 tsp water and brush the bread with the egg wash. Avoid getting the egg wash on the eggs. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if using, and place the sheet pan with the bread on the middle rack in your oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F (88C).
  8. Take the bread out of the oven and slide it with the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. After 5 minutes remove the parchment paper. Can be served warm or room temperature.
  9. The bread can be made the night before serving for breakfast, 8 hours in advance. After 8 hours, the eggs might start to turn bad. The bread will be fine for a couple of days, but not the eggs.

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

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Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

It turns out for the past half century I missed out on a special dessert. I recently learned this dessert originated in Oregon in the 60’s, then variations developed all over California. I was there. How did I, or anyone in my family or friends, not know about this? If it was hot in Eureka, it was hot in San Francisco. Despite the gravitational pull of anything pink had on me then, this popular and pink dessert slipped by unnoticed. Pink Champagne Cake was a popular dessert in the 60’s but I believe a resurgence is in order. It is a beautiful tower of pale pink cake and buttercream, flavored with pink champagne.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

I first discovered it in a cookbook, American Cake by Anne Byrn. My thoughtful sister gave me this book because she knows how much I like to research the history and story behind the food I make. It is a great cookbook about the history of cakes in America with recipes from the 17th century to present time. Pictured right on the cover is a beautiful pink cake garnished with white chocolate and bright pink rose petals. It is a true sight of beauty and elegance. Apparently, as Anne Byrn explained, pink champagne was a popular drink in the 60’s among hip California women. It also became a popular color from jewelry to shag carpets. This cake was created to ride the Pink Champagne trend. I love seeing how food culture and popular culture connect and influence each other.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake

Cake batter

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake recipe

Cakes measured for slicing in half to make a 6 layer cake

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

Cake with crumb layer of frosting

Pink champagne cake is the first recipe I have made from this book and it is an unexpected winner. I was not sure how it would taste, but the subtle flavors balance with the light texture. The cake is moist and made with egg whites, like a chiffon cake, but is slightly denser because of the butter. The frosting is very sweet, and even though it is a buttercream Confectioners sugar is the dominant ingredient. There are several types of buttercreams and this recipe I consider is an American buttercream. They usually are not as smooth as European buttercreams and have a lot more sugar.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

I made pink champagne cake twice, first as written,  and the second time with a different buttercream. American buttercream is not my favorite frosting. They tend to be too sweet and slightly gritty from all the powdered sugar.  Instead, I used a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum cookbook, The Cake Bible. Her buttercream recipe is light, silky smooth, not as sweet, and very buttery. I thought the texture of this mousseline buttercream matched the light texture of the cake. I also added some strawberry purée because strawberry adds a little more depth to the pink champagne buttercream. This is an American cake, but the European buttercream is a lot nicer and more elegant than the American one. Anne Byrn shared her recipe on Food 52 if you want to see her original.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake

One downside, the mousseline buttercream is not an easy frosting for a beginner to make. It helps to have a confident eye and hand that experience develops. There is always a first time. Be patient and give yourself plenty of time to make this. You will also need a candy thermometer, or a good instant read thermometer that goes up to 255˚F (124˚C).  My version is somewhat of a production between the strawberry purée, buttercream, the cake, and all the layers. The original frosting is a lot easier to make.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake reicpe

If you want to bake this cake, but are unsure about making a European buttercream,  make the original frosting from the recipe provided in the Food 52 link. However, taste as you add the sugar. The frosting is very sweet. When I made it, I cut back on the amount of sugar by two cups and I still thought it was too sweet. I added lemon juice and lemon zest to cut the sweetness.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake recipe

The original recipe is a three layer cake. It is a beauty to look at, but I thought making six layers with strawberry mousseline buttercream would be a nice way to add more strawberry flavor throughout the cake. I am a little embarrassed by how uneven my layers came out. I have not had this issue before. In the past my measure and marking technique has been successful in creating even layers. I believe the cakes were more domed shaped than I realized. I do work hard to be consistent. However, wouldn’t you know the one time I am documenting my work for reference and prosperity, it does not turn out the way I want it to. As I always say, “This is how you know it is homemade. It is perfect in its’ imperfections.”

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake recipe

Springtime is the beginning of a lot of special occasions, and Spring is one of them. After a long winter who doesn’t want to come out and celebrate the new season’s emerging life. No more dormancy and short days. Life is blooming all around and that alone is worth celebrating. It is also the beginning of Easter, Passover, more birthdays, graduations, bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and anniversaries. Pink Champagne Cake is the perfect cake to make for these momentous occasions.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake

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Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake recipe

Pink Champagne Cake

A special cake for any celebration. Pink champagne adds a light flavor to the cake and the buttercream for a very delicate party cake. Strawberries and white chocolate complement the delicate champagne flavor to make the cake shine. Pink champagne cake was popular in California during the 1960’s. Best eaten the day the day it is made and assembled, but will last for a couple of days unrefrigerated. This cake recipe is from American Cake by Anne Byrn. The buttercream and strawberry puree recipes are slightly adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The amount of buttercream in my recipe will cover an 8 inch 6-layer cake, which is one and a half of the original recipe. Listed in the notes section, are the ingredient amounts if you want to make a 3-layer cake. Three recipes make up this cake and the prep and cook times are listed in the instructions for each recipe. Give yourself plenty of time. All three recipes can be made in advance.
Servings 8 - 10 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Cake

  • Butter and flour for preparing three 8-inch cake pans
  • 3 cups / 348g cake flour*
  • 1 Tbs / 16g baking powder
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 large egg whites room temperature
  • 1 cup / 250ml pink champagne room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 cups / 447g granulated sugar
  • 1 cup 2 sticks / 226g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pink food coloring*

Strawberry Purée

  • 20 oz / 567g frozen strawberries with no added sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp granulated sugar optional

Pink Champagne Mousseline Buttercream

  • 3 cups 6 sticks 1 ½ lb / 680g unsalted butter, soften but still cool
  • 1 ½ cups / 332g granulated sugar divided
  • cup / 75 ml water
  • 7 large egg whites room temperature
  • ¾ tsp + ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 fl oz / 90 ml / 5-7 Tbs pink champagne room temperature
  • Finely grated zest from one lemon
  • Pink food coloring*
  • ½ cup / 125 ml strawberry purée
  • Decorate with shaved white chocolate or sliced strawberries, or grated coconut, or edible rose petals, or other candy garnishes

Instructions

Strawberry Purée -Takes about 20 - 30 minutes to make, not including the defrosting time.

  1. Start defrosting the strawberries the day before or first thing in the morning. They will take several hours for the strawberries to defrost and release their juice. Suspend a colander over a large mixing bowl. Add the frozen strawberries to the colander and let the strawberries thaw out and release their own juices. Occasionally press down on the strawberries to encourage the juices to release. You should get close to 1 1/4 cup juice.
  2. In a small saucepan, pour in the strawberry juice and turn the heat to medium high. Reduce the juice to about 1/4 cup.
  3. Purée the strawberry pulp in a food processor until smooth. There will be some texture because of the seeds, but you want it as smooth as you can.
  4. When the strawberry juice is reduced add the strawberry puree and stir. Add the lemon juice and taste the strawberries. Depending on how tart or sweet the strawberries taste, add about 2 -3 teaspoons of granulated sugar. You will not want it very sweet because the buttercream will be sweet. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the strawberry purée into a heat proof glass measuring cup. You should have about 1 ¼ cup. The purée can be stored in an airtight container for 10 days in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to one year.

Cake - Takes about 20 minutes to mix, about 25 minutes to bake, 40 minutes - 1 hour to cool

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350˚F/ 175˚C / Gas Mark 4
  2. Prepare 3, 8-inch cake pans. Cut a circle of parchment paper for each pan, large enough to fit inside your cake tins. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of each pan, then coat with a light dusting of cake flour around the sides and bottom. Tap the pan against the counter to release any excess flour. Discard the excess flour. Place the parchment paper circles inside each cake tin. Set aside.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder, and Kosher salt inside a medium size bowl. Mix the flour mixture with a wire whisk to get all the ingredients thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
  4. Place the egg whites, champagne, vanilla and oil in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly mixed through. Set aside.
  5. Put granulated sugar and butter in a bowl of a stand mixer, or large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Mix on medium speed until lighter and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Turn the speed on low and add a portion of the flour to the butter, and mix. Then add a portion of the egg whites to the bowl and mix. With the beater on, alternate adding the flour and the egg whites to the butter, ending with the flour.
  8. Turn off the mixer and stir in one tiny drop of pink food coloring. Stir by hand until all mixed through.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans.
  10. Place all three pans in the oven on the center rack and bake until the cake is lightly golden brown, the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pans, and a cake tester comes out clean when poked in the center of each cake. About 23-27 minutes. Be careful not to overbake the cakes. The cakes will taste dry if they are overbaked.
  11. Place the cakes in the pan on cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes. After the cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of each cake pan to loosen the cakes. Turn the cake upside down resting the top of the cake in one hand, and pull the pan away. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and place the cake right side up on the cooling rack. Repeat for the remaining cakes. Cool completely before frosting. Can be made in advance. Wrap each cake tightly with plastic wrap and store on the counter for 1 day.

Pink Champagne Buttercream- Takes about 20 to 30 minutes to make.

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Set aside away from any heat source.
  2. Place a heatproof glass measuring cup to the side next to the stove where you will be working. In a small heavy saucepan heat 1 cup plus 3 Tbs sugar and 3/8 of a cup (90 ml) of water over medium high heat. Stir the sugar in the water until it is completely dissolved and the liquid is bubbly. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. (If using an electric range turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside).
  3. In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar, one tablespoon at a time to the egg whites, and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Turn off the mixer and return your attention back to the sugar syrup.
  4. Turn the heat up to high and boil the sugar syrup until it reaches the temperature of 248˚F - 250˚F (120˚C) using a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer. Pour the syrup into the heatproof glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
  5. Return to the egg whites and turn the speed up to high speed. If using a handheld mixer, slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites without the syrup touching the beaters. If you are using a stand mixer, turn the speed off, add a little of the syrup, then turn the speed up to high and beat for 5 seconds and stop. Repeat the process until the syrup is added into the egg whites, scraping the clinging syrup with a rubber spatula to get every drop. If you get the syrup on the whisk or beaters, the syrup will just spray over the sides of the bowl and not mix into the egg whites. Once all the syrup is added, turn the speed down to medium and beat for a couple of minutes to cool the whipped egg whites.
  6. On low speed, beat in the whipped butter into the cool egg whites, one tablespoon at a time. The buttercream will look thin at first, but it will eventually thicken up. If at any time the buttercream starts to look curdled, stop adding butter and turn the speed up a little. Beat until smooth. Once smooth, continue to add the butter one tablespoon at a time until done.
  7. Lower the speed and add in the pink champagne and lemon zest, and beat in. Add one tiny drop of pink food coloring and mix until thoroughly mixed through. (Can be made in advance up to this point, keep in the refrigerator for 2 days or freeze).
  8. Measure in a dry measuring cup, 2 ¾ cup (685 ml) buttercream and place in a medium mixing bowl. Set the remaining buttercream aside. Add ½ cup (125ml) cooled strawberry purée to the buttercream and beat by hand until mixed together. Cover both bowls of buttercream and keep on the counter away from any heat until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Putting it all together- About 30 minutes to assemble.

  1. For a 6-layer cake, measure with a ruler the height of each cake and mark the center with a toothpick. Measure and mark the center point around the circumference of each cake. The toothpicks are your guide to cut each cake in half through the middle. With a long serrated knife, rest the serrated edge up against the side of a cake and on top of the toothpicks. With a gently sawing motion cut through the cake, paying attention to your markers and turning the cake as you work your way around the circumference, and then through the middle of the cake. Repeat for each cake. Keep the pairs together. Select which cake layer is going to be your top layer and set aside.
  2. Take apart one divided cake and place the bottom portion of the cake on your cake plate.
  3. Spread ½ cup (125ml) of the strawberry buttercream over the top of the cake. Make a smooth and level layer of buttercream. Place the top portion of the cake on top of your frosted layer and spread ½ cup (125 ml) of strawberry buttercream evenly and smoothly across the top.
  4. Continue to stack and frost the tops of each layer with ½ cup (125ml) strawberry buttercream until you get to the top layer. The strawberry buttercream is to be used only for the middle layers of frosting. While you are stacking your cake layers, try to get them as level as possible. Trim off the top of each layer if they are uneven, before you frost the layers.
  5. For a three layer cake frost each layer with 3/4 cup pink champagne buttercream or strawberry pink champagne buttercream.
  6. Once the layers are assembled, spread a thin "crumb" layer of pink champagne buttercream around the top and sides of the cake. This is to get the cake frosted with a thin protective layer so the crumbs won't show through the frosting. Once done, spread more buttercream all over the top and working down the sides of the cake for a nice finishing layer of buttercream. Frost as much as wanted or needed.
  7. Decorate the cake with shaved white chocolate over the top of the cake and extra strawberries for decoration.
  8. Keep the cake in a cool spot loosely covered with aluminum foil up to 2 days unrefrigerated. Best if eaten the day it is assembled.

Recipe Notes

Cake flour has less gluten and produces a more delicate cake than with all-purpose flour. If you like to bake cakes, cake flour is nice to have around. Swans Down and Softasilk are two brands that sell cake flour. Do not buy self-rising cake flour. If you do not want to buy cake flour, or cannot get some, substitute 1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tbs cornstarch for every cup of cake flour. Recipe from The Kitchn

Ingredient amounts for buttercream if you want to make a 3-layer cake:
Unsalted butter - 1 lb / 454g (4 sticks),
Sugar - 1 cup / 200 g,
Water - ¼ cup / 2oz 60 ml,
5 large egg whites,
Cream of tartar - ½ + ⅛ teaspoon,
Pink Champagne - up to 3 fl oz or 90 ml, Tiny drop of pink food coloring.

Use 3/4 cup of buttercream between the three layers, instead of 1/2 cup.

I used Wilton Liquid food coloring - Base Pink. Wilton also makes a gel food coloring in pink.

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

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Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs reicpe

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

Porchetta: Italian Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

Rosat Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Keys to Success: Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

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

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

Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Enjoy Porchetta in New York City.

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Roast Pork with Lemon and Herbs recipe

Porchetta: Italian Roast Pork

You will be more than satisfied if you take the extra time to season a pork roast with herbs and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The pork will be well seasoned and will develop great flavor. I never miss an opportunity to roast vegetables with any roast. Vegetables add extra flavor to the pan juices and get seasoned with the juices and fat from the roast. Cooking time will depend on the size of your pork shoulder. If you have a temperature probe with your oven, you will be able to gauge the cooking time without always having to take the pork out and check it with an instant read thermometer.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 -8
Author Ginger

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Open the butterflied pork shoulder with the top fat layer on the bottom and cut side up, and lie flat on a work surface. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt evenly over the whole section. If your pork shoulder is smaller than 3.5 pounds, use less salt. Let it rest on the counter while you prepare the herb mixture.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon zest, minced sage, mince rosemary, fennel seeds, and rinsed capers. Stir and crush the herbs until evenly combined. Sprinkle the herb mixture evenly over the opened pork shoulder, reserving some for the top. Roll up the pork to resemble its natural shape, with the fat side up. Secure the pork with kitchen string by tying it in 4 or 5 sections around the width at one inch intervals. Make one more loop around the length of the pork, looping the string around a couple of the tied sections so the string will not slip off. Tie the ends and secure. Trim any loose string. Sprinkle the outer surface of the pork with the remaining herb mixture and ground pepper.
  3. Put the pork in a dish, like a Pyrex baking dish, then loosely cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

Roast

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F / 175˚C / Gas Mark 4
  2. Cut the vegetables into large bite size pieces or wedges. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl. Lightly coat them with olive oil and season with Kosher salt. Toss the vegetables to evenly mix.
  3. Place the pork roast in a 12 inch - 14 inch oven proof skillet, or medium roasting pan. Add the vegetables around the pork. Put the pan with the pork in the oven and roast until done. After 45 minutes if you notice the roast is not browning turn the heat up to 375˚F /190˚C / Gas Mark 5 until the roast starts to brown. Then turn the heat back down to 350˚F.
  4. After one hour of cooking, turn the vegetables around in the pan to get well coated with the rendered fat from the roast. Check the internal temperature of the pork. This will help you gauge how much longer you will need to bake the pork. Put it back in the oven. At the hour and a half mark, add ½ cup of stock to the pan. If you believe the vegetables are done, remove them before you add the stock. Add any extra herbs like rosemary or sage to the liquid. Bake until the roast is done, with the internal temperature of 160F -165˚F / 74˚C. The pork will be golden brown with crispy skin.

Make the pan sauce

  1. Separate and remove the fat from the remaining pan juices. Add about 3 tablespoons of dry Vermouth and the remaining 1/2 cup stock. Set the skillet on a burner and turn the heat to medium. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with a wooden spatula or spoon to dissolve all the caramelized bits. Skim off as much fat from the liquid as the sauce simmers. Carefully add any juice that has accumulated on the carving board from the pork roast to the pan juices. Taste and correct the seasoning and put in a spotted serving dish. The sauce could take around 5 - 10 minutes to make.

Serve

  1. Remove the string that is tied around the length of the roast and the first string located closest to your carving end. Slice the pork into slices no thicker than ½ inch. Remove the strings as you carve.
  2. Serve with the roasted vegetables and pan sauce.

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

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Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Appetizers, Entertaining, Recent Posts, Recipes, Snack | February 2, 2017 | By

Day 3 of Super Bowl dip recipe frenzy. What do you get when you combine two all-time favorite classic American dips? You get the ultimate onion dip and the ultimate blue cheese dip. I guess whatever camp you belong to, will determine your name for this wonderful double classic dip recipe. I call it, Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots.

Three recipes, Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bacon, Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Both onion dip and blue cheese dip have been around for decades, at least my lifetime and probably longer. So, bringing the two dips together seems inevitable. I love blue cheese dip and onion dip equally. To be honest, French Onion Dip made from the spice packets is a guilty pleasure of mine. I pounce on it whenever it is served.

Blue cheese dip with Caramelized Shallots

Also, Onion dip opens my childhood memory treasure chest. One potato chip scoop of onion dip and the summer days of my childhood materializes. With each bite I am rewarded with welcomed memories of my family picnicking on our sailboat in the San Francisco Bay, dipping into onion dip, eating burgers, and drinking 7-Up. I can hear my parents voices clearly, Mom exclaiming, “Oh Dunny….,” and my dad standing at the stern on top of the deck, responding, “Whaaat?!” with a huge grin. I can feel the warmth or the welcome sun while the wind blows beyond our sheltered cove.  Wind. There is always wind. Oh, what sweet memories get stirred up as I dig in.

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots Recipe

Despite my confessed love of French Onion dip spice packet, I am going to ask you to put it down and walk away. I did. You do not need to add extra salt, onion powder, and artificial flavor to make appetizers with delicious onion flavor.  Nothing more than adding caramelized onions are needed to develop that rich and sweet onion flavor. Because shallots are so small, it will take about 20 minutes to caramelize. Once the shallots of caramelized and cooled, it takes an additional 5 minutes to mix all the ingredients together. So there you have it, delicious blue cheese dip with caramelized shallots ready to dig into. It is that easy and tastes better the longer you let it rest before serving. A perfect party dip recipe.

Classic appetizer recipes are ageless and this recipe proves to be no exception. This recipe dates back to March of 2001 from Bon Appetit Magazine. The recipe is a feature by Rick Rodgers. He presented a collection of easy and delicious dip recipes, but his recipe for blue cheese dip with and caramelized shallots stood out to me. In his article, Rick Rogers says you can make this recipe three days in advance. Well you can, but the color of the caramelized shallots will bleed into the sour cream and get darker with every day. It tastes fine, but the look is not as fresh as one might want to present to a party. I would make the dip at most 24 hours in advanced and it will still look bright and creamy.

Easy Super Bowl Appetizer Dips

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon

Roasted Red Pepper Dip: Muhammara

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots Recipe

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots Recipe

Additional ideas for Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

All that talk about burgers made me hungry for one, and I thought how delicious the Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots would taste as a topping for a juicy hamburger. This is an easy adaptation for a hamburger with blue cheese and caramelized onions.  I am craving one now.

Food memories and food dreams, who knew how powerful a simple dip could be.

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Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots combines two favorite dip recipes into one easy appetizer. You have the best of both blue cheese dip and onion dip in this recipe. Serve with potato chips or as part of a crudité platter. Finish making the dip at least 2 hours before you want to serve it. Can be served cold or room temperature. Recipe is from Bon Appetit March 2001 by Rick Rodgers
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cup / 4oz thinly sliced shallots 2-3 large shallots
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup full fat sour cream
  • 4 oz blue cheese room temperature (I used French Bleu D’Auvergne)

Instructions

  1. Place a large skillet on the stove and turn on the heat to medium high. Add the vegetable oil and shallots. Once the skillet is hot and the shallots begin to cook, turn the heat down to medium low. Continue to cook the shallots until they are golden to dark brown. You will need to stir the shallots on occasion so that they do not burn. The process of caramelizing shallots takes some time, at least 20 minutes, and you should pay attention to them. I often need to adjust my heat either up or down to prevent them cooking too fast and burning. Once done, set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a medium bowl add the sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir until evenly combined. Add the room temperature blue cheese and use the side of your spoon or rubber spatula to stir and smash the blue cheese into the sour cream mixture. You want to have different size chunks of blue cheese blended into the sour cream.
  3. Stir in the caramelized shallots and taste for seasoning. It is a good idea to taste with the chip or vegetable you are serving the dip with, before you add more salt.
  4. Cover the dip with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours for the flavors to meld together.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature in a decorative small dish with potato chips or crudité. This dip will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.

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

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Delightful Pork Fried Dumplings

Pork Fried Dumplings

Appetizers, Entertaining, Light Supper, Pork | January 26, 2017 | By

January 27th, 2017 is the eve of  Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster. In honor of this auspicious day, I decided to learn how to make fried dumplings. Dumplings are traditionally served during Chinese New Year, and are a symbol for money and wealth. The legend is, the more dumplings one eats on Chinese New Year, the more wealth they will gain during the coming year (www.chinahighlights.com).

Pork Fried Dumplings

I love fried dumplings and have always wanted to learn how to make them. However, cooking a new dish with unfamiliar techniques and ingredients can be a risky endeavor. It is difficult to gauge how much time the recipe will take to cook, as well as determine how it will turn out. For the most part, I depend on my past experiences and resources to plow through any unknown territory. Fortunately, I have had more success than failures to keep my confidence up and my curiosity growing. Nonetheless, if I do mess up, the reason can usually be determined for a productive do-over.

Pork Fried Dumplings

Pork Fried Dumplings

My first decision was to buy pre made wonton wrappers and not make everything from scratch. This might be considered cheating by some, but I felt it was a wise idea to pare down the whole procedure the first time around. It appears that making dumpling dough from scratch seems easy enough, but will require a third recipe, additional time, and a special rolling-pin.  Maybe next time I will tackle the dough.

The wrappers are available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Be advised, the wrappers come in different shapes and sizes.  You can use either the wonton wrappers shaped as squares or circles, depending on what your store has available.

Pork Fried Dumplings

After researching several recipes, I decided upon using Mark Bittman’s recipe from his cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World as my base. Cooking with his recipes are like having a friend by your side, and teaching you along the way. The recipe for the pork filling is similar to most of the recipes I researched. However, his cooking technique proved to have the most consistent results, and created light and moist dumplings with a good sear.

The only downside to making homemade dumplings is, it is time consuming. The whole process is fairly simple, but will require your undivided attention. Overall, it took about 30-40 minutes to assemble 40 plus dumplings. This is because they need to be assembled one at a time in order for the dumplings to not dry out. Even though making dumplings is labor intensive, it can easily be turned into a fun activity to do with family or friends.

It has been my experience that children love to help with the dinner preparations. I believe the more children are involved in making the food they eat, the more likely they will be open-minded to eating different foods. Some children enjoy doing detailed tasks that is perfect for little hands and fingers. Pleating, pinching and forming dumplings is a great activity that children will enjoy.

If you do decide to make dumplings as a family activity, please be careful with children handling raw meat. You can designate mixing the filling as the adult job, or have the children wear latex gloves. Additionally, cooking the dumplings produces a lot of steam, so children should be kept away from the stove.

Pork Fried Dumplings

Pork Fried Dumplings

Each dumpling resembled a cute little boat. I was reminded of other images as well like an ancient Asian crown,  a Chinese Junk, and The Flying Nun. So, who knows where your imagination will take you while you fold and pleat the time away.

Pork Fried Dumplings

Food Ideas to pair with Fried Dumplings

Try any of these recipes

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach

Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger

Grilled  Sherry Marinated Flank Steak

As a light supper with Broccoli Soup with Spinach and Mint

Fortunately, my first try at making fried dumplings was a huge success and a great family treat. By choosing to make fried dumplings instead of buy them, I turned an ordinary dinner into a festive occasion. These fried dumplings are light, flavorful, and festive. The interaction between dunking and eating created additional activity, which spurred more socializing and a fun atmosphere. I hope you have an occasion to make dumplings for you and your family and please let me know how they turn out.

What new food adventure have you tried recently? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Happy Chinese New Year. May good health and prosperity be your good fortune this year of The Rooster.

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Pork Fried Dumplings

Delightful Pork Fried Dumplings

Pork fried dumplings are fun to make and create a festive dining experience. Divide the assembly of the dumplings between you and loved ones, then the work becomes a shared activity all will enjoy. Serve with a soy dipping sauce flavored with toasted sesame oil, ginger, lime zest and sriracha. Fried dumplings are at their best when served immediately after they are made. The dumplings and dipping sauce can be easily adapted to suit your taste. You can substitute the ground pork with ground turkey, shrimp, ground lamb, or vegetables with tofu. I like a little heat and sweetness in my dipping sauce, but you can add or omit whatever you prefer. Thai chili paste can substitute for the sriracha, or omit it all together. Citrus is nice in the dipping sauce, like lime juice or zest. Sherry or rice wine, and honey are also good substitutes. Fried dumplings can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap until you are ready to make them. They can also be frozen. Place the assembled dumplings on a rimmed sheet pan and place in the freezer. When the dumplings are frozen all the way through, remove them from the sheet pan and place in a zip lock freezer bag and return them to the freezer. They should keep frozen for 6 months. This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe for Wor Teep, Pot Stickers or Pan Fried Dumplings, in his cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World. The cooking time is 10 minutes per batch of 10 to 12 dumplings. Allow more time if you are making more than one batch of fried dumplings.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

For the Dumplings

  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage or bok choy, or leeks
  • 1 inch piece of ginger root peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup minced green onions scallions
  • 2 garlic cloves green germ removed, and minced
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 Tb rice wine or Sherry
  • 1 Tb reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tb toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • Peanut or neutral oil for frying
  • About 2 cups of chicken stock vegetable stock or water (divided)
  • Dipping sauce

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Finely grated zest from ¼ of a lime
  • 2 Tb reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 Tb rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp mirin or rice wine
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • A couple drops of sriracha sauce optional
  • 1 tsp Water

Instructions

Make the Dumplings

  1. Combine the ground pork, chopped cabbage, chopped green onions, minced ginger, minced garlic, egg, soy sauce, sherry, toasted sesame oil, sugar, Kosher salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  2. Place the wonton wrappers on a plate then cover with a moist towel. Pick up one wonton wrapper and place it on your work surface with a pointed end towards you like a diamond shape. Moisten your finger tip and paint the top two edges of the wonton wrapper.
  3. Fill 1 teaspoon* with the pork filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Fold the wonton wrapper in half to make a triangle. Press down on the edges and with your fingers, smooth the wrapper over the mound of filling to push out any air that is loitering around the filling. You want to make sure there are no air pockets inside the dumpling.
  4. Pleat each dumpling by starting at one corner and fold over a small section to make a pleat. Press and seal. Slide your fingers up about a ¼ inch and pleat again. Continue to pleat the edges of the dumpling to have 3 pleats per side. The pleats will fold towards the center.
  5. Place the dumpling on a sheet pan and cover with a clean and moist kitchen towel. Repeat until you have used up all of the pork filling. About 40 dumplings.

Cook the Dumplings

  1. Place a 12-inch skillet on a burner and turn the heat to medium high. Lightly coat the pan with oil. Place the dumplings in the pan, pleated side up. Depending on the size of your pan you can fit 9-10 dumplings at a time. Cook the dumplings for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes add ½ cup chicken stock to the pan and immediately cover with a lid. Cook covered for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes are up, take off the lid and cook the dumplings until the liquid is evaporated and the dumplings are nicely browned, about 3 – 4 minutes more.
  2. Using a thin spatula gently remove the dumplings from the skillet, being careful to not rip the dumplings as you remove them from the pan. The dumplings will stick a little, hence the name pot stickers.
  3. Put the dumplings on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a ½ cup of water, scraping up any crusty bits. Dump out the water and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Repeat the cooking process until all the dumplings are cooked, making sure to clean the pan between each batch of dumplings.
  5. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed. Set aside on the counter until ready to serve. Serve in a small bowl for easy dipping. Makes a shy ¼ cup.

Recipe Notes

If you make dumplings with the round wrappers or from wrappers made at home, they will be larger and you will need to fill the dumplings with close to 2 teaspoons of filling. You will get 20 -24 dumplings depending on size of wrapper.

Nutrition Facts
Delightful Pork Fried Dumplings
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

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