Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake, with a recipe.

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

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

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

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

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

Bitter Orange Chocolate Cake recipe

Flourless Chocolate Cake Variations

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

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

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe.

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

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

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Enjoy!

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Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

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

Serve with whipped cream 

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

Ingredients

Flourless chocolate cake

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

Whipped Cream

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

Instructions

For the Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whipped Cream

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

Leek Asparagus Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

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

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

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

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

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

Leek Asparagus Risotto, a recipe.

Variations for Leek Asparagus Risotto

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

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

Read more tips on making risotto here.

 

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Leek Asparagus Risotto

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

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

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

Serve immediately. 

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

Ingredients

Leek Asparagus Risotto

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

Instructions

Preparing the stock and vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making the risotto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

 

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

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

Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice

Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice, recipe.

The first time I saw my husband drowning his rice with soy sauce, I knew I needed to find a way to change this habit. No matter what we were eating if there was white or brown rice, the soy sauce came out of the refrigerator and set at the table. The irony is, he did not pour soy sauce on his rice when we ate Chinese food. For some reason, rice bathed in soy sauce really bothered me, especially when our sons followed his example. To me it was like adding a tablespoon of table salt to the already seasoned rice. All you would taste is the soy sauce and not the rice. Basmati or jasmine rice have such a clean flavor and is a lovely compliment for the main entrée at its side. It is a shame to disguise the clean flavor of this comforting grain.

From that moment, I changed the way I cook rice. Unless I am serving rice with a stew or a saucy entrée, I usually cook rice in vegetable or chicken stock and add some sautéed mushrooms and green peas. The mushrooms add subtle flavor and usually compliments the other parts of the meal. Even those perks can get mundane if it is a regular item with dinner. It is time to switch things up.

Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice, a recipe

Crunchy Jasmine Rice, recipe.

Recently, I discovered Patricia Wells’ recipe, Crunchy Jasmine Rice from Master Recipes, and I had to try it. Often, I garnish rice with pistachios or almonds and fresh herbs, but it never occurred to me to cook rice with nuts or seeds because I thought they would get soggy. Surprisingly, the peanuts kept their crunch after cooking with the rice. This recipe is brilliant in its’ simplicity and has an addictive nutty flavor. Besides the great taste, one of the best features of this jasmine rice is once the water boils, the rice cooks in 10 minutes. At first, I did not believe it, but it is true the rice cooks in 10 minutes. The rice wasn’t hard, mushy or chalky, just sweet grains of jasmine rice with the peanuts and seeds cooked to perfection.

The only change I made was to add fresh minced herbs like parsley and celery leaves. The fresh herb flavor gives an extra punch of sunshine to the nutty rice. The next time I make it I want to add some golden raisins soaked in red wine vinegar. The sweetness from the raisins and a touch of acid will really liven up this side dish.

Crunchy jasmine rice is a wonderful side dish with just about anything like grilled meats, roasts, chicken and fish. If you are allergic to peanuts substitute them with cashews, walnuts or hulled pumpkin seeds. Serve crunchy rice immediately or turn it into a rice salad with raisins, chopped vegetables and a light vinaigrette. Dress the rice salad right before you want to serve it.

Serve Crunchy Jasmine Rice With:

Oven Poached Sole Wrapped in Fresh Herbs

Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill

Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice, a recipe.

How to Make a Vegan Entrée with Crunchy Jasmine Rice

Most plant foods do not have all twelve of the essential amino acids, commonly known as the proteins. Vegetarian and vegan diets benefit from food combining. Honestly, all diets benefit from food combining. When eaten separately, legumes and grains come up short providing all 12 of the essential amino acids. When combined in one meal they compliment each other nutritiously and as well as flavor. What grains lack in essential proteins, legumes have. Jasmine rice mixed with peanuts and seeds become a foundation for a complete vegetarian meal.

I like to mix additional legumes like lentils with crunchy jasmine rice for a vegetarian or vegan main entrée. I add about 1 – 2 cups (250 – 500 ml) of cooked Du Puy, or Pardina lentils, to the bowl of crunchy jasmine rice. Then, I make a rice bowl with the rice and lentil mix and add some fresh and roasted vegetables.  Top it off with some tahini dressing. Tahini dressing happens to be one of my favorite dressing and accentuates the nutty flavor of the rice.

Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice, a recipe.

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Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice

For those moments when plain rice just isn't enough. This is a great rice side dish with a nutty flavor. If you can't eat peanuts, walnuts or cashews would taste great. Or, make it nut free and substitute the peanuts with hulled pumpkin seeds. Serve this as a side dish with just about anything like chicken, fish, beef or lamb. Or as the foundation for a delicious vegan or vegetarian entree with lentils, roasted vegetables and tahini dressing. This recipe is from Patricia Wells, Master Recipes .
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • ½ cup 125 ml / 60 g roasted and salted peanuts
  • 1 ½ cups 375 ml / 250 g jasmine rice
  • ½ cup 125 ml / 70 g mixed sesame seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups 500 ml water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • ½ cup chopped parsley and celery leaves

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop the peanuts and place them in a 3-quart sauce pan.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat on the stove to high. Bring the rice mixture to a boil, then cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer until the rice is cooked al dente, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf and add the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl. Fluff the rice with a fork and add the parsley and celery leaves.
  4. Serve warm.
Nutrition Facts
Quick and Crunchy Jasmine Rice
Amount Per Serving (3 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Crunchy Jasmine Rice, recipe.

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

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

We eat a lot of chicken so to break up a pattern of eating the same thing every time chicken is on the menu, I look for recipes with lots of flavor and ease of preparation. Several years ago I came across David Lebovitz recipe for Chicken Lady Chicken in his cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. After reading his description, I knew it was going to be one of the first recipes to try out for myself. In the recipe, David marinates a spatchcock chicken in harissa, wine, mustard, garlic, soy sauce and honey overnight then browns the chicken in a skillet before baking it in the oven. It is delicious and one of my favorite recipes from his book.

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli, recipe.

Sometimes, I forget to plan ahead for an overnight marinate and often need to adjust the recipe and marinate for an hour or less. Marinating a whole chicken for less than an hour is not worth the effort, so I found it best to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  As a result of my inability to plan ahead, sriracha chicken was born. I use the same marinade from Chicken Lady Chicken, or a slight variation thereof, with boneless chicken thighs and bake them in the oven. What I get is golden chicken thighs with the bright sriracha flavor and lots of pan juices. For today’s purpose, I made a whole meal out of Sriracha chicken by adding sweet potatoes, broccoli, shallots and garlic cloves for an easy weeknight chicken dinner.

Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli, recipe.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

I am particularly fond of making meals that cook together in the oven. With just some initial prep work, I am free to relax while the oven does all the work. My favorite combination is marinated chicken with potatoes and shallots. The marinade and juices from the chicken infuses with the potatoes and shallots making them silky and full of flavor. Any type of wax potato will work, but sweet potatoes add a whole other flavor component which compliments the layer of heat from the sriracha chicken.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

For more roast chicken dinner recipes check out: Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken and Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken.

This winter I have grown especially fond of oven roasted broccoli. The broccoli spears get nice and browned adding a slightly charred and caramelized flavor. This winter is just too cold, and the toasted notes of roasted vegetables warms me up. I especially like roasting whole garlic cloves protected in its peel with the broccoli. Roasted garlic softens and becomes wonderfully sweet. It does not burn and taste bitter like it would if you roasted the broccoli with minced garlic. The key to perfectly roasted garlic with vegetables or meats is use medium-sized garlic cloves. If they are too big, the garlic cloves won’t finish roasting at the same time as the broccoli, sweet potatoes or chicken.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli, recipe.

Helpful Tips for making Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Combining all the ingredients in one pan just made sense to me. All that goodness roasting together in the oven is hard to resist. Unfortunately, they do not all fit on one sheet pan like I planned. Spreading them out between 2 pans is the best option.

  • Roast the sriracha chicken, sweet potatoes and shallots on the larger pan, while the broccoli and the garlic roast on a smaller one. You could divide the ingredients strewn together between two medium same size pans. Yet, I like keeping the chicken thighs all on one pan to produce the most amount of pan juices as possible.
  • For silky potatoes, roast the potatoes with the marinated chicken and remaining marinade along with the shallots. On another pan, roast the broccoli and garlic cloves.
  • If you prefer crispy potatoes, roast them separately and add the garlic, shallots and broccoli to the pan with the chicken. You may need more olive oil for the sweet potatoes if you do.
  • It is important to make sure you have the right size pan. If the pan is too large, the pan juices will dry up. Too small and the chicken will steam and get a mushy texture.
  • For boneless and skinless chicken, thighs work better than breasts. Use this marinade for boneless chicken breasts, pounded about a half-inch thick and marinate the chicken for less than an hour. Grill the chicken breasts over medium high heat.
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Sriracha Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

This recipe is easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner and fancy enough to serve for a dinner party. Chicken thighs marinate in a sriracha marinade for at least an hour then roast in the oven with sweet potatoes and broccoli. You can easily adjust the level of heat from the sriracha by using more or less sriracha depending on how you like it. Feel free to substitute the sriracha with harissa. Roasted garlic tastes so good with the broccoli. Make sure each garlic clove is not too big, otherwise it will not finish roasting when the broccoli and chicken are done. Each person can squeeze out the garlic from the peel on their own plate. The sriracha marinade is slightly adapted from David Lebovitz My Paris Kitchen, "Chicken Lady Chicken recipe This recipe is best eaten immediately and hot. Any leftovers are easily warmed in a microwave oven for a couple of minutes.
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 -6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs- about 2.5 lbs (1 kg 154 g)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt divided
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 TB extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB dry white wine
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha or harissa more, or less depending on how spicy you like your food
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1-2 TBS minced fresh tarragon more for garnish
  • About 1 lb 476 g sweet potatoes, about 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • About two heads of broccoli 1 lb 5 oz (673 g)
  • 4 - 6 medium size garlic cloves peel on
  • 6 5 ½ oz / 161 g small shallots, peeled and separated
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare the marinade

  1. Trim off extra fat from the chicken thighs and place in a large non-reactive mixing bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and toss the chicken around with your clean hands to spread the salt evenly over the chicken thighs. Clean your hands and set the bowl of chicken aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, sriracha, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and minced tarragon. Whisk until the honey is completely dissolved and the marinade is evenly combined.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and use your clean hands to mix the chicken to get an even coating over each thigh. Clean your hands and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. If you are cooking the chicken right away, let the chicken marinate on the counter for no more than an hour. Otherwise, refrigerate the chicken. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to roast it.

Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Place two oven racks in the two middle slots in the oven, making sure there is enough space between each rack for two sheet pans with all the ingredients to fit between.
  2. Trim each head of broccoli by cutting off part of each stem. Use a vegetable peeler to gently peel off the outer layer of the broccoli stem and remove any leaves, (see note). Cut up the broccoli into spears, making sure they are even in size. Add to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters, lengthwise. Cut each potato wedge into pieces about 1 ½ inches (3.5 cm) in size. Add to bowl with the broccoli spears.
  4. If any of the shallots look too fat, slice them in half lengthwise. Add the shallots and garlic cloves to the bowl. Add the remaining extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt with several rounds of black pepper and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. I mixed everything together in one bowl to save on cleaning up two mixing bowls. If you prefer, keep the broccoli and garlic separate from the sweet potatoes and shallots. They will eventually go on different sheet pans.

Putting it all together

  1. When you are ready to roast your dinner, spread out the chicken thighs over one large rimmed sheet pan large enough to accommodate the chicken thighs, the marinade, sweet potatoes and shallots. Spread out the sweet potatoes and shallots between and around the chicken thighs. You want enough space for air to circulate around the chicken and potatoes, but not too big to dry up all the juices. The area of my sheet pan for the chicken was approximately 11.5 x 16 inches (29 x 40 cm).
  2. Spread the broccoli and garlic cloves over a small sheet pan approximately 8.5 x 11.5 inches (21.5 x 29 cm).
  3. Place each sheet pan on its' own rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes switch the two sheet pans, from top to bottom and front to back for even roasting. Continue to bake for 20 more minutes.
  5. Check the chicken thighs for doneness. Pierce the biggest thigh with a fork, if you feel some resistance the chicken it is not done. Also, the juices from the chicken will run clear when the chicken is done. If the juices are cloudy or pink, the chicken needs more time to cook. The internal temperature of properly cooked chicken is 165°F/ 74°C. The potatoes and broccoli are done when they feel soft through the middle when pierced with a fork. If the broccoli is finished cooking before the chicken, remove it from the oven and keep warm.
  6. When the chicken is done, turn on the broiler and remove the broccoli if you have not done so already. Baste the chicken with any pan juices and broil the chicken for a couple of minutes to brown the edges of the chicken to your likeness.
  7. When the meal is done roasting, arrange the chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli, garlic, and shallots on one serving platter then pour any pan juices over the chicken. Place on the dining table. Or arrange the food on a plate for individual servings. Make sure to include any accumulated juices from the chicken, a garlic clove and shallot on each plate. Each person can squeeze the garlic out of its peel and spread it on the broccoli or potatoes. Garnish with fresh tarragon.
  8. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Use most of the plant: Broccoli stems are very sweet. You can cut the removed stems into wedges and add to the broccoli spears. Cut the stem in quarters lengthwise to make a wedge. The very end of each stem is woody, so cut off that section and discard.

Sriracha chicken with sweet potatoes and broccoli. A chicken dinner 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

Print

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.

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