Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Building A Charcuterie Platter

Building a charcuterie platter.

It is time to take advantage of the remaining warm summer nights and enjoy an evening with friends, sparkling wine, and charcuterie. Entertaining does not get any easier than this. There is no cooking unless you want to make the pâté or a spread. Just assemble and relax.  What you place on your charcuterie platter is up to you, but you want to keep in mind how many people you are entertaining, variety in texture and flavor, plus add your personal stamp to the meal.  A charcuterie platter is a perfect meal for hot summer nights when it is too hot to cook, or just enjoying a sunset from your deck with friends.

But what is a charcuterie platter? By definition, charcuterie is a French name for a deli, or market, that sells cured meats, especially pork. Charcuterie also means the products that are sold in a charcuterie. With that understanding, a charcuterie platter is a platter or tray layered with smoked and cured meats and other specialty food items, like cheese and pickles.

Traditionally, a charcuterie platter is very meat focused and consists of a variety of cured meats like prosciutto, soppressata, and pâtés, with add-ins like pickles, spicy mustard, bread, or crackers. However, for my platter, and because I believe it is still in the realm of the definition of a charcuterie platter, I added cheeses, fruits, and vegetables.

Building A Charcuterie Platter.

How to Build a Charcuterie Platter

How does one put together all those different foods so that it looks appealing and covers all the bases of complementary tastes and contrasting textures? First, organize all your ingredients in groups, then arrange all of the ingredients in a decorative yet easy to reach manner.

Building a Charcuterie Platter.

Meats

Start with the meats. A good rule to follow is 2 oz of meat per person. Charcuterie platters contain very rich foods, so you do not want to overdo it. Pick three types of cured meat with different flavors and textures. The meats pictured on my charcuterie platter are soppressata, prosciutto, and bresaola. These three types of cured meats offer a variety in texture and flavor, although a subtle one. A common rule is, have meat that you slice like the soppressata, one meat that comes sliced, like prosciutto, and meat that you spread like pâté.

Other meat selections for slicing are Genoa salami, smoked sausage or ham (you can heat those up as well), and capicola.

Other meats you buy sliced are Guanciale or Mortadella.

Meats for spreading are smooth or chunky pâtés or terrines.

What is missing on my charcuterie board is pâté because my family does not care for it. Smoked fish or gravlax is also a nice alternative and an option for people who do not like pork or beef. Keep in mind you want to make something that you know you and your guests will enjoy.

Building a Charcuterie Platter.

Cheese

Similar to the cured meats, it is nice to have 3 different types of cheese on your charcuterie board as well. Although, if you want this to be charcuterie platter that is more meat-focused, one selection of cheese is fine.

Like the meats, your cheeses should have different textures and flavors. I usually follow this rule for building a cheese board, one soft rind triple cream cheese, one hard or sharp-tasting cheese, and one blue cheese. The possibilities are endless. If you do not like blue cheese swap in a soft goat cheese.

For my charcuterie platter, I selected Red Hawk a triple cream cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Blue, from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., and Manchego.

Other cheese selections are:

For your triple cream cheese, try Kunik, (which is one of the best cheeses out there), Saint André, or a triple creme brie.

Any blue cheese, or goat cheese like Montechevere,

Other dry or aged cheese selections are Asiago or provolone or an Aged Gouda. These cheese pair nicely with the meats.

Building a Charcuterie Platter.

Add-ins

This is where you can get creative and add your personal spin to a charcuterie platter. Yet, keep in mind the additional accoutrements have a purpose other than tasting great and looking pretty. The add-ins provide a break from the rich meats and cheeses, provide textural contrast,  and clear the palate.

Fill your platter with a wide selection of any of these foods.

Fruits like figs, grapes, berries or dried fruits like apricots or figs are nice selections.

Pickles like cornichons are a must, but you can use other pickled vegetables like carrots, fennel, and chilies.

Briny olives like Kalamata or good green olives.

Fresh vegetables like fennel, cucumber, radishes, or carrots add an important textural contrast with their crisp crunch and are very refreshing.

Mustard is also an important ingredient to a charcuterie platter as they complement the cured meat wonderfully.

Jams like hot pepper jelly or fig jam. If you can find hot pepper jam it is one of my favorite jams with cheese. The sweet and spicy jelly is addictive.

Spreads like hummus and tapenade taste great with charcuterie.

Nuts. Any nut like walnuts, almonds or pistachios you can’t go wrong. Just make sure there are no nut allergies before you add them to your platter.

Building a charcuterie platter.

The list is long, but choose a selection of three fruits and/or vegetables, with a couple of specialty items. Don’t be redundant. If you have olive tapenade, do not put out olives. If you have fig jam don’t put out fresh figs, pick another fruit instead. Although, when in season fresh figs are delicious with charcuterie.

Just remember one thing, do not forget the mustard, sweet or spicy or both, it doesn’t matter. In France, it is sacrilegious to serve charcuterie without mustard.

Serve

It is nice to arrange everything on one platter and serve with bread or crispy crackers. You can also arrange your charcuterie selection on more than one platter. This is especially important if some of your guests eat a plant-based diet. They might not want their selections mixed in with the meats or cheeses. By the middle of the evening, the charcuterie platter will get messy, so it is thoughtful of you to keep the foods separate. Serving the charcuterie selections on multiple platters works well for larger parties when you will have more meats to arrange on your board.

Toasted French baguette makes a more substantial selection and looks nice when sliced thin on the diagonal. I especially like to serve charcuterie with bread when I want my charcuterie platter to be a meal. Thin crispy plain crackers work well with the cheese and meats too. Also, I found people really enjoy breadsticks as well.

Serve your charcuterie platter at room temperature. You will need to slice the meats and cheeses when they are cold, but everything tastes better when they are at room temperature.

Building a charcuterie platter.

Beverages

Chilled sparkling wines like a Spanish Cava or an Italian Prosecco, Lambrusco, or a dry rosé are perfect for this type of meal, especially on hot summer nights. Some dry reds that are not too heavy pair nicely as well. Dry sparkling wines help cut the richness of the cheese and meats and clear the palate so you can keep on sampling.

Beer is another good beverage of choice, but I would not do anything too rich. I really enjoyed the pairing of a red ale with my Irish Cheese Platter, so I imagine it works with charcuterie as well.

My son Andrew recommends Saisons because they are dry and spicy, or a good Pilsner. These types of beer will help clear the palate. He also loves Lambic, a Belgium Sour, with charcuterie. Low alcohol beers work nicely because they do not fill you up and you can easily snack on your charcuterie.

For a non-alcohol beverage, seltzer is perfect. Mixed in with lime, or lemon and/or cucumber is very refreshing and helps clear the palate. Anything bubbly that is not sweet. Stay away from soda. You won’t taste the charcuterie if you are drinking a coke.

Building A Charcuterie Platter.

I hope you enjoy the remains of summer and the ease of the season with charcuterie and friends.

Building a Charcuterie Platter. A how to guide for making a delicious charcuterie platter. This charcuterie platter is filled with cured meats, cheese, pickles, fruit, vegetables, hot pepper jelly, mustard, and nuts.

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

Creamy Homemade Yogurt

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

What happens when a novel experience turns into a regular routine? You get to eat creamy homemade yogurt as part of your regular diet. For me, making the homemade yogurt phenomenon started as a curious experiment that quickly turned into something bigger than I could imagine. Not only did I learn about fermentation and a new cooking technique, I realized that the act of making yogurt at home, has additional valuable contributions besides enjoying a delicious and nutritious snack.

It all started when I was reading about Middle Eastern cuisine and in particular, Lebanese cuisine. While reviewing Maureen Abood’s cookbook, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, it became evident that yogurt was a central ingredient in Lebanese food. In many of her recipes homemade yogurt or labneh, cheese made from yogurt, was the central ingredient. As a result, I believed if I really wanted to understand this cuisine, then I must learn how to make its most central ingredient, yogurt.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Homemade Yogurt

Unfortunately, the very first batch of yogurt I made did not set properly. I reached out to Maureen Abood and she explained, sometimes the yogurt just does not set up. It happens. Discouraged, but not daunted I tried again with a different yogurt starter and had great success. What a triumph. It was like the first time I made a loaf of bread, something I thought was impossible was now possible.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

My initial taste of the inaugural homemade yogurt was a revelation. This is one of those foods where you can taste the difference between homemade and store-bought. Homemade yogurt has the distinctive acidic tang, but it is a lot creamier in texture. I used to not like plain yogurt without any sweetener, but homemade yogurt has a je ne sais quoi taste about it. It is fresh, creamy, mild and tangy all at the same time. Can you taste fresh? Yes. It is the difference between eating an egg just plucked from the chicken coop to eating one bought from the store and is 4 weeks old. There is a presence that is hard to describe but you know it is there.

However, to change the habit and forgo the convenience of buying yogurt, it takes more than a curiosity to turn a novel experience into a weekly routine. After making yogurt a few times, I came to realize three benefits that will add up to significant changes for the better. First, I could support the local Hudson River Valley dairy industry, which consists mostly of family-run dairy farms that practice sustainable farming. Second, I could save money by not buying individual yogurt containers. Third, I will reduce my carbon footprint by buying locally sourced food and not buy all those plastic containers. This triple reinforcement, plus the desire to reduce the amount of sugar in our diet, sealed the deal and I started my weekly homemade yogurt routine.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Hudson River Valley Milk

Fortunately, my local grocery store carries several brands of milk that come from dairy farms in the Hudson River Valley. Most of the dairies source their milk from a cooperative of dairy farms that meet their standards of quality, sustainability, and humane treatment of animals. These brands are not USDA organic milk, but I know they are operating under the best practice policies to produce quality milk, maybe even better than the USDA standards. Another bonus is this milk is not ultra-pasteurized, which is crucial for making yogurt or any type of cheese. Even though it is not labeled USDA Organic, it is as organic as it can be.

Most of the USDA organic milk you find in the major grocery stores, is ultra-pasteurized. This is done so the milk has a longer shelf life. It is the one thing the industrial organic dairy farms must do in order for grocery stores to stock their product. This is because organic milk is more expensive and thus takes longer to sell. Unfortunately, ultra-pasteurization kills off good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria in the milk. It is the live cultures, the good bacteria, that help create yogurt and cheese, plus pasteurized milk has more nutritional value thank ultra-pasteurized.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Hudson River Valley Dairies

Listed below are dairies whose products are available in my area.

Hudson Valley Fresh

Five Acres Farm

Ronnybrook Farm

This post is not a sponsored post. I am just passing along my experience and research about local farming and how a person can make a difference to slow down climate change. I am sure there are other dairies out there that produce top quality milk and practice sustainable farming, even in my area. The dairies listed are just the ones available to me at this time.

Lower Your Carbon Footprint

I am lucky to live in an area that has a long history of family-run farms and agriculture, but it is only recently that they became available. Before I could buy local milk, I found a brand of organic milk that was not ultra-pasteurized in my local health-food store, Natural by Nature. This company is a family run business in Pennsylvania, so it is not too far away so I still consider it local. Fortunately, I did not have to look all over the county looking for it either. You might have to widen your circle, but hopefully, you can find an affordable source of organic pasteurized milk near you without too much trouble.

Over the years I have come to understand that any agricultural industry involving cattle has enormous environmental concerns from the methane gas released into the atmosphere, to the pollution from the runoff into our groundwater, and the health and safety of the cows. In my opinion, supporting local farmers who maintain environmentally friendly farming practices, and creates a healthy and humane environment for the cows, has a multiplier effect. There is less pollution compared to its industrial counterpart, creates food that is not stripped of nutrition because the cows eat an appropriate diet without growth hormones and antibiotics, and it helps local economies.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Helpful Tips for Making Homemade Yogurt

At its most basic, yogurt is milk with added live cultures, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii bulgaricus, that ferment in a warm environment until thick. It is the live cultures and warm incubating temperature that are essential to transforming milk into yogurt.

Yogurt is relatively simple to make but it does take some time for it to ferment and thicken. I found starting the process at night after dinner was the easiest way to work making yogurt into a weekly routine. This way the yogurt could incubate in the oven overnight and as soon as I woke up I placed the yogurt in the refrigerator for the second resting period. Later that afternoon or early evening, I strained out the whey for 3 hours.

The standard formula is: for every half-gallon (2 l) of milk, you need 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of yogurt starter. It is a one to one ratio: 1-quart milk to 1 TB yogurt starter. Using this ratio, the recipe easily scales up if you want to make more. Don’t be tempted to add more starter. One, you don’t need it and two, it will make the yogurt grainy.

The temperatures listed in the recipe are important for successful fermenting. Therefore, you need to pay attention and make sure the milk does not come to a boil and later, drop below 115°F when it’s time to add the starter. Also, a warm environment is essential for the cultures to do their thing. I have read, the incubation temperature is ideally at 100°F (38°C). If you have to keep it on the counter, wrap it up in a blanket and place under your kitchen cabinets or near a heating vent. If your cabinets have undermounted lights, turn them on. Room temperature is not ideal, but it might take longer for the yogurt to ferment.

I find the most reliable place to incubate the yogurt is in my oven with the oven light on. It is out-of-the-way in the oven and the yogurt stays warm from the heat of the light bulb. Because I have a tendency when something is out of sight, it is also out of mind, I place a sign on the oven door with big lettering Y O G U R T and a note of the time. Without that sign, I would completely forget about the yogurt and turn on the oven.

Not all commercial-brand yogurt are equal. Read the label and only use real yogurt with live active yogurt cultures. Stay away from brands with thickeners and stabilizers. I use Fage or Dannon, whole milk or low-fat plain yogurt with consistent results. Any good quality and real yogurt should work.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Yogurt for the Family

Would I make this if my kids were young and still living at home? Would they eat it? Maybe. Though, I would definitely need to sweeten the yogurt to get them to eat it. I found a small amount, about 1 teaspoon, of real maple syrup or honey, to a half a cup of yogurt gives a subtle sweetness and reduces the tang. Cinnamon also adds a sweet impression without the extra sugar. You can also sweeten yogurt with fresh fruit, real fruit purées or jams, and fruit compote. Even though you are adding some sugar, it is significantly less sugar than the store-bought variety. It is certainly worth a try.

An easy blueberry compote is roast 2 cups (500 ml) of fresh blueberries tossed with 2 TB of sugar in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 18 minutes. Tip the blueberries and their juices in a bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and a 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries. Stir and allow to cool. This recipe comes from Yogurt Culture (linked below). It is super easy and incredibly delicious. When mixed with yogurt, it makes the best blueberry yogurt I have ever had. I am positive my children would have gobbled it right up.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Recipe Inspiration for your Homemade Yogurt

Grilled Chicken Salad with Yogurt Avocado Dressing

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

Potato Salad with Sorrel Yogurt Dressing

Baked Eggs in Sautéed Greens with Zesty Yogurt Sauce

Orange Spice Belgian Waffles

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Like buttermilk, yogurt mixed with other herbs and spices is a great marinade for chicken and lamb.

My Inspiration and  References

Here is a list of the three references I used over the past two years to learn about making yogurt and its history. If you want to really learn all about fermentation, the book The Art of Fermentation has everything you need to know about making all types of fermented food.

Maureen Abood, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms

Cheryl Sternman Rule, Yogurt Culture, and Team Yogurt

Sandor Ellix Katz, The Art of Fermentation

 

Print
Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

Homemade Yogurt

It may look daunting to make your own yogurt, but it is relatively simple. In the beginning, you need to keep an eye on the temperature, but mostly you just have to wait and give the cultures time to ferment. Other than the yogurt culture, the most important ingredients are time and temperature. You need 8-10 hours to incubate the yogurt in a warm draft-free environment, and an additional 8 hours in the refrigerator to finish. Once these steps are complete, you can eat it right away or strain out some of the whey for Greek-style yogurt.

Because there are only two ingredients in yogurt, use the best quality milk and yogurt you can buy. For best results, the yogurt used as your culture must contain real live cultures and no fillers, gums, or artificial ingredients. I use Fage and Dannon yogurt whenever I start with a new yogurt culture.

Seek out organic milk that is not ultra-pasteurized as this process kills off important and healthy bacteria needed for making yogurt.

You can use your homemade yogurt as a culture for up to 3-4 generations. After that, start over with a new batch of yogurt bought at the grocery.

This recipe scales up to 1 gallon of milk with ¼ cup (65 ml) fresh yogurt culture.

Yield: Makes about 7 cups (1 L 750 ml) yogurt before straining out the whey. 

Serving size is a half a cup (125 ml)

Keyword Yogurt
Cook Time 20 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • Heavy bottom stock pot or Dutch oven with lid
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Small bowl for tempering the starter
  • Whisk
  • Stainless steel mixing spoon or rubber spatula
  • Large bowl partially filled with ice optional
  • A warm and dry place like an oven for incubating the yogurt
  • Triple layer cheesecloth or thin flour sack towel
  • Strainer
  • String
  • Storage container

Ingredients

  • ½ gallon of milk whole or 2%, preferably organic and not ultra-pasteurized
  • 2 TB yogurt with live active cultures like Dannon or Fage

Instructions

Prepping your utensils

  1. Make sure all your utensils, pots and bowls are clean. Clean them with hot water and soap and drip dry on a clean kitchen towel. I do not sterilize my utensils or pots when I make yogurt, but some people do. If you wish to sterilize your utensils and pot, run them through a complete cycle in your dishwasher. You can sterilize your instant-read thermometer by placing the probe in a mug of boiling water and drip dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Heat the milk

  1. Rub an ice cube over the bottom and partially up the sides of your stock pot. This helps the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you do not have ice cubes, run the bottom of the pot under cold water and empty any water that collects in the pot.
  2. Pour your milk in the stock pot and set the burner between medium / medium-high.

  3. Take your starter, 2 tablespoons of yogurt out of the refrigerator and add it to a small bowl like a cereal bowl. Set it aside so it will come to room temperature while you heat and later cool the milk.
  4. Slowly, heat the milk until it reaches 185°F / 85.5°C without stirring. Any temperature at or slightly above 180°F (82°C) but below 195°F (90.5°C). You do not want the milk to boil or be too hot and kill off the important yogurt-making bacteria.

  5. When you reach 185°F / 85.5°C, lower the heat and maintain that temperature for 5 minutes.
  6. It is hard to maintain a constant temperature, at least on my stove, just keep it in the 180°F - 186°F /82°C- 85.5°C range. If you go below 180°F (82°C) stop stirring and turn up the heat until you get back at that temperature.

Cool the milk

  1. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove. Let the milk rest until it cools down to 115°F (46°C). I allow my milk to cool on the counter and stir it every now and then to help release the steam. I set the timer to keep track of the time and check the temperature frequently. This process can take around 35 minutes, give or take.

    A faster method of cooling the milk is to fill a large bowl partway with ice and cold water. The bowl needs to be large enough to accommodate your stock pot with ice water surrounding the bottom and partway up the sides of your pot. A sink will work as well. Stir the milk in a back and forth manner every now and then until it is cool. Remove the pot from the ice bath when it reaches around 118° – 120°F (48° - 49°C). Place on the counter and keep the instant-read thermometer in the milk so you do not cool the milk below 115°F (46°). If the milk does fall below 115°, place the pot back on the burner and heat it up 115°F (46°C).

Add the Yogurt Starter

  1. Add one ladleful of the 115°F (46° C) milk in the bowl with your starter yogurt. Whisk the yogurt mixture until well incorporated then pour the yogurt culture in the pot with the milk. Stir then cover. Place the inoculated milk inside a draft-free and warm space.

Incubate the yogurt culture

  1. Place your yogurt culture in a warm draft-free place. In my house, my oven is the best spot. Keep the oven warm by keeping the oven light on. I found it does not always work if I let the yogurt incubate on the counter. According to Cheryl Sternman Rule in her book Yogurt culture, the ideal temperature for incubating yogurt around 100°F (38°C).

  2. Allow the cultured milk to incubate for 6 – 10 hours. Sometimes, it takes longer, up to 12 hours, but the consistent incubation time is around 8-10 hours. The yogurt is done when it looks thick and solid with some liquid, the whey, sloshing about when you jiggle the pot. It will look like plain yogurt. 

Chill

  1. One final step before eating your yogurt is to chill it in the refrigerator for several hours. Tip the yogurt in a bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid. Add the yogurt to the refrigerator and chill for 6-8 hours or overnight. This extra step develops more flavor and a creamier consistency.

  2. Voiá, you just made yogurt! 

  3. Before you use up your yogurt, measure out 2 tablespoons (30 ml) to ¼ cup (60 ml) of yogurt and place in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. Label and date the yogurt. You will use this yogurt for your next batch of yogurt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Taste before using to make sure it is not starting to turn. You can get 3-4 generations of yogurt when using starter from homemade yogurt. After that, start fresh with a new batch of yogurt from the grocery store.

Greek Style Yogurt

  1. Normally, I strain my yogurt for about 2-3 hours to thicken it up and produce Greek Style yogurt.
  2. To strain the yogurt, line the bowl of a fine mesh strainer or colander with a moistened triple layer of cheesecloth or a damp tea towel. The length of the towel or cheesecloth should drape over the sides of the strainer. Place the strainer or colander over a large bowl to catch the whey.
  3. Scrape the yogurt into the lined strainer. Draw up the four corners of your cheesecloth or towel and bring them together. Tighten them close to the yogurt and tie with a string or twisty. Place the bowl with the colander in the refrigerator and drain the yogurt until it reaches the consistency you desire. The longer it strains the thicker it gets. I like the consistency after straining for 3 hours.

  4. When done, place the yogurt in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. The yogurt will keep for a week.
  5. If your yogurt is thicker than you like, add some of the whey back in to loosen it up.

  6. Reserve your whey and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Yogurt dries out inconsistently throughout the incubating and straining process. This creates some lumpy spots in your yogurt. This is normal. If you want smooth yogurt, spoon out the amount you want then whisk it right before using. Whisking the yogurt will make the yogurt looser, but it gets out the lumps.

Whey

Don’t throw out the whey. It is great in many recipes and for marinades. Use whey in any recipe calling for traditional yogurt, not Greek yogurt, or milk like in baked goods, pancakes, and bread. Whey is acidic, so it will activate the baking soda. Use in smoothies. Use as a tenderizer for meats and in marinades. Whey will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Creamy Homemade Yogurt recipe.

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

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style. Recipe.

In Spain they call it, a la plancha. Italians refer to it as, a la piastra. In Greece, on a staz. No matter what you call it, it’s a centuries old Mediterranean technique for grilling vegetables, fish and meats. In Spain they use a round metal plate, but in Greece they use a piece of sheet metal placed directly on the grill.  From Italy, a stone or a metal plate creates a hot flat surface over an open flame. Essentially, it is a flat metal or stone griddle, set over a grill grate over an open flame. Mediterranean cooks know how to grill their vegetables because these grilled vegetables never tasted so good.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

This technique does not produce fancy crisscross grill marks on your grilled vegetables, but what you do get are tender vegetables that retain some bite and have a good sear from the stone or griddle. Ultimately, the more surface area that touches the vegetables, means more flavor on your grilled vegetables from the sear. Another bonus is, no more vegetables falling through the grates and flare ups. Mediterranean style grilled vegetables are sweet, lightly flavored from the fire’s smoke, and seared to perfection.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

A New Way with Grilled Vegetables

It all started yesterday on an impulse after coming upon the phrase, “… a la piastra,” in one of my cookbooks. It was an “Ah ha” moment for me with the realization of a refrigerator full of vegetables and an old cast iron griddle begging for use.  With my fingers crossed and plans for dinner and a blog post on the horizon, I decided to give “A la piastra” grilling technique a try. It was just meant to be.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

I do love the flavor of grilled vegetables, but when I grill chicken or meats, I don’t always grill vegetables for a side dish. Mainly, I do not want my whole dinner tasting all the same. Also, depending on how many people we are cooking for, there is just no room on my 22-inch charcoal grill.

Because this was somewhat impulsive, and I was “recipe testing”, I did not cook the vegetables in an organized manner, but fit the different vegetables here and there along with our dinner of stuffed rainbow trout. I was not sure how long the grill would stay hot, so I cooked things together instead of one at a time. Regardless of my cooking organization, I don’t mind a hodgepodge of grilled vegetables because my job was to use up a bunch of vegetables and test out this grilling technique. I call this mission a delicious success, hodgepodge or not. Now, I have a beautiful mess of tasty grilled vegetables ready whenever I want them.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

Grilled rainbow trout with grilled garlic scapes and grilled lemons

Grilled Vegetables a la Piastra

What I discovered is if you have a cast iron pan or griddle, they create a hot surface to make delicious grilled vegetables, fish and meets. I have yet to test other types of food, but I can’t imagine there is an issue using this technique for shellfish, chicken or steak. Grilling a la piastra or plancha, works particularly well with thin vegetables or sliced vegetables that would normally fall through the spaces on a grill grate. I loved using this technique with thinly sliced zucchini, asparagus, sliced onions, and garlic scapes. Some additional vegetables I want to try are fennel, eggplant and mushrooms.

It is my opinion that grilling bell peppers works better over the open grill grate. They just took longer to get blistered and charred when on the hot surface vs the grill grates. Also corn works better over the open fire and by better, I mean it does not take as long to cook.

Fruit like lemons and oranges grill nicely on a hot plate, but my mind is not made up for peaches. My peach halves stuck to both the grill grate and the cast iron griddle, but this was also the first time I grilled peaches.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

Grilled toast with ricotta cheese and minced grilled garlic scapes and leeks.

How to Grill Vegetables a la Piastra

First, this technique is best using a charcoal grill, but I believe will work with a gas grill, but you won’t get the smoky flavor. Using either grill you must make a hot fire that will last for a while depending on how much food you are grilling. Get the charcoal good and hot, then place the griddle pan or stone on your grate. Heat up your griddle surface for 15 minutes until the surface gets really hot. Close the lid if you are using a gas grill, keep the lid off if you are using a charcoal grill.

Once the grill is hot, oil the grill grate. Do not oil the hot griddle. It is possible that the oil soaked paper towel could burst into flames from the heat of the pan. Instead, generously coat the vegetables and fish in canola oil or other oil with a high smoke point. Arrange the vegetables on the surface of your “griddle” and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the vegetable.

Depending on the surface area of your plate, you will need to cook the vegetables in shifts. Just to be organized, cook the same vegetables all at the same time. Once done, remove the vegetables off the grill and place them spaced out on a tray or plate. If you pile them up, the vegetables will steam and get soggy.

Once done, let the grill plate cool completely before handling. If possible, use tongs and a scrubby to scrape off any stuck on bits while the surface is still hot. It is easier to clean off the charred bits when the plate is still hot, but not at the expense of getting burned.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

Equipment for Grilling Vegetables

  • You need a grill, preferably a charcoal grill but a gas one will work fine.
  • Good quality charcoal without lighter fluid and a charcoal chimney to start the coals.
  • BBQ quality oven mitt or glove.
  • A cast iron pan or griddle, pizza stone, baking steel or food grade metal or stone surface that can tolerate temperature up to 700°F (371°C). Some pizza stones can only withstand temperatures up to 500°F (260°C) or lower.
  • Long metal BBQ tongs without plastic tips.
  • A good BBQ spatula.
  • Several trays for putting the grilled vegetables on.
  • A timer is helpful

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style, recipe.

What to do with all these grilled vegetables?

Serve grilled vegetables with grilled fish, grilled tofu, grilled chicken or steak, or roast chicken.

Assemble a platter of grilled vegetables, olives, cured meats, cheeses and crusty bread. Dine al fresco for a light dinner or a cocktail party.

Serve grilled vegetables as an appetizer made with grilled toasts and ricotta cheese topped with grilled vegetables.

Make a light pesto dressing with muddled basil leaves, smashed garlic, olive oil and vinegar and dress the grilled vegetables.

Grilled vegetable sandwiches with crusty bread, basil mayo or sriracha mayo, with Gouda or mozzarella cheese (smoked or plain) and grilled vegetables.

Frittata with grilled vegetables.

Where to buy a La Plancha griddle pan?

The Big Green Egg has a la plancha griddle for the Big Green Egg. It could work on other round grills depending on the size of the pan and your grill. (Not an add)

Lodge makes a round carbon steel griddle pan. They also make griddle pans in different sizes, shapes and materials. (Not an add)

Sur la Table has a variety of options with an Emile Henry Flame Charcoal Pizza Stone, Swissmare Raclette Granite Stone, Baking Steel Griddle, Lodge round griddle. Plus many more. (Not an add)

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Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style. Recipe.

Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style

Grilling vegetables is so easy when you use a griddle surface on top of a charcoal or gas grill. This grilling surface prevents vegetables from falling through the cracks of the grate or incinerating tender vegetables from sudden flare ups. I had an old cast iron griddle pan that served as a perfect surface on top of my grill, but a 12-inch cast iron skillet or baking steel will work nicely. A stone surface also works if it can withstand temperatures up to 700°F (371°C). My grill pan has a surface area of 16 x 10 inches (40.5 x 25.5 cm). Any food grade metal or stone surface with a surface area of 14 x 11 inches (35.5 x 28 cm) or larger will work nicely as long as it fits on your grill. This is a grilling technique originating from the Mediterranean and possibly first developed in Spain. Serve hot or at room temperature. Grilled vegetables are best eaten the day they are made but will last if kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Course Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword grilled vegetables
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Heating a charcoal grill 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red onion sliced into rings about ¼-inch .5 cm thick
  • 1-2 leeks sliced in half lengthwise, cleaned and root and dark green parts trimmed off
  • 4-6 garlic cloves peel on
  • 2 zucchini sliced lengthwise into ¼- inch .5 cm thick slices
  • 1 yellow squash sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch .5 cm thick slices
  • 12 or more asparagus spears ends trimmed
  • 8 garlic scapes optional
  • 2 lemons cut in half across the width.
  • 1 peach cut in half across the equator optional
  • 2 ears of corn husk and silk threads removed optional
  • 1 fennel bulb stalks removed and sliced in 1/4 -inch (.5 cm) slices (optional)
  • 2-3 TB Canola oil or other oil with a high smoke point
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf French bread sliced on a diagonal optional
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB Red wine vinegar
  • 1 large bunch of basil leaves cleaned and stems removed

Instructions

  1. Prepare your grill. If using a gas grill, heat to 450°F (230°C). For a charcoal grill, fill a charcoal chimney to the top with charcoal. Rest the chimney on the charcoal grate. Light the chimney according to manufacture instructions. Heat the charcoal until all the coals are very hot. They will look mostly grey with streaks of black throughout each lump or briquette. Put on an BBQ mitt and carefully empty the hot charcoal onto the grate. Add an additional half chimney’s worth of charcoal and spread out over the hot charcoal. Arrange the charcoal over the bottom of the whole grate, but with one side having more charcoal than the other. Place the top grilling grate on the grill and the grill pan over the side with the most charcoal. Heat until the grill pan and grate are good and hot, about 15 minutes. Close lid if using a gas grill. The grill pan is hot when you flick water on the grill pan and it bubbles up and dances on the surface.
  2. While the grill is heating up, add the zucchini slices, asparagus and scapes in a large bowl and drizzle about 1 TB (15 ml) of oil over the prepared vegetables. Use the remaining oil to baste the remaining vegetables. Arrange the onion slices and leek halves on a sheet pan and baste with oil on both sides. Baste some oil over the cut surface of the cut lemons. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of Kosher salt over the vegetables, except the bell peppers.
  3. When the grill is hot, arrange the bell peppers on the side of the grill without the grill pan. Every few minutes, use long tongs to turn the bell peppers over so the whole pepper gets a good char and is blistered, about 15 minutes. Once the bell peppers get black all over, place them in a medium bowl and tightly cover with foil and plastic wrap. Set aside to allow the peppers to steam in the bowl for at least 15 minutes.
  4. If using corn on the cob, place them on the grill grate with the bell peppers. Start the corn when you start the peppers. Cook the corn turning them periodically to get an even char on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total.
  5. Meanwhile, arrange the onion slices, garlic cloves and leeks on the grill pan. Cook for 2 minutes then turn over on the other side. You want the onions and leeks to get soft with a nice sear on both sides. Once done, remove from the grill and place on a tray. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The garlic is done, when you see some brown spots on the peel and they are soft in the middle.
  6. Place the lemon halves cut side down on the grill or grill pan and cook until a good sear develops on the cut side, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. When there is room on the grill pan, arrange the zucchini and yellow squash slices on the grate and cook about 2-3 minutes per side. You want browned surface on both sides and tender slices of squash with a slight crispness. Place the squash on a tray when done. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to evenly coat.
  8. Cook the asparagus and garlic scapes on the grill plate. Turning each asparagus spear and garlic scape over around 3 minutes per side. You want the asparagus and scapes to get soft but still have some bite. When done, place the vegetables on a tray. Lightly sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat.
  9. If you are grilling the fennel add the fennel slices when there is room on the grill pan and cook 3 minutes per side, or until soft but still firm. Place on a tray when done. Sprinkle on Kosher salt and black pepper and toss to coat.
  10. Add the sliced French bread, if using, on the grill and toast until the bread is golden brown. How long it will take will depend on how hot your fire is at this time.
  11. When all the vegetables are cooked, remove the skins off the bell peppers by rubbing your hands over the charred skin and pulling off the skin until it is all clear. Do not run the bell pepper under water, or you will wash away all that delicious flavor you worked so hard to make. Clean hands and remove the core from each pepper and slice into slices.
  12. Remove the garlic peels off each clove. Take 1-2 grilled garlic cloves and rub it over the toasted French bread. Add any remaining cloves to the vegetable platter.
  13. Arrange all the vegetables on a platter in piles. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, and torn basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  14. Grilled garlic scapes taste great minced and placed on top of ricotta cheese toasts. Or, mince and add to the olive oil and fresh basil, then sprinkle over the grilled vegetables.
Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style. Mediterranean technique for grilling vegetables. Grilled vegetables develop a great sear when grilled on a stone or metal surface over an open flame.
Hodgepodge of Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean Style. Mediterranean technique for grilling vegetables. Grilled vegetables develop a great sear when grilled on a stone or metal surface over an open flame.

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

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

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

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

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

 

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

How to Make Strawberry No-churn Ice Cream

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

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

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

Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

#strawberriesarethejam collaboration

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

More Strawberry Inspiration on Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Grilled Chicken Salad with Yogurt Avocado Dressing

Nifty Cake with Strawberries Peaches and Cream

Gluten free Nifty Cake with Strawberries Peaches and Cream

 

Strawberry Basil No-Ice Cream.

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Strawberry Basil No-Churn Ice Cream.

Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream

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

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

Makes about  40 oz (1 liter 250 ml)

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Infusing the cream

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

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

Making the no-churn ice cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

#strawberriesarethejam collaborators

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

Square Meal Round Table’s Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova

The Cooking of Joy’s Strawberry Matcha Cream Cheese Tart

This Healthy Table’s Strawberry Tahini Shortcake

Flours in Your Hair’s Strawberry Milk Donuts

The Wood and Spoon’s Strawberry Icebox Pie

Smart in the Kitchen’s Rustic Strawberry Galette

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

Better with Biscuit’s Straw “berry” Cobbler  

My Kitchen Love’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Sift and Simmer’s Rose Strawberry Hibiscus Mille Crepe Cake

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

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

Hola Jalapeno’s Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Margarita

Worthy Pause’s Strawberry-Basil Shrub Cocktail

Hot Dishing It Out’s Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jelly

Figs & Flour’s Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Apricot Salsa

Pie Girl Bakes’ Strawberry Ginger Pie

Crumb Top Baking’s Strawberry Chia Jam Oat Bars

The Gourmandise School’s Strawberry Pistachio Salad

Tiny Kitchen Caper’s Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake

Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Ganache

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

A Spicy Perspective’s Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Easy and Delish’s Strawberry Brigadeiros

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

Katherine in Brooklyn’s Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Sugar Salt Magic’s Strawberry Mousse Tart

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

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

Jessie Sheehan Bakes’ Strawberry Basil Turnovers

Bavette Meat & Provisions’ Pickled Green Strawberries

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

Made from Scratch’s Roasted Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream

Eat Cho Food’s Strawberry Basil Glazed Donuts

What’s Karen Cooking’s Strawberry Eton Mess

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

 

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

Fufu’s Kitchen’s Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Flotte Lotte’s Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Rumbly Tumbly’s Strawberry Scones

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

A Small Kitchen in Genoa’s Italian Riviera Strawberries Salad

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

 

Cooking with Cocktail Ring’s Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

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

Le Petite Eats’ Strawberry Elderflower Ice Cream Sodas

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

Just Date Syrup’s Strawberry Date Syrup Oat Crumble

Well Fed Soul’s Strawberry Almond Mascarpone Cake

Marianne Cooks’ Strawberry Madeleines

Food Solutions’ Strawberry Soup (Savory and Sweet)

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

Annie Campbell’s Strawberry Pavlova

Blossom to Stem’s Mezcal Lime Strawberry Pavlova

Cosette’s Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcake

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

Babby Girl Yum’s Strawberry Spinach Almond Salad

An Amazing Appetite’s Vanilla Strawberry Tart

Cocoa and Salt’s Strawberry Pistachio Tart

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

Baking the Goods’ Mini Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

My Berkeley Kitchen’s Strawberry Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

No More Mr. Nice Pie’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

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

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

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

During the 70’s and 80’s, Deviled Eggs was a popular appetizer. Many cocktail parties had a tray of these creamy bite size egg nibbles politely passed around on a tray for your convenience. Of course, I was a teenager then, but during my teenage years I made money as a hostess helper where I prepped, cooked, served, and cleaned up at people’s parties. I loved the job because I got to see what people where serving and how they entertained.

For some reason Deviled Eggs lost some popularity in the 90’s. I believe it was because people believed eggs were unhealthy. Fortunately, eggs have made a comeback, and with that so have Deviled Eggs. I love Deviled Eggs and based on the reaction I hear from people outside my home, so do a lot of people. I believe they are a perfect appetizer for a cocktail party. One that is not too rich, are easy to eat while holding a drink, and provide some needed protein to help fill one’s appetite. In general, I believe eggs are comfort food and just like egg salad, deviled eggs have that creamy wholesome comfort I crave.

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs for Deviled Eggs

The key to making good deviled eggs is making perfect hard-boiled eggs. Ones that are not rubbery, with cooked but tender yolks, have an even oval shape, and have a shell that is easy to peel off. What I discovered is there are almost as many tricks as there are recipes, with most of them providing inconsistent results. Over the past couple of years, I discovered two techniques for making hard-boiled eggs that are consistently easy to peel and do not get over-coked. No technique is entirely foolproof, but these two techniques are very reliable.

First, according to Food52, warm up the eggs in hot tap water while you wait for the water to boil. Putting eggs straight from the refrigerator into a pot of boiling water causes the shells to crack and give the eggs a misshapen appearance. Warming the eggs for a few minutes helps the egg whites set into their natural oval shape and prevent the shells from cracking.

Second, if you only adapt one of these techniques, this is the one to do whenever you cook hard-boiled eggs. Shock the cooked eggs in ice water for 15 minutes or more just when they finish cooking. In layman’s terms, this technique causes the egg whites to constrict and pull away from the sides of the shell. With everything else being a constant, this one technique produces hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel.

Also, the myth about younger fresh eggs being hard to peel is true. Older eggs like store-bought or farm fresh eggs that are at least 2-weeks-old are much easier to peel. Other than the shock from the ice bath, the age criteria is the only “egg lore” I found to be consistently correct. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the best techniques for cooking hard-boiled eggs, read this article from Serious Eats.

If you are making hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs, make more than you need so if you get a couple of eggs that don’t peel easily or are misshapen, you have extra to choose from. Use up the extra eggs for egg salad or chopped and sprinkled over asparagus with some olive oil.

Deviled Eggs Four Ways

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

There are endless ways to personalize this classic appetizer and I have provided four variations for you to choose from. First off is the foundation recipe which all the other recipes are a variation from. Each recipe is proportioned using 4 hard-boiled eggs, giving you a total of 8 deviled eggs. The recipe is easily adapted to doubling the amounts. With the egg yolk filling, I look for a smooth consistency with a very slight amount of grain, and a creamy balanced flavor between the mayonnaise, mustard and egg yolks.

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

From the foundation recipe I built two other variations. The first I made Pickled Deviled eggs with cornichons, a couple of the onions from the bottle, and pickling liquid to the foundation recipe. This added a subtle pickle flavor complimented with some heat from a light sprinkle of hot paprika. If you can’t find cornichons use sweet gherkin pickles or relish

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways a recipe.

For decadent deviled eggs, I used either white or black truffle oil and slightly adjusted the foundation recipe. If using white truffle oil, it will have a subtler flavor, but it is still delicious. The egg filling gets a double dose of truffles from truffle salt and truffle oil, which I am lucky enough to have both on hand. However, if you only have truffle oil, you will still have the truffle essence, albeit a subtler one. If you are fortunate enough to have a real truffle, mince up a sliver and add it to the egg yolks or use as a garnish. Italian truffles are not available now (early Spring), but usually become available for a couple of months in the summer, and in the winter.

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

The recipe for spinach deviled eggs is from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything. He made them sound so good I just had to try them out. He is right they are delicious with a great flavor of spinach and Romano cheese. The filling has a dark green color which was different from what I expected. (I thought they would have a pale green color.) Yet, I believe they will surprise and delight your guests as something delicious and unexpected.

His recipe calls for Parmesan Cheese, but I prefer the sharpness of Romano Cheese. If you wish, use Parmesan cheese, but make sure it is the Parmesan Reggiano from Italy.

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

Pair Deviled Eggs with any of these Appetizers

Salmon Mousse, Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots, Roasted Red Pepper DipSpinach Artichoke Dip, or Stuffed Pastry with Swiss Chard and Feta

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Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are a timeless appetizer perfect for a cocktail party. The foundation recipe is a traditional recipe made with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and some hot paprika. All the variations start from this traditional recipe with some tweaks. Listed below are four variations to choose from to suit your mood and preference. All of them are delicious.   

The Spinach Deviled Eggs is from Mark Bittman's cookbook, How to Cook Everything. 

Deviled eggs are best eaten the day they are made. Assemble right before serving. 


Course Appetizer
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 ½ TBS mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • A few rounds of fresh ground black pepper
  • A couple of dashes of hot paprika to taste and garnish
  • Dill for garnish only for the foundation recipe

Instructions

  1. Foundation Recipe

    Use a sharp paring knife, cut the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. To make a clean cut, wipe off the knife between each egg. Scoop out the yolks and place into a small bowl. Reserve the egg whites. Mash the egg yolks with a fork until they look like small pebbles and almost a paste. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and mix and mash together with your fork until it gets as smooth as you can make it by hand. Taste the mixture and adjust with any of the ingredients to get the consistency you wish. Sprinkle a couple of dashes of hot paprika, or sweet paprika if you do not want the spice.

  2. Spoon or pipe the egg yolk filling into the body of the cooked egg whites.  Garnish with a tip of dill and a dusting of paprika and black pepper.

  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate covered in plastic wrap until needed. Deviled eggs are best eaten soon after they are made. 

  4. Cornichon Deviled Eggs

    Follow the directions of the foundation recipe for deviled eggs. Once the egg yolks are mixed and add 4-6 diced cornichons and two diced pickled onions from the cornichons jar. Add about a half teaspoon and up to 1 teaspoon of the juice from the jar of cornichons. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the deviled egg filling into the body of the hard-boiled eggs and garnish with sliced cornichon and a dash of smoked paprika. 

  5. Poor Man’s Truffle Deviled Eggs

    Use the foundation recipe, except use only 1 ½ tablespoons of mayonnaise and add one tablespoon of white or black truffle olive oil. Use the same amount of Dijon mustard, but add a pinch of truffle salt instead of Kosher salt. (Optional, add 1 TB of butter.) Mix until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pipe or spoon the egg yolk mixture into the egg white bodies. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper and drizzle with truffle oil. 

  6. Spinach Deviled Eggs

    Steam 3 oz (81 g) of fresh spinach (cleaned and stems removed) for 5 minutes. When cool plop into a flour sack kitchen towel and squeeze out as much water as you can. Or put in a fine mesh strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Place the squeezed spinach on a cutting board and mince several times over. In a small bowl mash up the egg yolks and add the spinach, 1 ½ TB mayonnaise, and 1 TB extra virgin olive oil, 1 TB of slightly softened butter, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, less than a ¼ tsp. Mash everything together until smooth. Add ¼ cup, (65-70 ml) finely grated Romano Cheese and stir to completely mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pipe or spoon the filling into the hard-boiled egg whites. Garnish with thinly sliced pickled peppadews. 

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Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

Hard Boiled Eggs

This recipe will consistently create hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel, have a great shape and no gray ring around the yolk
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Lunch
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Cool in Ice Bath 15 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1-6 eggs
  • 3 quarts (3 liters) water

Instructions

  1. Fill a pot large enough to hold the eggs without crowding them with 3 quarts of water. Turn on the heat to high. Bring the pot to a boil. 

  2. While the water is heating up on the stove, add the eggs to a bowl filled with hot water. Let the eggs warm up in the bath. This step help prevent the egg shells from cracking as they cook and maintain an oval shape. 

  3. Carefully, add the eggs one at a time to the pot of boiling water. A large slotted spoon or spider are great for this job, and cook for one minute. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.  Cook for 10- 12 minutes. 10 minutes will give you eggs that are cooked but have a slightly soft middle spot in the yolk. 12 minutes will give you eggs where the yolks are cooked but not dried out.

  4. Just before the eggs finish boiling, fill a large bowl part way with ice then fill it with cold water. Set aside.
  5. When the eggs are finished cooking, immediately remove them from the pot and add them into the bowl with the ice water. Use a slotted spoon to lift the eggs out of the hot water before you add them into the ice water. Let them cool in the ice water for 15 minutes or longer, adding more ice if necessary to keep the water cold.
  6. To peel the eggs, gently tap the egg against the side of the sink to make cracks all over the surface, then roll the egg back and forth on the counter’s surface. Starting at the wide bottom end of the egg, peel away the shell under cold running tap water. Repeat until all the eggs are peeled. Place the peeled eggs in a bowl of cold water and keep in the refrigerator uncovered until needed.
Deviled Eggs, $ Ways. How to make perfect deviled eggs with recipes for 4 variations, Cornichon Deviled Eggs, Truffle Deviled Eggs, Spinach Deviled Eggs and Traditional Deviled Eggs.
Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways. How to make perfect deviled eggs with recipes for 4 variations, Cornichon Deviled Eggs, Truffle Deviled Eggs, Spinach Deviled Eggs and Traditional Deviled Eggs.

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