Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Dessert Tart Recipe: Figs and Almond Tart

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

It is tart week in my household with both sweet and savory tart recipes for yours and my pleasure. Because it is fig season, I am compelled to make something at least once using figs. I love figs. They are a beautiful fruit with its simple pear shape, deep purple color, and a seductive subtle but jammy interior. That rich eggplant purple is one of my favorite colors and I find anything with that color totally irresistible.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Fig and Almond Tart

Several years ago, I discovered this tart recipe on Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis but I thought it was very rich and sweet. Because I wanted to make a fig and almond tart, I decided to give this tart recipe another try with some minor changes. I adapted the tart recipe by reducing the amount of sweetener in the filling, so the sweet flavor does not dominate the fig and almond flavors.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar in the pie crust, and one tablespoon of sugar plus 2 tablespoons of honey in the mascarpone cheese and almond paste filling. In my opinion, it was too rich,  so I reduced the sweetener to only 1 tablespoon of honey in the filling. For me, this minor adjustment made all the difference.

I do like the sweetened pie crust and did not change the amount of sugar in that recipe. However, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the crust from 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 ml). The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar and I believe the sweetness in the crust blends the crust with the filling. Otherwise, the strong flour flavor in the crust will compete with the figs and almonds.

Almond Paste

My experience baking with almond paste is limited, but what I have learned so far is each brand tastes slightly different for both almond flavor and sweetness. Depending on your brand of almond paste could determine how much sugar you need to add to the filling. Before you begin mixing the filling, taste the almond paste to determine how sweet it is. Then mix it together with the mascarpone cheese and other filling ingredients, then taste again. Add more honey or sugar if you wish. I like the amount of sweetener I have in this fig and almond tart recipe, but if your almond paste is on the less sweet side, you may need more.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

For another tart recipe using almond paste, make  Almond Cherry and Peach Galette.

Another trick to get more almond flavor without adding extra almond paste is, add a few drops of pure almond extract. Be careful adding the almond extract because it is strong and only use pure almond extract. Imitation almond extract tastes like chemicals and not the real deal, just like imitation vanilla extract.

The most common almond paste brands available are Solo and Odense almond paste. Solo comes in a box or can, and Odense comes in a tube. You want to make sure it is pure or real almond paste. I have used both brands with good results. You will find almond paste in the baking aisle.

Almond paste and marzipan are two different ingredients and not interchangeable. Marzipan is made with almond paste and extra sugar and more egg whites. It is the almond paste that gives marzipan its characteristic almond flavor.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own almond paste.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Figs

You want to use figs that are just starting to ripen and getting soft. I used black mission figs, but any type of fig will work in this tart recipe. Stay away from figs that are too soft and mushy. They are over-ripe and do not taste as fresh. I recommend inspecting the figs before you buy them because they often have moldy figs mixed in with the ripe figs. Figs are very perishable and quickly become over-ripe so use them as soon as possible after you buy them.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

To store figs, remove them from the plastic container and place them on a paper towel-lined plate in one layer with space between each fig so they can breathe. Cover the figs in plastic wrap. You can keep the figs on the counter for a couple of days, but they will last longer in the refrigerator.

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

More recipes using figs:

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Sexy Fig and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Prosciutto

Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Mascarpone vs Cream Cheese

What is mascarpone cheese? Mascarpone cheese comes from Italy and is similar to cream cheese, but it has a higher milk fat content because it is made with cream. Cream cheese is made in America and by law must have at least 33% milk fat and 55% moisture. Cream cheese also has additives, like gums to give the cheese a thicker appearance. They are not equally interchangeable in a recipe because of the differences in consistency, texture, milk fat percentages, and additives in cream cheese. You will find mascarpone cheese in the cheese department or deli department near the crème fraîche. If possible do not substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone cheese in this tart recipe.

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Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart

Fig and Almond Tart

A delicate and flaky tart filled with an almond mascarpone spread and topped with sliced figs. The figs melt into the almond filling and taste jammy for a unique and impressive looking tart. Depending on how sweet your almond paste is may depend on how much sugar or honey you want to use. I err on the side of less sugar otherwise it is a very rich dessert. I happen to love fresh rosemary or lemon thyme sparsely sprinkled over fruit tarts as it adds a savory note to offset the sweetness in the dessert. Use a light hand with the herbs as you do not want them to overpower the dessert. Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 2008, fig and Almond Tart from Food Network
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Fig tart, figs, tart recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • 1 ½ cup 213 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 -2 TB (12 - 24 g) sugar
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 10 TB ( g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into half-inch (1 cm) pieces
  • 3 TB ice water

Tart filling

  • 3 ½ oz (101 g) almond paste, room temperature and cut into ½ inch ( 1 cm) pieces
  • 1/3 cup (76 g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pure almond extract to taste (if needed) a couple of drops
  • 12 figs, stems removed and sliced into fourths lengthwise
  • 2 tsp of Minced sprigs of Rosemary or Lemon Thyme optional

Instructions

Make the pie dough

  1. Food Processor Method
  2. Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly combined. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse until the mixture looks like large course sand with uneven clumps. Turn on the machine and add the water in a steady stream until large clumps form being careful not to overwork the dough. Tip the mixture onto a clean and lightly floured surface and pat into a disk. Wrap the pie dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
  3. Hand Method
  4. If making by hand, add the flour sugar, lemon zest, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the cubed butter and toss them with your clean hands until coated with flour. Smash the butter with your fingers to mix into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse meal with uneven sizes. Add the ice water and stir with your hands briefly until the dough comes together. Tip the dough onto a clean and lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap the disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Mix the almond filling

  1. In a clean bowl of a food processor, add the almond paste, mascarpone cheese, honey, and vanilla. Process until a smooth paste is formed. Scrape down the side of the bowl to blend and process again. Make sure there are no clumps of almond paste in the mix. Taste and add a couple of drops of almond extract if you want the filling to have more almond flavor. Go very light with the almond extract because it is very strong.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with the oven rack in the middle position. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Assemble the Tart

  1. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and if it is too hard, let it rest at room temperature for a couple of minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a lightly floured and clean work surface. Whack the dough with your rolling pin across the dough to soften it up and start forming a circle. Rotate the dough 180° and whack it again 4 times across the dough. Turn the dough over and repeat.

  2. Roll out the dough with your rolling pin starting at the center of your dough and roll it in one direction away from you. Move the rolling pin around the dough circle and roll out in one direction. Turn the dough over and continue to roll and shape the dough until you have a circle with a 12-inch diameter and is ¼ inch (.5) thick. 

  3. Transfer the dough onto your prepared baking sheet by draping the dough over your rolling pin then easing the dough into place.
  4. Spread the almond filling over the dough in an even layer leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border. Layer the fig slices in concentric circles over the almond filling beginning at the outer rim and working inwards.
  5. Heat the jam for 15 seconds to loosen it up and spread the jam over the figs. You might not use all of the jam, but you want an even layer that is not too thick.
  6. Fold the dough border over the toppings to create an edge. Pleat the border to maintain the circle shape. You can bake the tart right away, but if it took you a while to arrange the tart filling over the dough and you are concerned about the tart expanding and opening up when baking, refrigerate the tart, loosely covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes. 

  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color. Transfer the tart on the sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the bottom of the tart with a metal spatula or offset spatula and slide the tart off the parchment paper onto your serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  8. Best eaten the day it is made.
Dessert Tart Recipe: Fig and Almond Tart. A sophisticated dessert tart recipe made with fresh figs, almond paste, and mascarpone cheese. It tastes and looks very impressive, yet is simple to make.

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

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

A tender walnut pastry crust provides the foundation for a savory tart filled with sautéed Swiss chard, leeks, butternut squash, seasoned chickpeas tipped over a ricotta goat cheese spread.

I have wanted to make a savory tart since the first signs of spring and it is about time I finally got around to do it. I am not sure why it took me so long, maybe I was just waiting for Swiss chard to come into season. No matter the reason this is a rustic looking savory tart that fits more into the galette category. What I love about informal free-form tarts is you don’t have to worry about having the right size tart pan. It is so frustrating to read a recipe and get excited to make it only to realize you do not have the right pan.

Originally, I wanted to make Joshua McFadden’s Swiss Chard Galette from Six Seasons Cookbook. I have linked to this cookbook many times as it is one of my favorites and provides me with six seasons worth of inspiration. The walnut pie crust for this savory tart comes from his book. However, I decided to make my savory tart using a different style featuring layers of sautéed vegetables over a ricotta cheese and goat cheese spread.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

Savory Tart Success

The key to success making savory tarts with lots of vegetables is you must precook all the vegetables. Skipping this step produces a pastry dough with a soggy bottom and partially cooked vegetables.  I also believe you need to chop up the vegetables in such a way that they are large enough to not get lost in the pile, but small enough to not weigh down the tart and fall apart. Mixing greens with chopped vegetables help the vegetables stay put as well.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

Flavoring Options

It is the butternut squash that makes the flavors of the savory tart stand out. The concentrated sweetness complements the bitter flavors from the Swiss chard and gives the vegetable filling body. Without it, it is just Swiss chard spread over pie crust, which would taste fine, but won’t be as impressive.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

There are two things I love to mix in with butternut squash, sage and smoked or cured pork like pancetta or bacon. These two pairings, either separate or combined, make up one of the best flavor marriages around. If you don’t eat pork, omit it, but the fresh sage is still a nice addition. I did not add a lot of sage or pancetta, so feel free to play around with the amounts. If you do not like sage, substitute it with fresh thyme or rosemary to your liking.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

Another optional ingredient is the ricotta and goat cheese spread. I like it because intermittently you will get a creamy pop of goat cheese with your swiss chard, but it is not necessary. Also, spreading the ricotta and goat cheese over the pie crust prevents it from getting soggy while cooking. If you do not want the cheese, baste an egg wash layer over the pastry dough before you add the vegetables. Like the cheese, the egg wash becomes a protective layer between the pie dough and the vegetables.

Savory Pie Crust

The walnut pie dough is the same recipe used in my Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasoning. If you do not eat nuts, please substitute it with the pie crust recipe for my Irresistible Onion Tart.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

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Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard with Butternut Squash

I have a thing for savory tarts and this one has a lovely balance of flavors. This tart is more like a galette with its free-form shape and informal attitude. The sweetness of the butternut squash balances out any bitterness of the Swiss chard and gives this tart character. Additionally, I love the butternut squash with sage and pancetta and use them as my main seasonings in this galette. The pancetta is optional but any smoky cured pork is a delicious complement to the butternut squash. The layer of ricotta and goat cheese is subtle. It melts into the pastry and acts as a barrier preventing the pastry from getting a soggy bottom. To make this a dairy-free galette do not add the cheese. Instead, brush a layer of lightly beaten egg over the pastry before you add the vegetables. 

Walnut Pastry recipe is from Tomato Tart with Ricotta and Mediterranean Seasonings.  If you do not want a pie crust with nuts, use the recipe from the pie crust in my Irresistible Onion Tart.

Serves 4 to 6

Course Brunch, Light Supper, Lunch, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword butternut squash, savory tart, swiss chard
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
resting time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe for Walnut Pie Crust
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil, divided plus more for the chickpeas
  • 2.5 oz (65 g) pancetta chopped in ¼ inch (.5 cm) pieces (optional)
  • 1 leek sliced into ¼ inch slices white and light green parts only
  • 5-6 oz (150 g) butternut squash, about half of a small butternut squash
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bunch (12 oz / 350 g) Swiss chard Cleaned
  • A few rounds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sage leaves minced
  • 3 oz (75 g) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 oz (50-75 g) creamy goat cheese
  • ½ cup (3 oz / 84 g) chickpeas, rinsed, dried and skins removed
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Small pinch of dried ground garlic

Walnut Pie Crust

  • ½ cup (2 oz/ 58 g) 58 g toasted walnuts
  • 1 2/3 cups (7.25 oz / 208 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz (113 g) chilled unsalted butter, one stick cut into pieces and kept cold until mixing
  • 1 TB (12 g) sugar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 TB (30 ml) ice cold water plus more if needed

Instructions

Walnut pie crust

  1. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until a fine and even crumble. Be careful to not over-process the nuts into walnut butter. Pour the walnuts into a mixing bowl and add the flour, sugar and Kosher salt. Mix the ingredients together with a wire whisk until evenly combined. Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture and toss to coat the butter with flour. Smush the butter with your fingers with the flour until you get a pebbly mixture of all different sizes. Add 2 TB of ice water and using your hands briefly toss to mix and form a ball. If the dough seems dry add more ice water, one tablespoon at a time. 
  2. Lightly dust your clean work surface with flour and tip the dough ball on the surface. Starting at the upper edge of your dough ball, use the heel of your hand to press down and smear the dough away from you. Continue to smear the dough away from you into a pile until you have worked your way through the ball of dough, about 4-5 smears. Gather the dough and form a round disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. The dough will keep in the freezer for 3 months. 

Prep the vegetables

  1. Meanwhile, peel and chop the butternut squash into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.
  2. Trim the stems off the swiss chard by slicing along both sides of the seam where the stem meets the leafy greens. Make a pile of the leaves and slice across the width in 2-inch strips. Repeat until all the leaves are sliced. Set aside. 

  3. Chop the stems into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces.
  4. While you prep the vegetables, If using, brown the pancetta. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a hot pan then add the chopped pancetta. Turn down the heat to medium-low and brown the pancetta until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is brown and crispy. When done, remove the pancetta from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Cook the vegetables

  1. In a Dutch oven or large sauté pan (12 inches / 30.5 cm) add the remaining 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sliced leeks, butternut squash, and a ½ tsp of Kosher salt to the pan then stir so the vegetables get an even coating of olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes then add about a ¼ cup (60 ml) of water to the pan, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Turn down the heat to medium and cook until the butternut squash just begins to get tender but not fully cooked, about 7 minutes. 

  2. Remove the lid and add the swiss chard, in batches. Cover the pan and cook until the swiss chard is wilted and soft about 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until all liquid (if any) evaporates. Taste and add more Kosher salt if needed and a few rounds of fresh black pepper. Turn off the heat, add the minced sage and stir to mix. Tip the cooked vegetables onto a sheet pan to cool. Set aside.

Prepare the savory tart

  1. Mix together the ricotta and goat cheese in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Mix together the chickpeas, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, paprika, and granulated garlic until evenly combined. Set aside.

  3. One hour before you plan on baking the galette, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with the oven rack in the middle position. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it on top of the oven rack in the middle.

  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a large sheet pan, about 12 x 18 inches (30 x 45.5 cm). Set aside.
  5. When you are ready to bake, take the tart dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, sprinkle your counter surface with flour and place the dough in the center. Whack the dough with a lightly floured rolling pin. Whack the dough moving from left to right to flatten it out. Turn the dough a quarter turn and whack 4 more times moving across the disk from left to right. Turn the dough over and repeat 2 more times. This process helps the dough start a nice circle shape. Roll out the dough with your rolling pin starting at the center and roll away from you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and roll across the dough beginning in the center. Repeat. Turn the dough over and roll out the dough until you have a 12-inch (30.5 cm) circle and the dough is about ¼-inch (.5 cm) thick. Dust the countertop with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. 

  6. Once you have completed rolling out your dough, place your rolling pin across the middle and lift your pie dough then drape it over the rolling pin towards you. Lift your pie dough draped rolling pin and place it across the center of your prepared sheet pan. Start at the end closest to you and roll the pin away from you while the pie dough eases into place. The edges should overlap up the sides of the rim. 

  7. Spread the ricotta and goat cheese over the pastry dough in a smooth and even layer, leaving a border of 1 ½-inches (3.5 cm). Tip the cooled vegetables on the pastry and spread in an even layer over the cheeses.

  8. Top off with the seasoned chickpeas.
  9. Fold over the pastry border up the sides of the vegetables. Pleat the pastry as you go around the circle to keep its shape. You do not need to make fancy pleats or edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes. 

    If the pastry dough is fragile and starts to break when you lift it up you have two options. 1) Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes ( or freeze it for 15) until the pastry dough chills and solidifies. 2) I found lifting the edge of the parchment paper at the area where I needed to lift the pastry dough over the vegetables, was an easy way to fold over the pastry dough. Then by moving around the circle, using the parchment paper to lift and guide the dough, until done. Peel away the parchment paper from the dough so that it rests back down on the sheet pan. 

  10. Mix the egg with a fork until the whites and yolk are combined. Baste the pastry border with the egg wash in an even layer. Add flakey sea salt, or toasted sesame seeds, or leave plain. 

  11. Place the galette in the oven and bake for 45 -55 minutes. The galette is done when the pastry has a deep golden brown color and is flaky.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. Best eaten warm and the day it is made.

Savory Tart with Swiss Chard and Butternut Squash recipe. Savory tart recipe. Sauteed Swiss chard and butternut squash layered over ricotta and goat cheese fill a flaky walnut pastry crust.</div?

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

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs, recipe.

This time of year, I want to eat fresh local tomatoes every day until there are no more. For some reason, the finality of tomato season resonates more than other vegetables. Maybe fresh corn is equal in its limited and anticipated season, but real tomatoes picked ripe tastes like summer and the ground from which it has grown. There is nothing like it.

As much as I love fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes are high on my list for having exceptional flavor, particularly roasted cherry tomatoes. Roasting cherry tomatoes concentrate their natural sweetness giving them an amazing punch of pizzazz. As a result, paring roasted cherry tomatoes with other foods, just makes everything taste better, especially creamy cheese, fish or grilled meats.

Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs, recipe.

One of my favorite ways to use roasted cherry tomatoes is to mix them with pasta and make a pasta sauce. Other than chopping up fresh tomatoes and adding them to pasta, roasting cherry tomatoes are one of the easiest methods for making a pasta sauce. Just scatter the tomatoes over a sheet pan, drizzle olive oil and salt, then roast for 30 minutes or so. The other bonus to roasting cherry or grape tomatoes is there is no splatter on the stove or countertop.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I started roasting cherry tomatoes after I saw a photograph of burrata with roasted cherry tomatoes drizzled with basil pesto. Immediately, I knew this appetizer was something I had to discover. Since then I roast cherry tomatoes whenever I get the chance. I especially like to roast them alongside tender white fish like sole, plaice or turbot. They give the delicate fish a much-needed flavor boost.

Roasting cherry tomatoes for pasta sauce requires nothing more than a generous dose of good olive oil and fresh herbs. When they bake together in the oven the juices from the tomatoes and olive oil blend and create a silky sauce that clings to the pasta. There is not a lot of this pan juice, so it is important to use the right size pan to prevent the pan juices from drying out. If that does happen, deglaze the pan with some of the pasta water or wine, then pour the glaze over the pasta.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Roasted Garlic

This summer I never missed an opportunity to roast garlic or onions. So, whenever I roasted vegetables like broccoli, I scattered cloves of garlic, still in their papery skins and roasted the cloves along with the other veggies. Like roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic is one of those foods that just make everything taste better. It does take some time to get the garlic browned and sweet, but I help the process along by slicing large garlic cloves in half. When all done, you can smear the roasted garlic cloves on bread, or spread it over the roasted vegetables for added depth of flavor.

For this recipe, the garlic will not get as caramelized because it only takes 20-30 minutes to roast cherry tomatoes. Yet, in this short timeframe, the garlic becomes soft and sweet. Once the tomatoes are finished I fish out the garlic cloves and remove the papery skins. From there you can decide if you want the garlic cloves left whole in the sauce or chopped up. I decided to chop mine up making sure there was roasted garlic throughout the pasta sauce. Feel free to prepare the garlic any way you wish. Yet, I do not recommend you mince the garlic before you roast it, as garlic burns easily. Burned garlic tastes very bitter.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs, recipe.

How Much Pasta

I once read a note written by Marcella Hazan that when making a pasta dish, it is the pasta that is the primary ingredient, not the sauce or added ingredients. Therefore, the add-ins should be limited in proportion to not take away from the pasta. I love pasta as much as anyone, but I prefer my pasta meals filled with lots of add-ins. This way for every bite I get the fresh flavors of the added ingredients and pasta. Additionally, it is healthier to eat pasta with lots of vegetables because they help slow down the metabolism of the pasta from the extra fiber. This is a long-winded explanation for how much pasta to serve with 2 pounds ( 1 kg) of tomatoes. My preference is a half-pound of pasta, (250g), but use the amount you prefer.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Mix it Up

Add creamy goat cheese to the spaghetti and roasted cherry tomatoes. Scatter spoonfuls of goat cheese on each plate or on the serving platter after the spaghetti and roasted tomato sauce are mixed together.

Add fresh ricotta cheese to the spaghetti and roasted cherry tomatoes. Serve the pasta meal with a tablespoonful of fresh ricotta cheese on the side.

Add shrimp to the sauce. Five minutes before the tomatoes finish roasting, scatter peeled and seasoned shrimp on the roasting pan with the tomatoes. Roast until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Toss the shrimp and tomatoes with spaghetti or another choice of pasta.

Serve roasted cherry tomatoes on the side with lamb chops or other grilled or roasted meats or fish

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

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Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs, recipe.

Spaghetti with Fresh Herbs and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Roasted cherry or grape tomatoes develop a lovely concentrated sweetness and a melty and silky texture perfect for pasta sauce. In this recipe the tomatoes roast along with fresh herbs, garlic, and shallots for an extra flavor boost.

I listed two amounts of pasta in the recipe. Use either a half-pound or a full pound of pasta with 2 lbs. of cherry tomatoes. If you are in the camp that pasta is the main and featured ingredient, then cook the full pound. Yet, if you are like me and enjoy more add-ins with a pasta meal, then a half-pound is preferable. This way you get more tomatoes with each bite. A half-pound of pasta with the roasted cherry tomato sauce is enough for 4 servings.   

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian American
Keyword roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted tomato pasta sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (1 kg) cherry or grape tomatoes washed and dried
  • 8 cloves of garlic peel intact
  • 4-6 small shallots peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 TB (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil plus more for finishing
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • A few rounds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of fresh herbs like basil or thyme
  • ½ - 1 lb. (250 - 500 g) pasta like spaghetti linguine, or see note
  • Romano Cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place the oven rack in the middle position.
  2. Keep the skins on each garlic clove, but trim off the root end. This will make peeling the roasted garlic easier when the cloves are hot. If any of the garlic cloves are large, slice them in half lengthwise with the skins still on.

  3. Depending on how large your shallots are, slice them in half lengthwise or in fourths lengthwise if they are too big. 

  4. Add the tomatoes, garlic cloves and shallots to a rimmed baking sheet or shallow flameproof baking pan, large enough to hold the vegetables in one layer. You do not want the pan to be too big or the juices from the tomatoes will dry up in the oven. 

  5. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots, then sprinkle them with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Toss in half of the fresh herbs, then use your clean hands and mix until all the vegetables are nicely coated with olive oil.  

  6. Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After twenty minutes check the tomatoes if they are soft and starting to split. Also, the garlic will look soft and starting to brown, along with the shallots. You can stop roasting now or roast an additional 5 -10 minutes more to really soften the tomatoes and garlic. Once done to your liking remove from the oven. 

  7. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Cook the pasta al dente, just done with a little bite in the middle. Remove the pasta from the water and add to a bowl. Reserve some pasta water to deglaze the pan and add to the sauce. Ideally, you want to time it, so the pasta is done at the same time as the tomatoes.  

  8. Right after you take the tomatoes out of the oven, carefully (the garlic is very hot) remove the papery skin from the roasted garlic. You can add the garlic cloves back in with the tomatoes whole or chop them up.  

  9. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots to the spaghetti scraping as much of the pan juices to the bowl. If your pan juices dried up, set the roasting pan over two burners then add some pasta water and deglaze the pan. Reduce the juices then add to the pasta and tomatoes. 

  10. Toss the spaghetti to get the tomatoes evenly mixed in. Add a little more pasta water if it seems dry. Sprinkle the remaining fresh basil over the pasta and drizzle with more olive oil. (This is a good place for adding your best quality olive oil.) Serve immediately with grated Romano cheese and fresh black pepper. 

Recipe Notes

I believe just about any shape pasta will taste nice with the roasted cherry tomato sauce. Spaghetti and linguine are traditional choices, but tubular or unusual pasta shapes like campanelle are nice. I recommend shying away from flat pasta shapes like bow ties, farfalle, or ones that are small.

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs. Oven roasted cherry tomatoes make the most luscious sauce perfect for pasta. Fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallots and fresh herbs gently roast till soft and just beginning to caramelize, making the sauce silky and full of flavor.

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

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

This is just one of those recipes that came to me in the middle of doing something else, that is completely unrelated, like weeding. Surely, my mind was elsewhere and not focused on what I needed to accomplish. Sometimes food ideas and inspiration just grow out of me at the most unexpected times. Clearly, I must have been subconsciously dreaming of the adobo sauce I made from one of my favorite Mexican food resources, Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez. It was so much easier than I expected and now I have a bowlful of this delicious smoky chili purée. What to make? Out of the blue, my mind forced me to stop whatever I was doing and pushed forward an idea for grilled chicken kebabs marinated in a yogurt adobo sauce.

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

Here is my dream come to reality with a recipe for grilled chicken kebabs made using an adobo sauce and yogurt marinade, just because yogurt makes everything so tender, and mixed in with well-seasoned thick pieces of chicken thighs. The chicken kebabs cook quickly over a hot grill and taste remarkable with something fruity, crispy and sweet, like fresh corn and mango avocado salsa.

Trying Something New

I always hesitate when I make a new recipe with dried chili peppers because I never know how hot it will taste. But the more I cook with fresh and dried chilies, the more familiar I get with their multi-dimensional flavors. Every cuisine appears to have a sauce (or two) made with hot chilies and spices that are quite addictive.

Adobo sauce is another one of the great sauces with a pleasing smoky dried chili flavor mixed with vinegar and other spices. It is that acid chili pepper combo that just tastes so amazing and keeps me coming back for more. Adobo is not as acidic as Asian chili sauces like Sriracha. It is much subtler with the chilies as the more prominent taste.

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

Adobo Sauce

To make your own adobo sauce, use dried guajillo and/or ancho chilies if you can find them. They are not as hot as other dried chilies and are the traditional chilies used in adobo sauce. These chilies have mild heat with smoky and fruity flavors. Making the sauce is not complicated. Toast then soak the chili peppers, then purée the chilies, garlic, herbs, and apple cider vinegar until smooth. That’s it. The most difficult part of making the sauce is sourcing the dried chilies. You can find them at well-stocked grocery stores or Mexican markets. Another bonus with making adobo sauce is, you can make it ahead and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, you can freeze adobo sauce in an airtight container for one month.

I noticed this recipe from Roberto Santibañez is a basic adobo sauce and uses significantly less vinegar than other adobo sauce recipes I’ve read. Also, some adobo sauces include spices like cinnamon and cloves or paprika. You can play around with the ingredients just keep in mind that the chilies are the prominent flavor and the seasonings are in the background.

Store bought Adobo Sauce

However, do not let the extra step of making the adobo sauce deter you from making grilled adobo chicken kebabs. You can make a pseudo adobo sauce with canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. If you can find store-bought adobo sauce all the better. Chipotle chilies are spicier and smokier than guajillo or ancho chilies, so the sauce will taste different, but it is an easy substitute. Just purée the chipotle chilies with the adobo sauce using as much of the adobo sauce as possible. You may not need all of the chipotle chilies to make a half cup of sauce. Most importantly, do not confuse adobo seasoning with adobo sauce. They are not the same thing.

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

Adobo Chicken Kebabs

What I love about the adobo chicken kebabs is they are perfect for many meals. Eat the adobo chicken kebabs hot off the grill with a fruit salsa like my recipe for Mango Avocado Salsa. They also taste great paired with something creamy like Mexican Crema, yogurt sauce or crème fraîche. Anything Goes Potato Salad is another perfect side dish with the sweet fresh corn and bright fresh vegetables to contrast with the smoky chili flavored chicken. Also, try Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, with grilled adobo chicken kebabs. The lemon cream dressing, jalapeño peppers, and capers will compliment the adobo along with the fresh mozzarella and ripe heirloom tomatoes.

Mix It Up

To mix things up, make fajitas with Adobo chicken kebabs with poblano rajas, sautéed strips of poblano peppers and white onions, instead of bell peppers. Using my recipe (linked above) for creamy poblano sauce, follow the instructions up to the step before you process the vegetables into the creamy sauce.

Adobo yogurt marinade is perfect for any type of chicken either grilled or roasted. Try it with a spatchcock chicken or other bone-in chicken pieces, either grilled or roasted. You can marinate bone-in chicken for a longer time than boneless chicken, but not more than 8 hours. Chicken gets mushy if marinated for too long.

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

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Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs recipe.

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs

Grilled chicken kebabs marinated in a yogurt adobo sauce gets so tender and full of flavor. The adobo sauce adds a wonderful smokiness with bright flavors from the chilis and apple cider vinegar. There are so many variations you can do with adobo chicken kebabs. Serve them as is with fresh corn or a fruit salsa. Or, you can use the chicken kebabs and make chicken tacos or fajitas with poblanos rajas and Crema Mexicana or crème frâiche. See blog post for poblanos rajas recipe. 

Also, adobo sauce tastes delicious with shrimp or fish so you should have no problem using up the sauce. If you do not want to make the adobo sauce, buy a 7 oz can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce and purée until smooth. Try to add as much adobo sauce into your purée by scraping it off the chilis. You may not need all the chipotles. This sauce may be spicier and smokier than if you made the adobo from scratch.

Adobo sauce recipe is from Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword Adobo Chicken, Adobo Sauce, Chicken kebabs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
marinating time 2 hours
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 5 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Adobo Chicken Kebabs

  • 2 lbs (1 k) boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp (3 g) Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (1 g) granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp (1 g) dried onion
  • 1 ½ tsp (2 g) Mexican oregano or Italian oregano
  • 1 tsp (less than a gram) ground coriander
  • A few rounds of black pepper
  • ½ cup (125 ml) plain yogurt or buttermilk (see note)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) adobo sauce or ½ cup (125 ml) of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce puréed
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar or more to taste
  • Vegetable oil for the grill

Adobo Sauce from Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibañez

  • 3 ounces (75 g) guajillo chilies about 12
  • ¾ cup (185 ml) water plus water for soaking the chilies
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp (22.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp (4.5 g) Kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp (4 g) granulated sugar
  • Rounded ¼ tsp of ground cumin
  • 9 inch 23 cm bamboo skewers or metal skewers for the kebabs

Instructions

For the chicken

  1. Cut the chicken thighs up into 1 ½ inch chunks.
  2. Place the cut up chicken thighs in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the Kosher salt, dried garlic, dried onion, oregano, ground coriander and black pepper. Mix the spices in the chicken turning the chicken pieces over with your hands until the spices are evenly mixed. Set aside on the counter.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the yogurt, adobo sauce, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until smooth and well incorporated.
  4. Pour the yogurt adobo sauce into the bowl with the chicken and thoroughly mix until the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate for two hours or up to 6 hours.

  5. 30 minutes before you want to start cooking your kebabs, soak the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes.
  6. Take your bowl of chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you want to start grilling to bring the chicken up to room temperature.
  7. When the skewers are sufficiently soaked, thread the chicken pieces on the skewers. I fit 6 pieces of chicken on each skewer. Be careful not to pack the chicken in too tight and therefore will take longer to cook. Set the chicken kebabs on a tray when done.

  8. In the meantime, get your grill ready. Prepare your gas or charcoal grill for a medium-hot fire.

Grill the Kebabs

  1. When the coals and grill grate are nice and hot, add some oil to a wad of paper towels. Hold onto your paper towel wad with long barbecue tongs and rub oil over the hot grill grate.

  2. Place the kebabs on a diagonal over the grate directly over the heat source. Grill the kebabs for 3 minutes then turn them over to the other side. Grill that side for 3 minutes. Continue cooking the chicken kebabs turning them over every 2 minutes until they are done, the internal temperature is 165°F (74°C). You might need to sacrifice one piece of chicken and cut it open to see if it is done. The total cooking time should be around 8 – 12 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.

  3. If the chicken kebabs are getting too charred, move them over to the side of the grill not directly over the coals or heat source. 

  4. When done, place the kebabs on a tray and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes.

  5. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Adobo Sauce

  1. Prepare your chilies. Wipe the chiles clean and remove the stems. Slice each chili open down the side and remove the seeds and the veins as best you can.
  2. Heat a heavy-duty skillet or griddle to medium-low heat. (I used a non-stick electric griddle set at 325 - 350°F, (173°-176°C). It was great to fit all the chilies on the griddle in one fell swoop.) Toast the chilies turning them over until they slightly change color, soften and become fragrant About one minute. While you are toasting the chilies, press down on them to get as much of the surface area touching the hot surface.

  3. Add the toasted chilis to a bowl filled with enough cold water to cover the chilies for 30 minutes. Remove the chilies from the water and place them in a bowl of a blender or food processor. Discard the soaking water.
  4. Add ¾ cup of fresh water to the processor with the chilies, the garlic, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, sugar, and cumin. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add more water to thin the purée as needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you want a smooth and silky purée, press the adobo through a fine mesh strainer fitted over a bowl.

  5. Makes 1 ½ cups (375 ml) of adobo sauce 

Recipe Notes

You want to use plain yogurt, not Greek yogurt for the marinade. It is best if the marinade is not too thick. If Greek yogurt is all you have then thin it out with some milk or buttermilk. You can also substitute buttermilk for the yogurt. 

There is enough marinade for 3 pounds of chicken if you need to cook for a larger crowd. There is no need to make more marinade for the additional pound. 

Grilled Adobo Chicken Kebabs Recipe. A recipe for grilled adobo chicken kebabs. Seasoned chicken is marinated in a yogurt adobo sauce. This marinade creates very tender chicken kebabs with a slightly smoky chili flavor.

© 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

 

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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.

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