Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Damn the weather is funky this week, it is hard to believe it is July. There has been so much rain, I feel like I am living in a rainforest. Where did the summer go? I know rain is good for my garden, fills our reservoirs, and calms the earth, but man this constant shower is dreary. Before the deluge, I planned on making more recipes from my grill, but sadly these plans got flooded out. Fortunately, I could easily change plans with a chicken skewer recipe that has all the charm of a grilled dinner without lighting a match, Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Seared chicken skewers are as easy to prepare as threading a needle. Ribbons of herb marinated chicken strips get skewered through rosemary stems then seared on a stove top grill pan or skillet. Once the chicken skewers get good and golden, they are popped in a hot oven to finish cooking in a wine bath. It may sound like a lot of steps, but the two-part cooking process goes by very quickly and effortlessly.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary Recipe.

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

La Cucina Italiana

I first discovered the idea of using rosemary stems as skewers several years ago in La Cucina Italiana magazine, the English version, (May 2013). If you wish to browse through this lovely magazine online, you will need your browser to translate the pages for you. This picturesque magazine is all about Italian cuisine and Italy, and I only have this one volume. Their chicken skewer recipe is part of a feature on cooking with fresh herbs. I spotted their Spiedini di Pollo Marinato alle Erbe recipe, (which means herb marinated chicken skewers) because it uses woody rosemary stems for the skewers. What a clever use of something one would normally throw out.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

We always have a lot of rosemary around our house because Joe makes a delicious sourdough olive rosemary bread for Rochambeau Farm Stand. Sometimes there is a lot of rosemary left over so I am always looking for recipes to use up any leftover sprigs. Fortunately, we buy our rosemary at a restaurant supply store and can get rosemary sprigs that are 10 to 12 inches long. These woody sprigs make the best skewers for grilling and a great substitute for bamboo skewers if you can get them.

Seared chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

I love cooking with fresh herbs and use them whenever I can. A simple scattering of fresh herbs like basil, tarragon or rosemary lifts any food from standard fare to interesting and uplifting.  This herb marinade is a good example of how using fresh herbs can make a big difference in flavor. It just wouldn’t taste the same if you made the marinade with dried herbs.

The only change I made is adding minced garlic to the marinade and Kosher salt to the chicken before adding the marinade. Adding the salt first gives the salt time to steep in the chicken meat. Boneless skinless chicken breasts need a lot of help developing flavor and I wanted the chicken to taste seasoned without being salty.

I thought the original recipe needed some more oomph, so I added a lot of garlic. What I then realized is this marinade is very similar to the marinade in my Lemon Herb Roast Chicken Recipe.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

A bonus using this marinade is there is no acid to turn the chicken breasts mushy. As a result, you can easily prepare the marinade and chicken in advance, then skewer and cook the chicken right before you plan on eating.

Another aspect I like about this recipe is the two stages for cooking the chicken. First, you sear the chicken skewers, which only takes about 2 minutes per side, then the skewers are roasted in a very hot oven with some white wine. This creates a moist chicken with a light tasting pan sauce. This pan sauce helps keep the chicken tender and adds another layer of flavor to your meal.

If you wish, and already have the grill going for another food, sear the chicken skewers on your grill, then finish cooking them in the oven as directed.

Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Is It Done Yet?

The most difficult part about this recipe is determining when the chicken is done. Everything else is very straightforward. Like chicken kebab, the chicken gets packed in on the skewer making it difficult to determine when it is done. It is important to check the pieces in the middle of the skewer where it is compact and thus need a longer time to cook. Getting a good look at the inside of the chicken is difficult therefore a good instant read thermometer is your best tool for the job. I love my Thermapen thermometer, but any fast and reliable instant-read thermometer will work.

Vegetable Side dishes for Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

These chicken skewers will pair well with many vegetables and sides. Here are just a few from my blog.

Asparagus and Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus with orange mayonnaise and Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary recipe.

Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise

Zucchini fritters and seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Zucchini Fritters

Marinated Zucchini and Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Marinated Zucchini

Grilled Vegetables with seared chicken skewers recipe.

Grilled Vegetables

Garden Pasta Salad with Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe.

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

Check out my new Recipe Index. It is now easier to look up a recipe on my blog by clicking on a category in the recipe index. It is easy to read on a laptop or desktop computer. Unfortunately, the index and categories get spread out when viewing from a mobile device like your phone. You can find my recipe index at the top menu on my home page. 

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe. Moist chicken skewers made with chicken marinated in a fresh herb marinade and threaded on woody rosemary stems.
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Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary

Chicken skewers are marinated in a fresh herb and garlic marinade then threaded on woody rosemary stems. If you cannot get long and sturdy rosemary stems, use bamboo skewers instead. The two-part cooking process of first searing the chicken, then roasting the skewers in the oven produces tender chicken skewers with great fresh herb flavor. 

You can get long and woody rosemary sprigs at farmers markets, restaurant supply stores, or wholesale stores. 

Seared Chicken Skewers with rosemary is an easy family meal or great for entertaining. 

Depending on how big each chicken breast is, there is enough chicken for 4 people with hearty appetites or 6 to 8 people served with two other side dishes. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken, chicken skewers
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time 3 hours
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb. (1 k -1.5 k) boneless skinless chicken breast -4 breasts
  • 1 tsp (3 g) Kosher salt

Herb marinade

  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 heaping TB (10 g) heaping Tablespoons minced rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon (1 g) thyme lemon thyme if you can get it
  • 1 TB (1.5 g) minced parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) 70 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for searing the chicken

Final touches

  • 8 - 10 bamboo skewers or long woody rosemary stems
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or dry vermouth Like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

Instructions

  1. Press on the chicken breast so they have an even thickness. You do not have to pound them out, just even them out a little. Slice each breast lengthwise into  ¼ inch (.5 cm) slices. Add the chicken ribbons to a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding them and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Using clean hands, mix the chicken with the salt until it is evenly incorporated. Thoroughly wash your hands and the bowl of chicken aside.  

Prepare the herb marinade

  1. In a small bowl add the minced garlic, minced rosemary, thyme, minced parsley, lemon zest, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Remember to wash your hands after you mix the chicken before you touch anything else. 

  2. Add the herb marinade to the chicken and toss with your hands until the chicken strips are evenly covered in the herb marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hrs.

Cook the Chicken

  1. If you are using rosemary stems, cut the end to make a pointed tip for easy threading. Soak the bamboo skewers or woody rosemary stems in water for 30 minutes. Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator to rest on the counter and come up to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F / 230°C / Gas Mark 8. Slide the oven rack in the middle position. 

  3. Thread each skewer with the chicken slices. You can roll up each slice and spear it on the skewers, or weave each slice of chicken, over and under the skewer creating a ribbon of chicken. Squish the threaded chicken to make room for another slice. Depending on the length of each skewer, you can fit 3 to 4 slices of chicken on each skewer. Be careful not to pack the chicken in too tightly. 

  4. Heat a grill pan or a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the grill pan is good and hot, add the chicken skewers to the pan. Only add enough skewers to not crowd the pan, about 3-4 skewers. Sear the chicken until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear the other side, about 2 minutes more. 

  5. Place the seared chicken skewers in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer without overcrowding, but small enough so the liquid won’t dry out when cooked. See Note. 

  6. Continue to sear the remaining skewers in batches until all the chicken is seared. 

  7. Add the white wine or dry vermouth to the baking dish holding the chicken skewers. Add more if the wine does not cover the bottom of the pan.

  8. Place the chicken in the oven and roast until done, about 10 minutes. Start checking the chicken at around 8 minutes. A good instant read thermometer is your best tool here for determining if the chicken is done. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F / 74° C. Once done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.

  9. Serve hot with pan juices with grilled asparagus or zucchini. 

Recipe Notes

The original recipe calls for a 9" x 13" (23 x 33 cm)  baking dish. That is a little too small to fit 8 skewers without overlapping. Often, I needed to nestle each skewer around the dish with some laying vertical and others horizontal at the top and bottom of the dish. Trim each skewer to help them fit easily in the pan. Other times I used a larger baking dish 15" x 10.5" (38 x 27 cm) which is a tad too big. When I use a bigger baking dish I add more wine to make sure the liquid covers the bottom of the pan, so it does not dry out in the oven. 

 

Seared chicken skewers with rosemary recipe. Moist chicken skewers made with chicken marinated in a fresh herb marinade and threaded on woody rosemary stems.

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

What to Feed the Groomsmen? Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

I have the pleasure of providing lunch for my son Evan, and his 8 groomsmen this weekend. Visualizing the amount of food required for a group of hungry men brought me back to Evan’s high school and college days when I had to feed Evan and his friends after a swim meet. Swimmers require a lot of calories on any given day, and the amount of food they eat is phenomenal. Fortunately, the groomsmen do not have the same appetite as Evan’s teammates had. Yet in the back of my mind the question remained, what to feed the groomsmen? I went around and around about what food to order and finally came up with the idea of doing it myself and make sandwiches with grilled chicken and grilled flank steak.

Of course, it would be easier to order sandwiches from the venue, but the cost for sandwiches was equivalent to a 5 course meal. Additionally, the wedding venue is a resort in a rural area and there is no other place nearby to order food. Making the lunch myself, is the next best option. Fortunately, the venue is just over an hour away from home and I will have a full kitchen in my suite. These perks allow me to feel confident that I can cook everything at home and keep the food fresh once I am at the resort.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Lunch Menu

Even though it may seem like I am feeding an army, Evan gave me direction to keep the food simple without a lot of munchies with dips, salsas, and desserts. His concern is if there is a lot of food to munch on after they are all dressed, someone, himself included, will spill or drip on their clean and pressed white shirt or their new suit. I totally get that, and I do not want any spills on my gown either. Even at 28 years old spills happen, and white shirts and fancy new suits are an easy target. So, the menu is simple, make your own sandwiches with grilled chicken or grilled flank steak, lettuce, tomato, avocado and condiments on sourdough bread. On the side, only chips. No dip. No salsas. No dessert.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe,

It may sound sparse, but I know the sandwiches will fill them up and keep the groom and groomsmen satiated well past the wedding ceremony. Everyone appreciates having a nice lunch, but the focus on Saturday afternoon is not the food, it is the bride, the groom and getting ready for their upcoming wedding.

Because the menu is limited, and for a special occasion, I wanted to provide sandwiches made with real meats, not processed cold cuts. Garlic and herb marinated, grilled chicken and steak make delicious sandwiches that are not the usual fare. Especially when they are made on Evan’s favorite bread, Joe’s Dough sourdough batard. Between my husband’s homemade sourdough bread and my marinated and grilled meats, both of us contribute to the meal that gives the groom and groomsmen something special to eat, even though it’s only a sandwich.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Grilled Chicken

The marinade is a basic one, with lots of garlic and dried herbs, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Chicken, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, get mushy if they marinate for too long so I keep that time period for a maximum of four hours. First, I pound the chicken flat then season both sides with Kosher salt. Then make the marinade. Once the chicken is coated in the marinade, it then rests on the counter for 30 minutes. Marinating the chicken at room temperature gives the seasoning a jump-start to penetrate the meat because the chicken absorbs the marinade faster when warm then when cold. After 30 minutes, I place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate until 30 minutes before it is time to grill the chicken.

I have no qualms about letting my chicken rest on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes because I have air conditioning and it is not too hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning and it is hotter than hot, be wise and place the chicken in the refrigerator once it is coated in the marinade.

For even cooking I recommend pounding the chicken breasts with a meat mallet to an even thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. The plastic wrap protects the chicken meat and prevents the chicken from sticking to the surface of your counter. Also, the chicken breast gets a nice flat surface to build a sandwich on.

Depending on the size of each chicken breast, cut the chicken breast in half on a diagonal. This way you get two pieces of chicken that will easily fit on the sandwich bread. Plus, you get enough for two grilled chicken sandwiches from one breast.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade recipe.

Mix it up

Making a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and avocado gives the option of making a grilled chicken salad instead of a sandwich. For people who eat a Paleo, or no carb diet, you can provide your guests with the food they eat without you having to make an extra dish.

Make the grilled chicken with either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. The photographs in the post, picture the sandwiches and grilled chicken made with grilled chicken thighs.

For vegetarian diets bring some extra cheese like mozzarella, or Munster cheese to make a cheese sandwich with the same vegetables used for the grilled chicken sandwiches. Or, make a salad with cheese. The cheese will also pair well with the grilled chicken and steak.

For vegan diets, grill some tofu or tempeh.

If the weather turns bad, sear the chicken on the stove using a grill pan, then finish the cooking in the oven. Add some chicken stock or white wine to the baking dish with the chicken to keep it moist and make pan juices. This makes a delicious grilled chicken dinner.

Make one of these salads with leftover grilled chicken,  Chicken Salad with Yogurt Avocado Dressing, or Chicken Salad with Orange Saffron Dressing

More sandwich recipes in my post, Easy Picnic Ideas for the Summer.

Make a sandwich with Sherry Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

 

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Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade

An easy grilled chicken recipe with a classic marinade of garlic and dried herbs. This recipe it easily prepared with boneless-skinless chicken breasts or thighs and makes delicious sandwiches.  

Depending on the size of the chicken thighs or breasts you can get 5 to 6 sandwiches. I had a 2 lb (1 k) package of chicken thighs that totaled 5 chicken thighs. A decent serving size per sandwich is 4 oz (125 g) of meat. American chicken breasts are large and range anywhere between 7 - 9 oz (200 - 250 g). 

See Notes for directions for stove top grilling method. 

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword grilled chicken, grilled chicken sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time 3 hours
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 5 sandwiches
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (1 K) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken stock optional

Instructions

Prepare the Chicken

  1. If you are using chicken breasts, pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet between two pieces of plastic wrap, until you get an even thickness. About a half-inch (1 cm) thick is ideal, but you do not what the chicken beasts to get torn apart. Place in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken. 

  2. Sprinkle kosher salt over the chicken thighs or breasts on both sides. Let the chicken rest in a baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken on the counter while you prepare the marinade. 

Make the Marinade

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, Dijon mustard, vinegar, onion flakes, oregano, basil, rosemary, and Worcestershire  sauce until thoroughly mixed together. Add the olive oil and mix until well incorporated. 

  2. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn the thighs or breast over to cover both sides of the chicken. Cover the chicken in the baking dish and rest on the counter for 30 minutes. 
  3. After 30 minutes place the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate for a couple of hours. 
  4. 30 minutes before grilling take the chicken out of the refrigerator and rest on the counter. 

Prepare the Grill

  1. 20 minutes before grilling, prepare the grill according to your specifications. 
  2. When the coals are ready, push them over to one side to create two areas, one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat.  Oil the grill. 

Grill the Chicken

  1. When the grill is hot, place the chicken top side down on the grill over the coals. Grill for two minutes then rotate the chicken 45° and grill for 2 more minutes. Turn the chicken over on the other side and repeat the same grilling process.

  2. Transfer the chicken to the side of the grill with indirect heat and cook until the chicken is done, internal temperature 165°F / 74°C  .

  3. Remove from the grill and rest for 15 minutes. 
  4. Serve as is or make into sandwiches. 

Recipe Notes

To make the chicken with a stove top grill.

Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5.  Position the rack in the middle position. Place a grill pan on the stove and turn the heat to high. Just before the pan starts to smoke, spray the pay with cooking spray. Turn the heat down to medium high and sear the chicken as directed using an outdoor grill, for two minutes then rotate at a 45° angle and grill two minutes more. Turn the chicken over to the other side and grill for two minutes. You may need to cook the chicken in batches.

Transfer the chicken to a baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Pour the chicken stock in the pan and bake the chicken until done. The juices from the chicken run clear when pierced with a fork and the internal temperature is 165°F / 74°C. Start checking for doneness after 10 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your chicken and if they are thighs or breasts, it could take from 10-25 minutes.

Grilled Chicken with Garlic Herb Marinade. An easy grilled chicken recipe with a simple marinade. Marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts for delicious sandwiches. Or serve for a grilled chicken dinner.

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

Grilled Ramps Two Ways

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways and recipes.

This time of year I keep my eye out for ramps, a stunning wild and rare plant with a unique flavor all of its own. Ramps have two green leaves the color of spring green with an oniony stem that turns from green to purple to a creamy white at the bulb and root end. I believe they are as beautiful to look at as it is to eat, but I am a total fan of green and purple foods.

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways and recipes.

Grilled Ramps

There are countless ways to prepare ramps, but my favorite way is to grill them. When grilled, the harsh garlicky bite turns sweet and compliments the smoky flavor from the grill. If you have never tried them before, grilled ramps are simply delicious and the perfect introduction to their unique onion flavor.  All you need are a couple of grilled ramps to pair with your favorite grilled fish, meat or vegetables with a side of potato salad  for a memorable spring BBQ feast.

Likewise, grilled ramps make an excellent hors d’oeuvres. Mix them with fresh ricotta cheese and lemon zest then smear it on grilled French bread. The ricotta tones down the sharp bite from the ramps but is makes a creamy garlicky lemon blend that tastes great on grilled toast. Only use fresh ricotta cheese and not the commercial brands. The ricotta flavor of these toasts stand out with the ramps and commercial ricotta just doesn’t sing the way homemade or freshly bought ricotta does. Seared toast with a smear of ricotta cheese and grilled ramps are a crowd-pleasing appetizer at any cocktail party, graduation party, or picnic in the park.

If you want to have a more potent grilled ramp flavor, omit the ricotta just add 1-2 grilled ramps per slice of bread. Chop them up and arrange them decoratively on each slice then add a squeeze of lemon juice right before serving.

Grilled Remps: Two Ways and recipe 

About Ramps

Ramps are a member of the Allium family with a harvest season of only three weeks in May/June. The taste is like a cross between garlic cloves, scallions and leeks yet has its own unique garlicky-oniony flavor. Often ramps are referred as wild leeks or spring onions, ramps are neither. They are simply and uniquely ramps.

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways and recipes.

Because they are rare and only grow in the wild, people get ecstatic when they spot them at the farmer’s market or out in the wild. Like a lot of rare food finds they have a devoted following among chefs, home cooks, and foragers. But their popularity has led to some problems. As I was researching ramps for my post, I learned that ramps are on the protected plant list in Quebec Canada and on the watch list along the eastern continental United States.

The reason for the protection status is because of over harvesting combined with the length of time it takes for ramps to make seeds, germinate seeds and grow mature enough for harvesting. Like a lot of wild plants, it takes several years.  Because of the slow germination period, as explained in this article in Epicurious, only 10% of a single crop should get harvested over the course of the season. Unfortunately, as with most trendy wild foods, they are in high demand and command a high price. The higher the price the greedier foragers get and pull up more ramps than the regulated amount and the plant cannot sustain its life cycle.

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways and recipes.

Eat Ramps Responsibility

Once I learned about ramps protected status in Canada and being on the watch list in the US, I felt very guilty not only for buying them but posting a recipe with ramps as the main focus. I take these concerns very seriously. Yet, I believe if we eat ramps as a special treat and not excessively then the ramp population can sustain itself.  It is the consumer’s responsibility to demand responsible behavior from the farmer and not support foragers and markets that do not follow the guidelines for foraging ramps. If we get greedy and take more that is sustainable and buy from individuals not following the rules, there is a strong likelihood ramps will get protected status list as it is in Canada. Hopefully chefs, and especially celebrity chefs, will take action and help protect ramps like they have done in the past.

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways and recipes.

More Ways to Cook with Ramps

Add fresh ramps as a substitute for chives in Cheese and Chive Herb Bread.

Replace the garlic and arugula with fresh ramps in my Basil Pesto recipe for a garlicky pesto and make Tortellini with Ramp Pesto Tortellini.

Replace the leeks with chopped and sautéed ramps then add to Leek Asparagus Risotto.

Mince then sauté ramps then add to the Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary.

Use sautéed ramps to replace the garlic in Garlic Bread.

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Grilled Ramps, Two Ways

Grilled Ramps are delicious hot of the grill or minced into fresh ricotta cheese and smeared on toasted French bread. 

Serve hot grilled ramps with your favorite grilled meat or fish like Arctic char or with other grilled vegetables. Or, mix them up with fresh ricotta cheese, lemon zest and mint then smear on toasted bread for a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Perfect for a cocktail party.

Substitute grilled or braised leeks for the ramps with one clove of roasted garlic. 

The toasts are best eaten as soon as they are make or the bead will get soggy and stale. 

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian American
Keyword grilled ramps
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Grilled Ramps

  • 16 ramps
  • 1 Tb Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 pinch of Kosher Salt

Grilled Toast with Grilled Ramps and Ricotta

  • 12 slices of French baguette cut thin on the diagonal
  • ½ lb. fresh ricotta cheese
  • 16 grilled ramps
  • Zest from half a lemon
  • 5-6 small mint leaves chiffonade
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Grilled Ramps

  1. Heat your grill, gas or charcoal to up high with the charcoal pushed to one side.
  2. Clean, dry and trim off the root from each ramp. Cut away any soggy parts of the leaves, if any. Place the ramps on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with Kosher salt. Toss the ramps about using your hands to get the olive oil and salt evenly distributed over the ramps.

  3. When your grill is hot, lay the ramps in a single layer over your grill and away from the coals to cook with indirect heat. Turn them over after a couple of minutes and grill the other side until charred and beginning to get soft. 

    You can also grill ramps indoors with a grill pan on a burner. Depending on the size of your grill pan, you will need to grill the ramps in batches. 

  4. Remove from the heat and enjoy hot or make into an appetizer. If serving as a side dish figure on 2 ramps per person. 

Crispy Toast with Grilled Ramps and Ricotta

  1. Toast both sides of your bread until browned on your grill or under the broiler. Set aside.
  2. Place the ricotta in a small mixing bowl. Cut the green leaves off the ramps and mince the ramp bulbs . Add them to the ricotta.

  3. Set aside a few, about 3, ramp leaves for garnish. Chop up the remaining leaves and add to the ricotta.
  4. Grate the lemon zest into the ricotta and add the chiffonade mint. Stir everything together and taste. Correct the seasoning with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Spread a spoonful, about 1 tablespoon, of the ricotta and ramp mixture over each toasted slice of bread. Garnish with thin strips of grilled ramp leaves and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Grilled Ramps: Two Ways. 2 recipes in one. Grilled ramps are delicious by themselves or mixed with other ingredients for an appetizer. You can eat grilled ramps just as they are or mix with fresh ricotta smeared on toasted French bread for a terrific appetizer.

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

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Nut Crust

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

An amazing event happened last week just in time for Mother’s Day. My friend Tami became a grandma. Tami’s daughter gave birth to a healthy 7 plus pound baby boy and both mom and baby are doing fine. She is the first of my friends from Yorktown to become a Grandma and because it is Mother’s Day this weekend, I wanted to honor her and her growing family with a gluten free strawberry tart. Tami, Alissa and her husband Victor are a great support to me and my blog and I am grateful for their continued interest and encouragement. A month ago, Tami sat by and watched as our book club friends ate two strawberry tarts I was testing. Now, it is Tami’s and her family’s turn to dig in and enjoy a gluten free nut crust tart filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and fresh strawberries.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart

My inspiration comes from a recipe in Jacques Pépin’s cookbook, Essential Pépin. His raspberry tart uses a pâte sucrée dough that he rolls out then shapes the tart by hand on a baking sheet. Once baked, the tart is filled with a layer of jam and fresh berries. Jacques Pépin makes everything look so easy. I am always in awe when I watch a video of him roll out pie dough in under 2 minutes like it is as familiar to him as his own hand.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

 Gluten Free Tart Pastry

Gluten free strawberry tart is a gluten free and nut version of a traditional sweet cookie pastry dough. I used white rice flour for its’ neutral flavor, butter, sugar, and ground and peeled pistachios. This is a very different gluten free nut pastry dough from the crust in my Double coconut pie . That pie crust is made with all nuts and egg whites, like a coconut meringue cookie. This tart I used a whole egg for extra strength, and it tastes like a shortbread cookie.

Gluten free pastry is fragile to say the least and this gluten free sweet cookie pastry dough is no exception.  Fortunately, I found the dough very easy to work with. It was soft, not too sticky, and rolled out nicely between sheets of plastic wrap. The challenges came later, when the dough became crust. Once baked, the gluten free tart crust is very fragile, and it broke apart easily whenever I touched the tart. It was very difficult to keep the tart crust in one piece while removing it from the pan. Afterwards, I started to wonder why all the recipes I researched never talked about how to get the tart crust out of the pan. Hmmm, very curious.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

After my third tart crust turned into cookie crumbles, I decided to make this a free form tart. It might look more rustic, but it stayed in one piece as I transferred the tart to a serving plate. Rustic is all right with me.

Regardless of the fragility, it tastes delicious. The strawberries are bright and sweet, and the crust is nutty and crumbly in a good way. The white flour gives the crust a grainier texture, but it compliments the ground pistachios.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Variations for a Gluten Free Strawberry Tart

First you can swap out the pistachios and substitute it with almonds or walnuts. Both those nuts pair nicely with other fruits.

Switch up the filling. You can make a pastry cream and top it with berries. Switch out the jam with another flavor. Change the fruit and use any berry or a mixture of fruit. Most fruit will taste great in a jam tart.

Chocolate ganache filling is wonderful in a strawberry tart. Take 3/4 cup heavy cream and bring to just a boil. Remove from the heat and add 6 oz of bittersweet chopped chocolate to the hot cream. Stir to melt the chocolate and let it cool until it starts to thicken. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell, then loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Add the strawberries.

If you want to make this with all-purpose flour, switch the white rice flour with 3/4 cup (106 g) all-purpose flour and add 4 TB of heavy cream instead of water. Omit the xanthan gum. This all-purpose flour pastry crust is the Sweet Nut Cookie Tart Crust recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Happy Mother’s Day

Tami, Alissa and Alissa’s husband Victor, are a great support to me and my blog and I am grateful for their continued interest and encouragement. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Nut Crust

An elegant strawberry tart gets a gluten free upgrade when made with a pistachio sweet pastry dough. The pastry is tender but crumbly like a giant nut cookie. The tart filling is a simple one filled with a thin layer of the best quality jam, or homemade, and fresh strawberries. 

To get that nice green color from the pistachios you need to peel off the thin dark skin off the nut. See recipe notes for how to do this. I bought my pistachios in bulk at a the grocery store with the skins already removed.  

You can substitute the pistachios with almonds or almond flour, or toasted walnuts. 

Course Dessert
Keyword gluten free strawberry tart
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chilling 2 hours
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Gluten free Pistachio Pâte Sucrée, Sweet Pastry Dough

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) pistachios peeled (see recipe notes)
  • 3 TB (45 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (162 g) white rice flour (more if the dough is too wet)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (see notes)
  • finely grated zest from half a lemon
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 TB (89 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB (15 ml) cold water

Strawberry Filling

  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) strawberry rhubarb jam (or your best quality strawberry or seedless raspberry jam)
  • 2 lb (1 liter) fresh strawberries
  • 3 TB (45 ml) seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 TB (15 ml) raspberry liquor
  • finely chopped pistachios for garnish
  • fresh basil or mint for garnish

Instructions

Gluten free pistachio Pâte Sucrée, Sweet Pastry Dough

  1. Lightly butter a piece of parchment paper and place on a rimmed baking sheet, at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide. Set aside. 

  2. Add the pistachios and the sugar to a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground, but not starting to turn into nut butter. Pour the ground pistachios with sugar into a medium size mixing bowl. 

  3. Add the white rice flour, Kosher salt, lemon zest, and xanthan gum. Stir with a fork to mix all the ingredients. 

  4. Cut the butter into small pieces then add them into the flour mixture. With clean hands, rub the butter into the flour until it is thoroughly mixed in. The dough will look like rough sand. 

  5. Add the egg and 1 TB of water and mix in with your hands. If the dough feels too wet, add more white rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will feel wet, but it should not be sticky.  

  6. Roll out the dough. Cut a piece of plastic wrap to make a 16-inch (40.5 cm) square. Depending on the width of your plastic wrap you may need to overlap two pieces of plastic wrap. Place on the counter where you will roll out the dough. Place the pistachio pastry dough in the center of the crust and flatten it with your hands into a disk. Cover the pistachio dough with more plastic wrap the same size as the bottom layer. 

  7. Roll out the pastry dough into a circle until it reaches 12-14 inches ((30.5 - 35.5 cm) in diameter. You are aiming for a 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thickness. 

  8. Drape the dough covered in plastic over your rolling pin. Remove the top piece of plastic and roll the pastry dough onto the prepared baking sheet, plastic side up. Remove the plastic wrap from the pastry dough. 

  9. Roll the edge of the dough inward about a half an inch, (1 cm), creating an edge for the tart. Roll the edge inward another 1/2 inch (1 cm) for a more defined edge. Make a decorative edge or keep as is. 

  10. Loosely cover the pistachio pastry with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. 

  11. 25 minutes before you plan on baking, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C/ Gas Mark 7). Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. 

  12. Remove the plastic wrap and pierce the bottom of the pastry dough with a fork. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375°F (190°C / Gas Mark 5). and bake for 10 -15 minutes, or until the tart is a light golden brown. Watch the tart carefully so it does not burn. 

  13. When done, place the baking sheet on a cooling rack and completely cool. Lift the parchment paper with the tart, supported underneath the tart with a large BBQ spatula or pancake spatula. Place the tart on the counter and remove the baking sheet.  Carefully slide an offset spatula under the tart to loosen it from the parchment paper. Slide the tart onto a serving plate. 

Assemble the tart

  1. Spread the strawberry rhubarb jam in an even layer over the bottom of the tart. Clean the strawberries and dry them. Remove the stem and arrange the strawberries around the tart and fill it up., cut side down.  You can add other fruit to fill any gaps between the strawberries, like blueberries or raspberries, if you wish. 

  2. Add the seedless raspberry jam and raspberry liquor in a microwave safe bowl. Stir to mix and warm up in 10 second intervals until it thins out. Baste the jam over the strawberries with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and other garnishes like chopped basil or mint. 

  3. Serve within an hour of assembly. This tart is best eaten within a couple of hours from when it is made. 

    If you do have leftovers, loosely cover the remaining tart with plastic wrap and keep on the counter. 

Recipe Notes

I was able to buy my pistachios in bulk which cut down the price and they already had the dark skins removed. If you cannot buy pistachios with the skins removed, buy roasted pistachios (preferably not salted) remove the shells and blanch in boiling water for one minute. 

Drain the pistachios from the water and place on a lint free and clean kitchen towel. Cover the pistachios with one side of the kitchen towel. With your hands on top of the towel, rub them back and forth until all the skins have come off. 

Separate the pistachios from their skins and set aside on a plate in an even layer.  Some skins on pistachios need extra encouragement and you may need to rub the skins off with your fingers.  Air dry the pistachios before using. 

 

Xanthan Gum helps stabilize gluten free ingredients, so they do not separate and makes it easier to work with.  Normally, Bob's Red Mill sells it in an 8 oz bag for $13.99 which is a lot if you only need a half teaspoon. If you plan to do a lot of gluten free baking buying that amount makes sense. Fortunately, some groceries sell xanthan gum packets made by Hodgson Mill and is more reasonably priced. 

 

Gluten free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust. Gluten free strawberry tart recipe. A tender gluten free pâte sucurée dough made with ground pistachios and white rice flour. The tart is filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and fresh strawberries. A simple but elegant strawberry tart.

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

Spring Spinach Frittata with Ricotta

Spring spinach frittata with ricotta and recipe

Are you a sweet or savory breakfast person? If you are like me, someone who finds it difficult to choose between the two, frittatas are a wonderful choice and a healthy(ish) alternative to quiche. Because frittatas lack an all butter pastry crust, heavy cream and extra cheese, they are not as rich as quiche, Plus they are much easier to make. What this means is, you can serve up a savory frittata as a main course and include all the pastries or coffee cake you crave. Sweet and savory satisfaction without the guilt, (kind-of). I created this spinach frittata with the dual purpose of making something elegant and savory to serve for breakfast or brunch that also leaves room for something sweet, like The Best Damn Lemon Cake or Apple Muffin with Lemon Glaze.

Ricotta and Spinach Frittata and recipe.

Spinach Frittata Inspiration

My spinach frittata recipe combines two ideas from my favorite egg dishes. The first idea is from Deborah Madison’s  cookbook, In My Kitchen.  She adds saffron to her Swiss Chard Flan recipe, giving the custard an exotic floral nuance that I love. Saffron compliments custards and leafy green vegetables nicely, so I decided to use it instead of freshly grated nutmeg for some extra elegance in the frittata. I love saffron and don’t mind spending the extra money to buy it. However, if you rather not use saffron, add some freshly grated nutmeg directly into the egg mixture. Fresh basil or mint provides a brighter and fresher tasting substitution for saffron, and it pairs very nicely with the spinach frittata.

The second idea is the addition of fresh ricotta, whipped smooth and spooned on top of the spinach frittata. The first time I tasted a ricotta topped frittata is when I made Joshua McFadden’s Red Pepper, Potato, Prosciutto Frittata with Ricotta from his cookbook, Six Seasons. The ricotta transformed an ordinary western omelet into a very special occasion. The ricotta gets soft and warm baked with the frittata and you want every bite filled with this light creaminess. I totally got hooked on ricotta topped frittatas and now want to add ricotta cheese to just about everything.

It pays to buy the freshly made ricotta cheese, there is a big difference in taste. Usually you can find good quality ricotta near the deli department at your grocery. Or make a small batch of ricotta cheese. It takes a lot less time than you think and tastes like real milk.

Julienne Leeks

Making a frittata is fairly straight forward and quick. The only challenging part in this recipe is to julienne the leeks. For a change I decided to julienne slice the white and light green parts of the leek instead of cutting them into circles or half-moons.  It doesn’t really matter how they are prepared as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and cooked till soft and translucent. The julienned leek disappears into the spinach and eggs but adds lovely sweet onion background flavor.

To julienne the leeks, cut the leek in half lengthwise then clean between the layers. Then cut across the leek dividing it into chunks the size of your desired length, mine where about an inch and a half (3.5 cm). Then slice the portioned leeks, lengthwise in very thin strips, mine were about 1/16-1/8 of an inch (about 2-3 mm).  Because you won’t see the leeks you do not have to worry about being precise like you would for julienned carrots in a vegetable sauté, so don’t fret about it.

Check out this video for a live example of how to julienne leeks. In this video he discards the root end of the leek. I do not discard it and julienne cut the root as best I can.

Spinach Frittata

Coming up with a name for this spinach frittata was challenging. With all the special ingredients, it could easily have a name that takes longer to say then it does to cook. Yet the mood of this frittata is all about spring and representing new life and the warming of the earth and air. Fresh farm eggs give the vegetables its foundation with a salty bite of Romano cheese. Young spring spinach and leeks provide a sense of newness to the frittata which in turn is gets grounded from the floral but earthy notes from the stamens of spring crocuses, otherwise known as saffron. Warm, creamy fresh ricotta tie all the flavors together for a sunny “Good morning” greeting. All that goodness is invigorating but not filling leaving plenty of room for pastries or dessert.

Frittatas are delicious for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a light supper. For a spectacular Mother’s Day brunch (or any brunch), serve the spinach frittata with your favorite sides like sausage, bacon, green salad, fruit salad and your favorite pastries.

Ricotta Spinach Frittata with recipe.

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Ricotta Spinach Frittata

An elegant frittata recipe for the times when you want a special breakfast or brunch that is also easy to make. It is a lighter and healthier substitute for quiche.  

Course Breakfast, Brunch, Light Supper, Lunch, Vegetarian
Cuisine Italian American
Keyword Frittata, Spinach Frittata
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 pinch of saffron 1 TB boiling water
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup 24 g finely grated real Romano cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-2 TB olive oil
  • 1 leek about 6 oz (187 g) Pale green and white parts only
  • 5 oz 142 g spinach cleaned, and stems removed
  • ½ cup 117 g real ricotta cheese

Instructions

Prepare your ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6 and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.

  2. Place a pinch of saffron in a small bowl and add 1 TB of just shy of boiling water to the saffron. Set aside and let the saffron steep.

  3. In a medium size bowl, mix the eggs together with a fork until there are no egg whites visible in the mix. Add the Romano cheese and mix again until combined. Set aside.

  4. Thoroughly clean and julienne slice the white and pale green parts of the leek, about an inch and a half in length and about 1/16 of an inch wide. See blog post for a video demonstration. 

  5. In a small bowl, whip the ricotta with a pinch of Kosher salt and a few grounds of black pepper until smooth. A fork works nicely for this job. Set aside. 

  6. Place an 8-inch (20cm) skillet, preferably a non-stick skillet with an oven-proof handle, on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Pour in the olive oil and heat up. Add the sliced leeks and turn down the heat to medium then sauté until soft, but not browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add the prepared spinach, in batches, and cook down until completely wilted and soft, about 5 minutes. 

  7. Meanwhile, pour the saffron and water to the eggs, making sure you get every last drop and all saffron threads, and whisk together with a fork.

Make the Frittata

  1. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the spinach and leeks. Tilt the pan to make sure the egg mixture is evenly distributed across the whole skillet. Turn the heat to medium and let the eggs cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes.

  2. Run a thin rubber spatula around the edge of the frittata to loosen the eggs. Pull the eggs toward the center with the spatula creating pockets for uncooked runny eggs to fill up. Repeat this step going around the circumference of the frittata. Continue to gently cook the frittata until there is a thin liquid layer on top of the frittata. 

  3. Drop spoonfuls of whipped ricotta cheese around the frittata, about 6-8 spoonfuls. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until it is solid all the way through, about 6 minutes. You may need to place the frittata under the broiler to brown the top. It is not necessary, only if you want browning on the top. If you do, watch the frittata carefully because it should only take a few minutes.  

  4. Remove from the oven and run the frittata around the edge of the skillet, then slide the frittata  on to a serving plate. 

  5. Frittata is best eaten warm the same day it is made. 

< div style =”display:none;”>Ricotta Spinach Frittata. Spring spinach frittata recipe with leeks, saffron and ricotta. An elegant frittata recipe and a great healthy substitute for quiche. Perfect for any meal of the day.,

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

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