Lemon Thyme & Ginger

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.

A Family Favorite, Guacamole!!

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe

Guacamole is one of my all-time favorite foods, ever. I loved it since I was a child and have never stopped. My love affair with guacamole comes from an even greater appreciation for avocados. They are on my desert island list of food that I can’t live without. It is just so hard to imagine what life would be like without them. Avocados remind me of California and eating them is one way I stay connected to my home town.

For most of my lifetime, I have made guacamole and never look at it as a recipe, but something that is fluid and develops into a moment depending on place and time. There is a foundation to build on, but each time I add or omit an ingredient whenever I see fit. Over the years, my guacamole recipe is the one food that people always ask me, “What is my secret for making delicious guacamole?” My answer is not one they expect or want to hear but, I feel like I am stating the obvious. The secret to good guacamole is, making it with perfectly ripe avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole reicpe

Ripe Avocados make the Best Guacamole

Ultimately, guacamole is only going to taste as good as the avocados you make it with. So, it pays to learn how to identify when they are ripe. It is rare to find them ripe at the market so, it is important to let your avocados ripen to that sweet spot at home. Too hard and the flesh will look pale in and taste bland. Too soft, and the avocado gets gray veins and has bruises on the flesh and tastes over ripe.

The sweet spot is when there is some firmness in the body, but also has some yield when you press on the north and south poles of the avocado. It is like Goldilocks, looking for the right chair to sit in. One that is not too hard, or not too soft. Just right. With experience it gets easier to identify that perfect state of ripeness and learn which store sells the best avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole. How to make delicious guacamole. Start with the foundation recipe, then adjust the flavor with roasted tomatillos, or salsas for the perfect guacamole every time.

Living in New York, avocados travel long distances to reach our markets and usually are as hard as a granite counter top. Typically, when I buy avocados I let them rest on my window sill for 2 days before I use them. On occasion, they need more time, sometimes less. First, remove them from any bag, even the mesh bag, but especially a plastic one. Then place them in an area where they will get some sun and air circulation. Never put avocado in the refrigerator unless they are cut open. Check them daily and handle them carefully so they do not bruise.

My kitchen windows do not get a lot of direct sunlight, and two to three days usually is enough time. If your kitchen streams with sunshine all day, your avocados may take less time. None of the tricks, like putting them in a paper bag to quickly ripen avocados, work.  Time, warm air and sunlight are essential for ripening avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe

How to Make Guacamole Without a Recipe

When your avocados are ripe, begin making guacamole with the foundation ingredients, avocados, garlic, lime juice, pinch of salt, and minced cilantro. As you make guacamole remember this rule, start with less and add more if needed. It is a lot easier to add seasoning then take away. My preference for guacamole is create a nice balance of all the ingredients to enhance the flavor of the avocados without any one flavor coming on too strong. There are other traditional ingredients in guacamole like white onion or chopped tomatoes, but I prefer a smoother guacamole. Plus, I am not a big fan of raw onions. Feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of chopped white onions or tomatoes if you wish.

Once you get the foundation mixed together, taste and assess what the guacamole needs if anything. With perfect avocados it doesn’t take much to make good guacamole. Sometimes, the avocados lack some flavor and need some boosting. The easiest way to boost up the flavor is by adding a tablespoon of salsa, either tomato salsa or tomatillo salsa. Also, a small spoonful of mayonnaise helps make the guacamole creamy. Even a scant amount of Dijon mustard can offer the right amount of tang when the guacamole needs some acid to brighten it up. However, be careful not to add too much because you don’t want to taste the mustard or mayonnaise, these flavors should be in the background.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe.

Extra Tidd-Bits for Boosting Guacamole Flavor

Just like adding a spoonful of salsa to your guacamole, you can achieve the same effect, if not better if you roast a tomatillo, jalapeño or serrano pepper, and garlic then add them to the guacamole. Personally, I love adding these roasted vegetables to guacamole, especially the garlic. The roasted garlic becomes sweet, and the harsh bite disappears. These roasted vegetables bring a slight tangy smokiness to the guacamole that just fits, like bacon and eggs.

Learn how to roast tomatillos and chili peppers by reading, Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce or White Chicken Chili.

A couple of years ago, I discovered how fresh fruit like strawberries is delicious with guacamole. Either serve strawberries on the side or chop some up and mix in the dip. You may need to add more salt and adjust the other seasoning, so taste and build the flavor as you go.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe.

How Many Avocados?

3 avocados are a good place to start. It should make enough guacamole for 5-6 people. However, if your family is like my family it will disappear in less than 5 minutes and you will feel like you did not make enough. Avocados are expensive, at least in NY, so buy as many as is within reason. The most avocados I ever used to make guacamole are 6-7 avocados. It was for a decent size party of 15 or more people. However, if there are several appetizers in addition to the guacamole, there is no need to make so much.

Keep in mind, guacamole does not keep well. No matter how much lime juice is in the guacamole, eventually it turns gray from being exposed to the air. The oxidation also effects the flavor. Guacamole is a dip to serve right away and at room temperature.

Need more appetizers for your party? Try, Roasted Shrimp with Sriracha Cocktail Sauce and Deviled Eggs.

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Family Favorite Guacamole

The secret to delicious guacamole is using perfectly ripe avocados. Avocados are ripe when they are still firm but there is some give in the top and bottom of the fruit. I find it is best to buy avocados a couple of days in advance and let them ripen on a sunny windowsill. 

This is a foundation recipe to build your guacamole as you make it. Adjust any amount of your preferred seasonings to enhance the flavor of your avocados.  

This is not a recipe to make in advance. Guacamole is best served at room temperature and immediately after it is made. Serve with corn chips or some fruit like strawberries and vegetables such as jicama, carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic peeled and green germ removed
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tea Kosher Salt
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 1 roasted jalapeño chili optional
  • 1 medium roasted tomatillo optional

Instructions

  1. Cut each avocado in half by holding the avocado in one hand and with the other hand make a slice with a 6-inch chef's knife though the top of the avocado towards the middle until you reach the pit inside. Rotate your knife around the perimeter of the avocado. Set down the knife and hold the avocado in both hands then twist the avocado halves in opposite directions until they separate. Pull apart the avocado halves. 

  2. Securely hold the avocado with the pit like it is resting in your palm and the pit is facing up. Make sure your fingers are away from the edge of the avocado. Carefully, but firmly, take your chef knife and hit the sharp edge of the blade in the center of the pit until the knife sticks. With the knife blade secure in the pit, twist your knife counter-clockwise to loosen the pit from the flesh. Lift your knife with the pit still attached and remove the pit from the flesh. Whack the side of your knife against the edge of your cutting board, or the rim of a garbage pail, to loosen the pit from the knife and falls off. Repeat until all the avocados are cut in half and pits removed.

  3. Use a soup spoon and scoop out the avocado flesh. Run the spoon around the inside edge of the avocado to loosen it free from the skin. Scoop out the avocado flesh and place it into a mixing bowl. Repeat until all the avocados are scooped out. 

  4. Mash the avocados with a fork until all the flesh is mixed together but still chunky. Add lime juice from half a lime. Stir to mix with your fork. 

  5. Mince or press the garlic and place into the mixing bowl. Add a pinch (less than 1/2 a teaspoon), of Kosher salt. and the cilantro to the avocados. Stir to mix. 

  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Too bland add more salt or garlic. Needs more acid add more lime juice or tomatillos or salsa. Start with less and add more if needed.  

  7. Optional Ingredients:

    The roasted tomatillo, process in a food processor first then add it to the guacamole. 

    The chili peppers, remove the stem and scrape out the seeds and white pith according to how spicy you want the guacamole. 

    Instead of the roasted tomatillo or chilies, add a spoonful or salsa verde or tomato salsa.

    For extra creaminess, add a spoonful of mayonnaise. For extra tang, add a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard. 

    Sliced fresh grape tomatoes for garnish or in the dip. 


  8. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Best eaten immediately with corn chips or cut up vegetables and fruit. 

Family Favorite Guacamole. How to make delicious guacamole. Start with the foundation recipe, then adjust the flavor with roasted tomatillos, or salsas for the perfect guacamole every time.

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

Taste of Mexico: Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

Recent Posts | April 30, 2018 | By

Let’s celebrate Margarita Week 2018. This is a social media event with food bloggers and enthusiasts across the virtual stratosphere, honoring margaritas and Cinco de Mayo. It is an annual event hosted by Kate Ramos of Hola Jalapeno, where we share margarita recipes with the world. Over the last couple of weeks, I tested recipes and tasted delicious margaritas and finally decided to share a recipe for Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño. It is a floral and spicy remake of a traditional Hibiscus Margarita.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

My recipe for raspberry hibiscus margarita is made with a juice of raspberries and hibiscus herb tea, infused with jalapeño peppers and orange peel.  A small amount of sugar is added to the juice because I like to taste the tequila and fruit in my margaritas, not sugar. The juice recipe makes about 1 quart (a shy liter), which makes enough for 16 cocktails using equal proportions of juice to tequila.

I prefer margaritas made right before I drink it, as margaritas taste best after they are just shaken. If you insist on mixing the margarita ingredients together, to speed the cocktail making process along, do so right before your guests arrive. Later as you offer each guest a drink, add enough margarita mix to your ice filled cocktail shaker for 2 margaritas. Then shake and serve.

Another bonus from making the raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice, is the juice makes a delicious nonalcoholic beverage.  Whenever I entertain I always offer a choice of cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks for my guests to enjoy. To make a Hibiscus Margarita mocktail, mix together, using a one to one ratio of  juice to either seltzer or ginger ale. Garnish the same as you would the Margarita. Your guests will be delighted at having a refreshing drink that is healthier than soda.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno, recipe.

 

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe. A Mocktail substitute recipe.

For each recipe, a margarita or mocktail, this drink tastes best with the rim of the glass coated in salt and ground chili powder. The spiciness in the juice and from the salt-chili rim, compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. If you really do not like the glass coated in salt, add a small pinch of chili salt to the cocktail shaker or glass and mix.  Just like a pinch of sea salt on dark chocolate, salt paired with the hibiscus juice and tequila is the finishing touch that makes a big difference.

Family Celebration

A year ago, I wrote a post congratulating my son Evan, for finishing his actuary exams on Cinco de Mayo. In his honor I published a recipe for a “Classic Margarita.”  Evan prefers his tequila straight up over ice, but I don’t believe he would refuse a refreshing remake of a classic Margarita. A year later, I get to wave my proud mama flag again, but this time it is for the whole family.

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita reicp

This year on Cinco de Mayo we have the honor to celebrate with my oldest son, Andrew, his wife Amanda, and his in-laws at the wedding of Andrew’s brother-in-law. As we raise our glass to toast the newly married couple, we also will congratulate Andrew for finishing his MBA. These past two years and a half were jam-packed from working full-time, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married, going to graduate school, brewing award-winning beers, and a hurricane through the state of Florida this fall. Steadfastly moving forward without looking back, Andrew did it and now looks forward to growing his career. Andrew continues to impress me how he manages to clearly see his goals ahead and maintain a positive attitude, even when things don’t always go his way. His positive attitude comes from within, but also from his love for and from Amanda. Together, their love for one another is a foundation of respect, caring, and fun.

This year, Amanda also had her proud moments by getting a job promotion with a lot of responsibility and travel.

More Family Celebration

As Evan comes upon his anniversary of passing his professional exams, he is about to begin a new adventure and is getting married in 6 weeks. His fiancée, Emily, is finishing a major accomplishment of her own when she finishes her Master’s in Education in two weeks.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

We are blessed with three wonderful sons and I cannot finish my post without mentioning my youngest son, Taylor. Upon college graduation he toured Europe over the summer, then upon his return moved to New York City and started his career.  The kid just hasn’t stopped moving and he likes it that way. The extended working hours are grueling, but he remains positive and happy with his work and colleagues.

What this adds up for us is our boys are all grown up and make us proud everyday. Our family is growing, and we are so excited about the love and happiness they found. Once we were 5, now we are 7 strong and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

What to Eat with your Hibiscus Margarita?

Enjoy your raspberry hibiscus margarita with your favorite Mexican food or with any type of cuisine from around the world.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo SauceGrilled Chicken with Creamy Poblano Rajas Sauce. Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. Roasted Cauliflower with Kale Parsley PestoZucchini Basil Frittata.  With dessert of Double Coconut Pie. Lemon Saffron Syrup Cake., or Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Margarita Week

Cinco de Mayo is becoming an auspicious day for my family, and I will gladly keep that tradition going. Join me on this May 5th in a toast, whether you are celebrating Mexico’s victory over Napoleon in the Franco Mexican War in 1862,  your cultural heritage and identity, your family, fulfilling dreams , accomplishing your goals, love, good will, peace, or just sharing a recipe around the world, by raising your glass and give thanks. Cheers my friends. May your life be filled with many celebrations and joy.

Check out all the recipes from the talented individuals Margarita Week participants. Follow the #maragritaweek on Instagram, and Hola Jalapeno’s Margarita Week web page.

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Fresh raspberries, hibiscus herb tea, orange peel and jalapeño steep together making a bright floral juice that is not too sweet and has a lot of spunk. Combine the juice with 100% pure agave, blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice (optional), for a refreshing hibiscus margarita. Or, mix the juice with seltzer or ginger ale for a nonalcoholic beverage. For either version, don’t skip on salting the glass rime.  The salt and extra ground chili pepper compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. Trust me it makes a big difference. 

For make a nonalcoholic Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño beverage, stir together a one to one ratio of Hibiscus juice to seltzer. Too sweeten up the drink mix the juice with some 7-Up, or ginger ale. I recommend a ratio of two parts juice to one soda, so it is not too sweet.  

Use any herbal tea with hibiscus listed as the first ingredient. I tested this recipe with Red Zinger Tea by Celestial Seasoning, but Lemon Zinger, Wild Raspberry Hibiscus Herb Tea by Stash, or the equivalent amount of dried hibiscus flowers are all good substitutes. Once the juice is finished, it will taste spicy, but keep in mind for the final product, the juice will get diluted with other liquids. If you wish, control the heat by how much of the white pith and seeds in the jalapeño pepper you add to the raspberries and hibiscus juice. 

Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Servings 1 margarita
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  • 1, 10 oz (283 g) bag of organic frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 6 Hibiscus tea bags
  • 1 jalapeño stem removed and cut in half
  • ¼ cup (53 g) 53 g granulated sugar
  • 3, 2-inch (5 cm) long strips of orange peel
  • 5 cups (1.25 liters) water

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  • Coarse salt like Kosher salt
  • 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon ( a pinch) of ground chili pepper
  • 2 oz (60 ml) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice
  • 2 oz (60 ml) 100% agave blanco tequila
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Cointreau
  • A squeeze of lime juice from half a lime
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 basil leaves

Instructions

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  1. In a medium sauce pan, at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity, combine the thawed raspberries, hibiscus tea bags, jalapeño pepper, orange peels, granulated sugar and water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and keep the juice at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the juice steep for another 20 minutes.

  2. Strain out the solids from the juice. Pour the juice into a fine mesh strainer resting over a bowl with at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity. Hold the strainer over the bowl and gently press out any remaining juice in the strainer. Dispose of the solids in the strainer.
  3. Cool the juice before refrigerating it. Fill a large bowl with ice and rest the bowl with the juice in the middle of the ice. Stir now and then for even cooling. It could take about a half hour for the juice to cool enough to cover and refrigerate. If you keep the juice in the ice bath for at least an hour the juice might be chilled enough to make a drink. Keep in mind margaritas or juice tastes best when they are nice and cold.

  4. The juice makes about 1-quart, (1 liter). Store covered in the refrigerator until needed. The juice will last for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  1. Pour some salt about a 1/4 cup, 75 ml, onto a plate wider than the diameter of your drinking glasses. Add the ground chili and mix. Take out your margarita glasses or double-old fashioned glasses and wet the rim of each glass with a piece of lime. Turn the glass upside down and dip it into the salt and chili mix. Make sure the whole rim is coated in salt. If you are using double old-fashioned glasses, add 5 ice cubes to each prepared glass just before you pour in the margarita mix. Set aside.

  2. In a shaker filled half way with ice, add the tequila, hibiscus juice, Cointreau, and lime juice if using. Add the mint and basil leaves by placing the herbs in the palm of your hands and clap. You want to smash the herbs to release their aroma. Rub your hands together and let the herbs fall into the shaker. Add more orange zest if you like.

  3. Shake for 15 seconds a good and hearty shake like you are dancing the salsa. Then strain into your salt rimmed margarita glass. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeño and orange zest.

Large batch and ahead of time preparation:

  1. If you are having a large party and want to mix the ingredients before your guests arrive, mix the Margarita ingredients without the herbs, into a pitcher just before your party begins.

  2. FYI, I did not test out the proportions as it was just the two of us over the weekend and I did not want to drink or waste a whole liter of tequila. I did the math for you. Taste and adjust the ingredients as you prefer. 
  3. In a pitcher, stir together 1-quart (1 liter) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice with 1 quart (1 liter) of 100% agave blanco tequila, one-pint (600 ml) of Cointreau, and ¾- 1 cup (185 ml – 250 ml) fresh squeezed lime juice, if using. Add less lime juice then specified and taste. Adjust the margarita mix as you see fit. Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and keep it chilled in the refrigerator before mixing in a cocktail. When ready, pour enough margarita mix for two drinks, 8 -10 oz (250 – 300 ml), into a cocktail shake then add the herbs. Shake well and serve. Garnish with lime wedges, jalapeño slices, orange segments or zest. 

  4. Additionally, you will need to make extra juice for a nonalcoholic beverage.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno. Traditional hibiscus margarita recipe gets a spicy remake with infused jalapeno chili for a bright and refreshing, raspberry hibiscus margarita. Also included in the post is a non-alcoholic variation using the raspberry hibiscus jalapeno juice.

 

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

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