Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Appetizers, Cheese, Fall, Recipes, Salad, Summer | August 15, 2018 | By

Creamy tomato and mozzarella salad is a nice alternative to the more traditional Caprese Salad. Both have their place as an exceptional first course or appetizer and both feature ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella nicely as the star ingredients. Yet creamy tomato and mozzarella salad have an element of surprise with heat from the jalapeño chilies, a slight brininess from the capers, and a bright lemony creaminess from the dressing.

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Mozzarella Salad

To make this mozzarella salad sing like the opening act of an all-star concert, be very particular about the ingredients you use.

Tomatoes

First and foremost, only use perfectly ripe tomatoes and locally grown tomatoes if you can get them. This mozzarella salad is at its best when the tomatoes are in season and bursting with sweet sun-ripened flavor. Out of season tomatoes just won’t do the salad justice. The juices from ripe tomatoes will blend into the dressing creating a sauce perfect for soaking up with good crusty bread. If you must make this salad before or after tomato season, use cherry or grape tomatoes as you can get a good tasting and ripe, hydroponically grown grape tomatoes during the year.

Also, use any variety of tomato, as long as the tomatoes are ripe. If you like to mix things up, use a variety of tomatoes with different shapes, sizes, and color. Yellow tomatoes are especially nice in this mozzarella salad as they have less acid than the red variety.

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Fresh Mozzarella

Second, use only fresh mozzarella. The vacuum sealed mozzarella you find in the dairy section of the store is no substitute. Even the brand that looks like it is fresh mozzarella. If it is vacuumed sealed it is not fresh.  Don’t even think about it. That cheese works nicely on a pizza but not in a salad. Fortunately, several markets make their own mozzarella, so it is not hard to come by. Often the mozzarella is kept in water, or just freshly wrapped in plastic wrap and sold the day it is made. Buffalo mozzarella is another alternative if you can find it.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Third, use the best tasting extra virgin olive oil you can afford. Don’t use the generic extra virgin olive oil that is really a blend of oils, but real extra virgin olive oil with a fruity and peppery note and body. You do not need to buy the most expensive one, just a good one that you like.

More tomato recipes

Tomato Tart with Ricotta

Almost Classic Nicoise Salad for Two

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

Anything Goes Lemon Potato Salad

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

By using the best quality ingredients, this mozzarella salad is hard to resist. It is immensely satisfying as only food made with fresh quality ingredients is. Both tomatoes and fresh mozzarella taste best when they are at room temperature, so serve the mozzarella salad at room temperature. Though, it is easier to slice mozzarella when it is cold and right out of the refrigerator. I recommend making the salad no more than an hour before you want to serve it. Unfortunately, mozzarella salad is not a make-ahead meal.

Additionally, I recommend slicing the mozzarella and tomatoes into reasonable size slices. My yellow tomato was very large, so I cut each slice into quarters. It was a lot more manageable that way. Also, I cut each mozzarella slice in half, especially the middle slices.

If you wish, you can rip large bite-size pieces of the mozzarella and scatter the pieces over the tomatoes instead of layering each slice. This looks especially nice when you have different varieties of tomatoes in your salad and you arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella in a random pattern.

#wesaytomaotes

Mozzarella Salad makes a delicious first course or an appetizer with slices of grilled crusty bread like a baguette. You are going to want something to soak up the delicious juices from the tomatoes and dressing. Either way, this tomato and mozzarella salad is a fine addition to your salad repertoire.

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad Recipe.

August and September are the best months to enjoy ripe tomatoes so go get some before they are gone.

This recipe is adapted from Marinated Mozzarella with Crème Fraîche and Lemon and Marjoram by Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, Happy Days with the Naked Chef, and Lemon Cream from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.

My Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe is part of a social media collaborative project featuring tomatoes. Below the recipe is a list of all the talented Instagramers and food bloggers who are participating in the #wesaytomatoes collaboration. Please check out their tomato recipes for more tomato inspiration

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella salad recipe. A fresh and brights tasting tomato and mozzarella salad with a luxurious lemon cream dressing and topped with minced jalapeno, capers and fresh herbs.
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Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Creamy tomato and mozzarella salad is a wonderful change from the traditional Caprese Salad. Like a Caprese salad, creamy tomato and mozzarella salad showcase both the tomatoes and mozzarella as the stars of the meal. Yet in this salad, the fresh mozzarella and sun-ripened tomatoes get a subtle yet complimentary embellishment from the lemon cream, minced jalapeño chilis, and fresh herbs. The layer of heat from the chili pairs nicely with the fresh cheese and creamy dressing and adds a crisp bite within this yielding salad. I like adding a subtle but briny tang to the salad, so I added capers for some extra lift.  

This is one of those salads that you don't really need to follow the recipe ingredients amounts exactly. Use this recipe as a guideline and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. The food pairings are lovely, but how much jalapeño, fresh herbs, capers, and dressing is best determined by your taste. If you use the best quality ingredients, this mozzarella salad is a winner no matter how much jalapeño you add. When adjusting the ingredients to your taste, remember to start with less as you can always add more. It is much harder to take away.

If you can find fresh marjoram substitute it for the oregano. This dish benefits from the flavor of fresh herbs, so do not use dried herbs. If you are not a fan of oregano, substitute it with fresh thyme, lemon thyme or rosemary. 

This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Marinated Mozzarella in Crème Fraiche with Lemon and Marjoram from his book, Happy Days. The Creamy dressing is adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Lemon Cream, in his book, Six Seasons

Best eaten at room temperature and the day it is made. 

Course Appetizer, First Course, Salad
Keyword Mozzarella, Mozzarella Salad, Tomatoes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Infusion time for the Lemon Cream Dressing 2 hours
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (1 kg) ripe tomatoes any variety or color
  • 1 lb (500 g) fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon Dressing
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ - 1 jalapeño chili
  • 1 TB capers
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh oregano or marjoram to taste about 2 teaspoons or more

Lemon Dressing

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed remove green germ
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 TB (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TB (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Make the lemon dressing

  1. In a small bowl add the garlic and heavy cream and allow to infuse for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. This gives you a nice garlic flavor without the bracing bite from garlic. 

  2. After 2 hours, fish out the garlic cloves from the heavy cream and add the Kosher salt and several rounds of freshly ground black pepper, and lemon zest.

  3. Using a wire whisk, whisk the cream by hand until the cream just starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and whisk until airy but pourable. This won’t get thick like fully whipped cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Cover the bowl and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Best if used the same day it is made. 

Assemble the Salad

  1. Slice the tomatoes a shy 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick and spread out in a single layer on a tray or cutting board. Lightly sprinkle the slices with flaky sea salt and fresh black pepper. Slice the mozzarella in ¼ inch (.5cm) slices.

  2. Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella slices around a platter by alternating slices of tomatoes with slices of mozzarella. 

  3. Slice the jalapeño pepper in half and remove the stem, white pith and seeds. The white pith and seeds carry most of the heat in the chili so if you want it a little spicier, leave some of the white pith intact. However, make sure you remove all of the seeds as they would look unappealing in this dish. Mince the jalapeño chili and sprinkle it over the tomatoes and mozzarella. You may only need about half of the jalapeño chili, but use as much as you want. 

  4. Sprinkle some of the fresh oregano, and capers over the salad. Pretend like you are Jackson Pollock and paint the tomatoes and mozzarella arrangement with the lemon cream. Depending on how thick the lemon cream is, I find it works best if you wave a spoon back and forth, filled with the dressing above the salad. You will get a random pattern of the creamy dressing but not a heavy and gloppy looking one. You will not use all the dressing. Serve extra dressing on the side for those who want more. 

  5. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the salad and extra herbs, capers and minced jalapeño, flaky sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. 


  6. Serve room temperature as a salad or first course. Or serve as an appetizer with crusty bread or grilled bread.
  7. This is best eaten the day it is made. If you have some leftovers, store in the refrigerator and eat up the next day. 

Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe.A fresh and brights tasting tomato and mozzarella salad with a luxurious lemon cream dressing and topped with minced jalapeno, capers and fresh herbs.

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© 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 and recipes.

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.

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

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

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

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs for Deviled Eggs

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

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

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

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

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

Deviled Eggs Four Ways

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

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

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

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

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways a recipe.

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

Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

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

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

Deviled Eggs, 4 Ways, a recipe.

Pair Deviled Eggs with any of these Appetizers

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

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Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

Deviled Eggs

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

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

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


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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Foundation Recipe

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

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

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

  4. Cornichon Deviled Eggs

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

  5. Poor Man’s Truffle Deviled Eggs

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

  6. Spinach Deviled Eggs

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

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Deviled Eggs 4 Ways, a recipe.

Hard Boiled Eggs

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Appetizers, Recent Posts | May 12, 2017 | By

Whether you are having just a couple of friends over for drinks or throwing a big bash, deciding on the appetizer menu has it challenges. There are so many considerations, like how much food, your guests eating preferences, and the ease of preparation being at the top of the list.  One appetizer that is a great crowd pleaser is shrimp cocktail. I have yet to come across someone who does not like shrimp, unless they have a shellfish allergy.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Roasted Shrimp cocktail Recipe

I love shrimp cocktail and believe it is the cocktail party equivalent of the office water cooler. Everyone likes to mingle around the shrimp. It is a good place to catch up with your friends or introduce yourself to the other guests. Chatting and munching around the shrimp appetizer is an interactive icebreaker with a festive atmosphere. Politics and the opposing opinions are not discussed around the shrimp cocktail. Those heated discussions happen near the charcuterie platter where there are more questions than answers.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

I discovered a shrimp cocktail recipe from Melissa Clark at the New York Times Cooking website. Her recipe reinforced a couple of ideas I already had. The first is roasting the shrimp instead of boiling them. I love roasted shrimp because the natural sweetness in shrimp becomes more concentrated. Also, I can season the shrimp any way I want, or not and it will still taste delicious. Often, boiling shrimp creates bland tasting waterlogged shrimp.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail recipe

Second, she changed up the cocktail sauce to an aioli. It is a brighter and spicier dipping sauce and not too sweet. Have you ever tasted cocktail sauce that is nothing but ketchup and horseradish? Yuck. This recipe makes a cocktail sauce with traditional ingredients, but with a different technique.

There is one problem I have with her aioli recipe: it is impossible to make as directed. I have tried and tried on multiple occasions, but I cannot get the sauce to the consistency of an aioli. Whenever I make it, the cocktail sauce is runny, like a salad dressing, and nothing like aioli. Maybe, based on the photograph with her recipe, that is how it’s supposed to be. I wonder.

Roasted Shrimp cocktail Receipe

Try these other great appetizers with Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Baby Blue Cheese Cakes

Crispy Potato Skins with Smoked Salmon

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

After going through a bottle of Aleve to relieve the cramp in my right arm from whisking oil and egg yolk for hours, I gave up and adapted her recipe. Remember, ease of preparation is a key consideration making appetizers. So, whenever I make roasted shrimp cocktail I do one of two options. One, I make homemade mayonnaise using my immersion blender and then add the remaining ingredients. Or, I use store-bought mayonnaise and mix everything together. Making the cocktail sauce with the mayonnaise makes it creamier, but it still has the great bite from the horseradish and Sriracha sauce. This might be considered cheating, but I am a much happier person.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Roasted shrimp cocktail is an easy appetizer to make and a great crowd pleaser. It takes less time to roast the shrimp than it does to boil water for a traditional shrimp cocktail recipe. The shrimp is sweet with and added kick from garlic and paprika that taste delicious as is, or spiced up the creamy cocktail sauce. Serve this appetizer at your next get together and the shrimp platter will be empty before you know it.

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Roasted shrimp cocktail is an easy appetizer to make and a real crowd pleaser. I like to season the shrimp before I roast it to add more flavor. This is a creamy cocktail sauce made with homemade mayonnaise, horseradish and sriracha. It you want a tangier sauce you can mix in some yogurt or sour cream. Keep the creamy ingredients on the light side so the horseradish and sriracha are prominent. This recipe is adapted from, Roasted Shrimp cocktail with Aioli by Melissa Clark from the New York Times Cooking website.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml homemade mayonnaise or store bought
  • 1 TB prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice

Roasted Shrimp

  • 2 lbs / 1 K large shrimp cleaned and deveined
  • 2 TB / 30 ml olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried granulated garlic or 1-2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Instructions

Cocktail Sauce

  1. Peel the garlic and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the green germ from the middle and rough chop the garlic. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and make a garlic paste with the side of your knife. Angle the knife so the blade is almost parallel to the work surface and press down on the garlic with the side of the knife and smush the garlic. Move the knife back and forth pressing down on the garlic. Periodically wipe the collected garlic off the blade of the knife. Continue to press back and forth on the garlic until a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Add the mayonnaise, garlic paste, sriracha, horseradish, ketchup and lemon juice to a small bowl and mix. Correct the seasoning to desired taste. Spoon into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Can be made one day ahead.

Roasted Shrimp

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F
  2. Place the cleaned shrimp on a sheet pan then add the remaining ingredients to the shrimp. Toss the shrimp with your hands to get the seasoning and oil mixed evenly over the shrimp. Place in the oven and bake until the shrimp is just done. The shrimp will no longer be translucent. It is very eay to overcook the shrimp, so watch them closely. The shrimp should take 7 to 10 minutes. I start checking at the 5-minute mark to gauge the progress.
  3. Serve the shrimp warm or at room temperature with the creamy cocktail sauce.

Recipe Notes

How many servings you will get will depend on how many shrimp you get per pound. For an appetizer, I figure 4 shrimp per person when I have a small get together. For a larger crowd, I will not count out the shrimp, but buy a general amount and hope everyone gets at least one.
For a serving size for an entree, I figure 6 shrimp served along with other side dishes like pasta or rice, and vegetables.

Nutrition Facts
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancake with Mushrooms and Onions

What do you get when you have a cake with a creamy and delicate interior protected by a crispy caramelized exterior? You have a rösti. A potato pancake like no other. Its’ soft creamy interior holds together with just the right amount of the potato’s natural starches, creating a pancake that is tender, creamy and crunchy. Rösti originated in Switzerland and was a breakfast staple for farmers.  Now, people from all over the world enjoy these potato cakes.

I have enjoyed rosti in restaurants and wanted to see if I could recreate them for myself. After researching many recipes, I decided to use a recipe from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. His science based technique is typically spot on, inventive, and not too difficult to follow. After making his recipe a few times I picked up a few skills and some new information.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

Like life in general, the key to making a successful rösti is all about balance. They are like fritters or latkes, but are thicker and creamier. The type of potato and the technique used to prepare them, work together and create the perfect amount of starch necessary to hold the whole pancake together. Too little starch and the rösti falls apart when you cook it. Too much starch and you have a sticky pancake. Have you ever played with potato starch mixed with water? Its gooey stuff and not something you want in your pancakes.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reiccpe

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions reicpe

Kenji believes Russet potatoes are the best ones to use. They are high in starch and will create pancakes with fluffy interiors and crunchy outsides, like the perfect French fries. I agree with him if you follow his technique. For experimentation, I tried a different parcooking method using Russet potatoes and the results were not so great.

Rösti has essentially one ingredient and the key to keeping them intact is the initial preparation. Good sharp tools, like a mandoline or a very sharp knife will cause less potato starch from releasing. A box grater is not as sharp but does a good job cutting the potatoes into the right size.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and onions reicpe

Parcooking helps prevent the potatoes from oxidizing and give the rösti the right texture. He likes to parcook the potatoes in a microwave which is easy enough, and eliminates a step common in other recipes. I often read potatoes are grated raw, then squeezed to rid them of excess water before assembling. Parcooking potatoes gives the potato cake great texture and fully cooked potatoes throughout the pancake.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Unfortunately, my potatoes oxidized even though I sliced them with a mandoline and parcooked them in a microwave. I am not sure why, but one theory I have is my potatoes where doing what potatoes do, oxidize when exposed to air. Maybe I did not work fast enough, or my knock off Japanese mandoline needs sharpening.  After several trials, I am still working this out.

To experiment, I parcooked the potatoes whole in a microwave, let them cool, then grated them using a box grater. This produced rosti with a light and creamy color, but looked and tasted like mashed potato cakes, not a rosti.  Maybe a medium starch potato like, Yukon gold is better suited with this technique. Oh, so many variables to figure out, and so little time.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushroom and Onions reicpe

If you have a non-stick pan, it will be a lot easier to make. I do not own one and used a cast iron skillet. They are good pans to use just harder to maneuver the rösti out of the skillet. The sides of my pan are more vertical than they are slopped. My rösti had to slither up and over a cast iron mountainside before it could ease on to a plate. It required some extra encouragement with my spatula to get the rosti to “slide” out of the pan.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

As I cooked rösti, I was reminded of making a traditional Spanish tortilla. The amount of oil and the heat of the pan had to be just right so the tortilla would cook properly and slide in and out of two different skillets multiple times. Rösti has less ingredients than a Spanish tortilla, which makes the delicate balance all that more important. It is not hard to make rösti, just more particular.

Traditionally, rösti is considered a side dish, but I love to serve rösti as a meal topped with an egg and salsa. They are also delicious served with any vegetables like spinach. I used Kenji’s suggestion and mixed in a layer of mushrooms and onions because they are one of my favorite foods. I really like this idea and will make it a staple feature whenever I make them.

Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and Onions recipe

Serve rösti as an appetizer with garlic or saffron aioli. It is a delicious small plate option for any cocktail party.  Add smoked or cured fish, pickles, eggs, vegetables, aioli, and your guests have a satisfying and unexpected meal.

I would love to hear from you about your experience making rösti. Let me know in the comments section below the recipe how you like to prepare rösti. Enjoy!

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Rosti: Crispy Potato Pancakes with Mushrooms and onions recipe

Rösti: Potato Cake with Mushrooms and Onions

Rösti can be served for any meal at any time of the day. It is a great brunch food when served with eggs or sausage, or a delicious appetizer with saffron aioli. My favorite way to eat it is with a poached egg and tomatillo salsa or saffron aioli. You can serve this plain without the mushrooms and onions if you wish. The rösti recipe is from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Best eaten hot off the skillet.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 3 medium russet potatoes l lb- 1.5 lbs /680 g rinsed peeled and cut with a box grater or mandolin
  • 5 Tb/ 62 g olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 oz / 125 g mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the prepared potatoes in a microwave dish and cook on high for around 5 minutes. You do not want the potatoes overcooked and mushy, they should still have a slight bite in the center.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 Tb olive oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms and onions until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown, around 6 - 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to mix and cook until you begin to smell the garlic's perfume. Remove the mushrooms and onion from the pan and set aside.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean and return it to the burner. Turn the heat to medium and add 2 Tbs to the skillet. Heat the oil until shimmering. Make sure there is an even coating of oil across the whole pan, then spoon half of the potatoes into the skillet. Press down on the potatoes with a rubber spatula and form the potatoes into a pancake. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread the mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes to cover the mushrooms and onions, then press down on the potatoes to cover the top of the pancake.
  4. Cook the rösti on one side for around 7 minutes. Do not disturb the pancake for at least 4 minutes into the cooking time. After 7- 8 minutes, run a thin spatula around the edges and underneath the potatoes to loosen it from the bottom.
  5. Slide the potatoes onto a plate large enough to hold the rösti. Place another plate, upside down, on top of the plate holding the rosti, so the rims are kissing each other. Flip the plates over, so the bottom plate is now the top and lift off the plate. You should see a beautiful golden brown crusty rösti.
  6. Wipe off any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan and add 2 Tbs olive oil.
  7. When the oil is shimmering, slide the rösti back into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Cook for 7 more minutes.
  8. When finished, loosen the rosti from the pan and slide it onto a serving plate.
  9. Keep warm or serve immediately.

 

© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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