Lemon Thyme and Ginger

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.

Spring spinach frittata with ricotta and recipe

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


  • 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


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.

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

My family loves cod because they like the delicate taste of white fish with large flakes and sturdy body. Unfortunately for us in the Northeast US, Atlantic Cod is on Seafood Watch list of fish to avoid. I don’t usually buy frozen fish, but I came across frozen Pacific Alaskan Cod at Trader Joe’s and wanted to try it. As I mentioned in my post  Arctic Char with Basil Sauce, I try my best to buy sustainable fish when I can.  Since cod is an affordable fish and works in so many different types of recipes, I was happy to consider frozen Pacific Cod as a viable option.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

I also treated myself to a small tin of Spanish saffron and everyday I have dreamed about how to use it.  Remembering a Spanish seafood stew, I decided to prepare the cod with  Mediterranean flavors and style. Additionally, I wanted the saffron to be the primary seasoning, creating a recipe elegant enough to be served on Christmas Eve.

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Tomato and saffron are a classic Mediterranean pair. Both ingredients balance each other because of the saffron’s warmth and distinct flavor cuts the acid in the tomatoes. To be honest, I love anything made with saffron but particularly enjoy tomato saffron broth with fish. The floral scent of crocus drifts up while I am cooking with saffron, and I feel like I am walking through a field of crocuses. Put these two family favorites together, and we have a special family dinner of cod braised in tomato saffron broth.

I am a big fan of using the simple technique of braising fish of which cod is very suited for. The fish is gently cooked in a broth that is also an integral part of the meal. The chunky tomatoes make the broth more substantive, while still keeping the broth bread dunking worthy. The final result is a fish dinner that is moist, delicate and multidimensional in flavor.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

The total cooking time will vary depending of the thickness of the fish. Figure on  the total cooking time to be anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes until done. My Pacific Cod fillets ranged in size from 5 oz to 6 oz, and was at most an inch thick. They took about 8 minutes to cook. Atlantic Cod tends to be thicker at the head end and should take longer to finish cooking.  The fish is done when the meat sections gives way to the gentle pressure of your finger, and the sections begin to separate. The color of the fish will be a translucent white.

Do Ahead Tips for Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

To make life easier you can prepare the braising liquid ahead of time. About fifteen minutes before you want to eat, heat up the broth, then braise the cod.  This recipe is very easy to make and flexible in design to fit into any schedule and a great meal to make for entertaining.

For those of you who like to serve fish for Christmas Eve dinner, or any special occasion, cod braised in tomato saffron broth would be a delicious treat. To send this recipe over the top, serve with saffron aioli smeared over toasted bread. Dunk the aioli smeared baguette into the broth and delight in a double saffron indulgence. Saffron aioli with cod in tomato saffron broth is out of this world delicious. Jamie Oliver has a short cut saffron aioli recipe with his Fabulous Fish Stew. It is really easy to make using store-bought mayonnaise. The instructions for the aioli saffron begin at step 2 in his recipe.

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth


Hope everyone has a wonderful Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas.  Enjoy!

Cod braised in tomato saffron broth

Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth

Cod with tomato saffron broth is a moist and delicious fish dinner. It is elegant to serve at a dinner party, or for a casual family meal. The broth can be made ahead of time then reheated to cook the fish just before you want to serve it. Serve with thick crusted bread like at baguette and green salad. For a double saffron treat spread your baguette slices with saffron aioli. Link to saffron aioli recipe in blog.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 4-6oz servings of cod fillet
Author Ginger


  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 leek cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced across the width (can substitute with 1 shallot, minced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 28 oz / 794 g can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup / 250 ml dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml fish stock or clam juice
  • 1/2 cup/ 125 ml juice from the can of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of thyme tied together
  • 1/2 tea saffron thread
  • 1/2 tea Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tea granulated sugar optional
  • 4 4-6 oz / 113 - 180 g cod fillets or other white fish fillets black sea bass or halibut


  1. Peel the garlic then slice each clove in half lengthwise. If there is a green grem remove it. Thinly slice each half across the width. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large 12" saute pan, (see note.) Add the sliced leeks or minced shallots and saute until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the the sliced garlic to the leeks and cook until it becomes fragrant, 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes, breaking up each tomato with your fingers or a knife while you add them to the pan. Add the wine, fish stock, canned tomato liquid, bay leaf, bundled thyme sprigs, saffron and Kosher salt. Stir to mix and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the sauce for about 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning. If it is too acidic add the sugar and add more Kosher salt if needed.
  4. Place the fish fillets evenly spaced in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Cook the fish fillets until just done. The amount of cooking time will depend on the how thick the cod fillets are. I cooked using Pacific cod and they were thinner than Atlantic cod. The cod was just cooked at around 7 minutes. The cod is cooked through when you pres down on the thickest part of the fillet with your finger and the flakes give into the pressure and start to break apart. The flesh will have a translucent white color.
  5. Spoon some broth in 4 large wide-mouth soup or pasta bowls. Place a fillet in each bowl with the broth. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serve with crusty french bread to help soak up the broth.

Recipe Notes

A sautee pan with its high sides is a perfect pan for braising fish. If you only have a skillet by all means give it a try, as long as you have a matching lid. Another option is to make the tomato saffron broth in whatever pan you have, then pour the broth into a large baking dish. Add the fish fillets and cover the fish with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F / 175 degrees C / Gas Mark 4, oven for 10 minutes. Check for doneness, and, if necessary, continue cooking checking every couple of minutes until done.


© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Impulse Baking, Saffron & Lemon Syrup Cake from Honey and Co, The Cookbook

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake a recipe.

Some people have a habit of impulse buying; I have a habit of impulse baking. Thanks to the Westchester Library System, and a well stocked pantry, my impulse baking does not also include an impulse buy. On occasion, I will be browsing through a cookbook, whether one of my own or from the library, and start flipping through the pages, and then glance at a few recipes to get a feel for the cookbook. But now and then I will come across a photograph of food that is ever so stunning and with an enticing name, calling out me to take a closer look. Sometimes I wished I could to defy all laws of nature, and transport myself into the photograph and claim the food for myself.

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake, a recipe.


This loss of willpower happened to me not too long ago when I was scanning over Honey & Co, The Cookbook by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer. Honey & Co is a restaurant in London, England owned and operated by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, the cookbook is a collection of their favorite recipes featured at their restaurant. I picked up Honey & Co, The Cookbook and randomly opened the book. What immediately appeared before me was a simple but stunning photograph of their Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake. Hello sunshine. At that time, I did not realize I had dreamed of this cake. It was something bright, something different, something special, something I had to make.

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake, a recipe.


The saying goes, “… a picture is worth a thousand words”; this picture spoke to me, by repeatedly chanting, “Saffron Lemon Syrup Cake…” a thousand times over. The cake was pictured on a glass shelf placed next to a large tomato can vase, overflowing with bright orange anemones. (I also love flowers.) The bright orange flowers and the glowing lemon cake was simple but elegant. It was such a tease. I longed to be right there, standing in front of the restaurant in London. I had no choice and brought the book home. Within a couple of hours the cake was finished and cooling on my kitchen counter.

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake, a recipe.


But, I couldn’t resist….

But, the book opened right to the recipe… It must be a sign….

But, it is such a grey day and this cake is so bright and cheery….

But, I love to bake cakes.

I love it when an impulse bake works out, and what I imagined is not far from the truth. Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake was everything its appearance suggested it would be: a sweet and bright lemon flavor, moist from the syrup, and the warmth of saffron subtly presenting itself with each bite.

Thank you Honey and Co, The CookbookThank you Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer.

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake a recipe.

Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake a recipe.

Saffron & Lemon Syrup Cake from Honey and Co, The Cookbook

Get immediately transported to a Mediterranean Holiday with by making Saffron Lemon Syrup Cake. This cake is as delicious to eat as it is beautiful to look at. This is a novel cake with traditional Mediterranean roots. A real delight with a tempered lemon tang from the saffron.

Based on my little bit of research, Saffron Lemon Syrup Cake is an adaption of traditional semolina flour syrup cakes from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The semolina flour and the almond flour give the cake a nice texture, even when soaked in saffron syrup.

This recipe is from Honey and Co, The Cookbook by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer and shared with their permission.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Ginger


For the cake:

  • 13 tbsp/200 g butter
  • 2 cups/270 g cups/270g sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups / 200 g ground almonds (almond meal/flour)
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • 3/4 cup / 140 g semolina flour
  • 3 tbs pastry flour
  • 1 lemon- the zest and juice
  • A pinch A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp tea baking powder

For the Syrup and Topping

  • 2-3 lemons very thinly sliced preferably using a mandolin
  • Enough water to cover the lemons x2
  • 1 3/4 cups/ 400 ml water for syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups / 250 g c/250g sugar
  • A pinch turmeric
  • A pinch saffron


  1. Prepare lemons and syrup

    With a mandolin, or a very sharp knife, very thinly slice the lemons. A mandolin is the best tool for this job, but if you do not have one evenly slice the lemons about 1/8 inch thick. Place the lemon slices in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the pot of water and lemons to a boil and immediately turn off the heat and drain the water. Repeat one more time.

    After blanching the lemons twice, put 1 3/4 cups/400ml water, 1 1/4 cup/250g sugar, the lemon slices, and a pinch of turmeric and saffron in a saucepan. Set the pan on the burner and turn on heat to medium high. Bring to light boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 6-8 minutes, just until the syrup has thickened, and the peel has softened. Turn off the heat and bring the syrup over to your prepared cake pan.

    Arrange the lemon slices around the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Lift the lemon slices out of the syrup with a fork and arrange them partially up the sides of the pan and all around the bottom of the cake pan. The slices can partially overlap, but you want to fill the whole bottom with the lemon slices. You might not need all the slices, so save the extras for a treat. They are delicious. Pour 2 Tb of the saffron syrup over the arranged lemon slices, then set aside. Pour the remaining syrup in a 2 cup/ 500 ml liquid measuring cup and save the syrup for later. (Any small pitcher will do.)

  2. Make the cake

    In a small bowl mix the semolina flour, pastry flour, salt and baking powder until just combined. Set aside.

    Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer or by hand. You want the butter and the sugar to be thoroughly mixed together but not fluffy. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, then the ground almonds and turmeric and mix together until well combined. Add the semolina flour mixture, the lemon juice and the lemon zest then mix well.

    Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan then bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Rotate the cake around to encourage even browning and baking. Continue to bake for 10-15 minutes more. The cake is done when the cake is an even golden brown and is firm to touch. A cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. 

  3. Finishing touches

    Take the cake out of the oven rest the cake, still in its pan, on a wire bakers rack. Pour the reserved syrup evenly over the entire cake. Do this slowly and carefully. You want the cake to evenly absorb all the syrup so that there are not dry spots within the cake. Once all the syrup is poured over the cake, let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes before you unmold the cake from the pan.

    To unmold the cake, put a plate large enough to rest on top of the cake pan and hold the cake, (top of plate and top rim of pan will be touching). Holding the plate and the pan together, flip the plate and the pan over so that the cake pan is now on top of the plate. Gently lift the cake pan up so that the cake releases. Let the cake rest until you are ready to serve. The cake will keep on the counter for a couple of days, wrapped in plastic wrap.


    1-Meyer Lemons are a good lemon choice for the cake. You want lemons that have a thin peel and not a lot of the bitter pith. I have had difficulty with the Eureka lemons from the super market. They tend to disintegrate more from being cooked in the syrup.

    2- A pinch is a relative amount. The turmeric and saffron add both flavor and color to the cake. You can start with 1/4 tea of each. Saffron is a very expensive seasoning with a distinctive taste. A little goes a long way. You do not want to be skimpy, but you do not want to overdo it either.

Recipe Notes



1-Meyer Lemons are a good lemon choice for the cake. You want lemons that have a thin peel and not a lot of the bitter pith. I have had difficulty with the Eureka lemons from the super market. They tend to disintegrate more from being cooked in the syrup. 

2- A pinch is a relative amount. The turmeric and saffron add both flavor and color to the cake. You can start with 1/4 tea of each. Saffron is a very expensive seasoning with a distinctive taste. A little goes a long way. You do not want to be skimpy, but you do not want to overdo it either.



Saffron and Lemon Syrup Cake. A lemon syrup cake recipe with saffron from Honey and Co, The Cookbook. A spectacular cake for any occasion.




© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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