Saturday, June 4, 2011

lovely lemon thyme

Lemon Thyme is not only delicious but it's also the most gorgeous color with these darling petite,chartreuse and green leaves. Like most varieties of Thyme, it's easy to grow. It was one of the first herbs on my "to grow" list because it's something I knew I'd use often in my kitchen. It can be added to any recipe that calls for lemon juice or lemon zest and it's lovely tossed in a salad with a lemon vinaigrette.


I purchased a start from Portland Nursery and planted it along with a few of my favorites in two large pots at the entrance to our garden space. It's thriving and I've used it several times already. The most recent way is in this delicious spread that's perfect with crackers, baguette rounds, and especially with homemade pita crisps.

 LEMON RICOTTA SPREAD
1/2 cup softened Cream Cheese
1 cup Ricotta
1 Lemon
3 Lemon Thyme Sprigs
1-2 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Pepper
Kosher Salt to Taste

Combine the Ricotta and Cream Cheese in a food processor.
While it's mixing, wash, zest, and juice the Lemon. Add the zest and juice.
Pull the leaves off the Lemon Thyme and finely dice, then add.
Finely dice and add the Garlic Cloves.
Add the Pepper.
Process until smooth.
Taste. Add Kosher Salt as needed.

The recipe for the perfect Pita Crisps is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen: The Indispensable Guide for Planning a Party by Nicole Aloni. I've used my copy so often, the pages are stained and dog-earred. I read cookbooks like novels and most of the time I think of all the ways to tweak the recipes to make them better, to make them mine. But, with Nicoles recipes, they are perfect. I honestly think hers are the only ones I've ever followed exactly.

PITA CRISPS
Makes 30-40 Crisps
Preheast Oven to 325F
5 (6-inch) fresh Pita
2 Tbls extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Freshly ground coarse Black Pepper

Slice each pita in half and then cut each half into 6 to 8 pie-shaped wedges.
 If they come apart easily, separate the top and bottom of each wedge;
the pieces will be crispier after baking.
Lay them out in one layer on a baking sheet.
Brush the top of each piece liberally with olive oil.
sprinkle on the shredded cheese
and press it lightly to adhere to the oil.
Repeat with an even sprinkling of the grated cheese.
Finish with a liberal grinding of black pepper.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden and somewhat stiff.
They will continue to crisp while cooling on the baking pan.
When completely cool, pack them in a plastic bag and seal.
They will keep for 2 to 3 days.
They can be gently crisped for 5 to 10 minutes in a warm oven.

Variations:
In addition to the Parmesan cheese,
the wedges can be sprinkled with one of the following:
fennel seeds,
sesame seeds,
cumin seeds,
minced thyme (perhaps lemon thyme!)
minced rosemary, or
minced oregano.

I love that they are easy delicious and so much better than the crisps or crackers that you'll find in the store. Well worth the small effort. These are a perfect accompaniment to a million spreads, cheeses, and dips. But, make sure you try them with the Lemon Ricotta Spread. You will thank me!

Pita Crisp Recipe reprinted with permission from Nicole Aloni.
Go buy her book/s right now.

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