Author Archives: lillysteirer

Fresh Herb Yogurt Dressing will make you abandon those bottles of Ranch

Pulling treats straight off the vine or out of the dirt is one of the greatest summer pleasures. The sweetness of these fresh delights need little else unless you want to make them into an actual meal. At which point there are endless possibilities, but somehow I have this image of strolling through my garden with a simple sauce in one hand to dip in & enjoy each new veggie. In this country we seem particularly obsessed with Ranch Dressing which leaves something to be desired both nutritionally and culinarily. Don’t get me wrong, I have had to do my fair share of dipping into those white & green flecked sauce filled containers surrounded by tasteless cold vegetables. However, when it comes to eating something enchanting from the garden, they deserve something better.

While it is convenient to squeeze dressing out of those plastic squirt bottles, whipping up this dressing does not take much effort. It is so simple in fact that I usually only prepare a small batch, just enough for the evenings meal but feel free to double, quadruple or multiple* this as desired.

My other favorite element of this dressing is you can make it yours by mixing and matching the fresh herbs you have available, whether they are straight out of your own garden, herb window box or sold to you in small bouquets from your local farmer, just use what you have available. Dried herbs can even be used in a pinch.

Start with greek or strained yogurt to have a thicker sauce, but any plain yogurt can work instead and is sometimes nice for a runnier dressing to drizzle on salads. You could also go the more classic Ranch Dressing route by thinning the dressing with buttermilk instead of the lemon juice and olive oil. Also, add more herbs, garlic, salt or pepper to your own personal taste. If you are feeling lazy about chopping the herbs and want to make a big batch just toss all of this in your blender and viola! Dressing for a week of harvesting, dipping and munching!

Yogurt Herb Ranch Dressing

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup plain yogurt, use greek or strained for a thicker dipping sauce

1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as parsley, oregano, chives, thyme, etc)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together the lemon juice & garlic. Let it sit briefly, for the garlic to mellow a bit. Fold in the plain yogurt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking rapidly. Fold in the fresh herbs. Season with just a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Buttermilk Yogurt Ranch

1/2 cup plain yogurt or greek strained yogurt

1/4 cup buttermilk 

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as parsley, oregano, chives, thyme, etc)

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the yogurt, buttermilk, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Taste. Add more herbs, salt or pepper as desired.

Use the blender for either of the above recipes, just toss in, blend and enjoy! Just know, the herbs will probably make the dressing more green rather than white with flecks of herbs.

*As a little tip, if you subscribe to Lilly’s Table you can put in your desired number of servings and it easily will double this recipe for you.

Spring Cleaned Pantry

As we open up our homes and dust off the winter days, don’t forget your pantry and kitchen. Pull everything out to clear the old and make room for delicious new experiences. I usually do one shelf at a time, pulling items out, checking dates and stealing tastes of half opened boxes or bags. Any stale items or  relatively unrecognizable goods are tossed  first. Next, grab a box and fill it with any foods that will not nourish you and your family. A quick way to do this is to eliminate ‘food products’ containing any ingredients you do not know or that you would rather not consume such as trans-fats, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, msg, etc. When I am in a hurry I simply toss those items with 5 ingredients or more. Follow the same rules with your fridge, tossing any unused gifts from Christmas or food product that seemed such a good idea at the time. Now, pack the box of unwanted, but still sealed up food products up and head to your closest Food Bank.

Bulk pantry solution

I am notorious for having bulk bags lying around half full begging for my attention, but I solved the problem with a growing collection of Mason jars. The bulk items are now safely tucked away allowing me to spot & grab what I need easily. Some flours and nuts live in the freezer, otherwise, they are mostly on display around my kitchen to serve as constant inspiration.

Labeling the jars has been an evolving journey. I have painted a few jars with chalkboard paint and while I love the look and convenience it often peels off in the dishwasher making it a bit of a nuisance at times. Dry erase markers are a quick assistant to labeling but they rub off over time, requiring relabeling before it is completely erased. Although, this is probably my current go to method. Another method I am considering is using blue painters tape with low-adhesive. In general, I leave some jars unlabeled because they have high use (looking at you salt!) or they are obvious (hi, nuts & beans!) Some jars are given a permanent label (hey, sugar!) but that is almost more because I rarely use them these days and I was inspired with tape & scissors one pantry cleaning day a long while ago. So there are a few ideas for ease of labeling. Flours and some grains are most important to note since so often they can look deceivingly like another kind

Restocking your kitchen

Once your pantry and fridge are de-cluttered, it is time to consider the delicious new possibilities. Spring offers new life all around and seasonal vegetables will serve you well from the roots: radishes, turnips, beets to the shoots: dandelions, kale, arugula, chard to other delights such as asparagus, artichokes and more.

But, seasonal food goes beyond produce. This time of year, cow’s are happily munching away on fresh green growth. If you have a dairy farmer near you, this is the time to seek out the sweetest milk you can find as well as local cheeses and fresh butter. It is always a splurge, but this is the time of year to do it.

We buy our eggs from our neighbors and in the colder months I noticed it was a scramble to the be the first to purchase the limited supply. Apparently, it was too chilly for laying. Now that spring has hit, the eggs are gorgeous with amber-golden rich yolks. Interestingly, many of the initial eggs are quite small as the youngest hens have started their turns of laying. But, if you are ready to dip your toast or asparagus sticks into a heavenly yolk, this is the time of year to do so.

What do you do to clean out your kitchen for spring?

Lemon Ginger Cauliflower

Roasting has to be my favorite way to prepare cauliflower. It is so simple. Just a toss of olive oil, salt and pepper and then let it hang out in the oven. Of course, this simple preparation can be dolled up with any medley of flavors from seasoned olive oils to fresh herbs to flavorful vinegars & salts. This combination of lemon and ginger is currently my favorite way to take Roasted Cauliflower from simple to magnificent. Do you have a combination you would like to share?

A microplane will make your life so much easier for this dish, but very finely mincing the lemon peel and fresh ginger will work instead.

1 head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ginger, peel and finely mince

lemon

Preheat the oven to 425.

Trim the cauliflower and break into bite size floret pieces. Dollop on the coconut oil and sprinkle with the salt. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Using a microplane, zest the ginger and lemon, toss with a bit of melted coconut or olive oil to make a little sauce that is easier to spread on the cauliflower. When the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, remove and toss with the ginger & lemon zest. Toss.

Return to the oven, tossing every 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower is golden.