What to do with…GINGER

HenryVIIIHenry VIII is said to have used ginger as a medicine for its qualities, as outlined by Culpeper, the herbalist, 150 years later:  ‘Ginger helps digestion, warms the stomach, clears the sight and is profitable for old men; it heats the joints and is therefore useful against gout’.

ginger

fresh root ginger

Ginger has an impressive record in treating many ailments:  it is said to help poor circulation and to cure flatulence and indigestion.  It is taken as a drink for coughs, nausea and influenza.  In the East, ginger is chewed to ward off evil spirits.  It is considered to be a cure for travel sickness and the essential oil is used in perfumery.

CULTIVATION

red ginger

red ginger plant

The ginger plant is an upright tropical plant, which is propagated by dividing the rhizomes.  It grows to about 3 feet, with elegant lance-shaped leaves and yellow flowers tinged with purple or red flowers.  Harvesting takes place 9-10 months after planting and in many parts of the world, this is still done by hand.  Much of the crop is washed, sun dried and then ground to a powder for domestic and commercial use.

CULINARY USE

gingerbreadThe essential oil is used in commercial flavorings.  Fresh root ginger is extremely popular in a variety of stir-fry or curry dishes.  It is used in different techniques; slices can be added to marinades or in cooking and removed before serving.  Grated, chopped or crushed ginger is used in pastes or braised dishes.  Finely shredded ginger can be added to fried or stir-fried dishes or it may be used raw in salads.  Pickled or preserved ginger is served as appetizers or used in savory cooking.  It is also used in Western baking, for example, in traditional ginger breads, cakes and biscuits such as ginger snaps.  The spice is also used in chutneys, pickles, jams and sweet preserves as well as drinks such as ginger beer, ginger ale and ginger wine.

TYPES OF GINGER

Fresh Root Ginger   Look for plump, silvery skinned pieces, which are called ‘hands’.  Young ginger has smoother, thin skin firmly clinging to the firm and quite heavy root.  Older ginger has thicker, papery skin which sits more loosely on the root.  Avoid ginger that is wrinkled, softened or very light in weight.

Ground Ginger  Pale sand-colored spice widely used in baking.

crystallized ginger

crystallized ginger

Crystallized Ginger  Preserved by cooking in syrup, then dried and rolled in sugar.

Pickled Ginger  A savory condiment used in Oriental cooking.  Chinese pickled ginger is light, sweet and sour and quite hot in flavor.  Sweet red pickled ginger is slightly tangy, but mainly sweet as it is candied.  Japanese pickled ginger is more delicate than Chinese pickles.

Preserved or Stem Ginger  Traditionally packed into decorative, bulbous Chinese ginger jars.  The plump, tender young ginger is peeled and preserved in syrup, making it sweet and fairly spicy.

COOKING TIPS

Use a little crushed ginger in marinades for pork steaks or chops.

Try adding a little finely grated fresh or chopped crystallized ginger to fruit puddings using rhubarb, plus or pears.  Can even be used in crumbles or pastry pies.

ginger-tea

ginger tea

Make a soothing tea when you’re feeling under the weather.  Drop a slice or two into a mug and add hot water and honey along with a cinnamon stick and a slice of lemon or orange or add a slice to some lemon tea.  Ginger tea is also a natural remedy for menstrual cramps and helps relieve stress.  It encourages normal blood circulation, strengthens immunity and reduces inflammation.

Minced fried ginger can be added to Asian dishes just as you would fried garlic to Italian dishes.  It takes ordinary rice to a new level!

Got an overload of ginger?  You can freeze fresh ginger.  Simply freeze the whole root in a resealable plastic bag.  You can then use it without thawing.  Using a sharp knife, peel off the skin for the amount needed and then use a microplane to grate what you need.  Don’t leave the whole root out to thaw as it will become soft and mushy when thawed.

Hmmm….I may just have to go make myself a cup of ginger tea…..

♥  Terri  ♥

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Santa’s Spiced Coffee

What can be better than a hot cup of coffee?

How about a hot cup of spiced coffee with some cookies, sitting by the fire?  Everyone (OK, not everyone, but a lot of people) likes a nice cup of coffee, even Santa!

So why not leave him some cookies with a flask of whisky hot spiced coffee?  It will not only keep him warm on his long journey through the night, but it will also keep him awake!

You can also make up this mixture and give it as gifts to your coffee-loving friends or do as I am and sell it at a craft fair should you be into that kind of thing.  It’s easily doubled or tripled as needed.  After you mixed it all together, you can put it into jars or bags or small Christmas tins and decorate.

I’ve called it Santa’s Spiced Coffee, but you can give it another name such as Christmas Day Coffee, Holiday Spiced Coffee, etc.  Use your imagination.

**Santa’s Spiced Coffee**

2 C ground coffee, medium roast

2 Tbsp icing sugar (powdered, 10X)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom seeds

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.  Put into desired containers and add a tag with the following instructions:

“Place one tablespoon per person into coffee machine’s filter.  Add water and allow to brew.  Pour hot coffee into mug and add cream or milk and sugar to taste.  Use a candy cane as a novelty stirrer!”

If giving as a gift, give a coffee mug or two with it along with a candy cane.  Remember, use your imagination.  If you want to do this for next year, start saving coffee jars through the year so you have a supply by next Christmas.  Here’s how mine came out…

For the bag on the left, I put the coffee into a plastic bag and twist-tied it.  Then I put it into the decorative Christmas draw-string bag which is made of material, along with a candy cane and the tag with the instructions on the back.

The jar has the label on the front with another on the back with the instructions.  A big red bow of ribbon with a gift tag made of thin foam for gift giving.

Make sure you keep some for yourself!

♥♥ Terri ♥♥

(recipe compliments of Karen Burns Booth at Lavender & Lovage)

Save Money ~ Cook it Yourself!

As most of you know, Chef P and I are avid fans of getting things…on sale…cheap…for a bargain…in the reduced to clear section….well, you get the picture.

Most nights on his way home, Chef P stops at the store to get various items that I may request him to get which also gives him a chance to check out the reduced to clear section (RTC).  Usually by the time he gets there, the produce items have been lowered in price to a pretty good bargain.  He’s gotten packs of fresh herbs for 10p, a pack of chestnut mushrooms for 26p, leeks for 30p, etc.

It really makes me wonder why more people don’t shop this way; they could save money and still eat in a healthy way.  Yes, the items are on their last sale date, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used a day or two later.

I decided to make a chicken stir fry for dinner so pulled out a couple of chicken boobs from the freezer this morning.  Unfortunately, the chicken was not an RTC item, but it was still reasonably priced.  I checked the fridge to see what we had in the way of veggies and pulled out a few items: Chestnut Mushrooms, Fresh Coriander, Spring Onions, Chinese Leaf, Baby Cabbage and Choi Sum (a Chinese spinach).  With the exception of the spring onions, all of these items were purchased from RTC.  I decided to keep track of what it cost to make dinner for the two of us.

I cut up all the veggies and the chicken along with some garlic, fresh ginger (another RTC item) and a chili pepper.  I also made a sauce using a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar and corn flour to thicken.

The veggies cost a grand total of £1.32

The chicken cost a grand total of £2.00

I estimated the garlic/ginger/chili at a total of £0.12

The sauce ingredients and cornflour, again an estimate of about £0.30

This brings the total of dinner to £3.77, not including the rice, which I estimate at about 10p as we bought a 10kg/22lbs. bag on the RTC and that was only £5.45.

****NEWS FLASH****NEWS FLASH****NEWS FLASH****

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you this update…

Chef P has just arrived home with a bag of goodies from the RTC.  Let’s see what he got:

4 peaches @ .55p (originally £2.47)

2 mangoes @ .32p (originally £1.50)

2 bags sugar snap peas @ .25p ea. (originally £1.00)

1/2 swede (1kg!) @ .25p (originally £0.86)

1 container low fat lemon & coriander hummus @ .30p (originally £1.00)

So instead of paying £7.83, he paid £1.98…how could you possibly go wrong??

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program…..

So we’re eating a Chinese meal full of healthy veggies and chicken, no MSG and no added salt, other than what’s in the soy sauce, etc.  When you order a take away/take out, you have no idea what’s in there.  It’s probably loaded with MSG and salt and who knows what else.

So think twice before you pick up that phone to order out.

♥ Terri  ♥♥

BBC Good Food Show ~ Was I Impressed?

Welcome to the Good Food Show!

As a subscriber to Good Food Magazine, I see ads throughout the year for the upcoming Good Food shows that are shown throughout the country: Birmingham, London and Glasgow were the main three for some time.  Then this year, they decided to add a new one at the Glow Theatre at Bluewater Shopping Mall near Greenhithe in Kent.  Woo hoo!  Finally, one near to us.

I booked the tickets at the end of February and made sure we got the Gold Seats for the MasterChef Live show.  As a subscriber, I got a great deal; not only a discount on the ticket price, but I also didn’t have to pay the booking fee.  So two tickets for the exhibition and the Live show was a mere £27.  I couldn’t wait and was counting down the days.

We took the train as it was much easier than driving there.  The train took us right to Ebbsfleet station and from there we were able to hop on a bus which took us directly to Bluewater.  We had to walk through Marks & Spencers and out into the main area of the mall to get to Glow.  We showed our tickets and went into the exhibition hall and started looking around.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt disappointed from the moment I stepped inside…call it a gut feeling.

There were too many stands selling wine/alcohol, cheeses, preserves or spices.  Now mind you, I have no problem with any of those foodie items but I would have liked to see some stands selling things like loose tea, coffee, herbs, honey, chocolates, game meats or other unusual meats, hot pepper sauces or quirky kitchen gadgets/signs, etc.  We did not see one stand selling any of those things 😦 although we did get to taste several samples 🙂

Here's where we got the 7 sausages for £10

We did buy some things.  Got seven different dried sausages for £10, five blocks of cheese with a free bottle of wine for £12 and three jars of condiments (1 horseradish cream, 1 beer mustard and 1 spiced honey mustard) for £6.50 and when you bought 3 jars or more, you got a free jute tote bag.

Our Purchases!

The MasterChef Live stage

The MasterChef Live show was at noon so we headed downstairs to that.  We were about 10 rows back as I had ordered the Gold seats.

We really enjoyed the show with John Torrode and Greg Wallace and they had a cook-off with the MasterChef champions from the past two years.

John and Greg on stage

(Sorry, I took some video of the show but I’m having trouble posting them on here.)

Also wish I knew about the book signing BEFORE I got there…would have brought my MasterChef Bible for John and Greg to sign!

Don’t get me wrong, the exhibition was enjoyable, just a tad disappointing.

Maybe next year will be better…if we decide to go again.

Garam Masala ~ Make it Yourself

GARAM MASALA quite literally means a mixture of hot spices and is a blend of dry-roasted whole spices from northern India (cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves) that are ground to a powder.  It is usually added at the end of cooking to finish off a dish with a delicate aroma of roasted spices, but it can also be added with other spices during cooking.

I love making my own spice mixes because once you make your own blends, there is no comparison between yours and the shop-bought varieties that have probably been sitting on a shelf for months.  If you enjoy making Indian foods from scratch, why not make a batch of Garam Masala for yourself.

We buy many of our herbs and spices in large bags (400g/14oz, roughly) so have all the ingredients for this on hand.  You’ll need a spice mill or an electric food chopper/processor or if you feel like putting some elbow grease into it, a mortar and pestle.  I will admit the electric way is much easier, especially with the bay leaves as they are not very easy to grind!

~~GARAM MASALA~~

Makes about 5 Tablespoons

4 pieces cinnamon stick or cassia bark, each 5cm/2in long

12 bay leaves

5 black cardamom pods, crushed

20 green cardamom pods, crushed

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp black peppercorns

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat until you can feel the heat rising.  Add the cinnamon, bay and black cardamom and roast for about 1 minute, shaking the pan.

Add the remaining spices and continue roasting, shaking the pan or stirring the spices around for about another 1-2 minutes or until you can start to smell the aroma of the spices.  You will note that the bay leaves will start to dry and curl up.  Watch carefully that the spices do not burn.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully tip the spices onto a plate and allow to cool.

Transfer the spices to the spice mill and blend until finely ground.

Store the mixture in a airtight container, away from direct sunlight for up to 6 months.

 

♥♥ Terri ♥♥

Chicken and Red Lentil Soup – South Beach Diet

From the South Beach Diet Cookbook, this is a great warming soup that’s creamy with a hint of Indian spices and heat.  I usually make it for a lunch and leave out the chicken.  It’s pretty simple to make and takes less than an hour to prepare and cook.  Feel free to use fresh ginger and add some ground coriander as I did for a bit more flavor.  I have to admit, the first time I made this, I wanted to eat the whole lot; it was that good!  The book suggests adding some shredded unsweetened coconut as an additional garnish, should you so desire.

It is listed as Phase 2 due to the carrots as they are not allowed on Phase 1.  I suppose you could leave out the carrots for a Phase 1 meal, but I don’t know if that will detract from the taste.  And don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients; it just seems long! (Please note: I did not use the chicken in this so you will not see it in the photos)

~~CHICKEN AND RED LENTIL SOUP~~

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

1 onion, sliced

1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger (or use fresh)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional)

1/4 tsp dried chili flakes

145g/5oz red lentils

900g/2lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

700ml/1¼ pints chicken stock

2 tsp tomato puree/paste/concentrate

480ml/16oz water

sliced spring onion, to garnish

 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat,  Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, spices and chili.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened.

Stir in the lentils and place the chicken on top.  Add the stock, tomato puree and water and stir to combine.

Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veggies are soft and the chicken is cooked through.

 

Remove the pan from the heat, take out the chicken and cut into shreds and set aside.

Transfer about half of the veggies and liquid to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  (I use an electric hand blender for this step and only puree up until there’s still some chunky bits ~ saves on washing up!)

Then return it to the saucepan along with the shredded chicken, stir to combine and serve.

Garnish with spring onion and or shredded unsweetened coconut.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Sunday Spice – Garlic

SUNDAY SPICE – GARLIC

When in doubt, add more garlic

Garlic: Allium sativum.  In France it is known as ail, in Germany; Knoblauch and in Italy; aglio.  No matter how you say it, it still smells the same!

The name garlic comes from the Anglo Saxon garleac in which gar, a spear, refers to the leaves and leac is a plant.  A bulb or corm is made up of cloves of which there can be up to 20 but about 12 is the norm.

There are many different types of garlic, the most common being the white papery-skinned variety.  Pink or purple skinned garlic has a less papery outer skin and fleshy, plump cloves.  A giant variety comes from California, while in Southeast Asia there is a miniature type with only four to six cloves in each bulb.

Some gardeners believe that planting garlic under roses encourages the flowers to produce even more perfume, at the same time preventing black spot and greenfly.

Before preparation, a whole clove has only a mild bouquet; it is only marginally stronger when sliced, but it has a very powerful aroma once chopped or crushed.  The flavor is sharp, with a lot of punch for such a small ingredient.  When frying, never allow it to burn or else it will taste bitter.

Garlic is an essential ingredient in thousands of dishes round the world.  Along with ginger and onion it forms a ‘trinity’ of flavors that is familiar in Oriental and Asian cuisines.  In Western cooking it can be roasted as whole cloves or cut into slivers and inserted into meats or cooked in sauces and casseroles.  It flavors butters, dressing and sauces.  Garlic butter is the classic accompaniment for snails and it is served with shellfish and fish steaks.  It can also be spread on French bread and baked in foil.

For just a hint of garlic in a salad, rub a raw clove on the inside of the salad bowl.  Garlic products include puree, dried flakes and garlic salt, but it’s always best to use fresh.

Garlic is thought of as a wonderful tonic and is the subject of all manner of health-giving claims.  It is said to purify the blood and lower blood pressure.  It is said to aid digestion and prevent flatulence.  It is also considered to be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes and to lower cholesterol.

Peeled cloves should be a clean, creamy white without blemishes.  make sure that bulbs are closely packed and firm and store in a cool dry place away from strong light.

We season our garlic with food!® ~ The Stinking Rose, , Beverly Hills and San Francisco

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil~~

350g/12oz spaghetti

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

75g/3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

salt and ground black pepper

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instruction.

Towards the end of the cooking time, heat the oil in a second large pan.  Add the garlic and chili and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta thoroughly and add to the hot oil.  Return to the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing the pasta to coat the strands in the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.  Scatter with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cook’s Tip: Save the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes for adding to salad dressings.