Sunday, September 14, 2008

All About Ginger

A neighbor of mine invited me to join a local iron chef competition on Saturday. It would be a small gathering of friends who , like me, enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. The key ingredient – Ginger! I needed to find a recipe that could easily serve 10-12 people and that I could make ahead and bring to the party with me. After searching the internet, I narrowed my recipes down to two winners. Homemade Ginger Ale and White Chocolate and Ginger Ice Cream. I thought both were very clever and decided that I couldn’t choose just one – I resolved to bring a drink and dessert.

Homemade Ginger Ale
Ginger Water
1 cup peeled, finely chopped ginger (I did not peel the ginger, which probably is the reason my ginger water came out brown. No biggie)
2 cups water

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Club soda
Lime juice
Lime wedges

Make Ginger Water
I started by boiling two cups of water and adding a cup of finely chopped ginger. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes and steep. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Discard ginger pieces.

Make Simple Syrup
This is so freaking easy, I don’t know why I don’t have a jar of this in my fridge at all times. You can use simple syrup not only to make cocktails, but sweeten tea, brush over cakes before frosting. All you do is boil a cup of water and then stir in an equal measure of sugar. Turn off heat and set aside to let it cool. Yup, it’s that easy. It will keep in the fridge for a while, although I bet you use it up quickly. I’m growing mint in my herb garden right now and looking forward to muddling my own mojitos with this simple syrup and some rum. Anyways, back to my Ginger Ale.

Make the Beverage
Mix ½ cup of ginger water with 1/3 cup of simple syrup and ½ cup of club soda. Add a squeeze of lime and serve in a tall glass.

This was a great and refreshing beverage. I though if it taste good now then I bet it would be BETTER with a little rum.

Yes, this makes it taste like a ginger mojito! I searched the web and found these other very interesting takes on a ginger mojito.

Batter-Splattered: Blueberry Ginger Mojitos, kill two birds with one stone by brilliantly making your simple syrup taste like ginger.
Chilefire’s Lemongrass and Ginger infused Frozen Mojito, this sounds like more work than what I did today but I bet the pay off is worth it. Yum!


Now for my next trick, I will be making homemade White Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream from David Lebovitz who wrote the book “The Perfect Scoop; Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments.” So he’s basically king of homemade ice cream. I got this recipe from THE BEST ya’ll.

White Chocolate and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream
3-inch piece fresh ginger
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
5 large egg yolks

Slice the ginger thin, cover it with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain away the water but return the blanched ginger to the pan.

Add the sugar, the milk and 1 cup of heavy cream to the saucepan and re-warm the mixture.

Cover and steep for at least an hour, or until you are satisfied with the ginger flavor.
An hour was plenty for me. I was in a hurry to get this made and in the ice cream maker so it would have time to sit in the freezer and thicken up before the 7 PM Challenge… I mean, 7 PM Party.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the ginger-infused cream mixture, whisking constantly as you pour in the warm cream. This is to temper the eggs.
Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan and stir stir stir until you think your hand is going to fall off.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (I can only stir with my right hand, my left hand doesn’t do a very good job) and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. This took me 15-20 minutes which I think is the longest I’ve ever had to do this. I wonder if the ginger pieces in the mixture kept it from thickening. Not sure. But keep stirring until it is thick.
Next, strain the custard into a bowl of chopped white chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

Discard the ginger. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and chill thoroughly. I set the bowl over an ice bath to speed it up.
Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Even after the ice cream maker is through, you need to dump into a container and put it back in the freezer for a few hours, or overnight if you can, so the ice cream firms up.
I am serving this tonight with a piece of candied ginger on top. PRECIOUS!

The party at Jen and Daves was a huge success and we tasted some really delicious recipes made with ginger. I’ve asked everyone to send me their recipes and I will post them here on my blog. Here are photos of the various dishes.

And the winning dish was this Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shitake Cream Sauce made by Dave.
6 6-ounce tuna steaks, each about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, chopped
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Lime wedges (optional)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°F. Sprinkle 1 side of tuna steaks with pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Place tuna steaks, pepper side down, in hot oil and sear 2 minutes. Turn tuna over and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 2 minutes for rare.

Transfer tuna to rimmed baking sheet; keep warm in oven.

Add butter, sliced green onions, cilantro, ginger and chopped garlic to same skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in mushrooms and soy sauce and simmer 30 seconds. Add whipping cream and simmer until sauce lightly coats back of spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Spoon sauce onto plates; arrange tuna atop sauce. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs, if desired.
Read original recipe online here at Epicurious. Stay tuned for more of these excellent Ginger recipes from the September Iron Chef Austin Challenge.

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