There have been a few very fortuitous things happening for me recently – not in actual life, but here on Kathy Can Cook. First, my sister offered to write me a guest post on ginger, which I jumped at of course! Second, Jess asked me to help her make a cocktail with candied ginger in it. Third, I was invited to A Spoonful of Ginger at the MFA to help benefit the Joslin Center for Diabetes Research. So, obviously, there was a need for a BLOG SERIES.
So, candied ginger. Candied ginger is a perfect snack or palate cleanser, it’s a moment of sharp heat and sweetness when you need it most. It’s great in cookies, cocktails, and on it’s own. It’s basically magic (the ginger syrup that you get as a byproduct is pretty awesome as well). My sister had a couple of good comments on candied ginger on her post about ginger too – go read up on it!
I ended up making this because I just needed to. I read the recipe that Jess had chosen (she posted the full cocktail on her blog) to highlight, essentially a dark and stormy – but infinitely better. So I read the recipe and noted that there was A LOT of fresh ginger being used – two large hands is nothing to sneeze at. But I did it, peeled and chopped two hands of ginger, and got roughly a quart of peeled ginger that was BEAUTIFUL, bright yellow, and lovely.
I don’t know that I will buy premade candied ginger again – because here’s the thing, this was perfect. It tasted fresh and gingery, it had that sharp ginger flavor without a weird old ginger aftertaste and I totally could have made a small amount. I also loved that I didn’t have to coat it in sugar, and make it candy sweet, if I didn’t want to.
Candied Ginger Note: This recipe is adapted from a recipe that Jess got for a Goslings Rum and Ginger Cocktail, created by Ming Tsai. I am sharing only the recipe for candied ginger, because it was AWESOME, you can see the cocktail over on Jess’s blog.
2 cups ginger, roughly two medium hands or one large one
4 cups sugar, plus 1 1/2-2 cups for sugaring
2 cups water
Peel and cut your ginger. I find ginger is easiest to peel with a spoon, you can run the tip of a spoon right over the skin and it’ll fall off, this also works for those little nubbins and nooks where a peeler or knife wouldn’t fit.
To cut the ginger cut it unto 1/8 inch thick rounds or strips, either will work one way you’ll see the fibrous ends of the ginger and it’ll be a little bit rougher and with the grain you’ll get smoother pieces but they’ll be tougher.
Combine the chopped ginger, 4 cups of sugar, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring this to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and allow the ginger syrup to simmer for 10-15 mins, until it is about 1/3 reduced
Preheat the oven to 200 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the syrup into a heatproof bowl. Reserve this syrup, it’s great in club soda as homemade ginger ale.
Combine the strained ginger and the rest of your sugar in a large bowl – gently toss the ginger with the sugar until it’s sparkly with sugar and mostly separate pieces. I found that a pair of gloves would be ideal here.
Spread the ginger in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet and put it on a middle rack in the oven.
Bake the ginger for 3 1/2-4 hours, rotating it occasionally. The ginger will be mostly dried out after this.
Allow the ginger to cool completely before touching it. MOLTEN SUGAR IS HOT. I left mine in the cooling oven overnight, and it was perfect the next day.
Break the ginger apart gently, this is easily done using a gentle pressure and pinching the piece of ginger between your fingertips – they should fall right apart.
Enjoy! I love to add a touch of the syrup and a couple slices of the candied ginger to lemon tea, or club soda (with a splash of rum).
Irish cream, it makes me think of college and ill-formed ideas, a chilled liqueur poured over ice and sipped on a spring evening and, of course St. Patrick’s Day. As long as I’ve been old enough to drink I’ve loved Irish Cream, mostly Bailey’s but occasionally St. Brendan’s or another slightly lower shelf product. Last year, or was it two years ago?, BF started to develop a taste for irish cream as dessert. Pouring himself a small glass over ice in lieu of sweets or baked goods.
So in January while reading the Eat Boutique website I came across a recipe for homemade Baileys by Maggie and immediately started plotting – as far as I could tell I had all the ingredients on hand and it seemed like a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. So I made it. It was a resounding success and a perfect Friday afternoon snack.
So, now it St. Patrick’s Day and all I want to do is share this recipe with you. It’s 4 in the afternoon, but I’m in Boston and drinking early on St.Pat’s is totally respectable, right? This has rapidly become my go to in lieu of Bailey’s, and it means I always have an excuse for good irish whiskey to be kicking around. And I have zero problems with that!
1 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey (I like to use a good whiskey, like Jameson or Bushmills)
1 cup heavy cream (1/2 and 1/2 works too, it’s just not as rich)
Combine the boiling water, the instant espresso, and the 1 tsp whiskey together in a small bowl and set them aside to cool (I like to make this in batches of 1/4 cup of each ingredient and use it like extract in everything).
In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment combine the eggs, extracts, sweetened condensed milk, and cream or half and half.
Whip on medium until everything is frothy and fully incorporated.
With the mixer on low (on my KitchenAid I use the 2 setting) gently stream in the whiskey and continue to mix everything until fully blended.
Enjoy over ice, preferably with a friend, preferably today.
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that every summer and fall I drop down the Boston Local Food Festival rabbit hole. You can barely pin me down for an evening and BF thinks I’m merely a ghost for about a month leading up to BLFF. So naturally, when the organizers contacted me about a summer event to promote the festival and find more awesome brewers I was thrilled and immediately said yes.
So, in June the Boston Local Food Festival team with Sustainable Business Networks of Boston is presenting the Hyper Local Brew Fest! This will be an evening of fun I assure you! Our line up is looking more and more robust every day and as we speak we already have wineries, meaderies, and breweries signed up and excited to show us their wares.
So when is this fabulous event?, you ask. It’s June 16th at the Somerville Armory where it will be set up in a very similar fashion to our Brew Fest last year. There will be two sessions of tastings with tickets priced at $30 each. There will be music, there will be delicious nomables, just like at the festival $5/serving. In general it’s going to be a magical experience. You should come. You can get tickets here. And, if you use the code HYPERLOCAL today only (March 16, 2012) you get 10% off your ticket!
Let’s talk hot, shall we? I know that if you live south of the New England you are not really phased by the really hot temps. But I am. I’m kind of a pansy when it comes to all forms of extreme temperatures – below 20 degrees give me a book, a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa and tell me when it’s warm again. When it’s stiflingly hot though – there isn’t a lot I can do aside from try not to move too much. I know that there are actual ways to combat being hot (drink lots of water, take a cool shower, stand in front of the AC unit until your skin goes numb, etc) but these are only temporary solutions. They seem to not really solve the problem.
The best way to “beat the heat” that I have learned this summer came on a whim of inspiration the same night I made that delicious focaccia bread. The visiting friend hadn’t brought much with her when she came down since we had planned an epic day of cooking. What she did bring though was crucial to our choices that evening – a bottle of prosecco. Now I have a confession – I prefer cava or prosecco over actual champagne every time, I don’t know a lot about wine but I find a nice cava (Freixenet anyone?) far superior to most sparkling wines.
As we chilled the prosecco (she had brought Lunetta) I started to peruse my cabinets and fridge wondering about cocktails and mimosas. I eventually settled on this cocktail. I have heard a lot about elder flower liquor recently around the interwebs and on an impulse bought a nip of it to taste, also I thought the bottle was really pretty. I tried it alone, not really sippable, but with prosecco and some POMWonderful it was divine. The complexities of the elder flower liquor really shone with the sparkles of prosecco. And the way the bubbles burst on your tongue makes these cocktails a lovely hot summer evening drink for me. I found them indulgent and refreshing, a combination I plan to hold onto for a while longer.
Pomflower Sparkling Cocktail Note: I made that word up.
1/2 oz Elder flower liquor (such as St. Germain) 1 oz pomegranate juice (such as POMWonderful) 2 oz chilled Prosecco or Cava (I love this with Freixenet but your favorite will probably work too)
Add the elder flower liquor and pomegranate juice to the bottom of a champagne flute and swirl them for a minute to mix. Top the glass with the chilled sparkling wine. Serve these with a crostini, or just some tasty bread, while sitting on a porch at sunset. Marvel at the pinkness of the cocktail and share.
Note: POMWonderful gave me the pomegranate juice to use, but all the opinions here are my own and I would buy the POM juice again to make this cocktail alone.