Event Recap: Spoonful of Ginger

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My love of ginger is well documented here, here, and here. I constantly refer to my love of it – the sharp flavor, the spicy finish, the texture, ginger is just a flavor I can’t get enough of. So, of course, when an invite came through my email for A Spoonful of Ginger, the annual benefit for Joslin Diabetes Center to raise money for their Asian American Diabetes Initiative, I said yes.

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Spoonful of Ginger is a wonderful event – held at the MFA, this event is gorgeously laid out and endears itself to me even more just by it’s location.  The MFA is a lovely spot and so many wonderful chefs and people came out in their finest.  It was a remarkable evening and I can’t recommend attendance highly enough. Pictured in this post are just few of the outstanding nibbles I tried at the event – everything was wonderfully prepared and had that perfect ginger bite.

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I was invited to attend Spoonful of Ginger free of charge, but all opinions listed here are my own.

Candied Ginger

candiedginger_1There 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.

candiedginger_2 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!

candiedginger_3 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.

candiedginger_4 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).

Guest Post: The Seventh Sphinx talks Ginger

Ginger is such a great flavor. I know many people who are head-over-heels for it.  Next Monday I will be eating my weight in Ginger while I support a good cause: the Joslin Diabetes Center at Spoonful of Ginger – their annual benefit at the MFA to support the Asian-American Diabetes Initiative. I love to help out places like Joslin because Diabetes research is SUCH AN IMPORTANT CAUSE. We all know someone affected by either type 1 or type 2 Diabetes and it’s becoming more of a problem all the time. So go, get a ticket, eat some delicious ginger infused dishes and help Joslin find a cure.

My big sister, who you’ve heard me talk about here in the past, has recently started her own blog, called donatio olfaciendi causa - a lifestyle blog, she writes on style, perfume, makeup, books, and other miscellany. She and I share a very similar palate so when she was talking about writing a post on ginger as a condiment and flavor I suggested she do it as a guest post for me. I love it almost as much as she does! 

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I like ginger a lot.

A relative of turmeric, cardamom and galangal, this spicy rhizome can play for both the sweet and savory sides. Compelling and versatile, it is available in many forms, most of which I have in my life.

Here are some favorite incarnations:

raw: The spice impact is at its best. Peel it with a spoon and then: steep it to make tea, put matchsticks in your stir fry or curry (or salad!), add peelings to mixed drinks…and pretty much anywhere you add garlic, just add ginger, too. Ginger is good for you.

ginger juice: A great way to add a touch of ginger to beverages and soups.

minced ginger: The tough fibers make it kind of difficult to puree ginger yourself, and I find I’m more likely to use it if I have something ready to go. I like the Ginger People brand for being organic and having really powerful spicy flavor across their range, but I’ll take anything I can get.

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pickled ginger: This is the classic sushi accompaniment but I could eat it anytime, anywhere. I maintain that it plays well with any combination of rice and soy, and is a wonderful palette cleanser as well. It’s not too difficult to make yourself, either. The only difficult part is cutting the ginger thin enough, a job for a mandoline.

powdered ginger: Get high quality and it will show in your baking. I like Penzey’s best so far.

[powdered galangal: Galangal is a relative of ginger but more powerful, spicier, entirely distinct. It comes up in Asian cuisine, and is for me associated predominantly with Thai notes. Substitute for ginger sometime and see what happens.]

tea: Great when you’re sick, a good alternative to lemon for a toddy, and just…good. Provided you like ginger. Especially with honey. Straight or blended, I like. Can also be added to certain soup stocks (think ramen, or chicken soup) for a great, diffused flavor.

cookies: There are snaps, of course, which I love, but lately I gravitate toward these Ginger Thins from Trader Joe’s. Dead ringers for Anna’s ginger thins. These are what made me realize what great friends ginger and cheese can be. On a slightly unrelated note, the Coconut Thins are also extremely good.

crystallized: Snack on them or chop them up and put them in cookies.

jam: you know, jam… (mix it with a berry jam to make things in the world of toast more interesting)

lip balm: If you like ginger or mango, this lip balm is the one: Kiss My Face Ginger Mango lip balm 

fragrance: Ginger is, sadly, not the most popular perfume note. I don’t know why, though. It’s spicy and fresh at once, unisex, akin to citrus but more interesting, on account of not being citrus… Have found one I like, this Marc Jacobs Cocktail Splash. Dominant notes of ginger, citrus, and rhubarb (Rhubarb! Really! Go smell it.). Unfortunately only sold in this enormous bottle. I am testing out a lot of other supposed ginger fragrances, some of which have potential, but this is the only one I own so far. Origins also do a ginger line (perfume, lotion, etc), though I say it is too sweet, and not gingery enough. That said, this Paul Mitchell wild ginger line smells just like the Origins ginger perfume, and I am loving it. [Finding great smelling hair products is a bit more difficult, I think, so my standards are lower.]

And of course there is ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger chews, ginger liqueur, ginger essential oil, ginger soap, ginger syrup…

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Look for my follow-up post next week where I’ll share my recipe fro candied ginger! So good!

Apple-Pear Snacking Cake

I pretty much always have apples or pears in my kitchen, they come in my Boston Organics box almost weekly so there tend to be three or four kicking around at all times. But here’s the slightly annoying thing – I don’t eat much fruit, I’ll grab a piece occasionally, I even went through a fit of eating oranges for days this summer, but in general if I want a snack I will reach for a slice of cheese or a yogurt before i grab fresh fruit. I think part of it is that I just don’t like that first bite. I find it terribly unpleasant to bite into an apple or pear if it is the least bit chilled – I know this makes me an anomaly in the world of fresh fruit eating, but I’m an odd duck that way. So eating fresh apples or pears means a cutting board or at least a bowl and a paring knife. Because, in case you didn’t know, fruit is MESSY guys, juicy and sticky it gets everywhere unless you have a bowl to catch the juice in. But I digress.

So really, you must be wondering why I spend my hard earned money on fresh fruit if I’m not even eating it – I love to bake with it. I love the way really ripe fruit will soften and pool in a jammy bite in a cake or muffin. I am entranced by any apple-spice cake combination. And a baked good with apples or pears in it is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser, for whatever reason. SO I finally figured I would share this recipe with you all. This is a recipe I’ve been using since I first picked up Flour over a year ago – I make it once a month or so (seriously, I’m obsessed with this cake) sometimes I add berries or whatever fruit I have lying around. I tweak it, I mostly follow the recipe, I coddle it. It makes my apartment smell like heaven. And, mostly, it makes a great accompaniment to coffee at breakfast or for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

If you like my facebook page you will see this cake as my header there. That picture has been there for a while and I’ve had at least three readers ask for that recipe, this is it. The difference between this cake and that one – I overcooked this one a smidge, but it’s still delicious. I also think this cake would be improved by a little drizzle of your favorite caramel sauce, because, decadent. I really do love the pear here though, it’s sweeter and cooks down a little softer than the apples so you get a little internal texture variation, which I love. If I were making this for only myself I would kick up the ginger a bit more as well, give it a little more zip, but BF isn’t the biggest ginger fan so I try not to overpower all my baking with it.

Apple-Pear Snacking Cake

This recipe is adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook. I’ve had this cake in the bakery and homemade – and it’s perfect in both places. I am looking forward to Flour, Too so much I may offer to beta test a few recipes for Ms. Chang, that way I don’t have to wait! Ha!

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (I think some finely minced crystallized ginger would be good here too)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups of fruit (at least 3 cups should be apples/pears the other cup can be berries or whatever you’ve got on hand)- peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Butter and flour a 10″ round or square cake pan, I use an 8″x11″ rectangle and it works perfectly. Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Sift the flour, soda, salt, and spices into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and butter. Combine at low-medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer on high and beat the batter until it is light and fluffy, about a minute. I find the batter a bit thick here, but don’t worry too much about it.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter gently, making sure there is a bit of batter on all the fruit. The batter will be quite stiff and look like it’s mostly fruit – it should, that’s a good thing. Add the batter to the prepared pan and even it out gently.
  • Bake for about 1 hour in the 10″ pan and check it at 45 mins in the 8″x11″ one. When it is done the cake with be a nice golden brown and will fell firm when pressed.
  • Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack (or somewhere that air can get around the WHOLE thing).
  • Serve the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
  • I find this is a cake best eaten slightly warmed, the fruit gets all jammy and fragrant and it’s much more like a warm hug.
  • Serve with coffee. As breakfast, to your favorite people.

Matcha Chip Cookies

I love green tea. I have loved green tea since I went to Japan in college and learned about it – history, origins, culture, it was enchanting to me. I tend to not cook with it often – it has a nice subtle flavor and alone it’s perfect but it can be overpowering in baked goods or as part of a meal (unless it’s the green tea braised short ribs at Myers and Chang, then eat one… or five, they’re divine). But, I digress, I finally got up the courage recently to commit to trying green tea as a flavor than as a lovely drink that keeps me going at my new job, I made cookies with it. I’d seen the cookies presented in many a blog post on Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, a very lovely and cool phenomenon that ran through Boston last winter/spring. They managed to end almost all of their pop-ups on a light sweet note with a green tea chocolate chip cookie. I thought these sounded lovely. I dreamt about them, I wondered how best to create something delicious and green tea flavored without thinnning it out. Then I remembered Matcha powder, bright green, flour fine, and perfect for adding to anything that requires flour.


See the things with these cookies was that they were not offensively green tea-y they were just nice with a slightly floral and light undertone. I used a chocolate bar with candied ginger in it, but you could use the Trader Joe’s Chocolate covered ginger pieces or just use regular dark chocolate chips and these would be just as good. I shared these cookies around, with my Chinese coworker, who was shocked I made green tea cookies, with my sister who took these gorgeous shots while I was baking, with BF (of course) and our house guest. Everyone fell for them. This is also my favorite regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, it comes from my time in baking class in high school when I was still learning what cooking and food meant to me. Also, it’s just the best.

Now go, get a decent quality matcha powder or you will be sad. Sidebar: The More You Know. It will be about $10 for a small can of the matcha powder (less than 4 oz) but it’s worth it. In Boston and it’s suburbs I tend to get mine at a Korean specialty store in Union Square called Reliable Market. You will also see lots of other cool things while you’re there.

Matcha-Chip Cookies

Note: For a regular Chocolate-Chip Cookie just omit the matcha powder here and add your favorite chocolate chips. This recipe is from my Baking class cookbook that I got back in high school, it’s tattered and I love it to pieces.

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, light or dark is up to you, I only use dark but the light might be more delicate here
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs matcha powder
  • i cup chocolate chips
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until fully combined.
  • In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, soda, salt, and matcha and whisk them together, it should smell of just a hint of matcha and be a lovely pale green color.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • Add the chocolate chips and gently fold them in until they are just distributed in the dough.
  • Scoop the dough in 2 Tbs dallops on to parchment lined sheets. Bake for 12 mins, until they are lightly browned on the edges and the centers aren’t shiny and wet anymore.
  • Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan (about 3 minutes) before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy with a cup of tea, it will only enhance the flavor of the cookie in the right ways. Share.