Another holiday season is upon us, coming fast after our boating season ended. It’s the time for parties with family, friends and all the people we work with. For many of us, that means a lot of cooking.
We all have our favorite foods for the season but what are your favorite herbs and spices to use? Mine are ginger, cinnamon and sage. I love ginger all year long. I use it in cookie recipes, stir-fried dishes, desserts, soups and tea.
Ginger is the root of the ginger plant zingiber officiale, which is in the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It first appeared in the islands of Southeast Asia and eventually came to the West via the spice trade. Though there are many varieties of ginger root, the most common has light brown skin and yellow flesh. Ginger’s taste is a bit sweet but also can come across as spicy and peppery. As it ages it becomes much hotter.
For most recipes, ginger needs to be peeled, and then it is sliced, grated or minced. In some instances, you need ginger juice, and then you would grate it and squeeze out the juice. Any way you use it, it will add a wonderful flavor to all your dishes. If you do not use the whole bulb at once, place the remaining part in a small plastic baggie in the fridge and it will last 2-3 weeks.
The first recipe is my favorite afternoon tea. The cranberry walnut gingerbread is great for a holiday gift and the soup is delicious on a cold winter day. Lastly, a quick use of ginger on seafood.
Apple Ginger Tea
2 large Red Delicious apples
1 large piece of ginger, unpeeled and roughly chopped
5 cups water
Honey to taste
Cut the apples into large wedges, discarding the core and stem. Cut the ginger into small pieces. Place the apples, ginger and water into a pot, cover and simmer over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the honey and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, strain and serve. Sprinkle with cinnamon for a little extra flavor if desired. Serves 4
Cranberry Walnut Gingerbread
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 325º. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix together milk and molasses. Add the remaining ingredients except for cranberries and walnuts, and mix well.
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dry ingredients are moist. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan. Wrap in saran to store. This bread also freezes well.
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cups chopped carrots (1 3/4 pounds or about 12 large carrots)
1 1/2 Tb. peeled, minced ginger root
2 Tb. olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 pinch cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté́ for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, carrots, vegetable broth, garlic powder, cinnamon and salt, and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a ladle, carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender in the pot instead of the blender). Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve swirled with a drizzle of coconut milk and topped with fresh cilantro. Serves 4-6.
4 tsp. lemon juice
4 halibut fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp. each of salt and fresh ground pepper
Brush lemon juice over halibut fillets. Sprinkle with minced ginger, salt and pepper.
Place fish on an oiled grill rack, skin side down. Grill, covered, over medium heat (or broil 6 in. from heat) until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, 6-8 minutes. Serves 4.