Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vegetable Feature: Fresh Baby Ginger

By Chef Andrea

     We are very excited to deliver possibly the freshest ginger you may ever have experienced! Given our shorter growing season, the ginger we grow is actually considered “Baby Ginger.”  Ginger has a wide variety of culinary uses and is a common ingredient in the cuisine of many Asian cultures. It is a base ingredient in Chinese stir-fries. It is combined with lemongrass and chiles to make Thai curry pastes and in Japan, it is often served alongside sushi in its pickled form. Ginger has a spicy, warm flavor which also makes it an excellent ingredient to include in baked goods, tea and other beverages. 
     To use your ginger,  cut off a piece from the main chunk and peel it. Remember, this is very fresh ginger and still has a very thin skin so you don’t have to peel very deep, rather just gently scrape away the thin skin. You can store  ginger pieces for several days at room temperature or if you aren’t going to use it right away you can store it in the refrigerator. It can also be preserved for long term storage by freezing it. I like to cut it into smaller pieces before I freeze it so I can just pull out a small portion as I need it. You will find this fresh ginger to be very juicy and crisp with a bright flavor. The long green stems attached to the lower portion contain a mild ginger flavor as well. I cut them into 5-6 inch pieces and use them to infuse a little more ginger flavor into soups, stocks, curries, tea, etc.
     We have more recipes available on our website from past newsletters. A few of my personal favorites include Golden Milk, Chai-Spiced Bread, Ginger-Cardamom Tea and Pickled Ginger. Have fun using and experiencing this tropical Wisconsin treat!

Crystallized Ginger

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network

Photo borrowed from The Food Network Website
8 oz fresh ginger root
4 cups water
½ lb granulated sugar, or as needed

1. Spray a cooling rack with non-stick spray or brush lightly with oil and set it in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. 
2. Clean and peel the ginger. Because the ginger is so young and fresh, a spoon or knife scraped against the root should work well for peeling. 
3. Slice the ginger into ⅛ inch slices. Place ginger and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 35-50 minutes, or until the ginger is tender. 
4. Drain the ginger, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid. Weigh the ginger and add an equal amount of granulated sugar. Return the ginger, sugar and up to ¼ cup of the reserved liquid back to the pan. You only need to use enough liquid to dissolve the sugar. 
5. Stir over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue stirring and watching as the syrup thickens. Keep stirring and cooking until the syrup has dried and the sugar has recrystallized, about 20 minutes. The transformation will be obvious. Immediately move the ginger to the wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

HVF Note: Use the crystallized ginger in the carrot-ginger soup recipe in this newsletter or add it to banana bread, sugar cookies, ginger snaps, citrus salad, granola bars, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, shortbread, pancakes, waffles, over ice cream, in lemon pound cake, cranberry relish or in pear or apple crisp. Save any gingery sugar crystals to put in your coffee or tea. You can even add the ginger water that you made in the first step to tea, but be careful - it’s spicy!

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Recipe adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

Yield: 6 servings

HVF Note: This recipe aims to keep it simple by amplifying the sweet flavor of carrots by using a few basic aromatics and lots of carrots, including carrot juice. If you’ve been stockpiling your carrots for the last few weeks, this would be a great recipe to use. The addition of baking soda is to tenderize the carrots and ginger, producing a perfectly creamy soup.

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, ghee or vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
¼ cup minced crystallized ginger (see recipe, opposite) 
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
4 cups water
1 ½ cups carrot juice, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional Garnishes: chopped chives, sour cream, croutons

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger, garlic, 2 tsp salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened but not browned, 5-7 minutes
2. Stir in carrots, water, ¾ cup carrot juice, thyme sprigs and baking soda. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently until carrots are very tender, 20-25 minutes. 
3. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1-2 minutes (caution: vent the blender carefully, as steam will be released). Return pureed soup to clean pot and stir in vinegar and remaining ¾ cup carrot juice. 
4. Return soup to brief simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with chives, sour cream and/or croutons.

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