Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Ginger Ale two ways

Here are two recipes for homemade ginger ale I tried recently. One is for the impatient (me) and the other for those, who don't mind waiting few days (sometimes me) and then be rewarded with truly home-brewed ginger ale or you could even call it a ginger beer. It does have small amount of alcohol and superb, intense gingery flavor. Spicy and very refreshing, would definitely make a great cocktail mixer. It makes Gin and Ginger sound very good all of a sudden.

To make Ginger Beer you will need:
1c sugar
freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons), use the fresh ginger root you can find, it really makes a difference
juice of one lemon
1/4tsp baker's yeast
cold fresh spring or filtered water
special equipment:
clean 2L plastic bottle, funnel, patience
Through a funnel add sugar and yeast to a plastic bottle. Mix grated ginger root and lemon juice and then transfer it to a bottle, add water to fill it half way and shake well to mix all ingredients. Add more water, leaving about an inch head space, screw the cap on and shake again. You can also mix all the ingredients in a jar and then transfer to a plastic bottle (as I did). Leave in a warm place for about two days and then transfer to refrigerator, to stop fermentation process. Refrigerate overnight. Pour it trough a strainer and enjoy!
(adapted from here)

Ginger Ale, an instant gratification version:
(adapted from here)
1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
club soda
juice of one or two limes, juice from half lemon
mint for garnish

Combine ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer slowly for 10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and ginger is softened.

Strain warm syrup and allow to cool. Fill a tall glass with ice, add 1 part(used 2oz shot glass) of ginger syrup and 3 parts of club soda.
Squeeze lime and lemon wedge into glass. Use more syrup if desired. Garnish with mint. Stir and enjoy the zing.
Still thirsty??? Hop over to Yummy Supper for some Watermelon Punch.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer inspiration

Rise and shine, Saturday 7:30am. Shot of espresso, cold shower…, no, warm shower.
Check the shopping bags: one for heavy veggies, one for flowers, herbs and other things that bruise easily; check the camera, extra battery (always forgotten). Check the shopping list, hard to stick to it but let's just pretend I'm capable of some kind of planning; comfy shoes, sunglasses; small bills, lots of change and off I go.... to the farmers market.

It doesn’t get any more beautiful than in the summer, when everything is blooming, bursting with intense flavors, amazing scents and colors. I love how my cooking gets inspired by this wonderful season. With the freshest, organic ingredients I can limit my food preparation to the bare minimum and actually spend more time enjoying it with my friends and family.

I get here early to avoid the crowds and adapt Alice Waters’ approach to shopping at the green market. Her advice is to come with nothing specific in mind, soak up the beauty of summer produce and then decide what to buy. So I make my “inspiration round”: touch, smell, taste whatever I can, stimulate my senses, dream up some dishes in my head.

Summer is all about freshness, beauty and simplicity. I keep that in mind as I make my way through the market. I’m looking for heirloom, ethnic and some other unusual fruits and vegetables, even edible flowers. I talk to farmers; I talk to shoppers like myself, farmers market addicts, ask their advice on what to buy, how to cook or store it. This is one of my favorite parts of shopping at the green market.

I pick some squash blossoms, with baby zucchini still attached they look so adorable. Some curious people stop by to ask me how to cook them. I like them stuffed with spiced ricotta cheese, dipped in light better and then deep fried. I also bought heirloom carrots in all shades of pink, purple and yellow, some calendula flowers(for the salad), green and purple orach, which someone explained to me, is a wild spinach, beautiful two-colored “Zephyr” squash, parsley blossoms, heirloom tomatoes, sour cherries, apricots and a few different kinds of berries. All looks so exciting and beautiful, I can not wait to get home and start my summer-inspired cooking.

I'm curious, how do you work a green market? Do you let it inspire you or plan ahead and stick to your shopping list???
For more inspiration check out this Alice Waters' video here.
It was so exciting to run into her this morning at the market and see in person, what she was going to cook today.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Gazpacho Andaluz, guest post on The Kitchn

  My introduction to gazpacho was like probably many of us, through Pedro Almodovar’s movie “Women on the verge of nervous breakdown”, where Pepa (played by Carmen Maura) throws a handful of barbiturates into bright red tomato concoction, prepared for her ex-lover. While the plot keeps twisting and turning, gazpacho plays bigger and bigger role in the movie, putting nearly all of its characters into deep sleep.
When in the end, asked by a police officer what was in the gazpacho, Pepa reciting list of ingredients: tomates, pimiento, cebollia, pepino, sal, vinagre… describes perfect recipe for classic Andalusian gazpacho, adding that its whole secret lays in mixing it right.
  It sounded so simple and refreshing, exactly what I needed after two hot hours of Spanish passion and drama.

This post is kicking off Escapes Month, featuring international cuisines on The KitchnHop over there to see it.

To prepare Gazpacho Andaluz you will need:
(serves 4)
* 2 thick slices of day-old country bread, crusts removed and cut into small pieces
* 1.5 to 2lb ripest, sweetest, most flavorful tomatoes, quartered
* 2 Tbsp aged sherry vinegar
* ½ cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
* ¼ cup bottled spring water,
* 2 small garlic cloves, minced
* pinch of ground cumin and pinch of cayenne pepper(optional)
* sea salt
* 1 firm medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
* 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
* 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
* ½ small red or Spanish onion, peeled and chopped

To garnish:
save small amounts of bell peppers, onions and tomatoes.

1. Place the bread in a large bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and squeeze out juice from one tomato over it. Add 1tsp of sherry vinegar and mix it well with your fingers. Set aside, for at least 10 minutes.

2. Transfer the bread mixture to a food processor and add minced garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper(if using) and salt. Process until very smooth.

3.Add half of the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, generous pinch of salt and ¼ cup of olive oil; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Repeat with another batch of vegetables and olive oil. You can also pass the soup through a sieve, but I don’t find it necessary.

4. Add some of the remaining sherry vinegar, salt and spring water. Taste and adjust amounts of each to your liking.
5. Chill for at least 3 hours.

To serve:
divide between chilled soup bowls, prepare small dishes of chopped peppers, onions and tomatoes for garnish. Add side dish of olive oil for drizzling and some good crusty bread.

Buen provecho!
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