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Add a Little Spice to Your Honey


Honey

During a recent visit to The Monterey on South St. Mary’s Street, a friend and I shared a dessert that was a delicate combination of fresh strawberries and local goat cheese ricotta topped with honey infused with a touch of fennel.

A few days later I discovered a series of flavored honey recipes in the new “The Herbal Kitchen” by Kami McBride (Conari Press, $18.95), each easy to make and easy to use in a number of different ways. Here are three short combinations that would work on a toast point smeared with goat cheese or cream cheese as an appetizer, in a vinaigrette or served with cheese after a meal.

Here’s her process for making an herbal or spiced honey:

“Put the honey into a sterilized jar.

“Put the jar into a double boiler over low heat.

“Gently heat for 15 minutes or until it is warm. do not boil or overheat the honey, just warm it up until the herbs can be easily mixed in.

“Stir the herbs into the honey while it is still warm.

“Remove jar of honey from double boiler and let cool.

“Store the honey in a cabinet for two weeks before eating.

“Occasionally stir the contents, mixing herbs thoroughly into the honey.

“Just leave the honey in the herbs as you use it. There is no need to strain the herbs out at any point.”

Cinnamon Honey

“This honey turns toast into a yummy treat and livens up pancakes, waffles and all warm breakfast cereals,” McBride writes. “If you are catching a cold, make a tea with just Cinnamon Honey and it will help to send your cold on it’s way.”

1 cup honey
3 tablespoons powdered cinnamon (see note)
1 teaspoon powdered allspice (see note)

Note: You can reduce a ground spice into a powder with a spice grinder, a food processor, or mortar and pestle.

Curried Honey

“If you like curry, this an exemplary honey for cooking. Put 3 tablespoons on a chicken before baking, or mix it with baked vegetables,” she writes.

2 cups honey
2 tablespoons powdered coriander
1 tablespoon powdered cumin
1 tablespoon powdered tumeric
2 teaspoons powdered mustard seed
2 teaspoons powdered fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered clove

Flexibility Honey

“All of the (spices) in this honey help to reduce inflammation and increase circulation throughout the body,” McBride writes. “Adding turmeric and ginger to your diet helps with arthritic complaints. You can also warm this honey up and scrub it on your feet. Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with warm water. The honey foot rub will warm your body and increase circulation.”

2 cups honey
1 tablespoon powdered turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered juniper berry
1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

Recipes from “The Herbal Kitchen” by Kami McBride

 

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For Passover, Try Haroset with a Touch of Ginger


Freshly chopped apples are the basis for Haroset.

The following recipe comes from Joyce Efron of the San Antonio Herb Society. She has added a touch of ginger, which provides a little kick to complement the sweetness from the honey. Don’t just serve this wonderful condiment at Passover. It works well alongside seafood and chicken.

And remember, when peeling fresh ginger, it’s quicker with a spoon than a knife.

Haroset

1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled
2 red apples (any type but Delicious)
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts)

In a food processor, minced ginger root finely. Core and remove seeds from apple; leave peel on. Cut apple in eighths and add to food processor with ginger; chop. Add red wine, cinnamon and honey. Combine and remove to separate bowl. Chop nuts in processor, pulsing until nugget size. Add to apple mixture; stir thoroughly. Serve as a spread with matzoh or crackers.

Makes 2-3 cups.

From Joyce Efron/”The San Antonio Herb Society Cookbook, Vol. II”

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Ever Had a Bacon Lollipop?


Das Lolli lollipops

Looking for a candy that’s corn syrup-free yet full of flavor?

Keep an eye our for Das Lolli lollipops, which come in several unique flavors, such as Maple Bacon, Naughty Ginger, Fab-O-Pom and Caramel Me Happy. The flavors mean these treats are more likely to appeal to adults, than youngsters.

Naughty Ginger proved to be quick favorite, if only because the ginger had a strong, cleansing burn that was well-matched with the sweet-tart of added lemon flavor. It’s made with sugar, rice syrup, citric acid, crystallized ginger pieces, citric acid, lemon oil and natural ginger extract, according to Das Food’s website.

Caramel Me Happy promised to be a salty caramel, but it was more sweet than salty, though the caramel flavor was exceedingly rich. Fab-O-Pom is a combination of orange and pomegranate, and it made the mouth pucker in delight. If the Maple Bacon was the least of the four treasures, it was because the flavor was more maple and smoke than anything remotely porky, even though the ingredient list includes both bacon bits and natural bacon flavor.(That’s right, this is not a vegetarian lollipop.)

The lollipops sell for about 50 cents apiece at Central Market.

Sweetriot chocolates

Sweetriot is a chocolate pick-me-up that packs more flavor than you could imagine in each tiny “peace” (the owners are hippies, the company’s website says, so they can spell however they choose). This is, after all, “all-natural, anti-oxidant-rich, dairy-free, kosher, gluten-free cacao with a mission.”

That mission is to give your mouth great flavor while giving your body better health, all in a recyclable container filled with equitably sourced chocolate from Latin America.

That’s all well and good, but how does it taste? Super. I bought the 100 percent dark cacao nibs dunked in 70 percent dark chocolate with espresso, and one or two candy kernels explode in the mouth with a burst of intense chocolate flavor. And the lingering aftertaste means you won’t have to keep popping more in your mouth every few seconds.

No corn syrup here, either. At least I don’t think so. The label says they are made from “cacao mass, sugar, cacao beans, cacao butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla, natural coffee flavor, glaze and lovin’.” I’ve never seen a harvest of “lovin'” before, so I’m not quite sure how much is needed per tin, and I’ll have to trust them on the glaze.

The candies come in tiny tins that won’t take up much room in pocket or purse. The price is $3.99 a tin at Central Market.

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New Cookbook Addresses Problem of Acid Reflux


If you’re having problems with acid reflux, there is help. Doctors Jamie Koufman and Jordan Stern have come up with a new guide, “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure” (BRIO Press, $29.95), which takes into account various types of reflux symptoms or conditions that range from heartburn to sleep apnea.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is no laughing matter. Nor is it something to ignore or simply feed antacids. “At present, reflux-related esophageal cancer (most common in white males) is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States,” the authors write.

To get GERD under control can take a serious look at what you consume. Some of the foods that are notorious for causing reflux, the authors say, are chocolate, soda (with diet sodas having more acid than regular), deep-fried food, alcohol, fatty meat, cream sauces, anything with caffeine, citrus fruit and juices, and hot sauces.

I can say from personal experience that eliminating caffeine, except for an occasional bit of chocolate, has worked for me, but the causes will vary from person to person.

The cookbook portion was written with the help of French master chef Marc Bauer, who has created 75 recipes in the following categories: breakfast, salads, soups, entrées, hors d’oeuvres and snacks, and desserts. They all seem fairly easy to make, too, from one-pot stews to simple snacks. Just be careful of the carbohydrate counts, as many seem fairly high.

Here are two recipes to sample: Healthy One-Pot Chicken Blanquette and Watermelon and Ginger Granité.

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Chimes Ginger Chews a Bracing Treat


In this wet season, sore throats and colds are more common than ever. One way of staving off those symptoms is with ginger.

And one way to get ginger is with Chimes Ginger Chews.

These candies, which originate in Indonesia, are made with only a few ingredients, including cane sugar and ginger. There are several flavors in the lineup, including Apple, Mango, Peppermint, Peanut Butter and Orange, all with the sweet burn that an intense dose of ginger provides.

The bag, which sells for about $3.50, says the candies “are music for your mouth.” It’s not a far-fetched claim, as they are certainly a lot stronger than most candies you come across. Think of a chewy version of Altoids.

Don’t underestimate the power of ginger. Some use it to fight indigestion, others for sea sickness or motion sickness. Other claims are that it helps with morning sickness, headaches, allergies and sinus problems.

You’ll find some versions of these candies at Tim’s Oriental Food Market, 7015 Bandera Road, and at World Market.

A word of warning: Chimes Ginger Chews, which being all-natural, do contain maltose, which can cause diarrhea in some.

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Pit-Kissed Cream Corn with Parmigiano-Reggiano


Pit-Kissed Creamed Corn with Parmigiano-Reggiano

When you’re making a recipe that calls for scalded cream or milk, bring it up to room temperature first so that it doesn’t burn, says Garrett Stephens of the County Line.

Pit-Kissed Cream Corn with Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 ears corn
Light olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon flour
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded

Set pit up for direct grilling method. Add smoked wood chips to fire.

Pull the husks back on the ears of corn, and tie with string. Do not worry about the silks, as they will burn off.

Brush the corn with light olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place corn directly over the fire and cook on all sides until the corn is nicely browned.

Remove corn from heat and let cool. Cut the kernels from the cob. Set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, combine cream, ginger, salt and pepper, and reduce by one-third, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add kernels, chicken stock and flour to reduced cream and cook for 10 minutes or until cream thickens to desired consistency and is absorbed by corn.

Remove corn from heat and stir in scallion and cheese.

Makes 2 servings.

From Garret Stephens/The County Line

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Griffin to Go: Making Your Own Ginger Ale


Ginger ale

I have never wanted to make my own soda. I don’t drink sweet fizzy things like colas, Dr Pepper or Big Red. Only on occasion will you find me with a ginger ale, and it’s usually mixed with Pimm’s No. 1, a bitter herbal liquor that, depending on what you read, may or may not be descended from gin.

Yet when a group of friends decided to have a Caribbean-themed dinner party, I announced that I would make my own ginger ale.

I consulted a number of recipes and finally decided to try one from David B. Frankhauser, a professor of biology and chemistry at U.C. Clermont College in Batavia, Ohio. It wasn’t the recipe itself that made me want to try this particular variation, which was fairly similar to all of the others I found. What I liked was the author’s sensible approach to bottling the brew.

Grate fresh ginger and mix it with lemon juice.

“Many have asked about bottling ginger ale in glass bottles,” Frankhauser writes. “I do not recommend it because ginger ale is a very aggressive fermenter, producing high pressure fairly rapidly. Plastic bottles can be felt to judge pressure. Glass cannot. Tardy refrigeration can lead to explosions. Exploding plastic bottles are messy. Exploding glass bottles are dangerous.”

So, plastic it was. I don’t need any explosions, glass or plastic, in my house.

I didn’t have the recommended 2-liter bottle on hand, so I used two 1-liter bottles. I made sure both were rinsed properly. I used a funnel to put sugar and yeast in the bottom. I then used a microplane grater to get a fine, juicy grating of ginger, which I mixed with lemon juice. I used a lot of that slurry went down the funnel, followed by tap water. I sealed the bottles and shook them slowly until the sugar was dissolved.

Use a funnel to insert the ingredients.

Then I let the bottles rest. First, they sat out on the counter for two days, then one day in the refrigerator.

That’s all there was to it.

The end result was a bit stronger than ginger ale. There was a slight bit of pulp at the bottom of the bottle, but that was a plus in that the fibrous gratings packed extra flavor.

But was it as good as it could have been? Naturally, I had to try another batch. I cut the sugar in half and I used even more ginger. This time, I also used lime juice, instead of lemon. In one of the four bottles I made, I added mint, which would make it perfect for mixing with vodka for a Moscow Mule. To another, I added basil, just to see what the flavor would be like.

All of the various bottles had a stronger flavor, but the yeast needed that extra sugar in order to keep its fizz for longer than a few minutes.

The infusions simply didn’t work. Not only did you have to filter the basil or mint out of the ginger ale, the flavor just wasn’t as good as using fresh in your drink.

For the third batch, I upped the sugar slightly and tripled the amount of ginger. I also tried raw sugar (which made the drink completely raw, for all you raw food fanciers); it also made the drink a little darker in color, which was just fine with me. The result was still not as carbonated as the first batch, but the flavor was just where I wanted it to be, so this is the recipe I will continue to use.

I would suggest opening each bottle over the sink. Though there have been no explosions yet, one bottle has bubbled over and several others have needed to be opened slowly because they have threatened to do the same.

Shake the mix until the sugar dissolves.

Now that I’ve made ginger ale, I may expand the repertoire. Root beer, maybe, or bitter lemon soda. Some of what I have in mind are mixers for cocktails, including my favorite, the Pimm’s Cup. I discovered this drink a couple of years ago on a trip to New Orleans, where it reigns as one of the city’s favorites. One sip of its bittersweet mix of ginger beer, bitter lemon soda and herbal Pimm’s was an elixir, a perfect antidote to the hot, sticky weather. I’ve been drinking them ever since. And they’re even better now that the ginger ale burns with full flavor.

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Serve Ginger Rice with Chicken, Seafood, Even Burgers


Fresh ginger

Give your rice a little extra flavor with the addition of fresh ginger. Peel this root with a spoon, not a knife, and the knobs will all come clean in a quick and easy manner. The ginger is washed in salt salt to remove the harsh taste before using, according to Sarah Marx Feldner, who has included this recipe in her cookbook, “A Cook’s Journey to Japan.”

Ginger Rice

1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and slivered
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided use
2 cups uncooked short-grain white “sushi” rice, washed and drained
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons fish or seafood stock
1 1/2 tablespoons sake
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the ginger and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and let rest 10 minutes.

Rinse off the ginger and drain well. Do not squeeze dry.

Combine the rice, fish stock, sake, mirin, soy sauce and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 4-quart pot over high heat. Top with the ginger slices. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes before taking off the cover. Fluff before serving.

Cooking tip: If desired, add thinly sliced fried tofu sheets to the rice pot before cooking.

Makes 6 servings.

From “A Cook’s Journey to Japan” by Sarah Marx Feldner

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Brave the Cold With Ginger-Carrot Soup


GingerCarrotSoupWhen the temperatures begin to drop, one of the foods I generally consume more of is ginger because it soothes a sore throat while warming the body. Sure, we get plenty of ginger from gingerbread, but don’t limit yourselves to that. The following soup comes together quickly and is perfect for keeping the bitter weather at bay.

Ginger-Carrot Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth (not mushroom-based) or chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds carrots, shredded
3-4 tablespoons fresh ginger, shredded (or less, to taste)
Salt, to taste
1 cup heavy cream or fat-free half-and-half
Lemon pepper, to taste
Parsley, for garnish (optional)

In a large stockpot, melt butter with onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broth and stir. Add carrots, ginger and salt (adjust salt depending on the sodium-content of the broth). Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the carrots are done, about 20 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Process in small batches in a food processor until all of the carrots and ginger are a fine pulp.

For an elegant presentation, strain out the carrots. For a more rustic presentation, return processed soup to the stockpot.

Return pot to low burner and stir in the cream and lemon pepper, to taste. Reheat to desired temperature. Garnish with parsley.

Makes about 2 1/2 quarts soup.

From John Griffin

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Ginger Ice Cream: The Burn That Cools


img_1025-1

I had my first taste of ginger ice cream in Maine a few years back in a mixed cone with — what else would you expect from up there? — blueberry ice cream. The slow burn of the ginger, made by a person not shy about capitalizing on its bold flavor, offered a pleasant contrast to the cool cream. The generous serving also made a great partner to the juicy berries in the other scoop.

Now ginger ice cream is becoming more visible in San Antonio. At select markets, you can find Häagen-Dazs’ five ginger, an all-natural ice cream made with only five ingredients.

If you want to modify the ginger to suit your own tastes, whether you want it hotter or milder, the best way is to make your own at home. Ginger is available year-round at the supermarket.

This version, made with six ingredients, comes from “The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook” (William Morrow, $40). And if it’s not intense enough for you, then top it with a shot of Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine or make an ice cream float with a frosty ginger beer.

Ginger Ice Cream

4 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger
2 cups whole milk, divided use
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
2 cups sugar, divided use
12 egg yolks

img_1021-1Peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or a spoon, and cut it into slices. Place the slices in a saucepan, add just enough cold water to cover, and bring it to a boil. Strain, and rinse the ginger under cold running water. Combine the ginger and 1 cup of the milk in a blender, and purée until smooth. Combine the ginger mixture with the cream, the remaining 1 cup milk, the honey and half of the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth.

[amazon-product]0061441481[/amazon-product]Bring the cream mixture back to a boil and temper the hot liquid into the egg yolks by adding it to the yolks a ladle at a time while whisking vigorously. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the ginger, and return the liquid to the pan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Refrigerate until it’s cold. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Makes 6 cups.

From “The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook: A Year in the Life of a Restaurant” by Michelle and Philip Wojtowicz and Michael Gilson with Catherine Price

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