Last night I feel asleep to an almost comic clanking of the radiators. They’ve been puttering along all winter, but on this particular evening they were hissing at full-throttle. Winter has finally descended on the city. Not the brisk days of December, but the deep freeze of January and February. As if to emphasize the point, snow has been drifting from the sky all day, making our frost-blurred city views just a bit more picturesque. read more »
The week before Christmas is a less-than-ideal time to be swimming in deadlines, but that’s exactly where I find myself. Oh sure, there have been a few parties, cookie making, and other festive tasks, but, for the most part, my to-do list this week seems to have no end. I have an amazing cookie recipe and a new cocktail that I’m dying to share, but for now you’ll have to be happy with a gingery spiced bundt cake. Hey, ’tis the season! And anyway, this cake has an amazingly silky crumb, with plenty of spice and molasses, and serious kick from fresh ginger. Head over to Babble.com’s Family Kitchen for our recipe.
I love almost everything about this time of year–family, lights, trees, giving ad receiving, and the food. But there’s one thing I don’t like, cookie season. Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies–it’s just that I’m not very good at making them. While all other manner of baked goods turn out well, I have a really hard time with cookies. There are two main problems, the first is that I don’t really measure that accurately, and the second is I always, always overcook them. Well, not exactly always, but usually.
Every year I promise myself to turn over a new leaf. And this year I may have actually done it. Over on Babble.com’s Family Kitchen we have been making some great cookies. And these ginger cookies are particularly awesome.
Gingersnaps are an excellent Christmas cookie and that’s usually what I make. But this year I wanted something chewy, not crisp. These ultimate ginger cookies fit the bill perfectly. With three kinds of ginger, whole-wheat flour, and the perfect balance of salty sweet, they’re my new favorite cookie. Like, favorite favorite. Head over to the Family Kitchen for the recipe.
Every year I make Shirley Corriher’s sweet potato pudding. It’s delicious, it’s decadent, and it’s super rich. In fact, my pumpkin pie is downright austere by comparison. This year, we have a smaller group than usual, and I thought it would be a good time to try a healthier version of the standard.
This casserole has delicious tropical notes with ginger and coconut, while the maple reflects a more traditional flavor. The end result is a tasty, lighter sweet potato casserole that’s perfect for Thanksgiving, or any other day. And, it’s totally vegan
Head over to the Family Kitchen for the recipe.
If you ever lived in Charlottesville, VA in the 90′s or early 00′s you probably saw a bunch of bands in the basement of the Tokyo Rose. Those, my friends, were the days. Night after night of crazy, perfect, awesome shows and upstairs amazing sushi. Almost every friend I have worked there in some capacity at some point. I spent my youth eating sushi and listening to indie rock all at the same place. Sniff, the Tokyo Rose, that version, is gone and the heyday of indie rock is on the downswing, but I can still pop open a Kirin Ichiban and have some ginger ice cream.
Homemade fresh ginger ice cream is an upgrade from the standard sushi restaurant fare, but it still has that amazing warm flavor that comes from frozen cream, which would be comforting even if it didn’t flood you with a wave of nostalgia for your squandered youth. Oh, but, did you buy that ice cream maker yet?
Ginger’s bright, crisp flavor and mild heat is a great counterpoint to fall foods. After curing for a few days the cream fully absorbs the ginger and orange, and the ice cream is silky with a little bite. I guess all homemade ice cream is festive, but this is especially so. You could even make the argument that you need to eat it after a big meal; ginger, after all, is a digestive aid.
Ginger Ice Cream with Black Pepper and Orange Zest
(adapted from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, by Michelle Wojtowicz, Phillip Wojtowicz, Michael Gilson and Catherine Price)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup sugar
4 inch section of fresh ginger peeled and sliced
4 egg yolks
a big pinch of salt
zest of one orange
4-6 turns of freshly ground black pepper
Put the ginger in a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring it to a boil and then let it steep for 10 minutes. Dump the water and then combine the ginger and 1 cup of milk in a blender. Blend well, for two minutes or more.
Combine the milk and ginger mixture, and the rest of the milk, the cream, honey, salt, and half the sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, when the cream mixture is starting to steam set aside for ten minutes to allow for even more steeping. Bring the heat slowly back up and put the yolks in a heat proof bowl whisking in the other half of the sugar and the orange zest. Whisk a cup or so, 1/4 cup at a time, into the eggs. The goal is the raise the heat of the eggs so they won’t curdle when added to cream. Whisk the tempered eggs into the cream mixture. Cook over medium heat until the custard begins to thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour into a large bowl, cover and chill for a long time–3 hours at least. Then process according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions. Please note that this makes slightly less than 2 quarts of ice cream, so you might need to process the ice cream in two batches. Remove from ice cream maker and freeze for as long as you can wait. Three hours is good, but this ice cream is at it’s best once it has cured for a few days. Crank the Curious Digit and serve with a twist of orange peel and a dash of fresh pepper.
In the midst of this chilly winter I am running out of things to eat. We’ve had stews, braises, roasted root vegetables, gratin, and pasta, and all these things have been delicious. Is it wrong to pine for a tomato on a January night? I guess it’s not wrong, just foolish.
Perhaps rice pudding will distract you from the relative lack of seasonal delights. Everything you need is in the pantry. This recipe is very fragrant and your house will smell fantastic. The bits of crystallized ginger contrast nicely with the texture of the rice, and add a little heat. Sure to brighten the long winter night.
Fragrant Rice Pudding
I use brown rice to make my rice pudding. White rice will certainly give you a creamier texture, but I like the toothsome qualities of brown rice. Raisins or dried cherries would be a great addition. Serve over fruit, cooked or fresh, for a more complete dessert. To make it vegan, substitute almond milk.
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar (or slightly less)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more)
3 cups milk
2 sticks cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
a few whole cloves
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (save a some strips for a garnish)
Cook your rice, according to whatever instructions are right for the type of rice you have, with salt and cinnamon sticks in a large pot. Overcook slightly so the rice is quite soft. Then add the milk, sugar, and ginger. Put the cardamom and cloves into a tea strainer (or other type of device) and dangle into the milky mixture. Cook on low, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, until the rice has fully absorbed the milk and sugar. Let pudding set up at room temperature for 20 minutes, remove tea strainer, and serve warm with a ginger candy garnish.