Monday, 28 January 2013

ginger syrup and homemade lemonade

On Sunday I had a go at making my first ever homemade lemonade (sugar, lemon, water).  I added some ginger syrup to it (which I had previously made and was sitting in the fridge) which gave it a lovely zing.  Ginger syrup is so easy to make, and I have been adding it to vodka and gin to make delicious cocktails.  I keep it in the fridge and you can just add it to your drinks as you like.

Ginger Syrup:
6oz fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

combine water and sugar in pot and bring to a simmer.  Slice or grate ginger (no need to peel it) and add to pot, simmer for about 30-40 minutes.  It reduces down to about 3/4 cup, but I either add more water (to make more syrup) or don't let it reduce down so much.    Strain and pour into clean jars.

I made more homemade lemonade on Monday, and this time added ginger to the sugar syrup while the sugar was dissolving.  I added the lemon zest into the sugar syrup as well, because I like maximum flavour,and like to make the most of the lemon rind.

Homemade Lemonade with Ginger

1 cup sugar
1 cup water (for sugar syrup)
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger (approx - feel free to use less if this seems like a lot)
grated/peeled zest from lemons
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (approx 6 lemons)
6 cups water

Put the sugar and 1 cup water in pot, bring to a simmer.  Add lemon zest and ginger.  Allow sugar to dissolve and flavours to infuse, then strain and pour into a pitcher.  Add lemon juice and 4 cups of cold water.  Chill and serve.

If it is not sweet enough, just make a bit more simple syrup (dissolve sugar in water) and add to jug.

Just what I need on a hot summers day!  It is so refreshing, and the pitcher disappeared very quickly!

Feel free to share how you enjoy it - what drinks do you make with it?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

ginger icecream results (and what to do with leftover egg whites)

I was very pleased with the results of the ginger icecream - it had the perfect creamy texture of real icecream.  It was quite rich, so you don't need much, and it paired up perfectly with pineapple.     

I was left with the dilemma of what to do with 8 egg whites (the ginger icecream used 8 egg yolks) when I stumbled upon a recipe in "The Vegetarian Adventure cookbook" by Rowan Bishop & Sue Carruthers, for vanilla icecream using 6 egg whites - perfect!  I just added in the extra egg whites for good measure.  
The recipe said to use a food processor as an electric beater aerates the mixture to a greater extent which mean more water crystals are formed during the freezing process and will freeze too hard, but my food processor is kaput, so I just use a hand held egg beater and it turns out perfectly fine every time.

Easy Peasy Basic Vanilla Icecream:
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup caster sugar (you can make your own using a food processor or coffee grinder)
3 cups cream (although I have discovered that I really only need to use 2 cups of cream and it is still creamy)
1 tsp vanilla essence 

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. 

 Slowly beat in the caster sugar to form a stiff meringue.  

Beat cream separately until just stiff enough to hold a soft peak.  Add vanilla and combine.

Fold whipped cream gently into the meringue mixture until well mixed.

Pour into an ice cream container and freeze until firm.

This vanilla ice cream has a really nice creamy texture.  It is a perfect partner with the ginger ice cream and pineapple, and as someone with a sweet tooth who loves icecream, there was something innately satisfying about eating something smooth and rich and creamy that I had made myself.  I really liked the fact that for the price of a 2 litre bottle of cream (which was on sale for NZ$6, the same price as a tub of ice cream) and some eggs, I made two different types of ice cream.  I accidentally left the vanilla ice cream out on the bench one night (I forgot to put it back into the freezer) and when I looked at it the next morning, it still had the consistency of ice cream.  I re-froze it, and it maintained its ice-creamy texture - it didn't ice up like bought ice-creams do.  I think this is because the meringue mixture and whipped cream don't actually change their consistency whether on the bench, in the fridge, or in the freezer - it doesn't melt and it doesn't ice up.  It just becomes either firmer or softer.       

You can also add other things to this recipe to vary the flavour - eg chocolate chips; cocoa; coffee; peppermint essence.  I added ground ginger to my last batch and that was good too - I used 2 teaspoons of ground ginger but it didn't give an obvious flavour, so I might try 3-4 teaspoons next time I make it.   The use of fresh fruit in home made icecream is discouraged because of the high water content of fruit, (which creates icicles when frozen) however you could use dried fruit if you wish.  However, home made vanilla ice cream is perfect served WITH fresh fruit!

part 2 of the ginger chronicles: tomato chutney with ginger

Being summer, with lots of fresh ripe tomatoes available, I decided to make tomato chutney.  This was to be my first foray into chutney making.  I once made a kiwifruit chutney years ago, and I enjoyed making it, but couldn't bring myself to actually eat it - I didn't trust my cooking skills enough at that stage!   But as we are surrounded by lots of fresh produce at the moment, I decided to venture forth down the chutney avenue once more.  My sister had previously given me a 'jams and preserves' book for my birthday, which has given me a bit of impetus and confidence, and I thought that I should actually use the book.  I found a lovely recipe in it that looked really easy (which is what I need, as a beginning chutney maker).   And to my delight, the recipe included ginger!  The tomato plants at home were laden with fruit not quite ripe, and a trip to Mangere Market culminated in lots of cheap, ripe, red tomatoes, so I used both green and red tomatoes.   

Tomato Chutney
1.5kg tomatoes, washed & chopped
450g apples, peeled, cored, chopped
450g red onions, chopped
1 head of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
675g demerara sugar (I just used raw cane sugar as demerara wasn't available)
2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
150ml water
600ml malt vinegar
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
300g sultanas.

Place tomatoes, apples, onions, celery, chilli, and sugar in large pan.  Add water, cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes and apples have collapsed.

(At this point I thought it was quite liquidy and was a bit unsure about adding the full 600ml of malt
vinegar; however it reduced down and assayed my fears.)

Add both vinegars and sultanas and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes, until a thick consistency is reached.
Leave to cool slightly and pour into warmed sterilised jars.  
(The recipe says cover with non-metallic lids, but I used old jam jars which had metal lids).  Store in a cool place.
The recipe made 6 jars, with a bit left over which we soon ate up.

red and green chopped tomatoes - such a colourful medley

the ginger!

lots of colour in the pot

from this... this!  6 jars full of home made chutney

chuntey and cheese on toast - delicious!

apple, cheese and cutney

Chutney, cheese and apple makes a delicious combination:  halve an apple, scoop out the middle to make a 'boat', fill the cavity with tomato chutney, and top with a slice of cheese.  Mmmm!

Toasted bread, spread with chutney and topped with cheese is delicious.  
We have also found the chutney is a great accompanient for poached eggs (spread chutney on toast and top with poached eggs).

Please feel free to share what you have found goes well with tomato chutney.  Food is made to be shared :)


Monday, 7 January 2013

the beginning of the Ginger Chronicles: Ginger Ice Cream part 1

In the beginning, there was ginger.  And I am a ginger ninja.  So I have embarked on a Ginger quest, chronicling my adventures in the kitchen with ginger.  Let the Ginger Chronicles begin!

Day 1 - Ginger Ice Cream
I have only made ice cream once before, and that was a few years ago now.  But we are in the middle of summer, it is very hot, and we have no ice cream in the freezer (the price of ice cream has gone up quite a lot recently, and it is rather expensive).  I decided what better way to begin the Ginger Chronicles than with Ginger Ice Cream.  It sounds decadent and delicious and the recipe was not daunting at all.  Le us begin!

Ginger ice cream.  Home made ginger ice cream, with fresh ginger, cream, egg yolks, caster sugar and milk.  Pretty simple really.

Ginger Ice Cream
  • 3 cups heavy cream (we don't have heavy cream in New Zealand, so I just used normal cream)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
 Just had to simmer the cream and ginger and milk, while I whisked together the egg yolks, salt and caster sugar.  Then I ladled 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking vigorously, to prevent the egg mixture from turning into scrambled eggs.  Gradually I added the rest of the cream mixture, whisking continuously.   Then it all went back into the pot and simmered until the mixture stuck to back of a spoon.  Once it had reached that stage, I poured the custard into a bowl, and set into an ice bath to cool down before pouring it into an ice cream container and putting it into the freezer.  I don't have an ice cream machine, so every hour I have been getting it out of the freezer and whisking it up to put air into it and keep it creamy, rather than icing up.

 fun fun... can't wait to try it!