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Cooking articles

Cooking with Ginger

Talk about personality! Not a spice to slip in unobtrusively, ginger always makes a grand appearance in dishes. Warm yet refreshing, versatile yet distinctive, ginger’s enigmatic character often enlivens the mix — in a gamut of sweet and savory recipes and in ethnic cuisines the world over.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) mingles well with other spices, too, like coriander and cumin, garlic, turmeric and mustard in savory dishes and cinnamon and cloves in sweet recipes. Try it in cakes and biscuits, breads, cookies, fruit salads and cooked fruits, puddings, preserves, jams, and drinks, and with poultry, fish, tempeh, tofu, carrots, beets, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Gingerbread
No need for frosting; simply top a warm slice of this cake with a big dollop of your favorite yogurt.

Warming Ginger Tea
An after-dinner cup of ginger tea can be warming and help with digestion, too. For a fun punch, combine the sweetened tea with 1 cup of ginger ale, and serve over ice cubes.

Ginger Dressing/Marinade
Use this mixture on green salads or as a marinade for poultry, fish, or tofu.

The Many Forms of Ginger

crystallized gingerCrystallized Ginger — A sparkling addition to holiday cookies and cakes, crystallized ginger has been cooked in a sugar syrup, then air dried and rolled in sugar. It makes a great after-dinner treat -- especially dipped in chocolate. Also try it in fruit salads and dressings. Look for crystallized ginger that still has its sugary coating and that isn’t hard or stuck together.

Ginger Root Powder — This lovely off-white to light brown spice is ground from the dried ginger root. It’s a convenient form for baked foods, sauces, curries, and chutneys, and for sprinkling on applesauce and other cooked fruit and vegetable dishes.

Ginger Root Whole (fresh or dried) — Light tan with knobby, finger-like branches, ginger root is not really a root, but a fleshy rhizome. Fresh ginger is delightful, but the dried root keeps much longer and is especially handy if you don’t get to the market to restock frequently.

Ginger Root Cut — This is a great way to keep ginger on hand for tea. Simply put a teaspoon or more in a tea strainer or muslin tea bag for each cup of water. Cut ginger is also a nice addition to potpourris.

Ask the Experts

How is ginger ale made?

Most commercial ginger ale is made with ginger extract and carbonated water. You can make your own ginger ale by combining sugar, baking yeast, grated ginger, and water and letting it ferment in a closed bottle in a warm place. Some recipes also add cream of tartar and/or lemon juice. (Check the Internet for a variety of recipes.) By the way, ginger ale originated in 19th century England, when tavern owners provided small containers of ginger so that patrons could sprinkle ginger in their beer.

My recipe calls for fresh ginger, but I only have powdered ginger on hand. How much should I substitute?

Use 1/8 teaspoon of ginger powder per tablespoon of fresh ginger. Of course, you won’t have the pieces of ginger in your dish, but the aroma and taste will fill in nicely. You can also substitute whole dried ginger directly for whole fresh ginger in recipes. (Some cooks like to add a spritz of lemon juice to the dried ginger when they cut it, to moisten.) And if you have only crystallized ginger on hand, you can rinse off the sugar and finely cut it, then substitute it one for one for fresh ginger.

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