How to Recover from a Ginger Scald · 16 May 2011
Science fiction and fantasy transport us out of our comfort zones, into imaginary worlds where the normal rules don't apply. I try to do the same in my food adaptations and (as is to be expected) sometimes living outside the rules has consequences. The latest side effects of trying to push the cooking envelope were the left over ingredients from the Ginger Scald.
Fortunately, the ginger oil has proved a bit more reality friendly than the Scald and I've incorporated it into several tasty vegetable dishes, including the super simple spinach side below. The sweetened radishes proved a bit more difficult, but after a bit head-scratching I came up with a salad I'll be submitting for the Bookalicious Feeding America cookbook.
If you too decided that having the experience of making a Ginger Scald was worth some inconvenience in the kitchen and found creative ways to use up the left overs, I'd love to hear about it. I've still got a half cup of ginger oil left and I'm looking for a new adventure.
Spinach Salad with Garlic Ginger Oil Dressing
- One pound fresh spinach
- 4 Tbsp. ginger oil
- 2 Tbsp. garlic (or more to taste)
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
Heat ginger oil and garlic in saucepan over high heat until garlic is slightly browned.
Add spinach and stir, thoroughly coating leaves. Stir continuously until spinach is wilted but not fully cooked (about 2 minutes).
Remove pan from heat, pour in soy sauce, and stir until mixed.
Scaring up a Ginger Scald · 2 May 2011
The Lies of Locke Lamora is fertile ground for cooking through a good book. Locke and his band of Gentlemen Bastards not only revel in swindling their way to fortune, they enjoy cooking the fruits of their labor. And while the feasts described sounded scrumptious, the recipe that really characterized the story was the ginger scald. Locke, in one of his many guises is hosted on a pleasure barge to discuss business. He's playing an outsider, an acute businessman from a neighboring realm in which the customs are quite different, and when his hosts offer him a drink, he conveys suspicion borne of experience.
'A drink would be very pleasing,' he said. 'But, ah, I fear that you shall have no reassurance for my condition, kind Doña Sofia. I have done much business in your city; I know how drinking is done here, when men and women speak of business.'
It struck me that his hosts took this as a challenge, and perhaps it was meant that way, because the ginger scald ordered for Locke was so demanding, it could be construed as a hazing ritual.
Conté moved adroitly to fill this request, first selecting a tall crystal wine flute, into which he poured two fingers of the purest Camorri ginger oil, the color of scorched cinnamon. To this he added a sizable splash of pear brandy, followed by a transparent heavy liquor called ajento, which was actually a cooking wine flavored with radishes.
This description was so exotic, so unlike any mixture of flavors I've ever tried, I had to make one. As you might surmise, putting together the ingredients proved to be somewhat of an adventure and since the recipe is straight from the book, I'll include instructions only for the parts of the sum.
Ginger Scald – The assembled ingredients
- 1.5 cups sliced or shredded ginger. You really want to maximize surface area here, so slice thinly.
- About 1.25 cups canola oil (selected for its mild flavor, the better to taste the ginger)
You can buy ginger oil, but finding large quantities proved both inconvenient and expensive, so I made my own. If you do opt for purchasing, make sure you are buying ginger infused cooking oil, and not ginger essential oil.
Place ginger in a saucepan (one with a pour-spout if you've got it) and cover with oil.
Using medium heat, bring oil to a just below a simmer. As soon as you see the tiniest bubbles in the oil, turn the heat to low, and if bubbles continue to surface, turn it down even more. The idea here is to give the ginger a nice lukewarm bath in oil, just enough to activate infusion without actually cooking the oil.
Bathe ginger for twenty minutes, uncovered.
Let cool and strain oil through fine meshed strainer or cheesecloth and into a tightly sealed container.
Store at room temperature (or refrigerate after making your scald for longer shelf life). Ginger oil can last several months. Toss if it starts to turn cloudy.
I imagined a milky brandy could exist. After all, brandy is distilled from fruit, pulp is somewhat milky, and so it seems logical that a raw brandy (such as one which would go into a drink intended to burn its victim's throat) would be cloudy.
If there is such a thing as cloudy brandy, I couldn't find it, and since I abhor dairy products mixed with alcohol (excepting when The Big Lebowski is involved), I declined to induce my brandy to milkiness more literally. Instead, I selected Maraska Kruskovac Pear Brandy. Though quite tranlucent it's colored an orange that is not natural to any pear I've ever seen and so seemed appropriate for this otherworldly drink.
- 1 pound radishes
- 2 cups white wine. I wanted something sweet to balance the ginger, so I chose a Gewurztraminer
Remember bathing the ginger? We're going to do the exact same thing for the radishes. Repeat instructions for ginger oil substituting 'radish' for 'giner' and 'wine' for 'oil' until you get to storage.
Store the ajento chilled. As with most wine, it will go flat rather quickly once uncorked, so plan on using it within a week.
And the outcome? A drink just a demanding as I anticipated. I have to admit, I skimped on the full recipe; I wasn't quite willing to invest in food-safe metals that could be heated to forge-like temperatures.
When this cocktail was mixed, Conté wrapped a wet towel around the fingers of his left hand and reached for a covered brazier smoldering to the side of the liquor cabinet. He withdrew a slender metal rod, glowing orange-red at the tip, plunged it into the cocktail; there was an audible hiss and a small puff of spicy steam. Once the rod was stanched, Conté stirred the drink briskly and precisely three times, then presented it to Locke on a thin silver plate.
As such, the oil refused to mix with the brandy and ajento, and rose stubbornly to the top, where it coasted every sip of the ginger scald. Perhaps truly scalding it would have help fuse the ingredients, but I think the overall effect would have been a drink garnished with fried ginger oil instead of raw ginger oil. Oddly enough, while the drink tasted mainly of ginger oil, the dominating smell was radish. And while I can't say that my version of the scald
hit my lips and limned
”every tiny crack with stinging pain, and (outlined) every crevice between teeth and gums in exquisite pain”, the unorthodox oily texture and pungency of the radish made this drink quite uncomfortable.
I had a suspicion that I wouldn't want to imbibe a full serving of the scald, and made an alternate version with ginger beer instead of ginger oil. Although much more palatable in texture, the strong radish smell refused to be subdued, and I think I've probably drunk my two and only ginger scalds.
Colcannon at the Change of the Season · 4 September 2007
I’ve been mostly absent from the kitchen for several weeks due to the intense heat (and lack of air conditioning at home) but weather here is finally cooling down. Long after the sun had set and the warmth of the day seeped out of the walls of my house, I braved the kitchen to make Colcannon as a final look at Tipperary before moving on to the talk of the season, Carl’s R.I.P. challenge.
In the novel Tipperary, Charles wanders around Ireland and interacts with both the rich and the poor. He has quite a few gastronomic stories to share, but as always they’re couched in the terms of his constant exposition on love and Ireland.
He is considering the problem of land ownership, and trying to define the differences in the love for the land between the Anglo-Irish and the Irish when he recalls some funny stories about eating around the country.
The Anglo-Irish he claims, for all their wealth, set a very poor table, while the Irish may not have two coins to rub together, but always share the best they have and prepare their food with pride.
In selecting the second dish to prepare for this book, I chose something that would probably have been served to Charles at the table of one of the better off tenant farmers (the very poorest he describes as eating nothing but porridge and potatoes). The ingredients are simple and readily available.
I could imagine how this classic Irish recipe would be much more satisfying to Charles than the elaborate creations served to him by the great Anglo-Irish houses. It’s hearty and immensely satisfying. According to Irish Cultures and Customs, it’s also one of the traditional dishes served by the Irish on Halloween.
As Honeyed Words transitions into fall, and prepares to kick off participation in Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge which culminates on Halloween, I thought this festive recipe was doubly appropriate. I also thought it appropriate to the season that the head of kale reminded me of brains. The focus on the eerie and creepy is working its magic, and I'm starting to see the world with eyes expecting gothic symbols.
- 1 ¼ lbs kale or green cabbage (I used kale)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ¼ pounds potatoes (I used red)
- 1 leek
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Scrub and clean potatoes, being careful to remove all the eyes. Cut potatoes into 2 inch pieces.
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt, cover pan, and bring the water to a boil.
When the potatoes are about half done, (about 15 minutes), strain off two thirds of the water. Replace lid and place on a gentle heat and allow potatoes to steam until they are cooked.
Place approximately ½ inch of salted water in a sautéing pan. Bring to a gentle boil.
Discard the dark outer leaves of the cabbage (if using cabbage). Cut the cabbage or kale into small pieces, across the grain of the head.
Place cabbage in the pan with the boiling water until soft. (I like my vegetables on the fresh side, and so I cooked these just barely to the point of softness in approximately 4 minutes. The longer you cook the cabbage or kale, the softer it will be).
Drain the cabbage or kale, then season with salt and pepper and a little of the butter.
Cut the white part of leek into small pieces. Take the pan used for the cabbage or kale and combine the leeks and the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Pull the skins off the potatoes (I skipped this, I like potato skins), then beat the milk into the potatoes until they are fluffy.
Stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning.
Serve in a heated dish; make a well in the center and add the remaining butter.