Friday, December 17, 2010

Microwave Candied Ginger

1 lb. ginger root
3 cups sugar
1 cup water

Peel ginger. slice into 1/8 inch thick slices. Put all ingredients into 2 quart microwave safe bowl. (I use a 2-quart glass measuring cup.) Microwave all ingredients on high for 3 minutes. Stir thoroughly to dissolve sugar. Microwave on high for another 3 minutes. Stir again. Microwave on high for an additional 3 minutes. Repeat one more time.

Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. With slotted spoon, remove ginger slices from syrup and place on cooling racks. Let dry for 1 hour. Place in air tight container and use as needed.

Pour ginger syrup into glass jar. This may be cooked further into hard candy, or used as pancake or waffle syrp, or poured over ice cream, or used to sweeten tea.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

I don't know why we didn't discover roasting vegetables earlier. I think we were all so obsessed with tender-crisp flash steaming that we just never considered the possibilities offered by high-dry heat. for whatever reason, I'm glad I got past it and started using my oven for more than bread-baking.

It's hard to cook a small amount of this; once you start chopping, ingredients seem to expand exponentially. But it's okay, because extras make great leftovers, or you may use them in a soup or stew.

A note about the use of Frozen pearl onions: if you choose to use unfrozen onions, be my guest, but my time is too precious to spend time peeling pearl onions. In addition, frozen tend to not overcook in the time required to cook the harder root vegetables. As with all my recipes, make adjustments as preferred to suit your own taste, time, etc.

2 Large carrots
2 large parsnips
1 small rutabaga
2 large turnips
1 bag frozen pearl onions
2 Tablespoons EVOO or grapeseed oil
coarse sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel and chop carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips into half inch dice.
Pour oil into large, shallow baking dish. Add all ingredients but salt and toss to coat with oil.

Place in hot oven and roast for 15 minutes.
At the end of 15 minutes, open oven and stir vegetables.
Roast another 15 minutes.
Ant the end of the second 15 minutes, inspect vegetables. they will most likely need at least another 15 minutes of roasting, but if they are becoming too brown, you may want to lower the oven temperature to 400.
Stir and return to oven.
Continue roasting until desired amount of carmelization is achieved. Remove from oven and sprinkle with coarse salt to taste.

Serve and enjoy.

Brown Rice and Kale Risotto

Okay, I'll say up front that I rarely take the time to constantly tend this as required for a traditional risotto, so I should probably call it something else. But it maintains the slight toothiness of a risotto, although you could certainly cook it for a little while longer if you prefer a softer texture. It's important to use a short grained rice, like an Arborio or sushi rice; if you use anything else the texture will suffer.

This works well as a prepare-ahead dish, as it reheats nicely in a microwave or on the stovetop, with only a slight loss of texture. The ingredients below make 4 slightly rounded half cup servings. It's easy to increase, if preferred.

1 cup short grain brown rice
2 Tablespoons EVOO or grapeseed oil
3-4 large cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups hot water

Peel and coarsely chop garlic cloves.
Remove thick stems from kale and cut leaves into chiffonade. If the leaves are very large, cut them in half lengthwise before cutting the chiffonade.
In heavy, large, lidded pan (I use cast iron) heat the oil over medium high heat. Cook garlic for a minute, taking care not to let it brown.
Add rice to pan and stir constantly until rice is slightly translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add kale and stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add half cup of the hot water to rice, stirring constantly until water is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add another half cup hot water, stirring until the water is mostly absorbed, 1-2 minutes.
Add ground fennel seed, salt, and remaining water. Bring to a simmer (this shouldn't take more than a minute or two).
Stir, reduce heat to low, and cover. Continue cooking for approx. 25-30 minutes. Uncover and taste for texture. If the rice needs to cook a little (or a lot) longer, that's fine, but you my need to add another few Tablespoons water. Recover, and cook until the desired texture is achieved.

Serve and enjoy.

If you like, you may stir Parmesan or Romano cheese into this before serving. A grind or two of pepper, or red pepper flakes and lemon zest are nice additions, too.