Ginger Rice

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We’ve all had those moments when you look in the refrigerator and say, “how did I end up with so much ______?” With me it was ginger. I had what seemed like tons of the stuff. So what to do with it? I decided to prepare a ginger-flavored rice to go with a few of the Asian dishes I had planned for the week. We eat a lot of Asian food, probably because it can be prepared relatively quickly, aside from what my husband refers to as “choppy choppy.” Translated that means chopping vegetables and other ingredients for a recipe. The rice turned out great and really complemented the stir fry and the curry I prepared later.

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For such a gnarly and, dare I say ugly, tuber, ginger packs a huge wallop of flavor. I fell in love with ginger in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of all places. I went to Café Pasqual’s for breakfast and had a glass for fresh pineapple juice flavored with ginger, and I’ve never forgotten it. Yes, I’m one of those people that remember aspects of a certain meal decades later. Hmmm.

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Plain white rice certainly has its place in the food world. Many cultures have been eating it for centuries. However, when it starts to seem a little ho-hum, try flavoring it with some ginger to wake up those taste buds.

 

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Ginger Rice

6 Servings

I recommend you grate the ginger with a Microplane-type grater. If you don’t have one, you might want to consider getting one – it’s one of the most useful kitchen tools there is. However, you can also chop the ginger very finely with a knife. Feel free to cook this with stock or even coconut milk instead of water for extra flavor. You could also use brown rice, but you will need to increase the water to 2 1/2 cups and the cooking time to 45 minutes.  Some finely sliced scallions or some toasted sesame seeds (or both) would be a nice garnish.

2-inch piece fresh ginger

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Peel and grate the ginger. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat the grains with butter and ginger bits. Quickly add the water to avoid burning the ginger; then add the salt. Stir to blend.

Raise the heat to high and bring the rice mixture to a boil. Then lower so that the rice is barely simmering, cover and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes.

 

 

Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

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I was looking for a festive orange-colored soup for Halloween, but not really in the mood for the pumpkin soup I usually make this time of year. I wanted to make something a little lighter and brighter.

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Years ago I discovered cookbook author, Clifford A. Wright, when he wrote a fascinating book on the history of Mediterranean cuisine, which won the James Beard award for Cookbook of the Year. Since then I’ve discovered that not only is he an expert on Mediterranean cuisine, but he travels worldwide and writes about other cuisines as well. Traveling the world eating good food?  I want this guy’s job.

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According to Mr. Wright, carrot soup was probably created by the French. However their version, Puree Crecy, more than likely did not contain ginger. Whatever the origin of this particular soup, it’s a nice change from the standard carrot soup we made in (French) culinary school. The ginger adds a nice spiciness, without overpowering the soup.

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Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

6 Servings

As with all pureed soups you can do the final blending any number of ways.  This soup is best blended and strained until it is completely smooth. I recommend a high speed blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec.  However, if you don’t have one, a regular blender or a stick blender will also work. You will just need to strain the soup after blending it to make it as smooth as possible

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1.5 pounds young carrots, sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)

6 cups chicken broth

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing

  1. Melt the butter in a pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low, add the carrots and ginger and cook until softened, about 20 minutes.
  1. Add the chicken broth and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup, in batches if necessary. Strain the soup if you want a smoother texture. Return the soup to the pan, add the milk and half and half and heat to serving temperature without letting it come to a boil. Check the seasoning. Garnish each bowl of soup with a sprinkling of the chopped cilantro.

Adapted from The Best Soups in the World by Clifford A. Wright