Cheese + Ginger

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find a variety of drink, main dish, and dessert ginger recipes here. This is the second ginger spread pairing that we’re sharing.

Today we’re coming at you with a suggestion to spice up your holiday cheese plate.

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If you don’t know it already, putting out a good cheese plate, or taking one to your next party is a sure-fire way to gain admirers. Our trick is to pair your cheeses with the right condiment.

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First Snow Cake!

This is part of our ongoing Cooking with Kids series, because bringing them into the kitchen creates bonding moments, opportunities to learn, and plenty of messes! And ginger is our ingredient of the season this fall. You can find more ginger recipes here, but if you want another dessert recommendation, skip right ahead to these chewy ginger cookies.

A few weeks ago, we woke up to our first snow of the season. If that wasn’t special enough, I thought that it was worth fully celebrating the day, and any celebration worth its salt requires a cake. That was the humble beginning of our “First Snow Cake”.

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The base of our cake is a delicious ginger cake and it’s topped with a healthy layer of powered sugar snow. It’s a simple cake that’s easy to bake on a whim and should definitely be incorporated into your next snow day. The recipe and more thoughts on celebrating the everyday below. *I’m thinking that next year the cake has to be baked in this pan.

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Cooking with Kids : Ginger Cookies

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post that provides our detailed tips for cooking with little ones.

*We first published this post almost two years ago, but these cookies are delicious and ginger is our ingredient of the season, so we’re republishing them today so that you don’t let a good thing pass you by.*

Ahhh, I meant to share this post before Christmas so that you could add yet another cookie to your baking list, but time got away from me, so here we are with a delicious ginger cookie that tastes just as good on a cold day in January as it would during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

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And I’m still smiling about how this came to be my favorite ginger cookie recipe. Calder’s sister made them a few years ago at Thanksgiving. That first batch was delicious and reminded me of the ginger chews that I used to buy in Trader Joe’s. I was so smitten that I asked for the recipe. She sent it along, and from her notes, I could see that it came from the grandma of a good friend. As I was baking these with Alex, I looked more closely at the bottle (more on that below) and realized that the recipe on the Grandma’s Molasses bottle matched the recipe I was making! Ingredient for ingredient and word for word. So, maybe you already know this recipe?

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tomato jam

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve shared a super simple ginger dessert and a savory shepherd’s pie minus the mash. You can find our archive of previous featured ingredients here. So far we’ve

Tomato jam is the jam! Bet you didn’t see that coming.

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I do find that many people are surprised at the idea of a tomato-based jam. This isn’t something to pair with your peanut butter. This is a savory and slightly spicy jam that’s serves as an amazing condiment. I like to pair it with cheese, but it’s also amazing as a spread on savory sandwiches. Think of a grilled cheese with caramelized onions and a thin spread of this amazing concentrated tomato+spice flavor. Or imagine a pulled pork sandwich with a spread of jam. Do we have your attention? This stuff is amazing.

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Ginger + Vanilla

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find our archive of ginger posts here and our previous featured ingredients here. Today we’re adding something sweet to the docket.

Get ready to start planning your next dinner party, because we have the perfect dessert : vanilla ice cream + ginger spread. This is such a simple combination, but the results are phenomenal. ginger_icecream

We used Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato for the base, and topped it with a syrup made from Ginger People’s ginger spread. I scooped some paste into a ramekin, added almost an equal amount of water, and microwaved it for a few seconds until the syrup was warm but not hot. Then I gave the mixture a good stir and drizzled it over the gelato.

Can’t find ginger paste in your grocery store? Amazon delivers.

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And I’m not joking about the dinner party. Sometimes a fancy dessert is in order. Sometimes you can plan ahead and bake something the day before. But sometimes, a tub of ice cream is the way to go. This combination takes that easy dessert and dresses it up just enough to leave an impression.

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Plus, maybe it’s time that we make ginger the new flavor of fall! Pumpkin’s had its run. #outwithpumpkin #gingerishot #gingersarehot Wait. Am I doing this right?

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Moroccan Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

Ginger is our ingredient of the season. You can find our archive of ginger posts here and our previous featured ingredients here.

I mentioned this dish in my recent farm share post, and with fall right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to add this to your repertoire.

This dish includes all of the best comforts of shepherd’s pie with added interest from the Moroccan spices and added simplicity from the sliced potatoes. The first time I made this we took it to a friend’s house and everyone around the table (from the 1 yo to the adults) loved it!

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We are big shepherd’s pie fans, but honestly, I never make it because I don’t want to mash the potatoes. But as soon as I saw this recipe, I was all in because the potatoes are sliced instead of mashed. The recipe is from Modern Israeli Cooking, with just a few slight variations…  I have a feeling you’re going to see us mentioning this book many times throughout the season!

This dish also appeals to me because it takes familiar ingredients and makes them a platform for introducing new flavors through the spices. And, from a Seasoned perspective, we love a good savory dish that includes ginger!

Moroccan Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

Moroccan Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cups veggie or beef stock
  • 5 potatoes peeled
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • more paprika for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat about 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan. Added the chopped onion, carrots, and bell pepper and sauté until they begin to soften and the onions are slightly translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks.
  3. When the beef is no longer pink, add the ginger, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and tomato paste. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the parsley and stock. Bring the filling to a low boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. While the filling is simmering, preheat the oven to 400F.
  7. Put the peeled potatoes in a pot, cover them with water, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are just undercooked and slightly firm. Drain the potatoes, cool slightly, and cut into 1/2 inch slices.
  8. Stir the peas into the filling, and transfer it to a 8x11 (or 9x13, which worked for me) baking dish. Arrange the potatoes on top of the filling, overlapping slightly as pictured. Brush the potatoes with olive oil and season generously with paprika and salt.
  9. Bake for about an hour until the filling is bubbly and the potatoes are golden brown and cooked through. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
http://liveseasoned.com/moroccan-spiced-shepherds-pie/

Promise me, the moment temps dip below 60F, you’ll give this dinner a try. It’s delicious, comforting, and perfect with a glass of wine!

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Ingredient of the Season : Ginger

 Every season we like to pick one ingredient and find a variety of ways to love it and use it. You can find our complete ingredient archive here.

Ginger is our ingredient of the season this fall, and we’re already feeling the warm fuzzies. If you’re a ginger fan, then you know what we mean: that warm feeling and bit of spice that hits your tongue, then travels to the back of your throat and makes its way to your stomach when you sip on a hot mug of ginger tea. Can you feel it too? But we’re not biased, we love ginger in all of its forms, whether it’s baked into a cookie, used to spice up a curry, or sipped in a cocktail.

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Throughout the fall we hope to experiment with new uses for ginger in the kitchen and around the house. Along the way, we’ll use ginger in all of its forms, from raw to candied, and pickled to brewed.

The photos throughout this post were taken by Sarah when she was working closely with ginger farmers in Jamaica.

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Biology

The ginger plant is an herbaceous perennial, growing 3-4 feet tall with slender green leaves and yellow flowers that bloom from white to pink buds. These characteristics make it a lovely plant that is commonly grown in flower gardens in warm climates. Ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family along with turmeric, cardamom, and galangal (popular in Thai cuisine).

Even though we often refer to ginger as “ginger root”, from a biological perspective, we aren’t actually using the root! It’s the rhizome, or underground stem, of the plant that is harvested for consumption. Both roots and shoots grow out from these rhizomes to produce new plants.

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History

Ginger dates back over 3,000 years to the Sanskrit srngaveram meaning “horn root” in reference to its appearance. In Greek it was ziggiberis, in Latin, zinziberi, and in Middle English, gingivere, which is why in English we know it as Ginger.

Ginger is believed to have originated from the Indian subcontinent since the ginger plants in that region contains the largest degree of genetic diversity. Sharing a history similar to many spice originating in Asia, ginger made its way to Europe via the spice trade being exported to Ancient Rome from India.

Production

The top ginger producers include China, India, and Nepal. As well as Asia, ginger is quite popular in the Caribbean Islands. Ginger grows easily in these lush tropical climates.

When Sarah visited Jamaica in 2009 & 2010, she worked closely with ginger farmers on education, prevention, and remediation of common ginger root diseases.

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Uses

The use of ginger in cooking varies from one culture to another. Throughout Asia, it is common to see ginger used in a wide variety of savory dishes, whereas in Western cultures, it is much more common to see ginger used in desserts, particularly baked goods. In India ginger is a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. Then there’s the Jamaicans, who we will be forever thankful to for brewing their ginger into non-alcoholic ginger beers. And you can thank the Japanese for that side of pickled ginger that comes with sushi.

We’re excited to explore this wide range of uses throughout the season, and we hope you’ll enjoy the ride!

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Ginger & Pomegranate Punch

I made this punch last weekend for a cookbook club meeting (more on that soon!). I’m not normally a punch-maker and was a little bit nervous putting it together, but it ended up being amazing! I think it was all due to the ginger beer… If this is any testament to the punch’s deliciousness, it was the first thing to go at my little cocktail bar that night. This recipe is our party gift to you at the beginning of what’s sure to be a long, fun, and punchy (ha!) holiday season.

With the realization that we had a winner of drink on our hands, I knew that I wanted to share it on the blog, but forgot to take any beautifully staged drink shots, instead, we have some after-party empties. #oops

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The ingredients for this bad boy couldn’t be simpler : ginger beer, pomegranate juice, and mango nectar. The ginger beer provides a ginger flavor (obvs), but I really like it because it also adds a fiery warmth to the drink that you aren’t going to get with ginger ale. Don’t accept any ale substitutes. The pomegranate juice provides the punch’s tart flavor and the mango juice its sweetness.

I used 25 oz of ginger beer, 8 oz of pomegranate juice, and about 12 oz of mango nectar. After you put that all together, you can give it a taste and adjust things to your preference.

Originally I was going to spike this with light rum, but then decided against it since we were going to have some non and light drinkers in the group. Instead, everyone had the option to add whatever alcohol they would like (we had rum, gin, vodka, and SNAP available). I loved it with rum and stuck with that for my two glasses, but I know a lot of other guests were excited by the ginger-snap description of SNAP and ended up enjoying that paired with the punch.

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Since I was serving this for an October event, I used it as an excuse to experiment with dried ice for the first time! My goal was to serve the punch in a pumpkin with dry ice creating a smoke or haze that would flow out and around the punch bowl. I would give the final result a C+. The punch in the pumpkin looked super seasonal at the drink station (I even kept the pumpkin top and it made a cute lid on the punch before party time), but I couldn’t get the volume of smoke that I was looking for. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

Here’s what I did : I cut the top off of an extra-large pumpkin and cleaned out the insides. Then I carved out the insides slightly until I was able to fit a metal* bowl down inside the bottom of the pumpkin, BUT I tried to not carve too much of the top rim of the pumpkin away so that my glass “punch” bowl could rest on the pumpkin and not sit down in the metal bowl. I think the following two pictures will help to illustrate the set-up.

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At party time, I placed the dry ice in the lower metal bowl and poured some water over it to get it smoking, then I placed the glass punch bowl on top for serving. While the ice would smoke some, it would also peter out fairly quickly. We would pour more water over it, causing another big release of smoke, but again, it was quickly exhausted…. maybe I just needed more dry ice in the lower bowl? While it wasn’t a dramatic success this time, everyone loved that we gave it a shot, and I’m still game to do a few more dry ice experiments.

*Metal is essential here since the dry ice gets so cold that it could shatter glass bowls (I even worry about pyrex because there have been some issues with lower quality pyrex being manufactured in recent years).

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See what I mean? It’s an ehh, on the scale of awesome, but hopefully I’ll have my dry ice game down by the time the boys are teenagers (gotta impress them with something).

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Masala Chai

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. Also, if you find my talk of spices interesting, you may like this post where I use a karha mix to spice up our pumpkin popsicles.

I was stumbling over my computer keys this afternoon while starting this post because I keep wanting to just write chai, but I know that’s not correct, so let’s get some vocabulary out of the way and then get on with this post.

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Chai is the word for tea in India. Masala means spiced or spice mix. So technically, when we Americans are drinking a “chai”, we’re really drinking a masala chai, a spiced black tea, not just a tea. Somewhere along the way we shorted masala chai to chai, and so I’ll stick with that abbreviation throughout this post, even though I’m focusing here on the masala. Or is it the karha?…

There’s nothing I like more than a warm cup of chai in my hands on a chilly winter afternoon. In the past I’ve always purchased either the concentrated liquid chai from the grocery store or tea shop’s chai blend for brewing. Today I want to share a beautifully simple and delicious chai recipe that you can use as the base for personalizing your cup of tea.

Traditional Karha

Another new word: karha. It’s the name for the spice blend used for making the masala chai. Traditionally, the karha begins with a combination of warming spices. This is commonly cardamom with some ginger, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, or nutmeg; all spices that we are familiar with when baking. In addition to those spices, some karha may include black pepper, fennel seeds, or coriander. You can also add spices like tumeric for their medicinal value. And those lists are not exhaustive, if there’s a spice you like, it’s fair game!

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the spice mixture. In India, the karha varies by region and even by the time of year. And likewise, outside of India, different regions of the world add different spices to their tea depending upon a region’s access to different spices and its palette.

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