Ginger with Jamie

Otherwise known as a rather overwhelming dinner.. who can say why I chose to try out two recipes featuring ginger in one evening, I suppose I was lead by some sort of vision of efficiency.

So on the menu was a side of ginger and chilli sweetcorn, with a glass of fresh ginger beer.Unsurprisingly, it was a bit much.However, both recipes (from the back catalogue of Jamie Oliver once more) are worth a go. First off, the ginger beer.

You will need:

140g fresh ginger

4 tablespoons muscovado sugar

2-3 lemons

1litre soda water

ice and fresh mint

Coarsely grate the ginger, you can leave the skin on ‘cos peeling it is a riiiight pain and place it in a large bowl with the sugar. Use a peeler to remove the zest from 2 of your lemons and add it to the mix. ta dah: naked lemons!

Bash everything about with a rolling pin briefly then add the juice from the lemons and the soda water. The mixture looks fairly disgusting at this point, but I’ve included it for your viewing pleasure anyway..leave this to sit for around ten minutes.

Then sieve the mix into a large jug with lots of ice and mint. Now, Jamie advises adding more sugar if it’s too sour or more lemon juice if it’s too sweet, but my mix was just a bit too gingery! Like, an intense ginger flavour that adding more sugar did nothing about. I can’t comment with any certainty as to why this was, I perhaps would in future use less ginger..maybe even half the amount or two thirds-so bear this in mind if you do try it and feel a little bit wimpy about full on ginger like me. It did however, feel very, cleansing.

I may in fact cheat and dilute it with some sweet lemonade tomorrow!

Round two was simply fresh corn, stir fried with chilli, ginger and sesame oil. This was a variation on the suggestion found here.

To prepare, just cut off the corn from the husk and fry with your chosen ingredients for a couple of minutes. I enjoyed this as a slightly different way of preparing sweetcorn-it’s a little bit faster than boiling, but when you’re eating something so fresh it really needs very little done to it.

A slight error was to use some of the coarsely grated ginger from earlier-this was just laziness, the pieces were too big for the occasion, and look a bit like onions! I might try out a version with garlic, parsley and a mixture of butter and oil- there’s very little that can go wrong with that, I hope…

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl – Review

Reading non-fiction, and particularly memoirs can be a chore, unless you are a) obsessed with the author/subject or b) are sadomasochistic. Fortunately, Garlic and Sapphires is accessible, witty, entertaining and astute. The book covers the period Reichl was the restaurant critic of the New York Times. She went on to be the editor of Gourmet Magazine until 2009 when, for some idiotic reason, the publishers Conde Nast shut it down in favour of their other title, Bon Appetit.

Reichl describes her move from LA to take on the prestigious job of the food critic of the New York Times. She quickly discovers that every restaurant has a picture of her in their kitchen, and some offering rewards for spotting her in their restaurant. Her solution for this was to disguise herself, in order to find out what it is really like to be a diner, rather than a food critic, in these often pretentious restaurants.

Written with a strong narrative and peppered with recipes (Reichl says she wants the reader to taste what she is tasting), this book can sometimes read like a novel, much to its credit. It is fascinating how the restaurants will treat her differently dressed as a doddering old woman, compared to the classic New York Diva. More interesting are the aspects of her personality which come out when she becomes these characters, some very surprising and wholly unwelcome to her. Highly recommended.

PS  After reading this I was inspired to buy Gourmet Today, edited by Reichl. Somehow I managed to get it for £3 on Amazon from a reseller, which considering it is so voluminous, was an absolute bargain. Probably over a thousand recipes, all modern and very intriguing for those of us used to cookbooks published in the UK.