Tag Archives: ginger

Simple Gingerbread Cookies

Not gonna lie, I wholeheartedly think Sandra Lee is a hot mess.  Most of her recipes strip the fun out of cooking, replacing fresh ingredients and unique spices with prepackaged, frozen ingredients, all for the sake of saving time.  Which I believe is reserved for getting drunk, based on the heavy emphasis on “cocktail time” in each and every one of her episodes.  A group of us were watching her show Semi Homemade (aka Semi Disgusting) like a horror film – a friend turned to us all and said that she couldn’t get over how batshit crazy she seemed.  Watching her show is like a car accident in slow-motion – from recipes for Kwanzaa cake to jello shots (Um, we need a recipe for jello shots? How old are we?), Food Network Humor has a wide array of just the recipes and techniques that make me groan every time I see her trying to teach people how to cook.

So with all of the vitriole above, and my straight up disgust with Sandra Lee, maybe I need to put down the haterade for a second in that her gingerbread recipe is damn good.  I found the recipe in passing while getting together my list of Christmas goodies to bake, and to my horror, the one that seemed like some majesty was hers.  With a few tweaks made by my expert baker of a sister, this recipe absolutely goes into the pantheon of keepers for all time.  Given that there’s no shame in my game, I do have to give her (or, more likely, whatever peon employee of Food Network Test Kitchen who wrote the recipe) credit where credit is due.  But I can’t forgive all transgressions as your Espresso Martini featured on the Today Show was like a cloyingly sweet White Russian in a martini glass.  Plus, the chapter about you in Anthony Bourdain’s “Medium Raw” is truly cringeworthy.  I guess I’ll just focus on the gingerbread and pretend to forget about your many other transgressions in the kitchen.  And I’m Sandra Lee doesn’t care about any of us haters out there as she cashes those fat checks from her media empire and kicks back with myriad vodka tipples in the Governor’s mansion.

Enough of the negativity – Lexi and I had a hell of a time decorating with the help of some strange Swedish animal shapes from IKEA cookie cutters and some well-placed decorative candy.  We warmed Starburst with our hands and rolled it out like fondant to cut into ribbons and bows.  We sliced red and green fruit roll ups into strips and pressed them together to make a Christmas striped sheet for cutting into scarves, sweaters and top hats.  We used cinnamon candy dots to make necklaces and eyes.  And rather than making royal icing from scratch, we used the prepackaged muffin glaze in a squeezable tube (found in the baking aisle at the supermarket) to stick on the decorations.  I’m sure Sandra Lee would approve.

Recipe for

Simple Gingerbread Cookies

1 package of dry sugar cookie mix
1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tbs of crystalized ginger, finely ground in a coffee grinder or pulverized in a food processor
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 tbs. of maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. of almond extract

In a standing mixer, blend the mix, egg, flour, butter, pumpkin pie spice, ground ginger, crystalized ginger, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Once a dough forms, remove from the bowl, wrap with plastic and chill for about an hour.  If you chill for longer than an hour, make sure to remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to roll out the dough.  Flour a board and rolling pin and roll out the dough to around 1/4 of an inch thick.  Cut cookies with cookie cutters and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake in a 350° oven for 7 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack and let cool.  Decorate as you see fit and store in a tupperware to keep soft and chewy.

Pork with Bamboo Shoots

In Virginia, not too far from where I grew up, there is this great gem of a Chinese restaurant that has been a favorite in town for ages.  The Peking Gourmet Inn is the definition of old school – red leather banquettes, rich mahogany and waiters and waitresses in tuxes, carving paper-thin slices of peking duck tableside.  The restaurant is beloved by just about every US President and dignitary that you could possibly imagine, and the walls of the place are adorned with photos of each and every one of them.  It’s a real treat to go there, but unfortunately, just about everyone in the DC Metro area feels the same way.

I often find myself jonesing for their Garlic Shoots, the mildly-flavored, inner sprout of the garlic clove specially grown on their farm and then sauteed with the protein of your choice.  Or the Stuffed Eggplant with Springtime Vegetables – only served there around Chinese New Year and so very addictive with its savory shrimp filling and tender japanese eggplant flash-fried and served in a delicate sauce.  But its when these incredibly seasonal dishes are sold out or not on the menu that I turn to my tried and true – Pork with Bamboo Shoots.  The Peking Gourmet Inn knows the joys of simplicity – thin strips of pork and bamboo shoots comprise this dish, all within a ginger-enriched sauce and nothing else.  There’s something to be said about not mucking with success and letting individual ingredients shine.

When I don’t feel like a 2 hour wait, or I’m not in town, I turn to this even more simplified version of their dish.  It’s not an exact replica, but so close in flavor profile that my cravings subside.  I even serve it with another rip from Peking Gourmet Inn – their Un-Fried Rice with Eggs and Peas.  A couple of bites in and I feel like I’m at home.

Recipe for

Pork with Bamboo Shoots

2 scallions, white part only
1 can of bamboo shoots
1 inch of ginger, peeled
1 lb. of fresh pork
3 tsp. of sugar
1 tbs. of sherry
1 1/2 tbs. of corn starch
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tbs of soy

3 tbs. of oyster sauce
1/4 c. of vegetable oil
sesame oil

Slice the scallions into 2 in. long pieces and then julienne into matchsticks.  You should have thin slivers of scallion.  Drain the bamboo shoots and slice them lengthwise into matchsticks as well.  Slice the ginger into very, very thin matchsticks.  Set all three aside.

Starting with the pork – I like to use eye round chops or thin loin chops because they are lean and easy to slice well.  Trim pork of all visible fat.  If the chops are more than a 1/4 in. thick, halve them so that they are thinner.  Slice into narrow strips and place into a mixing bowl.  Add the sugar, sherry, corn starch, white pepper, salt and soy.  Mix thoroughly and set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

In a wok or large pan, heat vegetable oil over very high heat until shimmering.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add pork and stir vigorously until almost cooked through.  Add scallions and oyster sauce and stir to combine until pork is completely cooked through.  Turn off heat and drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve with rice.

Grilled Ginger Lemon Chicken

If you haven’t heard me say this enough, I love my Vo.  She’s such a light and inspires me on a daily basis to laugh at the world and revel in every second.  And on top of her being one of the kindest, most generous souls that I’ve ever met, she cooks like an absolute dream.  Tell me if it gets any better than that, because I couldn’t see how it could.

This recipe is of her invention, and I have to say that when I first heard the ingredients, I couldn’t imagine the taste profile that was ginger and lemon.  Ginger and lime, sure, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the lemon.  Well, upon tasting this chicken for the first time, I was schooled in the greatest of ways.  It was a revelation – bright, spicy, sweet and savory all at once, it immediately became my new favorite way to treat chicken.

Since then, I’ve served this chicken grilled, baked and pan seared.  Works perfectly with each preparation.  When I serve this to friends, I have to make inordinate amounts because it is consumed with such vigor, I run out like it’s nothing.  I’m not surprised, though.  Vo has always been an expert, and has yet to steer me wrong.  All I can say is that when you enjoy this chicken, make it for those in your family (immediate and extended) that inspire you on a daily basis and need a bit of a thank you in culinary form.

Recipe for

Grilled Ginger Lemon Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up
juice of 2-3 lemons
2 cl. of garlic
4 in. of ginger root, peeled and minced
4 tbs. of olive oil
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
3/4 tsp. of salt

In a food processor, blend all ingredients except for chicken until a smooth paste.  If you don’t have a food processor, chop ginger and garlic finely and whisk with with other ingredients (except for chicken) until a smooth sauce.  Add chicken to a large bowl and pour marinade over chicken.  Let rest for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Heat a grill or grill pan to smoking hot.  Turn down heat to medium low and place chicken on grill, skin-side down.  Cook for 15 minutes until skin is browned and crisped up.  Flip chicken and cook for another 17 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.  Let rest for 5 minutes to redistribute juices and then serve.

Ginger Hibiscus Martini

Practice makes perfect, kids.  And lemme tell you, the difference between my first attempt at creating a recipe for a Ginger Hibiscus Martini is absolutely the best example of this.  Because, and I am not employing any hyperbole whatsover, it was out and out nasty. Too bitter, too spicy and too strong – it just didn’t work.

Mama didn’t raise no quitter, and back to the drawing board I went.  This time around, rather than steeping hibiscus in hot water, I infused a simple syrup with the rosy petals and rounds of ginger, creating a gorgeous, ruby-colored sweetener for the martini.  Tessa said tasting it made her feel like a hummingbird – I took this as a compliment 😉

Ginger Hibiscus Martini © Spice or Die

This martini is exotic, lovely and can be made stronger or weaker depending on your mood.  If you’re back on the wagon, you can mix this syrup with orange juice and sprite for a refreshing cocktail minus the potent potables.  And you SNL fans, feel free to insert your favorite Alec Trebek insult in your best Sean Connery voice.  “I’ll take the rapists for 500, Alex.”

Ginger Hibiscus Martini

1 part ginger hibiscus simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 part cranberry juice
2 parts vodka

Fill a martini shaker with ice.  Combine 1/3 c. of syrup, 1/3 c. of cranberry, and 2/3 c. of vodka.  Squeeze in half a lime.  Shake and strain into martini glasses.  Garnish with lime rounds.

Ginger Hibiscus Simple Syrup
1 c. of water
1 c. of sugar
3 in. of fresh ginger, sliced in 1/4 in. rounds
1/4 c. of hibiscus flowers

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off and strain into a tupperware.  Pop in the fridge to chill before using.

Crispy Ginger Chicken

Kicking Boring Chicken to the Curb

When you are looking for something crispy and delicious, but aren’t keen on a ton of calories or frying action over hot oil, these baked chicken breasts are perfect.  I usually serve them atop some Sesame Mandarin Salad for added crunch, but you can also top them with a bit of Sweet Thai Chili Sauce for a little kick.  The technique of dredging chicken in seasoned flour, spraying with cooking spray and then baking is a nice trick anytime you want chicken cutlets without the frying.  I use this technique for a spin-off of Chicken Cordon Bleu – I’ll try to post that recipe soon as it looks gorgeous without any work at all.  For that matter, with crispy slices of this chicken over a bright green and gold salad, you’ll have the same sexy results with the same amount of work (read: none).  Let’s dredge!

Crispy Ginger Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 egg
1 tbs. of soy
2 tsp. of salt
1/3 c. of flour
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
cooking spray (the olive oil version is nice)

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Set out two shallow bowls and a cookie sheet lined with foil and lightly coated with cooking spray.  In the first bowl, beat the egg and soy together.  In the second bowl, blend the flour, garlic powder, ginger, and white pepper.  Dredge the chicken breast in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and finally the flour again.  Place on the baking sheet, and then repeat with the second chicken breast.  Gently spray the tops of the chicken breasts so as not to blow all the flour off the chicken.  Bake until the chicken is cooked all the way through and when sliced, the juices run clear, about 20 minutes.  Let rest for 2-3 minutes and then slice thinly.

Rosemary Hibiscus Iced Tea

Steep Me in Majesty

I first had a taste of Rosemary Hibiscus Tea at the Fairmont Princess in Acapulco – I had a regrettable manicure at the spa, and an unforgettable cup of their “secret brew” before leaving the space.  A combo of rosemary leaves and hibiscus petals, this sweet red treat was tart and garnet-colored like cranberry juice, only a little milder and much more floral. You can learn all about the flowers and their medicinal properties on Wikipedia.

Apparently, in Jamaica (where the flowers are called sorrel, and oddly, are called “Jamaica” in Latin America) the drink is spiked with a bit of rum as well.  This recipe is the non-party version, but impress your bourgeois crew and serve this cooled beverage in a martini glass with a shot of Bacardi and a splash of Grand Marnier.  It’ll make you spit your cosmo out the window and drink these from now on instead. Continue reading Rosemary Hibiscus Iced Tea

Ginger Limeade

All Tarted Up

Back when I was living in DC, there was a local radio station that would play what they called, “The Wrong Song” – a seemingly inappropriate tune based on the goings on.  My favorite was when they’d crank up the Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” when there’d be inches of snow on the ground.  This recipe, my dears (and yeah, I’m talking to you Virginians buried in 30+ inches of unplowed powder) is the culinary equivalent of the wrong song.  It’s cold and slushy here in Gotham, and all I can do is pray for summer and sip on a refreshing glass of ginger limeade.  I feel a few degrees warmer already… Continue reading Ginger Limeade