EOWTTA*: G is for ginger

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

*EOWTTA=Eating our way through the alphabet

(Yesterday’s transmission was briefly interrupted by THAT baking group, and we apologize for the delay in returning you to your regular programme.)

I really had to start today’s post with this quote from the Buderim Ginger website : “It (ginger) quenches thirst, revives, excites the brain, and in old age awakes young love again.”

It would be safe to say this knobby rhizome is familiar to anyone who grew up in an Asian household. One of my favourite smells is of garlic and ginger sizzling in a wok with a dash of sesame oil. It takes me straight back to my mother’s kitchen. A favourite childhood meal was a simple fried pomfret (fish) dish with crisp brown strips of ginger piled on top, then drizzled with soy sauce.

We consumed ginger in many forms including a bright red dried/salty preserved version that was said to be good for combating nausea (I shudder to think now what was in that brilliant red colouring though). And I remember being allowed to have a taste of ginger wine – a very sweet but strangely tasty concoction – from time to time.

Crystallised ginger 

Ginger is considered a “warming” food in Chinese culture, and dishes containing the rhizome would frequently be served to women after childbirth. This spice is also believed to contain many health-giving properties. In fact, ginger may help in lowering cholesterol and it may also have cancer fighting properties, although the jury’s still out.
Source: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm#at

Close relatives of ginger include: turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. And if you love laksa, then you’ll probably know that a key ingredient is Bunga Kantan or Torch Ginger flower.

But it’s not all good things that ginger is known for. In the course of my googling, I found out that the rhizome has been used to do unspeakable things to horses. Eeew. Poor ponies.

Err, and on that unsavoury note, I think I’ll leave you with a sweet ginger recipe. I wanted to attempt substituting eggs with soda, for no reason really except to see if it works. I picked these brownies because I figured they’d still taste good even if the texture wasn’t perfect. And I can say yes and no to whether they worked. They looked great, tasted even more fantastic, but I think I should have added a little bit more flour to make them slightly firmer. The texture was very much like a soft fudge. Thank you very much to my MIL for the original brownie recipe ☺

Oh, and here are a couple of other ginger resources:

Ginger ale brownies with crystallised ginger

90g butter
160g self raising flour (I made my own using plain flour + baking powder + baking soda. The ratio is 1 cup flour + 1 tsp baking powder+1/4 tsp baking soda + pinch of salt)
250g brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
125g (scant 1 cup) chopped crystallised ginger pieces
150ml ginger ale/ ginger beer (non-alcoholic) – at room temperature
175 g dark chocolate (chopped)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease and line a baking pan with baking paper. I used a small square pan and double lined it, with the paper folded into the edges. This will save on cleanup as the brownie is very sticky.

Preheat oven to roughly 160˚C (my fan-forced setting doesn’t work, so I can’t tell you what sort of timing/temp would work there) .

In a small saucepan, put the sugar, butter and about 2 tbsp ginger ale and stir over low heat until the butter has melted. I don’t think it matters too much if the sugar is a bit grainy at this point (well, it didn’t matter for me at any rate.) Remove pan from heat, add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted.

Pour in the ginger ale, and keep stirring continuously until mixture is smooth.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, add the ginger pieces and stir to coat. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted ingredients. Stir well. Pour batter into lined tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the mixture is set. The top should be crackly and the middle soft – press it lightly with a finger, you should be able to judge if it’s cooked or not. Don’t try testing with a skewer because it will definitely have crumbs sticking to it. If it doesn’t, then it means the brownie is overbaked and dry .

Cool completely in tin. To help the cutting process, I actually refrigerated mine overnight before turning out onto a board to slice. (It was that soft).

Store in fridge in and airtight container for up to a week (if it lasts that long).


Hungry Dog said...

Ginger ale brownies! Yum! That's up there with root beer cake! :)

Chocolate Shavings said...

Ginger and chocolate are a true match made in heaven - these look delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Haha my husband would fight his way through a crowd to get to that pot of crystallised ginger! :)

Ellie said...

Wow! Sinfully delicious!!

Barbara said...

I'm using more and more ginger in my cooking...pleased to hear it's so good for me!
Never was a fan of crystalized ginger but here and there I am beginning to use it. Your brownie recipe looks lovely and dark. And moist, which must come from the gingerale 'cause I make a 7UP pound cake and it's really moist!

shaz said...

Yes Hungry Dog - I am itching to bake that rootbeer cake

Thanks Chocolate Shavings - I like that combo a lot too.

You're hubby has good taste Lorraine - well he's with you, what other proof is needed? :)

:) Ellie - it didn't taste too rich though, I think because there were no eggs.

Thanks Barbara. 7 up pound cake sounds very intriguing. Between the rootbeer cake, the 7up pound cake and the ginger ale brownie, I think we've got it covered!

Karine said...

I love the addition of ginger with your brownies. It looks phenomenal!

Pierre said...

hi shaz
this recipe is a killer !!!
and if you like hummus in a different way come and see mine seey ou from rainy paris today !