Kitchen Tip: How to Peel, Store & Cook with Fresh Ginger

ginger root

I'm a ginger fanatic! The first recipe I ever posted on this blog was for my favorite fresh ginger tea; a delicious cozy beverage that I crave constantly on chilly nights, sick days, and pretty much anytime I can use a little extra comfort. I also cook regularly with it (infusing the spicy flavor into both baked goods and savory dishes) so I always have one or two big knotty looking roots of it somewhere in my kitchen.

As flavorful as it can be, many people shy away from using fresh ginger simply because of how weird and tricky it looks. If you've been using dried or jarred ginger in place of fresh, I encourage you to give it a shot.

After the jump: the coolest ways to peel and store ginger (yes...I said "coolest").

Honey Peach Frozen Yogurt

After peach cake and peach pie, I was craving something a bit lighter that would better highlight the peaches in their natural state. Inspired by the breakfast ice cream I made a few weeks ago, I decided to make another version of it, this time starring peaches. Fresh fruit-topped Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey is a regular breakfast of mine, so I figured the same idea would work as a frozen treat.

To make this, I simmered together some diced peaches (with the skins on--I  rarely peel fruit or vegetables that can be eaten whole; it's easier, healthier, and makes little-to-no difference in the final dish) with local honey and a bit of peach nectar (you can also use apple juice) just until the peaches cooked down a bit. I pureed the mixture and then let it chill before mixing with some thick Greek yogurt (full-fat, please!) and a touch of vanilla extract. I could have honestly just stopped there and been left with a delicious and thick peach smoothie.


Whole Wheat Lemon Peach Cake

Among the many reasons why Fall is my favorite season is that the lovely chill in the air makes it once-again possible to comfortably bake for hours and hours. Even better are these final weeks of summer, (the ones we basically shove out the door come Labor Day because school is back in session and Halloween decorations are on sale at the drugstore and the windows at the Gap are filled with mannequins in plaid flannel and wool) because we have both the early chill and the bounty of lush, late summer fruit to use.

Last week, in the days when white shoes were still acceptable, I purposely bought more peaches than Eugene and I could possible eat. About 50, to be exact. And when most folks packed up their cars and cases and headed out to the beach for one last final hurrah, I sat down an made a list that looked like this:
Alejandra's Labor Day Weekend Plans
peach pie
peach cake
peach preserve of some kind (jam, crock-pot butter, etc.)
peach frozen something (ice cream, yogurt, sorbet?)
pates de fruit (passion fruit, mango)
pomegranate-braised brisket

Four-Ingredient Potatoes au Gratin

For our engagement, Eugene's aunt and uncle gave us this excellent mandoline; a kitchen tool that I've been coveting for quite some time. So long in fact, that the minute I opened the box I knew EXACTLY what I was going to make first.

Potatoes au Gratin is one of those classic, spectacular French dishes that sounds terribly complicated, but which in reality is ridiculously--almost embarrassingly--easy. (Similar to the also awesome and also French potage parmentier.)  The only caveat being that you really do need a mandoline to get those perfect, paper-thin slices. Not necessarily an elaborate, expensive multi-function mandoline like the one we were given (though if you have a wedding registry to fill or a Christmas list to write, I do highly recommend it!); a simple $15 model like this will work perfectly and will make this dish that much easier to assemble.

I personally love my gratins bare-bones simple with just four ingredients (plus a bit of salt and pepper). Those four would be potatoes, garlic, butter, and cream. At this point you're probably thinking, "No cheese?!" But trust me...you don't need it. You also don't need herbs or breadcrumbs or bacon or any other things to muddy up the deliciousness.

Kitchen Tip: How to Cook Corn on the Stove

It's the height of corn season, and Eugene and I have been eating ears of sweet, local bi-color corn pretty several times a week. Earlier this summer, when the first lovely ears started showing up at market tables, Eugene brought a few home from the farmstand near his office and asked me to make them for him. I shucked the corn and dropped them into a pot with just an inch or so of water, covered it, and raised the flame to high. About 7 minutes later, I brought Eugene a plate with two ears rolling on top of it from side to side. "Do you want butter?" I asked.

He stared up at me in amazement. "It's already ready?!"

Turns out that when he was growing up, Eugene's mom used to prepare the corn by boiling it in a large pot filled with water. Waiting for that much water to boil was quite the process and so, like Eugene explained, it always took "forever" from the moment he asked until the cooked corn finally arrived on his plate.

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