Friday, 20 July 2012

Ginger Beer

A friend, an exceptionally good cocktail maker, got me into home-brewing ginger beer. Several months ago, while I was in the UK, I watched him painstakingly grate his way through several ginger roots- at least until I felt sorry for him and finished it off- and mix it with lemon juice, sugar syrup, yeast and water, and leave it to do its thing. I put it on my mental to-do list, and eventually got round to it in April.

This is Toby's recipe for ginger beer:

50g grated or juiced ginger root
75ml lemon juice
125ml Simple syrup
300ml warm water

1 tsp yeast

Mix together and fine strain into a fliptop bottle. Leave to ferment for 1-2 days and don't put it next to the oven as I, being an idiot, once did. You may need to add more sugar after this as the yeast eats a lot. Also, this recipe shifts a lot so play with the proportions until you're happy. 

The first time I made ginger beer, I followed these instructions to the letter. It was excellent, not too sweet and with a cold-clearing amount of ginger flavour. 
Since then I have played around with the recipe. I always double the quantities (at least) because there isn't a huge yield, and instead of faffing around with a hand grater, I throw the peeled, roughly chunked ginger into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. I have been letting it ferment for longer too, up to one week. Personally I think I prefer the shorter time, but others who have tried it are keen on a higher alcohol content. 

My favourite variant has been a coral-pink rhubarb and ginger beer. I replace half the weight of ginger with rhubarb (chopped in the processor along with the ginger) and used half orange, half lemon juice. The flavour was still predominantly ginger, but you can tell the rhubarb is there. 

A ginger and pear version was also good, but does come out a rather unappealing colour.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

I've Been Away....

 My flat has been 3 weeks without gas, making cooking rather difficult. Until our landlady arrived with an electrical hotplate, I made many toasted sandwiches- I probably doubled the amount of toasties I have ever made in my life. The hotplate is surprisingly good, but I missed baking and stovetop cooking.

There were several good meals made with that hotplate, but I haven't enjoyed cooking so much these past few weeks. As a result, I wasn't feeling enthusiastic about cookery blogging either. Now things are back to normal, expect usual service.

Some of the things I have been making over the last gas-free weeks:

 Nigella's Finger Lickin' Ribs
(obviously on the hotplate instead of cooked in the oven)

Nigel Slater's No-bake Passionfruit Cheesecake
 A spatchcocked chicken, rubbed with a spiced butter. The butter was made with
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 30g butter, room temperature.

Pork belly slices, rubbed with olive oil, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. I cooked some apple wedges in butter, as well as some sweetcorn. The sweetcorn was liberally spread with chilli, coriander and lime butter.

Nigella Rapidi Roastini

In essence, fried gnocchi. Utterly addictive.