Ferret’s findings Tuesday, Aug 27 2013 

Five ferrety posts you may not have seen yet! Apart from a few relatively new posts that you may not have seen yet, take time to check out these vintage wonders that have been read only by a lucky few:

  1. Spice up your life! In which Ferret extols the virtues of ginger.
  2. Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares! In which Ferret wonders how far the outbursts on this popular show are staged.
  3. Food Book Review: Food and Philosophy. In which Ferret muses over many deep foodie questions, including the criminality of pickiness and whether food critics’ views are really ‘truer’ than ours, or if they’re just more eloquent.
  4. Restaurant Review: Georgia Brown’s. In which Ferret visits this heartland of Southern American cuisine.
  5. Wake up and smell the coffee. In which Ferret sings the praises of its chosen coffee machine.

Time-travel back through the annals of FFW and enjoy 🙂

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Spice up your summer Thursday, Jul 11 2013 

Following my recent posts on Pimm’s and the virtues of ginger, this next post (a fusion of the two) is probably no real surprise.

I love ginger and need no excuse to consume it. Now I’ve found a new way in which to do so – and it’s a perfect non-alcoholic summer alternative to the Pimm’s.

This, my friends, is ginger juice, and it’s a Chinese classic. My continued love affair with the food of Ching-He Huang means I unceremoniously have swiped the (very simple) recipe below from her book. She serves it warm with a chilli and lime crab noodle dish, but I thought that as it was summer, an iced version would be more appropriate (as in the picture above – which sadly was not taken by me).

All you need to do is chop a 2-centimetre piece of ginger and bring up to boiling point in a saucepan of 500ml of water and two dessertspoons of brown sugar. Once you’ve reached boiling point, turn the heat right down and simmer for 5 minutes. Ching then serves it warm at this point, but I strained it and left it to cool before putting it in the fridge. A couple of hours’ refrigeration is fine, but overnight is even better. Goes brilliantly with food or just with itself – it’s refreshing, spicy, sweet and deliciously different.

I suppose you could jazz it up further with other flavours, such as lemon, lime, or coriander, but I decided to leave well alone and just stick with the classic recipe. Gan bei!*

*(“Cheers!” in Mandarin. My uncle, who’s lived in China for three years now, reliably informs me that “gan bei” is the most important phrase anyone going to do business in China can know.)

Spice up your life Wednesday, Jun 5 2013 

According to yesterday’s edition of The Times, the popularity of ginger is rising. We Brits have always loved lashings of ginger beer, and sweet treats like ginger biscuits and Jamaica ginger cake are ever-popular mainstays.

But now, apparently it’s gaining momentum in savoury dishes too as British cuisine becomes more global, diverse, and even gentrified. Waitrose has reported a small increase of 5.8% in the sales of crystallised stem ginger, while sales of their Wensleydale with ginger have gone up by 10%. The sales of ginger beer itself have also doubled in the past six months.

So what can we attribute this to? Some say it’s ginger’s health benefits, while others attribute the change to the intensifying interest in Asian cuisine, which traditionally uses plenty of the stuff (and perhaps it’s no coincidence that another Ching-He Huang series is currently airing on the BBC). In all honesty, this is probably how I mostly use ginger: when finely chopped or grated, it adds perfect zing and contrast to stir-fries and other Chinese dishes.

candied ginger – courtesy of ThePaleoMom.com

I also enjoy munching on the candied stuff (and no, it doesn’t have to come covered in sugar!): its sweet-meets-spicy flavour is really appealing around snack time, and it staves off hunger cravings for that bit longer, as well as acting as a natural painkiller if you have a bit of a headache or travel sickness or a touch of period pain or whatever.

However, those who know me know that I’m a dessert fiend at heart, and ginger biscuits make an excellent base for any cheesecake you happen to be making. I also love making my own gingerbread men (complete with currants for eyes) and pepperkakor always goes down well at Christmas. Finally, as the sun seems to be out now (hooray!) those of us possessing ice-cream makers can surely see the potential for ginger ice-cream. Ginger beer can also be made into perfect ice-lollies for warmer weather, and ginger cake also provides the perfect twist on a classic summer dessert, tiramisu. Better get going and make some of these before the sun goes in…

OK, so this isn’t a picture of home-made ginger ice-cream. BUT you get my drift.