Friday, October 2, 2009

ginger and finocchietto

A friend of ours has recently discovered the joy of candied ginger and tried to find a way to make it himself at home. Seeing as I like it a lot too and that ginger is really good for you, I asked him for his recipe. I tried it out and it turned out pretty well, even though it is considerably different than what you find in the supermarket.

--peel the fresh ginger root and slice it about 5mm wide.
--put the ginger in a pot, cover with water (I put enough to cover it and then doubled that), and let it boil about 20 minutes.
--drain the ginger, putting aside the boiled water. let both the ginger and the water cool.
--weigh the ginger, then put it back in the pot and cover it with the water from the first time around (which should be just enough to cover the ginger).
--when the water boils, add the same weight of sugar as there was ginger. let it boil 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often and being careful that the sugar doesn't burn. in theory the ginger should start getting a bit transparent, but we only managed to get it slightly so at the edges.
--remove the ginger and let it dry. the water is delicious cooled and used as a syrup with cold water for a refreshing drink.

Last summer we spent a few days at the beaches of Acciaroli, sleeping at Pollica, a truly beautiful place where we've gone for years. You can't help but eat super yummy stuff there and one of the things that we love is cooking with finocchietto selvatico, wild fennel flowers. It's a plant that grows in the summer with wispy green parts and yellow flower umbrellas that look sort of like Queen Anne's Lace flowers. Here's a picture of it with the background of the beautiful hills of the Cilento. I've always wanted to make liquor from finocchietto and finally I did it. Unfortunately I'm writing this a bit late, so if you want to try it, you'll have to wait til next summer. Here's how I did it:

--wash and completely dry a couple of handfuls of wild finocchietto flowers.
--put them in a jar which closes hermetically with 1 liter of alcohol. put it in a cool dry place for about 30 days.
--when the 30 days are up, make a syrup by boiling 1 liter of water with 800 grams of sugar for 15 minutes. then let it cool down.
--when it's completely cool, filter the flowers from the alcohol, mix the alcohol with the syrup and put it all back in the hermetic jar. let it sit about 4-5 days out of the light.
--filter and put it in a nicer looking bottle. wait at least 3 months before drinking.

Buon appetito!

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