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Ron Ben-Israel is rooting for you to use fresh ginger.
This knobby little root, which is actually the rhizome or underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), not only packs a serious aromatic punch, it has long been revered for its medicinal properties.
Here are five, gingery recipes to make in a snap this holiday season.
Five Ways to Use Fresh Ginger Root: Ron Ben-Israel
1. Candied ginger
2. Crystallized Ginger Shortbread
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together (preferably with a mixer) the soft butter, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt.
When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the flour until just combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and candied ginger.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper until 1/4-inch thick, and freeze for 15 minutes.
Peel off the top layer of wax paper and cut shapes with cookie cutters or an inverted glass. Place each cookie two inches apart on the baking sheet. If necessary, gently gather and re-roll the dough scraps and cut out more cookies.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until pale golden. Cool on wire racks.
3. Ginger-buttermilk panna cotta
Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a boil with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 split and scraped vanilla bean, the fresh ginger slices and a pinch of salt. Cover, turn off the heat, and let steep for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle powdered gelatin over 1/4 cup buttermilk. Do not stir. Let bloom for 5 minutes, and then stir thoroughly into the hot cream mixture.
Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the ginger and vanilla bean. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk and stir gently.
Spray the inside of 6 ramekins with the non-stick spray. Divide mixture into ramekins or unsprayed serving glasses. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator.
Let the ramekins set for 8 hours or overnight, and carefully unmold onto dessert plates. Alternatively, chill the serving glasses for at least 3 hours and serve in glasses.
Garnish with a sliver of candied ginger and fresh mint.
4. Ginger Syrup
Place all the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer for 1 hour.
Strain the syrup through a fine sieve, let cool, and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator up to two months.
5. Ginger Ale
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