Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tales of Ginger, Black Mushroom Soup & a Favorite Cookbook

This piece of ginger reminds me of Henry Moore sculpture.

According to wikipedia.org this spice is not actually a root. It’s a rhizome. Frankly, I don’t care what you call it as long as I get to use it in its many forms because I love it almost as much as I love garlic. I use powdered ginger in baking and sprinkled over my orange ginger capon while it’s roasting. I use fresh ginger minced in salad dressings and stir fries. A slice of fresh ginger in a cup of herbal or green tea is perfect especially when I feel fluish. And don’t get me started on crystallized and candied ginger – great in biscotti and muffins and toppings for apple crisp….see what I mean? Even my favorite chocolate treat is ginger coated with dark chocolate…..mmmmmmmh.

True, the photo is not my best, but by the time I downloaded the picture to my computer, and decided that I didn't like the background, there weren't enough chocolates left to reshoot. What can I say and as usual, I've taken you on a side journey, far from the main purpose of this post.

One of my favorite cookbooks is Nina Simonds’ A Spoonful of Ginger. I practically shrieked when I spotted it a number of years ago on a trip to Seattle. It was sitting on a bookshelf with about a gazillion other books at Sur La Table. Now I must digress, because that was my first experience with such an amazing kitchen emporium (the word store does not do it justice). At that time Toronto didn’t have a William Sonoma or very many kitchen specialty shops to speak of. We have come into the 21st Century, thank goodness. But, in my humble opinion, we still don't have anything that takes my breath away quite like Sur La Table. Anyway, even with sensory overload from all those fabulous kitchen toys and gorgeous cookbooks, A Spoonful of Ginger stood out like neon lights of Las Vegas. I had to have it!!! And of course, my honey loves me, so…it’s my favorite souvenir of a great trip to a delicious city.

Well, it’s been sitting on my desk for the last month or so. I’ve been negligent about sharing more of my favorite cookbooks of late. And this one certainly ranks right up there, so I’ve been meaning to do a recipe or two. What with holidays and visits from my kids, editing my own cookbook, and other of life’s glitches thrown into the mix, I sort of forgot about it. Then Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen focused on ginger for her weekly herb blogging event. That made me move the cookbook to the top of the pile. But what actually got me to take the book to the kitchen was when I saw that Alicat challenged us to come up with a winter comfort food recipe from a favorite cookbook.

Now when I think of winter comfort food, I usually think of hearty soups like my mother’s bean & barley soup or my green chicken soup, or my step mother’s split pea soup with dill and short beef ribs. That said, when I was looking through A Spoonful of Ginger I came across this recipe for Black Mushroom & Leek Soup and I had to try it. One, because it has so many of my favorite ingredients and, two, because Ms Simonds says she makes this often in the winter to stave off colds and flus. The dried black mushrooms (found in many supermarkets and certainly your local Chinatown, if you’re lucky enough to have one) apparently bolster the immune system and leeks and garlic fight infection. Anyway, bottom line…it’s delicious. Even the chicken broth that’s the base is wonderful all by itself. So here goes, with all the credit to Nina Simonds, but written in my own style. Oh – and I had to cut the recipe down because when I went to my local butcher, instead of the 2 ½ lb of chicken bones the recipe for broth called for, he only had 1 lb/ ½ kg and deferred gratification is not my strong point.

Black Mushroom & Leek Soup
I even got to use my funky julienne gadget that cuts the skinniest julienne strips ever.


Now how easy was that!!! Stay tuned for her Chile Chicken with Cashews ove Ginger Scallion Fried Rice later this week.

Related link:


sailu said...

I love ginger too,Ruth especially in my tea every single day..:)

Melissa CookingDiva said...

I love ginger, I always have some fresh (hmm.., well, lots of it!) in my kitchen. I love it raw in salad dressings, soups and desserts! Oh, candied ginger, ginger&chocolate candy---everything with ginger is good :)

Molly said...

Count me as a member of the ginger fan club! This recipe sounds delicious, Ruth. Thank you!

Ruth said...

Ladies, I couldn't agree more - ginger is a star!!! Stay tuned for the next ginger recipe post - Chile Chicken with Cashews over Scallion Ginger Rice.

Thanks for dropping by.

Mixed Masala said...

Yes, ma'am, ladies. Ginger is most definitely a SUPA-STAR!

I love mushrooms, too (most types), and Ruth, that soup of yours is makin' me krazeeeee!!!

Oh, and I must have one of those "funky julienne gadget."

Ruth said...

Ginger is indeed a supa-star!!!

A few people have asked about the julienne grate. It was just one of those little gadgets at the cash at a little kitchen shop - for impulse shopping. I thought it was cute and only $4, so naturally, I fell victim to the impulse. It doesn't come out of the drawer that often, but I love how it does carrots.

Alicat said...

Thank you for partcipating! The round up can be found here:

:o) ~Alicat