homemade ginger ale

homemade ginger ale

Today was the first day of 2013 that I did not wear a coat outside! The temperature went up to 76 degrees. Summer comin’ fe true. So tonight for dinner I made homemade ginger ale to go with the pepperoni pan pizza I made almost-from scratch. I saved time by buying fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods today. The ginger ale recipe, which came from epicurious,  has the freshness and sharpness of ginger. It’s very refreshing and so easy to make.

Homemade Ginger Ale (from epicurious)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Rest time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-6

1 1/2 cups fresh ginger root
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
about 1 quart chilled unflavored club soda or seltzer

Peel the ginger root with a spoon. Slice it into rounds, cut each round into sticks, then dice the sticks. Put the diced ginger  a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups water. On a low simmer, cook the ginger and water for 45 minutes partially covered. I rested the lid on two wooden chopsticks. Remove the pan from heat. Cover the pot tightly and let the ginger and water steep for 20 minutes.

Pour the ginger and water through a sieve set over a large bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press the liquid out of the ginger. Discard the solids. Return the ginger liquid to the pot. Add the sugar and cook until all the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Cool the syrup then pour it into a glass jar and refrigerate.

When the syrup is chilled, get a tall drinking glass. In it, pour 1/4 cup syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, and 3/4 cup club soda/seltzer. Mix and add ice cubes. This makes one serving.

Caribbean island lime shrimp

I have a pet peeve when I talk about the Caribbean.

The word is Car-rib-bee-an, not Ca-rib-bee-an. I’m from the Caribbean but I’ve never had this dish before. Despite its dubious provenance (about.com), I can say that it was not bad at all; unusually sweet, salty, spicy, tart, and sour–which surprises the mouth rather like the first time one eats Pad Thai. One thing I don’t understand is why a recipe calls for alcohol and then notes you can leave it out. Since I don’t drink, I don’t have alcohol on hand, so I was happy to leave it out.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1/8 cup tequila, about half a mini-bottle (optional)
1 tablespoon Triple Sec or Cointreau orange liqueur, about half a mini-bottle (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on for presentation if you wish

Measure 1/4 cup olive oil, lime juice, orange juice concentrate, tequila (if using), Triple Sec (if using), cilantro, garlic, sweet onion, curry powder, salt, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, and black pepper into a large zip-top bag. Seal and squish contents to mix. Add shrimp to marinade, squeeze out all the air, and seal. Turn bag to coat shrimp. Refrigerate for 1 hour. (Do not over-marinate or the citrus acids will “cook” the shrimp.)

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade, and place in a single layer in the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute, then flip the shrimp to the other side. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will become rubbery. Add the reserved marinade to the pan. Cook 1 minute, then remove shrimp and keep warm. Continue cooking the marinade until it reduces two-thirds to a thick sauce. Turn off the heat, return the shrimp to the pan, and toss in the sauce.

Cook’s note: If using medium shrimp (31 per pound), don’t cook for 2 minutes. Cook for 1 minute then remove from the pan. To cook all the shrimp at the same time, and to prevent overcooking, I turned off the heat while putting them in the pan. It’s important to work quickly so don’t be squeamish;  stick your hand in the bag and grab a handful of shrimp and sprinkle them in the oil. That’s why it’s safer with the heat off.

Serve Caribbean Island Lime Shrimp over white rice. Another serving idea, and low calorie too, is to serve it with romaine lettuce leaves. This dish is also good as a room temperature appetizer for parties. I made this dish last night so other good accompaniments are roasted yams (American sweet potato–yam in the Caribbean is a different vegetable), and of course,  the strawberry, spinach, hearts of palm salad.

Yield: 4 servings