The amazing thing about ginger is that it works in all four seasons. Ginger is a great appetite stimulant, too, which is why it is a perfect ingredient in your apertif. Of course it's great in a digestif, too. Lemon ginger syrup is easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a week, or freeze it for two weeks. I use it to make vodka martinis but you can add seltzer water to make a bubbly non-alcoholic lemonade. You can also stir it into bourbon, add some ice and top it off with club soda.
Lemon Ginger Syrup
(enough for 8 drinks; easily doubles or triples)
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar (use light brown sugar for a smokier, earthier taste)
grated zest of one lemon
1 cup fresh lemon juice
In a small saucepan, combine the sliced ginger with the water and sugar and bring to a simmer over a moderate heat. Simmer for five minutes, then let the ginger syrup cool. Transfer to a blender and puree. Strain the syrup into a glass jar. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
When you are ready to make your martinis add 2 ounces vodka and 2 ounces lemon-ginger syrup into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake. Strain into a martini glass and add a small ribbon of lemon peel as a garnish.
Go Ask Alice: On Roasting Vegetables
I just got slipped a free copy of Alice Waters new book, The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. So far, I am really enjoying it. I'm especially grooving on her discussion of roasting vegetables. All you need to make amazingly delicious roast vegetables is to toss them with some oil and salt, make sure they are all roughly the same size, and cook them – this is important – at a high heat. Here's what Alice says:
"Cook the vegetables in a hot oven preheated to 400. A lower temperature will dry out the vegetables while they cook, making them leathery before they are done; a higher temperature will burn them before they are cooked all the way through. Stir the vegetables a few times while they are cooking, turning those along the edges into the center. Cook them until they are tender and nicely browned here and there. Probe a piece with the tip of a knife to test for doneness, or better still, taste one. Don't let them go too far: a little browning makes them taste sweeter, but if you let them get too dark they will taste bitter."
Alice's list of the best veggies to roast: