Ask Chef Hosch and Ann

By DANIELLE HUNTER Special to the Sun-Gazette

For thousands of years ginger has been adding flavor and a healthy zest to our lives. The culinary aspects of this delicious root or spice alone are wondrous, but added to all that flavor are the numerous health benefits of it as well.

The root of underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, in oil form, as a juice, dried as a spice or candied. Ginger is a close cousin to cardamom and turmeric and commonly is produced in India, Jamaica, Finish, Indonesia and Australia.

Just a few of the medicinal benefits of ginger include reducing nausea, pain and inflammation, digestion help, cold and flu relief and possibly with more research cardiovascular health as well. Ginger also provides a variety of vitamins and minerals and because it is consumed in such small amounts it doesn’t add significant amounts of calories, carbs, protein or fiber to your diet.

Ginger is one of the best ways to enjoy this fall season and it pairs well with many different kinds of seafood, oranges, melon, pork, chicken, pumpkin, rhubarb, pears, apples and more.

Here are some tasty ways to get more ginger into your life … add it to a smoothie or drink (my favorites are fresh carrot and apple juice, lemonade and hot tea), add fresh or dry ginger to a stir- fry or salad dressing (delicious in a citrus or sesame vinaigrette) and ginger and a little orange juice to your mashed sweet potatoes this holiday season, spice up your sauteed vegetables and of course add it to your favorite fall baking recipes.

Fresh ginger can be stored tightly wrapped and unpeeled in your refrigerator for up to three weeks and in the freezer it will keep nice for up to six weeks. The taste ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. If you add it at the beginning, it will give a more subtle flavor while added at the end of cooking it will deliver more of a punch and pungent flavor.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes with ginger.

Poached pears with

ginger and cider

5 pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise

1 1/2 cups fresh apple cider

1/4-1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger or 1-2 teaspoons dried ground ginger

Combine the cider, sugar, cloves, and ginger in a large deep skillet or wide saucepan and heat to simmering then add the pears. Cook and baste occasionally until the pears are tender yet firm and Not mushy (about 8-10 minutes). Remove the pears and increase the heat on the poaching liquid to a boil until it is reduced and syrupy. Pour the liquid over the pears and Enjoy them warm!

Ginger pear chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (under 8oz)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 onion, chopped

1 cup chicken stock or broth

2-3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and dredge each in the flour. In a heavy skillet over medium heat combine olive oil and butter, when melted and hot add the chicken and brown on both sides but do not cook it through, about 5 minutes total and remove the chicken to a plate. Increase the heat to medium-sized high and add the ginger and onion and stir until tender then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet along with the pears, reduce the heat to medium-sized low and simmer for 6-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened. Served best over couscous or brown rice.

Ginger pear butter

4 pears, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Place everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer covered 20 mins and the uncovered for 25-30 minutes until it’s thick and syrupy. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, allow to cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Chef Hosch and Ann Catering is devoted to healthy and gourmet cooking for all tastes and diets. The new catering venue, Historic Hobbs Carriage House is located at 414 Walnut St. Chef Hosch is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, and brings more than 25 years of experience and passion to his catering business. Ann is an occupational therapist and has worked as a cook and baker in the past.

Hunter, the sous and pastry chef, working with the husband and wife team, is a graduate of Pennsylvania Culinary for culinary arts, as well as The Culinary Institute of America for baking and pastry arts and has more than 12 years experience in the culinary and baking worlds.

Their column is published on the third Sunday of each month in the Lifestyle section. Culinary questions can be directed to finefood@ChefHosch.com and “like” them on Facebook to ask questions and get tips and recipes.

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