I have Fridays off, and on my first Friday back at university you'd have found me with first the first cold I'd experienced in over two years, and after a trip to Waitrose (In London the time when so many things in store are reduced is on a Friday morning) spending the afternoon in the kitchen. The reason my afternoon cooking and my cold were related, because my irritation at how much my food shop had cost combined with my still sore throat lead to the discovery of my new personal cold medicine; Fresh Ginger Peel & Lemongrass Tea.
On p26 of Yotam Ottolenghi's vegetarian cookbook Plenty there is a recipe for Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Crème Fraîche. In the Crème Fraîche sauce (by the way, buy Waitrose French Crème Fraîche, not the British one, it may not be local but it is simply divine) there is, as the title tends to indicate lemongrass, and also a good chunk of fresh ginger, which needs to be peeled before it is grated. Once I'd put all of that in my lovely new ceramic Pestle & Mortar from Cole & Mason the guys at John Lewis were kind enough to give me (it is quickly becoming my favourite kitchen implement) I noticed my chopping board was littered with ginger peelings as well as the dry ends that needed discarding. Also, if you buy lemongrass in most Supermarkets it comes in packs of two, and this recipe for starters only calls for half a stalk, so what on earth was I going to do with the leftovers? I then remembered how much one of my roommates in America loved eating big, juicy California oranges and used to boil up the peelings in a small saucepan to make the most delicious smelling orange tea. Why could I not put the ends of one of my lemongrass stalks and the ginger peelings in instead of the orange? Obviously you can adapt the levels of lemongrass and ginger depending on how strong you like your tea and your personal flavour preferences, but the below measures makes one semi strong mug. The ginger obviously works wonders on a sore throat, and the pungent lemongrass really opens up the sinuses without being as sour and overpowering if you were to make straight up homemade lemon and ginger tea.
- 1 1/2 Mugs Water
- The peelings from about 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger
- 1/4 Stick Lemongrass, sliced in half lengthways
Place all the peelings and the lemongrass, along with the water in a small saucepan. You can of course just slice fresh ginger, but this recipe is designed to use up leftovers, after all! Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble for about 4 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow the peel and lemongrass to infuse while it cools enough to drink, strain and enjoy. If you like a lighter tea (though, if you are using this for a cold, I'd recommend you don't do this) you can not allow the peel to steep and strain the tea before cooling.
What are your favourite Autumn/ Winter cold cures, and what are your favourite tips and tricks to deal with otherwise unusable leftovers?