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December 2000 Issue
Ginger -- Zingiber officinale
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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Christmas is the only time of year when someone else may use my kitchen, when I am at home, and then only for a day or two in preparation for the festivities. My darling daughter took over making the Christmas cookies whilst at school, and still does today. Here are two of the recipes I gave her. The second one has been chosen deliberately, as I know Rossana - the beloved Meet Herb author -- has a passion for Pfeffernuesse :)


Ginger Cookies

  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250g castor sugar
  • 250g flour
  • 1 table spoon fresh ginger, crushed
  • a glass of glazed fruits
Heat water in a wide pot, place a glass bowl in the water and mix the castor sugar, egg and egg yolks to a creamy substance. Remove from the cooker and stir continuously until cool.

Mix the flour with the ginger, fold the crème into the flour and rapidly mix. Roll out on a floured rolling board to about 1/2 cm thickness. Now press out your cookies, 4cm diameter should be big enough. Place them on a baking tray and leave to rest for an hour. Preheat your oven to 180°C or 350°F. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes till they are a light golden colour. Remove from the baking tray whilst still hot and decorate with small strips of the glazed fruit. Leave covered for a couple of days before serving, the cookies are still very hard after the baking but soften after 2 days.




  • 500g flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 300g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 good pinches each of ground ginger, ground cloves, ground nutmeg and ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • peel of 1/2 a lemon, grated
  • peel of 1/2 an orange, grated
  • 75g candied lemon peel, chopped
  • 50g grated almonds
  • 200g castor sugar for the icing
Whip the eggs and sugar stiff, then gradually add the flour mixed with the baking powder and the milk. Then the work the spices, orange and lemon peel into the mixture. Finally knead the candied lemon peel and almonds into the mixture. Cover and leave for an hour, roll out to a thickness of about 1 cm and press out your cookies (about 3 cm diameter). I do mine the traditional way and form cherry sized little balls which are then placed in a wooden form.

Leave the Pfeffernuesse over night, to dry out, covered with a linen cloth.

Preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F and bake the Pfeffernuesse on a well greased baking tray for 10 - 15 minutes. When they have cooled, mix the castor sugar with 2 - 3 tablespoons of hot water to a creamy icing and coat each pfeffernuss individually.

Pfeffernuesse are as hard as stone after baking, so place them in a Cookie tin, seal and leave for 14 days. They keep a long time then, if you haven't eaten them first!




  • 75g fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 bottle of cognac (I use Hennessey for this liqueur.)
  • 200g honey
  • 4 tablespoons of water
Pour the cognac over the ginger slices and leave to soak for a week. Shake the bottle or glass every day. After a week, pour the cognac through a sieve, mix the ginger slices with the honey and water in a pot and bring to the boil. Boil for a good 3 minutes, and then leave to cool covered over. When it has cooled pour back into the cognac and shake well, seal and leave to rest. At first it will be a bit cloudy but when left for a week or so this will settle. This keeps forever in a good sealed bottle -- if you have the will power to leave it!


No Name Long Drink

This one was invented by my sister and brother-in-law.

This is a refreshing long drink invented, accidentally, at a family party.

Take a long drink glass, pour 1 inch of crushed ice into it, pour enough Vodka in to just cover the ice, fill the glass to 1 inch off the top with Ginger Beer (don't get this mixed up with ginger ale -- ginger beer is the same colour as bitter lemon, you should be able to get it in most Scottish pubs). Stir with a glass cocktail stick.

Now comes the tricky bit, once the liquid has stopped spinning, gently and slowly pour 1/2 an inch of Martini Bianco onto the ginger beer, due to the difference in specific density the vermouth should stay on top and mix very, very slowly with the rest, so you actually drink the vodka-ginger beer through the vermouth, not unlike drinking Irish coffee through the cream topping.


Neat huh?? Bet you would have had trouble weeding any out too.

That takes us to the close of another month . . . and coincidentally another year as well. I promise -- next month will NOT be "Ginger Part Three"!!!

Here's hoping you all get what you wish for this holiday season. And that the New Year brings you peace and love and prosperity.

And . . . to borrow a phrase from my favourite Christmas song . . . "May your days be merry and bright . . . and may all your Christmases be white!!"


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