BREAKFAST FOR PASSOVER: MATZO BREI

Matzo Brei is a classic dish that can be compared to French toast. Today, a lot of different ingredients are used to make this dish either sweet or savory. Eggs and broken matzo are the two common ingredients; the rest can differ, depending on where you are from or what you like to eat. Some cultures traditionally eat this dish savory and others traditionally eat it as a sweet dish. Brei is German for a mash, or a semi-solid food. In modern Yiddish, brei means “to fry.” You can also eat matzo brei for lunch or dinner with cheese and vegetables. I chose to make a sweet apple and cinnamon dish, but bananas and chocolate could also be a great option. Enjoy!

BREAKFAST FOR PASSOVER: MATZO BREI
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

MatzoBrie

Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 15/20 min
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
6-7 matzos, broken in pieces
2 Cortland apples, peeled and dicedmatzo
2 to 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ to 1-cup raisins
6 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Butter for frying
Milk for soaking
Sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream

Preparation:
In a bowl, mix together the apples, sugar and cinnamon. Put some butter in a frying pan and sauté the apples until they are caramelized. Meanwhile, soak the broken matzos in milk until soft. Transfer the matzos in a bowl and add the whisked eggs. Pour the matzos mixture over the apples and cook cover on medium heat until brown. Transfer to a plate and flip onto another plate. Transfer back onto the frying pan and cook until the other side is brown. Transfer to a plate and cut it like a pie.

Tips and info:
Thousands years ago Pharaoh, after much convincing (and 10 plagues), agreed to let Moses’ enslaved people go. The Jews left their home so fast that they did not have time to prepare bread for their journey. They baked an unleavened mixture of only flour and water. To commemorate their freedom Jews will forgo for eight days anything made to rise with yeast, baking powder, etc. in favor of the “bread of affliction” called matzo.
According to rabbinic law, once the flour is combined with water, matzo dough must be kneaded, rolled and baked within 18 minutes, otherwise it will begin to rise. A Frenchman named Isaac Singer in 1838 invented the first matzo-dough-rolling machine, which will make the making of matzo so much easier. Originally, matzo was made round and by hand. The first matzo-making factory opened in 1888 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dov Behr named his factory the B. Manischewitz.The matzos were cheaper, more available  and square! The Lower east Side Streits Company opened in 1925. It now makes, organic, gluten-free and all kind of flavored matzo sold all-year around. Passover matzo production at Streit’s occurs from October to March, with 50,000 pounds of matzo baked daily.
Matzo Brei is a classic dish that can be compared to French toast. Today a lot of different ingredients are used to make this dish sweet or savory. Eggs and broken matzo are the two common ingredients; the rest can differ depending on where you are from, or what you like to eat. Polish or Hungarian people eat it sweet and German, Lithuanian and Russian people prefer it savory. Brei is German for a mash, or a semi-solid food. In modern Yiddish, brei means to fry.

PIES AND TARTS: BLUEBERRY PIE


Did you know that the first American pioneer housewives used to bake a pie for every meal of the week. Settlers could not finish a meal without their pie. In the winter when it was very difficult or impossible to find fruits they used to bake pies with potatoes. But when blueberry season arrived every housewife got to make blueberry pies. April 28th is National Blueberry Pie Day. Here is my version. Enjoy!

PIES AND TARTS: BLUEBERRY PIE (FROZEN BLUEBERRIES):
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

blueberrypie1

Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 30 min
Makes: Three 9” or Four 8” pies

Ingredients:
5 Lb. frozen, unsweetened blueberries
1 2/3cups (12oz.375ml) drained juice plus waterblueberrypie2
1-cup sugar (175g, 6oz)
¾ cup cold water (190ml, 6oz)
2/3 cup to ¾ cup (3oz.90g) tapioca flour (or instant tapioca or potato starch)
1-1/2 tsp. salt
5 to 6 Tbsp. lemon juice (Add 3 Tbsp. first and taste the blueberry mixture before adding the rest)

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Thaw the berries in their unopened original bag. Drain the berries. Add enough water to the juice to measure 12 oz. (375ml). Add the sugar. Mix the cold water with the starch. Add the starch mixture to the juice and bring to a boil while mixing until it thicken.  Add the berries and the lemon juice. Stir over the heat until it is just boiling.  Mix gently. Cool completely. Fill pie shells. Bake at 425F about 30 minutes.

Pie dough: 3-2-1 Mealy dough modified method:

Ingredients:
1Lb.4oz. (3 3/4 cup, 500g.) pastry flour
13oz. (325g. 2cups) shortening (can be butter or margarine)
½ cup (5oz.) cold water
2tsp. salt
5tsp. sugar

Preparation:
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening and rub with your fingers or cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Dissolve salt and sugar in water. Add the water in the flour mixture. Mix very gently, just until the water is absorbed. Do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Roll out the dough. Place it in the pie pans. Fill it with the prepared filling. Cover with another piece of dough and seal the sides well with egg wash (1egg+1pinch salt+2 Tbsp. milk). Bake until the top is golden brown.
Tips:
To make flaky dough put 14oz. of shortening instead of 13 and put 6oz. of cold water instead of 5oz. Also when adding the fat, cut it in the flour until the fat is the size of peas. Mealy dough is used for bottom crust, especially in baked fruit pies and soft custard-type pies, because it resists sogginess. Flaky dough is used for top crusts and sometimes-prebaked shells.
Blackberries, raspberries and cherries can be used instead of blueberries. If you want to use apples or pears they will tasete better if you cook them in butter instead of water.
Egg-washed made with beaten egg and a pinch of salt will give you a shiny finish. If you brush the pie only with milk, cream or melted butter you will have a home-baked look.

About soggy bottom:

Soggy bottoms can be avoided in several ways:
1- Using mealy dough is a good idea because it absorbs less liquid than flaky dough.
2- At the beginning of the baking use the bottom shelf of your oven to bake your pie. It will set the crust quickly. You can move it to the middle rack in mid-cooking.
3- Do not add hot filling to unbaked crusts. Let the filling cool before pouring it ion the crust.
4- For fruit pies, line the bottom of the pie shell with almond meal, crushed pumpkin seeds or cake crumbs before pouring the filling. This will help absorb some juice.

Baker’s Blog — Profiteroles

Long before Catherine de Medici’s cook set foot on French soil; cooks during the 13th century in southern Germany and France had created puff pastries filled with rich cheese mixtures. Pastry dough was cooked in a hot oven until it puffed. Then it was sliced open and cheese was  inserted. The warm pastry melted the cheese center. This little pastry evolved in the 19th century during the Victorian era and became known as profiterole in France and England. In the United States, the first recorded mention of the cream puff on dates back to 1851 on a restaurant menu at the Revere House Restaurant in Boston.
Profiteroles are now a very classic dessert. They are made of cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream. Hot chocolate sauce is pored over it and immediately served. The contrast between cold ice cream and hot sauce is what makes it delicious. Enjoy!

WEEK 30: CHOUX VANILLE AND PROFITEROLES:
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Profiteroles2

PATE A CHOUX-ÉCLAIR PASTE:
Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 30-45 minProfiteroles1

Makes 20 big éclairs

Ingredients:
1 Lb. (500g.) water
8oz. (250g.) butter
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. bread flour
1Lb.4oz. Eggs (10 eggs)
2 egg yolks for egg wash

Preparation:
Preheat the oven at 425F. In a big saucepan, combine the water with the pieces of butter and the salt. When the mixture begins to boil, add flour. Lower the fire and mix vigorously until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the eggs little by little, mixing each time. Make sure you mix until they become completely incorporated before adding more. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain tip and put the dough in. Pipe out strips 2 to 3 inches long. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375F and continue baking until the dough is a deep golden brown and very crisp.  Let the éclairs cool before filling with chocolate pastry cream. Dip the top into chocolate icing of fondant.

FOR CREAM PUFF:
Pipe out round mounds of dough or drop dough with a spoon. Slice the top to fill the dough. Fill with whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream for profiteroles. Feel free to add other fillings like salmon mousse.  For sweet cream puffs, dust with confectioner’s sugar or dip in colored icing or fondant. For profiteroles, take the cream puffs from the freezer just before serving and pour hot chocolate sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Chocolate pastry cream:
Add 4oz. of dark chocolate in pieces to the hot pastry cream. You can find the recipe for pastry cream in the “Fresh Fruit Tarts” blog post. (week 9).

Chocolate icing:
Melt 3 oz. dark chocolate with 4 Tablespoons of butter. Add 3 oz. of sifted confectioner’s sugar (add more if needed) and 3 to 6 Tbsp. of water or milk, depending on your desired consistency. Mix well until smooth. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and cover the top of the éclairs.

Tips and info:
Éclairs and cream puffs are made from a dough called éclair paste, or choux paste. The French name pate à choux means “cabbage paste” referring to the resemblance of cream puffs to little cabbages. In principle, éclair paste is similar to popover batter, even though the former is a thick dough and the latter is a thin batter. Both are leavened by steam, which expands the pastries rapidly and forms large holes in the center of the puff. Éclair paste must be firm enough to hold its shape when  being piped from a pastry bag.

Pastry cream: (crème patissière):
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 20 min
For 4 people

Ingredients:
300g. Milk
3 egg yolks
20g. Cornstarch
50 g. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation:
Boil the milk. Beat the yolks with the sugar. Add the vanilla and the starch and whisk. While mixing, slowly pour some of the boiling milk on the egg mixture. Mix well and add the rest of the milk. Pour back into the pot and return to a medium flame. Mix constantly and boil for 3 minutes. Turn the fire off. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap on contact with the cream. Let it cool before using.

Tasty Tuesdays — Spring Vegetables Au Gratin

Gratin is a culinary technique in which a dish is topped with a brown crust. This is often done using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, eggs and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish. Gratin Languedocien is a preparation made with eggplant and tomato, covered in breadcrumbs and oil, then browned. Other vegetables commonly used in gratin dishes include cauliflower, spinach and butternut squash.
Sauces, (most commonly béchamel sauces and Mornay sauces) are most often used in the preparation of gratinéed vegetable dishes, as well as many other gratin dishes.

SPRING VEGETABLES AU GRATIN
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

augratian1

Preparation: 1 hour
Cooking: 30 min
6 adult portions

Ingredients:
One vegetable of your choice:
800g. (1Lb.12oz.) broccoli, cauliflower, zucchinis, asparagus.augratian2 Shredded cheese for topping (Swiss, Parmesan or cheddar)
Béchamel Sauce:
30g. (1.05oz.) butter
30g. (1.05oz.) all-purpose flour
30g. (1.05oz.) milk
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Peel, cut, and wash the vegetables. You can either boil , steam or sauté the vegetables. Drain them, and then place them in a buttered gratin dish (like an oven proof glass dish.)
To make the béchamel sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix (it is called a “roux”). To avoid lumps, add the milk slowly whist whisking. Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding milk if it is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the béchamel over the vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown.

Tips:
You can also add additional flavor to the béchamel by adding cheese, some lemon juice, grated nutmeg, or fresh garlic. For a gluten-free sauce, replace the flour with corn or potato starch. You can add richness to the sauce by adding heavy cream and/or a beaten egg yolk at the end of the preparation to add richness to the sauce. You can add fresh fish filets (sole, tilapia, red snapper…) on top of the vegetables before pouring the sauce.

Baker’s Blog — Fresh Fruit Tart

A tart is not just a pie without a top crust. They are usually very thin (less than 1 inch thick), and often very colorful because of a pattern created by an assortment of very carefully arrange fruits. Tart pans are shallow and straight-sided. The sides are often fluted and false bottoms are easiest to use because tarts are usually removed from the pans before serving. They can be rectangular or square, not just round. The shell can be baked first; it is called blind-baked or it can be baked with the fruits.

PIES AND TARTS: FRESH FRUIT TART:
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

yaas

Preparation: 40 min
Cooking: 20 to 30 min
Makes 1x10” tart (25cm.)

Ingredients:
10-12 oz. pate brisée or short dough
1-½ -2 Lbs. fresh fruits
14 oz. pastry cream
4 oz. apricot glaze as needed

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll out the dough about 1/8 inch thick for pate brisée and ¼ inch for short dough. Place the dough in tart pan. Flute the edges and trim the excess dough. Refrigerate 30 minutes before baking. Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork (this is called docking). Line shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. (This is called blind baking). Remove the beans when baked. Cool the tart shell completely before filling.

Pate brisée:
Preparation: 15 min
Cooking: 30 min

Ingredients:
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 stick + 2 Tbsp. (5oz.) butter soft (pomade consistency) yas
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
½ cup water or warm milk

Preparation:
Mix flour, salt and sugar.. Cut in the butter with your fingertips. It must resemble coarse semolina. Add rapidly enough water to put the dough together.
Avoid refrigerating because it becomes hard. Or take it out off the refrigerator 1 hour before using (you can add zest or flavoring if desired).

Pastry cream: (crème patissière):
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 20 min
For 8 people

Ingredients:
2 cups (500ml.) milk
2 eggs
¼ cup all purpose flour (or 4 heaping Tbsp. corn starch)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation:
Boil the milk. Beat the eggs with the sugar and the flour. Slowly and while mixing pour some of the boiling milk on the egg mixture. Mix well and add the rest of the milk. Pour back into the pot and return to the flame. Mix constantly and boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap on contact with the cream. Let it cool before using.

Assembling the tart:
Cut the fruits. Warm the apricot glaze. Spread the cooled pastry cream on the bottom of the baked shell. Use enough cream to fill half way up the side of the shell. Carefully arrange the fruits on top of the cream. Brush the fruits and the sides of the shell with the glaze.

Tips:
The glaze can be made with apricot jam, red currants, or apple jelly. (Be sure to add some water to make it spreadable.) If you’re using apricot jam, make sure you sift it before using it. You can use any fruits you like, but avoid very juicy fruits like watermelons or cantaloupes.

Salk Middle School Cooking

Salk Chefs have been working hard all year and have graduated to catering to Salk parents and administrators for meetings!Salk-Cooking-2

Thanks to Chef Michael, cooking class looks like a seasoned kitchen with stations hard at work preparing delicious and healthy food! Manhattan Youth’s After School cooking programs are an enriching experience that allows many kids to appreciate the importance of the culinary arts, while also learning about different styles and techniques used in food preparation. The students here also learn a great deal about different cultures through experimenting with a variety of foods and dishes from all around the world.

Hard at work plating his caprese salad. Looking good!

Salk

These girls are working extremely hard, but having a fun time cooking pasta for the clas

Salk-5With teamwork, these girls are preparing dough for a delicious pastry. Nice work!

Salk-4

Carefully sprinkling parmesan cheese on a bowl of pasta, made with the collaborative effort of the entire class.

yesok

Stirring a pot of vegetables, in preparation for the class dish.

Keep up the good work, chefs!

Tasty Tuesdays — Homemade Vegetarian Hamburger

Did you know that hamburgers got their name from Hamburg, Germany? This is where a cut of beef called the Hamburg steak is from. During WWI, the US government tried to rename hamburgers as “liberty sandwiches”. The Big Mac was introduced in 1968 and sold for 49 cents. Americans consume 13 billion hamburgers a year, enough to circle the earth 32 times. On average, Americans eat 3 hamburgers a week. I hope you will find my version of hamburger delicious. Enjoy!

VEGETARIAN HOMEMADE HAMBURGER
Recipe by Isabelle LapinVeggieBurgers2.

 

Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 20 min
Makes enough for 8 to 10 children

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ Lb. mushrooms (combination of crimini, shitake and portabella)VeggieBurgers4
½ cup finely chopped onion
6 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan (you can also add ½ cup fresh goat cheese)
¾ cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs (add another egg if it is too dry to make patties)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or cilantro (or other herbs you like)
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground pepper

Preparation: In a food processor, process first the garlic, then add the onion. Put them in a bowl and process the mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the onions-garlic mixture. Add the eggs and mix well.  In a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs, oats and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Add the mushroom mixture and mix well.  Shape into patties.  Let the patties rest in the fridge for 15 minutes before frying to stiffen them up.  Heat the rest of the oil in a non-stick pan.  Over medium heat, cook the patties on each side, until they become golden brown.

Tips and info: Hamburgers got their name from Hamburg, Germany where a cut of beef called the Hamburg steak is from. During WWI, the US government tried to rename hamburgers as “liberty sandwiches”. The Big Mac was introduced in 1968 and sold for 49 cents. Americans consume 13 billion hamburgers a year, enough to circle the earth 32 times. On average, Americans eat 3 hamburgers a week. Mushrooms are also called toadstools. They are a fungus, and unlike plants, they do not require sunlight to make energy for themselves. Traditional Chinese medicine has utilized the medicinal properties of mushrooms for centuries. Did you know that a single Portabella mushroom can contain more potassium than a banana? Mushrooms are made up of around 90% water, so you shouldn’t over-wash them;  blot them with a damp paper-towel or briefly run them over running water. Mushrooms are used in many cuisines throughout the world, and are often referred to the as the “meat” of the vegetable world. The White button mushroom makes up about 90% of the mushroom consummation in the U.S. The brown version of the White Button mushroom is called Crimini, and in its mature version, it is called a Portobello. The world’s largest producer is China. China produces about half of all cultivated mushrooms. They are over 30 species that glow in the dark. Before the invention of synthetic dyes, mushrooms were widely used for dyeing wool and other natural fibers. They produce strong and vivid colors.

April Fools Minecraft!

April Fools!

Kids are doing all kinds of awesome things in our after-school Minecraft and Coding classes: cooperating to solve puzzles, making their own mods, and using a downloadable mod called ComputerCraftEdu where they can drag and drop blocks of code to program their own Turtle robots.

MinecraftAprilFools

Because today was April Fools Day, we celebrated with a silly challenge: Who can make the funniest, most unique Minecraft creation? The competition was fierce: we had everything from a humongous smiley face who changed its expression when you pulled a lever, to a pancake-and-waffle-eating robot.

The best thing about Minecraft is that the possibilities are endless!

Learn more and register for our Coding and Minecraft here.

And special thanks to our guest blogger, Counselor Amanda Trock (pictured above)!

Tasty Tuesdays — Empanadas De Humita

An empanada is a piece of stuffed pastry that is either baked or fried. They happen to be very common in South Europe, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish verb “empanar,” which means to wrap or coat in bread. It is basically an individual turnover with a pastry crust, filled with all kind of food. People think that empanadas were created in Spain, where they were made like pies, in portable pieces for working people and travelers. The Galician empanada is usually made with bread dough and prepared with cod fish or chicken. Many countries have their own version of stuffed pastries: pierogi in Poland, gyoza in Japan, mandu in Korea, and samosas in India. They may taste different but they all have one thing in common; they are delicious! I made this version of empanadas from an Argentinian empanada recipe. You can make any kind of filling you can imagine. Enjoy!

EMPANADAS DE HUMITA (sweet corn empanadas)
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

pic2

 

Preparation: 45 min
Cooking: 25 min
Rest: 1 hour
Makes 12 to 15 medium or 20 to 25 small discs

Ingredients:
4 cups frozen corn, thawedpic

1 red pepper diced (optional)
1 zucchini diced (optional)
1 bunch of scallions chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 bunch basil or cilantro
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
Vegetable oil
Salt, pepper
Flour if necessary

Dough: 3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
6 oz. butter or margarine
4 to 5 Tbsp. cold water or more as needed

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 375F/400F.  Spray a baking pan with cooking spray or oil. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, and add the butter in the flour. Add the water slowly. Run for an additional 10 seconds until the dough is formed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a frying pan, add some oil and cook the corn, scallions, pepper, and zucchini. Add the garlic and the spices. Cook until dry. Place in a food processor and lightly pulse, until the mixture has a chunky texture. Brush half of each disc with either water or an egg white egg white. Put a little amount of the filling (around 1 tsp. for 2” disc) and fold. Pinch the edge and use a fork to help seal the empanadas. Bake until golden brown.

Tips: You can replace the corn filling with any other vegetables.

CREAMY CARROT GINGER SOUP

It is still cold and snowy so how about a comforting carrot-ginger soup?

CREAMY VEGETARIAN CARROT GINGER SOUP
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin
thispic

Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 30-40 min
Makes 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients:
2 Lbs. fresh carrots peeled and cut in ¼-inch rounds
3 onions peeled and cut medium-dice
1 sweet potato peeled and cut
4 Tbsp. olive oil
7 cups of vegetarian chicken stock
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and gratedthispic2
1 tsp. ground nutmeg or curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste½ pint heavy cream (optional)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill or cilantro (optional)

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, (about 5 to 6 minutes). Add the carrots and sweet potato; mix with the onions and cover. Lower the heat and stir occasionally. Let the carrots cook until they are soft. Add the stock and stir. When the stock is hot, turn the heat off and add the ginger and the nutmeg. Blend with an immersion blender. Mix and taste; adjust with salt, pepper, and more ginger if you like. To serve, you can drizzle some cream and decorate with dill or cilantro.

Tips and Info:
The sweet potatoes are added to make the soup smooth and ‘creamy.’ You can replace it by adding a tablespoon of raw rice or even a potato. After blending the vegetables you can pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer for a velvety smooth texture. Carrots are a root vegetable and the most commonly eaten part of them is the taproot. Even the greens are edible, since they are considered to be leaf vegetables. Ancient Greeks and Romans ate carrots, but not the orange varieties we know today. They ate the less cultivated, more wild varieties of various other colors like purple, red, white, and yellow.  Dutch carrots growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, belonging to the Dutch Royal Family. The domesticated carrot that we know today originated from the wild carrot called Daucus carota, which was native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The carrot is in the top 10 most economically important global vegetable crops. The world’s largest carrot producer is China, which in 2011, accounted for over 45% of the global output. Russia is the second producer, then the United States.
Ginger is a rhizome, not a root. It was used in ancient times as food preservative, and it was also used to help treat digestive problems by eating ginger wrapped in bread. Eventually, that became the gingerbread we know today. Ginger ale eventually stemmed from a ginger beer made by colonial America as a remedy for diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.  Ginger thrives in the tropics and the warmer regions. It is grown in parts of West Africa, the West Indies, India and China. The best quality ginger comes from Jamaica,, primarily. In the United States, ginger is grown in Florida, Hawaii, and along the eastern coast of Texas.