Category: American

Roasted Garlic – The Garlic Lovers Treat

roasted garlicRoasted garlic is one of the easiest things to make and is not only great when included into other recipes, but it is magnificent on its own, squeezed out onto a crust of bread. Garlic is a lucky little bulb; like all nubs in the Allium family, it has a high concentration of both flavor and sugar. When roasted, the Maillard reaction changes those sugars into a garlic caramel, which coincidentally are two of my favorite flavors.

Roasted garlic bulbs make for a simple snack to have around, and while it may take some time to roast, it’s pretty much fire and forget as you pop them into the oven for a while, wait, and they are ready to eat. Roast, let them cool a bit, snip off the top and squeeze onto a toasted baguette and you have license to ignore the kids.

One tip, though. Most recipes you find suggest you cut off the top of the bulbs with the head intact and then roast. That’s fine if your goal is to peel the bulbs, but I find it much easier to pull the bulbs apart without cutting them, roast, and squeeze the garlic out. Peeling roasted garlic is a hassle I’ll leave to the celebrity chefs who dump that work on their assistants.

Ingredients:
1 head of garlic

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Pull the garlic bulbs apart from the head and place in a sheet of aluminum foil.

3. Fold up the foil to create a pouch, leaving some air space.

4. Place foil pouch in the oven for 45 minutes.

5. Let the garlic cool a bit before attacking it. Just snip the top off a bulb and squeeze out the sweet, garlicky goodness.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolateWinter is here (sort of) and that means hot chocolate (or hot cocoa if you prefer).  I always make my hot chocolate from scratch, and while there are plenty of mixes, it is neither hard nor time consuming to make hot chocolate yourself. While there is nothing wrong with hot chocolate from a mix (yes there is), if you want to make a memorable hot chocolate there is no better method than using the simplest of ingredients and taking the few minutes to mix it yourself. I like to one up everyone else by turning my hot chocolate into a liquid Reese’s peanut butter cup. It only takes a few minutes to make and you will not regret dirtying a pot for such a delicious treat.

Ingredients:
2 tsp cocoa powder (I prefer Droste, but any high quality cocoa powder will do)
2 heaping tsp sugar
1 cup +1 tsp milk
1 heaping tsp smooth peanut butter

Directions:
1. Heat 1 cup of milk in a pot until steaming .

2. Combine the cocoa powder and sugar in a cup.

3. Add 1 tsp of milk to the cup and stir the cocoa powder and sugar until you make a paste.

4. Add the warm milk to the cup, and stir until the paste has mixed well.

5. Add the peanut butter and stir slowly until it has melted into the hot chocolate.

6. Drink and think about how much better your hot chocolate is than your friends’.

N.B. There are a number of things that you can add instead of peanut butter to make a fantastic, warm winter drink. Try any of the following for something interesting: cinnamon, instant coffee, hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico), almond liqueur (Amaretto), peppermint schnapps, whipped cream, orange zest, vanilla, Nutella, or anything else that you like with your chocolate. Or do as the Aztecs did and add a bit of chili pepper, it is pretty interesting (while they didn’t use milk, who cares?)


French Hot Chocolate on Foodista

Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

This simple dessert (or snack) looks like it takes a lot of work, but perfect chocolate covered strawberries can actually be a quick and easy treat. I’d say it took me about 5 minutes or less to make these, and then you should hide them if you will need them later, they are too easy to polish off immediately. The key to saving time is using milk chocolate chips and melting them in a microwave rather than a fancy double boiler.

Ingredients:
strawberries
chocolate chips (milk chocolate is my preference, but use what you like)

Directions:
1. Wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure they are dry as the chocolate will not stick well to them if they are wet.

2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 15-30 seconds at a time. In between each cycle, stir with a fork to ensure an even consistency.

3. When the chocolate has melted, hold the strawberries by the leaves and dip in the melted chocolate and slowly rotate. Stirring them around will result in a lumpy chocolate coating, but slowly rotating them once and lifting them out straight up will leave a nice, smooth coating on the strawberries.

4. Place each strawberry on wax paper (or aluminum foil, or a plate that has been greased with butter) to set. The best place for the strawberries to set is in your refrigerator.

5. When the chocolate coating is set, take them somewhere safe and eat them all yourself.

Kale and Purple Potatoes (with sage and garlic)

Kale and Purple Potato

Kale and Purple Potato

I love earthy greens, and kale has a hearty chew that makes me feel as though I’m really eating something substantial.  The kale was subject to a rigorous yet thick chiffonading (if that’s a word, if not, it is now) as that is not only my favorite cut, but it shows off the nook ‘n cranny-y (another new word) nature of this great leafy vegetable. Kale looks particularly nice as a chiffonade. This is a really textureful (I did it again) dish, and sage and potatoes go together like tall glasses and water, so this simple combination of vegetables makes a great meal or side dish.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 lb purple potatoes (or any waxy potato), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves (or a teaspoon of dried, if fresh is not available)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Potato, Kale and Sage

Potato, Kale and Sage

Directions:
1. Wash, dry, and cut the kale into any size pieces that you prefer.

2. Heat a pan, add the oil and garlic and when the oil is hot, add the potatoes.

3. Add the potato and cook until soft, 10-2 minutes.

4. Add the kale and saute until soft. The kale will become softer the longer it is cooked. I prefer a little chewiness so I cook it about 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer a softer result, cook as long as you want.

5. Add the sage and mix into the kale and potato thoroughly and cook about 1 minute.

6. Plate and eat!

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Striped Salad with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

This explosive salad hails from the depths of a friend’s brain. I believe she had it somewhere and made the recipe her own, but I can attest that, while the salad itself is tasty, the buttermilk pesto dressing is incredible enough to warrant drinking a glass of it as a nightcap. This is a great recipe for using leftover grilled chicken (which I have a lot of in the summer) and is a fairly light salad as well. Substituting ingredients is also encouraged, and there are lots of items that would go well with this dressing. That said, this is how we made it and it turned out better than I wanted (no need to get into that).

All the following ingredients are to be chopped:
2 heads romaine lettuce, arugula, or mixed greens (the arugula is quite good)
Grilled chicken
1 cup cooked Israeli couscous
Cherry tomatoes (marinated in the dressing)
1/2 cup black currants,
pumpkin seeds
Asiago cheese (optional)

Buttermilk Pesto Dressing:
1/2 cup pesto
1 shallot chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in a blender and chill.

Directions:
1. Dress the salad greens and place them in a salad bowl.

2. Place the chopped items in the bowl, one at a time, in wide stripes.

3. Present the salad to your guests, and after the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ toss the salad and serve.