Hello and Welcome Everyone,
In my last newsletter I mentioned that I had an eye opening moment. A memory I had no way of knowing how it would impact my life.
When I was about 7 or 8, we had a new babysitter coming over. Mom was giving me instructions about how to prepare dinner while she was getting ready for work. It was a dish we called Slumgullion. A skillet dinner of ground beef, olive oil, garlic, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, pasta and Italian seasoning. One of our favorite meals.
Anyway, the babysitter comes in. She was the wife of one the cooks at the restaurant where Mom was working. Not a teenager, a little older. Mom asked her if she had eaten yet. She said no. She proceeded to join us kids for dinner. The first thing she asked was “Where’s the salt shaker?” I remember being so shocked, she hadn’t even sat down yet! All of us kids turned to her and said in unison, “We don’t salt our food.” To be polite, I went looking for the salt shaker. She showered her food with the salt until we all cringed. She really enjoyed it. I remember taking a little of the leftover food and showering it with salt like she did and tasting it. It was awful. I just tasted salt, nothing else. It made me shiver. I see this habit with the salt shaker all the time.
Salting before tasting the food is just a habit.
My step-Dad George, was like this. In time, he was showering the food with salt until it looked like snow on the plate, an especially bad habit. The eater is just tasting salt and really, nothing else. The salt is on top of the food and goes directly onto the tongue. This is one of the reasons why, when salt is eliminated, nothing tastes good. It’s usually, not so much that it doesn’t taste good, (as long as you are using good seasonings), it’s that it doesn’t taste salty. Taste buds are amazing. Start wearing those salt callouses away (referred to in the October 2009 Newsletter) and your taste buds will start tasting food again.
Roasted garlic is so popular and good tasting, but so few folks actually try to prepare it at home.
Here are three different ways of roasting garlic:
- A traditional oven roasted garlic method with a trick
- The stove top dry pan roasted garlic, quick and easy method
- A unique stove top roasted garlic in olive oil method
The flavor of raw garlic is 2 to 4 times stronger than roasted garlic.
If you want a milder garlic flavor, roasting the garlic is a great way to mellow the strong garlic taste. You get a deep but mild, sweet, nutty, caramel-like flavor and it can be squeezed like butter. On bread, added to a dip, salad dressings, soups, on vegetables, especially nice on a baked potato, or added to foods in many ways.
For those of you who can’t or don’t eat dairy or butter, you’ll find roasted garlic so good. Roasted garlic spreads like butter and tastes mild but creamy. You can also add a little olive oil to help it spread easier, if needed.
Roasted garlic is easy to prepare, just takes some time to roast. There are many different ways to do this. Over the past few weeks, I have been oven roasting garlic several different ways: High heat & low heat. Covered & uncovered. With olive oil & without olive oil. Tips cut off & left whole.
I must say, in the past I almost always used the high heat method, covered (usually in foil), drizzled with olive oil and the tips trimmed off. But now… I found my new favorite way. Using my new way there is less chance of burning or rather over browning and getting a slightly off or burnt taste. Again, when you are salt free, it is important to get a good flavor as you don’t have the option of using salt to mask any off tastes.
My Favorite Oven Roasted Garlic
The oven method is probably the most popular way of roasting garlic. I confess, I didn’t use this method much until just the past few years. Roasting garlic does make your kitchen smell wonderful. If you have someone not eating well, try roasting some garlic. Allow 1 head per person, which yields about a tablespoon. Prepare a few extra heads as you can keep them refrigerated about a week.
Preheat oven 350 F. Use really fresh, rock hard garlic, without spots, bruises, and definitely no sprouts. To prepare garlic, rub off excess papery skins, leave last layer so the cloves are still enclosed. Place heads of garlic in an oven safe baking dish, sit heads upright. Drizzle heads with a little olive oil or a little unsalted butter. Add a couple tablespoons of water to the dish. This is the trick. Just a little bit of water adds a enough moisture, so it doesn’t oven fry and over brown before it gets soft. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 40-45 minutes. Carefully, remove foil (careful of the steam). Bake another 20 to 25 minutes longer or until completely soft and golden brown. Test by gently squeezing with tongs to make sure they’re soft. Enjoy!
Dry Pan Roasted Garlic
When I was very young, around 10 or 11 my next door neighbor who was from New Mexico, taught me this method of pan roasting garlic, using a cast iron skillet on top of the stove. You see this method used quite often in traditional Mexican cooking. I use this method all of the time and also prepare bell peppers, chili peppers, even tomatoes, this way. This method gives you those browned spots which add great bursts of flavor. The garlic cloves will not be soft like oven roasted garlic. However, the cooking mellows the strong garlic taste, so the garlic has far less pungency (great for those of you who don’t especially like the taste of garlic). Pan roasted garlic is especially good for uncooked salad dressings, soups, sauces and salsas.
Break up the head or heads of garlic into separate cloves. Leave skins on. Place cloves in dry skillet over medium-high heat. Dry roast or toast shaking the pan about 5 to 8 minutes, or until cloves are golden brown with spots of dark brown. Transfer to a plate or cutting board to cool. When cooled, the skins slip right off. Then slice, chop or mince the cloves of garlic as you wish.
Roasted Garlic in Olive Oil
I have a very old stove, an O’Keefe and Merritt 1950 model. I love it, but for a long time the oven didn’t work. I had always used the dry pan method for roasted garlic and then I learned this unique stove top method of roasting garlic from another neighbor. This method gives you two results, both uniquely roasted garlic and a garlic flavored oil. Garlic flavored oil is so good.
Fill a 10-inch saute pan in an even layer with peeled cloves of garlic, about 3-4 heads and barely cover with olive oil. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. As soon as the oil starts to bubble (twinkle), turn the heat down a bit. Gently cook the cloves of garlic until golden brown and soft, about 30 minutes. Take the garlic out of the oil. Let cool. Use as you would oven roasted garlic. When the oil has cooled down, pour into a glass jar with a lid. Store with the lid on. I would use this stored at room temperature within a few days, or refrigerated and used within a week. The garlic and oil has been heated or cooked, so it should be safe if stored longer. I always err on the side of caution. If in doubt throw it out.
New Recipe: Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing
- 2 large heads or 4 small heads of roasted garlic (about 2-3 tablespoons, mashed)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or roasted garlic olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or honey balsamic, apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar, etc)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons #103 Table Tasty Salt Substitute, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, squeeze the roasted garlic from the garlic cloves. Careful not to get any garlic skins into the bowl. Mash the roasted garlic against the bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. Whisk all of the ingredients together with a wire whisk or even a fork will do. Adjust to your taste. This salad dressing is great on a green salad and pasta or rice salads. Also, try this drizzled over fresh tomatoes, or roasted vegetables even potatoes, or on top of soup, or served on a small plate with bread, or in a small bowl like a dip with vegetable sticks. There are so many flavorful possibilities.
Next Newletter: About heart healthy and flavorful olive oil. Some of you think all olive oil is the same, not true. Others know there is olive and extra virgin olive oil and think there are two kinds, not true. Olive oil is definitely not all the same. Here are some olive oil tips so you know what to look for. Click here to read the next Season It Newsletter – Olive Oil Adds Flavor and Helps Your Heart.