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Garlic: That Positively Pungent Perennial

on December 30, 2012

It seems I’ve always had somewhat of a passion for cooking, even though I frequently grumble about having to do it. Several years ago, when I needed a little extra money (like I still don’t?) I put together a very rustic cookbook entitled “Garlic: That Positively Pungent Perennial.” I was quite proud of this little book when I got it done and sold them, locally, for $5 each. I kept one copy for myself, of course, and here are a few tips and recipes from it.

My favorite way to eat garlic is…well, all of them BUT I, particularly, enjoy baked garlic. I can use it right out of the skin as a spread for freshly baked bread or stir a teaspoon or two into soup – and it freezes very well (so make lots!).

Photo by simplyrcipes.com

Photo by simplyrecipes.com

ON BAKING GARLIC: There are several different styles and designs of actual “garlic bakers” on the market. They’re relatively inexpensive (especially if you were like me and made my own…did I mention I used to be a potter?), make great gifts, and most people welcome them, even if they’ve never baked garlic before. If this is not in your budget, or you cannot possibly squeeze one more gadget into a drawer or cabinet for fear of kitchen shrapnel destroying the whole room when it finally blows, or just wouldn’t use it enough to warrant the cost, use a regular baking dish. I think the advantage of a baker is that the design (usually made of clay) cooks the garlic more evenly and keeps it moister.

If you decide to get a garlic baker, follow the manufacturers instructions. If you don’t, here’s a basic recipe when using a baking dish:

  • 4 bulbs (or “heads” – not just cloves) of Garlic
  • 4 Tbs. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) – or whatever Olive Oil you have on hand
  • 1/4 cup Water or Stock

Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel the outer husk off the garlic bulbs leaving the cloves intact (ie: don’t separate them). Slice off the tops (the pointy end) just to expose the top of the garlic cloves by about 1/8″ inch. Prick the top of each clove several times with a knife, going about 1/2 way down into the clove. Arrange the garlic heads in a (small as possible to hold them all) baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Carefully pour the 1/4 cup of water around the heads and bake, covered with foil, about 1 hour. When the cloves are cool to the touch, take them apart and either peel away the rest of the husk or squeeze the cloves out of the “shells.”

NOW, what to do with all this golden goodness? Of course I have ideas. I always have ideas…

GARLIC BUTTER COOKING CUBES

  • 4 Heads Baked Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Butter, softened to room temperature

Mash together the garlic and butter, mixing well. Drop by large spoonfuls (about 2 Tbs. each) into ice-cube trays and freeze them. When frozen, pop them out into a freezer bag. You’ll always have garlic butter readily available and, with soups and stews, no need even to thaw. Just drop the cube right in the pot as your cooking. These are also great to sautee or fry up vegetables or meats. They’ll store up to 6 months in the freezer.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

ASPARAGUS WITH GARLIC BUTTER (Serves 6)

  • 1 lb. Asparagus Spears, cleaned and peeled
  • 4 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 to 2 Garlic Butter Cooking Cubes (thawed)
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon (appx. 2 Tbs.).
  • 4 Tbs. sliced Almonds (optional)

Cut the asparagus into 1″ pieces. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 Tbs. of the Olive Oil. Add the asparagus and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water then cover with cold water and set aside. In a large frying pan add the rest of the Olive Oil and Garlic Butter Cooking Cube(s). Add the drained asparagus and cook only until it’s hot. Then transfer it to a serving dish. In the same frying pan, cook the almonds until they’re lightly browned. Add the lemon juice, stir, and pour over the asparagus. Serve right away.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

EASY GARLIC AND PARMESAN DRESSING (Makes 1 cup)

  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Baked Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground Black Pepper

In a small bowl or lidded jar, add all the ingredients, mixing well. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to use.

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