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Tag Archives: Culinary Arts
I am having difficulty in starting this post. I am searching the recesses of my mind for words adequate enough to describe my love of garlic. It goes in practically anything. You can make flavored butter for bread, put it in soups, put it in stews, sauces, sitr fry, practically any savory dish from omelettes to venison, etc., etc., ad infinitum. There are health benefits. Its easy to keep around and can add flavor to anything.
But, there were a few things about garlic that irritated me. I don’t like having to play with the garlic paper and peel it. I don’t mind the chopping, but the having to peel it each time slows me down. When I am creating, I like to be quick on my toes, because I do alot of cooking on-the-fly. Sure, its only a few seconds, but for me it can be a distraction when I am in that creative mode. I am always looking for ways to save labor now so that in the future, I can simply just cook.
Also, I live in Florida. I don’t know what that means to you, but to me it means that things like to go bad quickly and mold. Garlic can get these little black specks on the bottom, near the root, which can quickly end a good head. It’s humid here, and I have seen garlic starting to sprout just sitting in a dry spot on the table.
The products that are in the jar, already minced… Well, I don’t particularly care for them. I have used them, in an attempt to obtain the speed I want for the creative mode, but they never seem to carry enough flavor. Goodness knows how long they have been in that jar, too. I also have a natural aversion to getting things that have been processed when I can process them at home and know exactly what I am putting into my body.
Lastly, we eat alot of garlic. All told, my wife and I consume about a dozen or so heads of garlic a week. I put it in nearly everthing. So, me being the kinda guy that likes to cook on-the-fly by the seat of my pants, every day I was slowing down to process garlic.
So the universal garlic base was born. The premise is simple. Roast a ton of garlic heads off at the beginning of the week, turn them into a base and keep it in the fridge. Now, whenever I need garlic I can just scoop some out of a container and get whatever I need. It saves time because its already made up for you. The jarred garlic is expensive and the quality isn’t nearly as good as what you can make yourself. Also, roasting it and keeping it in the fridge makes sure you don’t have to worry about mold.
The base keeps for a week and a half, if you manage to keep it around that long. You’ll find yourself using it everything. So, enough of that, let’s get to the actual process of making it.
You Will Need:
- About a dozen or so heads of garlic.
- One lemon
- Olive oil
- Pepper and Kosher or Sea Salt
- A 9×13″ cake pan, or casserole dish. Pyrex glass is fine.
- Aluminum foil
Procedure for making the Ultimate, Roasted Garlic Base
1. Line your pan with aluminum foil and set near your work area.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. ( 175 C.)
3. Using a large, serrated bread knife, take off just the top of the garlic head. you want to make sure each clove had just a little bit of the tip removed. Try not to remove too much of the garlic clove tops, but you want enough removed to expose the clove. You can dispose of these tips. (I save them and use them for making stock.) Place each head in the pan and line them up in a row.
4. Once you have all of your garlic heads prepared and panned, you will want to brush or drizzle a little olive oil onto the exposed tops. You don’t really want to drench them in oil, so be careful not to do too much. If you don’t have a pastry brush, pour a little olive oil into a cup and then use a teaspoon to drizzle it over each head.
5. Liberally salt and pepper each head.
6. Using another piece of foil, cover the pan and seal the edges tightly.
7. Place in the oven, on the middle or top rack, for about an hour.
8. Once the garlic is done roasting, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before you remove the foil. Be careful, there will be steam.
9. After you lift off the foil, you might want to let the garlic cool for about another 20 to 30 minutes. Be careful, they could still be warm. You will be next squeezing these little guys out of their husks. When it comes out, each head should have a nice dark, golden-brown color. It should be shiny, almost glossy.
10. THE FUN PART. I use gloves, but you don’t have to. Just make sure your hands are very, very clean and well washed with antibacterial soap. I find that washing the hands and then using gloves lowers the chance of contaminating your newly roasted product and can help extend shelf like.
So what you want to do is, over a bowl, take each husk and squeeze it and watch the garlic cloves shoot out like you are squeezing a tube of toothpaste. A firm, gentle pressure is all you need. Try to get out as much of the garlic as possible, making sure no paper gets into the bowl. You can throw away the husks, or they make great compost.
11. Once you have all of your cloves in the bowl, you can now add the zest of one lemon and a few teaspoons of the juice.
12. Add about a teaspoon or so of salt and fresh black pepper.
13. Add olive oil to the bowl. Depending on your intended use, you could use more or less. But, generally, you can figure about a half teaspoon per head.
14. Take a fork and mash it up, making sure each clove is completely mashed. You want to get it looking like a paste. Make sure you get the oil well mixed into the product.
15. Store in an airtight container.
And that’s it. You now have an excellent base you can store in the fridge and use anytime you want and use in practically any dish. It keeps about a week to ten days. This tutorial looks like quite a few steps and appears time consuming, but is actually quite simple and goes quickly. The longest part of the process is actually roasting.
I think I am going to make some garlic butter for the best darned garlic bread ever, which gives me an idea for my next post.
(Afterthought: You don’t have to add the lemon, if you don’t want to. Personally, I find it keeps an element of freshness to the final product. You may also add dried herbs to the base. In the last pic, I have some oregano in the olive oil that can provide an additional flavor component)
Good luck and Happy Cooking!
I’m in Finals…
For a culinary student, that means hard labor and an artistic creation all in the space of a few hours. And later in the week, you do it again.
Ever see Iron Chef? Two great chefs compete, not really knowing what the secret ingredient is before the show begins. They have to use their skill and understanding of preparation methodology to create dishes.
And that’s sorta what we had to do. Granted, there are differences. Firstly, I am nowhere near as good as Hiroyuki Sakai, my favorite Iron Chef. We have a few hours, not one, and we have the luxury of knowing what types of dishes to make (One soup, two salads, one starch, one protein, etc, etc.) We get turned loose on a pile of ingredients the day of the exam, not knowing what we will have to work with ahead of time. We have to pump out anywhere from 8 to 50 items, depending on the exam.
Yeah, I understand most cooking methods, and the theory of flavor profiles (what makes something taste Asian, Indian, Cuban, etc.) So, I usually do fairly well, but there’s a kicker.
And, to top it all off, we have to be artistic and creative. Yup, those fancy schamncy platings with exotic sauces, carrots carved to look like dragons, etc.
I call it “Art Under The Gun.” Most artists have a difficult time with pressure and deadlines. Three hours isn’t much of a deadline to come up with something spectacular, but I think it is forcing me to work my “creative muscle.” No dirty jokes, please.
Basically, I am being given a palate of ingredients, a plate as a canvas, and I can use proper theory and arrangement to stylize how the food appears on a plate. Matching colors, contrasting flavors, weak and strong lines, everything.
So my challenge to you is to, sometime this week, pick up your medium of choice, be it food or pastels or pen and ink. Time yourself. Stop when your time runs out. Force yourself to come up with something new and unexpected. Don’t be disappointed it it doesn’t turn out perfect right off the bat. Keep spontaneously creating.