Monday, January 25, 2010

The Art of Making Garlic Bread

Like so many children of the 70's I was exposed to one type of garlic bread: thick slices of white bread slathered with margarine (butter if we were lucky) and topped with garlic salt and dried parsley flakes before being run under the broiler for a quick browning. This usually resulted in garlic bread that was soft on the bottom, too crunchy on the top and overpowered with pungent dried garlic flavor. There didn't seem to be a lot of thought to it; the bread didn't matter much, the garlic didn't matter much and the whole thing was made as more of an afterthought.

When I married and started making my own garlic bread, I was guilty of using the same method and turned out some not-so-good garlic bread in my time. Fast forward to post-culinary school and I still wasn't very good at it. I changed the granulated garlic or garlic salt to the real deal, but I still used butter and browned the bread the same way.

Finally, I settled on a garlic bread that my whole family loves and devours. Rather than using fresh garlic - which can be too spicy when it's not fully cooked - or butter, I switched things up by using olive oil and roasted garlic with a bit of good cheese to top it all off.

Here's my method - see if it doesn't turn into a favorite in your own home.


Start with roasted garlic. One whole head wrapped in foil or brushed with olive oil and placed in a small dish and roasted in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until soft.



The bread. We have local bakeries that make very good Italian hoagie rolls. I like this size for individual servings. Four rolls will give you eight good-sized servings.



Slice the bread horizontally.



Brush the cut sides of the bread with good extra virgin olive oil.



The roasted garlic. I use this on one of two ways; mashed together with Kosher or sea salt and then spread on the bread, or spread directly on the bread and then salted. Either way works well.



Roasted garlic spread atop the olive oil.



Sprinkled with sea salt.



Topped with a good quality cheese - not too much, you're not making pizza! This is a six cheese Italian blend - Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Mozzarella.



Lay the halves on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Baking them rather than broiling surrounds the bread with heat and crisps up the outside and melts the cheese without leaving the bottom too soft. Cut into pieces for service.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

ShopRite Bloggers in Caring and Expressions of Hunger


Back in August I wrote a blog post about hunger detailing the partnership between bloggers (Blog it Forward to Fight Hunger), ShopRite Partners in Caring and General Mills and their effort to shed light on hunger and bring about a way to help. The deal was that ShopRite and General Mills would donate a box of Honey Nut Cheerios to a local food bank for each comment we received (3,000 boxes!). As a way of thanking the bloggers that participated, Partners in Caring and General Mills created a mosaic for the back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box that uses the faces of the bloggers within the mosaic.


The front of the box.



The mosaic on the back.



Right in the center - one of the photos of me. It was a repeating pattern and my kids thought counting my picture was rather fun.

So, if you head to a ShopRite anytime soon, look for the Bloggers in Caring/Partners in Caring logo and check out the back of the box. There are many bloggers that participated and it's a fun way to be thanked for something that took very little effort or time.

I stated in August that I would match the Partners in Caring and General Mills gift and I did. Over the holiday season and more recently the Haiti crisis, I donated food and money for food to several different charities. One was LifeChurch in Allentown who runs an orphanage in Haiti, and another was Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley. I won't divulge what was given, but I did stay true to my word.


Right now through March 1, 2010 Partners in Caring is running a contest to find artwork that portrays the plight of the hungry or a solution to it:

Sharing emotions, thoughts and feelings through music, poetry, performance, art, and storytelling has long been a way of communicating and enlightening others about an issue.

ShopRite Partners In Caring is asking for your help in fulfilling its mission to increase the awareness of hunger in our community.

Please submit an original video that depicts how you perceive the plight of the hungry or what a solution to hunger might be in the "Expressions of Hunger" video contest.

Share your most creative, original expresssion about hunger. It may be a song, a poem, a dramatically read story or a performance that you capture on video.


If you head to Expressions of Hunger, you will find details on entering.

PRIZES:

Up to six winners will have their picture featured and their video summarized on a September, 2010 Cheerios® box*, sold exclusively at ShopRite, and the video will be featured on the ShopRite Partners in Caring Website ("SRPIC") (ARV:$400.00-based on a total of 15 winners pictured on Cheerios box)

Up to 10 additional winners will receive a video camera (ARV $200) and their entries will be featured on the ShopRite Partners In Caring website.

Roasting Radishes


Braised Radishes
Braised Radishes
One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables, just about any vegetable at all, is to roast them with a simple drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Kosher or sea salt. Roasting a vegetable allows the natural juices to caramelize and add a sweetness and depth of flavor that isn't achieved by any other means of cooking.

I've roasted everything from the usual potato to the not-so-usual bunch of broccoli rabe, but radishes? Never. Radishes, whose tiny French specimen is perfect with butter and a baguette, or the more common variety-filled with spice and crunch and a staple on any salad bar in North America, were never anything I had even remotely considered roasting.

Along came the Saveur 100 issue for 2010 and the mention of roasting radishes by Donna Long. The moment I read the words on the page, "roasted radishes" I had a light bulb sort of experience - an, 'of course!' moment. COOK radishes. Why, yes - it made perfect sense, and why wouldn't it? Cooking a radish would yield a mild and tender bite.

So, I set out to cook them, but not by roasting-yet. I instead braised them, simmering the little red globes in chicken stock until it reduced to a sauce and the radishes began to caramelize. Once done, I finished them with a pat of whole butter and a sprinkling of salt. They were perfection on a plate.

Although I haven't roasted them, I plan to, and the best part is, I was so inspired that there's no telling where the veggie roasting will end ... and I don't think I'll want it to.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Homemade Egg Noodles


Pasta making isn't anything new to me (see here and here) and something I love doing, so dog-earing the page on Homemade Egg Noodles in the Saveur 100 was a given. This time, however, I went back to the old-school way of rolling and cutting by hand rather than the method I'd become accustomed to as of late - using a pasta maker.

Up until a little over a year ago, I was hand rolling and cutting pasta each time the desire to make it fresh hit. Going back to basics this time proved to be very satisfying. My oldest daughter sat at the table while I worked and we chatted as I rolled and cut.

I had already decided what the noodles were to go into before I started - classic chicken and noodles. My family loved every last morsel, even the pickiest exclaiming how good it was. I had several of them come back for seconds (and one for thirds!) and they all left more satisfied than I'd expected. True bliss for a mom of seven.

The recipe for Jeannette Lander's Homemade Egg Noodles can be found at Saveur.com.



Classic Chicken and Noodles
Printable Recipe

One 3 to 3 1/2 pound chicken
2 stalks celery
2 medium carrots
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
several sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 batch Homemade Egg Noodles

Clean the chicken inside and out, rinsing well. Place in a large pot.


Scrub and roughly chop veggies and add to pot with garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
Cover with water and set over a high flame.
The moment the pot starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken and veggies from the pot to a large bowl, saving broth.
Once chicken is cool enough, remove skin and bones and cut meat into chunks.
Chop carrot if desired and add to chicken. Set aside.
Boil a large pot of salted water and add noodles. Boil until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh noodles. Remove noodles from water and keep warm.
Heat 4 cups of leftover chicken stock and thicken slightly with beurre manier (equal parts butter and flour kneaded together and added by whisking small amounts in until thickening occurs) before adding back in chicken and noodles.
Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bloggers Unite for Haiti


The other night when I first heard of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, my first thought was that they were so poor to start with, I just didn't see how they would be able to survive such a catastrophic loss.

The key to any country or peoples overcoming any type of loss is for them to band together with the strong and fight. We are the strong, they are the weak and it's our responsibility to help the lesser people of our earthly home. Whether they are 5 miles or 10,000 miles away, they are our neighbors and are in desperate need of help.

Several ways to help:

1. Join with Bloggers Unite for Haiti and make sure to share the link to any post you create in the effort to raise awareness and funds.

2. Text YELE to 501501 to contribute $5 to Yele Haiti.

3. Text HAITI to 90999 to contribute to the Red Cross.

4. Check local news for sources close to your home where you can drop donations other than money. Yesterday we were able to drop food off to Lifechurch in Allentown to help them with the orphanage they run in Haiti. Do likewise, even if you don't think it's much - every small bit adds up and makes a difference.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Saveur 100 - My Favorite of All


The Saveur 100 for 2010 is quite possibly my favorite issue of Saveur ever. Back in July I read of the upcoming issue and the call for submissions from readers, something Saveur had not done when compiling past issues of the 100. I was immediately interested and thought I might send something in to them, but the realization of what exactly my 'favorite person, place or thing in the world of food' was halted me.

I've eaten foods that are pure bliss; been to restaurants I think everyone on the planet should visit at least once; shopped at article-worthy farmer's markets and shared ovens with some of the finest cooks and chefs ... and yet, the one thing that is my very favorite is Saveur itself.

Trite as it sounds (and no, I'm not kissing any literary tush here) Saveur is the one 'food world' thing I can't live without. As sad as I was at the passing of Gourmet (and I still am), if Saveur were to close its doors, I can gurantee there would be tears - and quite possibly gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothing.

Saveur takes me on culinary journeys that I can scarce afford. They sneak me off to obscure hole-in-the-wall spots for delights I'd never otherwise know of. They share the world of food with me in a way that deepens and cultivates my already unfathomable love for it.

This 100 issue, their 12th, is like no other. They have collected, from around the globe, others' food loves and compiled them into one bounteous and delicious magazine. I started reading - on the very first page, from cover to cover as always - and the dog-eared pages piled up. The double-dog eared pages were almost as bad (you know, when there's something on both sides of a page that you want to be sure and re-visit) and soon the whole magazine had a chunk missing from the corner and I knew I was in deep.

Double dog-eared deep.

While much of the food blogging world is pulling a Julie Powell and cooking up entire tomes of recipes in a year or less, I'm satisfied enough to fit as many 100s into my year or so as I can.

While many of the foods are ones I have already eaten or cooked, and while I will most likely never visit the E. Dehillerin Cookware Shop in Paris, or even the Glass Onion in Charleston, South Carolina, and though I may already have known how to properly crack an egg so as to avoid tiny shards of shell (I love you, Jacques P├ępin, but my favorite professor taught me that!), I will be trying as many of the 100 foods, gadgets and tips printed within the pages of this Saveur - and I will share them with you - along with all of my other food aventures - one by glorious one.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Year of Living Simply


At the beginning of last year I set out to slow things down a bit in my cooking life. Contrary to my desires, things got a bit out of hand and I did more work than I had planned and made many things that were far from 'slow food' (or, slow -er as I'd called it).

This year, however, I have a renewed sense of needing to simplify. I don't mean dumbed-down dishes or 3-ingredient casseroles, I mean simple as in, REAL. The less ingredients, the better, but only if they're real.

Gone from my vision are laundry-lists of ingredients with arm-length dissertations on preparation. In are the dishes like simple roast potatoes with garlic and rosemary or French bread made with no more than yeast, flour, water and salt. Desserts like flour-less chocolate cake fill the bill as well as stove-cooked puddings and custards with a handful of fresh ingredients and topped with fresh fruit.

Less is more in this instance, and I wholeheartedly and longingly embrace it. No more guessing about what is in a specific dish; I'll know and be able to recite each one to anyone inquiring. Moreover, I'll be helping the health and well-being of my family by providing food that remembers where it came from.

What is more delicious or comforting than a well-prepared stew contrived of meat or poultry, fresh potatoes, carrots and onion and a stock made yourself with the simplest of ingredients and freshest herbs? Add to that a loaf of egg bread made by hand and butter churned in a jar from fresh cream. I dare you to dream for yourself of a meal made completely of foods that are not processed or added to. I know you can, and if you can't you'll be able to turn to this blog for inspiration and recipes. Please come along - and bring your appetite.