Chicken Paprikash with Spaetzle

It was snowing like crazy here today so no going to the grocery store.  I had thawed out some chicken and wanted to make something that felt like “comfort food”. My German mother-in-law used to make this when she would come to visit and I have always loved it.  She cooked her chicken in tomato sauce and just added the spaetzle at the end, but I like cooking them separately.  It always brings back very fond memories of her cooking in the kitchen when my three sons were little.  They always baked together.

Chicken Paprikash with Spaeztle.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika, divided
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (2-1/2 to 3 pounds), cut up
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons capers with juice

Spaetzle Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk or water + more as needed (milk produces a richer Spaetzle) (add more flour if the dough is too runny, add more milk or water if it’s too stiff)

Directions:

  • 1. In a heavy skillet,  saute chopped onions until tender. Set aside.
  • 2. In a large plastic resealable bag, combine flour and 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika; add chicken, a few pieces at a time and shake to coat.
  • 3. Place chicken in skillet; brown on all sides. Add the salt, parsley, broth and remaining paprika. Cover and cook over low heat until juices run clear, about 45 minutes.
  • 4. For spaetzle, in a large bowl, stir the flour, eggs, milk, salt and baking powder until smooth (dough will be sticky). In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Pour dough into a colander or spaetzle maker coated with cooking spray; place over boiling water.
  • 5. With a wooden spoon, press dough until small pieces drop into boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes or until dumplings are tender and float. Remove with a slotted spoon; toss with butter.
  • 6. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside. In the same skillet, stir in the sour cream, capers and juice and onions. Return chicken to the skillet and gently heat through. Place spaetzle on a platter and top with chicken. Serve with sauce.
Chicken Paprikash with Spaetzle

Cookies for the Senior Center

I found out a week or so ago that the residents at our local Senior Center love sweets.  Well, I love to cook, so am going to try to make weekly treats for them.  This morning I dropped off Chocolate Chip Cookies with pecans and Peanut Butter Cookies.  Here are the recipes I used:

cookies.jpg

Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped pecans or chopped toasted walnuts

PREPARATION

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using a heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to a large heatproof bowl.

Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.

Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

Our perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe had to produce a cookie that would be moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness. Melting the butter gave us the chewiness we were looking for. Cutting back on the flour and eliminating an egg white also improved texture and brought the brown sugar flavor to the fore.

To give our chocolate chip cookie recipe the crisp edges and toffee flavor we wanted, we let the sugar dissolve in the batter for 10 minutes, then baked the cookies at a high temperature so the edges darkened while the centers stayed so.

2/2 Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still so, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway.

Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies
These cookies have a strong peanut flavor that comes from extra-crunchy peanut butter (in our taste test we preferred Jif) as well as from roasted salted peanuts that are ground in a food processor and worked into the dough. In our testing, we found that salted butter brings out the flavor of the nuts. If using unsalted butter, increase the salt to one teaspoon.

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter, preferably Jif, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, ground in food processor to resemble bread crumbs, (about 14 pulses)

1. Adjust ovens rack to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. 
3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add ground peanuts; stir gently until just incorporated.
4. Working with generous 2 tablespoons each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheets, leaving 2 1/2inches between each ball. Press each dough ball twice with dinner fork dipped in cold water to make crisscross design. 
5. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking time (from top to bottom racks and back to front) until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges but not on top, 10 to 12 minutes. (Cookies will not look fully baked.) Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a wide spatula to cool completely. 

 

Cookies for the Senior Center

2019 Challenge

Last year I challenged myself to read 75 books in the year and made it, finishing the last two in December. This year I am attempting, and I do say attempting a different type of challenge.  I bought the book by Kevin McPhearson called “Reflection of a Pond”

McPhearson.jpg

For a little over a year, he painted the pond in his back yard. I thought it might be a great idea to work on my brushwork and color skills in my artwork.  I live on a beach with a beautiful view.  Depending on the day, I see the mountains, amazing sunrises, boats, people, the marina and love the view every day. I am going (to try) to paint my view at some angle every day this coming year.

The paintings will be small at 5″ x 7″ and I am not going to only focus on part of the view, because as I see it there are three sections to my view.  To the right and mostly south, I see a park and a small falling apart dock.  In the middle, I see the break-water and a few boats and off to the left is the marina where the ferries come in and out.

I started this six days ago on January 16th, and in all honesty am a little overwhelmed by the idea.  I decided I was not going to set up my easel in my living room, but take photos and paint them from my Ipad in my studio.  I am a messy painter and I think my house would be safer without the possibility of my cat wandering through the paint and spreading it throughout the interior.

Day 1.jpg

DAY ONE

Sunrise, where I live, is sensational. This time of year it is usually a little after seven, so I have gotten in the habit of waking up and checking to see if it is beautiful or if it is gray.  If it is gray with no sun, then I know I have to wait till later or for a later day.  Keep in mind that these are small and quick studies.

Day 2.jpg

DAY TWO

I am starting to relax a little with my second painting, knowing that most likely they will never sell, but they might make a fun show or a fun book, but I am savoring the differences in the colors of the morning.

Day 3.jpg

DAY THREE

Some days are peaceful and don’t seem to sing to me, but this morning on day three, the sky was amazing and constantly changing.  The interesting thing about sunrises here is that they can be totally amazing one minute and literally gone the next.  You have to try to capture the essence of what is happening quickly.

 

Day 4.jpg

DAY FOUR

I am starting to experiment a little more with texture and using a palette knife a little more.  I am hoping during the year to gain control of the palette knife using it for the dock and sometimes for everything.  The boat to the right of the dock, looks more like a rock than a boat, but it is a learning experience.

Day 5.jpg

DAY FIVE

On this morning it was misty and you could barely see the boats through the fog.  I moved to the marina area to focus on the painting and love the almost eeriness of the painting.  It could be a city or a marina or another country, but I had fun just playing with the color, which is the opposite of Day 6.

Day 6.jpg

DAY SIX

So often, as most of you know, we awaken to gray, grey and grayer, so I decided to attempt a tonal painting using only Payne’s Gray, Titanium White, and French Ultramarine Blue.  I tried my new camera lens which is a 150 -800 mm to see what I could do with a close-up shot.  I had fun with just the three colors and the closer view.

Going forward I will try to paint daily with different colors or different views and see what happens.  I will post every few days with my newest painting.

I will continue to post food posts, as I love to cook.  Today I made Peanut Butter cookies and Chocolate Chip cookies to take to our local Senior Center for their Bingo Game tomorrow.  I know they love sweets and not too many of them cook.

 

2019 Challenge

Joined a Photography Group

Our first “assignment” was to bring in photos of our local ferry.  Since I live right down from the Kingston Ferry, I just looked back to see what I had photographed in the last year.  Here are my offerings. I would love to know which one you like best.  This is more “Food for Thought” than food, although the Hot Dogs on the ferry are not bad!  f10f11f12f16f20f22f24f25ferry 1

Joined a Photography Group

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

salad

I found this recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Cookbook and since I had all the ingredients, decided to give it a try.  I added a little and left out a little.  I made notes below the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound cremini or white button mushrooms, very thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, from the heart of the celery, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or tarragon
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces shaved Parmesan

Toss together the mushrooms, celery, parsley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice (or lemon juice and vinegar) and olive oil, and toss with the vegetables. Just before serving, toss again with the Parmesan.

Notes:

I used a little dried tarragon, as my chives are way out in the garden and probably frozen.  I did not use any vinegar as the recipe from the book did not call for any, but I did use EVOO (1/4 cup) and mixed it with the lemon juice, then added the very thinly (1/8 inch or less) mushrooms and thinly sliced celery to the mix and let it set for 10 minutes.

Since I had 2 ounces of grated regiano parmesano in the refrigerator I add that, then shaved the same for the top of the salad.  My garden is a little short of parsley this time of year, so I added baby arugula.

This would be a lovely salad to serve for dinner with friends, as it is a bit different, but delicious.  Hope you enjoy making it.

 

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

Made this the other day and forgot to take a photo of it, but it was SO easy and SO delicious I just wanted to share with a photo I stole online.

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 9.19.12 AM

I think I am in love with gnocchi.  I have some purple sweet potatoes in the refrigerator that I found at our local market, so am excited to see how gnocchi made with them will turn out!

So here is a simple recipe for Butternut Squash Gnocchi that I found in Bon Appetit.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1-pound butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled, quartered
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh from squash into processor; puree until smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan; stir constantly over medium heat until juices evaporate and puree thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool. Measure 1 cup (packed) squash puree (reserve remaining squash for another use).

  • Meanwhile, cook potato in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. While potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl; cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).

  • Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.

  • Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

  • Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before being fully cooked). Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and chill.

  • Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage; stir 1 minute. Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.

    Here is a useful Utube for making gnocchi using a gnocchi board.  It makes it so fast and so simple.  So worth the $5.99 and the space it takes in a drawer when not using.

    Using a gnocchi board

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

One tip to perfect pasta

pasta

I found this article online and thought I would share it with my pasta eating friends. This takes no additional time and makes perfect sense to me.  I have always been told to immediately rinse my pasta, so it stops cooking.  But if you just take it off a little more al dente, then this works perfectly.

By GRACE ELKUS

There are few dishes as satisfying as a steaming plate of pasta, especially when it’s enjoyed at the end of a long day. But in addition to the strands of spaghetti or twists of tortellini, there’s another component vital to pasta night—and that’s the sauce.

A noodle is nothing without a sauce to cling to (when’s the last time you sat down to a plate of plain pasta?), which is why it’s important to leverage the pasta’s natural starchiness, so the pasta and the sauce can work together. You don’t need to agonize over the sauce itself, but rather how it’s going to adhere to the pasta.

Let’s start at the beginning. After dropping the dry noodles into a pot of boiling water, you may be tempted to add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking. But adding oil will only make the noodles slippery, and prevent them from mixing nicely with the sauce later on. Instead, when you drop the pasta in the water, use a set of tongs (or a spoon) to separate the noodles inside the pot—then stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from clumping as it cooks.

When you’re ready to drain the pasta, reserve some of the cooking liquid to thicken a tomato sauceloosen a pesto, or help ricotta adhere to the noodles. Add your sauce of choice immediately after draining, and never rinse the pasta with water. Running water over the noodles will strip them of their starches (which is what helps glue the sauce to the pasta), and will make your dish water-y and less flavorful.

One tip to perfect pasta

Gnocchi is so tasty!

gnocchi

Went to a local cooking class today and made this yummy and very easy gnocchi.  We made the gnocchi in class, then I came home and finished it for dinner.  It was a bit hit with the husband.  Gnocchi is so very easy to make and so yummy to eat.

Today we all brought 1-3 baked potatoes. ( Bake not boil ) I boiled mine and my potato ricer is now being replaced by a new industrial one.  It sort of leans to the right in the trash right now.  A very nice man in the class strong-armed a bit too much.  My potatoes were too hard, even after microwaving them.

Ingredients:

1-2 russet potatoes

1-2 eggs

2-3 cups of white flour

Nutmeg – a little dab will do

Make a basin for the egg in the middle of the riced potato and mix with hands. You can do this with the potato or the flour.  Blend it with your hands till looks like the picture in the middle and kind of medium soft to the touch. If it is too wet, add more flour. It just has to feel right.  Roll it into cigar shapes and cut into 1/2 lengths.

Flour your gnocchi board if you have one. I bought mine on Amazon (of course) for about $6.00.

gnocchi board

Putting a little flour on the board makes all the difference.  I like to roll my little cigar segments at an angle across the board.

how-to-make-potato-gnocchi

You can do this with your fingers and a spoon and fork, but the gnocchi board cuts the time, so you can do a whole batch in under five minutes with a little practice.  The one I have has a stand, so you can just put it right on the counter and roll the little gnocchi on to a piece of parchment.

Heat a pot of water and when it is boiling, just drop them in the water.  When they float to the top they are just about done.  I let them float about a minute, then take them out with a Chinese Strainerstrainer

Sauce is up to you.  Tonight I sautéed some pancetta, add a few sliced garlic cloves, some sliced cherry tomatoes and after I added the gnocchi to the sauce, I added a handful of fresh basil.  I grated fresh parmesano regiano  cheese on top, threw some spinach in another bowel, added some good oil and citrus vinegar and dinner was wonderfully ready.

Gnocchi is so tasty!

Michael Symon’s Mom’s Lasagna

Total:  2 hr 50 min
Prep:  20 min
Inactive:  20 min
Cook:  2 hr 10 min
Yield:  6 servings
Level:  Intermediate

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound pork neck bones
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, loose or removed from casings
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • 2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for final topping
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a three-finger pinch of salt and sweat them until they’re translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the neck bones and let them brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground veal, beef and sausage, and season with another healthy pinch of salt. Cook until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine, tomatoes and their juice, and the bay leaves. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, making sure to get all of the browned bits into the sauce. Season the sauce with salt, to taste, and simmer for 2 hours over medium heat. Remove the bay leaves and neck bones and let cool. Skim any fat that rises to the surface.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add enough salt so that it tastes seasoned and allow the water to return to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, parsley, basil, oregano, eggs, and Parmesan with a pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Ladle about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Arrange a layer of noodles followed by a layer of sauce and then some of the ricotta mixture. Top with a layer of mozzarella, smoothing it with a spatula to the edges. Repeat the process until the pan is full. Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, the mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest, 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

The chef was raised on his mother’s next-level, thirty-layer lasagna, which he serves at his new Atlantic city restaurant.

REGAN STEPHENS

September 05, 2017

Every Italian dutifully swears his mom’s cooking is the best, but in Michael Symon’s case, it may actually be true. The Iron Chef recently opened Angeline in Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa as an homage to his mom, Angel. The menu, inspired by family recipes, is a roundup of the classic, red-sauce-style Italian dishes Symon grew up eating: handmade linguini with clams, arancini, eggplant parm and a daily “Sunday Supper” that includes a feast of prosciutto, ricotta and red peppers, cavatelli, garlic bread, meatballs and more. But one dish evokes a particularly strong sense of nostalgia for Symon: lasagna.

“Every Wednesday at my parents’ house was lasagna night—the night all my friends begged to eat over,” he says. “You could smell the lasagna baking houses away, and Wednesday was the only night of the week I was more than happy to be early for dinner. I’ve eaten lasagna from every corner of the earth, and I have yet to find one as good as Mom’s.”

Symon recreates Angel’s recipe in the thirty-layered dish he named “Mom’s Lasagna.” In a glossy dining room designed with little touches to recall his mom’s home (floral wallpaper, lace curtains and a built-in hutch displaying cake plates and other nonna-approved knick-knacks) servers present towering rectangles of pasta and cheese that sit atop pools of meaty red sauce. If you aren’t getting an invite to Mrs. Symon’s house on lasagna night, this is the next best thing.

To start your own Wednesday night tradition, use the chef’s best tips for building an architecturally-impressive, nostalgia-inducing lasagna.

The Noodles

According to Symon, cutting corners sacrifices taste. “Don’t bother with those no-boil noodles—they compromise the texture,” he says. “Go the extra mile and use the real thing.” He also quotes his co-host on The Chew: “When boiling the noodles, salt your water until, in the words of Mario Batali, it’s ‘as salty as the sea.’ This is your chance to season your pasta.”

The Cheese

To help keep layers smooth and mess-free, use Angel’s trick. “One of the things my mom always did is put the ricotta mixture in a plastic zip bag or piping bag,” he shares. “That way it goes right where you want it to go, and you don’t have to fight with it. It spreads quickly and evenly.”

The Pan

The chef says a 9 x 13-inch pan is the optimal size and shape for baking lasagna. “It keeps the ingredients condensed so the final product is nice and thick, versus each layer being spread thinly in a larger pan,” he says.

The Finish

There’s really no such thing as too much cheese, so Symon likes to grate fresh mozzarella and fresh parmesan on top to make it extra cheesy. “Another tip from my mom: always cover it with foil at the beginning of the cooking process, then remove it for the last 10 minutes to let the cheese on top get brown and crispy.”

Michael Symon’s Mom’s Lasagna

The Trick That Will Keep You From Ever Burning Your Garlic Again

I found this interesting article online this morning a site called “My Recipes”.  Since most of us love cooking with garlic and have most likely burned it somewhere along the way, I thought this information might be useful.

getty-garlic-image

Michael Goldman/Getty Images

Garlic might be one of the worst foods to burn, because there’s no turning back once you do. Unlike other veggies or meats that aren’t completely ruined if you just so happen to give them a little extra char than you intended for, garlic cannot withstand even 10 seconds too long over a flame. It turns black almost immediately and acquires an off-putting, bitter taste that can ruin an entire dish. The only fix to burning garlic is starting over.

So here’s how it usually happens: You’ve got your oil heating in a skillet, maybe with an onion or some other aromatics, and you add a clove or two of minced/finely chopped garlic. Seems legit, right? We’ve got to start building the flavor of this dish at some point, so we might as well start now. Ehhhh…sure, you can do this, but just know, that if you’re going to burn your garlic, this is how it’s done. Despite the lovely, garlicky aroma that will immediately engulf your kitchen upon dumping this fresh garlic into hot oil, this is oftentimes where things take a turn for the worst. Take your eyes away from that pan for more than a minute or two (especially if you turned on the heat with no abandon), and you’ve got yourself a handful of garlic that’s burned to a crisp. Not only that, but the oil and whatever other veggies are in that pan are going to taste pretty darn rotten, too.

Instead, if you simply punch down on a whole garlic clove with the side of your knife, gently crushing it so that it’s paper skin falls off and it’s slightly cracked open, you’ll still be able to impart that garlicky flavor into the oil. By prepping the garlic this way, you’ll avoid creating so much exposed surface area (like you do when you mince it) that the whole chopped clove immediately turns to a pile of ashes after 60 seconds of sizzling. Smaller bits burn quicker. If you really want to go the minced clove route, wait until the middle of your cooking process to add it to the concoction. This way, there’s less cooking time for your precious garlic to burn, and likely, more ingredients in the pan to help disperse the heat and act as a buffer for your delicate aromatic. Once you’ve got your slightly flattened cloves, put them in a skillet with oil (don’t be shy, a couple of generous glugs will do) over LOW HEAT. This temperature adjustment is crucial.

Once you’ve got your cloves gently cooking in oil over low heat, this is where the magic happens. Give the cloves some time to release their essence throughout the oil. As they start to cook, you can increase your heat to medium-high so that the white-ish cloves turn a warm, golden brown. If you rush this, however (shame, shame), your cloves are apt to turn black, so it’s important to keep a close eye. Before you go ahead and serve these babies, make sure that you’ve cooked them long enough. Because the cloves are whole, it’s going to take a little longer to soften and they may hold on to that raw, sharp taste.

When your cloves appear caramelized on the outside and creamy on the inside, you better be salivating, because you just created a garlic-infused oil. At this point, you can fish out the cloves, and add them to the blender to make a pesto, hummus or any other dip/sauce that could use a garlicky punch, or spread them atop a piece of toast, which should then rightfully be finished with a frizzled egg. One of my favorite restaurants, that is no longer open served baked garlic on toasted pita bread.  It was delicious. That and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon was delightful with conversation.  Not the best for a first date, if you live in “that” world.

With the wonderful oil that you’ve so carefully concocted, you can make stir-fries, one-pan pasta sauces, soups, or whatever dish you want to be laced with fresh, garlicky flavor. Ultimately, this is not the only way to cook garlic, however it’s, in my opinion, a foolproof method that consistently creates a pronounced yet not-too-overwhelming garlic flavor. And I’ve burnt garlic too many times to go back to my old ways.

Sara Tane wrote the original article.  January 2018

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The Trick That Will Keep You From Ever Burning Your Garlic Again