Garlic, I love you!

What are the benefits of garlic?

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one, but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant. Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which turns garlic’s thiosulfate compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and bringing about a drop in blood pressure. . Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system.

6. GARLIC CONTAINS VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU.

Garlic bulbs are filled with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid builder with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document, the Ebers Papyrus counts 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves. ,

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire, a beast repelled by garlic to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, he uses it as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent.

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush it to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply slice cloves in half and apply them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit, as long as you can stand and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

Here is a great article by Food52 about buying and using garlic:

ARROWFOOD

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

BY KATE ERBLAND APRIL 19, 2018

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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel DraculaIn the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

This is a great article from Food52 on how to buy and use garlic.

Garlic

There are many, many varieties of garlic, but they can all be classified as either hardneck or softneck garlic. Softneck garlic truly has a soft neck, meaning the central stalk is pliable enough to be manipulated — this is the type used to make garlic braids. Softneck garlic tends to be milder in flavor and to have more cloves per bulb (up to 20!); hardneck garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves but they’re larger (3, last photo) and easier to peel. 

When you buy garlic, as is true when you buy onions, you’re looking for hard, dry bulbs; like onions, they’ve been cured, which means they will last longer and store well. After being cured, the roots and stalk (1, photo below) are trimmed and the outermost layer of paper wrappers is removed. The garlic is ready to hang out in a cool, dry place in your home for months. Both types of garlic store well once cured, but softneck garlic will keep for a much longer time than hardneck, which is why you’ll usually find softneck garlic at grocery stores.

If stored long enough, you’ll eventually see little green sprouts in your garlic cloves. We generally don’t bother with removing them, but if you prefer to, just flick them out with the tip of a sharp knife. ( Iread once that they are a bit bitter, so I remove them)

Garlic

For those who think garlic is garlic, it isn’t all the same. Different varieties carry unique flavor profiles, but you’ll likely have to head to your local farmers market to try varieties like Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, Purple Glazer, and Sicilian Silver. Once you leave the supermarket, you’ll see more color variation, like purple streaks (2) in both the bulb wrappers and the cloves.

Once you get to know your local garlic farmer, you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on garlic at other stages of growth early season treats like green garlic and garlic scapes(the latter of which are only produced by hardneck garlic) and wet or fresh garlic (which is fully mature garlic that is eaten immediately after it has been harvested, without going through the curing process).

Garlic Cloves

If you’ve ever come across black garlic, that’s not a specific variety, it’s garlic that’s gone through fermentation and the flavor could be described as having a lot going on: “First there’s a hit of sweetness, followed by a faint hint of smoke, then a pungency that lingers long after the sweetness is gone.” If you’ve tried it and you weren’t immediately converted to its charms, cook with it, as the flavor changes with heat. 

For some, garlic cloves can be as aggravating as shallots. as recipes will call for a set number of cloves, but when heads of garlic can have such a wide range of clove sizes, there’s room for interpretation. We assume a mediumish-sized clove of garlic is about a half teaspoon once minced. 

Garlic

It’s hard to find a savory dish that we don’t like to use garlic in, but if garlic isn’t the first thing you reach for when you start cooking, we’ve got 5 ideas to get you started using more of it:

  • Pair garlic with your favorite protein: Try it with any protein
  • Introduce garlic to your favorite vegetable.
  • Make garlic bread or try grilling it.
  • Roast garlic to bring out its softer side.
  • Enjoy garlic in soup.
Garlic, I love you!

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over thirty years, I love Salmon of all types and cooked in a variety of different ways. I found this sort of accidentally online and thought I might try it with some of the beautiful parsley I grow in my herb garden. I planted my garden several months ago and it is finally starting to take off. The following bright and flavorful parsley oil makes a great salmon sauce. I served it with bacon wrapped asparagus for the perfect dinner. We paired it with a nice Pinot Noiir.


Ingredients


For the parsley salmon sauce:
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Whole30 salmon:
4 3-ounce salmon llets, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Instructions

  1. First, make the salmon sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and
    pulse until very smooth. Pour into a jar, and set aside.
  2. Next, sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon llets, and heat a large skillet
    over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then add the salmon, SKIN SIDE DOWN.
  5. Watch the salmon cook on the edges. When it’s half-way cooked, move the skillet to the
    oven to nish cooking. No need to ip this salmon!
  6. Cook the salmon in the oven to your desired level of doneness. I like my salmon a little red
    in the middle, so I cook it for 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer it all the way done, cook it for
    12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the salmon from the skillet, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the pars

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus is one of the best recipes for easy entertaining! Cook it in the oven, on the
grill, or stove. Crispy and flavorful every time! It is so easy in the oven and you can cook it at the same temperature as the fish. I like to make many things with asparagus. The other night we had a simple asparagus soup. I used the leftover asparagus, cut up and added to our dinner salad.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound asparagus spears trimmed (about 20 to 24 spears)
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. ( and I put tin foil under this to make sure there is no mess)
  • Place the asparagus in a large bowl or on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Count the spears and divide the total number by 8. Gather that number of spears (likely 2 to 4 spears, depending upon their thickness) and hold them together in a single bundle. Starting midway to the top, wrap the bundle with one piece of bacon (overlap the starting end of the bacon slightly to secure it) and place the bundle on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining spears.
  • Bake until the bacon is crisp and the asparagus is tender, about 22 to 28 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you’d like it to be. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note

  • You can add additional toppings, such as balsamic glaze, cheese, honey, and more!

Thought you might like to see a photo of my growing, still growing Herb Garden in California.

Note that the parsley is taking over the world and the chives are not doing so well yet! Hopefully they will take off growing soon, as they tried to take over my garden in Washington.

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

French Fare: Salmon / Spinach Crêpes

Make this hearty traditional French dinner of savory crêpes with a creamy sauce.

Buttery in flavor and delicate in texture, crêpes are paper thin, soft, pancake-like wrappers that are the ideal vessel for both sweet and savory fillings. Like my mother, I more often use crêpes for savory fillings, like this salmon-spinach one, but they are just as delicious when reheated in a little butter and sugar, folded, and served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or filled with glazed cinnamon apples.

Crêpes are traditionally made in special, shallow steel pans, but I find that most home cooks, especially those new to crêperie, have an easier time with a small nonstick pan with sloping sides and an 8-inch-diameter flat bottom — inexpensive and perfect for crêpe making. If you’re new to crêpe making, I suggest making a double batch of the batter and try using a bit more batter than what’s called for (use a smidge over 1⁄4 cup) while you get used to rotating and tilting the pan to coat it evenly. The crêpes will be a bit thicker but still good. As you move through the batch, reduce the amount of batter until the crêpes are thin and delicate. We served this with a lovely Pinot Noir.

French Fare: Salmon And Spinach Crêpes

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 2

Ingredients

Crêpes

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To assemble

  • 2 crêpes
  • 2 4-ounce boneless, skinless salmon fillets (1 inch, 2.5 cm, thick at the center)
  • 1 tablespoon ground Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish

Directions

For the crêpes

  1. Put the milk, flour, eggs, 5 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Pour the batter into a medium bowl, cover, and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  2. If the batter has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature. Set a 10-inch nonstick skillet with sloping sides and an 8-inch bottom over medium heat until droplets of water immediately evaporate upon hitting the pan. Using a folded paper towel, coat the skillet with a little of the remaining melted butter. Working quickly, pour a scant 1⁄4 cup batter into the center of the pan while lifting the pan and rotating and tilting it clockwise to cover the bottom evenly with the batter. Cook until lacy golden brown on the bottom, about 1 minute. Carefully slide a heatproof spatula under the crêpe and turn it over, then continue cooking for another 30 seconds, until the crêpe is just beginning to brown in spots. Slide the crêpe onto a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly greasing the pan when necessary (about every other crêpe) and stacking the crêpes as they are cooked.

For the sauce

  1. Whisk the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and bubbling. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and bubbling but not browned, 1 minute. Pour in the milk and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until thickened and boiling. Cook for 1 minute, then slide the pan off the heat. Add the lemon juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, then whisk until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.

For the filling and assembly

  1. Warm the oil in a medium, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s wilted and well coated with the oil. Slide the pan off the heat, add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Have ready the crêpes, sauce, and spinach.
  3. Arrange the crêpes on the counter. Place a salmon fillet down the center of each crêpe and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly on top of the salmon. Fold one side of the crêpe up and over the filling and repeat with the other side. Arrange seam-side up, about ¾ inch apart, in the same skillet.
  4. Spoon the sauce evenly over the crêpes and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, the top is browned, and the salmon is cooked, 18 to 20 minutes. Move the skillet to a rack, sprinkle with the chives, and serve immediately.
French Fare: Salmon / Spinach Crêpes

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Cooking mussels may seem intimidating, but this recipe is quick and easy. The white beans to turn this classic mussels-in-white-wine-sauce dish into a heartier weeknight meal. Serve with whole-grain crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth. I found this recipe in Eating Well and it was a big hit in our house.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved ( I forgot to half them initially, so had to go back to the pot and do them one at a time. It is very important for the taste to do this.)
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ( I used four or five as I always say, garlic is yummy and so good for you! No vampires in this house)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added white beans, rinsed
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see Tip)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to release their liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and stir to combine. Place mussels on top and pour in wine. Cover and cook until the mussels open (discard any unopened mussels), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with more thyme, if desired. How easy it that and it was delicious!

Tip: To clean mussels, rinse well under cold running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles or grit from the shell. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any shells that remain open after you tap them lightly. Pull off any fibrous “beard” that might be pinched between the shells; the “beards” of most cultivated mussels are already removed.

We served it with a lovely Pinot Noir.

Mussels with White Beans & Tomatoes

Spinach Soup

So easy and delicious and amazingly yummy! Made a few changes to the recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I doubled the amount of spinach used, added a little more homemade stock, did not add croutons and cooked my fresh spinach in the microwave to save time.

I view a lot of blogs that show step by step photos of all the simple food they prepare. At risk of being considered a food snob, I think all the illustrations are unnecessary if you know anything about cooking. I like to skip to the recipe and get to work. If you ever need assistance with a recipe, just let me know!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced ( I used four and it was perfect)

russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes

2 lbs fresh spinach, thick stems trimmed ( I did not trim it and the recipe called for 1 lb, but 2 was great. I precooked it in the microwave in big bowl to save time)

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups and make my own, so it has a lot more flavour.)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

FOR THE CROUTONS ( did not add croutons, but served with Irish Soda Bread I had made the day before)

3 tbsp butter

1 cup cubed bread 

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and green onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add potato and spinach. Pour over broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is bright green, and potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream.
  3. Garnish with more cream and croutons.

MAKE CROUTONS

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread in a single layer and cook, tossing often, until bread is golden all over, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt.

We served this with a 2017 Suisun Valley Red Wine Petite Sirah from the Lanza Family Vineyard. Perfection!

Spinach Soup

It’s St. Patricks Day

And it is the perfect day for Guinness Irish Beef Stew. We had it last night for dinner, as I get my COVIT 19 second shot today, so did not want to miss cooking an Irish dinner for my very Irish friend. I looked at several different recipes and decided this was the best. Now I could not find Guinness in the can, which is highly recommended, so I used a bottle and a half of the Guinness I could find locally. Now the perfect accompaniment, other than potatoes to pile it on, is a delicious loaf of home-made Irish Soda Bread. The one pictured here was amazingly simple and tasted “Oh so good”. Just dip it in the sauce and smile!

As I was preparing the meat for the stew, I noticed there was a lot of fat and gristle that had to be cut off. At first I started to throw it away, then I thought why not make Beef Stock with all the leftovers, and several herbs from my garden. I had a couple frozen tomatoes and some leftover tomato paste, so threw it all in a nice big pot, filled it water and in a couple of hours had a dreamy rich beef stock that I will freeze and use later. I am starting to try not to have much waste with my cooking.

I read a lot of cooking blogs and they all go into a great deal of detail on how to do the recipe. I find that incredibly mundane if you already know the basics of cooking. Maybe on something like a Beef Wellington or anything as complicated I might venture to look at the instructions, but overall find it unnecessary. So here are the recipes I chose to use:

Guinness Irish Beef Stew

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes ( I cooked mine 2 hours & 45 minutes)
  • Servings 6
  • Calories. 382

Ingredients

  •  6 slices bacon diced
  •  2 pounds stewing meat cut into one-inch pieces ( I cut off all the fat and gristle to use to make Beef Stock)
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( used Gluten-Free Flour and could not distinguish a difference)
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •  2 large yellow onions chopped
  •  4 cloves garlic minced. ( I always add a couple more than it calls for you as garlic is so good for you)
  •  one 14.9 ounce can Guinness ( I used one and a half bottles, as it was all I could find)
  •  ¼ cup tomato paste
  •  1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce ( I used low-sodium)
  •  2 cups beef broth or more as needed to cover ingredients
  •  1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  2 sprigs fresh thyme
  •  3-4 large carrots cut into 1-inch pieces ( l like them cut smaller, but I don’t really love cooked carrots)
  •  2 large stalks celery cut into 1-inch pieces
  •  mashed potatoes ( I used little Yukon Golds and added absolutely nothing to them – I didn’t want to take away from the amazing sauce of the stew – Once in a while we can do away with butter)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the beef cubes until they are completely coated. Set aside.
  2. Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy pot until tender-crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate.
  3. Using the bacon drippings, fry the flour coated beef in batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  4. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, around two minutes.
  5. Pour a small amount of the Guinness into the pan, deglazing the bottom of the pot by scraping up the browned bits off of the bottom.
  6. Add in the remaining beer, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, and sugar.
  7. Place the beef. bacon, bay leaves, thyme, and vegetables into the pot. Stir until combined.
  8. Bring the stew to a low boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours or until the beef and vegetables are tender. Stir every 30 minutes to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  10. I left the lid off for about 20 more minutes, so the sauce was thicker, the meat a tab more tender and it was perfect.
  11. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
  12. Perfect served over mashed potatoes as the stew is thick and perfect for over the potatoes.

Fast & Easy Irish Soda Bread

Soda bread is traditionally not a light bread, but a heavier bread and it somewhere between a biscuit, a scone and bread in texture and density. It is tasty when cooked appropriately. I have bought it in the past and it was dry and dull. This recipe is rich and you will be lucky if you have any for your stew if you make it earlier in the day. Warm and rich with a tiny bit of good butter, it is hard to resist when it comes out of the oven. I don’t usually eat bread, but this I loved.

What is Irish Soda Bread?

Irish Soda Bread is a quick bread similar to a biscuit or scone that uses baking soda as the leavener, not yeast. When you use baking soda or powder in a baked good you lose that inherently light texture that is achieved by using yeast. Irish Soda Bread is a coarse, thick-textured bread that is more like a huge biscuit. Traditionally, Irish Soda Bread has four basic ingredients: flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. Modern versions add butter, raisins, sugar, and occasionally egg. The traditional Irish Soda Bread is fairly bland, but anything slathered in butter and dipped in a stew can be amazing!

Prep Time15 minutesCook Time40 minutesTotal Time55 minutesCourseSide DishCuisineIrishServings8Calories436AuthorKarlynn Johnston

Ingredients

  •  4 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1/4 cup white sugar
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup butter softened
  •  1 cup buttermilk ( If you don’t have Buttermilk, just add a tsp of white vinegar to your milk & make sure it curdles)
  •  1 egg beaten
  •  1/4 cup salted butter melted ( never used salted butter, so added a tiny bit of salt to the bowl)
  •  1/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or your medium-sized cast-iron skillet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and butter. The butter should be pea-sized worked through the dough.  
  3. Stir in the buttermilk and beaten egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form the dough into a round shape and place it on your prepared baking sheet or cast-iron pan. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk, Take a brush and then brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an ‘X’ into the top of the loaf. (Save the rest to put on the loaf during the cooking process)
  5. Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean,  anywhere from 45 to 50 minutes. Continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes, every 15 minutes.
  6. Remove and cool slightly. Eat while warm and fresh.

Jump in and enjoy! This is really a simple meal. We served it with a lovely Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon and thought it was “heavenly”. It was even better (well almost) for lunch the next day!!

It’s St. Patricks Day

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

In the winter months, there seems nothing better than making soup, and of course then having it for lunch or dinner. It is so fast and easy. I often make a couple in one day, so we have several meals from it. I freeze what we don’t eat, so we have something I can defrost on a busier day. Right now days are not too busy with the pandemic.

A French classic, this creamy potato leek soup is quick, easy, and delicious! And always good with a nice red wine! But then I think most anything is good with a nice red wine.

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 25

Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( I did not have any, so used 1/2 cup of sour cream)
  • Chives, finely chopped, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Do not to brown.
  2. Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
  3. Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaves, and purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth, or use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
  1. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the cream, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once heated through, add the cream and bring to a simmer before serving.

Note: I added some slice ham, so make it a bit hardier. It was wonderful.

Potato Leek Soup

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

What’s for dinner on a weeknight? Got some hamburger in the freezer, some fresh mushrooms, sour cream and a few other additional items and you have the poor man’s version of Beef Stroganoff:

I served it with a ten-minute instant pot recipe for artichoke. They are on sale this time of year, so perfect accompaniment for a simple dinner.

The recipe can vary based on the ingredients you have on hand. I find ground beef gives the best flavor but you can certainly substitute another type of ground meat such as ground turkey or pork.  If using something other than beef, you’ll likely want to add some extra Maggi or Beef Bouillon for a richer flavor!

This easy Ground beef stroganoff recipe is made from scratch with fresh ingredients (no Cream of Mushroom soup as there is too much sodium). This way too simple to make!  You’re literally just  minutes away from getting this beef stroganoff on the table!

  1. Brown beef, onions and garlic.
  2. Add mushrooms, sauce & seasonings.  Simmer a few minutes.
  3. Start your egg noodles cooking!
  4. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles.

Sauce:

  • Sour cream may curdle if it boils so add the sour cream, after you have completed everything else.
  • You can use Greek yogurt if you do not have sour cream. I prefer “light” sour cream or non-dairy sour cream.

Add a little more flavor with any or all of the following:

  • A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
  • Add a sprig or two of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried)
  • Add a couple of slices of chopped cooked bacon with the sour cream. ( You can cook it covered with a paper towel for six minutes)
  • Add a small bit of smoked paprika and a dash of hot sauce

I like to serve over thick fresh egg noodles, but you could serve it over potatoes, rice or normal pasta.

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms sliced ( I like a variety of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (I have bone broth, which worked great)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Instructions
  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a pan until no pink remains.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 more minute. ( I cook my mushrooms separately ahead of time, so there is less liquid)
  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • Remove beef mixture from the heat, Let sit to cool a bit, stir in sour cream and parsley.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Tarte Tatin

The Tarte Tatin was created accidentally at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, 169 km (105 mi) south of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake, regardless she served her guests the unusual dish. Whatever the veracity of either story, the concept of the upside down tart was not a new one.

The tarte became a signature dish of the Hôtel Tatin. Historians and gourmets have argued whether it is a genuine creation of the Demoiselles (Misses) Tatin, or the branding of an improved version of the “tarte solognote”, a traditional dish named after the Sologne region which surrounds Lamotte-Beuvron. Research suggests that, while the tarte became a specialty of the Hôtel Tatin, the sisters did not set out to create a “signature dish”; they never wrote a cookbook or published their recipe; they never even called it tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them  after the sisters’ deaths.

Originally, the tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinete Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them. When choosing apples for a tarte Tatin, it is important to pick some that will hold their shape while cooking, and not melt into apple sauce.

So here is my story: Years ago (42) when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Chadwyck Montford Bennett Wirtz, who is now 41, I went to a cooking school in San Diego. I went once a week for a couple of years. I was working on my MA in Interior Design back in the time when everything was done on an actual drafting table, not CADD. I could no longer fit behind my drafting table to do my homework, so a I took a leave from school and needed something to do, so I went to cooking school and cooked and ate. I started my pregnancy at 110 pounds and gave birth at 185 pounds. Yes, I liked to eat what I cooked. No, I no longer weigh 185, but I still love to cook.

My middle son Kyle Michael Bennett Wirtz never loved chocolate, which seems totally foreign to me. He loved this Tarte Tatin and I would make it holidays for him, when everyone else wanted chocolate. It is still one of my favorites and Kyle is now 37, so when I made this today it made smile and think of him.

And yes it is much better with bourbon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The cooking school was in San Diego and called “The Gibson Girl”. It was a great concept as two people shared a cooking station, we all cooked part of the meal and we all shared it at the end of the evening. I have great memories of that time.

At about eight months the class was featured on TV and they loved that a “very” pregnant woman was taking the class. I continued the class well after Chadwyck, my first of three sons was born. We had a dinner where all the spouses were invited and Chadwyck’s father was thrilled to attend as he loved to eat and loved showing off his six month old son.

I will never forget, Chadwyck was sitting on Fred’s (Chadwyck’s Dad) shoulders and I looked over to see my quite cholicky son start to leave a deposit on my husband’s head. I looked over in horror to see it run off his head over his face and ears and down the sides of his custom-made suit, Fred being totally unaware. I started laughing and everyone, much to his dismay looked his way and broke out laughing. Luckily Fred was always a great spirit, so he started laughing as someone handed him a nearby towel.

This recipe was from The Cordon Bleu of Paris and to this day is one of my favorites. It is an easy recipe if you remember to cover the handle and can flip the tarte.

I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust Recipe, which I will add at the end. I change the recipe a bit and will add the changes I make to the original recipe:

TARTE TATIN

The amazing thing about Tarte Tatin is how the caramelized apples are somehow transformed into something entirely new while still retaining their distinct apple taste. It’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted it make, but a little challenging. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down, which means there is no need for special decorations or even beautiful rolling of the dough. The real challenge is finding the right balance when caramelizing the apples. Julia Child captures the essence of the dessert in this quote.

“To be sure, a Tarte Tatin should be brown and sweet, but it needs to be more. The apples need to be cooked in sugar and butter long enough that they are not only coated in buttery caramel but also permeated with sweetness. Like what happens in jam-making, where some of the water in the fruit is replaced by sugar.”

The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994.

Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients for Pastry Dough
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Ingredients for Tart Tatin
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved ( I use 9 to 10)
1 lemon, zested and juiced ( I just add lemon juice to apples as I peel and slice them)
1 1/2 cups sugar. ( I used 3/4 cup )
6 tablespoons unsalted butter. ( I use 8 tablespoons)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment ( I like a bit of Gran Marnier in my whipped cream.

Directions
Preparing the dough. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar. (I let the butter and sugar blend and then add in the apples)

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook. ( As you can see from my photo I do them in a circle, then add some extra in between, so it is tight.)

Preliminary stove-top cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. ( I do not press on the apples or put a lid, as the apples are up and over the rim of the pan). Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough. ( I do not let cool and have the dough ready to go)

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan. ( I roll the dough around my rolling pen and gently unroll on the top of the apples)

Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. ( I was taught to start at 475 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes or until it starts to look done and the liquid is sizzling, then turn to 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crust is a lovely medium brown)

Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Now the fun part!
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test to see whether it’s ready be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan. If a few apples stick to the pan, rearrange the slices as necessary.

(I run a knife around the pan, put a protective cover on the handle, as once I sort of forgot it was really, really hot and had a lovely burn for quite a while. Make sure you have a nice flat beautiful plate to flip the tarte on). Eat and enjoy!

Italian Joe’s Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a food processor
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and give it a few pulses until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
    (Use cold utensils if not using a food processor to not melt butter)
    3) Add egg and milk mixture to the processor while pulsing a few more times until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  4. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture
    (do not knead)
  5. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  6. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  7. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  8. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  9. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!
Tarte Tatin

The Air is Clearing

It is so very nice to finally awaken to fresh clean smoke free air. Another day at last in my studio enjoying putting paint on a 36″ x 36″ canvas. With time in my studio and time in my kitchen life is good. I called the “The Air is Clearing”, as I could almost see the sky become blue during the day.

When I am not painting I seem to be cooking and made this Plum, Nectarine and Blackberry Galette in the morning.

My friend Reed really liked I think, as this was what was left after breakfast…

The recipe is in one of my earlier posts, and it is so easy and so delicious, you should make one. The last one I made with peaches and blackberries. I like to add a little cinnamon on top and four or five dabs of good butter, with an egg wash and a little sugar on the crust. I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust recipe, as it is moist, flakey and goes together easily:

Italian Joes Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

I tsp salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a large bowl ( He uses a food processor, but I prefer doing by hand.
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and use cold bakers knives or your fingers until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
  4. Add egg and milk mixture mixing by hand or cold utensils until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  5. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture by hand or utensils.
    (do not knead)
  6. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  7. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  8. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  9. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  10. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!

I put the second half of the pie dough in plastic wrap, then use my Seal A Meal to seal it before I freeze it till I need it.

The Air is Clearing