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!

Seared Scallops over Risotto

An easy and fast dinner for a weeknight. I prepared the chopped onion and garlic in the morning, so I just had to add it to the Risotto as I was cooking it. I took some frozen peas out of the freezer and had some fresh broccoli in the refrigerator left over from Farmers Market, so cut it up and got it ready.

Risotto is an easy dish, but you do have to watch and stir and watch and add more liquid. I took a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter to bring to room temperature. Most people tell you to add everything “hot” to the pan, once you add the rice and EVOO, but I add at room temperature, mostly because I am a little lazy. I almost always have frozen chicken stock, so throw it in the microwave to warm, while I am cutting up veggies.

Garlic Parmesan Risotto

Risotto in 17-25 minutes?! I’m in! Garlic Parmesan Risotto may be the star of the show we call “dinner” in this easy side – it’s sure to please the whole family!CourseSide DishCuisineItalianPrep Time5 minutesCook Time20 minutesTotal Time25 minutesServings4Calories367kcalAuthorKylee Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion diced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tb s EVOO
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  •  dry white wine ( I use whatever is left over in the refrigerator, so maybe half a bottle). Cheap wine gives you cheap flavor.
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving ( I only use Reggiano Parmigiano, so the flavor is the best it can be)
  • 3 Tbs freshly chopped parsley ( I pick it from my garden, and be sure to remove all the stems, as they are bitter)
  • Peas and Broccoli or what ever veggie you want to add.

Instructions

  • Add butter and oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook until just tender, then add the garlic. Cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the rice and toss to coat, (making sure oil gets onto every grain of rice if you can). Remember I did mine ahead of time.
  • Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  • Add 1 ladle of stock and stir until it absorbs.
  • Repeat this until you have used almost all of the stock -(It should take about 17-25 minutes). Taste to make sure it is the texture you want to eat it. Not mushy, but not too al dente.
  • After adding the last ladle of stock, add the parsley, and promptly add the cheese.
  • Let it absorb until it is creamy and thick, but not soupy.
  • Serve, adding extra parmesan if desired.

Seared Scallops

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • In the meantime, pat the scallops very dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper, to season.
  • When the pan is hot, add EVOO, then drop in your scallops, giving them enough room in between so they don’t steam each other. The scallops should make a sizzling noise when you put them in the pan.
  • Cook the scallops for 2 minutes, or untill you can see a little brown on the edges, making sure not to move them or touch them at all.
  • Flip the scallops over with a pair of tongs, and add the butter to the pan. Let the scallops cook for 1 more minute, basting the scallops with the butter.
  • Remove the scallops from the pan and serve over Risotto!

We served this with a Bennett Lane Pinot and loved the dinner. My granddaughter, age ten had joined us for dinner and ate two huge helpings, more that my male friend. She is quite slight, but can really eat if she loves it! Enjoy!

Seared Scallops over Risotto

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

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

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

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

Explosion Cake

 

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My granddaughter and I saw this in a magazine, not knowing how “famous” it was and decided to make one.   If you have a collection of sprinkles you might like to use, it is a great way to use them all, or at least most of them.   It is a really fun cake to make, with all the different colors and layers.  It looks like a regular cake (with lots of sprinkles) till you cut the first piece.

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It is a very simple recipe and easy to make, but you do need six six-inch cake pans.  I actually only had five but had a springform, the right size for the sixth.  The only thing I did notice is that the springform, which was dark took about 2-3 minutes longer to cook, so that is something to aware of if you are using different colored pans.  I may just buy a sixth six-inch pan today.

The basic recipe is a simple white cake and if you are not a “baker”, you could use a boxed white cake.  I baked the cakes two at a time, so I did not crowd the cakes.  Luckily I have two ovens, so it did not take long.

FROSTING

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces cream cheese, cold

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

32 ounces powdered sugar

CAKE

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1⅓ cups milk

Food coloring

Nonstick cooking spray

 

Preparation

Cake:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and put the oven rack in the middle of the oven (if you are using a convection oven, set it to 325°F).

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. You have to mix all the dry ingredients together first so that there are no clumps in your batter, which will create white spots. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in from the sides.  Be sure all the butter is blended, so there are no lumps of butter.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the vanilla to the milk and set it aside.

6. Mix about 1/3 of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed.

7. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture.

8. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t overmix it so stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.

9. Divide the batter evenly into six portions. They don’t have to be exactly identical, but you want them to be close: You can use any small bowls that are all the same size: Just slowly pour the batter into each of the bowls a little at a time until they are all at the same height (it’s about 1 cup of batter per bowl).

10. Color the batter individually in rainbow colors: I used purple, turquoise, green, yellow, orange, and pink for our six-layer cakes. Start with a tiny drop of food coloring, stir it in completely, then add more until it is your desired color (the baked cake will come out pretty close to what you see the outside will be a little brown, but that gets covered with frosting).

11. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the colored batter into the greased pans.

12. Bake the cakes two at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door. Then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake (cakes are very sensitive. The less you open your oven, the better your cake will come out! I don’t know exactly why, but I know it).

13. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes (when they’re warm, they’re really fragile, and that’s when they tend to break.) Then flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.

Frosting:

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed otherwise, it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Be sure it is all perfectly blended or you may lumps when you go to frost the cake.  It is a fun project.  We used the cutouts in the middle to make what I called the “The Leaning Tower of Caka.”

Assembling:

This is the fun part:  Cut a circle using a 2 inch or so biscuit cutter on five of the six layers.  Put a little frosting on the plate, so the first layer will adhere.  I use commercial cake cardboard available at Walmart, Joanns or Michaels.  Add the first layer, then frost it with nothing in the middle.  Continue to the top layer.  I do a thin coat of frosting over the entire cake, then put in the refrigerator till it is hard.  That makes it easier to put on the final layer of frosting.  There are several YouTubes online that walk you through how to do it.

The outside is a little tricky.  I put the entire cake in a big bowl in my kitchen sink and handful by handful, from the bottom up, added the sprinkles.  It was amazingly easy this way and quick.  Add a little touch-up and you are done.  The fun part is cutting the first piece of this cake.

Be ready as it can make a mess!  I think I am still cleaning up sprinkles!   I put ours in a tray with higher edges, so it would not go all over the floor. We photographed and delivered it to our local Fire Department.

Explosion Cake

Sausage & Chicken Soup

Since we have a lot of sausages leftover from my birthday, I am attempting to find creative ways to use it, so we don’t get tired of it or waste it. This soup was rich and very delicious and I would definitely make it again.  Add a little crust of bread for dipping and it is a wonderfully easy dinner.  You could add a little rice or pasta of preference if you need more substance to your meal.  I used all low-sodium products to make it healthier than the original recipe.  I threw a little shave Parmesano Reggiano on top, but I do that to a lot of dishes.   Enjoy this Fall soup!

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Ingredients

 to Add all ingredients to list

Direction

  1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans with liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
  3. Remove from heat, and add spinach. Replace lid allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves. Soup is ready to serve after 5 minutes.
Sausage & Chicken Soup

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

I found this article online and made a few corrections and additions, but it has great information.

These baking mistakes threaten your beautiful bundts, bread, and bar cookies. Here’s what you should do instead…

In cooking, you’re encouraged to riff: Edamame in your stir-fry? Sure! A splash of rice wine vinegar in your pan sauce? Why not! Curious about herbes de Provence in your chicken rub? Give it a whirl!

In baking, however, creativity should be directed toward what you decide to make and how you decorate it—not how you cook it. That’s because baking is a science; cooking is an art. Science has rules. Art? Not so much.

You don’t read the recipe.

As you do with any IKEA furniture, you should read through the steps and gather your tools before you start mixing and whipping. Otherwise, you might get started and realize you’re one short a cup of cocoa powder of what your recipe needs. Or worse, you’ll start mixing up the dough for the birthday party you’re going to tonight and then realize it’s supposed to chill overnight. Oops!

The fix: Pull your recipe up on your phone, or get it from your cookbook. Read the ingredient list, and assemble everything that’s listed. Then, read the directions. You can even go so far as to “pretend” each step. This way, you can double check you have every ingredient and every appliance or tool you need.

You decide to wing it instead of measuring the ingredients.

The “a little of this, a little of that” mentality may suit you well in cooking, but in baking, it could backfire. After all, consider this: cookies, cakes, and bread contain many of the same ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter, for example. In the right ratios, they make a specific type of baked good. In the wrong ratios, they could be a disaster. That’s why it’s vital to measure every ingredient, from the flour to the tiniest bit of cinnamon.

The fix: Use your measuring spoons and cups. You need the right ratios to get the best results. Save the winging it for your salad dressing.

You don’t respect the comma.

Has the comma in “1 cup flour, sifted” ever confused you? What about the comma in “1/2 cup pecans, chopped”? The comma is telling you something very important. Do you know what?

The fix: The comma is telling you to first measure the ingredient and then perform the task. Measure the cup of flour, then sift it. Or measure the half cup of pecans, then chop them. There’s a big difference between half a cup of chopped pecans and half a cup of pecans that were measured, then chopped. It can dramatically affect your final result.

You use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients (or vice versa).

Liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups measure things differently. Though it’s not a significant amount, it’s enough that it could affect the texture of your final product.

The fix: Use wet measuring cups (typically, the glass type you pour from) for everything liquid: water, oil, honey, milk, molasses, corn syrup, etc. Use dry cups for everything else, from flour and sugar to chocolate chips and yogurt. With the dry cups, be sure to use a flat surface, like the back of a knife, to swipe across the top of the cup to remove excess before adding to the batter.

You dip your measuring cup into the flour.

Dipping a measuring cup into a bag or jar of flour packs the flour into the well of the measuring cup. It may seem like the easiest way to scoop flour, but you’re actually getting more flour than you really need. Too much flour will turn into dense bread, hard cookies, and stiff cakes.

The fix: You need the same amount of flour each time to get consistent results, and you can do this in two ways: The less accurate option is to use a spoon to lightly scoop flour into a dry measuring cup, then use a flat edge (like a knife) to level off the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is with a digital scale. A cup of all-purpose flour should be 130 grams.

You don’t preheat your oven.

We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished rolling out a tray full of cookie dough only to realize your oven is cool as a cucumber. So to save time, you turn the oven on and just stick the pan in any way. Bad idea. The quick and sudden heat is an important part of the baking process. If the dough heats slowly, you may have a mess on your hands.

The fix: If you realize the oven isn’t pre-heated when you’re ready to bake, just let the dough or batter sit while the oven heats up. Most ovens can be heated in about 10 minutes time. If you’re working with a temperature-sensitive dough, pop it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

You’ve never measured your oven’s temperature.

I have some bad news: Your oven could be lying to you. Just because it says 350°F doesn’t mean it really is. That means your brownies or pastries may not bake properly because your oven could be too hot, or even too cool. And 25°F in one direction can make a big difference in the final product.

The fix: Invest in an oven thermometer. Hang it from the grates in your oven the next time you turn it on. Let the oven pre-heat fully, and then see what the thermometer says. That will give you an idea of how correct your oven is—and how you need to adjust the oven when you bake in it.

You substitute baking powder for baking soda.

They might share a similar name, and they even look similar out of the box. But baking soda and baking powder are quite different. Baking soda must have an accompanying acid (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, for example) to activate it; baking powder, on the other hand, has that acid already. If you use the wrong one, your baked goods will take a hit.

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop