Monday, September 6, 2010

Stovetop Fun

This may be the weirdest food photo I've ever taken. Take a guess at what it is…

Here, I'll give you a hint.

Small pot, peeled cloves of garlic, about a cup of
extra-virgin olive oil, over low heat

I love my recipe for Caesar dressing. But darned if it doesn't sometimes give me a little trouble in the gastrointestinal department (this is the same department I work in as a dietitian). So I wanted to mellow the garlicky sharpness of the dressing a little by using roasted garlic, but it was too hot to turn on the oven. Anyway, what a huge waste of energy it would have been to use the whole oven for a few cloves of garlic. Even if I were roasting an entire head of garlic, it would be a tad self-indulgent. Better to wait until I have the oven on for something else to go that route.

Instead, I used a method my husband taught me for simulating roasted garlic. By slowly simmering the garlic cloves in olive oil, I could get a pretty good approximation of roasted garlic and also have a garlic-infused olive oil to use in the Caesar dressing… double the garlic flavor AND double the fun! And by "fun," I mean, look at these crazy photos! They were the fun part.

Streams of bubbles beginning to show…
Trippy how the natural light is giving the metal a bluish cast

With the flash, you can see the individual bubbles

Bubblin' like a hot springs

Blisters forming on the surface of the cloves

This is where it starts to get weird, as the sun goes down
and the light grows dim in the kitchen

Blue and gold were my high school colors

Garlic goes supernova (or I forgot to focus the camera)

Making this stovetop "roasted" garlic is very easy and low-maintenance. Just bring the oil and garlic cloves to a simmer over low heat. Use as many cloves as you want, as long as you also use enough olive oil to cover the cloves. Continue to simmer until the cloves start to look a little dehydrated and wrinkly, and maybe even a little golden. They should be quite soft at this point.

When you judge it to be finished, transfer the cloves and oil to a bowl or jar and cool uncovered in the fridge (unless you are using it immediately in a hot dish). For my Caesar dressing, I used the cooked garlic cloves and added a couple of raw ones, since it's not the same without a little bit of garlic bite.

Sorry, no pictures of the finished product. However, in my next post, you can see it doing its thing behind the scenes in a Caesar salad topped with stovetop "roasted" asparagus. Yes, there's a theme here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back to Life

The weather in Seattle has been confusing this year, always defying expectations, acting like March in June and vice versa. The arc of my life has been similarly defiant recently. Along with the planned turmoil of moving to a new apartment in the same week that my internship ended, there was added upheaval when a job I had been counting on fell through. Then a couple of days later we had to say goodbye to Hannah, our feline companion of 18 years, just when we finally got her that balcony she'd been asking for that overlooks several lovely trees filled with chattering birds.

The upside of all this -- the end of the internship, joblessness, no cat underfoot -- is that I now have time to get back to blogging about food, cooking and nutrition. I happen to have made a lovely meal this very evening that I want to share, a meal that fits perfectly with the uncertain weather (they're calling it Junuary) because it’s full of lively spring flavors but has some of the richness of comfort food.

Have you ever made a frittata? It’s like a quiche without the crust, and it cooks on the stovetop like an omelet, only there’s no potentially messy flipping or turning. The recipe I used requires finishing the frittata under the broiler to brown the top, but this isn’t really necessary. I checked with Morning Food, a beautiful cookbook by Margaret Fox (an ex-employer of my husband’s) and her recipe calls for putting a tight lid on the pan to make sure the frittata cooks through – no oven time involved.

To make this recipe a little easier, I didn’t brown the potatoes separately – I added them to the onions after about five minutes, and browned them a little bit together. I also stirred the grated cheddar cheese into the egg mixture before adding it to the pan, thus saving another step.

For some brighter flavor and crunch to complement the frittata, I made this Napa cabbage slaw. It was darn good, but next time I’ll make it a little ahead of time to let the flavors marry. I’m also thinking about grating fresh horseradish into it, or adding garlic to make it a little friskier. Another option would be to add some finely minced jalapeno.

The best thing about this meal? Leftovers! Meeting the weather (and life) halfway – that’s how I’m going to get through this challenging period with my positive attitude intact.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello Again!

Finally! My dietetic internship has ended. I have time to cook. I have time to write. And it helps that it’s still light out when I’m ready to take pictures of my food. Stay tuned for a new post coming VERY, VERY soon.

Here's a photo to entice you to check back for new recipes...