Friday, September 11, 2009

It's not just for keeping vampires away......

I am now just discovering what many of you probably already know.

A fresh bulb of garlic is the high heel of the kitchen.

You might not have ever thought about it quite this way but if you truly know me then the analogy to shoes isn't such a surprise.

As a new wife, the only form of garlic my kitchen knew was either in salt or powder form. I faked my way through recipes but the food always ended up tasteless and boring. Like a Croc. Bland. I'm not ripping on the resin-based footwear (I have a few pairs myself). But I grew out of that phase. The garlic powder and garlic salt are in the cupboard; on reserve for when a recipe actually calls for it. And the Crocs are at the back of the closet.

Ready-To-Use Minced Garlic was a new discovery for me. For years I've cooked with the monster jar from Costco. It's like a flip-flop. Comfortable. Easy. Convenient. I'm certainly not denouncing the use of this stuff. And I'll always own at least 5 different pairs of flip-flops but let's face it... do flip-flops make any of you feel very chic?

I've recently been trying out new recipes, many of which have called for fresh garlic. Since I've been trying to use fresher ingredients I decided to throw a few garlic bulbs in the grocery cart. I am so glad I did! Not only have the recipes tasted amazing.... I've felt more gourmet than ever before! Mature even. Just as a good high heel gives you a certain flair, fresh garlic makes you feel like you're cooking in style.

Here are two of my new favorite recipes {both using garlic and both very healthy}. Try 'em out. Wearing high heels while you cook is totally optional but if you're cooking with fresh garlic, I promise.... you won't need the heels.

P.S. My picky eaters loved both of these recipes.

Roasted Garlic & Sweet Potato Soup (EASY!)

6 large sweet potatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 head roasted garlic {yay} ;)

6 cups chicken broth

1 or 2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Rub cut surfaces with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet. On the same baking sheet, place a whole bulb of garlic and drizzle with more olive oil. Bake uncovered in center of oven until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add chopped onion and saute until clear and soft. Place in food processor. Remove potato pulp from the sweet potatoes and place in food processor. Squeeze roaste garlic into the food processor. Run the food processor until a smooth puree forms. (Add some of the water if needed.) Place puree into a large saucepan. Add broth and water until desired consistency. Cook on mdium until thoroughly heated.

Makes 10 cups

I reserved some of the roasted garlic, mixed it with butter, then spread on bread and grilled it.

Grilled Chicken & Carrots

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp ground fennel seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional if you don't like spicy)

16 small carrots, peeld (not baby carrots)

3 1/2 cups chicken broth


4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed

Cooking Spray

4 Tbsp plain yogurt

Mix spices in a bowl. Sprinkle over chicken and set aside. Place carrots in boiling water for about 4 minutes and remove. Dry on a paper towel. Set aside. Bring chicken broth to a low boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Smash garlic gloves using the side of a large knife (you want to release full flavors but keep cloves fairly intact). Add mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer about 20 minutes. Discard garlic and set sauce aside. Coat grill with cooking spray and grill chicken 4 to 6 minutes per side until cooked through. Grill carrots about 5 minutes, rotating until charred. Return sauce to stove. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and whisk in yogurt. Serve.

I found the sauce to be very thin but also very yummy. We poured the sauce over the chicken and carrots but I think it would also taste good to chop up the chicken and carrots and serve as a soup.