Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good Garlic

In my current research into happiness, I came across a reference to this study which found that adding garlic bread to a family meal decreased the number of negative interactions by 22.7% and increased the number of pleasant interactions by 7.4%. Apparently it's the garlic, not the bread that has the positive effect, and even the smell of cooked garlic is enough to improve family interactions!

When Louise was about 7, we were living on an organic garlic farm in upstate New York. That's where I learned to roast whole bulbs of garlic. We would slice off the stem end, and place the root end down in a generously oiled roasting dish, rubbing oil over the whole bulb. When roasted until soft and beige (not brown and hard), everyone would get their own head of garlic. We would squeeze each clove out of its skin, the flesh as soft as warm butter. This is delicious spread on bread or mixed in with other roast vegetables as a condiment. Roasted garlic is creamy and mild, without any of the sharpness of raw or lightly cooked cloves.

When I don't know what exactly I'm making for dinner, its usually a safe bet to start by sauteing some chopped onion and garlic, then adding whatever I can find in the fridge. Some of my favourite ways to get the aroma and taste of garlic going include:
  • Sliced garlic and chunks of zucchini sauteed in butter or olive oil until the garlic and the corners of the zuccini just start to caramalise and turn brown. Sometimes I'll add tomatoes and fresh basil.
  • Chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms sauteed slowly in butter or olive oil until the mushrooms are very very soft and the garlic has kind of melted into the mushroom juice. This is good with lots of finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of wholegrain mustard.
  • Chopped garlic and onion sauteed til soft (starting with the onions and adding the garlic towards the end so it doesn't burn and become bitter). Then when the onion/garlic is cooled down I mix in lean minced organic beef, a free range egg, soft bread crumbs and whatever vegetables, herbs and spices I feel like (today it's lots of cumin and and a little cinnamon). I enjoy squooshing the mixture in my hands like playdough, and then shaping into little balls which I bake on a rack in the oven until brown. The cooked meatballs sit in a box in the fridge and get added to spaghetti sauce, cooked vegetables, sandwiches, even salad as I feel like it. When Louise left home and I was only cooking for myself, I stopped cooking very often. This is one of the things I try and make once a week so that I have some proper food to graze on even when I'm not making a whole meal.

1 comment:

  1. I miss garlic and onions! Sadly the baby does not react well to the combination. However - I share the same love for sauteing them together to create something tasty in the kitchen. Many mornings in Chicago I would experiment with quiche. My base was always a large sweet onion, lots of fresh minced garlic and some shallot. Then I would layer in whatever veggies I had. I would then grate all of the random cheese slices in the fridge - and combine in a pie shell and cover with a basic quiche mix (a couple eggs, some milk, salt and fresh herbs.) Very tasty! I've only done a couple quiches since we've moved to CO - somewhat because I can't have onion/garlic/shallot in them anymore!

    Beautiful pics...made my mouth water...