I’m in an icky mood because it’s pouring rain in August, getting cute video clips out and ready for this blog is way more difficult/time-consuming/expensive than it ought to be, and there’s no ice cream in the house. More importantly, one of the grandparents of someone dear to me has passed away today, and since I can’t be there to give hugs to the rest of their family, I will do a written post about something yummy that this special person and I like to share. These are easy, fun, refreshing, and flexible, just like the best of friendships should be.
Oven-roasted garlic is something that one of my coworkers kept telling me about a long time ago, and I didn’t think it was a big deal in theory. Since getting down to business and making it, this stuff has changed my life!
Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Get a bunch of garlic bulbs. Give them a haircut, sit them in a pan or on top of a large sheet of foil, and drizzle them generously with olive oil. Don’t skimp on the oil, it’ll flavour up and you’ll want to put it on and in everything. Unless you don’t like garlic.
Cover the pan with foil, or fold the sheet up into a closed packet (like wrapping a present, with an extra fold on top). Depending on what you plan to use the garlic for and therefore the texture that your dish needs, the bulbs can roast for about half an hour to 45 minutes.
I kept these ones in for about 40, and they’re soft, mellow, and tasty. Leaving them in a bit longer will give you cloves that are darker and sweeter. What’s great about roasting garlic in the oven is how easy it is to ploop! squeeze the cloves out after and use them. The only downside to roasting is that you want to use them right away because the house smells so good. Patience will be rewarded, and your fingertips will thank you.
I love to smoosh cloves on a warm, crusty piece of bread/naan/pita, throw a couple into pastas, rice, cous cous, salads, puree them in soups, basically add them to everything I eat.
The oil can be used to enhance sauces, soups, dips and marinades, can be drizzled over pasta, or you can dip bread in it.
Now for a real treat, a crash course in how to roast your own red peppers, on a gas stove. I made these while the garlic was baking. Sorry, electric stove kids…you have to go out and buy ’em in a store, or roast them in the oven. Here I show how to make the stovetop version. Oven directions can be found here! Note that you’ll need olive oil for that method.
NOTE: If you’re going to play with food and flames, whether it’s with a blowtorch, gas stove, candle, campfire, grill or roasting device of some sort, do it safely, follow the instructions, don’t stand too close, don’t wear long sleeves, DO use tongs, and don’t touch anything that is actually on fire, for Pete’s sake!
First of all: Remember to open your window and turn on the fan in the kitchen if you have one. You’ll be glad you did.
Halve, seed, and take the fluffy bits out of a red pepper, or leave it whole, your preference. Place it skin-side down on a burner and crank it up to maximum flame-age.
Make sure that it blackens all over, because the skin needs to char in order to become easier to peel away. You can tell that the pepper is done when it looks like the heart of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.
There are two things that you can do now: Either put the peppers in a bowl and cover them with saran wrap for 20 minutes to let them steam and make the skins easier to remove, or let each one cool down for a few minutes, then when still warm, drop the pepper in a plastic bag, puff it up, twist the top shut, and bop it back and forth a bunch of times, like that giant balloon on an elastic band you might have played with as a kid. Watch the little bits of outer skin fly off, it’s kind of cool. The choice depends on how busy you are and how much fun you want to have.
Who knew that you’d get a workout and a hunk of nostalgia on the way to flavour country?
Smooth your fingers over the pepper half, rubbing away any blackened bits or stuck-on (un-roasted) outer skin. That’s why you have to scorch the thing all over, and the bag helps the steam build up (without melting the plastic when the pepper touches it).
I love roasted peppers and have only started seeing them popularized within mainstream cuisine (outside of the Mediterranean) for the past year or two. They’re sweet, delicate in texture, and add a nice punch of colour to anything you pair them up with.
I ended up using a bulb of garlic and 2 red pepper halves to make a batch of hummus for my friend, who had been away for a month and couldn’t wait to have something fresh.
These ingredients are great to have on hand at all times. They are so easy to start a dish with, or amp up something you’re already excited about eating. There are so many possibilities!
If you’re into jarring/canning and preserving food at home, this is super easy and fun to store for those dreary months where a fresh red pepper is not to be seen (except for in all of those hot and sunny countries that you’ll become incredibly jealous of when the sky turns grey). I’m trying to think of all the pretty food combinations or yummy sauces/jams that people would love to see peeking out from behind glass, and garlic/peppers seems like a surefire winner.
Check out www.homecanning.com for tips and safety guidelines, like acidity and sugar levels, as botulism probably does not taste good! I just picked up a dozen little Bernardin jars and will update you after the mood strikes. This is a fantastic excuse to go ribbon and label shopping.