Basics – Roasted Garlic

garlic cloves in oil
There are few smells better than roasting garlic.  The top 5, according to me, of most heavenly, coma-inducing kitchen smells are:

1. Bread baking
2. Garlic roasting
3. Onions cooking in butter
4. Browning butter
5. Bacon sizzling in the pan

We have plenty of days where our house smells like baking bread, but I don’t have that smell of garlic roasting near enough.  Roasting garlic turns the garlic into an almost caramelized, savory paste that softens the intensity of raw garlic, mellows out the flavor and makes it perfect for dressings, soups, pasta dishes, breads, and that doesn’t even include the wonderful uses of the garlic oil that is produced from the roasting process.  Garlic oil=liquid gold.

So today, in the first of my series on cooking basics, I’ll show you my process for roasting a head of garlic and then below, a simple recipe for garlic aioli that can be used on sandwiches as an amazing spread alternative to mayo!

First, lop off the top of a head of garlic and place in a large piece of tin foil.  Put that little package in a small dish to catch leaking oil.  Generously salt and pepper the cut tops and drizzle with about four tablespoons of oil.
ready for roasting
Next, place both cut-side down, crimp the foil together to form a tent and place in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes.  Your garlic should look like this when it’s done:

roasted garlic
I checked mine about half-way through to make sure I wasn’t cooking it too fast.  Let the head of garlic cool to where you can handle it and then just pick it up and squeeze, popping out all the cloves.  You’ll end up with this:
roasted garlic cloves in oil
Place the cloves in a jar and fill up with oil to cover the cloves.  This allows your oil to become infused with garlic-goodness and it keeps the garlic cloves from drying out.  Store on the counter to use for anything you can think of!  We use the oil to make a quick aioli to spread on burgers, sandwiches, or as a dip for roasted potatoes – heaven!

garlic in oil

Garlic Aioli

1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup garlic infused oil

Place the egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bottom of a tall immersion cup.  Add the oil and submerge your immersion blender to the very bottom of the cup.  Turn the immersion blender on and slowly lift as you blend.  The oil will combine with the rest of the ingredients and by the time you get to the top, you should have a smooth consistency.  If you are using a basic blender or food processor, add the ingredients except for the oil.  Turn on the blender and then slowly stream the oil until all the oil is added.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.  But it probably won’t last that long!

Parsnip Puree with Coriander Brown Butter

parsnip002

I remember the months of making Olive’s baby food with great fondness and happy farewells.  While it was fun to show her new foods, I was all too glad to stop blending and pureeing things like chicken pot pie or beef stroganoff.  Because while certain foods look nice pureed, others look like…gray.  And gray just isn’t an appealing color in the food world.

Whenever I see recipes for purees, I instantly think, “That’s baby food” because it was to me.  I never followed the rules of how to feed your baby what at what age, except for the standard “biggies” like honey, peanut butter and strawberries.  I just always blended up whatever we were having and it always worked out great.  Her first foods weren’t bland cereals, but full flavored vegetables.  Olive ate and enjoyed nearly everything my trusty immersion blender wanted to create and I think, because of that, she isn’t very averse to strong flavors, spices and seasonings.  I always seasoned her baby food.  I’d hold back on the salt more than what my palette would prefer, but I felt that her food should taste good and that if we enjoyed it, she’d enjoy it!

Today’s recipe fits a lot of current trends.  Substitutions for those evil, fear-inducing potatoes?  Check.  Browned Butter?  Check.  Calling baby food a puree and feeling fancy while serving it for dinner?  Check.  I made this dish last night as a side to lamb chops and roasted broccoli.  (Olive gnawing on the lamb chop ranks up there with Greatest Moments Ever.)  We all enjoyed it and I think it will make an appearance again during the fall season.  Those crusty bits that Olive called bacon?  Yeah, that’s roasted garlic.  Totally awesome.  If I could do anything, I’d make parsnips not so sweet.  And then, by George, they’d actually taste like mashed potatoes!  🙂

parsnip003

Parsnip Puree with Coriander Brown Butter*
serves 4-6 as a side

2 lbs parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
5 TBS unsalted butter
2-4 TBS milk
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 cloves chopped garlic

Boil the chopped parsnips in salted water until tender.  Transfer to a food processor, or to a large bowl if using an immersion blender.  Add two tablespoons of butter, the milk and salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy and no chunks remain.  Add a dash more milk if you want.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

In a stainless steel skillet over medium heat, add the remaining three tablespoons of butter, coriander and chopped garlic.  Swirl the butter around until bubbling and starting to brown.  Keep the garlic moving around so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and pour over the parsnip puree to serve!

*recipe from Real Simple magazine this month, in which they gave us four entire weeks of dinner planning.  I’m not going to squander that work done for me, so we’re eating through Week 1 and enjoying it very much.  Especially the lack of effort part.