Category Archives: Summer

Roasted garlic oil

A few weeks ago, my mom dropped by with probably the best gift M has ever received: a bottle of homemade roasted garlic oil. She’d never had it before, so I took the opportunity to serve it up the best way I know how: with a lot of crunchy, thinly-sliced crostini and small sprinkles of sea salt. M went mad. She consumed about half a loaf of bread herself before she caught me giving her that look. It was, however, officially decided that roasted garlic oil needs to be a main staple in our kitchen.

My mother’s garlic oil was given to us in the sweetest little pouring bottle, stoppered in glass. It’s quite beautiful. The golden oil is something like magic, the color of fairy dust and Cinderella’s golden slippers. It tastes and smells as good as it gets, too: lightly perfumed, with just the right amount of sweetness to make a soft sigh imperative.

Unfortunately, our oil as run low of late…we balefully watched as I poured the last bits of oil from our reserve bottle (also thoughtfully provided by my mom) into the little pouring bottle. We sighed with sorrow. I love it lightly drizzled over toast in the morning with a small dash of sea salt…served up with an egg, it’s about the nicest breakfast you can have on a cold day. Or any day, really.

Well, once I’d decided that I needed roasted garlic for those delicious sandwiches I made, I knew that I could put it off no longer: it was officially time to bring out the peanut oil I had in my pantry and get down to business.

But, my little Pheasant bleated, What if it isn’t as good as your mom’s? Oh no. No, nay, never, no nay never, no more…this oil will be the best. Ever. Just as good as mom’s, I said firmly. I nodded and set off to make the greatest garlic oil I’ve ever tasted.

There are SO many ways to use this oil, and it’s really only limited by your imagination. Here are some ways M and I like to use our garlic oil:

  • Drizzled into mashed potatoes for a more subtle garlic kick (paired with mashed roasted garlic, it’s always a winner!)
  • Use it to sauté onions and mushrooms before tossing with pasta
  • Open up a hot baked potato and spoon a bit inside before salting and continuing with your usual toppings (skip the butter.) It adds a great, subtle garlic flavor that kicks everything up a level.
  • Use it in place of olive oil for aioli…come to think of it, sub the roasted garlic for plain in aioli and you’ve got yourself a winner!
  • Use it on little crostini with sea salt…it’s by far our favorite thing to do!

Roasted garlic oil

1-2 large, tight heads of garlic (depending on whether you want just oil, or garlic mash too)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 c peanut, olive or corn oil

 Using the directions for my best-ever roasted garlic, roast your one or two heads. 

Once they are cooked and cooled, pour the 2 cups of your oil of choice into a non-reactive saucepan or small soup pot. Carefully peel every clove of roasted garlic from one head and drop it into the oil. Set the pot on low heat and let it go for 2 to 3 hours, checking every so often to make sure it isn’t simmering. A few small bubbles here and there are fine, but nothing big. Once done, take it off the heat and leave it to cool.

If you’re making two heads for garlic mash, take the cloves from the second head and smash them all in a small jar. Cover and place it in the fridge.

Garlic mash made easy!

After you’ve let the oil cool, scoop out all the garlic from it and place them into the small jar along with your garlic mash. Place oil in the jar just until it covers all the garlic; replace in the fridge.

In a small glass jar with a lid, or some kind of cap (ours is just like a tiny doorknob with a silicone cap on the bottom for a seal) pour your oil. Pour any excess into a glass bottle (either recycled or new, it doesn’t matter as long as it seals.)

Both bottles will keep in the pantry for about three months. Granted, ours never lasts so long. Keep the garlic mash refrigerated well, and use it for antipasto, in garlic mash potatoes, as a flavoring in tomato and cream sauces, or anything else you like!

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Filed under Sauces and condiments, Seasonal, Summer

Lemon-dill sole and cucumber salad

I apologize for the white on white...I keep telling M we need colored plates!

I love Mediterranean food. Then again, if you know me in person, you probably know that I love every kind of food. But, Mediterranean holds a special place in my heart. I love the fresh, bright, wholesome flavors. And of course, I love the ease of preparation and low fat generally found in Mediterranean cooking.

Whenever I have a need for something fast, healthy and simple, I almost invariably head for Greek or Italian cuisine. It’s simple, satisfying, and oh, so delicious. And lately, I’ve been working harder than usual. Yay for the holidays! Boo for the holiday shopping rushes! So, tonight, I present to you my baked sole, covered in a creamy lemon, dill and pepper sauce. I served it up alongside some delicious cucumber salad and quinoa.

I first had this cucumber salad while staying with my aunt C and her family down in California, about two years ago. It was amazing…I remember she cooked up some grilled chicken, fragrant, delicious rice pilaf and served it up alongside roasted tomatoes, and this cucumber salad. I was in love at first bite. Well, who am I kidding? I was practically head over heels just going off smell alone. It was heavenly. I’d never had anything so simple, yet so beautiful. And that, pheasants, is why I am passing this beautiful side dish along to you. It’s great on its own, or on sandwiches, with rice, or in a gyro. You can make it creamier or less so, depending on your tastes.

Lemon Dill Sole

4 medium to large sole fillets

20 large, multicolored peppercorns (or more or less, depending on how peppery you like it)

2 tbsp dried dill

1/2 tbsp sea salt

1 large, rolled lemon (and zested)

1 tbsp fat free sour cream (or yogurt)

1/4 tsp sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177° C) and line a jelly roll pan with foil. Spray the foil with Pam, and lay out your fillets. Crush 15 of the peppercorns in a mortar, adding in 1 1/4 tablespoons of the dill and half the sea salt. Mix it all together, then sprinkle lightly and evenly over your fillets until the mix is gone. Zest half the lemon, sprinkling the zest over the fillets. Then, cut the lemon in half and squeeze a few tablespoons over the fillets. Place in the oven for ten to thirteen minutes.

While the fish is cooking, take out a small saucepan and put it on medium. Add all the remaining lemon juice and the other half of the lemon’s zest. Add 1/2 the salt left, the sugar, remaining dill, and sour cream. Bring it all to a simmer until thickened. Taste and correct for spices, then set aside to thicken further. I made ours sweeter, because M doesn’t like the bite of lemon.

Once the timer goes off, take the fillets from the oven and set them somewhere to rest for a moment; then, plate them up, spoon the sauce over, and enjoy!

Cucumber Mint Salad

1 whole, large cucumber, ends trimmed

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 tbsp minced red onion

1 small clove garlic, minced fine

6 large or 10 small mint leaves, minced, pureed or muddled

3-6 tbsp plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

Halve your cucumber lengthwise and slice it into thin but manageable slices. Combine them in a bowl with the onion, garlic, tomato and mint. Then, add in the yogurt and mix until everything is coated. Salt and pepper lightly, tasting as you go along.

Allowing this to sit for an hour or so will deepen the flavors.

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Filed under Ethnic, Seafood, Seasonal, Summer