Great ingredients make for great meals. Whenever you can, use the highest quality supplies for your recipes. The flavor difference will always come through in your finished dish.
If there is an ingredient that you are not familiar with, check our Ingredient section. There are pages and pages of information about the ingredients used in my recipes.
Tomato Sauce from Canned Tomatoes
Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes
Low-Acid Tomato Sauce
Oven Fried Chicken
Tomato, Basil and Roasted Garlic Pizza
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Garlic is a member of the onion family and is a close cousin to red and white onions as well as leeks and shallots. Like others in the Alliaceae family, garlic is strong and pungent when fresh and raw, but mellows as it cooks, taking on a slightly sweet, savory/umami flavor.
Cooking garlic over a high heat and letting it brown will turn the garlic slightly bitter. With some recipes, I want that flavor but when I want a soft, sweeter garlic flavor, as in Tomato Sauce or Fettuccini Alfredo, I cook the garlic very slowly over a low heat so that it turns a soft white color and then translucent.
I couldn’t live without my garlic roaster. The best ones are made of terra cotta and have a glazed dish so that the oil won’t absorb into the clay. They’re cheap – ten or fifteen dollars at most and come in single bulb sizes but the one I use allows me to roast about four heads at once. Roasted garlic keeps about a week if you put it in a tightly sealed glass container or a ziplock bag.
If you don’t want to spring for a roaster, using a sauce pan that has a thick bottom will work fine. I reduce the heat in the oven by about 25°, depending on the thickness of the pan.
For use raw, mince your garlic after peeling. Separate the cloves of garlic and trim the stem end. You don’t have to peel the garlic and can simply place it on a cutting board. Place the flat of your knife blade on top and carefully lean against the knife using the heel of your hand. After you have crushed the clove, the skin will slide off and the cloves will mince easily after crushing.
Good Grips and other manufacturers make a nifty garlic peeler. This is a small, flexible silicone tube big enough for three or four garlic cloves. Pop your unpeeled clove inside, roll on the counter and out pops the peeled clove. The silicone tube is an easy clean up. At about 7 bucks this product is a must have if you are going to be cooking for a crowd.
There are three basic types of garlic available in grocery stores today. The white skinned garlic (often referred to as American garlic – which it is not necessarily true), pink skinned garlic and elephant garlic.
White skinned garlic is the strongest and most pungent. The pink skinned is a milder garlic and is often referred to as Mexican or Italian garlic. The large elephant garlic is the mildest of all. When roasting garlic, I prefer to use the pink skinned. I feel that it makes for a softer, richer garlic flavor. Roasting elephant garlic can often yield a tough, fibrous product.
I am not terribly fond of the pre-peeled garlic that is available now. I use a lot of garlic -- fresh and roasted -- and I couldn’t use the garlic fast enough to keep the peeled product from going bad. Purchase your own and if you are not going to use it too fast, simply place it in the fridge.
I know that I have beaten up pretty badly on dried herbs, pre-ground spices, packaged foods and the like, but I actually like to use garlic powder sometimes. It is one of those weird spices that has a flavor all its own - sort of like garlic but not really. I think I like it because my mother cooked with it and it evokes wonderful memories. It is perfect in Oven Fried Chicken and other breaded dishes. I also love making Chicken Salad and French Fries with garlic powder.
3 cloves garlic = 17 calories, <1g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, <1g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 2mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 0 mcg Vitamin K
Garlic still not a magic pill:
I reported recently on a study in Europe that showed that garlic supplementation had no effect on cholesterol levels. A group of researchers in Stanford, California have just released an even more compelling study that appears to confirm the earlier findings.
Garlic: tastes great and... just tastes great:
I've previously reported on the positive effects of garlic on lowering cholesterol and noted that it's hard to study garlic because of the characteristic smell and flavor. Worse, scientists have a hard time agreeing on what form of garlic to use (fresh? powder? pill?) and which strain of garlic to study.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is the name that has evolved to symbolize the healthy foods eaten by those whose countries surround the Mediterranean Sea. Their diets are higher in vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and whole grain cereals. The main fat used is olive oil and there is less emphasis on highly saturated fats.