Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Roasted Garlic, Roasted Garlic Butter and Sirius, the Dog Star

Happy New Year!
We’ve been having a mild start to January, 2016.
Mild for us here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

When I mention the temperatures we get to my New York friends - or worse, to my California friends - they go into shock.
Oh, well… it’s been mild enough that our water pipes aren’t bursting as they did a couple of years ago.
And that’s a very, very good thing.


I recently got an email asking for budget friendly recipes.
One of the first rules of budget shopping is to buy what is in season.
Actually, buying what is in season is the way to get better quality food.

I realize I also have readers who live south of the equator, but I’ll be making budget suggestions for what is available in my local markets.
Please, if you live in Australia or South America, just make a note of the seasonally affected posts and use the recipes when appropriate.


Garlic is now in season and can be found is one pound bags.
People have been eating garlic in China since 2000 BC.
Garlic is grown around the world and is known for its pungent flavour as a seasoning and as a condiment.

Garlic also has a medicinal side…
It was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World Wars I and II.

In 2013 it was proven that garlic may lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol if taken for longer than two months.
They also found a connection between higher garlic consumption and a lower risk of prostate cancer.

But be warned - as garlic may reduce platelet aggregation, patients taking anticoagulant medication shouldn’t eat much, if any, garlic.
Garlic is known to cause bad breath and body odour. 
Sipping milk - or having bland cheese - while eating garlic can help.
Well, nothing’s perfect.


Hint:

Garlic, raw or roasted, may be applied to different kinds of bread to make garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé.

Roasting makes the flavour mellow and sweet and the texture spreadable.
Roasted garlic is delicious with pasta and can be added to an antipasto tray, with some cheese and Italian cured meats, and served with bread. 
You can also add roasted garlic to guacamole or tomato sauce.


If you buy a bag or two of garlic, why not save time and roast them all?
This can be done while you are roasting meat or chicken or baking a casserole.
No, not while you're baking a cake or cookies.

Garlic can be roasted at temperatures ranging from 325º F to 375º F.
Just check after 45 minutes to see how they are doing.
You want them to be dark and soft enough to squeeze out of their skins. 

After roasting you can keep the garlic wrapped in the foil in the refrigerator to spread on sandwiches or to squeeze into vinaigrettes or mashed potatoes.
Roasted garlic can also be frozen.


                        Roasted Garlic

Preheat oven between 325º F to 375º F, depending on what else you are cooking

Tear a large piece of aluminum foil and place it in a pan.
You want a large enough piece to wrap the bulbs.
Lightly grease the part of the foil where you will place the bulbs.

Take garlic bulbs and remove any loose papery skin.
Cut about about 1/4 inch off the tops.
Place the bulbs root side down on the foil.
Drizzle olive oil into each bulb - about 1 teaspoon each per bulb.
Sprinkle the bulbs with salt and pepper, to taste.
Some people like to add thyme or rosemary.

Seal the bulbs tightly in the foil. 
Place the pan in the oven.
Roast the garlic for 45 minutes.
Check to see how they are doing - they might need up to another 45 minutes.
When done it will have browned and the cloves will be soft.
Let sit about 20 to 30 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, squeeze out garlic cloves from the bulb and use.


                        Roasted Garlic Butter

Gently squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Mash the cloves gently with a fork to create a garlic paste. 
Refrigerate or freeze. 
Spread it inside sandwiches or serve with cheese and crackers.


About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On January 9 look to the southeast before sunrise to see Venus and Saturn close together, like they’re touching! This is the closest these two have been since March of 2013.  Don’t bother looking for the New Moon at 8:31 p.m.  

On January 10 locate the three straight stars of Orion’s belt, then follow a line directly below it to locate Sirius, the Dog Star.  Look right below and you’ll see a faint fuzzy smudge, which is M41, a Messier Object. At mid-northern latitudes, look for the pair at 3 to 4 a.m. local time. You’ll need a dark sky and either binoculars or a telescope. 

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