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Garlic Corn on the Cob

3 Aug

For those of you who didn’t see my ecstatic posts on Facebook this weekend (follow A Gilt Nutmeg on Facebook here!), I was at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA last weekend.  The boyfriend and I can actually eat garlic raw and were disappointed with the lack of garlic at the entirely garlic-centric menu at “The Stinking Rose.”  So finally we were going to get a proper dose of garlic!  And proper dose we did: garlic bread, garlic tamales, deep fried garlic, garlic pesto, garlic ice cream (which is actually one of my favorite flavors of ice cream ever)…but one of the best things we ate was garlic corn on the cob.

Daniel and our friend, Rhianan, enjoying their corn.  I was digging into the deep fried garlic at the time, but I snuck bites of Daniel’s corn whenever he wasn’t looking.

So home we went, stopping on the way for those amazing strawberries from Monday’s post and fresh picked corn, 6 for $1.  Is there any need to guess what my plans for the corn were?  It was my mission to try to recreate the amazing clean, clear butter-garlic flavor on the sweet fresh corn we ate the day before.

One of the cooking tricks I pulled out of the hat for this one was something called “blooming”.  As spices get older, they lose flavor and heat (if they’re spicy).  The remedy for this is to “bloom” the spices by heating them in oil or butter for a minute or so.  It magically brings back all the flavorful oils in them and your taste buds will thank you!  I’ve also discovered that clarifying your butter really set the garlic and sweet corn flavors off the best–I’m never going back to slapping a cold pat of butter onto my corn again.

Aim for farmers markets or farm stands for your corn.  Dad taught me long ago that there are few things better than fresh farm corn–he used to drive all the way to New Jersey to get fresh corn from the farm stands.

Garlic Corn on the Cob

  • fresh ears of corn, stripped of leaves and “silk” (the stringy bits)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of butter per ear of corn
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
  • high quality salt
  1. Set a large pot of water boiling and toss in approx 2 sliced cloves of garlic.  Set ears of corn into boiling water and boil for approx 15 minutes or to desired doneness.  I remember growing up we just turned off the burner and left the corn in the pot of hot water until we went back for seconds, so I don’t think there’s really a danger of overcooking it.
  2. In the meantime, gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.  After it’s completely melted, tilt the pot forward and carefully use a spoon to remove just the white floaty bits–these are called the milk solids.  Voila, clarified butter!  You’re ready for lobster…or really amazing corn.
  3. Add the rest of the sliced garlic plus the garlic powder to the butter and stir.  Remove from heat after a few minutes and brush the butter over the ears of corn.  I leave the garlic slices behind, but if you want to brush them over the corn as well, be my guest–there’s really never too much garlic in my book!  You’ll probably want them minced instead of just sliced if you plan on doing this, so the garlic bits can stick to the ears of corn.
  4. Sprinkle with some good salt and get ready for a delicious treat!  On one final note: I mentioned that there is never enough garlic for me.  This recipe will give you a delicate, even garlic flavor for your corn.  I absolutely kicked it up an extra notch by sprinkling additional garlic powder directly on the corn as well, but that level of garlic is not for everybody 🙂
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Stir-Fried Broccoli with Chili-Garlic Sauce

27 Jul

Chinese food has long been my go-to comfort food.  No matter where I live, there’s always at least one hole-in-the-wall Chinese food restaurant where the waiters know my face and ask if I want “the usual” (“the usual” for me is won-ton soup and beef and broccoli).  I always knew that I should be able to make this at home, given how much I eat it, but I always just left it to the professionals because the ingredient lists were daunting and I didn’t have a wok.  Until this recipe.  I still don’t have a wok, but I’ve certainly got a new way to whip up some broccoli quickly when I get home from work, since I had 75% of the ingredients already in my fridge.

I ran to the store to pick up some ingredients–my local Vons had no chili-garlic sauce, but they did have a giant $10 bottle of sesame oil.  No way! I would be skipping sesame oil and the sherry, because I just didn’t want to spend the money.  So I headed to Whole Foods, since they have a strangely more international section than any super grocery store for the chili-garlic sauce.  Lo and behold, they had a smaller $5 bottle of sesame oil and I grabbed it.  Once I got home, I opened the bottle of sesame oil and hesitated before taking a sniff…and that one sniff changed my whole perspective of making Chinese food at home.  Sesame oil IS the smell of Chinese food!  I couldn’t believe that all this time I had been foregoing what was probably the most important ingredient of Chinese food.  No wonder it never tasted as good as what I got from the local take-out place!

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Chili-Garlic Sauce
Serves 2
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2011

  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  1. In small bowl, whisk broth, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch together until well combined
  2. In second small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil, garlic and red pepper flakes
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add broccoli and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until broccoli is well browned, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic-oil mixture and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Add broth-soy sauce mixture and toss until broccoli is evenly coated.

Tomato Mozzarella Avocado Salad

20 Jul

It is a decided fact that you cannot take a good photo of beautiful, snow white mozzarella once it’s been tossed with balsamic vinegar.  The good news is, this salad is DELICIOUS.  It’s what got me eating avocado finally after a good two years of living in California and turning my nose up the stuff.  It also got my roommate eating tomatoes, so I’m pretty sure this salad has secret magic in it.

Best of all, it can be thrown together in the miniscule time it takes you to chop up 4 little ingredients.  I was so hungry when I got home from yoga last night that I was literally was “throwing” the salad together.  It was as if there was a race between me and my stomach–if I win, I get fed, if my stomach wins, I die of starvation.

That all said, this is delicious Californian start to any meal or a meal in itself and shows off the best of California summer produce.

Tomato Mozzarella Avocado Salad
serves 2-4 as a side

  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 golf ball sized fresh bocconcini or a handful of smaller sized mozzarella balls, the kind found in a container of water
  • 3 cloves of raw garlic (this will make for a spicy salad, which is delicious, but you can adjust to your own taste)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

…I’m not sure instructions can get any easier than this….

  1. Chop tomato and avocado; toss into bowl (for full disclosure…I get rid of the tomato seeds…they’re a culinary pet peeve of mine)
  2. Chop bocconcini into bite sized pieces, if using small mozzarella balls, slice in half; toss into bowl
  3. Finely chop garlic cloves; toss into bowl
  4. Drizzle contents of bowl with 2 parts balsamic vinegar and 1 part olive oil
  5. Salt & pepper to taste
  6. Enjoy!

French Fries

7 Jul

What’s better than french fries?  Pretty much nothing, so then you have to get down to the nitty gritty and pick out which french fries are better than others.  It’s hard to beat the sweet potato fries from Father’s Office down the street here.  It’s also hard to beat good old McDonald’s fries fresh from the fryer.  The best, though, may be those you make at home.  They’re healthier, tastier, and surprisingly easy to make.

I do admit that I’ll need to give these a second go round, as I beat them up pretty badly while stirring too much as they were frying.  They ended up mostly little fried crispy ends, which, luckily enough are my favorite part of eating an order of fries, so I can’t complain that much!  They’re best eaten fresh, of course, so don’t bring them to a pot luck and try to time the rest of dinner accordingly.

Note: Unfortunately, because of the cold oil frying technique used, I’m told this recipe will not work with sweet potatoes or even normal Russet potatoes which are more commonly found in grocery stores than the Yukon Golds.  Regardless, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the Yukons.

French Fries
adapted from Summer Entertaining 2011
serves 3 – 4

  • 2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes (not the baby new potatoes; try to get at least palm-sized)
  • 6 cups peanut oil
  • good salt
  1. Slice the potatoes into french fry shapes, which is a lot easier than expected.  First of all, wash them but there’s no need to peel them (Yukon Gold skin is very thin). Slice off a thin slice from each of the 4 “sides” of the potato, so that it lies flat on the cutting board without rolling around.  Cut the potato vertically into 1/4″ slices, lay those slices flat, stacking them on top of each other, and cut vertically again into 1/4″ french fry sticks.
  2. Put peanut oil and sliced potatoes into a large pot.  Turn the burner on high so that the oil comes to a full rolling boil, which should be about 5 minutes. It’ll be hard, but don’t stir them for another 15 minutes, just let it boil.
  3. After 15 minutes are up, you can gently stir the potatoes, scraping up any that stuck to the bottom.  Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp.  Summer Entertaining said it will be another 5-10 minutes.  I think mine took an extra 20 minutes at least and I have no idea why!  The fries were just chewy until they started to crisp up properly, so have patience, because they were worth the wait.
  4. Once golden, scoop out of the grease and place on a paper towel-ed plate to drain.  Now for a fancy chef trick, transfer the fries to a mixing bowl (metal is normally used), and sprinkle salt over them with one hand as you toss the fries around with the bowl in your other hand.  Feeling chefy already, right?

Maple Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 Jun


I promise that I will start sharing some fancy desserts soon, but, full disclosure: my boyfriend AND roommate have both been out of town and I can’t be trusted alone in the house with, say, a cake sitting on the counter.  Or a plate of brownies.  Or lemon squares.

So in the meantime, I’ve been at home cooking healthy for just me.  I ended up with a couple of sweet potatoes and while I typically bake and mash them with some butter and salt and pepper, I found myself wanting something a little fancier–I figure if you’re not excited to eat what you’re making, what’s the point?  And this recipe is what came out of it.  A little sweet, a little salty, a little savory and a great way to transfer that sweet potato sitting on top of your fridge into a fun side dish or even a good little dinner by itself, if you’re not too hungry (for example, me, tonight).

Maple Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Note:  I’m pushing you baby birds out of the nest and teaching you to fly–no measurements here, you’ll just have to decide what fits your tastes!

  • 1 sweet potato per person
  • maple syrup
  • thyme
  • fleur de sel or another coarse sea salt
  1. Heat oven to 400°
  2. Scrub the sweet potato(es) and slice into approx 1/2 inch thick rounds
  3. Place slices, flat side down, in single layer in a glass baking dish
  4. Drizzle with maple syrup–I keep it pretty light, but it can certainly handle more than what I put on
  5. Sprinkle with thyme and salt
  6. Bake until slices are soft, about 20 minute

Bon Appetit!

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