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Thursday
Apr242014

A Good Family Member

Garlic, did you know, it's part of the onion family? And its cousins include shallots, leeks and chives. The inclusion of raw garlic into your diet can have beneficial antioxidant effects. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging free radicals (not the people). The medicinal properties and benefits of garlic are strongest when it is raw and crushed or very finely chopped. Garlic makes a good health supplement combined with sensible eating and appropriate exercise. Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting something new; regarding any change to your diet or medical condition.

What I eat today is very important, because each day of my life depends on it. - George Hirsch

Caramelized Garlic
Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes six heads
chefgeorgehirsch.com | From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV Series

6 heads fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
one 12‑inch square aluminum foil

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.

Lay each garlic head on its side and cut off 1/4 inch from the bottom or root end, exposing the garlic cloves. Brush with olive oil.  

Place the heads, exposed end down, in a single layer in an ovenproof pan.   Roast in a 325 degree oven 10-15 minutes or until light brown.  Cover with aluminum foil and roast 8-10 minutes longer, or until creamy.

Allow garlic to cool and remove cloves from head as needed.  Garlic may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several days.  

To puree, crush garlic cloves with the flat of a knife. 

RECIPE: No Yolk Caesar Salad Dressing 

Tuesday
Apr222014

Italian Grits: I’m a Fast Cook, I Guess

My grandfather who was a great maker of polenta called it "mush",  as it was commonly eaten during Roman times. It seemed as though he stood at the stove for hours stirring and stirring until it was just the right consistency. No fancy sauces were put on this delicacy; it was just pored out hot onto a wooden board and you raced to dig right in before it disappeared. Later in life, Grandpa loosened from his traditional roots. He added red meat sauces and other salted meats; such as bacon or pancetta, and even anchovy to dress the polenta. He passed his pot on to me, so I ran with it and continue the family tradition today.

Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal and is often cooked in a huge copper pot, known as paiolo, for even heating. Traditionally polenta is a slowly cooked dish; it can take an hour or longer, and constant stirring is a must. The time, dedication and arm-stirring labor of traditional preparation methods has sparked the way for many shortcuts today. There is now instant polenta available from Italy that allows for quick cooking - kind-a-like instant grits, or there's fully cooked polenta in a tube that requires only slicing and reheating. I suggest reheating by grilling, roasting, sautéing or baking, then top with your own creative sauce. It may not be Grandpa’s, but if in a pinch, try it with my favorite recipe; grilled topped with a sauce of creamy gorgonzola and crispy pancetta. 

I'm a fast cook, I guess - reminds me of the classic line from the movie My Cousin Vinny. Mr. Tipton: “I don't know, I'm a fast cook I guess.” AS IF THERE IS SUCH A THING AS MAGIC GRITS!

Vinny Gambini: "So obviously it takes you 5 minutes to cook your breakfast."

Mr. Tipton: "That's right."

Vinny Gambini: "That's right, so you knew that. You remember what you had?"

Mr. Tipton: "Eggs and grits."

Vinny Gambini: "Eggs and grits. I like grits, too. How do you cook your grits? Do you like them regular, creamy or al dente?"

Mr. Tipton: "Just regular I guess?"

Vinny Gambini: "Regular. Instant grits?"

Mr. Tipton: "No self respectin' Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits."

Vinny Gambini: "So, Mr. Tipton, how could it take you 5 minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit eating world 20 minutes?"

Mr. Tipton: "I don't know, I'm a fast cook I guess."

Vinny Gambini: "I'm sorry I was all the way over here I couldn't hear you did you say you were a fast cook, that's it?"

Mr. Tipton: "Yeah."

Vinny Gambini: "Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than anywhere else on the face of the earth?"

Mr. Tipton: "I don't know."

Vinny Gambini: "Well, I guess the laws of physics cease to exist on top of your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?"

credits, IMBD image
Tuesday
Apr222014

Good as Earth, Grilled Asparagus

Earth Day is a time to take note and act in support for environmental protection, not just one day a year but in our everyday experiences. Eating and cooking more veggies for our diet is a healthy and fun way especially when grilling.

George Hirsch Grilled Asparagus

Serve this easy make-ahead dish as a starter or a side.  The asparagus is enhanced by the marinade and grilling.

Grilled Asparagus
Makes four servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series

1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon  of fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup calamata olives, pitted and split
Fresh ground black pepper

Cut the stem ends off the asparagus and discard; peel the asparagus up to the beginning of the tip ends with a vegetable peeler. 

 Combine a 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano in a shallow rectangular dish. Marinate the asparagus in this mixture for 1 hour. 

Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium temperature.

Remove the asparagus from the marinade and grill for about 5 minutes, basting with the marinade. Turn the asparagus as needed so they do not burn. 

Remove the asparagus from the grill, top with lemon zest, parmesan cheese and olives. Top with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Serve at room temperature.