Category Archives: garlic

Toom Sauce (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

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If ever there was a recipe that was greater than the sum of its ingredients, it is this one.  This sauce is heaven.  Heaven.  This sauce is worth the garlic breath.  My family and I frequent a Mediterranean restaurant that offers this freely.  And, I take advantage.  I use it on everything – fish, chicken, eggplant, falafel.  At home, I use it on my sandwiches, eggs and samlon.  It’s creamy and rich in all the right and healthful ways.  I had no idea what was in it.  Without knowing more at the time, I swore there was mayo in it.  Then, I found out that this sauce is a mayonnaise .  Just like mayonnaise, toom sauce is an infusion of garlic and vegetable oil.  Just that.  Many recipes add potatoes which is not necessary at all if this recipe is done right.  This sauce is pungent and has a bite like wasabi.  It has a bite that can be reduced with more oil.

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It is imperative that directions are closely followed.  You have to work with a thin stream of oil.  Do not rush it.  Ingredients should be at room temperature.  Use vegetable oil.  Do not substitute olive oil.  Work with fresh garlic.  You will know if it’s fresh by squeezing the whole bulb and it shouldn’t move that much – the garlic bulbs should be firm and tight.  Make sure the lemon juice is free from pulp and seeds.  The better the ingredients and attention to detail at the outset, the better the final result will be. Also, there should be NO water at all in your food processor, or spoons or anything.  It could break the sauce.  Finally, be patient.

Toom Sauce (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

adapted from Chef Kamal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peeled garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a food processor (completely dry – no water, remember), add the garlic and salt and run it until the garlic is finely minced – about 30 seconds.
  2. Stop your processor and using a spatula (without any water) scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Run the processor again in 30 second increments, scraping after each time, until the garlic turns pasty.  This should be done after 4 times.
  4. Scrape the bowl finally and then turn on the processor – this time, you won’t be turning it off until the whole process is complete.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the oil in a thin stream (cannot stress the thin part of this) until fully incorporated.
  6. Alternate to add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a thin stream until its fully incorporated into the garlic mixture.
  7. Then, add the oil in 1/2 cup increment following with the tablespoon of lemon juice until everything is used.
  8. You may notice at this point that the liquid hasn’t come together.  If so, it could be that you didn’t use a thin stream and it broke the mixture.  If this is the case, run the processor for 5 minutes.  If it still doesn’t pull together, turn off the processor, scrape down the mixture and run it again for 5 minutes.  It should pull together to some extent.  But, if it doesn’t, it’s still usable as a great marinade.  This is why I stressed the use of a thin stream.
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Filed under Favorites, garlic, Vegan, Vegetarian

Roasted Garlic

I’ve told you some basics before (broccoli and rice), but this is a basic that everyone should know.  Absolutely everyone.  I have tried every which way (especially with pre-peeled garlic) to get this right,and most methods have failed – save this.  You can just throw it in the oven while you are baking something else (savory, not sweet).

Versatile is an understatement when it comes to roasted garlic.  I recently used this in a compound butter that I made and can’t wait to share.  I’ve also used it in the past for mashed potatoes – my favorite way to eat mashed potatoes.  And talk about a base for garlic bread.  Or a baked potato.  Geez Louise.

Roasted Garlic

adapted from Simply Recipes

yields one head of roasted garlic

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel away all outer layers of the garlic bulb.
  3. Place garlic bulb on a piece of foil paper large enough to cover the garlic bulb.
  4. Once you place the bulb on the foil, drizzle with olive oil over each exposed clove until fully covered.  Cover up with the foil.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until the cloves are soft.
  6. Let the garlic fully cool before handling.  Using your fingers, pinch out each clove from the skin.

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Filed under Basics, garlic

Stuffed Mushrooms [ & Happy Birthday]

It’s my birthday today.  Not just any birthday.  I’m officially 30.  Big one right?  I find myself not caring.  I would say that it’s because I’m too busy with a baby and business to care, but I don’t think that’s quite it.  I think it’s denial.  As if now that I’m starting my 30s, I feel a sense of filing away my 20s and accepting all that’s happened in the file as the past.  And, that’s a lot of stuff .  Namely, all that revolves around my dad.  It’s hard to file away his passing as something that has happened.  While others around me make a deal about my birthday, the one thing that stands out is that this year, my dad will not call me to say “happy birthday.”  Although seemingly minute, birthdays are the one thing we grew up caring about.  My dad would make it a point – no matter where we were in life – to always call on our birthdays.  He didn’t care much for cards or presents (bummer when we were kids!), but the words were said.  And, genuinely so.  I fully intend on carrying this tradition forward.

These stuffed mushrooms were my dad’s favorite.  People love them, but I loved that my dad loved them.  He did not like cheese or cheese-y dishes.  (One of the many ways we are different.)  However, my stuffed mushrooms were the exception.  Over time, I have perfected these to be a family favorite.  I would venture to say that this recipe is sorta my thang.  I make these mushrooms at all get-togethers where there are a manageable amount of people.  What I mean by that is a feed-able amount of people.  I wanted to make these at my baby shower, but the amount of people (50!) would not have made this dish feasible.  Although the recipe creates 12 mushrooms, I expect everyone to eat at least 3.  Case and point – I made 12 for a group of 4 and we had no left overs.  While I stand behind all the recipes I post, this one is extra special.  It’s out-of-this-world delicious and surrounded by meaningful memories.  And, those kind of memories are not so easily forgotten.

Stuffed Mushrooms

– makes 12 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided in half (or fresh bread crumbs)

Directions:

  1. Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms.  Finely dice the mushroom stems.  Set aside.
  2. Heat pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat.  Add the shallots, garlic and mushroom stems to the pan, and cook until the mixture is generally dry.  You want the moisture from the mushrooms to evaporate.
  3. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Mix for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove from the heat.
  4. Once removed from the heat, add the cream cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup), and half of the Panko bread crumbs (1/4 cup).  Stir until everything is incorporated and combined.
  5. Pipe into the mushrooms.  Arrange mushrooms on a baking tray.  You can refrigerate or freeze the mushrooms at this point for later use at this point.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over mushrooms.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are browned.

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Filed under Appetizers, garlic, Life, Vegetarian

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

I cook pasta at least once a week.  And, taking into account leftovers, we eat pasta three times a week.  It’s fast and versatile.  And, while I usually rely on marinara sauce or quick spaghetti sauce, I try to incorporate different flavors and textures to create a satisfying dish without being too monotonous.

And, with my everlasting fondness for pesto, this dish is appropriate for a lunch or dinner.  And, the flavors get even better the next day.  So, leftovers of this comforting dish are anything but mundane.

The addition of spinach, broccoli and toasted walnuts adds depth and nutritional value without compromising taste.

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package bow tie pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head broccoli crown
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of water
  • 3/4 cup pesto – use your favorite pesto (I used half basil pesto and half sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for dusting on top

Directions:

  1.  Boil pasta to al dente in salted water.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Using a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven), and heat your olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes – until the garlic is slightly brown.  Add the broccoli and stir for a minute.  Cover the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes over medium.  After 3 minutes, add the spinach to the broccoli.  At this point, you are just trying to warm up the spinach without overcooking the broccoli.  I cook the spinach with the broccoli for about one minute.  You do not want to overcook the broccoli.  You want it to be firm but not raw.  If you can pierce it, it’s ready – you definitely do not want it be mushy.
  3. Once the broccoli/spinach mixture is cooked, add it to the bowl containing the pasta.
  4. To the pasta/broccoli mix, add your pesto, red pepper flakes, walnuts, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Toss to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated.
  5. Check for salt and add more if desired.  I start with 1/4 tsp because the pesto and the Parmesan add saltiness to the dish.
  6. Once the pasta is coated, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top right before serving.

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Filed under garlic, olive oil, Uncategorized

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach artichoke dip is pretty much a staple at most parties I attend.  I, however, didn’t jump on this dip-wagon until very recently – that is, when I played around with a recipe that has a lot of flavor.  (I can’t stand a bland, runny and stringy spinach artichoke dip.)

When Foodbuzz asked me to sample their new Classico Light Alfredo sauce (through the Tastemaker Program), I was thrilled – and around the time of my baby shower to boot!  I was thrilled to test out a lower-fat version of my favorite dip.  What’s not to love than a lighter version of our favorite recipes that doesn’t taste lighter?

I must say, that when it comes to Alfredo sauces, “light” usually denotes a product that tastes sweeter due to the lesser fat content and higher sugar content.  Lucky for me (and my guests), the Classico Light didn’t have this issue at all.

And, I know because I thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers – below is all that I had after the baby shower!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Adapted from here

Ingredients:

–  1 jar of Classico Light Creamy Alfredo Sauce
–  1 tbsp granulated garlic
–  1 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
–  1/2 (8 oz)  package of light cream cheese
–   1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
–  1 tsp salt
–  1/2 tsp pepper
–  1 (14 oz) can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
–  1 (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
–   1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated, divided

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Mix together all ingredients, except 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
3.  Spread mixed ingredients into an 8×8 baking dish.
4.  Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.
5.  Sprinkle on top of the mixed ingredients.
6.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
7.   Uncover and bake for 12-15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned on top.

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Filed under Appetizers, baking, garlic, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

How To Eat A Cheese Steak Sandwich by Oliepants

A road trip from San Francisco to San Diego would be nothing without stopping at one of the most iconic and scenic locations along Highway 1 – Big Sur.  No word would better describe Big Sur other than ‘picturesque’.

And it’s like this all along the way.  Talk about beautiful.  Binks and I got out numerous times to take pictures.

There are a couple of different things we did not know about the Big Sur areas.

1.  Restaurants are few along the coast.  

Luckily we stopped (Binks insisted without Yelp help) at Ripplewood Resort.

A quaint place for a quick lunch.

I ordered the cheese steak sandwich.  There goes any healthy eating out the window.  When on vacation, you can just about guarantee that if a dish comes with fries, I will order it.

Fact: I’m addicted to french fries.

I pretty much got fries with a side of sandwich – just the way I like it.

Binks got the fries also, with a side of ‘kobe’ burger.

Before I tell you my new favorite find, I want to tell you another story.

When I was in college and gaining the Freshman 50, I was obsessed with ranch.  I really would just use it as a condiment for everything – fries, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, veggies.  You name it, I could dunk it in ranch.

Now, I’ve given up those days and changed my routine a bit.

But, some things will never change.  Like this:

There is no better way to eat a cheese steak sandwich than my way.  I’m sure of it.  It requires (1) ranch and (2) Tabasco sauce.  

First, the ranch.  You can’t pick up any old bottle of ranch (you could, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same).  You gotta pick up your favorite ranch – the creamy, drippy, buttermilk ranch.  You just gotta.

Second, the Tabasco.  It has to be the red Tabasco – the Original.

Now, the process.  There are two ways you can do this.  First, you dunk your bite of cheese steak into the ranch, then, you lift it and add Tabasco to the dunked area.  Then, take a bite.

The other way is to mix the ranch and the Tabasco together so you can save your self some time and judging eyes by other patrons or spouses.

Either way, it’s delicious.  I’m drooling as I type.  Judge me.  But, then join me.  You won’t look back.

Now, Ripplewood Resort had no idea I was coming.  I don’t think anything would have been different if they did – but moving on…

The ranch wasn’t runny.  It was thick.  It will do.

The Tabasco was not Tabasco.  It was better.

Meet my new favorite find:

I had no expectations as I was looking forward to Tabasco.  This was OFF THE CHIZZAIN!!  I could clearly taste the freshness.  The garlic and pepper really stood out.  Perfection in a bottle.  And if you know me, you will know that I can go ape shit for hot sauce.

Mind you, I’m not from California and I have never tried this.  For you California residents, is this normal in your neck of the woods?  This hot sauce might be reason enough for me to move there.

Binks was in love too.

He ended up using it on his burger.

I became my college-self.  Dunking bread, beef, fry and every vegetable into the pepper sauce.  Except this time, I could have cared less about the ranch.  Other patrons, namely the one guy sitting to my right, were watching.  I stopped out of embarrassment.  But not without putting one last fry into my mouth.

I looked up the Pepper Plant upon arriving to Texas and I think I’m going to order a few bottles (i.e. Original and Habanero Hot).

Are you a fan of ranch?  What do you use it on?  Is it a guilty pleasure?  Are you willing to try my cheesecake routine?  

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Filed under Favorites, garlic, Life, Lunch, Uncategorized, Vacation

Potstickers

My first dim sum experience was a life-changing one.  Various types of food passing by for me to pick up at my leisure is the stuff that goes on in my dreams.

The one dish that always stands out to me above all is the potsticker.

Now, I must tread lightly here because I’m out of my element.  I know that there is a Chinese version and a Japanese version of this dumpling.  People refer to potstickers as gyoza which is a Japanese version, which I think originally comes from the Chinese version.

I don’t know which way mine swings – towards Japan or China.  All I can account for is that it is divine and will serve me well until my next dim sum reservation.

And with a spicy dipping sauce to boot.

Now that I’m familiar with working with the wrappers and the filling, my next logical stop will be here, another item on my Kitchen List.

Potstickers

Ingredients:

  • 1 package wonton/dumpling wrappers – I bought the frozen kind that I thawed overnight in the fridge.
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 stalks green onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) package mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic chili sauce (you can use Sriracha), optional
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  • Heat sesame oil in pot over medium high.
  • Add garlic and mushrooms until lightly browned and mushrooms are cooked – approx. 5 minutes.
  • Place mushroom mixture into a large bowl.  Make sure to remove any moisture.  I usually squeeze out the water from the mushrooms (after cooking) with a spoon and then throw it into the bowl.  You can also squeeze inside a cheesecloth or dab with a paper towel – just make sure its cool enough to handle.
  • To the mushroom and garlic mixture, add the pork, green onion, vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce.
  • Spoon a teaspoon size amount of the mixture into each wrapper.
  • Secure the ends so that the dumpling is closed tight.
  • After making all your dumplings, heat a pan (that has a lid) 1 tbsp oil until very hot over medium high heat.
  • Place your dumplings in the pan.  Leave space between each dumpling so they do not touch each other.
  • Once the bottoms have browned, usually about a minute after heating, the need-to-be-careful part comes.
  • With one hand I hold the lid (my right hand) and with the other hand I hold the water.  I quickly add the water to the pan and shut it closed with the lid.  The mixing of the oil and water will cause sputtering so please be careful!  So cover immediately and let the dumplings steam inside the pan until the wrapper is translucent.  It usually takes about 3-4 minutes.
  • You can use the same pan for the next batch, but I wipe down my pan with a paper towel so that I can remove any remaining water/oil when I pour another tablespoon of oil.
  • Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (or Sriracha)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced thinly

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and serve.

*You can most certainly tweak the sauce per your taste.  If you want something more tangy, increase the vinegar.  For spice, I also thinly slice a jalapeno pepper or serrano pepper and add it to the sauce to soak.

Are you a fan of dim sum?  Do you like potstickers?  Do you know the difference between the Japanese and Chinese version?  Inform me! 🙂

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Filed under Dinner, Favorites, garlic, olive oil, Uncategorized