Roasted Garlic


Roasting garlic is one of my favorite ways to eat it. Roasting mellows the flavor and creates a smooth textured paste. Roasted Garlic is delicious on almost anything.

The first time I had roasted garlic was in an Italian restaurant in Destin, Fl. The waiter presented the table with a whole head of garlic, still warm from the oven. A slice had been removed from the top then it was drizzled with olive oil. The waiter squeezed the cloves from the papery covering and added more olive oil. Salt, a couple of cranks of the pepper grinder, and parmesan rounded out the topping for our soft Italian bread.

I was smitten.

Roasting garlic is easy.

Since that first experience, I knew I must do this at home. I even acquired a cast iron garlic roaster in the shape of a bulb of garlic with a flat bottom. This was touted as a tool to use on the grill or over a fire.

Sometimes I cut a slice from the top of the garlic head, drizzle it with olive oil and wrap the whole thing in foil. Roasting in the oven at 350º for about 35 minutes seems to do the trick. After it cools enough to handle but is still warm, follow the same plan our waiter in Destin did.


A note about roasting.

You don’t have to risk slicing your fingers trying to get the top cut off the whole head. Go ahead and separate the cloves, but leave them in the papery outer covering. I recommend you do this with several heads of garlic at once because you can never have too much roasted garlic.

Toss the cloves with a healthy amount of olive oil, then add another drizzle for good measure. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil with enough length to cover and seal over the top of the garlic. You are making a packet.

Bake at 350º for 35 minutes or until the aroma drives you crazy. If you aren’t sure the cloves are done, open the packet carefully to avoid a steam burn. Gently press on one of the cloves with a knife. If it gives easily, it is done. Otherwise bake another 5-10 minutes, until soft.

Once the garlic is roasted, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Set a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl and force the garlic through with the back of a spoon. Discard the exterior paper casings of the cloves. You may need to scrape the bottom of the sieve with a rubber spatula to gather all that garlicky goodness. Add more olive oil as desired.

Now spread that roasted garlic and olive oil on everything.

This week, I put it on a homemade pizza. I always pre-bake my homemade pizza crust on a baking stone so it gets crispier. After pre-baking, I spread some of the roasted garlic/olive oil mixture over the crust, then topped with pizza sauce. On this occasion, I added sliced green olives, tablespoonfuls of cream cheese, and a parmesan/romano/asiago cheese blend. Then back into the oven to finish baking. You can use whatever toppings or cheeses inspire you.

No matter the toppings, the addition of roasted garlic makes this pizza extra delicious.

Let us know how you enjoy garlic.

Warm Saltines Are An Ephiphany

Sometimes the smallest effort can lead to a serious food upgrade.

Every once in awhile I stumble on a grand idea. I realize others may have already discovered this very same thing but when I actually experience it, somehow it becomes more real. Isn’t that the way with almost anything? A physical experience writes knowledge on you in a way that reading about it cannot fully convey.

So read this article to get the idea, but then go do it for yourself. It is quick, easy and painless.

Unless you burn your fingers.

Continue reading “Warm Saltines Are An Ephiphany”

Spring Garlic—What Is It And How To Use It

Spring Garlic is similar to green onions in appearance, but with a mild garlic flavor. As a bonus, they are prolific growers, so you can have these year after year.

I’m always looking for a new food to try in the kitchen. It’s even better when I can experiement with a locally grown ingredient that is inexpensive and abundant.

Enter Spring Garlic

First what is it?

Some refer to this as wild garlic, although we grow a row on purpose. It comes back every year and in fact multiplies if we don’t keep it under control. This garlic does not produce large bulbs like you will find on cultivated garlic, but it is still quite delicious. There are several parts of this plant I use at different times of the year.

Parts to use

Spring garlic does not produce large root bulbs, so don’t expect to use this for cloves of garlic. Instead, in the early spring, it is used like green onions, except with the taste of garlic. Later, as it prepares to flower, the end of the flower stalk can be snapped off and cooked. These are referred to as scapes. (This post gives more information about using those.)

After a week or so of growth beyond the scape stage, you can harvest bulbils. These occur just before the bud begins to break open into a flower and provide another tasty option. Pick the flower bud, peel back the thin covering and separate the tiny bulbs. These give a delicious pop of garlic flavor in any dish.

Early stalk use

The rest of this post will describe how to use the early part that looks like a green onion.

Harvest when the bottom is just beginning to swell and the green shoots are about one to two feet tall. While you are harvesting for the table, you are also thinning out the crop to allow the remaining plants to grow and thrive. Trim the root ends and peel back the outer layer of more fibrous covering. Wash thoroughly to remove any remaining dirt particles.

Slice thinly just up to where the stalk begins to turn green. Send the remainder to the compost pile.

Use as you would in place of garlic. Beware, this will smell very strong but the flavor is quite light.

Sample Menu

For an entirely garlic themed meal, I used thinly sliced pieces in a lemon and olive oil sauce for pasta. Then, I minced the remaining pieces, mixed with butter and topped italian seasoned scones. Pair with a crisp green salad. Delicious.

For more cooking ideas like this, check out my cooking memoir Simply Delicious. Plus follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media for daily Five Feline Farm updates.

Creative Repurposing

Now that Spring is finally arriving, it’s time to work outside. We have been repurposing items around the farm to improve multiple areas at the same time.

The weather has finally given us a promise of Spring.

There is so much to clean up after winter and debris to clear in the dormant garden beds. But there are also many things we want to improve.

So even when there is still a chill in the air, we are outside working.

One of the most exciting things is when we can make improvements to the property with little to no monetary investment. Of course there are always things we will need to buy, such as mulch and bales of peat, but some of the changes involve just rearranging what currently exists.

Even better is when we can take care of two things with one task.

For example, we have a lot of wood scraps stored in the barn. And by stored, I don’t mean neatly stacked. I mean thrown into a pile from the doorway after tired muscles are exhausted at the end of a building project. All sizes and types of lumber pitched into an unruly heap. The slighest bump will send the precarious assemblage sliding into one’s shins.

At the same time these random bits need a new home, as fate would have it, the catdom also needs an upgrade.

First you may be interested in what a “catdom” might be. At Five Feline Farm, there is a fenced area stretching from the walk out basement into a grassy area which allows the cats to roam in the fresh air but be protected at the same time. The Purrfect Fence is specifically manufactured to contain and protect felines.

Over the years, some areas of the catdom have been overtaken by chocolate mint. It has even crawled under the edge of the greenhouse and threatened to topple it. After digging out as much mint as possible which included running into a hibernating snake, the ground was covered with black plastic to kill off any remaining mint or other vegetation.

Now a blank slate remained. Time to redesign the space.

This is a perfect time to put all those random bits of lumber in the barn to good use. With only a little imagination and a couple of hours, several borads were screwed together into squares and rectangles. The scraps are transformed into perfect planting beds.

Another area being re-invented is the old goldfish pond. We have a large number of rocks and stones that need to be moved out of this section. A few loads of those rocks placed over the plastic adds a nice decorative touch to the catdom.

In just one day, with a bit of re-imagining existing materials and some satisfying physical labor, the catdom has a new look, the pond area has fewer rocks and the barn is one step closer to organized.

As you remodel or revive areas of your property, before you buy new things, look around at anything you can repurpose. Try to imagine things in a new way, even a outside a conventional use. You might be surprised what you create.

Let us know what you find to repurpose around your house. You can also follow almost daily exploits and encouragement on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As always our on-line Mercantile is open to meet your soap, balm and reading needs.