The Joy of Autumn Cooking
Most of the domestic garlic we eat is harvested now, so it’s at its best. Roasting garlic brings out its entire wonderful flavor while mellowing its heat and filling the house with its rich aromatic scent
Nothing makes it feel more like autumn than a brisk walk, a warm fire, and the tastes and smells of food cooking in the kitchen. A hardy favorite that covers both aspects for many folks is roasted garlic - and for good reason! Most of the domestic garlic we eat is harvested now, so it’s at its best. Roasting garlic brings out its entire wonderful flavor while mellowing its heat and filling the house with its rich aromatic scent. But what is the best way to roast your yummy bulbs? The first way is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the garlic head on a double thick sheet of foil. Then drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and fold the foil into a nice small packet enclosing the head. Roast for about an hour. It’s done when the cloves are soft. When it’s cool enough to touch, yet still warm, squeeze unto fresh bread, stuff into baked potatoes or just put into a bowl for spreading. One head will yield about 2 tablespoons.
Can’t wait an hour? Then try the above method with the cloves separated from the head. Remove the outer paper but not the skin. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes and voila! Another quick way is to use a small skillet. Using medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and then add unpeeled, separated garlic. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally until soft. This method yields a nice, balanced flavor and even some nutty overtones.
How do you know what is the best garlic to use? The purple stripe varieties have been the winner of many “best baked garlic” contests. These varieties are distinguished by their smaller, crescent shaped cloves and beautiful purple streaks on the skin. Another widely grown variety that bakes up well is the Rocamboles. It can be recognized by its full-bodied flavor, and its large tan cloves that are easily peeled. The only down side to this variety is a short shelf life due to their loose skins. The variety most found in produce departments, however, is the white Silverskin. The reason? It has high yields and a long storage life. Whatever garlic you choose, know that if you choose Melissa’s Organic Garlic you’ll be getting the finest around.
Another of my favorite parts of autumn and winter is the age-old tradition of making a big pot of soup, especially when it contains lots and lots of Melissa’s organic vegetables. I know what you are saying to yourself - you would love to make a nice, hearty, and hot home-cooked meal after a long day at work or running around in the cold weather, but your cooking skills aren’t as honed as you would like, right? Or perhaps you are just too busy with work and home life responsibilities. Well, fear not - you may be able to do your work and have that hot meal too! All you need is a crockpot and a few minutes to chop your vegetables. Consider this recipe by Tracy Handler from MasterCook II. It’s simple and tasty and serves 8, which is perfect for just one with leftovers for lunch or a dinner with a friend later in the week, or a family on the run.
You’ll need these Melissa’s Organic Vegetables and Ingredients:
1 large Organic Onion
¼ cup Organic Butter
3 medium Organic Sweet Potatoes
, peeled, chopped
3 medium Organic Zucchini
1 bunch Organic Broccoli
2 quarts Organic Chicken Stock, or,
2 quarts Organic Vegetable Broth
2 medium Organic Red Potatoes
3 cloves Organic Garlic
¾ cup Fresh Organic Corn Kernels
(or use Frozen Organic)
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
2 cups Organic Cream
Place all ingredients in a 4 to 5-quart crock-pot except cream. Cook on the low setting 6 to 8 hours or until sweet potatoes are tender. Ten minutes before serving, add the cream, if using. Heat through and serve. If you have dietary restrictions or are watching your calories this recipe is good with or without the cream. When you get home the house will smell great, you can whip up a quick salad and voila - dinner is served. Even the cleanup is fairly minimal, so you can spend the evening relaxing by the fire or watching your favorite show. Another time saving tip is to chop your veggies the night before, store them in an airtight container in the fridge, and put your ingredients in the pot the next morning. Enjoy the meal and the time.