Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’

Solum, Nocte, et Farinæ: Preparing Potatoes for the Plate (Part 1)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my brief lifetime in Central Pennsylvania, it’s that one must be willing to be versatile in order to fully enjoy this part of the world. When a single week in May can contain below-freezing temperatures on Tuesday,  top out at 82 degrees on Thursday, and all the while be intermingled with menacing storms and revitalizing Spring breezes, it’s clear that versatility is the key to contentment around these parts. So, with versatility in mind, I thought I’d make (and present) one of my favorite, flexible recipes that uses the potato, which might just be the most adaptably simple, yet continually rewarding ingredient I’ve yet found.

This Swedish style of potato prep is known as “Hasselback,” which simply describes the accordion-

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

Sliced potatoes ready for accenting!

esque manner of slicing your tubers before baking. As an inherent lover of all things different, I greatly appreciate the innovation this style of cooking brings to the time-worn baked potato, a culinary staple which has, I must admit, been boring me for years. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a simple variation of seasaltwithfood’s original design, and is meant to be easy to alter to fit your favorite potato toppings!

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes: Ingredients

6 medium potatoes

4 – 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons butter (you may choose to use more or less, depending on your preference)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425˚ F (220˚ C)

2. Place your potatoes on a cutting board so that they do not roll, and cut deep slits (almost to the base) into each potato, about an inch (3 mm) apart. I find that using a serrated blade gives you the most control for this step, which can help you avoid slicing straight through the potato.

I prefer a hefty amount of garlic with my potatoes, but you may certainly choose to use less (or more!).

3. Place your sliced potatoes on an ungreased baking tray, and insert the garlic into the slits.

4. Top each potato with an equal amount of butter and olive oil, and sprinkle each tuber with salt and pepper.

5. Pop the potatoes into your preheated oven, and bake for at least 40 minutes, or until the outer flesh of the potato is lightly brown and crispy, while the inside of the potato is soft and tender. Depending on your oven and potatoes, this step could take longer than 40 minutes (I usually need to leave my spuds in the cooker for at least an hour before they’re ready).

When your potatoes are out of the oven and on the table, your options for further garnishing

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

A cooked hasselback, just begging for some sour cream and fresh-from-the-garden spring onions!

are only limited by your imagination! But, if you’re like me and would prefer some inspiration, here’s a link to a wide array of creative (and undoubtedly delicious) hasselback variations for you to try: Foodgawker’s Hasselback Offerings.

For part two of our foray into potato recipes, I’ll be giving baked potato chips a go (with hopefully successful results)! So stay tuned for (I promise!), the last potato post of this week!

Until next time, happy gardening, cooking, and doing whatever else brings you joy!
Nate

Breaking Ground

If you’ve read my last two beekeeping posts, then I’m sure that you’re aware of our recent weather situation (mainly, that it’s been cold, windy, and all around miserable). The picture of the thermometer on the right was taken last week, long before it snowed! Luckily for us, though, we had a little taste of Spring weather this weekend. This meant that we had to capitalize on this fleeting opportunity to get into the garden as quickly as we could!

Although I don’t have too much time tonight (thanks to a paper on “The Yellow Wallpaper” that has yet to write itself), I thought I’d break my recent schoolwork-induced writing fast and quickly let you all know where the Scholar’s Garden stands!

As the last frost date draws near (here in central PA it’s May 4), we’ve been scrambling to prepare the land for this year’s garden. With the warm weather and stink bugs fast approaching (the first one of those six-legged pests was spotted outside today), it was decided that this weekend we would break ground and establish the plot. Because I’ve been stuck inside working on scholarly assignments, my dad was kind enough to begin the de-grassing process in the yard. Before too long, the garden took shape, and, now, all that’s left is to fill it in with dirt, fertilize the area, and perform a soil sample or two!

With the main garden in as much order as possible, I turned my attention (and Garden Weasel) to the smaller plot which is already home to the garlic plants I mentioned in “The Equinox.” It was decided that all of the Alliums (plants in the onion/garlic family) grown this year would be placed in this spot. So, in an attempt to get a jump on the rapidly-nearing planting season, I started the rest of our leeks in the terrarium and attempted to plant our red onion sets. “Attempted” being the key word there.

As it turns out, leaving your onion sets in a plastic container tends to build up quite a bit of moisture, which, in turn, seems to turn your once-vibrant onions into the perfect hiding spot for lovely blue/green mold. Since we’re not trying to cultivate mold this year (colorful as it may be), we were forced to purchase a second bag of onions; and, eventually, place them into the ground. From what I’ve heard, you’re supposed to plant onion sets about eight weeks before the final frost date, but, as I only learned this bit of knowledge yesterday, four weeks before the final frost will have to do! Even though we encountered a few, minor setbacks in the onion-planting process, our baby alliums are, at long last, safely nestled next to their adolescent cousins.

Sadly, I must be off to ponder the inner workings of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” but I’ll leave you with a very handy, succinct guide to growing onions entitled, “How to Plant Onions!”

As always, happy gardening!

The Equinox

Although my body yearned to sit down and relax after a grueling morning at work, I knew that not only Spring had arrived today; so too did the start of Spring gardening chores. So, in an attempt to use my Sunday to its fullest, I marched outside, bucket in hand, to weed one of the beds I intend to use for my garden. It didn’t take me long to realize that something besides the usual, green pests was growing in my soon-to-be garden, however. As it turns out, the cloves of garlic I planted last fall had survived the winter and sprung to life!

Coming from an Italian family, I’ve been taught that you can never use too much garlic in a dish, and the fresher the garlic, the better. If you ask me, you can’t get any better than home-grown garlic!

If, like me, you’re interested in growing garlic but aren’t sure how the devil you’re supposed to plant that papery bundle of vegetable matter, here are a few, basic steps I’ve found that will ensure that even the least experienced gardener will have something to harvest this summer. Most of my information is derived from the guide “Growing Garlic.”

1. Acquiring and preparing the cloves.
The easiest method of finding garlic cloves is by purchasing a dehydrated head of garlic at the grocery store, your local farmer’s market, or from a seed vendor such as Johnny’s. It has been recommended to me that choosing garlic from a locally grown source is best, because this will ensure that the type of garlic you grow is suited for your area.
From there, you’ll need to separate each individual clove from the head. I prefer using a sharp knife and piercing the paper-like membrane that surrounds each individual clove before pulling the clove from the base (see below).

2. Planting the Clove

When planting garlic, it is best to find a spot that receives lots of sun and has soil without excessive moisture. Once you have a suitable plot, plant each clove an inch deep with the pointy-side facing up. Probably the most important thing to remember with garlic is that the clove will not grow if it hasn’t first been exposed to cold temperatures. This means that planting in the fall (usually around September 21) is ideal. I do know that refrigerating your cloves will “wake-up” the plant, but I have never tried planting garlic after using this method (if anyone has had success with this technique, I’d love to hear from you!).

3. Harvesting and Storing

Once the green leaves of the plant have turned brown and wilted, it’s time to dig up your garlic. Immediately after harvesting your plants, hang the herbs in a cool, dry place for at least a week to ensure proper drying. After the week has passed, brush the dirt off the cloves and enjoy!

And that’s it! Even with the added steps of preparing the cloves and drying the heads after harvesting, garlic is incredibly easy to grow and enjoy.

Well, it’s time to go back outside; hopefully your first day of Spring isn’t filled with as many weeds as mine!
Until next time, happy gardening!

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: