Thursday, March 27, 2014

Garlic Confit

At the soft opening of Chef's Market, we were given a giveaway bag - embossed wooden spoons, a copy of the menu and closest to my heart, a little jar of garlic confit paste. I used it all - in grilled cheese sandwiches, the simmering molokheyya on my stove, vinaigrette, pasta, winter soups and hummus dip. It was my companion, tender and fragrant, adding that extra bit of oomph when time was not on my side.

A little saddened at its end, I washed the jar and put it away hoping that one morning, I'll get up and remember to make that garlic confit, golden, nutty and sweet, like its predecessor. 

Today was the day. I didn't make it into a paste this time preferring to keep the plump cloves intact, submerged in the oil that flaunted its new caramelized notes, tucked away safely in the same jar. My garlic confit jar. 

A thank you to the chefs at Chef's Market. Good stuff. 
Garlic Confit
You'll need:
1.5 cups of peeled garlic
2 cups of vegetable oil
3 black peppercorns
4 white peppercorns

Place the garlic and peppercorns in a pot.

Pour the oil over your garlic and pepper mix.
Cook over low heat for 40 to 45 minutes or until your garlic is soft and you have reached your desired color.
Store chilled, submerged in the remaining oil. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Banana-Mixed Nut Espresso Smoothie

I was never one to turn down cake, especially if I was alone with it; if I was able to bite into its soft crumb with my gaping mouth that struggles to keep the frosting off my nose. On other days, it is the butt of a baguette with salted butter and a sticky glob of honey, scarfed down in seconds until there is none. 

It has been weeks. Three of them. No sugar, no yeast, only discipline. Surprisingly, at least to me, I am a happier human. I have more energy. I smile more often. It almost feels like a better side of myself has decided to drop by. 

On a Saturday, I dropped by the farmer's market at Arkan where I ran into these ladies running a branded booth, Fino'sthat made all kinds of nut butters. For a moment in which I moped, I was told that they add honey to their products. A little heavy-hearted, I asked a question; the kind of question that would normally irritate me. 

Out loud, higher pitched voice: "Do you have anything that is unsweetened? No sugar? No honey? Nothing?"
Old Me to New Me: "Are you really turning into that woman on a diet/with an allergy/that can't accept a product the way it is and buy or walk away?"

But it turns out that people are nice sometimes (or maybe I need to socialize more often) and that these ladies do cater to my selfish needs. I ended up with a mixed nut butter; dense, smooth, rich, clean, good. I'm sold.  
Banana Espresso Smoothie
You'll need:
400 grams of frozen sliced bananas
2 1/2 heaped tablespoons of mixed nut (almond, hazelnut, cashew) butter
2 shots of espresso (Substitute: 1 1/4 tablespoons of espresso powder)
1 1/2 cups of milk
7-10 ice cubes, depending on the size
Honey to sweeten, optional (I did not use any so will be unable to give a measure.)

Blend, espresso, bananas, milk, mixed nut butter and ice. Serve.

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