Well, my friend Matt recently gave the rest of the intervebb a hefty nudge in the direction of The Dumpling Diary, and so, I feel that you should also click here to take in the glory that is The Static: Urgent!, a blog which encompasses… All things awesome, to be perfectly honest. Crazy feline Youtube links and what may or may not be sober/intoxicated/wonderful rants of patriotism, as well as information on local (Brantford/Brant County, Ontario) arts and events. Ch-ch-ch-check it.
NOW, to honour Matt and to buck up his self-depreciating inner chef, I give you All Things Garlicky.
Well, I can’t seem to make up any kind of Italian-ish pasta dish without giving it some corny name, so this is a badass take on pasta salad, which I made for Jon one day when he was being lazy “on account of the bad weather.” This recipe is not for the faint of heart (don’t worry, no chicken hearts or anything like that), or those who actually keep track of caloric intake. Those recipes just aren’t worthy of this place. I serve this dish warm, you can serve it cold, and you could easily double or triple it for a larger amount of people. This serves two (or three, if you’re peckish).
2-3 cups of a shortcut pasta (rotini, farfalli, etc.)
3-4 slices raw bacon, cut in small 1-2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup green beans, cut in 1-2 inch sections (frozen or fresh is fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 ts. fresh cracked black pepper
splash red wine vinegar
salt, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese, to taste
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)
Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a sealed container and shaking to emulsify, of use a blender (or kick it oldschool and whisk in a bowl).
Put a medium pot of salted water on, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, begin frying bacon in a medium-sized skillet.
Continue cooking both, strain pasta in colander when cooked through, and drain bacon, reserving about 1 Tbsp fat, and set bacon aside on a paper towel.
In frying pan, sautée nuts till they have some crunch to them, and set aside. Add green beans and garlic, and sautée till beans are tender.
Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sautée another minute, and tear in some fresh basil, as much as you like, letting it wilt slightly, but still retaining it’s colour.
Turn off heat, and in a medium-sized serving bowl, combine the pasta, the green bean/garlic mixture, the nuts and the bacon, and the dressing you made prior. Mix well, and sprinkle in as much parmesan or romano as you see fit, season as needed.
Matt also inquired as to how he could make the infamous Garlic Grilled Cheese. Shun me or not, I used to be a giant Phish fan, some time around when I had dreadlocks and thought Trey Anastasio was the only guy for me, ever. Anyone who knows anything about the band Phish, should know that Phishheads LOVE their garlic grilled cheese. Any parking lot outside of just about any jamband’s concert, you will find it, and you will not pay more than $2, and you will not find anything more sad and perverse, regarding this crowning achievement in the world of sandwiches. A slice of Kraft processed cheese slapped between two slices of white bread and some garlic powder.
No more. We’re going to Flavourtown. By the way, Phish still kicks ass.
Garlic Grilled Cheese
-The best white bread you can find. Go for San Francisco style Sourdough, or some kind of really nice Rye bread (caraway doesn’t hurt, either).
-Garlic. Actual garlic. In clove form. Mince it.
-Cheese. It’s still a stunning sandwich with Cheddar, but Monterrey Jack, Havarti (jalapeno?), Provolone or Swiss always make for a nice grilled cheese too. Whatever you’ve got, so long as it’s not processed. Try mixing them!
There are a few ways to go about building this sandwich, but I’ll get you going with the most basic one. Mince up as much garlic as you think you’ll like for one sandwich, maybe 1, maybe 2 cloves, until fine. Then, take the amount of butter you will need (for an ordinary grilled cheese), and blend it with the garlic, just stirring the garlic in with a spoon. It helps to make big batches and keep it stored in the fridge, if you plan on making this a lot.
Next, spread the butter on the outsides of the bread, and assemble as per usual grilled cheese. Cook in an un-greased pan (cast iron for best results), or in a 1990’s era sandwich maker from your local thrift store, yardsale or basement.
Now, this is where it could get even better. You roast it. I’m sure you’ve heard of, or tasted roasted garlic at some point in your life, but if you haven’t, please indulge yourself in it immediately. Roasting the garlic will help bring out it’s natural sugars and caramelize it, to the point where it becomes sweet and nutty and very smooth, and you can use it for all sorts of things. You can spread it on soda crackers for all I care, even that can be pretty damn exciting. However, if you’re going to incorporate it into your grilled cheese making habits, I would suggest making a garlic butter as above (roasted garlic of course), but also, try spreading the inside of the bread with it, before the cheese is added.
To make roasted garlic, simply cut the top off of a full bulb of garlic, place in aluminum foil, drizzle with (olive) oil, and wrap. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about half an hour, and brace yourself for the 8th wonder of the world.
Now, if you’re not going to roast it (and why wouldn’t you?!), at the very least just throw in some prosciutto and/or apple or something. If not for me, do it for those poor souls who work at “Kraft Canada’s What’s Cooking,” magazine. For goodness sake, they still think they’re nifty and avant-garde…