Monday, January 24, 2011

Easy, Cheesy Garlic Bread




When I set out to create this recipe I wanted it to be a garlic bread, only I didn't want the garlic to dominate the flavor. In order to tame the garlic, I roasted it before adding it to the compound-butter that is slathered on each slice.

After roasting a whole bulb in the production kitchen, the garlic aroma in the air was far more dominant than the actual flavor on the bread. This is the way I like garlic, though, subtle and more of a base flavor rather than a dominate-your-senses-flavor.

I'm very proud of how this dish turned Out. As described in the introduction, the first flavors to hit the palette are basil and tomato, then the garlic. The garlic is prominent but it doesn't present itself until after the garden-fresh flavors of the basil and tomato. It's a simple appetizer, or complimentary bite, but it really has some depth.

In my research, I found many references to garlic as a staple in nearly every kitchen in the world. It occurred to me that one of the few kitchens where garlic is NOT found was in my mother's. She has an allergic reaction to garlic and it will make her physically ill if she eats to much of it. It wasn't until I was out on my own and cooking for myself that I discovered the wonders of this little pungent aromatic.

It didn't take long though after I discovered garlic to realize that if you're not careful, it will take over and absolutely dominate a dish. In my garlic cooking adolescence I made a meatloaf and threw in handful of minced garlic to the mixture - the end result was a not a meatloaf but a garlic loaf. The leftovers didn't even last long in the fridge because after only a day or so the fridge had turned into garlic-central and I was afraid it would taint everything in it.

I'm going in a different direction regarding plating the food for the final photograph that is usually the dominant art in each recipe. When I first started the column I tried to use all white dishes for the main art and clear cups for the prepped ingredients, I thought that it would help the food stand-out. When looking back at past recipes, I found that the plates and dishes used for the main art just blend in with the white background.

With this recipe, I use a plate that has color and a nice design motif. I think it helps the final stage of the cheesy bread rise off the background. It is a direction I'm going to be taking the column from an artist's stand point. I really like the pop I get from a unique plate underneath the final product.

I had a great time joking around about garlic in my notes, which I eventual boil down to add a little humor to the introduction of the column.

My favorite garlic-rambling:

"It's probably not a good idea to eat a bulb of garlic before a first date. If you do, make sure your date does also. If that happens, make sure it's not a double date, unless of course, your meeting up with vampires."

Until next time, eat well and cook often ...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Incredible Chicken Wings




I made a version of these wings for my Super Bowl party last year. I thought they were delicious then, but my excitement about my new recipe was over-shadowed by the devastating defeat of my beloved Indianapolis Colts to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

This recipe is very simple and packs a ton of flavor. Three store-bought sauces are mixed together for the delicous coating. The wings are also tossed with flour and deep-fried. This gives them a juicy succulent flavor that just can't be replicated on the grill or in the oven and the crispy-crunch – well, it's why we all indulge in deep-fried food, even when we know it's not that healthy for us.

When I documented the recipe for the column I used my large fryer in my relatively small production kitchen. I made two kinds, honey chipotle from the Super Bowl party, and a new honey-mustard version just to experiment. I had the fryer going for a long time in the small kitchen. The next day I got into my car and noticed the smell of the frying oil from the night before. I had left my coat on a chair in the kitchen and it had soaked up the aroma of my fryer. I am sure that anyone who got within five feet of me that afternoon thought they were standing next to a 150-pound french fry.

I went with the honey-chipotle because I prefer my wings with kick and I love the smoky flavor that the chipotle adds to the sauce. The honey sweetens it up and cuts through the spice a bit. I do include a note in the column for "less heat." The note says to use mustard instead of tabasco sauce, that creates the honey-mustard recipe I used during production.

The introduction is based on a true story of a night out during my final semester of college at Ball State University. It was the most memorable wing moment for me to-date. For some reason super spicy-foods are great canon-fodder humorous events.

If you decide to make this recipe, be sure to have a wet towel by your side when you eat the wings. Napkins aren't enough to keep your hands and face from being a chicken-wing mess. I needed a shower after eating what was photographed for the column.