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Paella and Garlic, the kind you bury and the kind you roast

November 3, 2008

This was one crazy beautiful November weekend. 74°. Say WHAAA? You heard me. 74° on November 2. Color me mucho happy, ’cause I’ve been running behind on my end-of-season gardening. This roller coaster weather is killer on the sinuses (yeeowza, hello Advil Cold & Sinus), but, it’s impossible to argue with working in a sunny garden in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt.

I planted about half of my spring flower bulbs, in case you were wondering. Probably could’ve gotten to them all, except I had also had to plant my garlic and shallots (15 shallot bulbs and about 48 garlic cloves). I was wiped, and lost interest in the tulips. I got the prettiest ones in, though.

Hardnecks are in the upper left; softnecks everywhere else.  Now that's a lotta garlic!

Hardnecks are in the upper left; softnecks everywhere else. Now that's a lotta garlic!

Shallots above the green line; hardneck garlic below.

Shallots above the green line; hardneck garlic below.

Pretty little garlic clove.  Hope you like your winter home....

Pretty little garlic clove. Hope you like your winter home....

Speaking of garlic, I saw something completely ridiculous at Williams-Sonoma: A small jar of roasted garlic puree for $9.95. I did a double-take. $9.95? Does it come with one of those porcelain bulb-shaped garlic roaster things? No? $9.95? You’ve GOT to be kidding me. You can buy this amount of garlic in bulb form for $2.00 and with a mere 10 minutes of hands-on work, you’ve got yourself homemade roasted garlic at an 80% savings. Observe:

Slice the tops off the bulbs to expose the tips of the cloves nestled inside.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, douse with olive oil and wrap bulb in foil.

Slice the tops off the bulbs to expose the tips of the cloves nestled inside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, douse with olive oil and wrap bulb in foil.

Roast the garlic bulbs in a 350 deg oven for about 45 minutes.  Yes, your kitchen is supposed to smell that yummy halfway through.

Roast the garlic bulbs in a 350 deg oven for about 45 minutes. Yes, your kitchen is supposed to smell that yummy halfway through.

Let bulbs cool in their foil teepees.  Squeeze bulbs directly into food processor (don't worry, the roasted cloves will slide right out thanks to their oil bath.)  Add a little more oil to the cloves and let 'er rip until the puree is at the desired consistency.  Store in the fridge in a sealed container.  Done and done.

Let bulbs cool in their foil teepees. Squeeze bulbs directly into food processor (don't worry, the roasted cloves will slide right out of their skins thanks to their oil bath). Add a little more oil to the cloves and let 'er rip until the puree is at the desired consistency. Store in the fridge in a sealed container. Done and done. $9.95, my foot.

What’s fer dinner?
Dinner was super yummy. Paella.

Paella is a great dish to prepare for a group – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like paella, or who isn’t impressed by the huge pan bubbling with all those amazing ingredients. It’s time-consuming, so it requires some planning, but the results are worth it.

paella_110108

I had also found a recipe for “bretzel rolls” last week that I had to try. Soft pretzels are one of my obsessions, and I was so excited to discover its dinner roll cousin. I didn’t have time to take photos during prep, but one weekend soon I’ll make them again and document the entire process. (BTW, if you’ve never made homemade pretzels before, you should. It’s so much fun, and they are FANTASTIC fresh out of the oven.)

Top these babies with butter and this dinner side is extra special.

Top these babies with butter and this dinner side is extra special.

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