Y’all, I am obsessed with kale chips. I am not afraid to admit it, and I know I am not alone. On a whim a couple of weeks ago, I toasted some almonds and seasoned ’em up with a little salt and sugar, mixed them with the kale chips, and called it snack mix. It was delicious, but I knew it could get better. So I worked on the nut seasoning, and I think I nailed it.
I enjoy these almonds alone, or tossed with kale chips. I’ve plowed through bowls of this Almond-Kale mix while watching the NBA Finals, or a good Rom-Com, it is the crunch of popcorn combined with a sweet, salty, spicy flavor punch, and minus any of the empty calories.
I wasn’t going to post this until Monday, but now it really is the companion piece to the garlic infused olive oil recipe I posted this morning. So here you go– and for those of you who aren’t crazy about this much garlic, or think it’s going to be overpowering, the end result when you infuse it oil is more of just a hint of earthiness. It doesn’t really taste so much like garlic, it is just a whisper, a savory bass note that gives dishes a little warmth.
It’s Love, guys.
Before you can infuse your garlic olive oil, though, you need to peel a boat load of garlic. Which sounds daunting, but I’m going to show you how to do it in thirty-seven seconds. I only use the method at home when I need to peel a ton of garlic, as it does leave you with an extra dish to wash. In a restaurant where you have the luxury of a professional dishwasher, we don’t care so much about dirtying an extra dish. But that’s a whole other subject.
To peel a boatload of garlic in thirty-seven seconds, you will need:
One of favorite secret ingredients in my home kitchen is garlic infused olive oil. I used it to make croutons, as a base for vinaigrette, as a substitute for truffle oil in recipes when I don’t feel like spending a zillion dollars on a single ingredient, or as a finishing drizzle on roasted chicken or fish.
It is such a simple ingredient to make and to use, and as a bonus, you get a bunch of roasted garlic to use however you want.
You don’t have to peel the garlic to roast it, but for this preparation I like to peel all the garlic. Then at the end, I have a buttery smelling apartment, a jar of garlic infused oil, and a matching jar of roasted garlic that is ready to spread on toast, add to sauces, etc.
Ever walked into a restaurant in the afternoon, the doors are open, there’s a bartender, a host. As you mosey toward the bar for a coffee the host advises you “the bar is open, but the kitchen doesn’t open until 5 o’clock.”
That’s half an hour away, surely you could get a salad or something, right?
Not always. Here’s why: Sidework.
In order to prepare for service, the stations in the kitchen have to be set up. Between lunch and dinner service the guard is changing in the kitchen, everything is being deep cleaned by the lunch cooks, and the dinner cooks have to set everything up from scratch. And that entails quite a bit of work behind the scenes. The salad station actually requires some of the greatest attention, as uncooked vegetables are the items most prone to food-borne illness.
Every item must be prepared, checked for temperature, and an ice bath set up in order to maintain all items at temperatures below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
That means that while you are sipping your cafe au lait at the bar, wondering
how hard it is to put together a salad, there are line cooks in the kitchen carting fifty pound bins of ice, calibrating thermometers, chilling salad plates, warming plates for entrees, and making sure they have all their garnishes and fussy things prepared. Once dinner service starts, they’re not going to have much downtime, if any, to catch up.
I was working at a family owned steak house in Oklahoma City in 2006. It was a dinner only sort of establishment, with a menu consisting entirely of red meat from the grill. The chef at the time had formerly run the kitchen at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. as well as a flashy resort on Grand Cayman. He could cook a steak that would knock your socks off, but his heart was in Italian food. And, from working in places that did such high volume caterings, he had developed some foolproof recipes. Such as the Bruschetta con Cecca he taught me when I was throwing my first grown up housewarming party with the Gent.
Cecca is the Italian word for the combination of tomato-basil-garlic that most of us Midwesterners called simply, Bruschetta.
The trick with this recipe is draining the water out of your tomatoes prior to mixing them with the rest of the ingredients. the second trick is using prepared pesto. It doesn’t add too much liquid, packs a more nuanced flavor punch, and best of all requires NO TIME AT ALL, when you are trying to get your eye make up done before your guests arrive….