Garject - The Story of My $35 Garlic Press

Yes, I'm subject to marketing.  I'll admit that, especially when it comes to kitchen stuff.  So when in one of the many email lists I'm on sent me propaganda on the Garject.  Well, I just had to have it!

Did I need a $35 garlic press?  No.  I don't even press all that much garlic.  I usually either use it whole, slice or chop it.  But there is the occasional recipe, like my bolognese recipe, where pressed garlic is called for.  The bolognese recipe calls for a full 1/4 cup of pressed garlic!

But this was so cool!  Press.  Scrape.  Eject.  How could you not want something so cool?

Check out the video.  Garject Garlic Press Video

So I ordered it.  It had to come all the way from Australia.  If I could have found a way requiring that I go pick it up I would have, but that's just not in the budget.  Certainly not when I'm spending $35 on a garlic press!

The first question Dave asked when I told him I had ordered this very cool thing (and made him watch the video, he was underwhelmed) was "and how much was shipping"?  Well smarty pants, shipping was free!

So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And yesterday my patience was rewarded my Garject arrived in the mail!

My first impressions were really good.  It's heavy!  Nearly twice the weight of my current garlic press (from Pampered Chef which currently retails for $16.50).

It's also longer than the Pampered Chef one.  Does this make a difference?  I don't know.  I never felt like I needed a ton of leverage to squish some garlic but you never know.

Ok, so how does it work?  I filled it with a large, unpeeled garlic clove.  I don't peel garlic I press through my old press so not having to peel isn't an advantage.

Then I pressed!

Just like my old press the garlic came out in little pieces.  Ok, now on to the really cool stuff!  The scraping of the bits into my bowl without use of another utensil!  I couldn't wait!

It scraped just as advertised!

And then it stuck right to the scraper and didn't land in my bowl.  Maybe I didn't fill it full enough?  Maybe i had fresher garlic than was used in the video? Disappointment started to set in.

But wait!  There was one more feature left to evaluate!  The flipping of the garlic skin right out of the reservoir.  Would this redeem my very cool gadget?

It worked!  Scooped the skins right out.  No need to use my finger!  Of course it stuck to the little flipper thing a little but better there than in the press itself.

So was it worth it?  I'll be honest probably not.  But it is much easier to clean than the Pampered Chef one (one piece cleaner rather than having to find the little plastic thing that came with the PC press) and it does still have the "cool" factor in my mind!

And Dave got roasted garlic potatoes with his omelet this morning!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, and Pinterest

Pinterest.  Heard of it?  I thought I was a late-comer to this new social networking thing I really didn't understand, and quite honestly still don't really.

According to Pinterest:
"Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes." 

From Wikipedia:

Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The service allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. The site's mission statement is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting." Pinterest is managed by Cold Brew Labs, a team based in Palo Alto, California. The website has proven especially popular among women.

While I can't imagine someone planning their wedding on Pinterest, I can see some usefulness there.  For me, it's a place to put recipes I find in magazines and on the web.  I get, well a few, cooking and home magazines at the house.  When I find recipes I want to try I cut them out of the magazine and put them in nice plastic covers in a binder.  If I find one on the web or one of the many sites I belong to emails me one, I print it out and do the same thing.

Yea right.

This is what my recipes look like.

So for me, Pinterest is nice because I can "pin" recipes to my "board" and I can easily find them again.  At least that's the plan.

I really didn't need yet another source of recipes.  I'm quite overwhelmed with the ones I have but here we go anyway.

One recipe that seemed to be pinned over and over was Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  I'm not sure how many people who pinned the recipe actually made them, but I did.

I'll be honest I don't like Guinness or Irish Whiskey and Irish cream in small doses is fine but I don't love it.  These are the key ingredients in these cupcakes.

I tried to drill in until I found the "original" recipe and here's that link. You'll notice at the bottom this was adapted from someone else.  I guess that's true of most recipes isn't it?

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from the Browneyed Baker

There's a different booze in each part of these cupcakes, Guinness in the cupcake batter, Irish whiskey in the ganache filling and Irish cream in the frosting.  These are not for the under 21 crowd!

The cupcakes are pretty easy to put together.  The Guinness is simmered with butter then cocoa powder is added and whisked until smooth.  I have to admit, this smelled pretty good!

The eggs and some sour cream are whisked together and this chocolate mixture is added to that.  The dry ingredients are then added and the batter is portioned into 24 cupcakes and baked.

While they are baking the ganache is made.  This is pretty simple too, chop some chocolate, heat up some heavy cream then pour it over the chopped chocolate to melt it.  Add butter and whisky and stir!

I have to admit I couldn't really taste the whiskey in the ganache. I didn't add more because I didn't want a soupy mess inside the cupcakes!

The frosting is a basic butter cream, butter, powdered sugar and Irish cream.  Personally I prefer my version of Irish cream frosting.  I add cocoa powder to mine so it's more of a chocolate Irish cream.  This one, well, all you taste is the Irish cream!

Next is assembly! I typically just pipe my fillings into my cupcakes but this ganache was a bit thicker than fillings I usually use so I followed the recipe directions and hollowed out the cupcakes with a big pastry tip.

It worked slick!  And I ended up with this nice little bowl of "cupcake holes" so I could try the cupcake without the ganache and frosting.

It tasted a bit like beer bread.  Mmmmm... beer bread.  I haven't made that in a while!  But I digress, the cupcakes were good!

Each hole is then filled with ganache.

And then finally the cupcakes are frosted.

So what was the final verdict on these cupcakes?  Everyone that ate one loved them! 

Getting back to that mess of recipes I showed you above, I am good at organizing the recipes I really like.  So when I find a gem in that pile of printed pages and torn up magazines, I add them to my recipe software for safe keeping.  I always know where that is and it's searchable!  Finding that really good recipe I made 6 months ago and thought I remembered in which pile it was, well that doesn't work!

Will this recipe make it to the computer?  Jury's still out.

Coddled Egg with Crab, Bacon and Leeks

I know I've mentioned Tasting Table in my blogs before.  This is another recipe sent to me through them.  If you like food, recipes, cookbooks, restaurants, beverages, almost anything that has anything to do with food or drink, I encourage you to sign up for their emails.  It was from Tasting Table that I found Jennifer Reese's book and the bread that is now a staple in our home.

Here is a LINK to the recipe.  I've also pinned it to my Pinterest Kitchen board.  Yes, another addiction but that's for another time.

I thought this sounded good from the first read of the recipe, grits, bacon, bacon fat, olive oil, oh yea and things that aren't so bad for you like garlic, celery root, chipotle pepper, ginger, leeks, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, crab meat, tarragon and eggs! 

Whew, that's a mouthful and it did take a bit of time to get my Mes En Plas in place but once I had everything prepped this went together very quickly.

Grits.  Nothing to them.  Boil water, add grits, wait.

How bad can a recipe be if it starts by frying bacon and then instructs you to add olive oil to the bacon grease to make 1/4 cup?

Next you saute the garlic in the bacon grease/olive oil mixture until it's pale gold.  This picture doesn't do it justice!

Then you add the celery root, whole dried chile and ginger and let those flavors start to meld, then add the leeks and a little salt.  Can you smell this?

Finally the thyme, rosemary, bacon and tomatoes are added and cooked until most of the moisture is gone.

The grits go in with a little more chicken broth and the mixture is cooked until it gets a little thick,.  Each of these steps took only a couple of minutes.  It sounds a lot putzier than it really was.

The crab and tarragon are added off the heat and the herb sprigs and chile are removed.

I often wondered what people made in these little pots.  We usually use them for ice cream dishes!  Now I know!  I filled the four ramekins then I used my ladle to create a well in the center of each one for the egg.

Add the eggs!  You'll notice that one doesn't have an egg.  Well, Dave doesn't like yolk.  So I agreed to leave one "plain" and add a scrambled egg to it if he wanted it.  Turns out the yolk was firm enough he could eat around it.  The dogs were thrilled.  Who knew they both like yolk?

These were delicious!  I'd cook them just a little less time next time.  I cooked them the minimum this time but I like just a little runnier egg yolk.

I was amazed at how the chipotle flavor came though just from sauteing the dried chile in with the other ingredients.  Looks like I've found another "keeper".  These will be fun to serve to guests for brunch.

I love Michael Symon! (and his Slow Roasted Halibut with Fried Capers, Caramelized Lemons and Almonds)

I love Michael Symon.  There, I’ve said it.  What’s not to love? 

He’s absolutely adorable.  He loves his wife and isn’t afraid to say it and does repeatedly.  Did I mention he’s gorgeous?  He loves his dogs, even when they’re gassy.  He has an infectious laugh.  You can’t help but smile or laugh along with him when you hear it.  Well at least I can't and, oh yea, and he cooks! 

I almost threw out my citrus juicer when I saw he just uses a pair of tongs.   It works great!  I said almost.  Those of you who know me know I love my gadgets.  As a side note I just got an email that my $34 garlic press is on its way to me from Australia as I type!

I'm not typically a star struck kind of person.  Celebrities are just people.  People who  a lot of people "know" but they're just people.  A couple of years ago I met Tom Colicchio at a fundraiser Dave and I went to.  He's such a nice guy!  He talked to everyone and didn't turn away with other (not me) star-struck individuals at the event came running across the room just to talk to him.

Tom Colicchio and I at a Taste! Fundraiser - March 2010
Dave and I ended up standing next to him during the presentation ceremony.  He and Dave struck quite a conversation!  Yes, I was totally jealous. I'm the fan after all!  We even bought him a gin and tonic (a $20 gin and tonic... that's what they go for at the W!) at one point in the evening.  Really nice guy.  I can't say that enough.

That all being said, I think I would turn into a 13 year old girl meeting her favorite member of a boy-band if I ever met Michael Symon.  I can just see myself saying "OH MY GOD you're Michael Symon!!" over and over again with a grin I couldn't get off my face!

I posted a comment on his Facebook page a while back when I made this dish and he commented!!!  I was so excited I snagged it!

I have Michael Symon's Live to Cook cookbook and it’s one of my all-time favorites.  I’ve already blogged about the Pork Souvlaki, absolutely amazing!  And the Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, yum!  Now on to the halibut!

I can’t believe I haven’t already blogged about this one.  I make it quite a bit.  It’s easy and delicious.  How could it not be with caper berries, garlic, shallots, lemon and almonds on top of halibut, one of my favorite fishies!

You start by caramelizing the lemon in frothy butter.  It was amazing to me the first time I made this how this totally infused the sauce with lemon flavor.

The caper berries, almonds, garlic, shallots and parsley are added with a little more butter.  You allow the butter to brown a little (YUM) and the "sauce" is done.  Here is where you wish these pictures were scratch and sniff!  This sauce smells divine!  I also had some carrot and cauliflower puree going and brussels sprouts roasting in the oven coated in my favorite Tuscan herb extra virgin olive oil.  You could taste the smells in the kitchen!

The halibut is simply slow-roasted in the oven.  Though slow is a pretty relative term as it only took about 15 minutes.  I was so excited to actually eat this yummy concoction I forgot to take picture of my perfectly cooked halibut!

As I mentioned I put the halibut over a bed of carrot and cauliflower puree with a side of roasted brussels sprouts.  I hear Mr. Symon makes some mean brussels sprouts too.  I was watching an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and one of the chefs said that Michael Symon's brussels sprouts were the best, well, I don't remember what... side maybe?  Anyway someday we'll make our way to Cleveland so I can try them!

The one thing I thought might make this dish better was a little white wine.  So I added some!

So here's my modification of the recipe:

Slow-Roasted Halibut with Fried Capers, Caramelized Lemon and Almonds
Serves 4, adapted from Symon's Live to Cook

4 (6-8 oz) halibut fillets
2 tbsp olive oil (I use a lemon infused olive oil)
Kosher salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 (1/4-inch thick) slices of lemon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 tbsp capers
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 1/2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 225.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in an ovenproof skillet until it's almost smoking.

Season the halibut on both sides with salt.  Carefully place the fish in the pan and rub the top of the fillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to get a sear on the fish.

Slide the pan into the oven and cook the fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees and flakes easily when prodded with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes.  The oil may be spattering so you may want to cover the fish with an ovenproof spatter shield as well.

Once the fish is in the oven, heat 1 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over high heat.  When the butter is hot and foaming add in the lemon slices and cook until they begin to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip them over and add in the almonds and capers. Cook for 30 seconds.  Add the shallots and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the garlic, parsley, and the remaining 2 tbsp butter.  Continue to cook until the lemons soften and the butter and almonds begin to brown, about 2 minutes.

Place the halibut fillets seared side up on warm plates and spoon the sauce over them.

Homemade Pita Bread

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