Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

Culinary Students Win Big in Christopher Ranch Garlic Gridiron Challenge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Like the New Orleans Saints, the 2010 Super Bowl victor, Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip scored the winning touchdown in this year’s Christopher Ranch Garlic Gridiron Challenge.

 Jo Anne Washburn, culinary student at the San Francisco-based California Culinary Academy, won first-place accolades in the first-ever challenge, which invited culinary students at several California culinary schools to create original, garlic-infused Super Bowl party dishes.

Washburn, who will receive $500 for her first-place finish, credits inspiration for her Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip to the widespread popularity of crab dip, the recipe’s simplicity and her love of food experimentation. It is the garlic, however, that truly enhances the dish, she said.

“You must put a piece of the soft and creamy roasted Christopher Ranch garlic on top,” Washburn said. “It is imperative that you do this because the appetizer will not be complete without it; it’s like playing football without your star quarterback.”

Second-place runner up was Spicy Garlic Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms, created by Annette Turek, followed by Shanda Cool’s third-place Game Day Garlic Pigskin Peanuts. Turek and Cool will receive $200 and $100, respectively, for their winning dishes.

The top-three winners were announced during halftime of the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, via Christopher Ranch’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and – obviously – the Christopher Ranch California Garlic Blog.

The final judging took place Jan. 30 at the live, on-campus cookoff, wherein the top-10 finalists prepared their winning recipes, “Iron Chef-style.” Recipes were judged according to creativity, flavor, presentation, recipe inspiration and degree to which the recipe showcased the garlic.

The Garlic Gridiron Challenge is one step in Christopher Ranch efforts to establish relationships with culinary students and professors, in order to raise awareness about the differences in fresh garlic varieties, glean insight about the culinary industry and bridge the divide between farmers and chefs.

Without further adieu, the winning recipe….

Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip

Servings: 20-25/Yield: about 2 1/2 cups dip


– 2-cups fresh lump crab meat;

– 1/2-cup tiny shrimps – pre-cooked;

– 1/2-cup mozzarella cheese;

– 1/2-cup blue cheese – crumbled;

– 1/2-cup mayonnaise;

– 1/4-cup green onions – finely chopped;

– 1/4-cup fresh parsley – minced;

– 1/4-cup jalapenos – minced;

– 1-tsp. cayenne;

– 1/2-tsp. dry mustard;

– 2-tsp. Worcestershire sauce;

– 1-tsp. Tabasco hot sauce;

– 1 1/2-cup Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic Cloves – roasted;

– Olive oil – to taste;

– Salt – to taste; 

– Pepper – to taste; 

– 1 whole French baguette 


Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients, with the exception of garlic. Mix well, and place crab mix in a baking dish. Set aside. 

Spread the garlic cloves on a separate sheet pan, and drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Roast garlic in the oven for 30 min., or until soft and golden. Bake crab mix in the oven for 20 min. 

Meanwhile, cut the French baguette into 1/4-inch circles. Spread slices on sheet pan, and drizzle olive oil atop. Lightly salt and pepper, and set aside. 

Once the crab mix and garlic are finished baking, place bread in oven for about 3-5 min. 

Once bread is properly toasted, spread the crab mix over each slice, and place a roasted garlic clove on top. Arrange the slices on a platter, and serve. Enjoy! 

Inspiration: “I was inspired to make this dish because I love to play with my food. I could have gone with many other appetizers, but what’s a Super Bowl party without a creamy, rich-flavored crab dip? I love crab on everything and also garlic. Making this dish is easy and takes very little time.  Take a spoon, and scoop a nice helping of the crab mixture onto your toasted French baguette. Then, you MUST put a piece of the soft and creamy roasted Christopher Ranch garlic on top. It is imperative that you do this because the appetizer will not be complete without it; it’s like playing football without your star quarterback. Enjoy, and Bon Appetite!” 

Don’t forget the runners up….. 

Annette Turek’s Spicy Garlic Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms – 2nd Place 

Servings: 12 


– 24 fresh button mushrooms; 

– 48-62 cloves of Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – roasted; 

– 2 jars prepared hot mango chutney; 

– 2 packages smoked bacon – sliced and halved; 

– Olive oil – to taste 


Preheat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Toss garlic cloves in olive oil, and bake for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove mushroom stems, and use melon baller to carefully hollow out. Place 1 tsp. chutney in each mushroom cap, and top with 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic. Place one end of bacon over open part of mushroom cap, and wrap around, covering completely. Avoid wrapping the bottom of the mushroom, and secure with a toothpick. 

Preheat grill, or keep oven at 400 degrees. Place wrapped mushrooms on grill, or in oven on rack; bake for 20 minutes, or until bacon has browned. 

Inspiration: “Putting together an appetizer, with what I had in my refrigerator… For a sweet, spicy surprise, I added a hot mango chutney and tested it on the family. It was fun to see everyone guess the hidden flavor they were tasting. This has been the most requested recipe I’ve ever created!” 

Shanda Cool’s Game Day Garlic Pigskin Peanuts – 3rd Place 

Servings: 16 (1-oz.) servings 


– 2 heads Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – roasted; 

– 3-cups unsalted peanuts – roasted; 

– 6 slices thick-cut bacon; 

– 1/2-cup pure maple syrup; 

– 1-tbsp. fresh thyme leaves – minced; 

– 1-tbsp. kosher salt; 

– 1/2-tsp. cayenne pepper; 

– 1/2-tsp. dry mustard 


Preheat oven to 325-degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium skillet, cook bacon, until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and finely chop. 

In a medium bowl, mix the thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and dry mustard. 

In a small bowl, smash the roasted Christopher Ranch garlic cloves, and whisk in the maple syrup – slowly – until mixture forms an emulsion. 

Add the peanuts, bacon and garlic mixture to the dry ingredients, and toss, until all peanuts are evenly coated. 

Scrape nuts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast for approximately 30 min., stirring at least once to break up mixture. 

Remove the peanuts from the oven, and allow to cool completely, breaking up any large chunks into individual peanut and bacon pieces. 

Serve to hungry football fans! 

Inspiration: “My inspiration came from my desire to create a crunchy football party food that was easy to transport for tailgating events, using fresh garlic; instead of the common garlic salts and powders found in many snack recipes. The fresh garlic flavor and aroma make the difference in every single bite. I also believe that “everything really is better with bacon,” thus I wanted to include the pigskin portion of the recipe to bring partygoers a robust addition. I love the flavor that bacon adds to this recipe, without taking over, as the garlic has enough bite to move to forward and stand up to the bacon.”



  robb halloran wrote @

Annette turke, Im proud of your success with this challange. you keep up the great work. your friend Robb

  Denise wrote @

Congratulations Annette! We can’t wait to try your recipe. I’ll make sure to get my garlic from Christopher Ranch…I live in Gilroy…can’t get any fresher than that!

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