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.

INTO THE STRATA-SPHERE OR HOW NOT TO BE AN EASTER BASKET CASE

If you’re ready for the basket, as my mother used to say, here’s how to stifle the urge to throw those nicely colored Easter eggs at passing cars or tear the ears off all the chocolate bunnies you’re planning to devour. Simmer down, have a mimosa and go hoppin’ down the garlic trail with a brunch that will please everybody. (Let the “hard to please” feast on leftover bunny bodies – yes, the chocolate ones – that you stashed in the pantry.)

Breathe in, breathe out and go buffet. Spread out your brightest tablecloth, fill a vase with fresh cut flowers and whip up Strata Garliata, a delectable concoction that I also like to call “Please Let There Be Leftovers.” It can be served hot or cold, so it’s perfect for an all day affair. Round out the menu with generous platters of fresh pineapple, strawberries, melon, your favorite muffins or breads, and beverages of your choice (another mimosa, please!) Bake a few garlic bulbs at the same time as the strata – imagine the aroma – and encourage your guests to spread the warm, squishy garlic on pineapple slices (don’t scoff, this combo is on pizza…) or try it Garlicia style: warm Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves in the microwave for a few seconds and skewer alternately with pineapple chunks on fancy toothpicks.

Almost the entire brunch can be done ahead of time. Assemble the strata, refrigerate it overnight and bake the next day. Set the table, prep and bake (or buy) the rest of the items the day before to make it a fairly no-pressure, no headache Easter. Of course, nothing is perfect but you just might be able to relax, enjoy yourself and show everyone what a good egg you really are!

STRATA GARLIATA

14 slices sourdough or day old bread – remove crusts
2 cubes butter – melted
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese (1¼ lbs.)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 cups cubed cooked ham or cooked shrimp (about 1 lb.)
3 cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced
2 bunches Christopher Ranch California Green Garlic – chopped (save about half to
sprinkle on casserole after cooking)
1 bunch green onions – chopped
12 large eggs – beaten
1 tsp salt
½ tsp. pepper
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tbls. sweet mustard
3 cups milk
1 pint sour cream

Brush the bread slices with butter and cut in half. Arrange 1/3 of the slices in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread 1/3 of the cheese, parsley, ham or shrimp over the bread slices and repeat to form three layers. Thoroughly combine the rest of the ingredients using a blender or food processor. Pour over the casserole, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bake uncovered at 350º for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining chopped Green Garlic and let set about 10 minutes before cutting. Serves about 14.

CHRISTOPHER RANCH BAKED GARLIC
Cut the tip (1/4” to 1/2”) off several whole Christopher Ranch California Garlic bulbs and then gently remove loose outer layers of skin, slightly exposing the individual unpeeled cloves, but leaving the bulbs intact. Place bulbs cut side up in baking pan leaving a little space between each bulb. If desired, drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and favorite herbs or seasonings. Fill baking pan with enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/4”). Seal pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350º for 60 minutes or until garlic cloves are very soft. To serve: Break clove off bulb and squeeze out pulp.

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