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.

CALIFORNIA GARLIC IS A DELICIOUS BEAUTY

I knew my day was going to be trouble when my shower “broke” right at the get go this morning. Now, a shower is like coffee to me. It wakes me up and gets me on the path to coherency (and cleanliness) to face the day. So I made do with a time consuming bath (I’m not complaining, just whining…) and scrambled to work (late!) where a mound of unplanned projects threw off my perfectly choreographed schedule (dream on, Garlicia…)

While slogging through my workload and waiting for the next shoe to drop, however, I had a Calgon moment (Google it, kids) when my boss stopped by with some garlic samples from one of our fields. The bulbs glowed with the iridescent sheen that California garlic possesses and their beauty mesmerized me for a second. Seeing my reaction, my boss presented me with one perfect stinking rose (I think the Bachelor/Bachelorette should pick up on this…) and I immediately had to take its photo.

Garlic is naturally beautiful and photogenic (I should be so lucky) and as much as I want to admire and gaze longingly at my lovely California Garlic bulb, it’s ultimate reason for being has nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with flavor. It’s off to the kitchen with you, my pretty. Looks like my day is turning out deliciously…

GARLIC BELONGS ON YOUR PLATE

The new USDA dietary guidelines are out in the form of an easy to understand “plate” icon, but the plate is missing something – a nice, big Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic bulb. Okay, I know we won’t be getting any special recognition in this instance, but garlic does deserve a prominent place in the area of nutrition.

Acccording to today’s article in the New York Times by Martha Rose Shulman: “Garlic has been known for its therapeutic benefits since ancient times. Studies have linked it to lower cholesterol, serum triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Sulfur-containing compounds, including allicin, which give garlic its pungency, along with high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and selenium seem to be responsible for garlic’s beneficial cardiovascular effects. Allicin helps to prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together and is also a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent that may be useful in weight control.”  

Hmmm, methinks the USDA would need a very big plate, indeed, to hold all of garlic’s benefits, but even if my campaign to add garlic isn’t viable (feel free to Tweet, my friends…) garlic certainly deserves a prominent place on your plate! Not only because of its health benefits but because garlic makes most of the food groups: vegetables, proteins, grains and even fruit (try roasted garlic with pineapple, my dears!) more appealing and delicious.  So delicious, in fact, you just might be tempted to lick your plate clean. 

THE BEST GARLIC BREAD I’VE EVER TASTED

Having a BBQ this Memorial Day? Never underestimate the power of garlic bread* at a backyard soiree. I’ve seen guests chow down on garlic bread with wild abandon, even ignoring the rest of the delectables laid out before them. Their obsession, however, could work to your advantage if you’ve underestimated the amount of ribs or burgers you were going to need to feed your guests.    

Garlic bread is usually quick and easy to make, but everyone I know puts their own special tweak on it. Some add this and some add that, a bit of parmesan or parsley, a touch of chile flakes or basil, but for scrumptious, straightforward, can’t-get-enough-of-it garlic bread, there is a special technique for making it the best you’ve ever tasted.

I found this out as I watched Val Filice (the late, great Gilroy Garlic Festival head chef) make garlic bread at a Ranch function many years ago. I had always wondered why his garlic bread was so much yummier than any I had ever tasted – it had garlic, it had butter – but that day I hovered around him to see what culinary mojo he possessed. His “secret” turned out to be very simple but I felt like I had struck gold when I saw what it was.

Before I spill the details, here’s what you need to get started on…

THE BEST GARLIC BREAD I’VE EVER TASTED

2 to 3       cubes of butter per loaf of bread – substitute one cube of butter with margarine if desired – but only one!

2 to 3       tbls. finely chopped, fresh Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic per cube of butter – *Never underestimate the power of Christopher Ranch Garlic to make your garlic bread spectacular!

                  Several loaves of fresh, sweet French bread – figure ¼ loaf per person.  That may be a generous estimate – then again it might be conservative after your guests taste it.

                  Roasting pan at least 3” deep and large enough to hold the full length of a loaf of French bread.

                  Barbecue grill at low to medium heat (or broiler if you’re staying in.)

Now you’re ready for the final procedure. Drumroll, please…

Slowly melt butter in roasting pan on the grill or stove top while adding fresh, chopped CR garlic. Stir and let mixture sit on very low heat for about 10 minutes without burning. Butter will separate like it’s clarified, but don’t skim off foam or separate it. Stir occasionally.

Slice loaves of bread lengthwise. Place sliced bread cut side down on the grill or cut side up in broiler and grill/broil until browned and toasty. Give the garlic butter a stir to evenly blend butter and garlic chunks, then dip the entire cut surface of the toasted bread into the garlic butter for about 2 seconds – don’t over soak or completely submerge the bread into the mixture.

Cymbal crash! That’s the secret, folks – use CR garlic (make it easy with CR Peeled Garlic), toast the bread first, then dip, slice and serve. When you take your first bite, garlic butter should run down your chin. Ohhhyuummm, garlicious…

P. S.  Have a fun, safe Memorial Day, and while you’re enjoying this holiday, please take a moment to honor those lost in the service of our country.  

A PIRATE PICNIC LOADED WITH RUM AND GARLIC

Well, my plans for a pre-Memorial Day barbecue got washed out last weekend – it turned into a broiler-que instead – but now that the sun is out (and, hopefully, stays out), I’m looking forward to having a real holiday shindig. 

I never know where my inspiration for a party is going to come from. Sometimes it’s an article in the media or some segment on the Today show or Oprah (jeeps, I’m gonna miss her….) but sometimes it comes from a silly misheard word, and that’s what went down a few days ago.

My clock radio jolted me out of deep snooze and the first thing I heard was someone talking about the premier party for Pirates of the Caribbean VIII (oh, it’s only #4, my mistake) at Disneyland. The radio announcer excitedly reported that Captain Jack Sparrow would be making an appearance – but – I swear I heard him say that Captain Jack Spareribs was going to be there!  Now, my true brain knew that couldn’t be right, but my fantasy brain immediately took over. After all, party = barbecue = spareribs is a natural progression for me, and there it was… the inspiration for a Memorial Day party. My Pirate Picnic (arrrr, mateys) is now in the works with, you guessed it, Captain Jack Spareribs as the maindish attraction! Love it when a plan just falls in my lap…

The rest is a no-brainer: a Caribbean theme with lots of parrots, palm trees and exotic, fruity drinks; a dress code of puffy shirts, eyepatches and striped pants – and men, eyeliner is required. With a rib recipe that’s fit for Captain Jack – flashy, sassy and loaded with rum and gaarrrrrlic (hmmm, sounds like most of my friends…) I think, me hearties, it’ll be a treasure of a party!

CAPTAIN JACK SPARERIBS

4        lbs. pork spareribs – country style suggested, cut into serving size portions if desired

4        or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – crushed

           Juice of one fresh lemon – preferably with the pulp

1         cup brown sugar

1/4     cup ketchup

1/4      cup soy sauce

1/4      cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3      cup rum (dark rum preferred)

1/2      cup chile sauce or salsa

1          tsp. dry mustard

1          dash ground black pepper

In a bowl, blend all ingredients except ribs. Place ribs in a covered pan or zip lock bags and add half the marinade. Store at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate leftover marinade. Cooking instructions: place ribs with marinade in a baking pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350º for 1 1/2 hours. Prepare grill for medium heat. Brush or spray grate with oil to prevent sticking. Place ribs on grill and cook for about 45 minutes (more or less), turning and basting with leftover marinade at intervals.  

   After this feast, let he or she who does not reek of garlic, walk the plank…

PESTO AND NATIONAL BARBECUE MONTH

Funny thing about May… It’s National BBQ Month, National Hamburger Month and National Salad Month. Is this some tasty twist of fate or are the culinary planets perfectly lined up to kick off Memorial Day, the first big barbecue day of the year? All I know is, there’s food involved and I’m celebrating – everything!  

If the sun holds tomorrow, I think I’ll get a jump on the holiday and clean up the grill and give it a test run. I could throw a few burgers on the barbie, it is burger month after all, but what the hey, it’s been a long, wet winter, so let’s go for steak – a touch rare and brushed with a little garliclove, butter and fresh lemon juice. Normally, I’d make potato salad (one of my specialties) as a side dish, but I’m craving pasta for a change and Pasta Con Pesto in particular. Since my garden basil is still in the seedling stage, I’ll be taking a shortcut to perfect pasta with Christopher Ranch Pesto Sauce.  Love a time saver with flavor.

If I round out my practice party with a nice, fresh tomato salad, I’ll have the entire National Month thing covered (well, just a little fudge on the burger part…) in one perfectly delicious day. Hope the weather cooperates, but if it doesn’t we can always move the party inside.  Where’s National Sunshine Month when you need it?

EASY PASTA CON PESTO

Cook and drain 12 oz. pasta of your choice. Gently warm 8 oz. of Christopher Ranch Pesto Sauce (blend in 1 tbls. of butter if desired.)  Blend pesto sauce and pasta, sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot or cold. 

GILROY GARLIC MOM FEST

I was going to give all you moms a new recipe this blog, but what mom wants to cook on Mothers’ Day?  Not me, so let’s stick to some easy appetizers to munch on while we’re waiting for the landslide of gifts, cake and dinner plans to materialize.

My favorite snack  – and it only entails opening a jar – is Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic! It’s tasty, tangy, crunchy and as bright and fresh as the California garlic it’s made from. Pair it with your favorite crackers or artisan bread, a spot of red wine and it’s a party in your mouth. If you really want to kick it up a notch, throw in some brie and fresh fruit for a spread so yummy your loved ones won’t be able to coax you out of the house! They’ll probably be happy to join you in this flavorful, no fuss, relaxing affair, but let’s hope they don’t come empty handed. Entrance fee to your Mom Fest: more wine, if you please. Easy, breezy…

The ultimate conclusion to your soiree would be a nap right in the middle of the day. If you can pull that off you have reached the pinnacle of Mother’s Day. Don’t feel guilty that you robbed your kids of the joy of buying you an expensive meal or that you should have dressed for the occasion with duds fit for a mom prom. Thumb your nose at convention, pop a pickled clove and wear your garlic breath with pride. Maverick Moms Rule! 

P.S. On a personal note: thank you, dear daughter, for making me a mom.

P.P.S.  I couldn’t resist adding a recipe.  Here’s an easy one just in case someone feels like cooking.  Happy Mother’s Day!

MOM’S PICKLED GARLIC CHICKEN

2 1/2     lbs. chicken breasts or 1 large fryer – cut up

1            8 oz. jar Christopher Ranch Pickled Garlic     

1/4        cup soy sauce

1            fresh lemon – squeezed

1            tbls. vegetable oil

Place chicken in roasting pan sprayed with nonstick oil.  Blend Pickled Garlic (with juice), soy sauce, oil and lemon juice; pour over chicken.  Bake at 425˚ for approximately 1 hour (or until done.) Turn chicken pieces over half way through cooking to brown on both sides. Serve the baked Pickled Garlic cloves with the chicken or spread on crusty French bread.

FYI: If you can’t find our Pickled Garlic in your local store, please ask your produce or deli manager to order it for you. Our Pickled Garlic is also available online at www.garlicworld.com and www.casadefruta.com

ALLIUM ECSTASY – A THRILL UPON THE GRILL

The more I cook with our new peeled specialties – Peeled Pearls, Cipollines and Shallots – the more I fall in love with them. Besides the fabulous flavor, they’re easy to use. Have you ever tried to peel these little darlings? They are expletive inducing and I’d rather spend the time creating my latest cocktail than cussing at a herd of stubborn little onions. Since peeling is no longer a factor (thank you CR production crew) I’m gung ho to try them every which way. 

My last recipe, Allium & Artichoke Medley recipe, was a winner, but now that summer is around the corner (please!!!) it’s time to pull the BBQ out of the barn for an allium mixed grill.  What could be simpler and more delicioso! Just toss a blend of CR Peeled Pearls, Cips and Shallots in EVOO, then skewer, season and go to town. Turn them often so they don’t burn and grill until they’re very tender and carmelized.  Ahhh… allium ecstasy.

GLORIOUS GRILLED ALLIUMS

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl Onions

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Cipolline Onions

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Shallots 

Skewer 2 or 3 of each allium per skewer and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on medium hot grill and turn frequently until golden brown and tender. Remove from skewer, serve warm as a side dish or add to taste in a variety of ways, e.g.: 

• Use as a topping for grilled steak or chicken as is or combined with sautéed mushrooms.

• Blend with other grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant or artichoke hearts. Add to steamed vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Healthy and delicious!

• Add warm to a salad of mixed greens or sliced tomatoes, and toss with a favorite vinaigrette or a little balsamic vinegar. 

P.S. Try grilling our CR Peeled Garlic Cloves also, but they may take more time to get tender – and keep an eye on them as burned garlic can be bitter.