Monday, August 22, 2011

Divine Garlic Bread & Faux Cherry Cobbler

My in-laws have a monthly family dinner. Each month my husband's grandparents, aunts/uncles, and parents rotate whose house it's at, and my husband, son, and I get to visit with them, my husband's two cousins who also live within driving distance (there's a third but he lives more than 8 hours away), and the other two local great-grandchildren. This month it was my in-laws' turn to host. The menu my Dad B chose was bread, salad, lasagna, and cherry cobbler.

For the lasagna- this was the first time they'd made it from scratch- Dad and Mom B chose to make Pioneer Woman's recipe. I had to laugh when I learned a good friend had the same lasagna recipe last weekend for *their* first time making lasagna- just like Mom B! Looking at the quantity of spices they decided to cut back for fear they'd be "overwhelmingly strong" in flavor. Result: if you make Pioneer Woman's lasagna: don't cut back on the seasonings!  It turns a good recipe into an "ok" recipe. Not bad, just needs the full quantity of basil etc.  In the end the family decided the recipe is a keeper (esp if it's followed more precisely). No objections here- I'll eat it again, gladly! As for me making it in my own kitchen-so far it's not in the running to replace what I view as the ultimate lasagna (which is also a lot of work).

Dessert was cobbler. Cherry Cobbler. Or Faux Cherry Cobbler as we called it!

Cobblers are great to bake because they're quick, easy, and down-homey, right? Just coat berries in sugar, place it in a dish, and cover it in a batter made from butter, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt, and dot it with butter. Very simple. Yet, still, apparently there's a short-cut to create a faux cobbler.

Use canned cherry pie filling, a box of Jiffy yellow cake mix, and butter! It's as simple as that. Pour your can of pie filling, sprinkle on Jiffy mix, dot with butter, and bake at 350 until bubbling, a little more than half an hour!

The difference though is amazing. For your typical cobbler comes out with a crispy topping that you sort of push your fork down into, and the fresh or frozen cherries give it that tart-sweet contrast that makes a cherry cobbler so satisfying. This cobbler doesn't give you the fullness of the cobbler experience. It's fine, but why make such a shortcut on such a simple dessert-- unless you just happen to have those ingredients on hand and have surprise company or something? It's a one-pot recipe, so maybe that's the allure (only one dish to wash). I'm afraid I just can't wrap my mind around this one.

But the garlic bread. Ahh, oh, joy! Now it really was the best garlic bread I've ever made. Not that I've ever had- growing up and to this day I enjoy the garlic bread my Aunt E has served more than any someone has served to me, in a restaurant or in someone's home. Perhaps I should have called her to ask for her recipe, but instead I turned to google. The result was magnificent. 
Getting the garlic bulb ready to roast. Oh, don't be afraid of the entire head of garlic. It doesn't taste overwhelming. Once the bread is assembled it's about perfect.
Freshly roasted garlic. It smelled terrific.
Roasting garlic is truly the easiest way to get cloves out of their skins. Pop, pop, pop! "You find the fun and snap! the job's a game!" is true here. Pop! 

Using real butter makes another big difference in the recipe I'm sure.  I should have finely minced my roasted garlic before mashing it with butter. Not everyone liked the really large chunks of garlic you get, even when you it breaks up a bit from mashing and stirring.

Personally I've learned I like whipping the butter. It spreads like a dream.  
This is now my go-to garlic bread. I know some people like to slice their bread diagonally and spread butter between slices, wrap in foil, and bake, but speaking from experience this particular garlic bread really should be broiled. The crispness of the buttery side of bread is definitely superior in this particular recipe. Even the family agreed. It was excellent. Truely, that was divine garlic bread. 

Want to make it yourself? Head on over to A Foodie's Thoughts yourself for the recipe!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Off we go again! Cooking Food from Round the World in a Year

I've decided to do another "cooking around the world in a year" adventure. S and I managed to achieve it our first year of marriage. It'd be fun to do again. If I managed once, I'll be able to a second time, right? We'll see! Now, what continent and country should I start out "visiting"?