***TWD Espresso Cheesecake Brownies coming tomorrow! I'm going to bake them tonight for a work potluck on Wednesday***
Never go food shopping when you're hungry. I know this simple rule, yet I can't ever seem to follow it. My latest discretion was a visit to the oh-so-lovely Belvedere Square market during a lunch hour, where I wandered past the Neopol Smokery. Usually, just the aroma alone is enough to make me want to lick the display windows, but on that particular day, I was in for a deadly one-two punch. I was hungry and there was a really cute guy working the front counter. He's a charmer, that one. So much so that he charmed me right out of $8 for a head of smoked garlic and a small container of their amazing smoked salmon salad. As my sister-in-law says, that stuff is like crack. It's so good.
Please don't judge me. You weren't there. You don't know!
So there I was, with a head of smoked garlic, just hanging out in my fridge, waiting to be turned into a masterpiece. I was happy enough to spread a bit of it on toast and devour it, but I figured that I should at least try to make an effort for a full meal. Smoked garlic is similar to roasted garlic, in that it become soft and spreadable and a lot more mellow-tasting. The sharp garlic taste is replaced by a smokey, almost sweet flavor that is very easy to enjoy. (If you haven't ever roasted garlic, I highly recommend it! It's so simple).
My friend Andrea recommended a Lebanese side-dish that her husband makes all the time. Mazen is from Beirut and whenever he and Andrea take their family back there for a visit, she posts pictures of all the amazing food they eat. I love Lebanese food, so I knew I had to try this dish. It was a good recipe, but I don't think the smoked garlic was the best choice. The flavor was a little too mellow and didn't really come through. I'll make this again, but with fresh garlic next time!
Lebanese Green Beans (Loubia B’Zeit)
this serves 6. I didn't realize that and now we have a ton leftover!
1/2kg of fresh green beans, trimmed (approx. 2 lbs)
400g ripe tomatoes, diced or 1 tin of crushed tomatoes (I used a large can of crushed. Fresh would work better!)
3 brown onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
salt & pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until very soft, around 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, beans, salt and pepper and any dried herbs (if using – see note below), and saute for on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or till the beans started to wilt.
Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, then bring to a boil.
Cover and cook over a very low heat until the tomatoes form a thick sauce – around 45 minutes.
Season with fresh herbs or salt & pepper here if using them, but delicious as is.
I also used the garlic in a chicken recipe that I just kind of threw together. This was a better way to highlight the smoked garlic, since you could spread it on each bite of chicken as you went along.
Smoked Garlic Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
5-7 cloves smoked garlic, peeled
1 tbs olive oil
Poultry seasoning (dried thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic)
Preheat oven to 425. Spray a cooking dish with cooking spray.
Divide the olive oil over all the chicken and coat evenly. Season each breast with herbs and lay in the baking dish. Top each with a few cloves of garlic, and cover the dish with foil. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until chicken registers 165 degrees. While it's still hot, mash up each garlic clove on top of the chicken and spread around, almost like butter.