- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
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Can be made ahead of time.
Few foods metamorphose as dramatically or alluringly as garlic when it is roasted. Hardly a savory recipe exists in which one could not imagine this substance: Potato Tacos , Pipián-Stuffed Empanadas , Camarones al Ajillo , tropical Tuber Hash , Vlack Bean, Sweet Pea, and Cilantro Rice . I always have these garlic preparations on hand.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Put the garlic heads cut side down in a small casserole or ovenproof pot and pour the olive oil over them. Add the thyme and pepper. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the garlic is soft enough to mash.
Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.
Strain the oil into a bowl and let cool, then pour into an airtight container. The oil will keep for at least a month.
To make the garlic mash, squeeze the cloves out of their papery husks into a bowl. Mash the roasted garlic with a fork. Store mash in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Toasting and Grinding Spices, Nuts, and Seeds When Columbus went looking for Asia and bumped into the Americas, he was on a voyage financed by Spain with the understanding that he would find a better route to the spice markets of India—an illustration of how central spices have always been to cuisine. But spices, like other comestibles, are subject to loss of flavor if not properly prepared. Toasting whole spices, and, usually, grinding them, is the way to get maximum flavor from them. This is extremely easy to do: Gently warm the seeds or other whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once they become aromatic, they are toasted. When they have cooled a bit, grind them in a spice mill (or a clean coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle. Toasting and grinding awakens the oils and aromatics within them. With spices like pepper and cumin, for example, which are staples of my cooking, you can prepare a batch of the toasted ground spice and keep it around for up to 2 weeks.
The same principles apply to toasting nuts: the heat maximizes their flavor. Grinding makes them the proper consistency for cooking in soups and stews.
Nutritional information is based on the entire recipe.