Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’


Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, ripe tomatoes. While summer isn’t quite here just yet, the tomatoes at our local supermarket have been showing some promise–enough that I took a chance on them and went ahead and made some Bruschetta.

Bruschetta is actually one of the very first things that David and I started to make when he moved into his first apartment and we started cooking. The tricky part is that our Bruschetta is one of those “a little of this, a little of that” kind of recipes. I’m going to do my best to capture it below.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta with Pannetini


  • Tomatoes (Roma tomatoes, if available)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Minced Garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes (optional – can be dry-packed or oil-packed, diced)
  • Garlic Bread, thinly-sliced & toasted (other options include crackers, toasted Italian or French bread, or Panetini. The Panetini can be found at your grocery store, near the Bakery, with the bagel chips).


  1. Seed and dice the tomatoes and put into a bowl with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. The exact amounts depend on how many tomatoes you use, but for about 10 servings, I use about 10 full size tomatoes, with ½ Cup of Olive Oil & 3 or 4 Tablespoons of Balsamic.
  2. Add sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Add approximately 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
  4. The basil needs to be chopped very finely or minced in a food processor (I have also used what we call “Basil Paste,” which you can find in your produce department with the little clamshell packages of fresh herbs).
  5. Add the parmesan cheese…about ½ Cup to ¾ Cup.
  6. Then, just mix together and add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with the bread, crackers, or Panetini for dipping.

I don’t really measure as much as I mix and taste, until it comes out right. If your tomatoes are very acidic, a Tablespoon of regular table sugar added to the mix (strange as it sounds) will go a long way. You can add more or less balsamic vinegar, depending on your taste. The ingredients themselves can be very forgiving…the Parmesan can be anything from imported Parmigiano-Reggiano to the stuff in the green can for this, though I prefer the real stuff. Same with the basil…if you want to use dried basil, you can. It won’t taste quite as bright, but it will work. You need much less dry basil than fresh.  The bruschetta gets better the longer it gets to hang out, so making it the night before is best, but give it at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating, if you can.

Leftovers can be mixed with canned chicken to make an Italian Chicken Salad, put over
lettuce for a Bruschetta Salad, or put over cooked pasta to make a pasta sauce. You can also add diced fresh mozzarella if you want. (Like I did for this batch).

“Baby” Chicken & 40 Cloves

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A Chicken & 40 Cloves is a classic dish, and it should be, because it’s delicious. Like so many other classic dishes, Alton Brown is our source for the ultimate Chicken & 40 Cloves, intially. We’ve had it several times before, but this time I tried it with a twist, using Cornish Game Hens in place of the normal chicken. It was definitely a success. The cornish game hens made the meal seem a little fancier than our average dinner around here, but if you prefer, you can make this dish with any skin-on, bone-in chicken. We’ve used a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces before, and we’ve also used this method on a couple of split chicken breasts. In a pinch, we’ve even used boneless skinless chicken breasts (which isn’t quite as good, but is passable).

I served this chicken with parmesan risotto and lots of crusty bread to soak up the tasty garlic oil, spread with soft, sweet cloves of roasted garlic. The garlic bread might be the best part!


“Baby” Chicken & 40 Cloves (Cornish Game Hens)
Adapted from Alton Brown’s A Chicken & 40 Cloves

  • 3 cornish game hens, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 40 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, but kept whole
  • salt & freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat, just until the surface starts to shimmer.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning over the breast side of the cornish game hens and then place breast side down in the skillet. Heat for 4-5 minutes or until the skin begins to brown. Flip each hen over.

Add all 40 cloves of garlic to the pan, around the cornish hens, and pour the remaining cup of olive oil over the whole skillet. Bake for 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through and garlic is soft and  spreadable.

Note: I know a cup of oil sounds crazy, but it’s delicious garlic oil that goes deliciously on bread, or can be drizzled over vegetables or mashed potatoes. And don’t waste that garlic. Get yourself a crusty loaf of french or italian bread, slice it, lightly toast it, then brush each slice with some of your garlic oil. Spread one or two cloves of the roasted garlic, then sprinkle with just a smidge of parmesan cheese. Roasted garlic has such a sweet, mellow flavor compared to the garlic you’re probably used to. You don’t know what you’re missing.

I actually smash the leftover garlic into a paste and save it for other dishes. I’ve added leftovers from this batch to pasta salad, mashed potatoes, and sun-dried tomato aioli. I wonder what I’ll do with the rest?