It’s back to work and the “normal” routine for me today. The extended weekend provided relaxation, beautiful weather and time to enjoy the outdoors, and a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. For me, having the extra day off also presented an opportunity to get into the kitchen and try some new dishes. Cooking on a day off might sound daunting to some, but not to me! I love to entertain a crowd of any size, even if it’s just my hubby and me. Part of the enjoyment of life is the ability to savor good food. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being a gourmet chef! There are many nights when the local take-out place is the immediate answer to the question: “What’s for dinner?” So, when I do get the chance to spend some time preparing a tasty treat, I jump at it. I‘ve acquired quite a collection of cookbooks which I love to pour over in search of the next “must try” recipe. I especially love to bake and experiment with interesting ingredients. My palate is always craving something new and different.
I’m not talking about spending a perfectly good day inside, chained to the stove. In my world, simple is best. Effortless dishes that look and taste complex are at the top of my list. A meal doesn’t have to be time consuming in order to be delicious, in my opinion. I also believe in sticking with tried and true favorites. I’ve found from experience that the time to experiment with a new recipe is not when you’re throwing a dinner party for 12. No matter what your level of culinary skill, go with dishes that can be prepared in advance. Stick with what you know and love, and chances are, your guests will love it, too. They will appreciate that you took the time to prepare a tasty meal for them.
Roasted garlic (pictured) makes a delicious appetizer that is super easy to make. You simply take a head of garlic; remove as much of the outer layers as possible while keeping the cloves intact. Slice about ¼” across the top so that the cloves are exposed. Place the head(s) of garlic in a small oval baker with a small amount of water on the bottom. Drizzle olive oil over the cloves and cover the baking pan with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about one hour. The garlic is done roasting when the cloves are soft when pressed. You will see a wonderful brown carmelization on the cloves. Your house will smell divine! I serve the garlic with crusty Italian bread, but some people prefer to eat it plain. Either way, it’s wonderful! If you prefer not to run your oven during the summer months, you can roast the garlic on your grill by wrapping it in heavy duty foil and grilling over indirect heat until you get the same effect. Enjoy!