Cheesy Garlic Bread Chips

The Cheesy Garlic Bread Chips

The Cheesy Garlic Bread Chips

I admit I am not a huge potato chip person.  Normally the closest I get to chips are tortilla chips for guacamole or salsa.  Ok, fine there is the occasional midnight slaughter of some Doritos after a nice bender of a evening.

I recently stumbled on a social media driven contest Frito-Lay is having for a couple new chip flavors.  The contest being that the flavor that gets the most votes from the public will stay on the super market shelves.  What are the three flavors you ask?

  • Cheesy Garlic Bread
  • Sriracha
  • Chicken and Waffles

First of all, the fact that you can manufacture the three flavors above and somehow impart them on a piece of fried potato is quite impressive…if not scary.   Sure these chips no matter what flavor are probably not good for you but as ‘they’ say, anything in moderation.

I do have a large soft spot for anything with Sriracha and if you have never experienced the awesomeness of the combination of fried chicken and waffles, you are totally missing out.  Even Gladis Knight (and the Pips) has a chicken and waffle restaurant.  However, the obvious stand out to me is the Cheesy Garlic Bread Lays chips.  I must have.

The chips made their debut to the mass market on February 12, 2013.  The contest to vote for your favorite runs until May 4, 2013.  I am not as intrigued with the contest as I am with trying chips that allegedly taste like cheesy garlic bread.

Cheesy Garlic Bread available immediately!

Cheesy Garlic Bread available immediately!

 

I roll into the local super market and hit up the chips isle.  It doesn’t take long to spot the new Lays flavors as there are life size cut outs of Chef Micheal Symon and Eva Longoria staring at me…pointing to the chips.  Part of me wants to try the Chicken and Waffles just for pure curiosity, however I refrain as I am on an important research mission for the Cheesy Garlic Bread chips.

I secure the package.

The Results:

After scarfing down a good two handfuls and applying all relevant scientific protocols I have come up with the following conclusion……They are just “OK”.  The concept is brilliant but the execution is a bit lacking.  You definitely get the cheesy part – I’d say the combination of cheeses are the dominate flavor.  The garlic flavor is very mellow.  Actually I didn’t really get the garlic flavor until after stopping to consume the chips. The aftertaste had more of a garlic note than when eating the chips.

I ran the chips by my wife as an unbiased third party and she had the same impression.  Definitely get the cheese but not a ton of garlic.

I ran the chips by my other control group – my 5 year old daughter.  Her reply was “mmmm cheesy, hand the bag over dad and no one gets hurt”.  All focus groups should consist of 5 and 6 year olds – the world would be a much better place.

So there you have it.  I would give these chips a 2, maybe 2.5 cloves out of five.  They are definitely good (and cheesy).  They just lacked more of a garlicky kick in my opinion.  Have you tried these chips or the other two flavors? If so, I would love to hear your opinions!

Garlic Box Of Awesomeness

 

garden bed

The Garlic Box of Awesomess

Let’s face it, I know way more about cooking and eating garlic than I do about growing that luscious bulb.  However, I figured it was about high time I learned how to grow my own garlic for seed and to make my own organic garlic powder.

Whenever it has come to learning anything whether that be a programming language, plumbing or a foreign language, my approach has always been to do a little research and then dive right in to the objective.  Of course this usually results in my breaking code , offending people, or causing some sort of physical pain to myself.  That is how I roll – get in there and figure out how to do it or figure out how to fix what you just effed up.

I currently live in a town home, so the only options I have for planting garlic are in small containers or to build my own “Garlic Box of Awesomeness” (GBoA).  The said box of awesomeness would be raised and large enough to plant 30 or so cloves of garlic but not so large as to take up my whole deck.  So off to do my research I went.

I got some great tips on growing garlic from some of my new internet acquaintances by checking out their websites:

Salt River Garlic

Copper Kettle Farm

PD Farms

I hit the almighty Google for raised garden bed designs and finally came to a design I liked here and then adjusted for the configuration I needed for my deck. The dimensions I made the box were 24 inches High x 24 inches Wide x 48 inches Long.  I used entirely red cedar wood for the lack of chemicals and the way the wood weathers nicely.

Wood Supplies consisted of:

9 – 3/4 in x 4 in x 8 ft cedar boards

2 – 3/4 in x 2 in x 8 ft cedar boards

Below are some pictures of the progress and final product.  As a note it always helps to have your five year old daughter as a helper for the project!

Layout all your tools supplies

Tools and Supplies

Just like in cooking where it helps to Mise en place your ingredients, it always helps to have your project tools and supplies laid out and ready.  This way you can easily tell if you have all necessary items to complete the project.

 

Pre-cut and pre-drill wood

Pre-cut and pre-drill wood

Pre-cutting your wood to the various sizes you need makes the project go much faster.  Cedar is a very soft wood.  Pre-drilling the holes for screws will ensure that the wood does not crack when tightening.

Finished Box

Finished Box

Two and a half hours later we had the box finished (celebrated with high fives with the daughter).  I was very pleased with the end result.  The slats on the bottom are not secured and can be removed or situated to allow for more drainage on the bottom.

Line with weed guard

Lined with weed guard

Since we do live in a town home, the wife was adamant the the box of awesomeness did  not make a mess on our deck.  Perhaps she still has mental pictures of some of my past projects gone awry?  Whatever.  So to aleviate her concerns, I lined the box with weed guard.  This will allow water to drain through the bottom while keeping the dirt in the box and off the deck.

 

 

Filled with soil and ready to go!

Filled with soil and ready to produce garlic awesomeness!

Super happy with the final results.  The final planting depth was about 10 inches – which should be adequate for teh garlics to grow.  I purchased organic soil for vegetables to fill up the box.  For the garlic seed, I had some Italian Purple (artichoke variety) and also obtained some Spanish Roja.  The individual cloves where planted with at least four inches of space on all sides.  So the garlic growing experiment has started – Hopefully I got things semi-correct and I will obviously post pics of the growth progress.  Or if I screwed it up I’ll post pics of the box of awesomeness simply filled with soil 🙂

Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder

Powder to the People!

 

Normally I try to use fresh garlic for everything and anything.  However, sometimes I run into situations where I need to use the dehydrated stuff.  Like when I get all mix-master like and start whipping up the famous Garlic Geeks rib rub.  Certain sauces also benefit from the combination of fresh garlic as well as the powdered variety.

I don’t know about you, but I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the dehydrated garlic products that line the local grocery store shelves – especially the garlic powder.  The flavor lacks any serious punch and I find myself having to use a ton of it to get anywhere near the taste I desire.  Although when I think about it, I suppose that makes sense.  Nearly all dehydrated products I looked at are a product of China.  China produces two thirds of the world’s garlic output.  So the garlic has to be harvested, dehydrated, milled, packaged, exported to the destination country, and finally enter the distribution channels.  Usually there are also anti-caking agents and coloring added to the product.  Taking all this into consideration, it is no wonder there is no flavor pop in these products.

Solution to the dull tasting garlic powder: Make my own fresh garlic powder in small batches.

And it couldn’t be easier.  All you need is fresh garlic (preferably heirloom verities from your local market), a method to dehydrate the garlic, and a method to turn the dried garlic into granules or powder. I had my garlic ready to go.  For the dehydration method, I borrowed a food dehydrator*.  For the milling of the dehydrated garlic, I have a Krups spice/coffee mill that I utilize only for spices.

*Note – if you do not have a food dehydrator, you may also use your oven to perform the garlic dehydration.  Set your oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step1: Peel your garlic cloves and slice them for easier drying.

Step 2: Place the sliced garlic in your food dehydrator (or oven).  The food dehydrator I used was old school and took about a day and a half to get the garlic to the proper state.  I have already ordered a newer Nesco food dehydrator with a fan to help speed up this process.

Sauna for the Garlic

Sauna for the Garlic

Step3: Once the garlic has dried into “garlic chips”, use your spice mill to grind the dried garlic to the consistency you desire.

Time to make the powder!

Time to make the powder!

The picture below shows the difference between the fresh powder and store bought powder.  The powder on the left is the one I just made and the one on the right is the one store bought (produced from China).  Visually you can see the difference but the taste is the real difference.  The fresh garlic powder definitely had more of a bite.  Overall I am very happy with my garlic powder experiment and will definitely be making my own from now on.  I would love to hear about anyone else making their own garlic powder awesomeness!

A tale of two powders

A tale of two powders
<- fresh | store bought ->

 

The Stinking Rose Restaurant

 

Garlic Heaven

The Stinking Rose – San Francisco

Back in June of this year I had the fortune of being able to travel to San Francisco for a project.  What made the trip even better is that I was able to bring my wife out as well.  What a great city. We had a blast running around SFO over a long weekend.  So many things to do including checking out Fisherman’s Wharf, walking the whole embarcadero, taking a ferry over to Sausalito, hitting up Chinatown and trying so many great places to eat.

Speaking of places to eat – We were taking a bus up Columbus Ave. north towards Fisherman’s Wharf when I look out the window and see a restaurant called The Stinking Rose.  I am fairly sure the lady next to me didn’t  appreciate the fact that I exclaimed “Holy Shit” out loud.  An obvious priority had been spotted.

The following day we went to the restaurant early evening to beat any crowds.  The look and feel of the place?  Let’s just say that The Stinking Rose is the Willy Wonka land for garlic lovers.  Garlic everywhere – not just in the items on the menu.  Vats of pickled garlic on the bar.  The worlds longest garlic braid spanning the ceiling and all around the walls.  Murals and eclectic garlic decor.  Signed photos of all the celebrities that have dined in the establishment.  Even their tag line is impressive – “We season our garlic with food”.   I almost teared up reading that.

We saddled up to the bar, ordered an Anchor Steam and had pleasant conversations with the bartender.  On the recommendation of our new drink slinging friend, we ordered the garlic, spinach, fontina fondue.  To say it was delicious is an understatement.  It was so good we ate it and I totally forgot to take a picture of the dish (my bad).  The fontina cheese has the saltyness , the spinach adds some texture, and the garlic brings it all home.  Served with their house made focaccia bread, I highly recommend the dish.  Another popular item is their iron skillet of mussels and roasted garlic.  Our neighbors at the bar ordered that and it smelled intoxicating.  I’ll assume it was good as they went into neanderthal mode and made primal noises as they fought over the last few mussels and who got to sop up the aus jus at the bottom of the skillet.  The rest of the menu looked equally awesome from 40 clove chicken to garlic encrusted prime rib to garlic ice cream.

 

The Stinking Rose - Travel Channel

The Travel Channel filming “Food Paradise”

The Travel Channel happened to be there when we showed up early at the restaurant   They were filming for an episode of “Food Paradise” where this particular show would be all about Garlic.  We met the director, who was a super nice guy, and he gave us the ins and outs of what it takes to produce this kind of show.  They may have several hours of film that they then edit down to the appropriate 15- 20 minute segment featuring The Stinking Rose.  We sat and watched the show from out prime bar seat location.  That is my beer in the photo above, so there is no doubt that if the crew was filming a wide shot we are totally in the background (autographs available on request).  Be on the look out for Garlic Paradise on the Travel Channel and check it out.  I am constantly looking for the air date and will obviously post a follow up after it hits the air waves.

If you are a garlic geek and find yourself in San Francisco (or Beverly Hills, CA), you gotta try out The Stinking Rose!

Inside The Stinking Rose

Great decor in The Stinking Rose

 

Nice Bulbs

Nice Bulbs!

Pickled Garlic

I considered bobbing for garlic

Garlic Vamp

Garlic Vamp

Garlic Fries – Blue Wahoo Style

Wahoo Garlic Fries

Garlic Fries from Wahoo Stadium

We spend a fair amount of time in Pensacola, Fl through out the year.  Pensacola is a great little coastal town that has a refreshing slower pace of life than the big city of Atlanta.  Pcola (as we like to call it) has much to offer from the sugar white sand beaches, the historic downtown, and a festival pretty much every weekend in the summer.  One of the latest attractions added to the arsenal of things to do is the construction of Wahoo stadium right on Pensacola Bay.  Wahoo stadium is home of the Blue Wahoos Double A minor league baseball team (Cincinnati Reds affiliate team).

Pensacola Blue Wahoos

If you have ever been to a minor league event, you know that it is a totally different experience than going to the major league counterpart.  You can get closer to the players, there is not a bad seat in the smaller venue, and where else can you get in between inning entertainment like two 300 + guys trying to put on as many wet size medium t-shirts on to win a pair of tickets?  Another benefit of the minor league experience is the food available at the park.  Typically there is a great selection at exponentially lower prices (I am looking at you Atlanta Braves).

And speaking of food, do you know what they have at Wahoo Stadium?  That would be Garlic Fries – queue the Ren and Stimpy Happy Happy Joy Joy song! Yes that ubiquitous combination of spuds and garlic that goes together as naturally as peanut butter and jelly/chocolate.

Garlic fries in hand I set out to evaluate the first of many servings to come.  No ketchup on this inaugural sampling – straight up only to gauge full flavor.

Presentation:  Nothing to fancy.  A bed of medium cut fries with a heaping of garlic on top.  Fresh flat leaf parsley is utilized to help garnish the dish.

Fries: Good medium cut potatoes.  Which I like since they hold on to more of the garlic.  Shoestring or thin cut usually result in a lot of “fry scooping” of the garlic (which really isn’t a bad thing).

Garlic:  Definitely the jarred variety.  Which I imagine makes sense from a labor and economical perspective.  I doubt I will find too many venues using freshly chopped or roasted garlic.

Taste: Very good.  The garlic was mellow but flavorful.  The vendors did a good job of making the garlic is drained well before topping the fries.

Obviously this necessitates global research on which venue indeed has the best garlic fries.  I will do what I have to do to bring this valuable inside information to you fellow garlic fanatics.  Initial word on the street indicates that ATT Park (San Francisco Giants), Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees), and PetCo Field (San Diego Chargers) have exceptional garlic fries.  Rumor also has it that some venues put cheese on their garlic fries as well.  This is so going to be fun.

Congratulations Wahoos you are at the top of the Garlic Fries list…..for now

Garlic Geeks Best Venue for Garlic Fries:

  1. Wahoo’s Stadium – Pensacola, FL

So what about you?  Is there a venue or restaurant that has your favorite garlic fries?  I would love to hear about them and add them to the R & D list!  Let me know in the comments.

How to Peel Garlic in 10 Seconds

 

This is so awesome!!!

The quickest way I have seen to peel garlic ever.

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from SAVEUR.com on Vimeo.

I can totally see a new kitchen product – Kitchen Maracas!  Just place your garlic cloves into the maracas, twist the top on and get your Charo on dancing around the kitchen.  Wa la – peeled garlic.  You heard it here first!

Of course you know I had to try this for verification purposes.  I didn’t have two large metal bowls as the gentleman in the video, so I used the next obvious choice….  Which of course was the stainless steel cocktail shaker from the bar.  I decided to try it on a smaller scale and put 4 cloves in the shaker.  I then proceeded to get busy doing the Dougie around the kitchen.  Results?

Outside of the look of bewilderment from the wife, It totally worked!  Check out the pictures below.

 

Cocktail? No peeling garlic.

4 in the chamber

The Results – peeled garlic!

I know you people are going to go and try this and would love to hear your results.

Side note: I am debating whether or not to wash the shaker out and see if anyone notices the slight hint of garlic in their next drink.