Chili Garlic Oil

Have you ever noticed those fancy flavored oils at the grocery store? They seem like a great idea, another way to infuse extra flavor into your food. Trader Joe’s used to make an amazing chili oil that I loved, but then they discontinued it and I was so bummed. Then I found that my local CostCo had introduced a delicious garlic oil…that cost $12 per Liter, yikes. It also seems to have been discontinued.

But there is really no need to go on a big hunt or spend a lot of money on delicious flavored oil. I know I’ve mentioned garlic oil in a few other posts, but it is really really ridiculously easy to make your own. It is cheap to make, and YOU control the quality of the ingredients.

I love home made flavored oil and use it as a base for building all kinds of flavorful meals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it to make popcorn
  • Brush it on pizza crusts before topping and baking
  • Dip crusty rustic bread into it
  • Start your soups and stir fries with it
  • Put it in your pan for grilled cheese, instead of buttery stick
  • Make a spicy salad dressing
  • Use it anywhere you would use oil or fat, to add a little extra kick

This stuff is so good, that I plan to get some cute little bottles and give it away as gifts at holiday time, along with some recipes. I will probably make two versions, one that is just garlic and one that is just chili. But the recipe I’m giving you here covers both. If you just want garlic oil, leave out the crushed chilis and vice versa.

So try it and let me know what you think. You can try this method with other aromatics too, I think cinnamon and cloves would be a fun combination, useful for sweets and Lebanese or Moroccan dishes. What else would you try? What would you use it for?

Chili Garlic Oil

Ingredients

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup crushed red pepper, depending on your tolerance for heat (I like to use the really spicy kind)
  • 12 cloves (about one bulb) garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 4 cups olive oil (suitable for sauteeing or frying, NOT extra virgin), or canola, or other relatively flavorless oil

Method

Put chilis, oil, and garlic into a deep sautee pan and place over low heat.

Note: DO NOT be tempted put the spurs to the heat in order to speed up the process; trust me, you will burn the garlic and the chilis and that will make you a very sad panda.

On my stove, I set the heat to 3 (out of 10), then when the garlic starts to sizzle a little, I turn it down to 1. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the sizzly-garlic stage, but this may vary depending on the quantity of oil you are preparing and the power of your cooktop. Once you have sizzly-garlic, let the oil sit over low heat for about 15 minutes, then kill the heat.

Let the oil cool for about an hour before handling. Seriously, don’t try to strain boiling hot oil.

Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container. Discard solids into the trash can (your kitchen plumbing doesn’t want all that oily goop). Strain a second time through a paper towel (see photo above) or coffee filter to clarify and catch all the tiny pieces that slipped through the first time.

Note: Don’t try to skip the first straining, if you go straight to the paper towel it will take a very long time. Also, it is important to strain the second time in order to remove all the garlic for food safety reasons.

Store in a clean, closed container at room temperature for a few weeks…maybe longer, I don’t know exactly because we go through this stuff pretty fast. If it develops any off odors, gets cloudy, grows anything funky, or talks sass to you, discard.

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Autumn Fruit Muesli

Wow, it’s November and it’s been a loooong time since I posted. Partly it’s because I have been saving up ideas for Vegan MoFo (woo woo) and partly it’s because I’ve been busy. But I’m really going to try to commit to this MoFo business again this year because it was so fun last year, and I got a lot out of it.

So, I’m kicking it off with my favorite breakfast cereal. Go go, Muesli!

There are a lot of reasons that I (heart) muesli. It’s really versatile, but it has less fat than granola and no added sugar. Oats are the base, which are super high in fiber and nutrients (including iron and thiamin). Best of all, you can customize the flavors of your muesli any way you like. I have listed an autumn version here, but in the spring time I might do berries and almonds and cardamom or in summer I might do pineapple and cashews and lime. You can sub in barley flakes* for some of the oats, use any kind of dried fruit or nut or seed you like. Sometimes I mix it up just because I’m trying to clean out the pantry, rather than go with a seasonal variation. These basic proportions will get you started, but mix it up however you like.

And let me know: what variations did you try?? What was successful? Or NOT??

* If using barley flakes, just note that they are not gluten-free.

Autumn Fruit Musesli

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rolled oats (make sure to look for gluten-free oats if that is a concern to you)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apples
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried banana
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (optional)
  • several dashes fresh grated nutmeg (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350F.

If your pecan pieces are big, give them a rough chop. Spread oats and pecans over the base of a roasting pan or a few cookie sheets (I have a big tin roasting pan that I bought at the grocery store for about $1, specifically for this purpose). Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring or shaking every 10 min or so. Your nose will tell you when it’s about ready, the oats and the nuts will smell fragrant and…well, nutty. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When oat mixture is cool enough to handle, add to the bowl and toss to combine. I like to use clean hands for this.

Store in an airtight container (I use a two-quart mason jar with a lid). Serve with almond milk, non-dairy yogurt, and some seasonal fresh fruit.

Makes about 10 cups of muesli.