Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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Jingle Bulbs, Jingle Bulbs, Garlic All The Way!

One of my favorite maxims, “a day without garlic… tasteless!” is especially true for the holly days. What would Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Boxing Day (please forgive me if I’ve forgotten one – and, no, Festivus does not count) be like without garlic to sweeten – as in enhance – your favorite holiday fare? Hold the garlic and we’re talking mundane roast beef, weak salsa, lifeless vegetables and ordinary mashed potatoes. Your menu would be, in Garlicia terms, humdrum with no yum.

Well, bah, humdrum! In the coming days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite party foods, liberally laced with garlic, to help make your holidays jingle with flavor. Today’s recipes are “snackers” to keep guests occupied until the main event/dish commences. Best served with a chorus of carols and a carafe of wine…


30         Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves

2            lbs. hamburger

1            lb. Italian sausage

1/3        cup seasoned bread crumbs

1            tbls. catsup

1            tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1/2        tsp. each salt & pepper

1            tbls. Italian seasoning

1            tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of chile flakes

1/4        cup Parmesan cheese

2            eggs

Take Italian sausage out of casing. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except garlic cloves until very well blended. Take 1 to 2 tbls. of mixture and start to form into a ball. Press thumb into ball and put one garlic clove in center, then seal mixture around it to form a 1” meatball. Brown meatballs lightly in small amount of oil, transfer to a baking dish sprayed with Pam. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes. To serve: place in warming dish with a favorite sauce, i.e. marinara, barbecue, if desired or offer sauces on the side. Makes about 30 meatballs.


1            tbls. vegetable oil or 2 tbls. butter

2             cups raw pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds or a combination your favorites

6             or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced

1            tsp. soy sauce

Heat oil or butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lightly sauté for a few seconds before adding nuts. Add nuts, stir and continue stirring until most of the nuts are golden. Remove from heat and add a light sprinkle of salt if desired. Wait a couple of minutes and add soy sauce and blend. Serve warm or store in a zip lock bag or a container with a tight lid.



On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would like to acknowledge the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas for their courage, strength and tenacity in getting their communities and lives back on the road to recovery. Much work is still needed, but their spirit shines through in their rebuilding efforts and their drive to preserve their society, culture and, most definitely, their food.

Although I hate to admit it, a lot of my experience with New Orleans style food has been limited to the use of Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and if you haven’t tried it, cher, do, but if you’re also looking for some classic Cajun or Creole dishes, check out one of my favorite websites, There are recipes for Shrimp Creole and Etouffé, Red Beans and Rice, and other traditional fare, but what got my mind and mouth going was the Chicken Fricassee. Even though it’s a Louisiana staple, I still think of it as the dish immortalized by pregnant Marge Gunderson in Fargo (the movie) who devoured a plateful of it at every roadside buffet. Never did a dish look so warm and satisfying…

Even the word fricassee makes your mouth water, and this recipe from Nola will have you channeling your inner Marge. I am shamelessly copying it here with much deference to the author. The only suggestions I have (no disrespect intended) are to increase the garlic by at least one tablespoon, and to add ½ cup of chopped Christopher Ranch Green Garlic* as the final garnish. Ah C’est Bon!


5  – 6  lbs. chicken legs and thigh quarters

For browning the chicken:

1  cup flour seasoned

2  tbsp. kosher salt

Few turns of black pepper

Healthy pinch of cayenne

For the Fricassee:

1  cup lard (home rendered), bacon drippings, duck fat or vegetable oil (if you must)

¾   cup flour

2  cups onion, chopped

1  cup celery, chopped

½   cup green bell pepper, chopped

½   cup mushrooms, sliced

2  tbsp garlic*, finely chopped

½   cup dry white wine

1  quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

1  bay leaf

1  bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste

2  tbsp. fresh thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped

1  tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1  tbsp. hot sauce

½   cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside. Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.

When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled thyme and bay leaf and stir in the chopped thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with green onions*. If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.

Note: It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all the flavor of the sauce. Nola suggests slightly under-seasoning with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit. Serves 4.


Put Fireworks in Your Food: Add Garlic-a-Lotta

July 4th is Sunday, and the little kid inside of me is really looking forward to the fireworks. Most of my neighbors must feel the same way because, every year, they shoot a sizable wad of currency into the night sky. My family will be lighting up our annual $39.95 cache at appointed intervals but, mostly, we’ll be in our lawn chairs ooohing and aaahing and sipping wine. Not a bad way to spend an evening…

If you’re anything like us, however, it’s the flavor explosion earlier in the day that causes the most excitement – the barbecue. Whether you’re grilling tri-tip, ribs, chicken or fish, you can add a few fireworks to your favorite fare with Christopher Ranch’s fresh California garlic – it’s born in the USA – and what could be better on this all-American holiday!

For maximum bang in your BBQ, this recipe using Christopher Ranch fresh chopped garlic and green garlic will complement anything from steak to salmon. Gremolata (pronounced Garlic-a-lotta, yes!) is a traditional Italian blend made with simple ingredients. It’s used as a garnish, condiment or “salsa”, and is a great topper for a wide variety of dishes.



1             lemon – peel finely grated to equal at least 1 tsp. of zest

¼          cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

3            garlic cloves – finely chopped

3            shoots green garlic – finely chopped

Drop or two of extra virgin olive oil if desired

Dash of sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

The beauty of this blend is its flexibility – a few tweaks can turn it from Italian to Greek to Chinese or whatever persuasion lights up your tastebuds. If you’re going Latin: substitute cilantro for parsley and add finely chopped jalapeño to taste; Greek: substitute finely chopped mint for parsley and add a pinch of sugar for a great lamb topper; Chinese: add a touch of chile paste, soy and rice wine vinegar. The possibilities are endless, just let your heritage and plenty of USA garlic be your guide!

Have a Happy, Safe and Sane 4th of July!


Dad, the Wheelbarrow Grill, and Clams on the Half Shell


I’ve said in a previous blog that moms and food go together, but it’s also true of dads. Most times we picture them at the grill handling a heap of steak, brauts and beer, almost like the captain of a ship, in total control of rare, medium and well done. My dad was no different, although his method of barbecuing was like nobody else. His grill was a masterpiece of invention on a shoestring. Picture if you will (I often do), a beat-up old, metal wheelbarrow with the front grill of an antiquated truck laid across the top of it. It was classic dad ingenuity and when he wheeled it into the patio, all we saw was  “yum, barbecue!” and didn’t care what it looked like. 

His do-it-yourself ways belied an expert griller, especially when it came to chicken, which he basted at steady intervals with a blend he put together in a large Mason jar. He filled the jar with olive oil, added a cube of butter, a splash of sauterne (probably his secret ingredient), and many garlic cloves. The key to this recipe, however, was the basting “brush” he made with a bunch of fresh rosemary sprigs, another money saver because rosemary grew like a weed in our yard, but it added the perfect touch of flavor.

Dad also appreciated nature’s bounty and often went hunting and fishing. He loved to go “clamming” and had a secret spot off the coast highway near Pismo, California, where the clams were almost as large as my hand. He would bring home a gunny sack of “treasure” and prepare the Clams on the Half Shell. His recipe was basic: blend clam juice, fresh chopped garlic and parsley, white wine, a little lemon, salt and pepper and pour over the halves before baking. I can still see my dad pulling them out of the oven while our family waited with forks at the ready. We ate like kings for the price of a fishing license….  

 I haven’t seen clams that large for many years, but Dad’s recipe will work for any seafood – calamari, scallops – and don’t forget to top them all with lots of chopped green garlic. Dad would have done it in a heartbeat!


This green garlic recipe tops them all!

The sun has finally seen fit to shine on this burg (sadly, a little too late for our cherry crop) but with 90 degree weather expected this weekend, dining light is on tap for me and mine. And what’s better than a big, beautiful green salad on a hot day?  Well, a lot of things (a walk in the redwoods, a winning lotto ticket, okay, I’ll stop…), but when I’m craving greens, I’ll go to great lengths to build a masterpiece piled high with freshness, flavor and even a little love.

If you’re like me and throw your heart and soul (and the kitchen sink) into a salad, you don’t want to ruin it with a mediocre and/or bottled dressing lacking any real personality. Which brings me to the point of this blog: our very own Justin (salesperson slash chef) has created what I so eloquently described as “awesome” when it first hit my taste receptors, Green Garlic Vinaigrette. Before you tell yourself, cripes, it’s another green garlic recipe, do not NOT try this recipe. Besides being fresh, zesty and just plain delicious, this dressing is a refreshing pick-me-up for an energy draining dog day. Try it on salads, meat, fish, chicken, burgers – and in or on any food you can think of.  Last night, I grilled some venison sausages, sliced them up and used Justin’s GGV as a dipping sauce instead of mustard. It was, and I contentedly repeat myself, awesome!


3        oz. Christopher Ranch Green Garlic, trimmed and coarsely chopped

3        tbls. chopped cilantro

3        tbls. white wine vinegar

2        tbls. water

½       cup canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend green garlic and cilantro first, then add vinegar, water and blend. With blender still running, add oil very slowly until well blended


Garlic Goes To the Movies

I love movies almost as much as I love garlic. Funny movies, crime dramas, foreign flicks, movies that make you think and dream, but mostly I love old movies. Black and white movies from the 30’s and 40’s and, with some partiality, those A-bomb cursing, sci-fi ones made in the 1950’s, where Harryhausen’s gargantuan monsters in stop-motion (the precursor to Avatar’s motion-capture) rip up a perfectly peaceful beach and send teenagers running in holy terror.

Along with those monsters, everything was bigger in the 50’s: big cars (nothing badder than a sleek and sexy 57 Caddie), big hair (why is the word bouffant not in my dictionary?!), and big food like mac ‘n cheese and hot roast beef sandwiches dripping with gravy. But, was that big food dripping with garlic? No, not likely. Who cooked with garlic in the 50’s?? My gramma did thanks to her Tuscan roots, but your basic menu at the diner downtown probably didn’t feature garlic-laden goodies. 

Which brings me to one surprising moment on a recent rainy Saturday. While watching the 1955 classic, “It Came From Beneath The Sea”, I was startled to hear the word GARLIC! No, it didn’t come out of the mouth of the giant octopus that was soon to be manhandling and handling and handling, etc. (each arm got in a whack) the Golden Gate Bridge. It was uttered by the leading man in the quiet scene just before all hell broke loose. He was insolently trying to order dinner for the scientist heroine and sweetly whispered in her ear “how about a lobster smothered in garlic butter”. As her eyes lit up, mine did, too, as I realized that garlic was coveted even in the 50’s, and as the end neared and our heroes brought down that giant octopus, I couldn’t help but think that it was the garlic that gave them the strength to do it.

P. S. I’d also like to think the leading man ordered “octopus smothered in garlic butter” as the movie credits rolled by. I’d hate to see that big fish go to waste…


Into the Strata-Sphere or How Not to be an Easter Basket Case

If you’re ready for the basket, as my mother used to say, here’s how to stifle the urge to throw those nicely colored Easter eggs at passing cars or tear the ears off the inordinate amount of chocolate bunnies you’re planning to devour. Simmer down, have a mimosa and go hoppin’ down the garlic trail with a brunch that will please everybody. (Let those that aren’t pleased feast on the leftover bunny bodies – yes, the chocolate ones – you stashed in the pantry.)

Breathe in, breathe out and go buffet. Spread out your brightest tablecloth, fill a vase with fresh cut flowers and whip up Strata Garliata, a delectable concoction that I also like to call “Please Let There Be Leftovers.” It can be served hot or cold, so it’s perfect for an all day affair. Round out the menu with generous platters of fresh pineapple, strawberries, melon, your favorite muffins or breads, and beverages of your choice (another mimosa, please!) Bake a few garlic bulbs at the same time as the strata – imagine the aroma – and encourage your guests to spread the warm, squishy garlic on pineapple slices (don’t scoff, this combo is on pizza…) or try it Garlicia style: warm Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves in the microwave for a few seconds and skewer alternately with pineapple chunks on fancy toothpicks.

Almost the entire brunch can be done ahead of time. Assemble the strata, refrigerate it overnight and bake the next day. Set the table, prep and bake (or buy) the rest of the items the day before to make it a fairly no-pressure, no headache Easter. Of course, nothing is perfect but you just might be able to relax, enjoy yourself and show everyone what a good egg you really are!


14 slices sourdough or day old bread – remove crusts
2 cubes butter – melted
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese (1¼ lbs.)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 cups cubed cooked ham or cooked shrimp (about 1 lb.)
3 cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced
2 bunches Christopher Ranch California Green Garlic – chopped (save about half to
sprinkle on casserole after cooking)
1 bunch green onions – chopped
12 large eggs – beaten
1 tsp salt
½ tsp. pepper
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tbls. sweet mustard
3 cups milk
1 pint sour cream

Brush the bread slices with butter and cut in half. Arrange 1/3 of the slices in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread 1/3 of the cheese, parsley, ham or shrimp over the bread slices and repeat to form three layers. Thoroughly combine the rest of the ingredients using a blender or food processor. Pour over the casserole, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bake uncovered at 350º for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining chopped Green Garlic and let set about 10 minutes before cutting. Serves about 14.

Cut the tip (1/4” to 1/2”) off several whole Christopher Ranch California Garlic bulbs and then gently remove loose outer layers of skin, slightly exposing the individual unpeeled cloves, but leaving the bulbs intact. Place bulbs cut side up in baking pan leaving a little space between each bulb. If desired, drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and favorite herbs or seasonings. Fill baking pan with enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/4”). Seal pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350º for 60 minutes or until garlic cloves are very soft. To serve: Break clove off bulb and squeeze out pulp.


Happy Nutrition Month; Garlic Style

March is here, and with its arrival, come many a wonderful thing.

Spring. March Madness. My birthday. St. Patrick’s Day.

Perhaps most important in today’s society, however, is National Nutrition Month, launched by the American Dietetic Association, to shed light on the need for - and celebrate - a healthy lifestyle. (Although I’d argue my 27th year in life is a close second…)

Since Christopher Ranch is a firm believer in – and supporter of - healthy eating habits, we want to do our part in promoting the cause.

One way to do such is by regularly including California Heirloom Garlic in your diet, as this fresh herb boasts numerous essential nutrients and oils, including vitamins B and C, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, allicin, selenium and more.

In fact, research suggests fresh garlic possesses strong antioxidant, antiviral, blood-thinning and fat-burning properties, helping to combat such health conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, cancers and more.

On top of that, California Heirloom Garlic is 100% natural, with no preservatives, and serves as a healthy, flavorful salt alternative. In fact, substituting one teaspoon of fresh garlic for equal salt will eliminate 580 mg of sodium, helping alleviate potential heart-damaging sodium levels and weight gain.

To aid in your garlic-infused, healthy-lifestyle transition, we’ve compiled a few garlic selection and handling tips – to maximize your garlic’s health value – as well as nutritious – yet delicious – recipes.

Tip 1: Bottoms Up

For optimal health, make sure your fresh garlic has a California heirloom origin, as third-party tests have verified that California heirloom garlic contains higher levels of essential oils, nutrients, vitamins, amino acids and proteins than other California varietals, as well as Chinese, Argentine and Mexican garlic.

So, when perusing your local grocery store, look for either the Christopher Ranch label, or a garlic bottom with roots still intact. If you don’t see either, consult the store manager immediately. Kidding, but serious….

Tip 2: Crushing Preferred

How you slice and dice your garlic can make a pivotal difference in the herb’s nutritional value.

Why? Well, allicin is believed to be garlic’s key health compound, yet allicin is only activated when garlic is chewed, crushed, cut, sliced, etc. Only then, do two separate compounds – alliin and allinase - combine to form allicin. Thus, the finer the garlic is chopped, crushed or minced, the more allicin is released.

Now, the fun part; eating.

Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Arugula

Slow Cook Vegetarian Chili

Hearts of Palm & Spinach Salad

Garlic Pesto Stuffed Chicken

Sautéed Tofu With Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Frey Cabernet Sauvignon Orzo

Garlic-Ginger-Lime Salmon

Stewed Peppers With Garlic, Onions & Tomatoes

Rosemary Skewers of Shiitake Mushrooms, Broccoli & Garlic Cloves

Broccoli With Toasted Garlic

Sautéed Fish With Zesty Mango Salsa


Julie & Julia Round 4; What’s Mardi Gras Without Beads & Jambalaya?

Happy Mardi Gras!

Today is Fat Tuesday, signaling the end of the Mardi Gras celebration, and while not a monumental landmark in my life, I do have Bayou roots and a love for New Orleans. To me, the city deserves a little recognition, considering it’s home to Mardi Gras, it’s finally showing signs of Katrina recovery and the hometown Saints recently grabbed a huge Super Bowl victory.

So, whether you’re partial to New Orleans for its football success, the Cajun/Creole food heritage, its mystique or Mardi Gras festivities, today is a tribute to the Big Easy.

I happen to like all ‘Orleans attributes and decided - if I couldn’t make it to Mardi Gras, I would bring Mardi Gras to my kitchen. Well, sort of; there weren’t too many beads, females lacking shirts and Hurricanes hanging out in my kitchen. However, there was Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya and The Bachelor (Vienna is definite Bourbon Street material), so I assumed that combination sufficed.

And, thus – Recipe Four in “Angie’s Quest to Garlic Cooking Greatness,” the non-blockbuster, garlic version of Julie & Julia, was born. However, I deviated, again, from The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook, Volume II. Seeing as it was Fat Tuesday eve, and I was planning to prepare – or at least attempt - a New Orleans original, I wanted an authentic chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe.

Therefore, I summoned an expert opinion from Cajun Chef Ryan Boudreaux, a New Orleans native who relocated to Wake Forest, N.C. in Katrina’s wake. In fine Southern form, Chef Ryan delivered a genuinely amazing jambalaya, which tasted like it was catapulted straight from Commander’s Palace.

Alright, that’s a serious exaggeration, but the point is - Chef Ryan’s jambalaya reeked of an heirloom recipe someone’s Creole grandmother concocted upon Louisiana’s inception. Cajun Chef Ryan has definite New Orleans street cred.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Ingredients: (Note – I’m a huge sausage fan and love any excuse to go sausage heavy. You can take the girl out of Kansas, but you can’t take the Kansas out of the girl. Therefore, I eliminated the chicken aspect of this recipe and doubled the sausage. So, I apologize if the recipe’s name misled; this dish is strictly pig):

- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil;

 - 2 lbs. smoked sausage – sliced;

- 3 cups fresh onions – diced (I only made it to three cups. I couldn’t find my goggles, and my incessant crying – due to the onions – makes operating a large knife risky. Therefore, I doubled the California heirloom garlic and green onions);

- 3 cups celery - diced;

- 3 cups green bell peppers – diced;

- 4 tbsp. Christopher Ranch California heirloom garlic – minced;

- 1 tsp. dry mustard;

- 1 tsp. fresh thyme;

- 1 tbsp. smoky paprika ( I doubled, but I like to sweat when I eat Cajun);

- 1 tsp. cumin;

- 2 cups fresh tomatoes – diced;

- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock;

- 3 cups brown rice;

- 3/4 tbsp. Crystal hot sauce – or any Louisiana brand (I used 3 tbsp., but, again, I love heat);

- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce;

- 2 cups fresh green onions – chopped;  


- Using a little olive oil, sauté the smoked sausage in a large stock pot, until browned.

- Add the onions, celery and bell pepper to the browned sausage, and continue sautéing, until veggies are soft and onions translucent. Add garlic, and stir well.

- Sprinkle in all herbs and seasonings (minus the hot and Worcestershire sauces), and stir well.

- Add tomatoes and chicken stock, and bring to a boil.

- Stir in the rice, followed by the Crystal hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and stir well.

- Cover the rice, and allow to cook, occasionally stirring rice to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

- Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid – about 20 minutes – add the green onions, and stir well.

- Serve hot, and drizzle with a little low-fat cheese and a few additional drops of hot sauce; if you like it hot, that is!

Thoughts: Cajuns understand flavor; their use of bold herbs and spices, such as fresh garlic, is unbridled. And, Cajun cuisine, such as jambalaya, is quite similar to New Orleans – steamy, mysterious and sexy. One bite is a tease; it lingers on your mind and always leaves you wanting more. Since I opted for low-sodium chicken broth, brown rice and fresh herbs whenever possible, feel free to succumb to Cajun temptation.

Not to mention, the perfect indulgent dish to crush before tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday.

Happy Mardi Gras!


Fresh Garlic – More Than A Flavor Booster On Valentine’s Day…

The annual day of love, Saint Valentine’s Day, Hallmark holiday, Singles Unite - however you identify February 14 - has almost arrived.

Gentlemen – you can run, but unfortunately, you can’t hide. You have Emperor Claudius II to blame for putting Feb. 14 on a pedestal. It was he who decided single men were better soldiers, thus outlawing marriage for young men. So, Valentine, a courageous romantic, defied Claudius by secretly conducting marriages for young lovers, ultimately becoming the namesake of Valentine’s Day.

Just a little history for you on this Friday morning – never know when Jeopardy might throw ya a Saint Valentine question.

Hate Claudius or love him, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and while you may not associate fresh garlic with the beloved – or dreaded – holiday, you, my friend, are wrong. Not only is California heirloom garlic featured in many a love-inspired dish, but garlic is also considered an aphrodisiac.

Not suggesting anything for your Valentine’s itinerary; merely stating a fact. Fresh garlic, however, is not alone in the aphrodisiac family, as fellow members include oysters, figs, artichokes, honey, chocolate, chili peppers, pine nuts, grapes, basil, asparagus, cucumbers and more (never knew love was so healthy?) See New York Times article, “A Viagra Alternative To Serve By Candlelight.” 

Why garlic, you may ask? Well, according to the Times article, ”garlic contains an amino acid that enhances blood flow and could augment…” – err, well, read the article.

So, if you’re striving to impress your Valentine date, we’ve compiled several aphrodisiac-heavy recipes, guaranteed to boost their taste buds – or love life.

Duck Breasts With Pears and Shallots

Oysters Rockefeller

Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb With Spices & Couscous - see all of Bon Appetite’s Sexy Food Slideshow

Gratin Dauphinois

Crostini With Prosciutto, Figs and Mint

Wild Mushroom Pasta – See all of Epicurious’ Valentine’s Day menus

Pan-Roasted Veal Chops With Cabernet Sauce - see all of Food and Wine’s Romantic Dishes

Stuffed Artichokes - see all Recipes for Romance in The New York Times

Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter - see all of Saveur Magazine’s Valentine’s suggestions


Chef Michael Giletto Showcases Culinary Expertise & Christopher Ranch Love At James Beard Foundation

Give a warm welcome to guest blogger, Amber; my fellow cohort at the Ranch.

I’m playing hooky from the blog today. Trying to find a way to get myself to Vancouver or New Orleans this weekend…

Anywho, Amber’s full of great garlic insight, with newfound garlic tales, as she’s been working closely with Chef Michael Giletto. If you’re unfamiliar, Chef Giletto is the executive chef at Skillman, New Jersey’s esteemed Cherry Valley Country Club, as well as TV and radio culinary personality, including appearances on Chopped, Iron Chef America and the Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

Chef Giletto also is a big proponent of Christopher Ranch garlic. So much, in fact, that he recently incorporated California heirloom garlic in all stages – albeit dessert - of an exquisite, five-course dinner he was invited to prepare at the James Beard Foundation; an invitation not bestowed upon just any chef.

Here’s Amber to fill in the gaps…

The James Beard Foundation is an integral part of our culinary community, whose mission is “to celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity, in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence.”

Through its diverse educational programs, culinary student scholarships and prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, the non-profit foundation, undoubtedly, wages a tremendous influence in the culinary world.

The James Beard House also invites chefs to participate in events, and recently, Chef Michael Giletto was asked to showcase his culinary expertise and prepare a fennel-themed dinner. Chef Alina Eisenhauer, executive pastry chef at Sweet in Worcester, Massachusetts, assisted Giletto in the process.

Like we said, Chef Giletto is a fan of Christopher Ranch’s California heirloom garlic, which he uses daily in his own kitchen, and applied to his James Beard Foundation menu. Likewise, we are a fan of Chef Giletto’s extraordinary culinary talents and the masterful ways he blends garlic in his cooking.

Fortunately, we got a peek at the mouth-watering menu…

Hors D’ Oeuvres:

“Tataki Style” Sterling Silver Strip Loin, Christopher Ranch Garlic Chips, Fennel Frond Aioli (pictured above)

 Salt-Crusted Scallop, Roasted Shallot Fennel, Tart Apple Slaw 

Fennel Aspic, Carmel Brioche, Fried Salsify, Tarragon Mayo

Brown Butter Fennel Dust, Hudson Valley Smoked Duck, Fennel~Carrot Crisp

Wine Pairing: Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace, France Steele, Black Bubbles, California

Beer Pairing: Unibroue Green Apple; Chambly, Quebec

Course 1:

Avocado Fennel Puree, Black Truffle Crème Frache, Sterling Silver Pork Dust (pictured above)

Wine Pairing: 2005 Rovero Pinot Nero “LaJetto,” Piedmont, Italy

Beer Pairing: Allagash White: Portland, ME

Course 2:

Sous Vide Griggs Farm Chicken “Scallop,” Watercress Fennel Salad With Fermented Christopher Ranch Garlic Spread, Craft Beer Vinaigrette

Wine Pairing: 2007 Ca dei Frati Lugana, Lombardy, Italy

Beer Pairing: Avery Saison; Boulder, CO

Course 3:

Chowder Of Baby Heirloom Tomato And Fennel, Seafood Contour, White Truffle (pictured above)

Wine Pairing: 2004 Dievole Chianti Classico Reserva “Novacento,” Tuscany, Italy

Beer Pairing: Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu; Milton DE

Course 4:

Fennel Pollen-Dusted Sterling Silver Skirt “Mock Filet,” Brioche “Crotta,” Casa de Lena Farm Olive Oil Fennel Sauce

Wine Pairing: Enzo Boglietti Langhe Rosso “Buio,” Piedmont, Italy

Beer Pairing: Lost Abbey Avant Garde; San Marcos, CA

Course 5:

Orange Blossom Genois, Fennel Semifredo, Candied Fennel, Fennel Pollen, Almond Florentine, Caramelized Blood Oranges

Wine Pairing: 2005 Valckenberg “Madonna,” Eiswein Rheinhessen

Beer Pairing: Pretty Things Jack D’or; Holyoke, MA

We are particularly intrigued by the garlic application Chef Giletto employed in the “Tataki-Style” Sterling Silver Strip Loin, Christopher Ranch Garlic Chips, Fennel Frond Aioli. We love how this recipe displays fresh garlic’s versatility, emphasizing one of many unique ways garlic can enhance a menu.

Thank you, Chef Giletto, Chef Eisenhauer and your fabulous staff (also pictured above), for including Christopher Ranch garlic in your masterpiece. And – a big thank you to photographer Scott Erb for taking such gorgeous pictures.

Next up – the American Culinary Federation’s Northeast Regional Conference, where Chef Giletto will conduct our cooking demonstration. Pretty excited, as we’ll finally get to indulge in his garlic delights! 

Stay tuned…


Culinary Students Win Big in Christopher Ranch Garlic Gridiron Challenge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Like the New Orleans Saints, the 2010 Super Bowl victor, Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip scored the winning touchdown in this year’s Christopher Ranch Garlic Gridiron Challenge.

 Jo Anne Washburn, culinary student at the San Francisco-based California Culinary Academy, won first-place accolades in the first-ever challenge, which invited culinary students at several California culinary schools to create original, garlic-infused Super Bowl party dishes.

Washburn, who will receive $500 for her first-place finish, credits inspiration for her Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip to the widespread popularity of crab dip, the recipe’s simplicity and her love of food experimentation. It is the garlic, however, that truly enhances the dish, she said.

“You must put a piece of the soft and creamy roasted Christopher Ranch garlic on top,” Washburn said. “It is imperative that you do this because the appetizer will not be complete without it; it’s like playing football without your star quarterback.”

Recipes were judged based on flavor (25%), innovation (25%), presentation (25%) and recipe’s ability to showcase the garlic (25%). Judging took place at the on-campus cooking competition, wherein the top-three contestants – selected from the first-round entry – prepared their winning recipes, Iron Chef-style.

Second-place runner up was Spicy Garlic Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms, created by Annette Turek, followed by Shanda Cool’s third-place Game Day Garlic Pigskin Peanuts. Turek and Cool will receive $200 and $100, respectively, for their winning dishes.

The Garlic Gridiron Challenge is one step in Christopher Ranch efforts to establish relationships with culinary students and professors, in order to raise awareness about the differences in fresh garlic varieties, glean insight about the culinary industry and bridge the divide between farmers and chefs.

Without further adieu, the winning recipe….

Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic & Blue Cheese Crab Dip

Servings: 20-25/Yield: about 2 1/2 cups dip


- 2-cups fresh lump crab meat;

- 1/2-cup tiny shrimps - pre-cooked;

- 1/2-cup mozzarella cheese;

- 1/2-cup blue cheese – crumbled;

- 1/2-cup mayonnaise;

- 1/4-cup green onions – finely chopped;

- 1/4-cup fresh parsley – minced;

- 1/4-cup jalapenos – minced;

- 1-tsp. cayenne;

- 1/2-tsp. dry mustard;

- 2-tsp. Worcestershire sauce;

- 1-tsp. Tabasco hot sauce;

- 1 1/2-cup Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic Cloves – roasted;

- Olive oil – to taste;

- Salt – to taste; 

- Pepper – to taste; 

- 1 whole French baguette 


Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients, with the exception of garlic. Mix well, and place crab mix in a baking dish. Set aside. 

Spread the garlic cloves on a separate sheet pan, and drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Roast garlic in the oven for 30 min., or until soft and golden. Bake crab mix in the oven for 20 min. 

Meanwhile, cut the French baguette into 1/4-inch circles. Spread slices on sheet pan, and drizzle olive oil atop. Lightly salt and pepper, and set aside. 

Once the crab mix and garlic are finished baking, place bread in oven for about 3-5 min. 

Once bread is properly toasted, spread the crab mix over each slice, and place a roasted garlic clove on top. Arrange the slices on a platter, and serve. Enjoy! 

Inspiration: “I was inspired to make this dish because I love to play with my food. I could have gone with many other appetizers, but what’s a Super Bowl party without a creamy, rich-flavored crab dip? I love crab on everything and also garlic. Making this dish is easy and takes very little time.  Take a spoon, and scoop a nice helping of the crab mixture onto your toasted French baguette. Then, you MUST put a piece of the soft and creamy roasted Christopher Ranch garlic on top. It is imperative that you do this because the appetizer will not be complete without it; it’s like playing football without your star quarterback. Enjoy, and Bon Appetite!” 

Don’t forget the runners up….. 

Annette Turek’s Spicy Garlic Bacon-Wrapped Mushrooms – 2nd Place 

Servings: 12 


- 24 fresh button mushrooms; 

- 48-62 cloves of Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – roasted; 

- 2 jars prepared hot mango chutney; 

- 2 packages smoked bacon – sliced and halved; 

- Olive oil – to taste 


Preheat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Toss garlic cloves in olive oil, and bake for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove mushroom stems, and use melon baller to carefully hollow out. Place 1 tsp. chutney in each mushroom cap, and top with 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic. Place one end of bacon over open part of mushroom cap, and wrap around, covering completely. Avoid wrapping the bottom of the mushroom, and secure with a toothpick. 

Preheat grill, or keep oven at 400 degrees. Place wrapped mushrooms on grill, or in oven on rack; bake for 20 minutes, or until bacon has browned. 

Inspiration: “Putting together an appetizer, with what I had in my refrigerator… For a sweet, spicy surprise, I added a hot mango chutney and tested it on the family. It was fun to see everyone guess the hidden flavor they were tasting. This has been the most requested recipe I’ve ever created!” 

Shanda Cool’s Game Day Garlic Pigskin Peanuts – 3rd Place 

Servings: 16 (1-oz.) servings 


- 2 heads Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic – roasted; 

- 3-cups unsalted peanuts – roasted; 

- 6 slices thick-cut bacon; 

- 1/2-cup pure maple syrup; 

- 1-tbsp. fresh thyme leaves – minced; 

- 1-tbsp. kosher salt; 

- 1/2-tsp. cayenne pepper; 

- 1/2-tsp. dry mustard 


Preheat oven to 325-degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium skillet, cook bacon, until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and finely chop. 

In a medium bowl, mix the thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and dry mustard. 

In a small bowl, smash the roasted Christopher Ranch garlic cloves, and whisk in the maple syrup – slowly – until mixture forms an emulsion. 

Add the peanuts, bacon and garlic mixture to the dry ingredients, and toss, until all peanuts are evenly coated. 

Scrape nuts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast for approximately 30 min., stirring at least once to break up mixture. 

Remove the peanuts from the oven, and allow to cool completely, breaking up any large chunks into individual peanut and bacon pieces. 

Serve to hungry football fans! 

Inspiration: “My inspiration came from my desire to create a crunchy football party food that was easy to transport for tailgating events, using fresh garlic; instead of the common garlic salts and powders found in many snack recipes. The fresh garlic flavor and aroma make the difference in every single bite. I also believe that “everything really is better with bacon,” thus I wanted to include the pigskin portion of the recipe to bring partygoers a robust addition. I love the flavor that bacon adds to this recipe, without taking over, as the garlic has enough bite to move to forward and stand up to the bacon.”


Super Bowl Sunday; Ragin’, Cajun Garlic Style

I always welcome a good reason to drink beer, eat indulgent food, stare at spandex-laden men and listen to Bon Jovi belt out “Livin’ On A Prayer.” 

Therefore, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIV. While, I’m typically more enthralled with the seven-layer dip and humorous commercials – remember that hilarious E-Trade baby and the clown ?! - this year’s Colts vs. Saints matchup should prove to be a true gridiron battle. 

I’ve got my $40 on the Saints…gotta root for the underdog and show Nick Leckey, K-State’s finest, some love. 

Still, a potentially rousing game doesn’t diminish the importance of Super Bowl party food. Now, this comment might get me in hot water with Drew Brees, but – to me - the food is equally important as the game. 

My rationale? If the game is a bust, you need something to fall back on; enter food and drinks. 

So, I decided to inject my newfound Saints patronage into my party planning, resulting in a Ragin’ Cajun-themed soiree – who doesn’t love Cajun food? Fitting, as well, because those Cajuns are big fans of California heirloom garlic. 

After some deliberate research – we take our food seriously ’round these parts - I uncovered several Cajun recipes, which are sure to fit the bill. Just a warning; with these spicy delights, there will be some serious perspiring, both on and off, the field. Make sure those Hurricanes are chilled. 

Scallop Gumbo 

Catfish Po’ Boy  

Pulled Pork Sandwiches 


Red Beans & Rice  

Louisiana Shrimp Remoulade With Fall Lettuces 

Chili Cheese Grits 

Crawfish Etouffee 

Spicy Chicken Chili 

Jalapeno Pimento Cheeseburger 

Cajun Wings 

The Ultimate Crab Cakes 

Creole Red Jambalaya With Chicken & Sausage 

Oysters Bayou Teche 

Once Drew Brees sees my lineup, he’ll agree that food crushing ranks up there with field crushing. If they win, that is… 

The good news is – win or lose, we still eat; Cajun style.  


Julie & Julia Round 2: Spicy California Gumbo

This past week has been a bit crazy (tornados in California?! That’s why I left Kansas), so, since I was busy scouring LA for a basement to seek tornado refuge, I summoned the assistance of fellow Christopher Rancher, Justin Guibert (pictured above), to assist in my quest to cook through The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbooks.

There’s no “I” in this here team blog effort.

And, I must say – I was quite impressed by his ability to so effortlessly whip up a little Spicy California Gumbo, without even breaking a sweat. Perhaps Julie, Julia & Justin is a better fit?

So, without further delay, here’s Justin:

Well, I’m a fan of Creole cooking, but I’ve never attempted to prepare anything.  However, I had a layover in New Orleans during a recent trip to the South and – while waiting – enjoyed the Big Easy Sampler. I never knew airport food could be so mouthwatering.  The sampler featured sultry red beans and rice, spicy sausage and zesty gumbo and – was so life changing – it inspired me to take my own walk on the wild Cajun side. 

With the stormy winter weather whipping the West Coast again this week, it seemed like the perfect time to test my kitchen abilities.  

So, I donned my apron, poured a glass of Chardonnay, put on some inspirational Louis Armstrong - and got to work.

Spicy California Gumbo (as modified by Justin)

Serves 6


- ¼-cup butter

- ½-lb. fresh okra

- 1 large onion: chopped

- 1 ½ celery stalks: sliced

- ½-cup green pepper: chopped

- 5 cloves fresh California heirloom garlic: minced

- 2-3-tbsp. flour

- 1 jar medium sized oysters: diced

- 2-cups chicken broth

- 1 ½ large tomatoes: chopped

- 6 sprigs parsley: minced

- Pinch of thyme

- Salt and pepper to taste

- Tabasco sauce (use to your liking)

-  ½-lb. ham: diced

- ¾-lb. shrimp: shelled and deveined

- Cooked brown rice/quinoa: about 1-2 cups

- Pinch or two of file powder or Cajun black seasoning

- Water (if necessary)


Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add okra, onion, celery, green pepper and garlic, and cook until okra ceases to “rope.” I couldn’t figure out what “roping” was all about, and my grocer didn’t have okra, anyways, so I skipped and doubled the celery.  

Add flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes. 

Drain the liquid from the oysters, and add oysters, along with chicken broth, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and Tabasco. (I went heavy on the Tabasco to bring the heat, but if you don’t want to sweat or prefer a different hot sauce, adjust accordingly). Simmer about 1 hour (may need to add a little water), before adding ham and simmering another 20 minutes. 

Add shrimp and oysters, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

Disclaimer: I have to admit, I wasn’t about to wait 1 hour and 35 minutes for all the ingredients to simmer; 1 hour was a better fit for my hunger. Therefore, I simmered the vegetables in the broth for only 30 min., added the proteins to simmer for another 30 minutes and called it a day. 

Turned out just fine for my taste. Either way you prepare, make sure you remove bay leaves before serving, place a scoop of rice – or quinoa - in a soup bowl, and ladle a generous amount of gumbo. Sprinkle with a little file powder, and enjoy this Cajun delight.

You can almost taste Mardi Gras.


Embarking On My Own Julie & Julia Quest; Cooking Through The Garlic Bible

Call me a copycat.


It’s true; I deserve it. Though, in my defense, they say copying is the most sincere form of flattery.

It all started last Wednesday, when I watched Julie & Julia for the first time (little behind on movie watching, as my budget forces me to wait for Red Box rentals), and experienced a light-bulb moment – as I’m sure many of you did watching that movie…why don’t I cook through a cookbook and blog about it?

Por que, no? Maybe the sequel will evolve into “Angie and Julia…”

Now, multiple objectives motivated my cooking/writing endeavor, and mine weren’t nearly as endearing as Julie’s yearning to follow in the footsteps of the late, great Julia Child.

Objective One - I love to cook, but I struggle with following a recipe. I get too excited, don’t adequately prepare and wind up suddenly needing 10 different ingredients that aren’t chopped, causing things to quickly spiral downhill. Food overcooks, I get flustered, the kitchen turns into a war zone and I, consequently, drink one too many glasses of wine – which does, however, make my food taste better.

Objective Two - I always write about my fellow bloggers’ recipes and cooking experiences, but never my own. I decided, in 2010, I need to take control of my own cooking destiny. No more sloppy seconds.

So, last night I grabbed the trusty garlic Bible – The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook Volume II – a compilation of hundreds of competition entries from the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, and officially embarked on my cooking journey.

(All epic journeys need a name, so this one shall be called, “Angie’s Quest to Garlic Cooking Greatness.” )

My main goals in this journey are to: 1.) Complete every recipe, with a 75% edible-success rate; a new form of scoring I invented, which means a meal one can consume and somewhat enjoy, without contracting any food-borne illnesses. 2.) Not gain the “Freshman 40? in the process – quite risky, as many recipes call for heavy-whipping cream, copious amounts of butter, cream cheese, etc. Hello, saddlebags. 3.) Avoid unintentionally summoning the local fire department. 4.) Have a little fun.

Here we go. Recipe #1 – Manti, a nice, Turkish delight.

The recipe’s description, “an easy-to-fix casserole, with the surprisingly rich and unusual lamb flavor,” caught my attention with two words; easy and lamb. Easy is good, and lamb meat is even better.

So, I stopped at my local Ralph’s to pick up the necessary ingredients, and – I’m slightly embarrassed to admit – I spent arguably more time wandering the aisles in search of the ingredients, than I did in the kitchen.

Apparently, I’m not very store savvy when I venture beyond my cooking comfort zone of tacos, spaghetti and stew. Hello, parsley, nice to meet you; never noticed you there next to the carrots.

Once I entered the kitchen, however, things went surprisingly smooth. The recipe calls for minimal ingredients, the steps were simple to follow, and there wasn’t much multi-tasking involved. Total preparation and cooking time was about 1 hour, 10 minutes – the perfect amount of time to sip on a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. For once, I was drinking wine for enjoyment and not frustration.

Manti Recipe (I tweaked a few items, noted with an *, to help keep that 40-lbs. at bay):
- 1 (12-oz.) package large-shell pasta – *whole wheat and jumbo-shell pasta;
- ¾-lb. ground lamb;
- 1-tbsp. oil or butter – *extra-virgin olive oil;
- 1-2 bunches green onions, minced;
- ¼-cups fresh parsley, chopped;
- 4 cloves fresh Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic, minced;
-4-tbsp. butter – *no salt and only used 2-3 tbsp.;
- 1 (10 ¾-oz.) can beef broth – *low sodium;
- 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce – *low sodium;
- Handful of low-moisture mozzarella cheese.

- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.
- On low heat, sauté onions, parsley and garlic in olive oil; add lamb, and combine well. Cook until meat is browned, or completely cooked through; about 15 minutes.
- While meat is cooking, butter the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish (one that has a lid). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stuff shells with meat and herb mixture, and place shells in the baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Cover, and bake 20 minutes.
- While Manti is baking, combine broth and tomato sauce in small pan, and bring to a boil.
- Once shells have cooked 20 minutes, pour broth/tomato liquid over Manti, and bake 15-20 minutes longer; until lamb is cooked and sauce is slightly thickened.
- Serve hot.

Thoughts on my first recipe….
First of all, I didn’t know ground lamb meat existed. Now that I’m aware, it is my new favorite convenience meat – a great middle man between beef and turkey, as it’s as rich and flavorful as beef – but leaner – and more robust than turkey meat. Not to mention, the smell of lamb sautéing with the garlic, onions and parsley was a thin slice of heaven.

The finished product was quite scrumptious, and – surprisingly – not too filling. (However, I need to work on portion control. The recipe states 4-6 servings, and I ate seven shells last night, with only seven more awaiting me tonight. Must be a cookbook misprint.)

Baking the sauce into the shells is a good move, as the sauce thickens – evolving into a light marinara – and subsequently moistens and tenderizes the shells and meat. The flavor of the marinara-esque sauce blended perfectly with the bold flavor of the herbal-infused lamb, reasonably tempering the lamb meat, which, for some, can be too overbearing.

Finally, this recipe doesn’t actually call for mozzarella – that addition might be my inner fatty emerging – but I feel the creaminess of the cheese synchronizes the meat and shells. That’s my excuse, anyways.

The only change I would make is, perhaps, adding some fresh basil, a little oregano and a pinch of pepper to the beef broth and tomato sauce. The sauce was lacking bite, likely due to the reduced-sodium selections for both.

My only complaint is that I could really use a dishwasher – any takers? – but, besides that, Recipe #1 – Manti – in “Angie’s Quest to Garlic Cooking Greatness” received an 8 of 10 from Lauren, my unbiased judge/roommate.

As Julia Child would say, “Bon Appétit!”

(Original pictures to come…skipped my mind. I usually avoid documenting what I create in the kitchen! However, the picture above looks just like my dish…)

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