Life Hack: Onion & Garlic Odours

When chopping onions and garlic, your skin can easily pick up their aroma; sometimes it’s not a bad thing, but it can be overwhelming, or even unwanted when you’ve moved on to preparing dessert!

To get rid of the odour without paying money for those little steel “soaps” marketed for the purpose, try the following trick:  Wash or rinse your hands, then rub them along your kitchen sink’s stainless steel faucet (water tap); rinse again, and smell your hands (before and after).  You’ll notice a huge difference!  If a residual odour remains, rub them once more and rinse.  It works every time, and requires no special soap or gadget.

No Soap.jpg


Quick & Easy Grainy Molasses Marinade

I don’t know what temperatures are like where you live, but here in Swizterland we’re neither used to nor prepared for heat waves in the summer; and for over a fortnight, the temperatures daily hit 35°C+ (95°F+), with no air conditioning.  By the evenings it was time to open up the windows, shutters and doors, and let the evening breeze through, and heat up the grill.

This marinade is one I mix together in a Ziplock bag, squish it together, toss in the meat of choice (it goes well with chicken, pork, beef… whatever you want!) and pop it back into the fridge, rolled up tightly to let the marinade hug the meat for a few hours before grilling.  It’s delicious, and glazes nicely!

Grainy DijonGrainy Molasses Marinade

1½ C. molasses

3 Tbs. grainy Dijon mustard

2-3 cloves garlic, finely mashed (or 1½ tsp. puréed)

1/4 C. lemon juice

Mix it all together in a large Ziplock bag.  This amount will cover roughly 4 large chicken breasts.  Toss in your meat, seal the bag (squeezing out the air) and squish the contents around to mix well and coat the meat.  Roll the bag up around the meat to ensure that the marinade and meat “hug” each other, then let the flavours marry for a couple hours at least, or overnight.  Grill as you like, and enjoy!

Soy Sauce & Orange Marinated Chicken with Plum Salsa

I recently made this when guests were here, and our grill season officially opened!  It was a hit, and I promised to put the recipes here for their access, so here’ goes!  The Plum Salsa is an unusual combination, but has an amazing taste; serve it chilled next to the grilled meat and it becomes spectacular!

Soy Sauce & Orange Marinated Chicken

½ C. oil
1 C. orange juice
1 C. dark soy sauce
1 Tbs. crushed garlic

4 chicken breasts

Combine all above in a large ziplock.  Massage the meat in the ziplock to coat thoroughly, then place the bag in the fridge (I set it in a bowl to keep the meat and sauce gathered, to cover the meat better).  It can be kept in the marinade in the fridge until ready to grill.  If you want, take the marinade left over and pour into a sauce pan; simmer or boil while stirring, to reduce, and sift in a spoonful of rice flour or other thickener to make a sauce to serve on the side.

Plum SalsaPlum Salsa

6-8 chopped ripe plums
a handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 chopped red onion
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Finely dice the plums, coriander and red onion, then toss together with the cider vinegar and salt and pepper; chill until ready to serve.  Serves 4-6

Peeling an Entire Head of Garlic in 5 Seconds Flat!

If you’ve ever had to peel a head of garlic, it can take awhile.  For one clove I’ve found that the best method for me is to snip off the root-end of the clove, lay it flat on your cutting board, and with a large knife flat across it, whack the knife with the heel of your hand.  Whala.  But an entire head?  Here’s an ingenious way!  Just click on the image below.  Thanks to friend and chef Paul Coffey(great name for a chef, ey?) for this tip!


Garlic Oil Recipe + Tips & Tricks: Garlic, Onions, & Co.

Garlic OilGarlic Oil

½ L. Water

1 Tbs. Salt

1 tsp. Sugar

1 ¼ dl. Vinegar

whatever you want to put into the oil (garlic, ginger, etc. – any strong Allium will taste great!)

High quality virgin olive oil

Bring the water, salt, sugar and vinegar to a boil; toss in your peeled garlic cloves, ginger slices, or whatever you want to flavour the oil with.  Boil about 5 minutes and then drain.  Dry the Allium off with paper towels, allow them to cool completely, & THEN put them in the oil.  Let the Allium blend into the oil for a week or two, and then enjoy!

It is important to boil the Allium first; if placed in the oil raw, it will ferment and produce a primary breeding ground for botulism.  The worst danger from botulism comes if raw garlic is stored in oil at room temperature – or even for too long in the refrigerator. Never store raw garlic in oil at room temperature.


Tips & Tricks

Chives, green onions, onions, garlic, leek and scallions are all members of the Allium genus.  Green onions are the same as scallions and spring onions – the terms are interchangeably used throughout the English-speaking world.  Your choice for a dish will depend on your preferences for colour, flavour, and texture.  Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way:

  • To peel & chop a clove of garlic:  Using a large knife, slice off the root end of the garlic and then lay the head on a flat surface.  Lay the knife flat atop the clove and give it a good, solid whack (I assume you’ll know how not to cut yourself in the process); the clove will slip from the case.  Proceed to chop it as small as you want.  If you sprinkle the cloves with a bit of salt before chopping, they will chop nicely, and not stick to the knife and cutting board as much.
  • If your hands smell like garlic or onion after handling, one trick always works, and you don’t need to pay money for a stainless steel “garlic soap bar”, or any such gimmick:  Simply rub your hands along the sides of your stainless steel water faucet, and then rinse; I repeat this once or twice, and it does the trick every time!   You can also use a stainless steel spoon, rubbing it between your hands under running water, or simply rub your hands on the sink if it’s stainless steel.  The characteristic odour of garlic & co. is formed when enzymes & other compounds come into contact with each other as a result of the crushing, slicing, or chopping; in other words, the more finely garlic is chopped, the more pungent it becomes.
  • When a dish calls for garlic: Just pop the peeled, whole cloves into the dish; after it’s stewed a bit, use a spoon to mash it against the side of the pot.  The softened garlic incorporates into the dish without smelly fingers & cutting boards.
  • When you only need part of an onion, slice from the top end leaving  the root end intact. The remaining onion will stay fresh longer.
  • QUICK ROASTED GARLIC:  Roasted garlic tastes great with so many foods, but it’s hardly a last minute addition.  This method produces the same results in a short amount of time: Slice off the top of the head to reveal all the cloves. Place the head in a small, deep dish, season with salt & pepper, & drizzle with 2 Tbs. of good olive oil. Spoon 2 Tbs. of water into the bottom of the dish, cover it with plastic wrap, & microwave at medium power for 7 to 7 ½ minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before unwrapping.
  • One medium–sized garlic clove equals 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.  But who uses only one clove?
  • The onion, garlic and chive flowers are amazing, yet often overlooked sources of flavour and colour!  Just wash the flower head, pinch at the base to break into individual flowerlets, and sprinkle over your salads, cooked dishes for a decoration, or cook directly into your dish.  They add a burst of onion flavour, and a conversation piece at the table.  If you have a burst of these flowers in your chive-garden patch, wash and dry the flowers and then put in a small tupperware container in the freezer.  Frozen, they will retain their colour, shape and flavour to be tossed in whenever you want them.

Afghani Mourgh (Afghani Lemon & Garlic Chicken) with Mint Couscous

Afghani Mourgh & Mint CouscousThis is a recipe I made on Sunday, and it was delicious!  This is a great recipe for trying out the Salted Lemons, and it was a success.  If you’re like me and only come up with these glorious cooking schemes a few hours before you need it for dinner, you can skip the overnight marinating, and just get it marinating as soon as you can.  It’s a simple dish, refreshing, and a nice change of pace!

TIP:  If you don’t have any fresh mint on hand, take a bag or two of peppermint tea (after all, it’s dried mint in a bag!), tear them open and pour them in.  I used both fresh mint, and 1 bag each (for the meat, and the couscous) for the meal.

Serve this with fresh plain yogurt, and hot peppermint tea.

Afghani Mourgh (Afghani Lemon & Garlic Chicken)

2 lg Cloves garlic

1 Tbs. finely chopped Salted Lemons (OR:  ½ tsp. Salt plus Juice & pulp of 1 large fresh lemon, 3 to 4 Tbs.)

2 C. Plain, whole-milk yogurt

black pepper (amount to taste)

2 lg Whole chicken breasts, about 2 pounds (boneless and skinless).  You can either use them whole, or slice them into strips.

a small handful of fresh mint sprigs, washed and finely chopped (leaves and stem)

1/2 an onion, finely diced


Chop up the salted lemons into half-pea-sized bits.  Any juice that comes with it can be poured into the marinating bowl, and add a bit more from the preserves jar if needed.  If you haven’t yet made the salted lemons, then simply add the salt and lemon as above.  Finely chop a couple cloves of garlic, and stir all together.  For a finer mixture, mash them together with the back of a spoon until you have a paste.

Add the plain yogurt & pepper, then the chopped peppermint and onion.

Skin the chicken breasts, remove all visible fat & separate the halves, or slice as you like it.

Turn the meat into the marinade, and stir until well-coated. Cover the bowl tightly & refrigerate. If you thought of it ahead of time, allow it to marinate at least overnight, up to a day & a half. Turn when you think of it.  Otherwise, let it marinade as long as possible.

To cook, remove breasts from marinade & wipe off all but a thin film. Broil or grill about 6 inches from the heat for 6 to 8 minutes a side, or until thoroughly cooked. Meat will brown somewhat but should not char. Once the meat is slightly brown, pour in the marinade and allow it to cook down somewhat.

Serves 2-4

Mint Couscous

2 C. uncooked couscous

1/2 an onion, finely diced

a small handful of fresh mint sprigs and leaves, washed and finely chopped

2 to 2 1/2 C. boiling water


In a heat-proof bowl, pour in the uncooked couscous, then stir in the onion and mint; add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the boiling water, stir quickly, and cover.  When the liquid is absorbed, fluff the couscous with a fork and test; if it needs more boiling water, or flavouring, adjust accordingly.